Surrender. Obedience. Attack.

 

I’ve decided that you can learn a lot if you’re willing to pay attention to detail. Especially in the Bible. Recently, I read through Psalm 40. It’s an amazing Psalm, but I noticed something this time that I’d never noticed before. There’s an order in how it is written. Specifically throughout verses 6-13, as we see David’s heart poured out before God. 


“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:6-8) 



Surrender:  It is almost impossible for God to do anything with someone who isn’t surrendered to do His will. David knew this. God didn’t want Sacrifice and burn-offerings. He didn’t even want sin-offerings. He wanted complete surrender. God is not a tyrant. He won’t force Himself upon you. Does He allow things in our lives to get our attention? Absolutely. He lovingly draws all men. But forced love is not love at all. Forced obedience is not service, but slavery. The surrender of our wills to His lordship is not something He demands…but something He asks. It is given. And when we get real with God, when we humble ourselves, when we repent before Him, when we realize just who we are and who He is, we can say like David, “Lo, I come…and…”I delight to thy will“. 


 After the first nuclear bombing on Japan, near the end of World War II, Japan sought for “conditional surrender”. However, these terms were not accepted and the United States of America insisted upon “unconditional surrender” or further destruction. This was proven by the 2nd nuclear bomb that hit Japan, for which afterward, Japan unconditionally surrendered. I think sometimes this is like us with God. The Bible says that we cannot serve two masters. But we try to. We come to God with “conditional surrender”. (Lord, I surrender, but _________.)  But conditions with surrender are not acceptable terms to God. He desires “unconditional surrender”. 



Obedience: To say that we are surrendered to God, and yet, we do nothing that He says… means, in fact, we truly aren’t surrendered to God. We are most certainly lying. We may not know that we are lying…but in truth, we are. The book of James makes this very clear. We may very well be self-deceived. This is why it is important to ask God to search our hearts continually.


And after David came in surrender to Christ, after he told the Lord that he delighted to his will… God took him up on it. And what do we see?


“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” (Psalm 40:9-10)


I am amazed by the things David declares in these verses. He preached righteousness. (As woman, we aren’t given the liberty to “preach” exactly, but proclaiming righteousness isn’t necessarily just seen through what we might consider “traditional preaching”, but also through our actions and daily lives.) David refrained not his lips. He spoke out. He witnessed. He was bold in proclaiming truth. He declared the faithfulness of God. He declared the salvation of God. He concealed not the Lord’s lovingkindness. In other words, he loved people. David also said that he had not “hid the Lord’s righteousness within [his] heart.” He extended it to others. This really stood out to me. A lot of Christians today are content to keep God for themselves. They “hide Him”, if you would, within their own comfort-ability and houses. But not David. And this is all said of the person God said before, was a “man after his own heart“. This is all said, right after David surrendered to do the Lord’s will. 



Attack: 


Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.” (Psalm 40:11-13)


When you submit yourself to God. When you set out to do His will. When you are serious about righteousness. When you set out to actively obey Him. Be sure of it. You WILL be attacked. Sometimes, it takes us by surprise…but it shouldn’t. Satan is a deceitful and ruthless enemy. He sets out to destroy. He isn’t interested in playing games. He isn’t okay with you being a light in darkness. He isn’t happy about sincere and real Christianity. But, this shouldn’t stop us. We shouldn’t allow it to discourage us! God is so much greater! 


I’ve never experienced more spiritual attack in my whole life than I have this past year. It is a very REAL thing and it can take many different forms. David describes some of them here in these verses. Innumerable evils. Iniquities (sins), to the point that he isn’t even able to look up to God. This one is the most subtle and shocking when it comes. Also known as, condemnation. I’ve seen over and over again, when you step out in obedience to serve God, your past sin creeps in to haunt you, to condemn you, to discourage you. Sometimes, it is just seeing your flesh for what it truly is (wretched) …and allowing it to make you feel worthless and hopeless and unable to be of any use to God. This isn’t the spirit of Christ. God already KNEW who you were before you suddenly became aware of it yourself. Your sin isn’t shocking to Him. He knew. He knows. But sometimes it is shocking to us. Maybe because we are self-deceived into thinking that we really weren’t as bad as the Bible made us out to be. But your sin isn’t the biggest problem to God. He already paid for it on the cross of Calvary. He has already forgiven you, if you accept that forgiveness. But Satan loves to back us into a corner that cripples us to any action. He wants you to give up. He wants you to feel worthless. He wants to, as he subtly did to Eve, get us to doubt that God really loves us and has the best in store for us. Satan, in any way he can, wants to distract you from looking towards God. If he can simply get you to take your eyes off Christ and place them on yourself…he’s won a victory. Because it’s when we look at ourselves, we either become proud or discouraged and are therefore hindered in our work for God. David knew what it was to have your heart fail you. And it came after he set out in obedience to God. Don’t be surprised when the enemy sneaks in to attack you in any way he can. Instead, be ready. Seek God. Through submission and resistance, he will flee. David said, “make haste to help me“. If we are on God’s side…than it stands true that He is on our side too. 


