When you feel alone, know Jesus is sitting in the boat with you. Call on him to give you peace as the storm rages and seems as if it is going to destroy everything around you. The Bible tells us – “this to will pass”. Hold fast to Jesus.
~ Lisa Blair
We can see our rebirth* come alive during this pandemic. God is at the center of each of our lives. Call on him for your peace that is greater than your understanding. Praise him for each day and expect him to provide his best for you. His best is his love, peace, and security in him.
Wherever you are, he is in the midst of it with you. Hold fast to your faith. He will get through this, but the world will not reappear as was it was; look forward to the new day that the Lord is bringing forth. There is no storm to great to defeat God. ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got you and me brothers-in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands.’
Scriptures and images – Bible.com
*our new lives, after accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior
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
Why do we struggle to live what we believe is enough, until we reach rough terrain, or old age and realize, God is our strength and relying on self is futile?
~ Lisa Blair
God created a headstrong people and gave us free-will. Free-will is the option to choose to live a carnal life or a Godly life. God does not stand in our way, but instead allows us to make the decision to choose Him, and live a Godly, eternal life, or flail about on our own, destined to rot in hell.
As we hunger for true life, we begin to understand that only God can provide the comfort we seek. Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the comfort and strength we seek come through the Holy Spirit, who instantaneously takes up residence in us, and becomes our inner man.
It’s mind-boggling to think that even as Christians, who have surrendered our lives to Christ, still find it difficult to be obedient and dependent upon Him. If you are, or were, like me and so many others, we were raised to be independent, to forge ahead relying on our own decision-making abilities, and take the bull by the horns.
Hearts and Bodies Fail, Death is Inevitable
The truth is, our bodies and minds fail us time and time again. At some point, we become exhausted, and we search for strength and realize we must rely on God, who is our eternal strength. There is no other, especially self that can release the fear, and the weakness felt when our bodies and minds fail, in life and death.
2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalms 18:2 KJV
God is our Rock, in Him, and only Him, do we have strength. When we realize He has given us options, we also realize free-will truly means surrender and not persevering on our own. It means relying on His strength to see us through.
Again, I emphasize, free-will has two sides. God wants us to choose to either accept Him as our Lord and Savior, thus being in relationship with Him and being insured of eternal life/salvation, or remain where we are in sin moving forward blindly.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
When we fully and completely surrender, there is clarity in understanding that it is attached to obedience and dependency upon God’s Word. What seems confusing to many is that surrender is two prong and relies on total obedience and dependence upon Him. It does not mean we should enter into a catatonic state and wait for God to move us like a chess piece, it means to go to Him in prayer and ask for guidance while planning. It means learning his Word through reading the Bible and strengthening your relationship with Him. Once we begin to move down His path, we understand that we should not stray to the left or the right but to listen to His quiet, strong voice and allow Him to inform our decision-making.
God’s Will and His Way
Quite often, His plans for our lives are different than ours. How many of you have had wealth, prestige, and career opportunities that in your carnal world were exciting and clearly placed you on the path of success? Likewise, how many of you also heard God’s quiet voice saying, ‘stay with me, this is not your path’? God is the source of our happiness, not wealth, not public acclaim, not the clamor of friends, but relationship with Him. Knowing God is your strength is knowing that He alone is your supreme joy and that He is your friend and portion, now and forever.
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. John 7:17 ESV
Only God can give strength and comfort in the present and on our deathbed. Our flesh will always fail, but God is the strength of our soul and gifts us with eternal salvation. In health and in weakness, we should always attempt to persevere to walk in His Will and His Way, not our own. Without God, our life is only a self-inflicted burden without direction or cause. Without God in life and in death, we remain orphans, naked-without His covering, unprotected, and subject to eternal death. We remain portionless forever.
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 thoughtlessstatement 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?
gives rise to three questions we all struggle with:
1) What does
‘your will be done’ mean?
2) What does
3) Are you
ready to commit to the covenant with God?
WHAT DOES YOUR WILL BE DONE MEAN?
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,
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.
IT MEAN TO SURRENDER?
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.
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.
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?
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?
Feeling defeated is a human trait that Christians must overcome to become ambassadors for Christ.
~ Lisa Blair
Have you ever felt defeated? Paul wrote this letter to the disciples who were preaching about Jesus to crowds of non-believers. Their lives were being threatened, and they were beaten and jailed. Paul wanted the disciples to know that their efforts were not unnoticed by God and their rewards were forthcoming. He told them they would be hard pressed, but not crushed; they would often be perplexed, but should not despair; they would be persecuted, but God would not abandon them and; they would be struck down, but not destroyed.
“But now, GOD ’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3 MSG
He encouraged them to continue to spread the Gospel, a ‘treasure’ because it contains rich truths, and are the blessing of the new covenant. The Gospel speaks to the riches of God and of Christ, of grace and of glory. He wanted to empower the disciples who were the vessels of the Word. Paul spoke to the disciples, we are not completely unlike them in that we are God’s ambassadors. We are today’s clay pots. They were the clay pots, many felt at a loss during these tribulations. Paul shared that even though they may have been at a loss as to what to say to the masses, they should not give up. Luke shared that God would give them the words to say when the time was right, Luke 12;12 – The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them. God also gives us the words to say in any situation in life, be it a speech at school, work, prayer group, or during family conversations.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV
We are all ambassadors. We each hold the rich truth of the Gospel and have been told to carry it with us and share the Word with all around us. God will never abandon us or forsake us. The Holy Spirit guides our words and actions, especially in times of doubt or fear.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them (be terrified of them). For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
Life has twists and turns. We can be figuratively or physically be stoned and struck down, but as Paul said, Christ survived the hardships, troubles, and frustrations that he faced. The disciples faced disappointments, exhaustion, harassment, mocking, and jeering standing by the side of Christ. Christ was mercilessly beaten, prodded and killed. Paul shares that there was a wearing effect of the ministry on Christ (he was very man and very God). Like Christ, the disciples experienced mental, emotional, and physical tolls.
We experience some form of the above in our personal and spiritual lives. Christ taught the disciples, and through adoption – taught us that we must deny ourselves, not gravitate to self, and put Him first. We must decrease, so He can increase. We must see Christ’s strength in all we do and rely on His strength to stand in the midst of unbelievers. Like the disciples, we cannot be defeated whilst acknowledging our humanness. The humanness that becomes a clay jar, an earthen vessel, housing the treasures of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit (who dwells in us), who leads us and guides us through life.
Images – YouVersion.Bible.com; New Boston Church of Christ
Resources – bible study tools.com; biblehub.com; preceptaustin.org
I am a Christian, a retired teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I love to read and I love the Lord Jesus Christ! Unless otherwise specified ,all visual illustrations are from the YOU VERSION APP of the Bible.