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Posts Tagged ‘Surrender’

 Last week would have been our celebration of 43 years of marriage. But God chose to take Dick home on the 22nd of August, 2019.  No surprise to God, but I was overwhelmed with grief…and the past weeks have been difficult to say the least. Yesterday, September 6th, we celebrated Dick’s life with friends and family. And the peace of God’s presence have calmed the waters of fear that threatened to drown me. I don’t know what’s ahead…but God does. Dick’s with Jesus…seeing Him face to face…how can I do anything but praise my Lord and Savior and thank Him for the years He gave us. What about you? Where does God find you today. A treasured friend reposted my blog from three years ago…might want to read it….

Dick and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and while it was a great time of celebration, I paused to ponder some of the things God has taught me along the way. Things, in light of our current culture, I’d like to share with those of you who think y’all might not make next year’s anniversary, or those of you who’ve decided marriage isn’t your cup-a-tea.

One of the first amazing facts, I’ve learned to ponder what God has taught me. God tells us over and over to remember—remember what? Remember what we’ve gone through. Remember how He carried us through the bad times. Remember the joy of the good times. Remember His promises to those who love and obey Him. Remember who He is and who we’re not. Remember and act upon what He desires us to become. But remember, you can’t remember what you’ve never learned.

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Expect difficult trials and times. These forty years the hurdles have been many and varied: Job loss, several times. Critical illness. Heart attacks. Death of a daughter. Parenting grandchildren for a year after daughter’s death. Change in family dynamics. Destructive thoughts and behavior patterns. No job, no income, lots of bills. Anger. Rebellion to God. Caring for elder parents in our home. Death of both sets of parents. All of which lead to the third thing I’ve learned.

God never leaves us or turns His back when the going gets tough. He carried us through many of these harsh life experiences and guided us through the rest. God is faithful—even when we’re not. He is my Rock and He’s taught me to lean on Him. Doesn’t mean the grieving wasn’t hard. Stretched me to the limit. But He has never failed us.

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Keep the main thing, the main thing. Today’s culture tends to encourage us to be attentive to the urgent while by-passing the important. Sometimes at the end of a day I just wanted to jump off the crazy train—too much of everything, not enough of me. Then I began to learn about seasons of life and God’s order. Remember, seasons come and go, they don’t stay forever. What we ought to do, we ought to do now. Like education, college and graduation. Career choices. Marriage. Parenthood. Then your teen’s years swiftly turn into empty nest years. And finally retirement and old age. How’s that for a quick, sweeping  broad brush stroke across the seasons of life?

God tells us to do all things decently and in order. He is a God of order. We don’t see a flim-flam creation do we? No. Down to the last intricate detail, God orchestrated all of His creation and freely gave us life. We’re the ones who embrace confusion rather than order. We become bored with order or tantalized by the haram-scaram voice of deception. And that’s where God found me.

Hold your hand in front of you and consider, what would happen if your thumb were replaced by your pinky? Or how about if your index finger took your ring finger’s place and your thumb nestled in beside it to bump the middle finger to the thumb’s place. The answer is weird, fumbling, chaos.

And many of us have experienced fumbling, chaotic points where we by-passed stages of life or jumbled their order. Like an un-wed single mom attempting to get a college degree. Or grandparents forced to take over parenting the grandchildren because the parents rebelled against God.

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All of us have, in one way or another, violated God’s deliberate order of life and many of us end up with a diagnosis of terminal heart failure…stuffing too much, too soon, into an unprepared vessel. God is always in the business of forgiveness, but the consequences of wrong choices or sin continue to trail behind us like super sleuths.

Whether you believe it or not, God is Sovereign over all things. He knew me and He knew you before we were formed in our mother’s womb. I can’t even comprehend that, can you? Not only did He know us, He granted personalities, skills, talents—gifts, to each one of us. We are all unique.  Created for the purpose of glorifying Him. Do you know He loves to hear the sound of your voice—but is the sound He hears from me pleasing or full of discord? He gives me the right to choose.

I don’t know about you, but much of my life brought shame, not glory to God. I knew He was God, but had no clue what His sovereignty meant.  But because God never changes and is always ready to grant us mercy when we change our ways and accept Jesus’ gift of salvation and choose to obey Him—when I came to Jesus and confessed my sin and shame, He forgave me. Then the key word is surrender. I surrendered my will to His will. My wants to His wants. My choices to His choices for Dick and for me. My obedience to God brings order and peace to my life and my home.

