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What it Means to Surrender Your Life and Will to the Lord

What it Means to Surrender Your Life and Will to the Lord

What Does it Mean to Surrender to Him?

To totally surrender to the Lord means to surrender your entire self, including your thoughts, desires, and actions, to God by recognizing and acknowledging His sovereignty and trusting in His plan for your life.  It involves letting go of control and submitting to God’s will, as well as striving to daily live in obedience to His teachings and commands.  And make no mistake, it is a very hard thing to do and can only be done by faith.

After all, it takes faith to truly surrender to God and accept that He knows what’s best for you and has your best interests at heart.  Therefore, surrendering means you must let go of all doubts, anxieties, and fears in order to trust Him fully.  And that, for many, is a difficult thing to do.  It requires you to put aside your ego and pride (which is difficult), and to trust in God that you cannot see or fully understand (which is even more difficult).

That is why total surrender is an act of faith.  It requires humility and understanding that God is sovereign— He creates, sustains, and ultimately controls all things, even you. This means that no matter how bad things seem, you know God will not abandon you during your trials (Heb. 13:5), and He will always be with you, no matter what (Matt. 28:20).  All you have to do is cry out for His help and strength, and He will give you the courage, hope, and grace you need, even in your darkest hour (Heb. 4:16).

In Scripture, Jesus often speaks about the need for complete surrender to His will.  When He says “Abide in me,” (John 15:4), Jesus is showing how you need to stay close to Him, connected to Him, by trusting His plan for your life as if you had no control over any of it whatsoever.  You are called not only to accept, but also embrace and delight in Him as your Lord and Savior; otherwise, nothing else matters, not even your own desires or ambitions.

Totally surrendering means tuning out the world’s voice (and your voice) and instead choosing to listen intently only to what God whispers within you— then choosing, often minute by minute, to live in obedience according to His commands.  His voice may call you toward what seems like darkness or difficulties, but it will eventually lead you towards everlasting light.  The journey itself might feel difficult at times, but when you rely on Him completely, knowing everything will turn out for your good in the end no matter how hard it gets along the way (Rom. 8:28)— that is true faith, inspired by the courage of Christ Himself, which proves invaluable when facing hardships like He did.

To surrender your life and will is to turn away from the world and its temptations, and instead focus on living a life full of faith in Jesus Christ.  It involves trusting that God has a plan for you that may not be immediately clear, but is ultimately for your best.

When you are willing to fully surrender your life and will to Him, you must come before God with an open heart and mind.  You must acknowledge that He knows more than you do; that His wisdom is greater than yours; and that His commands are above all else. This requires humility and a deep understanding of how much God loves you, even when His commands seem difficult or counter-intuitive.  You must also take time to quiet yourself before Him so that you can recognize the Holy Spirit’s promptings within you, which will guide you toward living out His will in the most meaningful way imaginable (Eph. 3:20-21).

How Can I Surrender My Life to Him?

Surrendering your life to Jesus means making Him the priority in all areas of your life.  This may seem daunting, but there are many practical ways you can cultivate this priority in your day-to-day routine.

First, establish a regular prayer and devotional time that is specifically set aside for speaking with God, studying His Word, and reflecting on His promises.  As you commit to spending intentional time in the presence of the Lord each day, you will grow more aware of how He wants you to live out your faith in every area of your life.  And you will learn to hear His voice.

Second, seek counsel from others who are further along the journey of surrender than you are. When you’re struggling with something and feel overwhelmed by your circumstances, it’s helpful to talk to someone who has already gone through what you’re experiencing.  Consider connecting with mentors for advice or join a Bible study group. This will provide an additional source of strength as you learn from those who have been down similar roads before you.  After all, there are no bragging rights for making the same mistake someone else did.  So learn from the victories and mistakes of others.

Third, put into practice what Jesus has taught you— even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable to do so. While it may be convenient to ignore some inconvenient truths laid out in Scripture, true surrender requires you to take up your cross daily and live according to His commands (Luke 9:23).  You must also be willing to practice love towards others even when they hurt you— as Jesus did when He was crucified for you on the cross— and serve selflessly with no expectation of reward or recognition here on earth (Matt. 5:44).

