Genuine Surrender

‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21

Often when we think of the word surrender, we associate it to a laying down of arms and giving up as in an act of war or crime. We imagine a scene of carnage surrounding the perpetrator, like a last ditch effort for them to try and escape or make a statement.

Dictionary.com defines surrender as ‘cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.’

At the beginning stages of surrender we may see God as an opponent. This collaborates with our imagined scene of surrender induced carnage. A biblical definition though is emptying of self, or allowing Christ to take our place which is in essence submitting to an authority.

Sometimes we don’t feel a need to surrender. I think this is the first step to the different levels of yielding to God.  We move along the path of surrender, doing it for our own gain until we reach a place of genuine submission.

I listened  to Steven Furtick teaching from the story of the man by the pool at Bethesda in John 5. He said something to the effect, we sometimes are with people of similar disabilities so we feel more normal in our own dysfunction. Our submission starts with relying on ourself.

I started thinking of this man, who for 38 years came and laid by the pool, hoping for some miraculous push to be the first to receive the angels water-stirring healing. water-drip-921067_640They were all in the same position, they all had similar disabilities. Do you think there were new people that came hearing of this healing but then they heard the thoughts of those that had been ‘waiting’ for years for their miracle instead of surrendering to their circumstances.

Someone limped into the crowds excited and hopeful, asking.’ Is  it true? Is it true? Are people healed here? ‘

I imagine some of them would not even lift their heads, weary as they were from waiting. Others would respond cynically,’ Well that is what I was told but I have yet to see it.’

Still others full of blame and bitterness,’These people are so pushy and inconsiderate, there is no way to even get close for that.’

How much had these thoughts kept them all prisoner and created carnage? Not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Do you see how weariness, cynicism, blame and bitterness could exacerbate this kind of thinking? One encounter with Jesus could change the direction of this carnage though.

But Jesus…jesus-1115989_640
As He entered what was known as the House of Mercy, he scanned the crowds, asking the broken how long they had been there. This conversation amazes me every time.  Jesus to the invalid, ” Do you want to get well?”

 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

What! At once? He didn’t even answer the question!

True to what Steven Furtick said, ‘Most of us love the idea of God changing our circumstances but we don’t love the idea of God changing US.’

Why do you suppose that Jesus chose this particular invalid? Do you think he saw the potential for surrender in his heart? 38 years! Or could this amazing touch from Jesus have been the most impactful?

Rick Warren describes Genuine Surrender as us saying, “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose or glory in my life or anothers life, please don’t take it away.”

My heart is not there but it is to get there.  How about you? Are you ready for a new level of surrender?

“Father, help me to trust you where I don’t. Let my true cry be to live is Christ and to die is gain. Help me to see past myself Lord and genuinely surrender to the healing and changes you want to do in me, through me and for your glory. In your precious name Jesus, Amen” 

Free to Believe

A couple of weeks ago I awoke with a  prompting from God to post a blog a day in November. I am trying to discipline myself to actually sit and write so I was obedient and wrote out a plan. As I sat with all those numbers of November in front of me and one idea about living in shameless freedom, I just asked Him for ideas for each day. It seemed overwhelming as the blank spots stared at me, taunting me to give up. Then I began, one date at a time to fill in those white spaces with God inspired ideas. 10 minutes, that is all it took and I had no idea what to expect but to just be obedient one step at a time.

So today is day 8 by no coincidence I am sure that it is November 8th and the idea given to me weeks ago was Free to Believe. Also by no coincidence, it is the day of the U.S. election. flag-1294654_640Now before you quit reading, I am not informed enough to give any kind of opinion about any candidate here. If I did, it is just that, my opinion. As far as I am concerned it is only God’s truth that matters in any area of life when it comes right down to it. May we all get to the place where an Audience of One is all that is needed.

Do you feel like the freedom of speech has had a little too much license during this process? Like ahhh make it stop but we can’t stop reading or listening to it. But somehow by engaging, we are contributing to the outrageous cost of campaign rampages. Freedom of speech literally means the right to express any opinions without any censorship or restraint. Can I have an Amen that is going on?

But God…

My friend Helena pointed me to Psalm 33 today. We have been given a responsibility through God with the freedom to believe. He has kept our free will in tact knowing that His gospel of good news is the only thing that changes hearts. We can choose, just as many can choose today, a government for the people by the people. As believers we need to stand up, stand for Him, believe and preach the gospel to all nations because those nations whose God is the Lord will be blessed. God is still on the throne. He has worked through broken kings and rulers before. Read through the Old Testament.

People are dying without repentance and turning from their sin. Jesus came to reconcile our hearts to God. Period. Jesus is not an addendum. Joyce Meyer says, “Don’t just tack Jesus onto your mess and keep living the same.” We need to die to Him.