Sovereignty means whatever you’re going through did not catch God by surprise. He’s not pacing the heavens shouting, Oh no! What am I going to do now? He’s in charge of what’s happening—sets the limits of your trials and temptations. Before you were born He knew you. Before a word is on your lips He knows what you’re going to say. And He loves you anyway. Jesus died because of your and my desperate need for a Savior.

And it also means I don’t have the option of allowing my temper to run rough-shod over people. I can’t carry a grudge and be pleasing to Him. I’m accountable to God for every tiny word that comes out of my mouth and every thought I allow to fog my mind. I’m accountable to Him for each minute of every day, whether I choose good or evil. And I don’t get the choice of defining what’s good and what’s evil. God makes the rules. And they’re not old-timey words. His Word will stand forever.

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Next week Part Two: It’s Not All About Me!

 

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Today’s world is instant everything. No waiting. From fast food, microwaves, Keurig’s, iPhones, computers, the list is endless. Waiting takes patience; and patience seems to be a fruit of the Spirit we no longer deem important.

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So what causes your toe-to-tap this morning? Tell the truth—shame the devil. The long line at McDonalds when you’re late? A spouse who can’t seem to get his/her act together? Lazy kids? A promotion at work? A neglected raise in your paycheck?  A new house? A new car? Your children to grow up and attain the level of success you ask? Or a kajillion other must haves on your list of life’s most importants?

But look around. Are all these things the reason for success? Or are we missing the point—the eternal point? Dr. Tommy Nelson, ThD in Lewisville, Texas, writes:

“History goes this way: What one generation resists, the next will allow. What one generation allows, the next will embrace. And what one generation embraces, the next will enforce.”

Think about it. Where do you think America stands today along Dr. Nelson’s timeline?

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Within the space of several paragraphs in the Psalms, inspired by the Spirit of God, David wrote these words:

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in Thee” (Psalm 39:7 NAS).

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry…” (Psalm 40:1 NAS).

“I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8 NAS).

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1 NAS).

Everywhere we turn this morning there are problems. Problems beyond our ability to solve. Serious problems that no political party will or could solve. Americans have been asleep at the wheel and our nation has been pushed and is careening off a dangerous cliff, destined to crash in flames on the jagged rocks below.

Where is your hope anchored? Who is your delight? What does your heart pant for?

We’ve been so busy taking care of me and thee, we haven’t concentrated on Him. The Giver of life—the Author of Creation—the Lord God Almighty.

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We’ve looked in every nook and cranny for the answer to social, economic, and political disasters—everywhere but to the place and to the One where true answers lie. Why? Because to search in that place we must stop our searching and wait. Wait on God.

I can see you shake your head and hear your thoughts, she doesn’t have a clue. Really? Man is the only being on this earth when danger and calamity rears its ugly head, we run faster. And faster. And faster. Even though we can’t see.

David tells us four times in the above Psalms what we are to do and what God will do in return. But this is a matter of the heart and requires each one of us to quietly submit, prayerfully contemplate, totally surrender, and thankfully worship. And we don’t know how to be quiet, contemplate, surrender, or worship.

 

To solve problems, you must determine the crux of the problem. And if we stop and truly think about this question, I’m sure none of us will like the answer. The crux of the problem is me—and you—and us. We think we’re smart enough to solve any problem. Right? Look at all man has accomplished in the history of the world. But isn’t that pride and arrogance and deception? And I’m the worst of the worst.

We’ve listened so long to Satan’s war drums; we no longer have the ability to discern deception or recognize danger. Our schools have taught our children there is no such thing as absolute truth, and we nod and rush them to the next sporting event to let them participate.

Ever pushing and shoving them and ourselves to the next thing. Rather than obeying what God said to King David, a man God identified as being “…a man after His own heart.”

A Matter of the Heart

God made us to win. To overcome. Not to just participate. Overcoming requires waiting before the God who made you and seeking His perfect plan for your life.

If it’s not too late, we must come to grips with the following questions:

  • When is enough, enough?
  • What am I working, waiting, longing for?
  • Where is my hope?
  • What will it take to humble my heart?
  • Am I ready to wait on the Lord?
  • Am I willing to do His will—not my own?
  • Is His Law written in my heart?
  • Does my soul pant for God like the deer pants for the water brook?

Ellis Farm

Are you, as a citizen of this once great nation, ready to sacrifice whatever it takes to bow your knee before the Lord God Almighty and ask Him to search your heart, to make His will known in your life, and then are you determined to obey what He tells you?

He is our only hope. His Spirit will bring revival—When the Church repents, waits for God, confesses our sins, and pants only for Him.

“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:2-3 NAS).

Arbuckle Mts.