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; (Psalm 46:1 and 2)


I’m learning to be encouraged, instead of discouraged, when attack comes beating down. Because, it means God is doing something. That Satan has a reason to be afraid. And God certainly won’t leave you alone. He wants you to submit to His good will. He wants to use you for His kingdom, more than you know. 

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Quote for Today

“Do you know how the wind blows through the trees on the steep mountain side, and will make music in your heart, if your heart is tuned to its music, even while you are pushing your way through thorny tanglewood and undergrowth?  …Obedience is the rhythm of two wills, that blends their action into rarest harmony.  Some of us need his tuning-fork, so as to enjoy the music of the road.” 

 — S.D. Gordon Quiet Talks, 54

Quote for Today

“You are seeking your own will, my daughter. You are seeking some good other than the law you are bound to obey. But how will you find good? It is not a thing of choice; it is a river that flows from the foot of the Invisible Throne, and flows by the path of obedience. I say again, man cannot choose his duties. You may choose to forsake your duties, and choose not to have the sorrow they bring. But you will go forth, and what will you find, my daughter? Sorrow without duty- bitter herbs, and no bread with them.”


(George Eliot, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 297)

Quote for Today

“You are seeking your own will, my daughter. You are seeking some good other than the law you are bound to obey. But how will you find good? It is not a thing of choice; it is a river that flows from the foot of the Invisible Throne, and flows by the path of obedience. I say again, man cannot choose his duties. You may choose to forsake your duties, and choose not to have the sorrow they bring. But you will go forth, and what will you find, my daughter? Sorrow without duty- bitter herbs, and no bread with them.”
(George Eliot, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 297)

Tomorrow

time“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:13-15)

The truth is…you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Time is either a merciful friend or a deadly enemy. As Christians, we are really good at making “plans”. I’ll do this or that tomorrow. Procrastination can sometimes just be another fancy word for disobedience. We have such “good intentions” sometimes…but sadly, they never get much farther than that…an intention…and not an active reality in our lives. We say….’I’ll give of myself tomorrow. I’ll serve the Lord tomorrow. I’ll read my Bible tomorrow morning. I’ll love my neighbor tomorrow. I’ll give food to the homeless or give him a place to stay next time it’s convenient. I’ll visit the nursing home next week. I’ll help the preborn scheduled for abortion later. I’ll give a tract to that familiar grocer next time I see him. “I’m sure they’ll be another time when someone isn’t in line behind me.” Or maybe that man sitting beside me on the bus. “I’ll catch him later.” “I’m in too much of a hurry today to stop and talk to that lonely man sitting on that park bench.” I’ll stop and make time for others tomorrow. I’ll rid my heart of secret sin next altar call at church. I’ll let go of bitterness in my life later. I’ll forgive that person before he dies. I’ll spend time with my family tomorrow night. Or that friend that needs encouragement. I’ll open my home to hospitality next meal. Tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow. I’ll do it all tomorrow.’

I’m only 22 years old…and I’ve already realized how short my life actually is. Days…months… even years seem to pass by so quickly. It’s sobering. I honestly think it is a subtle tool of satan to keep Christians distracted with the things of this world…and to forget the real value of time. To forget that it is precious…as it is short. To forget that tomorrow doesn’t belong to us yet. To forget who it really does belongs to. Christ! And that we are His servants…here to do His will. Not our own.

I’ve decided to start making time for what is most important in my life. I’ve realized that unless you purposefully choose to take the time…it won’t just fall into your lap. Life is short. Tomorrow is unknown. Hell is real. People are dying. Babies are being murdered. People are starving for truth. For love. And there’s a heaven with eternal consequences and value.

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)

Let’s wake up! Let’s honestly evaluate our lives! Let’s seek the Lord while He may be found! Let’s be about our Father’s business! Let’s understand His will and do it! Whose with me?

Quote for the Day

“It is impossible for us to live in fellowship with God without holiness in all the duties of life. These things act and react on each other. Without a diligent and faithful obedience to the calls and claims of others upon us, our religious profession is simply dead. To disobey conscience when it points to relative duties irritates the whole temper, and quenches the first beginnings of devotion. We cannot go from strife, breaches, and angry words, to God. Selfishness, an imperious will, want of sympathy with the sufferings and sorrows of other men, neglect of charitable offices, suspicions, hard censures of those with whom our lot is cast, will miserably darken our own hearts, and hide the face of God from us.”

(H. E. Manning, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 253)

God Ordained Authority, Part Two

I would like to continue just a few thoughts on the subject of God ordained authority. If you have not already, please read my previous post on this subject as well, God Ordained Authority, Part One.

Last post, I stopped with the fact that, in trusting our authorities, we ultimately are trusting in the Lord.  God almost always chooses to use men, in one way or another, to perform His will for His people.