Fourth, you need to evaluate the content of your entertainment.  We all have down time where we relax and watch TV or scroll through our phones, but it’s important to make sure you’re not allowing the media to shape your mind in ways contrary to God’s will.  Instead, use that time to read books or listen to messages that challenge your faith and spur you on in living a life wholly surrendered to Jesus (Heb. 10:24).

Fifth, choose people who are also pursuing surrendering their lives to Jesus as companions and mentors.  Having a supportive group of like-minded individuals around you can help you stay focused on what truly matters— living a life devoted entirely to your Lord (Rom. 12:1-2).

Sixth, engage in consistent ministry and spiritual activities, such as serving those who are less fortunate than you and getting involved in local church initiatives.  As you put others first, just as Jesus did, you get a glimpse of how He wants you to live out your faith each day.  And this shows you that when you put Him first, He will take care of everything else (Matt. 6:33).

Seventh, be honest with God and practice personal confession.  You can’t expect to be surrendered to Jesus when you’re not willing to take responsibility for your shortcomings. When you confess your sins and admit the times you have fallen short, it allows you to forgive yourself and receive forgiveness and healing from God (1 John 1:9).

Finally, give thanks in all things.  When you make Jesus your priority, it becomes easier to recognize the blessings He has given you even in difficult times. This awareness helps you stay grounded in gratitude, which leads you closer in relationship with Him every day (Col. 4:2).

A life committed wholly to Jesus requires commitment because true discipleship follows none other than Him completely.  Ultimately, when you choose to surrender to God by turning away from distractions and submitting your entire life into Christ’s care, you are naturally reminded daily that Jesus is worth more than anything else you could ever desire or achieve.  And as long as you keep Him at the center of all things, nothing will stand in your way when striving for complete surrender.

So why don’t you surrender your life to Him now?

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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555:  Are You Going to Church or Being the Church?

555: Are You Going to Church or Being the Church?

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What is Church?

This is a question we should ask ourselves each time we trek off to a worship service on Sunday mornings.  What is church or what is church supposed to look like?  Is church a building?  Or is it something more?  Is it something we do or something we become?  And if church is something we do, how do we do it?  How do we “do” church?  But if church is something we become, then how do we become the church and what takes place in us to become His church?  Whew.  See the problem with simple words and changing definitions?

From a doctrinal standpoint, the church is defined as “the community of all true believers for all time.”  So, the term “church” is used to apply to all those (people) whom Christ died to redeem, all those (people) saved by the death of Christ, past, present, and future.  It encompasses both the local church and the universal church (which is a topic we will address at a later time).

But note, there is no mention of a building, denomination, or tax-exempt entity.

In Scripture, the Greek word for “church” is ekklēsía and means “a called-out people, an assembly of those called by Christ into the fellowship of His salvation, a gathering or assembly of the redeemed.”

And once again, it has nothing to do with a building or a plot of real estate, a denomination or group of religious congregations, or a 501c3 organization.  It is a specific, called, and redeemed group of, get this, people.  Church is people.

In the New Testament, the word ekklēsía is used 118 times, and translates as “church” 115 of those times and “assembly” 3 other times.  The Scriptures are very clear about how the “church” (assembly of redeemed people) are to worship the Lord when they come together collectively on the Lord’s Day.  And it looks nothing like what we do today.

Ouch.  So why the disconnect between the church we see in the book of Acts and what we observe every Sunday?  Who dropped the ball or who changed the rules in the middle of the game?   I think you’ll be shocked when you find the answers to these questions.

And Why Do We Do the Things We Do on Sunday?

Let me present just a few truths about church, both Biblically and how we understand them today.  First, Christ is the one who grants membership into His church through salvation and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14).  We don’t grant anything.

Holy Spirit = Salvation
No Holy Spirit = No Salvation

It is really just that simple.