 

 

 

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Someone much wiser than me said: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Since the ‘50’s, the law of centrifugal force has gathered political speed in America. And the past eight years this nation, like a free-range snowball, has sucked momentum in its plunge down the slippery slope toward the bulls-eye of destruction.

This should be no surprise. Over two thousand years ago God told us: “And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:24-25 NAS).

And the chasm of the dark divide in America grows wider and deeper each day.

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We have watched and read over the past four thousand years those truths unfold in the history of nations across the globe. Ah, but we think, this is America. We’re special. Things will continue here, just like always.

Really? All we have to do is research the history of Israel to confirm that past and future behavior statement. God chose the nation of Israel to be His people. They were to preserve His Word. God promised the Messiah, spoken of from the beginning chapters of Genesis, would come through the nation of Judah.

But they were a stubborn, faithless people. Just like Americans are today.

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After God brought this great assembly out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and gave them a land, He formed a Theocratic form of government. God appointed judges to rule them. And the people stood before the mountain and pledged, “All that You have said, we will do.”

But do I need to remind you of that difficult trip through the dessert? They had faith issues, just like we do.

Before they went into the land, God divided their priests into two groups—one to recite the blessings if they obeyed, and the second to warn of the curses if they disobeyed.  In Deuteronomy 30:19, God records:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”

And the Lord God led them into the land and they looked around at the nations they were to have wiped out or converted, and like every other people on the planet said, we want to be just like them. We want a king we can see to rule over us.

We have the account of Samuel’s, the last judge of Israel, reaction when he heard of the division of this people that had been so blessed by God. To say Samuel was irked would have been an understatement, and he took this matter to God. But God didn’t strike the folks with a lightning rod. No. Listen to what God instructed Samuel to do.

“And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them’” (1 Samuel 8:7-9 NAS).

And the majority of Americans have rejected God from being King over them too.

Many of us asked God to provide candidates who trusted and believed in Him. He answered and provided at least four. And then we watched this majority of Americans reject these men and women of godly principles, and then promote unprincipled politicians who reject God’s Word and God’s requirement of righteousness from His people. We have spiraled so far into this dark chasm, there is an avowed socialist still in the running, and our young people love him and clamor to be like the other nations.

Can you name one nation where socialism worked for the good of the people? Have we become such lazy, deceived, and insolent people, we would rather depend on an elite group of people we don’t even know rather than work to enjoy freedom and responsibility?

If we look back through history, we can pick out various times when God used ungodly people to accomplish His purposes, and 2016 might be one of those times. He could use Trump like He did Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus. But I would remind you, Israel had to suffer God’s judgment for their rebellion by exile to Babylon before God moved in King Neb’s life. Also remember, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will never overlook the sins and rebellion of His people. Forgiven—yes. But consequences remain.

Reaping and Sowing

So what’s next? How are we to act and react each day?

When Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth, according to Luke 4:18-19, He stood and read from the book of the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 61-1-2:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden. To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord…”

Then Jesus explained:

“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21 NAS).

And the crowd went nuts! They wanted to kill Him. Because they understood exactly what He claimed.

Precious reader, I don’t know if this is the end of this age, or when it will be. But I do understand one thing, we are still living in the favorable year of our Lord. And Jesus instructed us as the cloud caught Him up after His death, burial, and resurrection, “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you to the end of this age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NAS).

We’d best be about the Father’s business, because time is shorter than it’s ever been. And we can’t be screaming messages of hate in one gasp, then talk about the love of Christ in the next breath. And that’s been the problem with religion for years. When Jesus spoke to the crowd in Nazareth that day He left out one single phrase Isaiah wrote. A phrase that we must, two thousand years later, be mindful of:

“…and the day of vengeance of our God…”

These are two separate times. Thousands of years apart. The favorable year of our Lord—and the day of vengeance of our God. Prophecies have been fulfilled,  Christ’s return is next, and then God’s judgment. When that day arrives, there will be no opportunity for change.

So what’s next for you and me?

Learning to love people like Jesus does—not just those who are like you. Sharing the message of His love and mercy and forgiveness with everyone He puts in your path. Showing them the kindness and grace the Holy Spirit develops in you and me—that’s why we’re here—in the last times of this age. And to pray diligently.

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We are to stand firm and occupy ‘til Jesus comes—as dual citizens—of the here and now and the kingdom that is to come. And yes, this will be another year of a vote against, rather than a vote for. But a failure to vote is a vote for the opposition. Be sure to count the costs and consider the consequences, then remember God puts kings in place and makes them fall.

But like He did with Ancient Israel, God often gives us what we think we want, in order to bring us to the end of ourselves and to the place we’re ready to surrender and listen and obey Him.

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