I can’t speak better than God’s word, so meditate on this Psalm, speak it out loud and make it a prayer for the nations today. The writer was anonymous but this writer knew God as Creator, Lord, Saviour and Deliverer. My prayer is for us all to live in these truths. God Bless us all and have mercy Lord!

Psalm 33

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

 

 

 

 

Freedom Reigns

2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

There is no place else in this world of ours that we will receive the freedom from our guilt, shame and pain than in God and His forgiveness and healing. There was a time in my life that if I didn’t feel guilty about something I had done, I didn’t feel right. My foundation of being worthy was so skewed that I didn’t think I deserved to be good. So I started to perform for it. I was the ‘good’ girl and now as I write this I believe this may be the basis of why I never felt I belonged in my family or elsewhere. Until I knew God’s love, I didn’t feel true belonging. Because how can you belong if you are just pretending to be someone else.

Once I made a decision to accept Jesus in my life, which came after a lot of life and I was 34, the need to perform for love and acceptance did not just disappear. It has been a long, continuing process of trust and healing. I would say even up until this last year, the truth of God’s love for me had not penetrated to the core. I had no idea how to receive this gift from Him but he has been wooing me with His love. And as the verse above says, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. He has granted me freedom to not live in guilt and shame of the things I have done, or not done. I cannot explain in words the kind of freedom that comes when we come to our Father in heaven and confess our sins, for he is faithful and just and forgives our sins. Then the forgiveness is complete, it is washed away. He sees us through the veil of Jesus, which is pure and clean and holy. veil-645705_640

This reminds me of the veil that Moses placed over his face after He had been with the Lord. Moses had just come down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments the Lord had spoken to him and his face was radiant with the presence of God. Can you just imagine? Exodus 34:29 “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”

I imagine his whole being was radiant from that encounter of 40 days and nights with God. How would he even notice his face? This frightened the people but Moses called them to himself and relayed what God had said. vs33,34 “When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out.”

I find it fascinating that when Moses spoke to the people, He remained unveiled as if to enhance the divinity of the message to them. He also left if off to meet with God as though to allow His power to be absorbed in him. The only time that Moses wore the veil to cover God’s glory was when he was among the people. Some commentaries suggest that this spoke of when Moses was silent with the people and signified the darkness of their hearts. Holiness is given privacy.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

This is what I have experienced, when I turned to Him my understanding was made clear and His radiance shone into my heart. Once we know the freedom that comes from choosing Him, we are different. He has the space to make Himself known, to change us and bring reconciliation.

Have you turned your heart toward the Lord? Do you desire to be free from the guilt and shame that consumes you? Jesus died for these very things. Allow the veil to fall and turn to Him.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” vs 18

 

Authentic Koinonia

Koinonia (in case you are rusty with your Greek) means fellowship, share in common or communion. I have the honour and privilege every other week to lead a women’s lifegroup. My heart is for this to be a safe place where women can be authentic and walk with each other to grow in their faith and deeper in love with Jesus. To serve each other and the community and be a support system through life’s hills and valleys. It truly gives me great joy as I watch this happen and even as the group multiplies, the quality of authenticity permeates this koinonia. Only by God’s grace. Only by koinonia with Him first.

Pastor Craig Groeschel said, “You don’t have to know it all to be a great leader. Just be yourself.” For most of my life I didn’t believe this because my people pleasing determined my worth. In the process of God changing my life and recognizing my identity is in Him and not in what I did or didn’t do, God was able to extricate what being myself looked like.

One of the other great things about leading is helping people discover these truths as well. I have been reading the story of Isaiah in my favourite book of the bible, Isaiah! God gave Him a vision when He called Him to be a prophet to his people.The more clearly that Isaiah saw God, the more he realized his own powerlessness but he was still willing.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said,”Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah knew he was inadequate for the mission by himself. What especially fascinates me in this passage is that God sends him to speak to His people about their disobedience but also tells Isaiah that the people will not listen to him. WHAT! I wonder if he regretted his claim of here am I , send me, with that extra tidbit?

The thing was God had called Isaiah because he was made uniquely for this purpose. God would be the strength he needed to call the nation to repentance but only see a remnant of the people respond. As I shared with some women in my group, you are uniquely created to reach people as you are. God wants to hear your voice. Be yourself, there is no one else like you for a reason.

Isaiah’s message confronted the people’s sin, yet only a tenth of them listened and returned to God. Often this happened only when the people had come to the end of themselves and had exhausted all other possibilities. Why do you suppose our nature is to try everything else, then if God is all that is left, well I Guess I will go to Him?

I encourage you today that however God is speaking to you, that you don’t wait until the He is your last resort. Are you to lead? Are you to supposed to be in an authentic koinonia? Are you supposed to take a message to even one person? Are you to repent of your sins and come to Him? He will extricate your true self from any lies you have believed and send you just as you are.

His child. Uniquely made. Be willing. Be yourself. See what the Lord will do.