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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Musings

I took the time today to sit in the sunshine. You know, I think every person should take at least 10 minutes of their day to be still in the sunshine. It does miracles. The cottonwood leaves have turned crisp and yellow and the breeze made them sing their brusque autumn melody. So different than the whispers of a summer’s wind through the trees. As I sat there I realized how there are so many things to be done. So many possibilities.

Lately, I have equated life as a painting. I used to be uncomfortable at the thought that I allow my emotions to spill out for the world to see. But I have come to the conclusion that I am not a clown because my emotions are painted on the outside of my heart. I will always be sensitive, and it’s a gift, not a curse. I’ve decided to explore it. I want to see what ‘painting’ is like without guilt. And it’s been amazing. I have been “me” and surprisingly enough, no one has cringed or sent me away! I have allowed myself to be what others might interpret as “dramatic”. I haven’t tried to constrain my interests, my passions, the way I relate to things. I haven’t tried to hide the “personal me” from anyone. I used to think I was shallow and naive for opening my heart. That I was ‘less’ than those who were quiet and had something deep inside them that needed sheltering. I wasn’t as complex because I revealed too much. Many people reserve their “personal”. It’s okay. But I am a wellspring. They draw quietly in intriguing abstract pen and ink, and I splash with untamed expression, using the entire color spectrum.

But with this passion of expression also comes the personality to conquer the world. And today as I sat there in the sunshine I realized I’ve been dabbling in so many paints I’ve been left with a muddy mess. I can’t possibly give 100% to one hundred things…

How to pursue it all? Sign Language, Natural health education, my own health, the lost, the elderly, the babies who are aborted, the needy in my church, my work at Aspen Wellspring, my Dad’s business, my home life, my blog and books I’m writing/publishing, my relationships? I’m not desperate but overwhelmed. There are so many ways to serve Jesus. So many doors of opportunity. So many little notes of encouragement that could be written. So many prayers that could be said. So many people a tract could be given to. Widows to be loved, elderly to be sung to, children to make memories with. Life is so short, and it only disappears faster, the older I become.

I stopped musing and patted Bonnie who came to lay next to me in the sunshine. I decided. I am obviously one little girl up against an entire world. I can’t do everything. But here is what I know I will do:

I am determined to be sensitive to God’s leading. When and how is up to Him. I will not take on anything He does not require and I will do whatever He asks. I will look for opportunities. I will be willing to be spent for others. Even if that “other” isn’t the imagined lost person I dream of helping, but Dad who needs my help that day at work. I will sacrifice. Even if He doesn’t ask me to go to Siberia, but if He asks that I give up watching a movie so I can spend that time for someone, or if it means not getting any computer time in so I can make dinner.

I am determined not to wait for others to lead me into service. I don’t need to wait for others to encourage me, to point out how I can join their ministry. And I don’t need to worry if anyone is following me into the battle. I’ll sound the cry if need be, but I’m going whether they follow or not.

I am determined to be faithful. Even if my “opportunities” prove lonely or un-glamorous. I might not even be front lines where I get “attacked” where others can applaud or sympathize with me. I’m ready to commit His will and stick to it.

I am determined not to be afraid of letting Him be Himself in me. He has given me a personality and I’m going to use it. Watch out! Personality is a gift! He fashioned me this way! Embracing Him in me is a wonderful, powerful security. It’s okay if I’ve got paint all over me. I have the Master Artist.

What has a Consecrated Heart to Fear?

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Just recently my brothers and my two dearest friends went on a two week car trip.  During some of the long hours of driving we had some great discussions.  One of them was on our insecurities.  It revealed to me how everyone has secret fears…even the most seemingly confident people.  The introverts, extroverts, women, men… we all have them.  


The past year I have been forced to face many fears.  Some of them I’ve had since I can remember.  Others are only recently recognized.   


Sometimes my health dictate my emotions.  And even when I know it is…I can’t seem to fight it.    This past year I’ve struggled with depression.  Just as hard as the lows, are the “highs”.  I have had evenings that feel like an epic ending…the future is just around the corner.  I’m in “happily ever after” and all my dreams must be coming.  They will happen.  And the next morning I wake up unsure if God really finds me a good daughter.  Nothing is guaranteed; why was I so sure before?  I feel dirty and sinful, all past godliness is behind me and I am digressing.  I’m condemned.  I’m a complainer.  I’m a disappointment to those I love.  I’m convinced I’m ugly.  My body physically struggles…I am sick, I put on weight, even though I’m allowed little food.  I feel unlovely, and therefore unlovable.  My will to live ebb and flows.  Which makes me feel guilty.  I am extreme.  I either endlessly self examine, or throw caution to the wind.  


Some of my fears are related to relationships. Sometimes I don’t want to get too close to people because I have this unreasonable fear that as soon as my heart attaches, Jesus will require of me to cut them away.  It has happened before.  For some relationships it would be easier to “detach” than to vigorously work and maintain.  I find autonomy refreshing and easier, and escape tempting.  Other relationships require a great amount of courage to face.  I fear them; but God has specifically put them in my life.  


These are my most recent fears.  And I only share them because I desire to share with you what Jesus has been showing me.


“What has a consecrated life to do with being afraid?”  Francis Havergal 


I stared at that question a long time.  I realized all my journal entries lately have been filled with fears.  Untitled, but definitely fears.  


