Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Key Word is Surrender

In his book, "The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority", Adrian Rogers tells this story: 
As Josef and I rode in his car, I said, “Josef, tell me about American Christianity.” He said, “Adrian, I had rather not.”
I said, “No, I want to know.”
“Well, Adrian, since you have asked me, I’ll tell you. The key word in American Christianity is commitment.”
I said, “That’s good, isn’t it, Josef?”
“No, it is not. As a matter of fact, the word commitment did not come into great usage in the English language until about the 1960s. In Romania, we do not even have a word to translate the English word ‘commitment.’ If you were to use commitment in your message tonight, I would not have a proper word to translate it with.”
Josef continued, “When a new word comes into usage, it generally pushes an old word out. I began to study and found the old word that commitment replaced. Adrian, the old word that is no longer in vogue in America is the word surrender.”
“Josef,” I asked, “what is the difference between commitment and surrender?”
He said, “When you make a commitment, you are still in control, no matter how noble the thing you commit to. One can commit to pray, to study the Bible, to give money, or to commit to automobile payments, or to lose weight. Whatever he chooses to do, he commits to it. But surrender is different. If someone holds a gun and asks you to lift your hands in the air as a token of surrender, you don’t tell that person what you are committed to. You simply surrender and do as you are told.
“Americans love commitment, because they are still in control. But the key word is surrender. We are to be slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” And then the angel left.” (Luke 1:38 NLT)
Mary responds to the declaration of the angel with words of surrender. These are not words of commitment to do anything, they are words with which she receives what the Lord indicates that He wants to do. I believe that I have often given the Lord commitment when He was asking for surrender. Commitment is better than lack of commitment and it can take a person a distance, but only complete surrender to the will of God takes me to all of the places that God wants to take me. Mary surrendered. This is an example for me to follow. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dealing with Hard Soil

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3 ESV)

“The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the message, but then the Devil comes and steals it away and prevents them from believing and being saved.” (Luke 8:12 NLT)

“The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.” (Luke 8:14 NLT)

Jesus tells the parable of the sower from the perspective of the soils. It goes to the response of each individual heart to the word of God when it is sown. Jeremiah speaks more to the preparation of the soil so that the word can be sown. In Jeremiah, God commands that the hard soil (fallow ground) be plowed and broken up so that seed can be received. It also gives a warning against sowing where there are already thorns. Applying that second part to Jesus' parable might mean to not continue to sow seeds in a person struggling with the cares and pleasures of this life. Better to challenge that person on the areas that are choking the life out of the already sown seed than to continue to sow more seed.

The comparison of Jeremiah with the parable of the soils, helps me to see that I do not need to accept the state of soil in a persons heart as permanent. Things can change and as I bear faithful witness to Christ and sow His word, I can also work to plow up the hard soil and help remove the thorn bushes.