Ask for Help: Tips on Surrendering to the Will of God

” Teach me to do Your will. For you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.”-Psalm 143:10

I truly believe this verse should be the prayer of every Christian. Our hearts should long to know and to do God’s will. We should desire to know His plans for our lives. We should long to fulfill those plans. This longing is admirable, but we should at  some point in our spiritual journey  go from simply desiring His will to submitting ourselves to His will. Here a four ways to ensure that you are doing just that:

1.Recognize Your inability to do God’s will outside of His help. The first sentence in this scripture indicates one man’s recognition of needing God’s help in order to do His will. As I was studying, I came across a beautifully written description by  MacLaren’s Expositions that helps illustrates this point :

We may learn from this prayer, then, that practical conformity to God’s will can never be attained by our own efforts. Remember all the hindrances that rise between us and it; these wild passions of ours, this obstinate gravitating of tastes and desires towards earth, these animal necessities, these spiritual perversities, which make up so much of us all-how can we coerce these into submission? Our better selves sit within like some imprisoned king, surrounded and ‘fooled by the rebel powers’ of his revolted subjects; and our best recourse is to send an embassy to the Over-lord, the Sovereign King, praying Him to come to our help. We cannot will to will as God wills, but we can turn ourselves to Him, and ask Him to put the power within us which shall subdue the evil, conquer the rebels, and make us masters of our own else anarchic and troubled spirits. For all honest attempts to make the will of God our wills, the one secret of success is confident and continual appeal to Him. A man must have gone a very little way, very superficially and perfunctorily, on the path of seeking to make himself what he ought to be, unless he has found out that he cannot do it, and unless he has found out that there is only one way to do it, and that is to go to God and say, ‘O Lord! I am baffled and beaten. I put the reins into Thy hand; do Thou inspire and direct and sanctify.’

If we are ever going to do the will of God, we must recognize that it can only happen with His help.

2.Surrender your free will to God’s will.  The interesting thing about God is that He does not typically force His way on people. In his kindness, He has given us “free will,” and our free will often conflicts with His. This is why the Psalmist plea of asking God to “teach me to your will” is so important. It is by asking to be taught that he simultaneously surrenders his own free will and submits himself to God. The moment we ask for God’s help is the moment we surrender all that we know and yield to what He is willing to teach us.

3.Know Who God is. After praying that God teaches him, the psalmist points out, “Your spirit is good.” By this phrase we come to understand why the psalmist was able to surrender his will. His understanding of God’s goodness made surrendering to His will the only proper response. The goodness of God compelled him to trust God with his life, and it should compel us to do the same.

4.Know where God leads. After acknowledging God’s goodness, the psalmists then cries out, “Lead me in the land of uprightness.” This gives the psalmist a measuring stick of whether the places his feet trod are God’s will or his. As he pursues what is right He can rest assure he is being led by God. God will rarely lead us to a place that His goodness and righteousness cannot be found. For the most part, he leads us beside quiet streams. When we are committed to doing life His way righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost is our portion.

If we truly desire to surrender our lives to God, we must be like the psalmist and recognize we cannot do it without Him. We must drop all of our pride and ask God for help. We have to be convinced of who God is so that in the moments He requires more than we would like to give, we trust what we know about Him over our desire. I will not pretend that a life of surrender is not difficult at times. It can be excruciatingly painful in those moments you would prefer to do things your way. However, his grace is sufficient and he helps those who ask for it. My prayer for us all is that we would drop our pride and lift our hands in total surrender to the purposes and plans of God for our lives. He is ready to lead us when we are ready to surrender.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/03/12/new-research-confirms-black-students-better-taught-black-teachers/

The Love Factor

love factor“For you have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor,’ and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven…”-Matthew 5:43-45

I’m not sure if anyone has taken notice, but in the last few years of preaching there has been a shift towards focusing on our “Haters.” Particularly in the Black Church setting, there seems to be this crazy fixation on “tell your hater this, show your hater that, and blah blah blah.” I personally feel that this Hater Obsession is doing more harm to the Body of Christ than good. I believe it has assisted the enemy in his plot to keep us separated. It has produced competition, suspicion, and mistrust among believers, and it is has moved us further away from what we have been commanded to do (Matthew 22:36-40, 28:18-20)

I also believe it has distracted us from who our real enemies are and none of these enemies are humans. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world; and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” If we aren’t careful, we will have Christians hating one another instead of confronting that spirit working through an individual. Okay we’ll save “Spiritual Warfare” for another date. However, we are doing a grave injustice to the Body of Christ when we spend a whole sermon on How to Handle a Hater, but we fail to help people identify who our enemies truly are.