Am I consecrated?  Who consecrates me?  What does consecrate mean?  Consecrate means to be made and declared holy and separate.  God consecrated me when I became His child.  I am consecrated.  If I am His, and I am willingly His vessel, then why am I afraid?  My peace and security and standing does not depend on the fervor of my devotion.  It has nothing to do with how healthy I am or what I look like.  It is not based on my crosses, my crucified life, or my state of relationships.  It has nothing to do with how I feel.  


What if He asked of me to continue on “broken” and sick?  Then I can be assured that it is His good pleasure, that it is for my benefit, that He is being a good Father, and will provide the strength.  Why?  If I am consecrated to Him, than I am His responsibility.  And He is either a good, all knowing God who loves me and has separated me to this “cross” for a purpose; Or, He is a merciless tyrant who decides random cruelty on His consecrated children.  


The same love that grants my desires, denies the ones that He knows will hurt or hinder me.  He understands every peculiar and unreasonable fear, my hopes and dreams, my strength and weaknesses.  I cannot cringe from pain more than He loathes to see me hurt.  But He has allowed it, for a greater good.  Why?  Because He is either a good Father, who knows what He is doing and proves His love by not sparing me beneficiary pain.  He trusts me with a weighty cross.  Or, He has consecrated me to an unprofitable and lonely path and enjoys allowing pain without reason.  


Health is a privilege.  Not a guaranteed necessity.  If I am His, and He is my infallible master, it is not my responsibility to worry about why I am sick, or if I will ever heal, or if it’s an accidental evil.  I am His charge and He is responsible for my welfare.  My job is to be scrupulously obedient and give Him glory in my bonds.  Fearing them will bring Him very little glory.  What has a consecrated heart to fear?  


Why would He allow my heart to attach only to rip it apart later?  Why does He allow heartstrings and then tell me “no”?  Am I at fault?  Can a heart be helped when it comes to dreams and hopes?  A hope seems to be an involuntary act, not a premeditated one.  And yet He would only deny that which would be evil.  I fear pain. But, when I think of the cost of consecration I have to smile.  Would it be hard to let go?  Yes.  Would it hurt?  Yes.  Would I have His strength to obey?  Yes.  Would I heal?  Yes.  Would I ever regret obeying.  Never.  The unconsecrated hearts have no similar hope.  They are made to let go.  They hurt.  Their dreams are dashed.  But they rely on their strength.  They often do not heal.  


There is no fear in real love.  I am a consecrated heart.  I am separated to a jealous, strict, loving, all- knowing God who loves me more than I can comprehend.  I can relish the fact that I am His.  How freeing!  I will end with this short snippet from my diary:


“Take over this consecrated heart Father.  Man this little vessel.  It’s sea tossed and uncertain of it’s destination.  Rule my heart with ferocious tyranny.  Here I am — laid bare.  What has a consecrated heart to fear?”      

Surrendered Stones upon the Wall of His Purpose

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2: 19-22)

“Slowly, through all the universe, that temple of God is being built. Whenever, in any world, a soul, by free-willed obedience, catches the fire of God’s likeness, it is set into the growing walls, a living stone. When, in your hand fight, in your tiresome drudgery, or in your terrible temptation, you catch the purpose of your being, and give yourself to God, and so give Him the chance to give Himself to you, your life, a living stone, is taken up and set into that growing wall. Wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely ways; – there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple. Oh, if the stone can only have some vision of the temple of which it is to be a part forever, what patience must fill it as it feels the blows of the hammer, and knows that success for it is simply to let itself be wrought into what shape the Master wills.”

(Phillip Brooks, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 158)

I loved the imagery of this particular quote. Stone after stone, being placed upon the wall of His divine purpose. Our lives make up the stones. Each part, each detail, small and great, is a stone. Our dreams. Our hopes. Our Goals. The desires He’s placed in our hearts. The ministries He’s given us to do. Our daily chores. Our work place. Relationships. Authorities. Talents and abilities. Our home life. Even our very hindrances, are all “stones”. Things that make up our life as we know it, and the people that shape who we are and what we do.

Each stone must be surrendered to His purpose. For we are His temple. We are the workmanship of His hands. He is the builder.

1Corinthians 3:16 says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

And Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

He is hewing out pillars for His temple. Building up walls for His glory. He has a finishing plan and purpose.

Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

He is the author and the finisher. Sometimes, the process looks odd. Sometimes it looks ugly. It feels humbling. We compare our temple project to those around us. We question why He might place a stone here, or remove another one there. Sometimes the stones He chooses, aren’t the ones we would choose for ourselves. It feels rough on the outside. But He sees the finished product. Take heart, dear soul, and trust the Master at His work. He knows what He is doing.

When our plans are foiled, when disappointments arise- He is building His temple.

When heartaches encamp us and sorrows descend- He is building His temple.

When hindrances hold us captive, when our prayers seem unanswered- He is still building His temple.

And when doors are opened, when opportunities arise- He is building His temple.

When blessings surround us, and sweet joys flood within- He is yet building His temple.

When prayers are answered, when our desires and hopes He chooses to fulfill- He is building His temple.

He is the Corner Stone. And He knows just how to build our lives exactly fit for His glory and His Divine Purpose. We can trust Jesus, with what we do not understand. He sees the finished project. We don’t. But to get a glimpse of what He is doing! To trust that it is good! That is sweetest rest. That is glory.