I want to talk to you today about living a life of obedience to Jesus, walking in surrender, letting go of ourways and embracing God’s ways. I guess this is my life’s message. It’s been the heart of what God always seems to bring me back to in my walk with Him. I want to make my home in a place of surrender.
As a young teenager seeking after the will of God for my life, it started there. Surrender. Not my will but yours be done was my prayer. I wanted so desperately to know “God’s will” for my life. There can be anethereal concept of God’s will, that one day we will just arrive there and we are now in it. I’ve come to find out that it’s not really like that.
Conversely I don’t want to discount the fact that we may have dreams in our heart that we are waiting for.Dreams for how God can use us, dreams of what He has created us for. Opening a coffee shop, starting a new ministry, starting a business, an invention, getting married, having kids…
Whatever that dream may be.
It doesn’t mean that “God’s will” isn’t until those things come to pass.
God invites us to live a life of obedience to Him. And today if you woke up and purposed to honor Jesus with your life, You are in the will of God. It is not a nirvana experience or another dimension. It is right here and right now for those walking with God.
And it’s the daily yes and surrender and obedience that leads to the big dreams being fulfilled.
Obedience is what He asks for, what He requires from us.
The story of King Saul
1 Samuel 15:1-3, 7-9
1 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites forwhat they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women,children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ”
7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves b and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
What did God say for Saul to do? Completely destroy everything.
Saul decided not to obey. He took matters into his own hands. He did what was right in his own eyes.
(I will summarize) Vs 10-13
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
WHAT?! Samuel came to rebuke Saul. Saul welcomes Samuel regally and tries to justify himself.
(I will summarize this passage) Vs 14-21
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16“Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of thetribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go andcompletely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wipedthem out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20“But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle fromthe plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
Samuel calls him out. Saul still isn’t owning it. He is blaming the people. His fear of man caused him to disobey.
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion islike the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
Obedience is better than sacrifice! In other words, God doesn’t want your stinking offering, He wants your heart.
(I will summarize this passage) Vs 24-26, 30-31
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”
30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel;come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
Saul is trying to save face in front of his people. He thinks that a sacrifice will just atone for his disobedience. But there is no repentance. There is no brokenness for his disobedience.
Do you notice that Saul always addresses God to Samuel as “the Lord YOUR God?” He doesn’t have a relationship with God on his own. It’s all external for Saul, going through the motions.
The Story of David
Conversely I want to talk about another king of Israel, David. He was called “a man after God’s own heart.”As the author of many of the Psalms, we see his heart of love for and intimacy with God. He had a relationship with God. Here is one of many examples:
1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
- I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
- I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
- On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
- Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
- I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Now David was not a perfect man either. He was disobedient to the Lord as well.
2 Samuel 11
1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. Then she went back home. 5 Thewoman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.”
First of all, David was supposed to be at war. He sent out his officers but he remained. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be, or doing what He was supposed to do. He was distracted.
He takes Bathsheeba as his own and has her husband killed.
The prophet Nathan confronts David and it goes quite differently than Saul’s response. 2 Samuel 12:1-7
1 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him andhis children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheepor cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him.
Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
And then we read in Psalm 51 the song of repentance David wrote after his disobedience
Psalm 51:1-2, 4a, 10-12, 16-17
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me frommy sin.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me awilling spirit, to sustain me.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
you, God, will not despise.
David was disobedient, but he was repentant.
He recognized that his external didn’t matter if his internal was a mess. He still had consequences to bear. He lost the first son he bore with Bathsheeba but God even extended to David redemption in his disciplineand gave them another son, Solomon, who would later be king and fulfill David’s dream to build God a temple.
God desires our obedience. Obedience comes much easier when there is a relationship. We can see thedifference in David and Saul. We all will sin. We all will make mistakes and miss the mark.
I love how gotquestions.org comments on this verse:
“David reminds us that the only path to forgiveness is a broken heart and a humble spirit (cf. Matthew 5:3). When we throw ourselves on the mercy of God, He delights to lift us up (Luke 18:13-14). When we openly acknowledge our sin against God, turn from it, and cry out for cleansing, God promises that He will hear us and forgive (1 John 1:9).”
God wants us to know him like David did. He wants us to not just know about him but to have an intimate relationship with Him. It was the relationship, not the relation to religion that made the difference for David in his transformation.
It’s His Loving Kindness that draws us to repentance. Romans 2:4
He is not an authoritarian or totalitarian ruler. He is a loving Father who longs for time with His children.
He wants to be your intimate friend. It’s easy to surrender, to give your all in a love relationship.
Prov. 23:26 My son give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways.
Allow His Spirit to speak to your heart. Surrender means not living the way the rest of the culture does.
Living a life of holiness. Come in close.
Ephesians 5:1-4, 10-13
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or ofgreed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
We can not compartmentalize our lives. He wants all of us. There is nothing that should be untouchable or out of his reach. Relationships, how we dress, how we conduct business, what we watch, what we eat, how we talk, what we post, etc. We must offer ALL of our lives. We cannot have feet in 2 camps.
The journey of life with Jesus is indeed a journey. We don’t some day arrive at surrender and that’s it. We never fully arrive until He brings us home. He calls us to give our all, but in reality it happens little by little.He’s constantly asking for more, gently leading us deeper.
When you look at life in light of eternity, NOTHING else matters than giving your all to Jesus.
The American church is full of half hearted Sunday followers. What is our impact for the kingdom? Too afraid to speak up for Jesus in the workplace because we haven’t surrendered our pride. We haven’t laid down our reputation or insecurity or false identities. We are essentially powerless, holding on to every earthly treasure and success. We look so much like the rest of the world. We chase the same successes,the same securities.
HE is our reward. HE is our inheritance.
When He’s calling you out into a life of freedom, there can be resistance. We become comfortable in ourcomplacency and our sin and our familiarity. He’s the only master who offers freedom to those who serve Him. Do not harden your hearts.
We must come back to our first love. We must not be lukewarm in our love for Him. We must let his fire burn again in our hearts.
How are people able to do to big things for Jesus? They’ve encountered His love
They’ve caught a glimpse of His glory They’ve seen His worth
They’ve repented of their sins
They’ve said yes to Jesus and his ways
Ask Jesus what places of your heart need a realignment. Where are there areas of compromise in your life? Where are there hints of impurity? Repent with a broken and contrite heart. Draw near to Him, so he can draw near to you as James says. Let that relationship deepen. Fall in love with Him. Are you living inrelationship or in relation to religion?
Remember Psalm 51
Hebrews 12:1 Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us, let us runwith perseverance the race marked out before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…