Living the Surrendered Life (Day 6 of 21)
Today’s Scripture: “12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” Romans 12:12
It looks to me like we’re going to stay on the topic that we started talking about yesterday…praying without ceasing. Listen…the easiest way to live a surrendered life is to be continually praying and talking to God. I got some great insight from my Men’s meeting this morning that I believe will help us to continue to understand that part of living the surrendered life includes having a continual prayer life…praying without ceasing.
You know it’s one thing to always be praying, and taking the big things to God…but do you not know that He wants you to talk to Him about the small ones too. Do you know that far too less often than I should are the days where I’ll get up in the morning to simply say: “What are we going to do today God?”
Can I tell you this truth? You may think that it’s crazy to ask God about some of the small things in life, but if you don’t bring Him the small things for answers that He will give you…there’s NO way you’ll have the faith to bring Him the big things.
Listen, I have many stories about how I asked God what He wanted me to do with a day, and rather than go off trying to control my day…I stepped back and let Him decide. I’ve stories about how God had me hang around until my landlord came back to the apartment complex…because he had a need for prayer that no one other than me was able to meet. I’ve even asked God some times what He wanted me to wear…and you know what…He lead me to pick out clothes that He wanted me to wear…and it wasn’t for church neither.
Now…I realize that it sounds silly, but God cares about ALL aspects in our lives, and He wants to be involved in ALL the aspects of our lives. Yes, even the boring, mundane, and simple things that seem like there’s no way He’d be interested at all. But the simple truth is…He is.
At the risk of sounding weird…for those of you that don’t know one of my hobbies is that I have a few squirrels around my home that I like to feed peanuts to. Well, one of them that I see regularly has a bad leg, and it bothered me. I prayed for a squirrel…and do you know why? It’s because I know that the very things that concern me…God is concerned too. The poor little squirrel still has a bad leg, but every time I see it…I pray for it to be healed. Now to many that seems weird, but that exactly the kind of thing God wants from us.
Look…I don’t know if that squirrel’s leg is ever going to be healed or right again. I saw it the other day, and she’s still having a hard time with it. However, what I do know is that learning to bring something as simple and silly as that to God…is the exact illustration I need to let you know that God wants us to talk to Him about EVERYTHING that’s going on in our lives…and I do mean EVERYTHING.
You may think it’s silly to ask God questions like: “What do You want me to do or wear today?” I thought it was awesome that this brother at the Men’s Meeting this morning talked about how his wife prayed about what to make for breakfast, and then God gave her direction in a vision…and she cooked a pretty good breakfast.
Wait a minute, Pastor Bryan, are you saying that God wants us to ask Him what to cook? What to put on? Where we go or what we do with our day? Do you honestly believe that God cares one bit about that squirrel’s leg?
As matter of fact, my friends, that’s exactly what I’m saying. That’s what this continual praying and praying without ceasing is talking about. This is exactly how praying continually works, and why we can pray without ceasing. The reason is that we have hundreds of opportunities every day to seek the Lord’s guidance.
Listen. Proverbs 3:5-6 says that we are to acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways…and He shall direct thy paths. So…that squirrel with the hurt leg that’s troubling my heart…whether God heals that squirrel’s leg is irrelevant…the relevant thing is that I’m learning to take simple stupid things like that and surrender them to Him. He may not give a rip whether I wear blue jeans or shorts…but when I take the time to invite Him to lead me into what I should wear that day (whether it’s a church day or not) that’s exactly part of the “all my ways” that I’m to acknowledge God in.
There isn’t one aspect of our lives that God shouldn’t be a part of, and the truth is until we actually do what Proverbs 3:5-6says to do then we’re not living the surrendered life. We may be partially surrendered, but to be fully submitted and surrendered to the Lordship and guidance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ encompasses so much more than praying about family, and big stuff.
In case you didn’t know we’re going with the flow of the Holy Ghost today…and that’s why we’re bringing Proverbs 3:5-6 into a discussion about yesterday’s scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and today’s Romans 12:12.
Listen. Do you know what Proverbs 3:5-6 doesn’t say? It doesn’t say that we’re to acknowledge Him in just the big things does it? It also doesn’t say to acknowledge Him whenever we get around to it or feel like it…does it?
