Come in Surrender

Surrender

“But I will warn you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” –Luke 12:5, NET

For humanity, the Devil is not our problem. God is.

Let that sink in.

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” –Deuteronomy 32:39, ESV

It is the sovereign God who is responsible for “both calamity and blessing” (Lam 3:38). He has made for us times of prosperity AND times of adversity for a purpose (Ecc 7:14). Thus, we must be willing to accept both good and bad from the Lord (Job 2:10). Consider this: if you feel forces coming against you, know that it is not “the devil keeping you down.” It is the LORD who is using the “cords of affliction” to reveal to us that we are “behaving proudly” (Job 36:8-10).

And if you do not know God (2Th 1:8), there is no escaping His wrath (Isa 13:6). You are His enemy (Rom 5:10).

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” –Hebrews 10:31, NET

Yet He is a compassionate and kind God who desires that sinners live (Eze 18:23). So He comes with an outstretched arm of mercy (Eph 2:4-5). As long as you draw breath, the door to His ark remains open. Do not delay, you do not know if He will spare you another day (Jam 4:14). Run to the ark of your merciful enemy in full surrender for salvation (Jer 21:9). There is no other way (John 14:6).

“Please obey the Lord by doing what I have been telling you [and surrender]. Then all will go well with you, and your life will be spared.” –Jeremiah 38:20b

Billy Neal

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Surrender Your Life

White Flag

 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” — Matthew 19:23-24

Men, after Jesus has interacted with the rich ruler, He turns to His disciples and tells them “it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. The rich man could not give up his things to gain the one thing his heart needed most. He had made his things and his wealth his god. Wealth too often grants a false sense of security, importance, and even bondage.

Jesus goes on and says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. There is some argument for a small gate called the “eye of the needle”. Perhaps, but I argue for a literal interpretation. The only way for a camel to pass through a hole that small is to break it down into its smallest parts and pour it through. It cannot pass through intact. The camel must die to its original form, use, splendor, value and identity to be liquefied and poured through. Once it passes through, there is nothing of the original camel which could then be self-sustaining.

Dying to self, self-sacrifice, humility, brokenness, wholesale surrender, are themes found elsewhere. Nowhere does Scripture say to wait in line and squeeze through a small space to find everlasting peace. Jesus is the narrow gate and we are raised to new life in Him.

“Raising to new life” means leaving behind the old life. Have you, sir, died to the old life of self-sustainment? Are you still propped up on your accounts, investments, assets, and provisions? Is there anything you couldn’t walk away from if Jesus asked you to?

Move forward, men, asking the Lord to search you and I out. Is there anything in our hearts hindering the Lord God from pouring us into a new form, a new life, and a new identity in Him?

Vance Durrance

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Conquerors

Conqueror

“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” –Revelation 3:21

So how did Jesus conquer?

Jesus came chiefly as “God With Us” to bring redemption TO man. But, He also demonstrates the victorious life as the second Adam (1Co 15:45-47) and firstborn of all spirit-born image-bearers (Col 1:15). He is the perfecter AND the pioneer of our faith (Heb 2:10). So consider that in Jesus the fullness of God dwelt (Col 2:9), yet He did not hold on to His high status while on this earth, but took upon Himself the lowly position of a slave (Phi 2:6-7) for “a little while” (Heb 2:9). He then joyfully suffered (Heb 12:2) because He was focused on a great mission—“to seek and save” His wayward Bride (Luke 19:10; Hos 3:1; 14:4; Rev 21:2) Thus, He became “obedient to the point of death,” and God “exalted Him” (Phi 2:8-9).

Notice the process of perfection:

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” –Hebrews 2:10

In other words, the success of Christ’s mission, the path to victory, was obedience “through suffering.” And if Christ “learned obedience through the things he suffered” (Heb 5:8), how much more we desperately need to be perfected through obedience by enduring suffering here on earth?

But do not think that this suffering is merely being ready to kneel before the Jihadist who holds a sword. For how can one be willing to lose his head if he is not willing to lose his job?

Therefore, suffering in this life is a daily task. It is heeding the battle cry of temptation and standing firm against our enemy in constant submission to God (Eph 6:12-18; Jam 4:7). Suffering is learning contentment and thanksgiving in ALL circumstances (Phi 4:11; 1Th 5:18; Ecc 6:10). Suffering is ridding ourselves of riches that hinder our walk with God, and severing those fleshly desires that are burdens or barriers (Gal 5:24; Rom 13:14; Mark 9:43-47; Mat 19:21-24). Suffering is choosing God’s way instead of our own—daily (Luke 9:23).

So, are you willing to lay your life down for Him today? Not just to some theoretical mob that comes to kill Jesus followers, but by being completely surrendered to His purposes every moment of the day? Are you willing to forsake your own schedule, your own plans, and your own dreams to be a conqueror?