And two, Christ is the One, the only One, who is charged with building His church (Matt. 16:18).  Our job is to make disciples of those He redeems (Matt. 28:18-20).  But sometimes we get the two mixed up.  We think it’s our duty to build His church with our slick marketing schemes, flashing lights and smoke machines, mini-rock concerts passed off as worship, and sanitized TED Talks taking the place of sermons.  But it’s not.  Our job is to mature those He brings to Himself by helping them become more like Christ.

Finally, since Christ builds His church and not us, then He is the one who makes all the rules about how His church is to function, including worship, prayer, ministry, songs, and just about everything else you can think of.  Remember, He is God and we are not.

Which raises an intriguing question:

Question: So, if Christ redeems His church and then commands us to meet together in community as the called-out ones to worship Him, does He give us any guidelines as to what that is supposed to look like?

Answer:  Absolutely.  But it looks very little like what we have been doing as believers since… forever.  And much of that has to do with our reluctance to be His church rather than attend His church.  One is active, the other passive.

But what happens when a group of believers understands their place in His grand plan and becomes the church as an active participant and not as a casual observer?   And what happens when these believers fully accept the truth of the priesthood of all believers?  What would church look like then?

If you are intrigued or are not familiar with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, then join us as we unpack this glorious truth together.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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554:  Solomon’s Life: “Stupid Is as Stupid Does”

554: Solomon’s Life: “Stupid Is as Stupid Does”

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Don’t Fall in the Same Hole Twice

In the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, once the wisest man who ever lived, tells us how he really feels about life.  He says, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2).  Or, all of life is meaningless, useless, pointless, of no real value, and a colossal waste of time.  And so is everything a man does or builds while he lives his life on earth.  Solomon continues, “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” (Eccl. 2:3).  Really?  Sounds a bit selfish and narcissistic to me.  How about you?

But it gets worse for Solomon by the time we get to chapter two.

In chapter two, Solomon tries to find his purpose, not in serving the Lord as he did when he was a young man, but in gratifying his flesh in every way imaginable, making all of life about him.  And he knew his plan of trying to find the meaning of life in fleshly pleasure would lead to nothing, yet he continued anyway.  Why?  Maybe, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity (meaningless, pointless, futile, of no lasting value).  I said of laughter—”Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” – Ecclesiastes 2:1-2.

But Solomon continued on this road to destruction anyway.  Why?  Especially when he was once the wisest man who ever lived.  My, how the mighty have fallen.

Whatever (kōl) my eyes desired (strong desire, lust) I did not keep from them.  I did not withhold my heart from any (kōl) pleasure (sensory, fleshly, the experience of pleasure), for my heart rejoiced in all my labor (trouble, toil, sorrow, painful work, the hardships of life); and this (the experience of sensory, fleshly pleasure) was my reward from all my labor (trouble, toil, sorrow, painful work, the hardships of life) – Ecclesiastes 2:10.

Solomon practiced zero self restraint.  He had no discernment of good or evil desires.  Solomon did not refuse himself anything.  He embraced unhindered lusts.  And what resulted from Solomon’s plunge into self-absorbed sin?

Then I looked (contemplated, considered) on all the works that my hands had done (what I had created, built, composed, produced, accomplished through effort) and on the labor (trouble, toil, sorrow, painful work, the hardships of life) in which I had toiled (to exert oneself, to work hard); and indeed all (work, toil, labor, pleasure, fulfilling lusts, etc.) was vanity (emptiness, meaningless, pointless, weariness, having no value or significance, futile, transitory, breath or vapor) and grasping for the wind.  There was no profit (benefit, advantage, gain) under the sun (living life on the earth) – Ecclesiastes 2:11.

Uh, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

It’s Not Too Late to Turn Around, Solomon

When you read the rest of this chapter, you will begin to experience the depth of Solomon’s despair.  He is running, as fast and far as his legs will carry him, away from the God of his youth, towards something that crumbles over time.  He is exchanging the glory of the Lord for a mirage, an image of happiness that is only a vapor.  And Solomon knows this, yet he continues to run anyway.

