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?

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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.