Surrendering: True Self Desperate for God

Are you faking it in prayer? Just going through the motions? Do you know what I am talking about? Are there some days where you read off the list or ramble off some stuff with your heart far away? Does prayer seem empty and difficult at best, almost like a chore that must be done?

We know as Christians we are supposed to come to the Lord and pray. The Bible goes so far as to tell us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Has it gone through your mind, ‘without ceasing, I can’t get through 5 minutes’?

I know, I have been there, I have struggled with prayer.

I am learning and finding new excitement for prayer and new joy in prayer.

It was about a year ago that my church was listening to a series on prayer by David Platt. One of the questions that he asked had to do with personal desperation for God. It made me think. It made me realize my own self-sufficiency. I realized that I often did not feel desperate for the Lord and that left my prayers shallow and empty.

Then one day I was reading in Genesis 16 about Hagar and how she recognized the Lord as “the One who sees me” (verse 13). The Lord showed me some truths that day that touched my neediness deeply. I shared about this in a previous post “He Sees Me.”

It has been since then that I have been looking more closely at the precious names of God and realizing that they are really for me. He is really for me. I mean that the names of God help me to know His character more and help me see who He is in light of what I need.

Consider the following? Can you relate to any of these?

Do I feel invisible and unheard? He is the God who sees me (Genesis 16).

Do I feel wounded (in body or emotions) or sick? He is the God who heals (Exodus 15).

Do I feel needy in any area of life? He is the God who provides (Genesis 22).

Do I feel anxious and stressed? The Lord is Peace (Judges 6). He can give us peace.

Am I struggling with sin and having difficulty living the Christian life.  He is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).

Am I all alone and feeling discouraged or worried? He is there (Ezekiel 48:35).

He is whatever you need.

It seems so obvious, but yet so difficult. Too often we choose not to go deep, not to go to the heart of the matter. We cry out a list of symptoms and want Him to fix them. We ask Him to make it fast, easy, and painless. But we don’t recognize the real need beneath the symptoms, we don’t take time to search beneath the surface. And, in the end we remain stagnate in our prayer life, we don’t grow.

The Lord wants to change our hearts. He wants to change us from the inside out. I am realizing that I have to come to a place where I must recognize my need for Him in each area of life. I need to bring my heart wounds to Him for healing. I need to yield up the depths of my sin-sickness, all of it, all of the life-long effects, and seek Him, seek His wisdom.

I am finding Him meeting me in the depths with such an amazing understanding of my heart. He is such a personal God. He touches the pain inside with tender love. He holds me in the midst of the life-quakes, and the aftershocks. He helps me to know the reality of the belonging I have with Him. The intimacy of prayer is incredibly beautiful and satisfying.

Next time you go to Him in prayer, lay open your heart, share the desperation within, cry out and He will meet you. He will draw you in. You will find there is no sweeter place. You will yearn to go back often. You will learn to pray without ceasing, because being with Him is being home.

Go home today and find His loving presence.

 

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Surrendering: Be Fully Present

Philippians 2:3 AMP says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives or strife] but in an attitude of humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous] regard others as more important than yourself.”

This verse seems applicable to our level of presence with others. When you are fully present you are totally engaged and focused on what the other person is saying and doing. But all too often we are too overwhelmed with our own stuff. We miss what others have to share. When we do this we are acting in a way that says we are more important than the other.

You know how it goes, you are physically there, but there are one or more things that keep you from fully focusing on the conversation. You may be preoccupied with self, just focused on something that you can’t seem to get out of your mind. Maybe it’s the busyness of your schedule, or the exhaustion you feel, or maybe it’s the party you are planning. Even so, you nod politely as if you’re listening, when you really are only partially attending to what is being said. You go through the motions. I know I am guilty of this.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians to be humble, to think of the other person as more important than ourselves. This means we need to set aside the things that are bombarding our minds, and give our full attention to the other person and their needs.

Being fully present is a way of really showing love. It is like saying, “I am really with you in this. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to be with you, there is nowhere else I would rather be.”

I think that Jesus was fully present in His relationships. When He was with someone, He was really with them, focused on them and their needs.

I want to learn to change, but it will take a conscious effort.  My inattentiveness, my selfishness, and my busyness get in the way. I want to learn to make a point of being fully present, not preoccupied or distracted. I want to develop self-control in this area, setting aside self. I want others to know that I really care about them.

Showing love to other people is one of the most Christlike things we can do. Who do you need to demonstrate the love of being fully present with today?

Surrendering: Letting Go of the Unnecessary

I had the joy of spending much of the day with a dear friend a few days ago. She moved out-of-state a year ago, and I have only seen her one other time since the big move. We did all the girl-friendy things women do when they get together; lunch, shopping, coffee, and nonstop chatter. It was so good to be together, to have time for long conversations.

