Change is what is birthed out of surrender to God, it is the only way to become like Christ, living a life bowed down and as a slave to Jesus alone. This is how anyone can walk in their Creator’s purpose, to be the person God has meant them to be. No surrender ; no change
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Last week Rob was speaking of the Hebrews being freed from the Egyptians. Interestingly, Pasach or Passover started Friday evening @ sundown. Passover is a festival of freedom. It commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and their transition from slavery to freedom.
Have you ever been in a place of captivity or enslavement? Has God ever set you free from your own personal Egypt?
Have you been delivered from an addiction? (drugs,food,alcohol,sex, gambling whatever)
How about an oppressive boss or an unhealthy relationship?
A bully? Or all of the above?
Did you ever think life was going along just fine but God had a different plan? I did and I am eternally grateful for Him intervening in my life so I can be here today. But first I had to surrender.
Here are a few definitions of surrender:
-to give oneself up as unto the power of another, submit or yield
-to give oneself up to the power of another especially as a prisoner
-to yield something to the possession or power of another.
So the big question is?
Do we unconsciously surrender ourselves to Satan? I did.
When I think of surrendering it is in a negative way. I think of losing the battle and having to submit to superior forces, of being overwhelmed and not being able to continue the fight. Today we are going to talk about a different concept, we are going to talk about surrender to change. I know this is counterintuitive to the way we‘ve been taught.
There’s a famous book called “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, a general and strategist in ancient China written in the 5th century B.C.
He wrote the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Does this ring a bell for anybody? It’s exactly what happened to me. I happily walked into the enemy’s camp thinking this is where I wanted to be. Thinking there is no danger, just fun and adventure. I was cool, right.
A pastor once told me “Sin is always pleasurable but only for a while, it is always followed by death and destruction. Strong but true words.
I started drinking early, 13 I think and I liked to have died the first time I got drunk. Sick as a dog, on all fours, who would go back to that. But I persevered because I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be cool , I wanted to be part of the tough crowd. I grew up in Dundalk, it was a hard nosed town and drugs and alcohol hit it hard. Just like here.
I tried most everything and found my thing in PCP. You had to have a thing in my neighborhood or you didn’t fit in. Not to say everyone became an addict but a lot of us did and a lot of lives were cut short by this disease. But I as I was saying the Lord intervened.
I went to jail when I was 20 for having a large amount of LSD. I was living the good life or so I thought, making a little extra money selling drugs and partying all the time.
Oh sure I totaled a couple of cars, got arrested a few times (7) to be exact and of course there was the 6 months in the Balto. Detention Center.
So back to surrender. Another definition is to abandon oneself or devote oneself entirely to something without restraint, reservation or further resistance. The individual has surrendered himself to destructive ideologies. I mean who in their right mind would turn themselves over willingly to something that is going to destroy them?
The answer is we had been deceived, just like in the Garden of Eden when Eve decided to listen to the serpent instead of God.
Genesis 3- “Did God really say You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?”
The Fall of mankind. The first deception ,the first act of disobedience that led to a pattern of temptation, disobedience , curse and hope that each of us faces to this day.
We walk right into the enemies camp like the kid in the Chronicles of Narnia looking for some yum-yums. Then while we are there we start to figure out that this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
So how do we get out of this place of wantonness and destruction? We surrender-we surrender to change.
Remember, no surrender, no change.
I consider change to be one of the most important things we do in our lives every day.
Romans 12 (entire 1st chapter)
Paul lays it out to us. How much do we trust God?
To renew our minds daily we need to get into His Word!
We are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world!
Been there ,done that ,it doesn’t work.
We need to ask Him into our lives every day. We need Jesus. We need to yoke ourselves to Him to know His will and peace for us. It starts to get clearer.
John 10:14 says” I AM the Good Shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
We begin to know His voice. He calls His sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. They will not follow a stranger. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His flock. He came to give us life-Life in all its fullness.
John 10-10 says “the thief comes only to kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full”.
That’s what I want and that’s what God wants for me otherwise His son wouldn’t have had to die on the cross. Do any of us know what abundant life is God’s eyes? Not without a changed heart. We gauge things with our eyes which pale in comparison to God’s.
1st Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived-the things God has prepared for those who love Him”.
We must come to God and ask for restoration.
Ezekiel 11:19 God says” I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people and I will be their God”.
Only God can truly change our hearts from stubborn, painful hearts of stone to ones of flesh who are able to receive and feel His love.
Luke 4: 18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This was Jesus opening of His public ministry. Let us receive it. He has set us free, we need to believe in Him, surrender to Him, have faith in Him and trust in His undeserved favor. If you hear His voice do not harden your hearts like pharaoh but open them and enter into His rest.
Remember Matthew 11: 28-30 when He said” come to me all of you who are burdened and I will give you rest.”
Yet we need a barometer to gauge the validity of what we are hearing and seeing. The best way to gain intimacy with God is through His Word. As our comfort zone grows in knowledge of His Word we begin to see life differently. He reveals things to us that we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. He becomes part of our lives when we invite Him in. More peaceful, more tranquil, more beautiful. Hasn’t it been a beautiful spring?
The more devoted we are the more He reveals. Then we will receive deeper guidance and insights through the Holy Spirit who will teach us what we need to know and will stir our memories of His written and spoken words when we need to call on them.
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Apart from God I was a mess, a lot of problems. Today I try to be more like Jesus. Calmer, more patient. I am still a work in progress but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
Like when Peter got out of the boat in Matthew 14
Matthew 14: 22-31
Peter was doing ok until he took his eyes off Jesus. Then he started to sink and needed some help.
That is me as well although I believe I get easily distracted and caught up in my own head without seeking His advice or counsel. I’ll let others affect me even though I know He is in control.
Psalm 91: 14-16
We have a genuine challenge slide from our pastor
And to end Psalm 103