"Victory Through Surrender" #1 Dependence


"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 word picture:

 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 development.  

 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 surrender.

 [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 victory.


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