Listen…the key to living a surrendered life to the Lord is found in these few points right here…
- Lean Not Unto Thine Own Understanding: Can I tell you that our understanding is limited to our wisdom, knowledge, and experience…but God’s understanding is far superior to ours? That may be a very simplistic point to make, but I feel like that was meant for some of you who are reading this message today. Stop trying to do things on your limited understanding. God’s understanding is infinite…and since He knows ALL things from beginning to end…and before you think I’m just talking to you…the truth is I still lean on my own limited understanding also…and therefore the simple and honest truth is that my life is not fully and totally surrendered to the Lord…because there are many areas that I still walk through on my understanding. Why? That leads me to the second point.
- Trusting in the Lord with ALL our hearts. Can I tell you that the reason we refuse to surrender and not lean on our own understanding is because we don’t trust God to take care of them? What does Peter write? He says: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV) I do believe that one of the reasons we don’t trust the Lord with all of our hearts is that we lack the revelation that God really does care for us…in fact He loves us with a love that is beyond our comprehension…but I truly believe the reason we (and I lump myself in here) fail to trust Him with all of our hearts…is because we don’t always know and believe and trust that God really are valuable to God…that He really does care about the things that burden us…and above all else…He loves us. I believe the greater revelation we have of God’s love for us…the easier it is for us to trust Him with all our hearts.
- Pray Continually or Without Ceasing: I’m not really going to be-labor this point. I hope that I’ve adequately expressed why and how it is that we really can pray without ceasing. However…the reason that’s so important is because of the final point.
- In ALL Our Ways Acknowledge Him: When we acknowledge God is all of our ways…it’s kind of like what we did as children with our parents. I remember the day when as a child I had to ask permission from my parents to do things like go over to my friend’s house to spend the night or go over to my grandmother’s house or some times to watch certain television programs. I remember in school when I still had to raise my hand and ask my teachers for permission to speak or to go use the bathroom. Can I tell you that God’s looking for us to talk to Him like He’s our Daddy…because He is.
I believe I’m going to stick with this point until we close today’s message if that’s okay with you. See what I did there? I’m acknowledging you, and letting you know that we’re probably going to finish this message by talking about Acknowledging God in All our ways.
I want to go back to what I just talked about when it came to my parents and school. Listen to me. I don’t know what your parents were like, but I can tell you what my parents were like. I can tell you that until they felt like I was old enough, responsible enough, and capable of making my own decisions…I didn’t just walk on over to my friend’s house to spend the night whenever I felt like it…because I had a reverential fear and respect for my parents…and there was no way that I was just going to get up and go over to my friend’s house like I was entitled to spend the night…especially if I didn’t ask them first.
That respect for my parents translated to the respect I had for my teachers. I didn’t just get up and walk out of their classroom because I respected my teachers…and I knew for sure that if I did something like that I was guaranteed to face certain discipline if I’d done so.
Can I tell you that’s how we ought to be with God? Instead of just walking up to some woman, and dating her…why is it that we never go to God and ask Him if this is the right one? Instead of just getting out of bed in the morning and going about our day like we’re entitled to live it however we want…why don’t we acknowledge that it’s a blessing from God that we even took a breath this morning…and that maybe…just maybe the reason we got to take that breath wasn’t so we could go on about our day in whatever manner is pleasing to us…but whatever manner is pleasing to the One who allowed us to awaken with that breath in our bodies.
Acknowledge Him in all our ways means that we have to bring ALL of our ways to Him…and that means we really do need to pray continually and without ceasing. There are hundreds of moments everyday we ought to be seeking God, and hundreds more that will slip our minds because we think they’re to menial and mundane to God…but the simple truth is that nothing we do on a daily basis is too big or too small to bring to Him…all of our ways are just the right size for God…and that’s why we need to bring them to Him.
Listen…I don’t know about you, but when God is directing my paths…the journey is much smoother and more peaceful than it is when I try to be in charge of it.
Well…look at that. This entire message was written by inspiration and unction of the Holy Ghost. It’s okay to do that some times…doncha know.
Before we close this message there are some points in the devotional that are worth talking about…and I believe there’s on point in particular the Holy Ghost is wanting to address.
Has anyone ever been in a place where you were diligently seeking God for something, and it seemed like you were in a holding pattern for years? I know that I felt that way while I was laid off, and began to be in search of the job I have now. It took months to find it, but like the writer of this devotion I know that during that entire time God was at work…because it was during this time that I began writing these messages.
I believe that God developed some character traits in me during that season of life that otherwise might not have been developed. My intimacy with God is deeper than ever because He truly became everything to me. He knew every thought and feeling I had during this painful time. I wasn’t afraid to be real with Him and cast all of the hurts I had onto him. After all, the Bible says in 1 Peter 5 to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I did just that. You can, too.
