40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (Mark 10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).
True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
We, as Christians, are in a continual battle against our adversary, the devil, a spirit being whose sole intent is to cause havoc for each of us. His goal is to get us off track of God’s plan for our lives. He waits until we’re at a vulnerable place before bringing forth his attack. This is why we have to be on our guard every single day.
1 Peter 5:8-9 commands us,
“Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith.” (CEV)
There are times when we may feel like our backs are against the wall with no way out. The thought of having to fight the giants of life in order to move forward can be intimidating. This is when the enemy comes alongside us to speak words of fear and doubt.
Satan is always trying to discourage us from believing we will ever walk in triumph. He is a liar and the king of all lies. We can either stand and fight or run and hide, the choice is ours to make. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances look like and what the devil says. The most important thing is what God’s Word says about our particular situation.
“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word” (Hebrews 10:23 AMP).
In her book, The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word, Joyce Meyer says,
“Second Corinthians 10:4-5 teaches us that our weapons are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds in our mind. Casting down imaginations, thoughts, reasonings, and theories that don’t agree with God’s Word requires us to use our offensive weapon-the Word of God coming out of our mouth. When we speak, it becomes a two-edged sword that defeats the enemy with one edge and opens the blessings of heaven with the other. There are many other weapons that are defensive, but the Word is offensive-it chases the enemy, driving him back.”
We should never be the ones who back down from Satan in defeat. No! We must be bold in our faith and continue to push back the powers of darkness by using God’s Word as our weapon. Satan fears those who truly grasp hold of God’s Word and begin using it to their advantage. He knows the power the Word carries, and that he is no match against it.
“Jesus said to him, Away from me, Satan! For it is written…” (Matthew 4:10 NIV).
God sent forth His Son, Jesus, to die for us so we could have victory over the evil one. Our victory was bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. We, therefore, are protected by the blood of Christ and because of this protection Satan cannot have dominion over us.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17 NIV).
|March 12, 2018
An Invitation to Dance With Daddy
“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children …” 1 John 3:1a (VOICE)
One of the first signs of spring in a small town we once called home was the welcomed appearance of tulips lining our cobblestone streets. But just as those velvet petals declared winter’s quiet passing, so did the arrival of the annual Father-Daughter dance.
A special night designed for fathers and their school-aged daughters, this “community ball” was a staple of spring-time conversation among the young girls in town. As the snow drifts melted, anticipation mounted.
Swelling excitement filled my minivan as I drove a posse of 10-year-old girls to soccer practice one spring evening long ago. The Father-Daughter Dance was just days away, and the girls were discussing everything from dresses and hairdos to favorite songs and dinner plans. Then, as we turned down the bumpy road to the soccer field, their prattle turned to the topic of their “dates” for the evening.
“My dad loves to dance,” declared my daughter Lizzy, with an unmistakable touch of pride.
I swallowed a giggle as I pictured my husband’s living-room dance moves coming to life beneath the shimmer of a disco ball. And I subtly turned down the radio so I could hear the girlish chatter.
“Will he dance with you the whole time?” one of Lizzy’s friends asked.
“Yep,” my girl replied with a happy sigh. “Well, with me and my little sister,” she clarified.
There was a comfortable pause and a sing-song of happy murmurs; then a voice of smug sympathy cut the silence. “Too bad you have to share your dad with your little sister. She’ll probably just want to do baby dances all night …”
As the eldest of three girls, Lizzy was accustomed to sharing her daddy without complaint. But would her friend’s insensitive words plant a bitter seed of discontent?
I gripped the steering wheel and tried to hide my irritation.
“It’s no big deal,” Lizzy said as she flashed her friend a smile. “My dad loves us both a whole lot. And he dances totally different with each of us.”
The road ahead grew hazy through my blur of grateful tears. And I realized that my 10-year-old had just voiced one of the things I love most about our Heavenly Father: God’s love for us is impartial, but His pursuit of us is personal.
First John 3:1 confirms God loves each and every one of His children with equal extravagance. But a quick glance through the pages of Scripture reminds us though God’s love is fanciful, it is rarely formulaic.
The One who ransomed our souls knows exactly what it takes to capture our hearts.
God declared His love for Abram with a message in the stars (Exodus 32:13) but wooed Elijah with a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12). He revealed His passion for Peter through a bulging net of fish (Luke 5:6), yet proclaimed His pleasure to Elizabeth through a miraculous pregnancy (Luke 1:24).
In the wise words of a 10-year-old, God “dances totally different” with each of us.
God may woo me with subtle streaks of sunrise at the crack of dawn and enamor you with wisps of moonlight in the dark of night.
He may script me a love song through the whisper of the wind and write you a rap through the whirr of the city.
He knows what thrills our hearts and speaks to our souls. And He invites us to step into His arms and be swept off our feet with His extravagant love.
So, baby moves or big-girl grooves, shimmy or disco or strut, let’s celebrate the ways God makes our hearts dance.
And next time we meet on the dance floor, let’s remember: There’s plenty of room in His arms for all of us!
Dear God, thank You for pursuing me personally and passionately. Open my eyes to see the ways You are wooing my heart and drawing me into deeper intimacy with You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.