God gave us the tools to survive through life’s challenges. Strong faith will allow you to experience peace in the midst of the struggle.~ Lisa Blair
Desire and want may not lead to spiritual growth, what we need will lead to spiritual growth.~ Lisa Blair
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV
Most people misconstrue this scripture to mean, ’all that we want and desire’. God knows what we want and knows what we desire. He also knows what we need to advance our walk and maturity as a Christian. Want/desire, and need are very different.
Praying for desire or want should include, ’ your will be done’, or ’if it is in your will, or some compilation of the phrases. Only God knows our spiritual road map.
Image – YouVersion
Awake every morning to the bugle call. Time to get up and put on the Armor of God in prayer.~Lisa Blair
The full armor of God does not work if it is hanging up in the closet or strewn across the floor, likewise our invisible armor does not work if we do not put it on in prayer. Ephesians clearly explains God’s gift and purpose for what He has empowered each piece of armor to accomplish. He also explains that we cloth ourselves in prayer, not as a ritual, but as protection against the wiles of the evil one.
God promises to answer if we, seek, find, and knock.~Lisa Blair
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7 NIV
Barnes notes best sums up this scripture.
Ask, and it shall be given you … – There are here three different forms presented of seeking the things which we need from God – asking, ‘seeking, and knocking. The latter is taken from the act of knocking at a door for admittance. See Luke 13:25; Revelation 3:20. The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, diligence, and perseverance. The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us. It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give – that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us, and most for his own honor, 1 John 5:14. Of that God is to be the judge.
And here there is the utmost latitude which a creature can ask. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the gospel through the world. Man “can” ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that he is willing to grant them.
Reference—BibleHub.com, Barnes Notes—Matthew 7:7, paraphrased Image—Bible.com, YouVersion
Sin is often subtle. Satan cloaks it in many ways, often through feelings of shame and guilt, leading us back into sin and hence, sinning against God.~Lisa Blair
How can this be so? All sin is sin against God. Yes, He freed us of sin that strangled us when Jesus suffered on the Cross and gave His life for us. We are no longer bound by our sins. We received salvation because Jesus died for our sins. Our Father promised us that He would give us redemptive life.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14 NIV
As humans, we will sin until Jesus returns and conquers Satan, but through redemption, we do not have to wear it like an albatross. It does not have to hang around our necks, carrying it with us into eternity. We have been given the gift of repentance. When we acknowledge our sin, we have the opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness. When we do so, He forgives us and removes the sin from our lives as far as the east is from the west.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:8-12 NLT
It is our faith that is affected when we ask for forgiveness only through guilt to relive the sin again and again in our minds. If God forgave us, removed the sin from us, we must do the same. If we don’t, we are sinning against God. We are doubting His Word and resigning ourselves to the prison (faithlessness) Satan creates to incarcerate us within the walls of our past.
Most of us have done things we are ashamed of doing. Things that, if given an opportunity, we might have done differently, but we cannot change the fact that it occurred. We can accept God’s forgiveness and attempt to refrain from committing the same sin again. We may also find that there are consequences for what we have done, but the most important thing is that we learn from what we have done, repent and thank God that we are not bound by it any longer; until we forgive and place it in the sea of forgetfulness, we are sinning against God.
God warned those (of the Jewish faith) who became the first Christians about returning to their old ways in the Book of Hebrews. This warning is the same today as it was in the past. Returning to our old ways is an intentional act of denial. We deny God’s love for us and promise to keep us and never leave us, we reject His promise of redemption. We speak repentance but continue to carry the chain, we sin against our Father simply by denying His forgiveness.
If you are like me, and most humans, we have to work on forgiving ourselves once God has forgiven us earnestly. We have to learn to stop returning to the mental scene of the crime so to speak, thank God and move forward.
Moving forward is an act of maturity. As we learn about God’s promises, we must use them to reinforce who we are in Christ. This is an ongoing exercise. Living a Godly life is a process. Paul equates life as a race and crossing the finish line occurs when we perish from this earth and take up residence in heaven with Christ.