Let’s see what we can learn from watching Solomon implode.

Note, it has been a long time since Solomon has had an intimate relationship with His Lord.  He, like many of us, has tried to fill the void in his life with sensual pleasure, wealth, entertainment, and becoming a workaholic, hoping to once again feel what he did when God was close.  So, it is not surprising he comes to a carnal, fleshly conclusion about the meaning of life and then tries to justify it by saying God ordained it for him.

Sin has an amazing ability to make armchair prophets and theologians of those who are trying to justify their carnality, just like Solomon.  This is not the wisdom of God, but the wisdom of man.  It is nothing more than justifying the lusts of the flesh.

And the lessons from Solomon’s life?  Simply this: Don’t be like Solomon.  Be like Christ.  And leave, as fast as you can, the lukewarm spiritual life of Laodicea far behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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553:  Don’t be Like King Solomon, Choose Wisely

553: Don’t be Like King Solomon, Choose Wisely

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Everyone Has to Choose Between Right and Wrong

In the Christian life, God makes it pretty simple for His children to follow Him by offering them only two choices, and two outcomes.  These two choices, however, are portrayed in several different ways in Scripture.  For example, there is the choice between light and darkness, life and death, good fruit or bad fruit, the wide road or the narrow path, walking by the Spirit or by the flesh, having faith or doubt, the blessings or curses, boldness or fear, embracing truth or deception, and many other mutually exclusive examples of God’s way or the ways of man.

But essentially, they all boil down to the choice of obedience or disobedience.  And there is never a third option, no middle ground.  You are either all in or all out.  Right or wrong, with nothing in between.  Yet we all must make a similar choice in our lives.

Solomon is a chilling example of someone who chose wisely in his youth and then made disastrous choices as he got older.  He did not grow wiser with age.  When he was young, Solomon chose the wisdom of God and His intimacy over wealth, popularity, and the fleeting pleasures of sin.  But when he got older, he forgot God and followed his own heart and the wisdom of this fallen age and lost the most important things in his life… faith, purpose, and meaning.

So by the time we get to the second chapter of Ecclesiastes, we see Solomon frantically striving to find what he had forsaken, namely happiness, purpose, and meaning in his life outside of his broken relationship with the Lord, which he knew couldn’t be done.  You cannot satisfy a spiritual longing by indulging the flesh.  But, as a stubborn man like many of us, Solomon tried anyway, repeatedly.  He gave it his best shot, and each time came up empty.

Don’t Be Like Solomon, Choose Wisely

We can see the fallacy in his logic from the start.  He knows what he is about to do will lead to nothing (vanity), yet he does it just the same.

And I (his action) set my heart (lēḇ) to know (yāḏaʿ) wisdom and to know (yāḏaʿ) madness (delusion, to try anything and everything just to know the outcome, being rash and foolish to an extreme degree) and folly (foolishness, a life devoid of wisdom, understanding, prudence, self restraint).  I perceived (yāḏaʿ) that this also (among other things) is grasping for the wind – Ecclesiastes 1:17.

After determining the pursuit of wisdom was also meaningless and provided no lasting satisfaction, Solomon now goes in the opposite direction and embarks on a course of sensual pleasure to find happiness and contentment.  It was as if Solomon put his hands over his ears and filled his life with such fleshly pleasure, hoping it could drown the inner cry of his soul.  Guess how that journey turned out?

I said in my heart (lēḇ), “Come now, I will (my action) test (try, prove, to determine the true nature of something) you with mirth (the experience and manifestation of joy and gladness); therefore (conclusion) enjoy pleasure”; but surely (behold), this also was vanity (meaningless, having no value, futile, pointless, empty, like a vapor) – Ecclesiastes 2:1.

Uh, just a few questions, if I may.  If it was vanity, why did you continue in it?  Why not cut your losses and move on to something else?  Why did you continue in something you knew wouldn’t work?  Why did you not run back to your relationship with God and forget the meaningless lust of your flesh?  Why did you have to learn the same lesson over and over again?  That doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.  Does it to you?