During the course of one of our conversations, I mentioned that I was getting rid of some clothes that no longer fit. I told her how difficult it was for me to part with things, because I become too attached to them. She agreed, saying she struggled with the same problem. She said that she attached “a memory to things” and that is what made parting with them difficult. Yes, that is exactly, what I do.

Yesterday, I took a few bags of things to a donation center. It felt good. But there are still too many things in the house. There’s a lot more to be sorted through, a lot more unnecessary clutter around. Clutter that gets rearranged in different piles or different baskets to look nice.

So much freedom and peace is lost in having too much stuff. So much stress grows in living with too much clutter. There are so many things we cling to that we don’t need, yet we hold tight to them.

I wonder what attachments I have to things that keep me from attaching more deeply to the Lord?

How much time do I waste rearranging things to make it look nice? Time that I could be using for His purposes.

How many things do I have duplicates of that never get used? Items that others may be in need of.

It has been my goal for a while to work at decluttering. I make a little progress, but all too soon I am finding new items that I feel I can’t live without replacing the things I gave away.

What a vicious circle! It all seems to be to fill an emptiness inside, a hunger for something to satisfy a need.

I think, often, it is also a problem of lack of focus, of wanting to try to many things, and of course, of impulse shopping.

Surrendering my heart to the Lord means allowing Him to use what I have for His purposes. It is all His.

How about you, do you find yourself struggling with too much stuff? Do you spend too much time rearranging and end up feeling frustrated? What will surrendering your heart to the Lord mean for you as you consider the things you cling to?

 

Surrendering: Being Pure in Heart

1 John 3:6 AMPC “No one who abides in Him [who lives and remains in communion with and in obedience to Him-deliberate, knowingly and habitually] commits (practices) sin. No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived or understood Him or has had an experiential acquaintance with Him].”

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

The word pure is defined as “free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter.”

After the psalmist David sinned with Bathsheba, he wrote Psalm 51. He cries out to the Lord in verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart.” His heart was contaminated, it wasn’t pure, and David knew only the Lord could change that.

Our hearts are made pure in Jesus, as He is present in our lives. We are sinful humans, our hearts are filled with evil and wickedness (see Jeremiah 17:9) apart from forgiveness of sins in Jesus.

1 John 2:16 AMPC “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh [craving sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]- these do not come from your Father but from the world [itself].”

Bible commentator William Barclay describes the heart that is “free from adulterous motives” as being pure. 

Our hearts are divided, there are too often many things clamoring for our attention, pulling at our heartstrings. So many temptations.

John Piper says, “The aim of a pure heart is to align itself with the truth of God and magnify the worth of God.”

Do you find your heart divided? Is it contaminated by this world? Are you pulled away by temptations?

I see it in my heart, in my life.

My prayer is for my Heavenly Father to help me in being pure in heart. My heart needs to be bathed in His Truth, washed by Christ’s blood, and the plumb line for each choice needs to be Christ’s righteousness.

I want to grow in purity.

– to really love Him with all of my heart, soul, and mind, rather than being distracted and pulled away by the things of this world.

– to set my heart on things above, and not become discontent and dissatisfied here. It is too easy to “set my heart” on desires here on earth.

– to have an eternal perspective as I live this life on earth, looking forward to what Jesus is preparing for me in heaven. Does anything matter more than that?

– to rest in Him, knowing the full assurance I have because of the belonging He has given me. I have been bought with Christ’s blood. I don’t need to look for reassurance in things here in this world, not in money, not in status, not in power, or in anything else.k

I want to be solely focused on living for Him, glorifying His name, and being the light I am called to be in a dark world.

The promise is that the pure in heart will see God. Yes, of course we will see Him in eternity because we have salvation through Christ, but it goes even beyond that. When our hearts are pure, our wills are aligned with His, we see Him at work in our lives, we see Him answering our prayers, we recognize His hand in circumstances more readily, we grow in knowing Him more deeply when our hearts are focused on Him. We have the opportunity to see Him now as we live on this earth.

What a beautiful promise!

 

Surrendering: Seeking God’s Agenda

I am a planner, I love getting my calendar out to plan a get-together, or mark down an appointment. I like writing out my to-do list, because I enjoy marking off what I have accomplished. I enjoy planning menus and having it all organized for easy meals. I love planning retreats. I look forward to planning coffee shop stops on a trip to a certain destination.

I often consider time to be mine. And, too often, I desire to use it for my purposes.

One area of surrender that I feel prompted to work on is seeking God’s agenda. Thinking about what is important to Him? I get so focused on what I want to do or feel I need to do that I hate interruptions and miss opportunities.

