"Victory Through Surrender" #1 Dependence
The only way to spiritual victory is through
surrender. In our culture, we associate
defeat with surrender, but in the Kingdom of God, surrender secures us the
victory. The victory entails knowing God, living your life to the full,
conquering the challenges of life. In
these teachings, we are going to explore how we partner with God to create a
new self, a new understanding of who we are, and what we are about. This series is about how we grow up
spiritually, becoming mature and complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
Our group here at HBCC is an expression of the
Holiness Movement. The Holiness movement
is about renewing the spiritual fervor of the New Testament. The holiness movement is about purity of
intention, singleness of desire, unity of hearts, loving God, and loving
others. The holiness movement is about
realizing the possibility of living a devout and holy life, a life of Godliness,
a life like Jesus, here and now (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Being a disciple, having the mind of Christ,
becoming increasingly righteous in our thinking and doing is the emphasis of
the holiness movement (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The word holy means set apart. If you buy into the current culture, if you
desire to be “normal,” to fit in, to be accepted by the masses, then you will
not want to live a holy life. If your
desire to be in control of your life, to make your own way, charting your own
course, determining the goals to achieve, what you want to accomplish with the
current culture as your backdrop and informing values, you will not want to
live a holy life. If you are content,
satisfied, living what our culture calls the good life, if you are comfortable,
safe, secure, in the world that you have created, then you will not want to
live a holy life. Your natural desire is
to live a self-directed life. Your
natural desire is to be the authority, to live autonomously, to be independent,
after all, you know best. Your natural
desire is self-preservation, self-promotion, and self-improvement. Those natural desires will make living a holy
life unattractive (Galatians 5:17). But
if you want to live victoriously these are the types of unholy values, desires,
wishes, and wants that will be placed in the surrendering process. The price of living a holy life, a life set
apart for God’s glory, is surrender.
Fishing is rather mysterious for me, especially
freshwater fishing. How is it that the
10-year-old kid standing next to me is pulling in his limit and I haven’t
caught a thing yet? Catchermen have
tried to help me; lures, worms, power bait, spinnerbaits, live bait, scent oil,
small submersible explosive devices, not much luck. I remember a time Top and I went
fishing. We’re using the same stuff, in
fishing jargon, it’s called tackle.
Top’s on my right standing 6 feet apart.
This is way before COVID. On the right is Wendell, both these guys are
catching fish. Top says to me, let’s
trade places. We do, he’s catching and
I’m fishing. So then Top says, why don’t
I try his rig, rig is fishing jargon for his entire tackle. So we exchange
rigs. Sure enough, he’s catching and I’m
still fishing. I never did catch a thing
that day. Not a single fish was
interested in what I was offering.
When God goes fishing for people, he reels them
in, that’s fishing jargon for catching.
God knows the right person he’s fishing for, God knows the right bait to
use to reel that person in. Bait, bait
might not be the right word, because what you usually mean by bait is some type
of deceptive enticement or trick to hook us.
There is no deception or trickery in God, that’s the Devil’s game plan
(James 1:17 & John 10:10). God uses
the circumstances in our lives to draw our attention to Himself. Most often those circumstances are ones of
dissatisfaction, failure, pain, suffering, confusion, illness, desperation, or
a broken heart. God uses pain as a
megaphone to get our attention (C.S. Lewis).
We look at our mess, and He offers us a chance to change. The change God offers is attractive, we become
curious about it. God’s offer of change starts to resonate within us. We start to desire God’s change. After all who wants to stay in a mess?
We come to understand that the reason we are in a
mess is that our lives are out of sync with God. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, the
Life (John 14:6); if our lives are out of sync with the way, truth, and life
the result is the mess we are in. We
come to hear the gospel, the good news, that Jesus is God entering the world,
to make it possible for those out of sync to get in sync (John 3:16-17). We come to hear how to make the gospel our
gospel, the good news our good news.
