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The Surrendered Life

21 July 2019

Last week our lesson was on Paul’s Manner of Serving The Lord. If you will recall we recognized Paul’s discussion with the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20:17-27, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” From this section of Scripture we identified that the apostle Paul’s manner of serving the Lord included, “Serving with humility” (v. 19); Serving With Many tears” (v. 19); “he kept back nothing in his preaching that was profitable” (v. 20); “He showed them or demonstrated what he preached” (v. 20); He taught publicly and from house to house” (v. 20); “he was determined that bonds and afflictions would not move him” (v. 22-24); “He counted not his life dear to himself” (v. 24); “His manner of preaching and living was such that he could say that he was pure from the blood of all men” (v. 26); and “he shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God” (v. 27). With all these manners of Paul we also know that he encouraged his readers to imitate him as we read in 1 Corinthians 14:16, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” He said it again in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” As we can easily see, the apostle Paul “surrendered his life” for the cause of Christ. That means he devoted himself completely or he surrendered his life to bring the gospel of Christ to the lost of the world. He recognized Jesus’ instructions in Mark 8:34-38, “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Christians are supposed to follow the example of Paul in his efforts and that means the Christian is to surrender his or her life first of all to the service of God as Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” The Apostle Paul testifies that the Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord in 2 Corinthians 8:5, “And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” These Christians in Macedonia surrendered their lives first to God and that followed with service to their brethren. To recognize the importance of this type of surrendered life is to understand that the surrendered life gives up everything to gain the kingdom. Listen to this short parable by Jesus concerning the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” We see the simplicity of the teaching of Jesus in that two verses explain to us the importance of sacrificing everything as the merchant did to obtain one beautiful pearl, for he sold all he had. He surrendered everything to obtain that which was far greater. For those who seek first the kingdom of God as Christ tells us to we are to give up or surrender our lives to do those things which will aid us in obtaining heaven.

A far greater example than even the apostle Paul concerning the surrendered life is that of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you will recall when Jesus is in the garden He separates himself from his apostles about a stone’s throw and he prays to our Father in Heaven. Listen closely to what He says in Luke 22:42, for He knows full well what is about to take place with His earthly life, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was sent to this earth to suffer the cruel cross of Calvary for mankind, surrendered His life to obey the Father. The writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 5:8, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Jesus obeyed the Father. Fortunately for all of us, Jesus paid the price for the sins of the world. It is on man to repent and surrender their lives back to God. We can go to the apostle Paul again and recognize what he says in Philippians 3:7-8, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” Remember what Paul said prior to his journey to Jerusalem in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” He counted not his life dear to himself; he surrendered his life for Christ.

There are two more examples from the Bible we can look to for examples of those who would not at first surrender their lives to God abut then after time and experiences, they did. Just think of Jonah. Remember how he attempted to run from God instead of going into Nineveh? Well, let’s turn to Jonah 1:1-3, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” With that in mind, remember, Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish or whale and determined to go to Nineveh and preach as we read in Jonah 3:1-3, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent.” It is crucial in this case to note, that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.” As we live here on this earth, should we decide to turn away from God, Lord Willing, He will be longsuffering enough o give us time to recognize the error of our ways as the Prodigal son did in Jesus parable of the Prodigal Son. Put yourself in the prodigal’s shoes and listen closely to what takes place in Luke 15:11-32, “Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. 12 "And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' 20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. 25 "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 "And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.' 28 "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 "So he answered and said to his father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 'But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.' 31 "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'" This parable teaches us a great many things, but especially the importance of our free-will and the love of the Father. While the prodigal son was being reckless, the Father waited patiently for him to “come to his senses.” When he did, the Father was ready to greet him with open arms! The Lord is waiting for us to do the same. However, we must recognize Paul’s teaching concerning once we have obeyed the gospel of Christ in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” We must not put God to the test! Surrendering our lives to God means to have the best kind of life!

Another example we have of one who hesitated and then went is Moses. When God called him, he instantly thought of five excuses why he couldn’t serve. Listen to Exodus 3:11-14 and Exodus 4:, where God speaks with Moses at the burning bush, “But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" 12 So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." 13 Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" 14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'” Exodus 4:1-16, “Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'" 2 So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." 3 And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 5 "that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." 6 Furthermore the LORD said to him, "Now put your hand in your bosom." And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. 7 And He said, "Put your hand in your bosom again." So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. 8 "Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. 9 "And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land." 10 Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." 11 So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." 13 But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 "Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. 16 "So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God."

(1) “Who Am I?” (Exod. 3:11) – Moses struggled with his identity. He just didn’t feel qualified; he thought God had picked the wrong leader. God responded: It doesn’t matter who you are. I AM with you (Exod. 3:14).

(2) “Who Are You?” (Exod. 3:13) – Moses felt a lack of intimacy. He didn’t know God well enough to describe Him to the people and lacked convictions concerning his relationship with God. God responded: I AM WHO I AM. I AM ever present. I AM everything you need (Exod. 3:14).

(3) “What if they don’t listen?” (Exod. 4:1) – Moses felt intimidated. He worried about the people’s reaction to him. God responded: When I’m finished, they’ll listen (Exod. 4:2-9).

(4) “I’ve never been a good speaker.” (Exod. 4:10) – Moses fretted about his inadequacies. Who would listen to him if he couldn’t speak well? God responded: Guess who made your mouth? (Exod. 4:11, 12).

(5) “I know you can find someone else.” (Exod. 4:13) – Moses felt inferior. He compared himself to others – even his brother – and decided he came up short. God responded: OK, I will let Aaron go with you…but I’m still calling you to go (Exod. 4:14).

Moses made excuse after excuse, but God provided an answer to every one of them. God will do that for all of us if we will only listen to Him. Each of us must surrender our lives to His Will if hope for eternal life with Him in Heaven when this life is over. Let us remember to surrender our lives in service of God. Let us be willing to give up everything to gain the kingdom of heaven. Let us pray as Jesus prayed, “Not my will but thine be done.” Let us not count our life for naught but for Christ as the apostle Paul did.

  Let each one of us make the choice to obey Christ as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

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