Sunday, August 28, 2016

The things I write in my journal...(A Study on Surrender)

For as long as I can remember I've been one to journal...I can express myself best through writing. For years, nobody ever saw those words, but over the last 8 God's led me to share some of them here on my blog. He still leads me to pen more in my prayer journal, which are typically for His reading only. 

Today though, He's leading me to share a line with you...on Thursday night I wrote this, "I want to die so that You may live." I stopped after I finished that statement and had an immediate flashback... there was a time not quite 17 years ago when the first 4 words were true. I was in the pit of depression, feeling alone and without hope and I wanted to die. I didn't think life was worth living or I was worth loving. My world was dark and my soul was empty. Thankfully, God intervened and Psalm 40 became a reality in my life as He pulled me out of the pit...He set my feet on the rock and put a new song on my heart. 

Now years later, He's given me the same desire - death, but an entirely different reason. I don't want to die in order to escape, I want to die so Christ can live. Friend, if you share that desire I pray you will read on. If what you are reading seems crazy, I pray you will continue reading as well. I pray God has a message for whoever He brings here...reading friend, that is YOU!

Just over a week ago, I helped with the ReNEWed Life Women's Event and God continues to stir my heart with the Truth our speaker shared. Micca Campbell spent time talking about much, but one of my big take-aways was SURRENDER. She discussed the difference between being a committed Christian and a surrendered one...trust me, we need to be the latter, but often we settle for the initial option. 

God has led me to dig deeper into this topic...it's one thing to know what I need to do and another to do it. I prepared a short study on surrender for our local Titus24U group and I'm grateful to share it with you now. I encourage you to open your Bible, read the Scriptures and see what God has to say to you.

Before we go any further though, I feel the need to include a warning statement here. Don't worry there aren't any bad pictures or inappropriate words, but the following content may create tests from God and/or attacks from Satan. Friend, surrendering is hard, but know you are not alone. Be prepared and expect a challenge, but remember God's grace is sufficient. I attempted to put a little encouragement into a video and as my son banged dishes in the background I surrendered the idea of it being perfect, but my prayer is it reminds you that you're not alone in your journey - others struggle to surrender too and Jesus is with us!!



With that let's begin...

To get us started a quick definition - according to Webster surrender means to cease resistance to an enemy, submit to authority, yield or give up all rights. The Biblical definition I found said to give up your own will, yield to a higher power, submit rights and/or control and to die to self. Luke 14:26, Philippians 1:21 and Colossians 3:3 all give us a glimpse of surrender. What do these verses say to you?

As I began, I found myself wrestling with some questions and I want to challenge you to think about them as well...

Have I surrendered?


What do I need to surrender?


The answer to this question is long and includes things like dreams and doubts, fears and pride, worries and plans, roles, hobbies, relationships, thoughts, feelings, kids, food, Facebook, you fill in the blank. Our walk with Christ is a constant spiritual battle which calls for the same consistent response!

How do I surrender?


Again, there isn't one short, easy answer to this question, but as I studied and prayed a few things came to mind. I must remember who God is...He is faithful, powerful and loving. He has a plan...one for my good. Confession can also play a part in surrendering, along with trust, abiding and renewing. Fixing our eyes on Christ and asking for a filling of the Spirit will aid us in this action as well.


Finally, one last question we must address - Why do I surrender? Friend, this is a good time for a heart examination and an honest prayer to God. Take some time and think about this.



Surrender must be about who God is, not what I get. We need to surrender with the right motives and a pure heart. The act of surrender will help us die to self, embrace His plan and live for His glory. 

Surrender is definitely a military term and as I thought about this I wondered, "Why does an army surrender?" Typically they do this because the opponent is stronger, too powerful and they know they can't win. From a war perspective this made sense, but as I thought about this in a personal way I struggled with the idea of labeling God my opponent. The Holy Spirit provided some wisdom though and I had a new thought - When we are living in the flesh, we are opposing God. We must remember who He is - we can't overcome Him. No matter how strong the flesh is or how much Satan tempts us, we must give up! 

One other interesting find in my military study on this topic...there is such a thing as false surrender. This is a war crime and friend, think with me for a minute how much worse this has to be in a spiritual sense. God knows our heart, partial surrender is not enough - He wants all!

Finally, it's important to remember surrender is followed by a time of transition in war. And friend, in the spiritual sense it's often followed by a time of transformation. So now for our study...

Heavenly Father, I come to you now and ask you to meet me in your word...give me a glimpse of who You are. Tender my heart to allow you to work, fill me with your Spirit so I can discern what You have to say. Lord, I know I need to surrender, but I ask for your help in doing just that. Encourage me, comfort me and convict me where needed as I study. I give this time to You. In Jesus' Name I pray...Amen

Open your Bible to Luke 5 and read verses 1-11. After an initial reading, what does this passage say to you about surrender?


Now let's slow down and dig a bit deeper...Peter is a main character, so let's read the last account in chapter 4 to see what he had just experienced. What took place here? What is the significance of that?

Also a bit of geography...Peter and the others are fishing on the Sea of Galilee and they figure this is just one of the 30 fishing towns surrounding the lake. Chances are their were many boats Jesus could have chosen, but He chose Peter's. Friend, there are billions of people in the world and God has chosen you, let that sink in for a bit.

Reread verse 4...what does Jesus tell Peter to do? 


Jesus doesn't just tell him what to do, let down his net, He also gives insight into what to expect - a catch. This was such a reminder that Jesus knows the outcome, He's planned our future and it is for good.

Let's move to the very next verse...how does Peter respond to Jesus' command? 


