Thursday, April 15, 2010

R12: Do you believe God has your best in mind?

"[S]uppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:31-33)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Is surrender really a bad thing? Think about the word and reflect on the first passage above. We can identify surrender with warfare and battle. The one who surrenders is the loser. They don't get a say in the terms of their surrender so they hope for mercy from the victor. Surrender in battle can bring shame and disgrace. Think Germany after WWI, without which there wouldn't have been a WWII. Surrender can also completely change your society and your culture. Think Japan after WWII.

If you were to challenge God to a fight, who would win? Yet we do this every day. "I want to do this." "I think that is right." "This feels good and I don't care about the consequences." Do we ever win? Sometimes things seem to work out for a while. But long term? So we fight and and we fight and ultimately we lose. We lose the battle, but only to one who has our best interest at heart. As He draws up the terms of surrender, He isn't looking to gain territory or riches, He isn't looking for ways to hold you down, rather He is giving us terms to empower us, enable us to reach the glory he has planned for each and every one of us. We just need to believe it. Surrendering to God is the complete opposite of the examples above. Instead of shame and disgrace, it brings humility and glory. And it will completely change your life to the point that it no longer resembles what it was before.

The second passage above sounds like it was written by the greeting card industry instead of by the Apostle Paul. You see it on bumper stickers and on business cards. It's the cliched response when confronted with tragedy like cancer or miscarriage. It is so overused the truth behind this Scripture is lost. God does have the best in mind. But we often don't, or can't, see it. And in some cases, we never will until we're with Him in heaven.

The first parts of surrender we've talked about are sacrifice and risk vs reward. The next part is trust. And this is where it gets hard. Can you really trust God? The barrier to fully committing to God are usually feelings of, "but what if..." We know God will affect our relationships, our dreams, the overall course of our lives. But we struggle to believe that these changes are for the better.

I always think of my friend Dave. Before he was baptized he was afraid God would whisk him away to some far away land like China. Several years later he found himself willingly in China; there to adopt a baby girl. As a recovering alcoholic, at his baptism a friend told him he could see him one day leading a recovery ministry. He replied, "why would I want to hang out with those losers?" And now he leads that ministry with losers like me.

If you're a disciple of Jesus, chances are God has done something incredible in your life that moved you to greater faith. Remember that. Let it encourage you that God has so much more in store. If you're wrestling with surrendering fully to God, think about what God could do for you. Pray about the issues you long to overcome, the real challenges to your faith. God will answer, but not likely in a way you'd expect. In fact, better.

Think: What part of surrender do you struggle with the most? Sacrifice? Taking risks? Trusting God?
Reflect: Write down the top two barriers/fears that keep you from making a total commitment to Jesus Christ.
Understand: How does your view of God impact your ability to trust Him? How do you see God most days? Vengeful or merciful? Kind or demanding?
Surrender: Pray to see God clearly. Pray to get over the intellectual belief and move to a deeper faith.
Take action: Write out Romans 8:32 (not the same Scripture as above!) on a 3x5 and read it every morning this week, asking God to believe what it says.
Motivation: Listen to the message on the "Goodness of God" by clicking the R12 button on the right.
Encourage someone: Share one thing God has done for you in the last few weeks with a friend. Ask them what he's done for them.

Today continues our "virtual small group" covering the book Living On The Edge. For how this group is going to work, read this entry. For an introduction with disclaimers, click here. For some numbers from Barna to motivate you to continue reading, go here. For the R12 videos, click the R12 button on the sidebar to the right. Finally, as we move forward through the book you can always catch up by clicking the R12 label at the end of each post.


JC Dude said...

Surrender to His will is the most alive place to be. Good thoughts bro' and thanks for sharing them!


Fatha Frank said...

Thanks Jay. Stick around, we're only getting warmed up!