In Ezekiel 22:30 the Bible says- “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”

The Lord chose to use Joseph to provide through Egypt’s famine; Moses was called by God to lead the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; Caleb stood against the multitude; Joshua fought the battle of Jericho; Gideon smote the Midianites; Asa cried before the Lord and the Ethiopians fell; even rebellious Jonah eventually went and spared Nineveh their destruction. In Romans 10:14, we see where the Lord proclaims that He needs men to reach the lost. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” God chooses to use ordinary men. The men of the Bible did not possess any “special power” because they were from that time period. The only difference was their faith.

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:17-18)

God chooses to use our authorities in the same way. To say that my authority isn’t an “Elijah”, doesn’t hold water my friend. Just as He chose to use Jeremiah to prophesy to the people, He chooses to use our authorities to direct His will for our lives; whether that is through our fathers, a father-figure, our pastors, or maybe our husbands. It can honestly be a hard concept to swallow. But it’s Biblical. I’ve seen where too, the Lord has used my authority, even when he was wrong. Seriously wrong. I’ve learned that the Lord sees beyond this. In spite of my hopeless dread of a situation, His ways are still above it all. The Lord is still greater than any wrong authority. He can still turn a king’s heart. He turns the worst situations into blessings. I have no idea how He does it; but He does.

Prayer is such an importance here too. There have been many times I’ve honestly been tempted to just “tell my dad how it is”, but instead, chose to pray. And you know, the Lord heard. In giving it all to Him in prayer, it helped me to keep a right attitude and a submissive heart, while allowing the Lord to deal with my authority. I don’t have to say something, or let him know he’s wrong, or even tell him how I feel about it. I have a mediator. And I can trust the Lord with my authorities’ decisions.

I remember once, when my sister and I were helping someone in town for an extended period of time. This person seriously needed and appreciated our help, while she was still recovering from having had a new baby. We were happy to help. However, we received a call a few days earlier than expected. It was from my dad, saying how he wanted us to come home tomorrow. We both knew that we weren’t needed at home, nearly as much as we were needed in town. It was hard to submit to my dad in this, when I knew that another person was actually counting on us for help. How could we just “drop everything” and go? My authorities’ decision seemed wrong. And even worse, it felt selfish. So we just prayed. God knew. The next day, we went home as we were asked. And to the credit of an almighty, all knowing, and all sufficient Saviour, this person actually was ready for us to leave when we did. This was an answer to prayer. God provided a way, even when my authority was wrong.

Proverbs 4:1 says- “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.”

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:13)

“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (Proverbs 8:33)

I would like to use the example of David for just a moment. David was a shepherd boy who became a mighty man of valor. God eventually made him king. Although he was strong, he also had a soft heart towards the Lord. He was an example of a godly man. Did he do everything right? No. Certainly not; but God did say that he was a man after His own heart. One thing that is admirable about David’s character is that he submitted himself to authority. And this wasn’t just to any authority; but to a selfish, violent, wicked, and ungodly ruler. To an authority that actually tried to kill him, more than once. When Saul disobeyed the Lord in sparing the best of the sheep and the oxen, God then rejected Saul as king. Incomplete obedience amounts to complete disobedience and the Lord sought to make David king in his stead. However, Saul wasn’t just willing to hand over the kingdom. (You can read more about this in I Samuel) David fled for his life, even down to hiding in caves, because Saul wanted to kill him. David was a threat to a kingdom Saul could not hold onto. Not only did David not retaliate towards Saul, but he still upheld him as his authority. When Saul eventually was killed in battle, David wept. David loved Saul and still upheld him as his king. In all rights, Saul wasn’t supposed to be in a place of authority over David. God had chosen David to be king, not Saul. What an example though. He submitted to someone who was not only selfishly hoarding what was rightfully his, but also to someone who tried to kill him over it. If this isn’t an example of a bad authority, I’m not sure what is. And God blessed David for it.

Hebrews 5:7-9 says- “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

I am amazed by this verse. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” If Jesus had to learn obedience, how much more do we? No one is exempt from authority. And even Jesus Christ the Lord submitted Himself to the Father.

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)

Jesus submitted His will to the Father, and He was GOD. Before Jesus went to the cross, in the garden of Gethsemane, we see Christ’s submission to the Father’s will. “And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:40-42)

“…the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11)

Christ is our example. We are told to walk even as He walked. (I John 2:6) He is also our Lord, our Master. Matthew 10:24 says- “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Submission can be very humbling. It is letting go of our will and accepting the will of someone else. It requires death to self. This isn’t joyous; this isn’t fun. It also requires trust. And if you cannot trust your authority figure per se, you can still trust the LORD to work through that authority. His hand is not shortened that it cannot save. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear. Jesus knows. And He makes a way. He gives the grace to bear. He gives the power and the ability to overcome. We can submit, even to an ungodly authority, because it is right; because He has supplied all we could ever need for victory!