What Jesus was asking made no sense to Peter, but he chose obedience. Friend, God may be asking you to surrender something that seems crazy or too hard or impossible, but I pray we take God at His Word and are willing to do what He says.

What is the outcome of Peter's obedience that we read of in verses 6 and 7?


Friend, when we are willing to surrender and do what God asks, go where He leads or trust who He is...He will bless us. It may not come immediately like it did for Peter, but in His perfect timing it will come. (See Deuteronomy 28 for more about God blessing obedience.)

In verses 8-10a, what does Peter do? What can we learn from his response?


It is vital that we recognize our sinfulness and realize our weakness when compared to the greatness of God. Peter has witnessed Jesus do miracles, but here he experienced his power in his daily life. Acknowledging God's power is vital as we attempt to surrender...are you willing to do that today?


Finally, verses 10b-11 shed light on what Jesus was calling Peter to do. What does Jesus say to Peter? 


Friend, if the Spirit is leading you to surrender know Jesus whispers these same words to you...we don't have to be afraid. Remember Jesus cares, He knows and He has a plan. Whatever we have to give up or walk away from will be replaced by something so much better. (And so you know I'm writing these words to myself before I write them for you...I get that this is hard, but I also know it's necessary and I pray we each remember who God is as we wrestle with whatever He's asking us to surrender today.)

How did Peter and his partners respond? Are you willing to do the same? 



Take a minute and think about the timing of this call...Peter was at the top of his game...he'd just had a catch of fish that nearly sunk the boat and what did he do? He brought it to shore and walked away from it all. Friend, surrender will require the same for you and me, we must be willing to lay our treasures down, let go of the roles we play and follow Jesus. 

One thing that has struck me from this passage is the change in Peter's response from Jesus first command to the second. In verse 5, Peter shares his doubts and I believe internally was questioning Jesus' command. Chances are he didn't want to do this, but as he says, "but because You say so..." I don't know Peter's heart, but I wonder if he was simply going through the motions of obedience. Was he obeying out of fear? I have these thoughts because God is showing me sometimes that's how I work. I've stepped out in obedience and God has worked, but it's not necessarily been because I've surrendered my heart. I've always been the obedient, compliant first born...when an authority gives orders I tend to do them, but I'm learning that's not the type of obedience God wants. As His child He longs for me to have a relationship with Him, to trust Him, to embrace His plan and follow His lead. Like Peter He wants me to be willing to surrender all and work for His kingdom. And friend, He wants the same for you!
Even Superman needs to SURRENDER!
With all that said, I encourage you to pause now and pray. Ask God to show you what you need to surrender and then pray for the strength and discipline to do that. Below you will find a prayer...it may be one you want to use in the days to come to keep this idea of surrender at the fore front of your mind. I've also included some songs that say much about surrender and I pray they encourage your heart. Finally, if you want to dig a bit deeper you'll find some scripture references about the One we surrender to, results of surrendering and the ultimate example of surrender. I trust God will use your time in His Word. If you work thru this study and have any questions, let me know. I'd love for you to leave a comment about what God speaks to your heart...it's a joy to hear the insight YOU share! Praying for you friend!!

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God, You are King and You are in control. At the same time You are good, loving and forgiving. Help me remember who You are and the power You have. You created me for a purpose and died for a reason. You want to fill me with Your Spirit and use me for your glory. Help me die to self so that You can live in me. Surrender isn’t easy…since I was little I’ve been taught not to give up. I have a no quit attitude, so Lord I need You to change my perspective. Don’t let me see this step of surrender as loss, but gain. When I surrender to You, your plan…the perfect one, that is for my good, can unfold. I know there are things I hold onto and areas I need to let go of, fill me with Your Spirit so I can do that now. Open the eyes of my heart so I can see where I’ve committed, but still need to surrender. Help me put my flesh to death so your Spirit can live in me. Father God, I want to know you more…I ask for eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart willing to receive. Don’t let me forget who you are in those moments when my flesh wants its own way. Tender my heart to be sensitive to your Spirit. Lord, with Paul I want to say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body,  I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In Jesus’ Name, I pray…Amen

Remember Who We Surrender To
Eternal - Deut. 33:27                  Faithful - 2 Thes. 3:3                   Gracious - Isaiah 30:18  
Holy - 1 Peter 1:16                     Immutable – Malachi 3:6            Independent –Psalm 50:9-12
 Infinite – Psalm 147:5               Just - Isaiah 61:8                          Loving - 1 John 4:8
Merciful – Psalm 145:9              Omnipotent – Psalm 147:5          Omnipresent – Isaiah 66:1-2
Omniscient – Psalm 139:1-4      Sovereign – Isaiah 46:10            Wise – Isaiah 55:8-9


Results of Surrender                                             Ultimate Example of Surrender
John 6:44, Acts 2:21                                                             John 3:16
John 1:12, 2 Corinthians 5:21                                               John 4:34
Ephesians 5:18                                                                      Luke 22:42
Galatians 5:22                                                                       Philippians 2:6-8


“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness,
so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Romans 6:19b)

 "I Surrender All"

"Lay Me Down"


"Surrender"


"At the Cross"

"Lay it Down"


2 comments:

  1. Jill, I was most impacted by the definitions of surrender, (world) cease resistance to the enemy vs (biblical) submit to higher power. For believers, when we submit to God by surrendering, we will not only resist the enemy but also defeat the enemy!! There is great value and victory in Biblical surrender.

    Thanks for this lengthy and rich teaching on surrender.

    me ❤️

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Wendy and taking the time to read this long post! I love how you put the two definitions together...this line says it all, "There is great value and victory in Biblical surrender."

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