But what is the agenda the Lord has for me? Finding that out requires delving into knowing God’s heart deeply. The more I look into the subject of surrender, the more I see the importance of abiding in Him. So, I am going to use that word ABIDE as our acronym for how to seek God’s agenda. I think that what we need to remember is that it isn’t so much about what we have on our agenda but how can we choose to use it for God’s purposes. We can choose to ABIDE in all we have to do.

Administer grace- As you go through your day, choose to do what touches other with the grace of our Lord and Savior. Even that rude driver that pulls out in front of you and cuts you off can be offered the grace of a forgiving heart.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as Christ also has forgiven you.

 

Be in unity- Seek unity in Christ in your relationships with other believers. We speak with others often, but not all Christians, so  how can we choose unity over division? When we show love we unify. Draw others in so they see how Christ’s love binds heart and minds together.

1 Peter 3: 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (Peter is speaking to believers in this verse.)

 

Increase kingdom growth- Be ready to share His Gospel wherever you go, with those you share time or those you happen to run into.

1 Peter 3:15 But in your heart honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

 

Delight in Him and in His Word- Use any few quiet, spare moments you have to meditate on the Lord and His Word. Think about the verses you read earlier in the day as you wait at the stop light. Let His truths permeate your being so it seeps into and throughout your life.

Romans 7:22  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law.

 

Edify others- Encourage and build one another up. Share in others trials and suffering. Touch others with the peace and hope that the Lord has given you. Comfort others with the comfort He has given you.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

 

Each of these are important themes of God’s Word, they are close to God’s heart. They are what really matters to Him.

I know there may be specific things the Lord has for each of us on a given day that He wants us to do, He will share those as you seek Him in prayer. Yet, every day we can live out His agenda, by living life according to His Word, by the Truths of His heart.

Surrender your life to Him by letting each moment count for His glory.

 

 

 

Surrendering: Growing Meek in Spirit

Meekness is not a term used very often today. Jesus used it to describe Himself in Matthew 11:29 AMPC. He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart…”

The word meek is defined according the HELPS Word Studies as “not weakness” but rather referring “to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.” It is a “blend of gentleness (reserve) and strength.”

It seems that often meekness is acquainted with weakness, but this shows that to be meek really is to demonstrate harnessed power. It would be having the power to plow over someone in words or actions but to harness that power, to keep emotions in tack, to remain humble and set aside personal rights.

Jesus had all of the power in the world to change things for His purposes, for His self-protection, but He gave into the will of the Father. He had perfect trust in His Father as His Advocate. He put aside His rights and privileges.

Philippians 2:5-8 NIV  describes it like this: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made Himself of  no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ”

Let this mind be in me. I have a lot of surrendering to do in order to demonstrate meekness. There are so many areas where I need help in living out meekness.

I need the Lord to help me surrender my need to have my way.

I need the Lord to help me stop seeking to advance my cause or be given my rights above others.

I need the Lord’s help in harnessing the power when I have opportunity to use it for my purposes rather than His.

I need the Lord’s help to keep my anger from boiling over.

I need the Lord to help me keep my pride from bursting out, and instead lead me to humility.

I need Him to teach me meekness. It is only as I trust Him to be at work on my behalf that I will have the strength to be meek. When I trust that He will accomplish what is best for me, then I don’t need to have my own way or advance my cause, because He is all about doing just that.

I need to trust my Fathers’ heart of love as Jesus did, and then I will know meekness and how to live it out.

Surrender is costly. Meek is such a little word, but but requires great strength to live up to it in our daily lives.

Are you recognizing areas that you need to surrender in your life as well?

 

Surrendering: Leaning in Dependence upon God

Surrender.

One of the areas that the Lord has shown me that I need to surrender is in really depending upon Him. It seems in our self-sufficiency, we do not depend on another until we are in a state of desperation. Or at least those are words that describe me.

But the Lord wants me to depend on Him moment by moment.

He wants me to recognize Him in each situation.

He wants me to recognize His presence.

He wants me to recognize His availability.

He wants me to recognize His ability to work it out.

He wants me to recognize His sovereignty.

He is Lord.

Yet, too often, I decide, I manipulate, I try to control. I need the situation to work out and I want it to work out my way, to my benefit.

He is showing me, if He is truly my Lord, then I need to STOP. I need to rely on His wisdom, His guidance, His leading. I need to seek Him in prayer to know the best way to move forward. I need to depend on Him.

He is with me each and every moment. His Spirit abides in me, and too often I move through life before seeking Him. This area of surrender is wrapped up in abiding in Him. It is wrapped up in knowing His presence.

It is yielding rather than doing it my way. It means a new way of thinking.

It means a new way of living.

It is not a one time choice or a one time decision, it is a daily, moment by moment way of living.

Are you surrendering your independence to depend fully on Him?