Archives For surrender

Why do we sin? Perhaps if we could understand why we sin, we could begin to limit how often we do it. My experience has shown me all sin can be traced back to either selfishness or pride. We want what we want and we want it now. We want what we want regardless of whether it is pleasing to God or beneficial to our spiritual walk. What’s going on here is indicative of both selfishness and pride.

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We determine our personal desires are more important than God’s plans for us. This is the height of arrogance and pride. In essence, we are telling God we know better than He does. Our selfishness causes us to focus on ourselves instead of on God.

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Almost forty years ago, Keith Green recorded a song called, “Make My Life a Prayer to You”. While we could argue about how well the music has held up over time, the lyrics are timeless. “Make my life a prayer to you / I wanna do what you want me to / No empty words and no white lies / No token prayers no compromise”.

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What if we lived our lives as if they were prayers to Jesus? What if we kept Him the center of our focus in every moment we lived? Shouldn’t we all desire to live with no token prayers and no compromise? After all, this is the life Jesus called us to live.

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That there is victory in surrender is one of the great mysteries of following Jesus. Almost everything about the life Jesus lived seems upside down and counterintuitive, but perhaps nothing more than this. Who wins by surrendering? History books are not written about those who waved the white flag, but about the conquering heroes and nations. We grow up daydreaming about being the champion, the victor, and the overcomer.

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No one dreams of being the one who grows up to surrender. But it is exactly to this Jesus calls us. In fact, He makes it pretty clear unless we are willing to surrender everything, He won’t be able to do much with our lives.

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Freewill is central to my theology and in my mind is the linchpin to answering difficult questions about sin, disease, and evil in the world. After Jesus, I think freewill is probably the greatest gift God bestowed on His creation. After all, freewill is what enables us to love. It enables us to choose. Most importantly, it enables us to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.

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But here’s the irony for all disciples of Jesus: to accept Christ means the death of freewill in our lives. When we surrender ourselves to Christ, we surrender everything, including our freewill. Nothing is excluded. The very thing permitting us to accept Christ is what we must give up in exchange for His Lordship in our lives.

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Perhaps nothing reveals the state of our heart so much as our thoughts. A.W. Tozer said, “Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are – they predict what we will become. The will can become the servant of the thoughts, and to a large degree even our emotions follow our thinking.” We cannot become a true servant of Christ as long as we allow our thoughts to wander into territory we know is not pleasing to God.

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As the mind goes, so goes the heart. Tozer went on to say, “We can by Spirit-inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell.” That must be our goal: to make our mind a place where Jesus feels very much at home.

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We love Jesus and want to dedicate our lives to Him, but our stubborn old self keeps getting in the way. How do we conform our will to that of God? Francois Fenelon once wrote, “The way to have a good will that conforms to God is to give up our desires and fears and to leave ourselves completely in His hands. Those who do so… can never be moved, because their only desire is for God.”

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Living God’s will for your life necessitates a complete letting go. Too often we make the mistake of trying to figure out how to use our dreams and passions in conjunction with God’s will. That’s a totally backwards approach.

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When we have surrendered ourselves to the purposes for which God created us to do, we are as willing to be deprived of our personal dreams and happiness as we are to celebrate them. I think it’s a key to knowing whether or not we have fully committed our lives to Jesus. Are we as happy when our dreams are taken from us as when we are excelling in them?

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When we understand the character of God, we will comprehend our fullest, happiest, and most enjoyable life comes from being fully alive in His presence, regardless of what circumstances may be swirling around us. There is a confident peace and comfort when we have given ourselves fully to Christ.

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We are the hands and feet of Jesus. That means wherever we go and whatever we do, we are representing Jesus. We are ambassadors of Christ. For many, our lives are the only glimpse they will ever get of Jesus. It is our responsibility, our duty, to represent well the Kingdom of God. The words of Christ must be our words. Our hearts must beat in rhythm with the heart of Jesus.

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As ambassadors of Christ, we are the image bearers of God. It is a heavy responsibility and not all will be up to the task. Still others will simply refuse. But if you would follow Jesus, if your greatest desire is to be His disciple, then you must carry out the mission.
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The unyielding passion of my life is to instruct and encourage others to live lives wholly devoted to Christ. Nothing is more frustrating to me than to see people confess Jesus with their mouths but deny Him with their lives. Worse still is when I see this in my own life. Surrendering your life to Jesus is exactly that – a surrender. People who surrender one moment do not go on living as if it had never happened the next. Surrender is life altering. Everything changes the moment we surrender.

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If your life looks pretty much the same as everyone else around you, I would be willing to bet you’ve never actually surrendered your life to Christ. Surrender is more than words you say. It’s a turning away from everything you’ve known, a letting go of everything you own. Best of all, surrender is the mark of a true disciple.
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I quote A.W. Tozer a lot here, and never cease to be amazed how relevant his teachings are more than half a century after his death. Here is a selection from a recent reading of his writings: “There is no limit to what God could do in our world if we would dare to surrender before Him with a commitment like this:  ‘Oh God, I hereby give myself to You. I give my family. I give my business. I give all I possess.

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Take all of it, Lord-and take me! I give myself in such measure that if it is necessary that I lose everything for your sake, let me lose it. I will not ask what the price is. I will ask only that I may be all that I ought to be as a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.’
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