Acknowledge that your life is a mess and it is out of sync because of
the choices you have made (Romans 3:23).
Believe that Jesus makes it possible to redeem your mess and get you in
sync with God (Colossians 1:14). Then
part of the surrendering process, you commit yourself to follow Jesus’ Way, not
accepting His truth, but allowing He who is Truth to indwell you and allowing
Jesus to live His Life through you, to start making right choices (Matthew
16:24). Acknowledge, believe, commit, and ask God to accept your faith that He
can put your out-of-sync life in sync (Romans 10:13). By following Him He can
transform your mess into His masterpiece (Matthew 7:7).
The initial task of the surrendering process is
committing your old self to do life differently (Ephesians 4:22). That means you are willing to surrender what
you know about living life, and replacing it with living God’s way. God’s way is counter-culture (Luke 10:27). No longer is life all about me, it’s about
we. No longer is life all about what I
desire, it’s about what God desires.
Jesus told us that God desires for us to reciprocate His love for us
with love for Him and to join Him in His love for others (1 John 5:1-3). This type of love is a devotion the results
in deeds of the heart demonstrated (James 2:18). This love obeys God’s commands, seeking to do
His will on Earth and seeking the highest good for others. God values relationships. It is in a right relationship with God and
right relationships with others, that we come to a right relationship with
ourselves, we become synchronized with righteousness, and our mess starts to be
transformed into a masterpiece, we start living holy lives.
Of course, this is all new. Jesus likened the beginning of this experience
to a baby being born. He called it being
born again, born by the Spirit of God.
That’s a rather radical word picture for an inner transformation.
John 3:6 (MSG)
When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body
you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by
something you can't see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
There are some characteristics of spiritual growth
that are similar to physical growth.
When a baby is born, this little human is totally dependent upon
caregivers to love, to nurture, to protect, and to provide. The newborn lacks experience, the baby
doesn’t see well, doesn’t really move well, and doesn’t communicate well, all
it can do is cry when he or she needs something. When you are born again you lack experience,
you lack the know-how, you lack ability.
That makes you God-dependent, child-like in your experience.
We see this child-like experience in action in the
lives of the first disciples Jesus called.
When you read the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, writings we
refer to as the gospel you see a lot of dependency upon Jesus. Especially in the writings of Mark the 12
disciples Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Nathaniel, Judas, Thomas,
Matthew, Simon, James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus, were pretty clueless. One betrays Jesus, thinking he had a better
game plan for the Messiah than Jesus did.
This lack of experience shows up in the disciple’s inabilities to grasp
what Jesus was teaching and demonstrating with the way He lived His life.
Consider Mark 4:13 where the disciples fail to
understand Jesus’s parables. Mark 4:40 with Jesus in the boat the disciples are
scared stiff because of a storm In Mark 8:14 they don’t understand what Jesus
is talking about. By verse 32 Peter tells Jesus that Jesus’ prediction is not
right. Mark 9:14 the disciples can’t
cast out a demon even though they were given the authority to do so. Read further and in verse 33 the disciples
are arguing about which one of them is the greatest. Mark 10:35 James and John
ask for seats of honor in the Kingdom.
Judas betrays Jesus in Mark 14:29.
When we get to Mark 14:27-29
“Peter blurted out, "Even if everyone else is ashamed of you when
things fall to pieces, I won't be" (Mark 14:29 (MSG). Three rooster crows later Peter is denying He
even knew Jesus. Finally, in Mark 16:13
they don’t believe the resurrection happened.
What we see about the disciples in Mark’s writing
is a total dependency on Jesus to get the job done. At this point in their spiritual journey, the
12 believe in Jesus. When Jesus asked
who they thought he was, Peter answered the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20). The inner-circle believed. There is no doubt that the 12 were believers,
but their faith was still infantile. Dependency
is characteristic of child-like faith, part of what occurs when we first experience
being born again. Peter gives us this
1 Peter 2:2-3 (MSG)
You've had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep
of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up mature and whole in God.