Warnings are opportunities to change. We are warned before we continue to repeat our past. God promised we are freed from sin when we repent. Repent and do not return to the past; do not bind yourself in regret and guilt. You have been freed. Accept it and move forward. Our Lord placed our sin into the sea of forgetfulness, and we must do the same. Let God set you on level ground. God’s Will is to free us from sin.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me to level ground. Psalms 143:10 NIV
Lord place me on solid ground, the land of uprightness (NKJV), lead me forward on a firm footing (NLT), lead me to level ground (NIV).
Failing to follow our Lord in our innermost being is living an outward life of a Christian. An outward life is one of self-righteousness and only a substitution for true faith. Releasing guilt must be an inner act of spiritual life in Christ that leads to Christian maturity. Holding on to guilt and shame is an act of spiritual immaturity, reflecting that we do not actually rely on Jesus Christ for salvation. Our sins are not unpardonable as was the case in the Old Testament. Christ provides the way for each of us who obey the gospel commands (by faith) to do so.
True repentance is complete surrender and submission to Christ and involves a change of mind and will to recognize and refuse our sin natures control over us and follow Christ. We must refuse to mentally return to the sin we committed, scolding ourselves over and over again. The Lord freed us from sin, accepted our repentance, and encourages us to move forward into Christian maturity. We should not sin against God. People who know what the gospel is about and refuse to repent and believe, in effect, crucify Christ all over again.
Believing the gospel through faith is an act. We have to intentionally hold fast to our faith, release the thoughts (guilt) that bind us, stop crucifying Christ over-and-over again, and move forward as maturing Christians.
Resources—BibleHub.com; GotQuestions.org; BFS. Lesson-Hebrews
Images—Google Images; PicMonkey
God continues to work through us as long as we are receptive and obedient, though He never fails to leave the reluctant follower behind.~ Lisa Blair
What is a reluctant follower? It is someone who hears God’s voice but does not respond with immediate vigor, instead examining the pros and cons of how it will affect one’s life.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,“Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,…They always go astray in their heart” Hebrews 3:7-9, NIV
I think we have all been there, and are learning that obedience is immediate, in the present, now, even if we don’t understand where God is leading us. God’s voice directs our walk and informs our thinking. When He says, ‘follow me’, it is not a request, it is a command. We are His children.
In Hebrews 3:8, the term today, refers to the present, and should not be delayed until tomorrow, the command refers to this moment. God gives no commands about the future, the action requested is in the moment. We are commanded not to worry about tomorrow, but to focus on the day. Therefore, it follows that His command is for the day and requires action in the day, or, today. Obedience to God’s commands should never be sidelined by reluctance.
A reluctant follower is one whose heart is hardened, meaning they have a stubborn heart, are self absorbed, and tend to procrastinate. Why do so many procrastinate? It could be that they are weighing the outcome because they do not know God’s voice, or they do know His voice but are slow to respond. Learning to identify God’s voice is important. Slow response is a form of reluctance.
Isaiah 30:21 NIV says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
The GW version says, “You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.”
God designed our path before we were born, He knows everything about us including when we will heed His voice and when we won’t. He gave us free-will to make decisions regarding our relationship with Him. He offers direction but allows us to choose to be obedient, reluctant, or non-responsive. The thing I have learned over time is that reluctance and non-responsiveness is our loss and we suffer the consequences of disobedience, later regretting not acting when God spoke. Failure produces a continual inner dialogue about failing to act, and a lost opportunity to follow God’s command. Reluctance also places you in situations where the lesson may need to be repeated. In short, you may find yourself in GPS mode where God redirects you to offer another opportunity to follow His Will.
We think we can camouflage our reluctance to respond to God’s command. But, the truth is, God knows everything, sees everything, and hears everything, and as soon as a thought enters our mind countering His command to act, we enter into conversation with Him. We open The dialogue with our thoughts.