Billy Neal

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Surrender All

surrender

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. –Matthew 9:36

Men, As Jesus goes from town to village preaching of the Kingdom and healing the sick, a multitude amassed. Jesus looks on this multitude and finds them weary and scattered, like a sheep with no master. Jesus is moved with compassion for them.

This multitude is an interesting group. There is no word of how long these people have followed along. There is no word of what provisions these people carried with them. We know that Jesus was often nomadic, without a nest or den to take shelter in. So these people have been sleeping on the ground with Him. This is a time with no drive through services for food or medicine, and there is no welfare program. These people have surrendered everything to follow alongside Jesus and listen to His teaching.

Today, we are a people of many masters. Our jobs, our mortgage holders, our financiers, our spouses, peers, personal expectations, our own bellies, appetites and more. We bend and sway to the call of dozens of voices crying out for our attention. This multitude has stepped away from many of these masters and Jesus considers them scattered. Scattered is better than being owned by many masters. Jesus, the shepherd, is moved with compassion for them. These people had forfeited their regular diets, their occupations, reputations, their personal responsibilities, their family and peers to be near Jesus. Mathew says Jesus acknowledged their weariness. This group has sacrificed.

Would Jesus be moved with compassion for us? Have we forfeited anything to be near His presence, His teaching? Have we ever been found “weary” from seeking out Jesus and following Him wherever He led us? Many of this multitude have followed Jesus from town to town to town. Where would you go? Move forward men, abandoning our many masters to press into the wisdom and understanding of the teachings of Jesus and His Kingdom come. May we “surrender ALL”, for in Him all good things are found.

Vance Durrance

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Forgiveness

forgivenessMatthew 6:14-15

Men, Jesus has said in vs12, forgive our debts as we forgive others, and now He revisits the matter. It startles the heart as we read, “if we forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will give you”…but if we don’t, He won’t.

Let’s be clear. This does not teach that we can lose salvation. Remember, Jesus has been revealing conditions of the heart for several chapters now. Later Jesus will tell a parable of one who was forgiven much debt, but then refused to forgive someone who owed a small debt. Jesus paid a great debt on our behalf. Far more than we will ever be asked to forgive.

Unforgiveness reveals that we do not understand what has been done for us. It reveals lack of surrender. The mind is quick to suppress pain. We may forget a wrong that we never forgave. Jesus here is speaking of a hardness of the heart where unforgiveness is a lifestyle choice. We have all struggled to forgive someone of a deep wound or wrong at some point. Jesus understands these things, and grace covers much. Jesus also does not condone being found drunk. He is quick to forgive a random slip, but a pattern of drunkenness may bring chastisement for our own sake.

Habitual unforgiveness is Jesus’s concern, as it presumes, we have ascended beyond God’s throne, where an offense against us is too irreverent to be overlooked or to go unpunished. Such presumptions make false idols of one’s self. Unforgiveness is poison to the heart of man. Jesus tells another to forgive 70 times 7. He expected that we would put no limit on forgiveness. Of all the topics Jesus could have revisited, He chose to emphasize forgiveness. Jesus came to set captives free. Unforgiveness is a prison that goes with you wherever you turn and hurts everyone you touch.

Move forward men, asking Holy Spirit to reveal unforgiveness within your heart. Surrender it to Christ’s will, and set people free. Take in a breath of free air for yourself. Allow your heart to be healed by His stripes.

Vance Durrance

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Surrender to the Word

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me. – Galatians 1:18-24

Paul recounts his story to Galatia. After 3 years in Arabia and Damascus, Paul finally went to meet Peter in Jerusalem. They spoke at length about Christ’s gospel for 15 days. The only other apostle he saw was James, the brother of Jesus. After this Paul went to the region of Syria and Cilicia where he was unknown except as “he who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” By Paul’s conversion story the people of that place glorified God.

How many of us can say that when we found Jesus we spent three years with our faces in the Word and on the ground in prayer? How many of us have allowed our conversion experience to radically alter our course and lives? We often convert and settle into a passive life of indifferent church attendance. We accept salvation as the “free gift”, but we refuse to surrender Lordship. Is that what the Holy Spirit calls us to? Paul was so incredibly moved that his experiences shaped a region that didn’t even recognize him by face. How many of us are known by our commitment and action in the faith? More often we are known by our trades. Is our identity in Christ or in a profession? Do others glorify God by what they see happening in you and me? If you had 15 days off, how would you spend it? Would you go search out a “Peter” to share stories and grow in the faith or lounge by the coast?

Move forward men, with impact as you go. Be recognizable as a follower of Jesus the Nazarene. Surrender Lordship to the One True God and be led into everlasting change and reward.

Vance Durrance

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