When I was new in the faith, it seemed like every
prayer I prayed received the answer I longed for (consider John 2:11). I couldn’t get enough Bible in. I read the gospels over and over again,
especially the gospel according to John.
I started going to church and became part of the youth group, started
hanging out with my new friends instead of my old friends. I started to drink deep of God’s pure
kindness. God carries you through this
time of spiritual childhood. As you
exercise child-like faith God is forming a new identity within you, a new self,
and you are dependent upon God to do so.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (MSG)
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone
united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is
gone; a new life [proliferates]! Look at it!
This is the optimal time to develop the 7 habits
of a disciple. The habits are your
request to have time with God. As you
practice them you experience fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. This time is
transformative. The 7 habits are reading
and studying the scriptures, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience,
and contemplation. The daily practice of
the 7 habits speeds your spiritual formation, hastening your becoming the
person God created you to be, you are partnering with God in your spiritual
Becoming this new person is vitally important to
maturing in the faith (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When an infant is born research suggests that the babe doesn’t have a
sense of self, of being a separate autonomous being. They don’t recognize themselves in a mirror
until 18 to 24 months. As you successfully
mature from baby to adolescent, to adult, you develop a solid sense of
self. You know who you are, what you are
all about, your likes, dislikes, your values, goals, dreams, and desires, you
have a mental image of who you are. You
know your strengths, your weaknesses, your aptitudes. This task is significant because you have to
know yourself to be able to surrender your new self. To self-surrender, you have to have a self to
[Neil Anderson Who I
Am In Christ -- ANDERSON_WhoIAmInChrist (vintagelawrence.com) ]
In the Kingdom of God victory, knowing God (John
17:3), living your life to the full (John 10:10), conquering the challenges of
life (Romans 8:37), victory, is won through surrender; the surrender of
self. You look at your life and are not
satisfied. You discover that God offers
you a chance to change. So you acknowledge
your need, you believe that Jesus meets, overcomes that need, and empowers a
new way to live. You commit to be a
learner of Jesus' ways, discovering how to love God and love others. You asked God to accept you, the result was a
spiritual birth. Are you born
again? If not, why not? God’s gift is the greatest thing you will
forever be experiencing.
As that babe in Christ, exercising child-like
faith, you are growing up into this new self which will be in the image of
Jesus (Romans 12:2). You are learning
that your true identity is in Christ. At
this stage of your spiritual development, Jesus does it all for you, all you
supply is the desire and the willingness. Like the disciples in the gospel according to
Mark, at times you are clueless. Don’t
kids do strange things because of their lack of experience? Sure they do, they make mistakes, they make
messes, they refuse responsibility, they don’t carry their weight. So Jesus does. You may be bewildered, but you
are also carefree. It feels good to be
taken care of. There is safety, there is
provision, and there is love.
A problem occurs when you don’t mature. If the infant doesn’t change, there’s a
problem. Spiritually arrested
development or SAD occurs because you are clinging to your old self, the old
way you did life. You haven’t surrendered
doing life the way you want. You believe
but you’re not growing. You’re stuck
with the messes you made before you acknowledged, believed, committed, and
asked. The writer of the letter to the
Hebrews pointed this out to the believers.
Hebrews 5:12-14 (MSG)
By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves,
yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on
God again, starting from square one—baby's milk, when you should have been on
solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; solid
food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.
Are you suffering from SAD—spiritually arrested
development? The therapy for this
condition is surrendering the old self, denouncing self-gratification, and
start practicing what you know to be in sync with God (Colossians 3:5). Practicing what you know to be in sync with
God is the 6th habit of a disciple, obedience. Obedience is essential for living a devout
and holy life. It will require
discipline, but guess what, Jesus will empower you to do it because, in this
time of childlike faith, He carries you.
What you provide is the desire.
It’s time to mature, you mature through
surrender. In surrender there is
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