Scriptures —biblegateway.com | References—Gotquestions.org; Blue letter bible.org. Sermon Notes for Hebrews 3:7-19. Chuck Smith; biblegateway.com, Commentaries, Hebrews 3:7-19 | Images—Google Images; LAB Photos
There are times in our lives when we surrender ourselves as a form of selfish need, and times when we surrender because we want a covenant relationship with the Lord. Where are you on the spectrum? It may be time to decide. You are on the precipice of surrender.~ Lisa Blair
Many of us tend to use this phrase nonchalantly. This is not a thoughtless statement or a decision to take lightly. When we express this thought, we are entering a covenant, a pack, with God. From this point forward, there is no looking back. This is the point of surrender.
I have heard this scripture spoken in many contexts during my lifetime. I imagine you have, as well. You may have glibly spoken it during a conversation. As a student of the Word, I now pose the question, how many times have I broken covenant with God? How many times have I uttered this statement and then chosen my own path, made my own decision, or followed others, overriding God’s purpose and plan for my life?
This gives rise to three questions we all struggle with:
1) What does ‘your will be done’ mean?
2) What does surrender mean?
3) Are you
ready to commit to the covenant with God?
WHAT DOES YOUR WILL BE DONE MEAN?
When Jesus was preparing to take his place up the cross, after he could no longer take the pain, and wanted to be released from his duty, he cried out,
“My father! If it is possible, let this Cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26: 39 NLT)
This is the turning point in Christ’s prayer. “Here, Jesus demonstrated the turning point in prayer for all of us. Prayer is not about bending God’s will to get what we want. The purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will and then align our desires with his. Jesus willingly placed his desires in full submission to the father’s will.” (Not my will but yours be done. Learn Religions.com)
When we make the statement, we are in effect, praying. We are committing ourselves to God’s Will for our lives. His plan for our lives was established long ago, long before we were born, perhaps before He created this universe. If we allow God to lead us, He will show us the path to take. Your will be done means you will abide by His will and not your own. 99% of the time, your purpose will be different than His. You are not first in His Will, but you surrender regardless and are bound by the covenant you created when you cried out the phrase.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11 NJKV)
In effect, when you call on God, pray to Him and listen to Him, you are abiding in His Will for your life. Your (totally) surrender yourself, holding nothing back, to His Will and His Way.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SURRENDER?
Surrendering means yielding ownership, to relinquish control over what we consider to be ours, to relinquish our life, all of it. We surrender what God has given us and how we wanted to use it to become His steward of this life. When we surrender to God, we are acknowledging His ultimate control of everything, including our circumstances, past, present, and future.
Billy Graham wrote: If you want a change in your life, if you want forgiveness and peace and joy that you’ve never known before, God demands total surrender, in so doing, our Lord becomes the ruler of your life.
When we surrender and give up all we are, we no longer seek personal gain, we are delivered from sin, and become useful to God to conduct His work on earth.
When we reach this point in our lives, making moral choices, we must choose to follow our own sinful nature (our carnal life) or seek God and surrender ourselves to Him.
ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO THE COVENANT WITH GOD?
Once someone speaks this statement, utters this prayer, recites this scripture, conversion has been set in place, you are on the precipice of changing your life to become God’s tool, His steward, and His servant.
Take heed, think this through before you find yourself amid the war for your soul. It is a choice, do you follow your carnal desires, or surrender them to our Lord and Savior, the head of our lives?
Are you ready to enter into covenant with God and all that it entails? Are you ready to allow God to take you wherever He needs you? Are you prepared to commit?
Internet Resources – Thy Will Be Done. lifehopeandtruth.com; A Message From Billy Graham. billygraham.org; Surrender To God. http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org; Total Surrender| My Utmost For His Highest. utmost.org; What Does It Mean To Surrender To God? http://www.gotquestions.org