Welcome! This morning we will continue on with the second part of “Surrender”. At our last meeting I suggested to you that there are three stages of surrender in our walk with the Lord. I hope the restating of them now will kindle your memory and maybe also some of your thoughts about this subject.
The first one, surrender is being born-again which comes from John 3:3.
The second is surrendering to growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, which comes from 2 Peter 3:18.
And the third surrender is to make disciples, which is also termed the Great Commission and it is found in Matthew 28:19.
These three surrenders, as I’ve termed them, have been the subject of many debates, divisions and for many people a few of the reasons for not becoming a Christian. In many respects these three surrenders have their own degree of theological basis and specific discipline that are not easily understood as most of us are accustomed to. They cannot be attained by connect-the-dots, or fill-in the blank. Nor is it the process of a simple scholastic exercise from any particular grade level that you’d like to choose. And yet the reality of these three surrenders is that all people no matter their particular education or abilities are capable of making these three surrenders part of their lives! This is discretely true because Scripture was meant to be received and understood by all people (Phil 2:10-11, 2 Peter 3:9)
Philippians 2:10-11 ESV – 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:2 ESV – 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
So now you probably are saying to yourself “That’s easy for you, but for me … not so much!” Well I can tell you honestly that it’s not so simple for me either! There are benefits, if I may call them that for the moment, there are benefits to making a conscience decision to surrender to the things expressed in Holy Scripture
For comparison, let’s start with something simple. Something that most of don’t think too much about but we typically practice it very often. Although I will go out on a limb and say that we probably don’t do this very well. Yet, more importantly, we probably don’t do it to the letter of the law. Let’s talk about the Stop Sign.
Audience Question: Why do we have stop signs? What’s their purpose?
California Vehicle Code 22450
(a) The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.
If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway.
(b) The driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at a railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before crossing the first track or entrance to the railroad grade crossing.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a local authority may adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution providing for the placement of a stop sign at any location on a highway under its jurisdiction where the stop sign would enhance traffic safety.
We have physical stop signs and the written law that states that we are supposed to come to a complete and total stop at every. Why? Obviously so we won’t be involved in a crash in the intersection because two paths are crossing one another! The way I look at stop signs is it’s there for safety sake … but that’s a rationalization and a bunny trail for another day!
How many of you can say that you’ve “kept the law” by coming to a complete and total stop at EVERY stop sign, 100% every time? How about 75% of the time? 50%? 25%? Let me ask you this, is stopping at a stop sign optional after midnight? Is it ever optional?
So if the law says that every driver must come to a complete and total stop at every stop sign, then why as Christians are we NOT doing this and obeying the law?
The answer is that consciously or subconsciously we haven’t fully committed to stopping at every stop sign. We haven’t fully committed to the notion that running through an intersection could be dangerous and we shouldn’t take the risk. What that really means is that our heart isn’t right. You can call it conscious or subconscious or any other descriptive word, but the truth is our hearts don’t want to be fully committed to stopping every time for stop sign, even though it is right and proper to do so. How many excuses can we point to for not stopping?
Let me share with you some personal experience with Stop Signs. Firstly I will state for the record that I have never received a ticket for VC 22450(A) – a failure to stop. I can guestimate that I have completed at least 50% “California stops” and approximately 45% mostly legal stops and have used the “it’s after midnight” clause maybe as high as 5% of all my stops. All this would include my younger days when I drove sporty cars and thus acquired annual visits to traffic school. BTW – LA County doesn’t allow annual traffic school visits any more. J
A few years ago there was a period of time that I remember when I was driving to the gym in the early morning. Most mornings the sun’s not quite up or has just broken over the horizon. But I recall very clearly that I had experienced a couple weeks of making full stops through all the stop signs from my house to the gym. What’s unusual is that I recall the making of the mental note. “Hey I’m stopping at every stop sign.” And it was just then, the sun was glaring through the left side of my windshield … I couldn’t see anything to my left, but I came to a stop. Looked left, couldn’t see anything, looked right, it was clear, then I looked back left and just as I was taking pressure off the break… and there we two people walking in the crosswalk, right in front of me! I didn’t even see them until after I had fully stopped! Wow!
Do you think the Lord had anything to do with that? You bet He did! Even in my many unconscious decisions over a period of a few weeks to make all the stop signs in that stretch of city streets, the Lord had a purpose in it! The Lord showed me that in my “surrendering” to the California law and practicing this surrender each and every time, there was a time when one of those full and complete stops actually became a benefit. It demonstrated that fact that we are what we do, or rather we are what we practice, or we are the choices we make. Interestingly enough, scripture confirms this in Proverbs 23:7
Proverbs 23:7a – For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
In my BMX days I had a few gimmicks and one was “ride what you practice and practice what you ride”. This was a philosophy that basically meant that if I don’t practice something, I better not try it in the race. And I find that’s still true today in my motocross endeavors!
As we’ve seen with the Stop sign analogy, we tend to pick and choose what we’re willing to do and not willing do. It’s the same with our walk with the Lord. We decide for ourselves, many things each and every day. But how many of those are we intentionally choosing to do for the sake of our personal commitment to listening to and to following Jesus?
We have to be committed to the things of God but each of us must decide that in our own mind and heart. We need to continually practice our surrender to the things of God. This is why Scripture says that we need to seek Him with all of heart, mind, soul and strength… because that’s what it takes!
That’s another segway into why mid-week small groups are so important! If you’re not already in a small group or Bible Impact Group (BIG), I can’t urge you enough to seek one out! Find one and be committed to going, even if you don’t feel like going sometimes!
The act of surrender to the things of God is being humble before Him! If we are willing to choose what is right, like stopping at a stop sign, and yet continue to practice it there will be a blessing for the sake of doing what’s right (and thus acknowledging God and reflecting His nature). Yet there may also be a literal blessing when the subconscious is doing what is right by default! I know that my faith is indeed growing because I have had moments where I realize that my default response was proper. For instance, driving down the freeway and realizing that I’d been drive on auto-pilot for the previous 10 miles (sometimes even longer) and noticing that I was driving precisely at the speed limit! Maybe you’ve experienced something similar? For me and my understanding of how to apply the Bible into my life, this is the kind of thing I want to have happen! I want my ALL my default responses to reflect Godly behavior, gentle, sincere, kind, forgiving and consistent with Jesus command to us to “Love our neighbor as our self.”
Leviticus 19:18 ESV – You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Matthew 22:39 ESV – 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 19:19 ESV – 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
You just never know how the Lord will use your surrender to His calling for His purposes!
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