There’s kind of a point I touched on a bit yesterday when talking about praying without ceasing, and how I talk to God openly all the time. The point is being real with God. Religious people would flip their lids to hear that sometimes when I talk to God and bare my soul I am angry, yelling, and some times like I shared I am cussing and just ranting and raving. But can I tell you what I said yesterday about that? God’s not up there in Heaven gasping in religious disbelief that I can be talking to Him like that…and if I cross the line…don’t you know God’s big enough to let me know.
Listen…baring your heart and soul to God in a real and honest way is part of this praying without ceasing…and I believe like this woman writes that it has helped to make my relationship with God deeper and more intimate because I know that no matter what is on my heart…He’s not going to turn away in disgust…but He’s listening…and often times…He answers me…and some times…He don’t have to say anything at all because I figure out what I need to do or how I need to approach what I’m talking to Him about as I’m talking to Him about whatever it is I’m bringing to Him.
The point goes back to this…acknowledging Him in ALL of our ways. I wasn’t afraid to be real with Him, and by setting that fear aside and just talking to Him it’s really enabled me to have a relationship with Him like I’d never had before.
Exercising patience is not a lot of fun. I am fairly certain that I have never heard anyone say, “Man, I am so excited about what God is going to show me and how I’m going to change during this time of waiting. Woo hoo!” No, not so much. But, as I’ve talked with countless people over the years after their seasons of waiting, every single person has said that he/she wouldn’t trade the life lessons learned for the comfortable life they had before. You see, it’s in those days, months and years of waiting where we start to look a lot more like Christ. A good friend of mine describes patience as “waiting without complaining.”
I can be honest. I’m one of those sometimes who says “if I knew then what I know now”. I know there are times in my life I could’ve made better decisions, but that would only be because unlike then I would’ve brought those decisions before the Lord…and I’m certain I’d have made much better decisions…at least I like to think I would.
But I like the definition of patience here: “waiting without complaining”. I also have to be honest with you here. I’ve complained to God before, and do you know that He always listens? He may eventually interrupt my complaining to ask if I’m done yet, and then He takes me on a journey through my life…and shows me where I was and where I am not…and suddenly not only do I repent for complaining…but I find myself in awe at what God did.
Some of the lessons I learned on life’s terms could’ve been so much less painful had I learned to acknowledge God and seek Him…but I didn’t. I still struggle in that area, but I think most of us do. I think there are a lot of us who struggle in the area of acknowledging God in all of our ways…because all our ways really means…well…all of them.
I have learned to stop complaining, and I’m learning to bring more and more to God…especially since starting this series and desiring to know what a surrendered life is and what it looks like…and now that I’m writing these messages I’m starting to get a picture…and once we have a picture…then we can start working with God towards the picture that we see…Amen!?!
Points for Pondering:
- Are you in a waiting room right now?
- How well are you waiting on God?
Be A Doer Not Just A Reader:
- The next time you begin to feel impatient, ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this?”
This is part of acknowledging God is ALL of our ways, and learning how to live a surrendered life.
Conclusion & Prayer:
There really isn’t anything that we cannot and should not talk to God about…and I want to encourage and challenge you to just start talking…don’t worry about what to say or how to say it…just be real, authentic, and yourself.
Jesus gives us the great invitation to come unto Him, and one of the greatest parts of that invitation is that we can come to Him as we are knowing that He hears us…He loves us…and is waiting for us to acknowledge Him so that He can lead, direct, and guide us.
And Father, how awesome a privilege it is to be able to come to You as we are. Thank You, Lord, that You are so approachable, loving, and waiting to lead us and guide us according to Your will for our lives. Father, I ask You first of all to help the readers of this message to learn to acknowledge You in all of their ways, and help them to see how praying without ceasing and acknowledging You in all their ways will lead them to living a more surrendered life…and now Lord God…I ask You to show me the same thing so that my relationship with You can be that much sweeter, deeper and more intimate.
Lord, help us to drop our masks, and just come to You as we are with all our spots and wrinkles knowing that You’ll never turn us away if we are sincerely seeking You, and give us the revelation and understanding of just how valuable we are to You…I believe the more we understand how much You love us…the easier it will be for us to approach You as we are…and desire to surrender our lives to You more and more knowing that You’ll lead us and guide us by that love You have for us.
Lord, we give You all the praise, all the glory, and all of the honor this day, and we thank You for speaking to us…and ask that the Holy Ghost would continue to speak to us about these last couple of messages…and seal within our hearts what You would have us to remember. I ask all these things in the precious and mighty name of Jesus…Amen & Amen.