But this is only the beginning of Solomon’s woes.  And I believe you will find, unfortunately, that you will relate to many of the ways Solomon tried to find satisfaction in life by gratifying the flesh, only to come up dry, empty, and depressed.  I know I sure have.  But his life can be a prime example of what not to do, or how to choose wisely (and not like Solomon).

So let me invite you to join us as we learn what to do, by not doing what the once wisest man who ever lived did.  Let’s learn from his mistakes so we won’t have to make them ourselves, shall we?

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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552:  The Importance of Finishing Life Well

552: The Importance of Finishing Life Well

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Making the Most of the Time You Have Left

Solomon, it would seem, was in the middle of a spiritual mid-life crisis.  When he was young, he ran after God with reckless abandon and God blessed him with wealth and wisdom beyond compare.  And what did Solomon do with all God had given him?  He took it for granted, made unbelievably bad decisions about the things God clearly talked about in Scripture, and followed his own heart and forsook the wisdom of God.  He began to believe his own press releases and followed the ways of the world and not of God.  He did not finish his race (life) well.

And we know how that turned out.  Disaster, with a capital D.

So now he is older, set in his ways, and longing for the intimacy he once had with God, but refusing to repent and return to Him.  He wanted the blessings on his terms, but not the obedience, which is always God’s terms.  He longed for God’s hand of blessing, but not His face.  Solomon was in an awful place spiritually, one of his own making.   And because he refused the cure for his spiritual illness, he sank into depression.

You can see the tragic fall of this great man in the opening chapters of Ecclesiastes.  Solomon views all of life as meaningless, or “vanity” (Eccles. 1:2).  He doesn’t see any value in anything he has done, or is doing (Eccles. 1:3).   And what he longed for the most in life, permanence, purpose, and meaning, seemed just out of reach.  How sad.

What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? – Ecclesiastes 1:3.

It was like he was saying, “What is the purpose of life?  Why am I doing what I am doing?  Is this all there is?  Does life have any meaning other than survival?  Is there more to life than food, clothing, shelter, money and the stuff money can buy?  And if so, what is it?  Is the world better because I was born?  Or am I just taking up space, meaning nothing?  Is it true that everything is vanity, pure meaningless?  Is all that I know and love and have experienced in this life really worth nothing?  And if so (and I hope not), what does it profit me, or anyone for that matter, from all the weariness of life that we toil with while we are still alive?”

Can you feel his pain?  I sure can.  But he brought it all upon himself and he refuses to make it better.

Talk about stubbornness.

Move Forward, Not Backwards

Solomon, at any time, could have confessed his sins to the Lord and experienced, once again, the wisdom of God that defined his life as a young man.  He could have, like the Lord said to the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5).  Or, “Go back and do the things you did when life was good, when We spoke, and when others praised you for how you imitated Me.”

But of course, like many believers today, Solomon didn’t.  His pride wouldn’t let him.  The cost was too high.  After all, he was now living independently of God and was proud of what he had accomplished, or so he kept telling himself.  But truthfully, his life left him dry and unfulfilled, and he felt like he was just biding time and taking up space.

You can see all of this in the questions and reflections Solomon asks in the first chapter of this book.  Some of what he says is quite telling of what kind of man he had become.

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun – Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Geez, if I felt like that, I would have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.  So Solomon decides to fill his life with everything his heart could ever want.  He is trying to find happiness and contentment without God.  Notice how that turns out.  And notice how many times he talks about what he (“I”) have done.

I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards.  I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.  I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove.  I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.  I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces.  I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.  So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.  Also my wisdom (human, not God’s) remained with me.  Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.  I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor – Ecclesiastes 2:4-10.

So what did you discover, Solomon?  How did that work out for you?

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.  There was no profit under the sun – Ecclesiastes 2:11.

Do you want to end up like Solomon?  I didn’t think so.  So keep listening and let’s learn how to not be like Him.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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