Oh and let me get this off my chest, most of us do not have enemies like we liked to believe. Many of us do not have enough going on in our lives to give someone a reason to sabotage our success. I include myself in this number, and this is why I do not spend my time worrying about a “hater” or enemy as the Bible calls them. Many of us have not acquired enough to have people plotting to take it. If you want to know how real enemies behave read the book of Judges, I Kings, II Kings, and Psalms to name a few. Real enemies seek your position, your authority, your power, and your life. If you have not had someone to literally try to kill you or sabotage your job, ministry, marriage, and etc. have several seats in the Petty Christian section. Someone stealing your facebook post, hairstyle, or outfit does not count as an attack against you.

Jesus gives us the anecdote to dealing with people who choose to be enemies against us. He tells us to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES! Say it with me, “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES!” By doing this people are able to determine who our God truly is. We are most like our Father when we choose to love those who refuse to love us. Remember Romans 5:10, “since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES..” Surely if God loved us, we can love them. I pray we consider this the next time we are faced with the decision of How to Handle a Hater. Truth be told, we were all once enemies of God and had he not decided to extend His love to us, we would not know the blessing of being his friends (John 15:15).

Here is my point, the actions of others never remove our responsibility to love them as God commanded. Whether the person has decided to be a friend or an enemy against us, we are called to LOVE them both the same. Our feelings and our flesh will never suggest we love someone who continues to mistreat us. However, if we want the world to know that we truly belong to God, we must act like him. He gives us the ability to do it, and he gives us the wisdom to know when this Love should be expressed from a safe distance. Please know that I am continually praying that we as the Body will be found doing what John 15: 17 commands of us and that is to “Love each other!”

 

Have a Magnificent Monday, thanks for reading, and remember LOVE LIVES FREE!!!-Charity Israel

 

Keep Calm and Just Trust God!


isaiah

“For since the world, no ear has heard, and no eyes has seen a God like you, who works for those wait for him.”Isaiah 64:4

At this present moment life appears to be working against me, and I feel like I’m in a holding pattern waiting to land in a beautiful place. Needless to say, I was in dire need of encouragement and this scripture provided it. After reading it, all I could do was pray “Holy Spirit teach me how to rest while I wait for you.”

As I uttered that prayer, Isaiah 26:3,4 came to mind. It says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Before I could finish writing that verse out to encourage myself, Proverbs 3:5,6 started to flow out my mouth like water. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

It suddenly clicked that it is in Total Trust that I find rest while waiting for God.  What is Total Trust? It is the complete surrender of our hearts and minds to the faithfulness of God. Total Trust is where we exchange the pride of life for his Presence. It is where we yield our anxiety for His peace. It is where we cast our cares at his feet and soak in his Love. Total Trust is the place where we surrender our limited knowledge and take rest in his Omniscience. It is where we yield our worry to bask in the beauty of his Sovereignty.

As believers, God made it possible for us to go through the worst of life trials with “peace that surpasses our understanding.”(Philippians 4:7) But we will never tap into that peace if we keep our minds on everything other than Him. Our focus in the midst of tribulations is what determines whether we rest in Him or become consumed by circumstances.

Today I pray we choose to rest in Him. I pray we choose to turn our focus on the ETERNAL faithfulness of our God instead of the temporary reality of life. I’m not asking that we pretend that life does not hurt at the moment, but I am encouraging us to focus on the Truth of our Father’s love instead of the facts of life. When it is over we will look back in awe of His provision, and we will laugh at how stressed out we were about the situation.

I encourage us to skip past the worry this time and fast forward to worship. God is going to be faithful to perform His word over our life, and I pray we take rest in that truth. God loves us; and this trial is another opportunity to learn how to rest while waiting for God to come through. I pray we learn the lesson this time. Isaiah tells us, God “works for those who wait for Him.” Hang in there, the Father is coming to see about you.

 

 

Forgive Them!!!

intercessorForgiveness is one of the greatest jewels of the Christian faith. It is what God graciously extends to us through Jesus Christ, and it our Christian response to others. Intercession is also a jewel. God in his kindness was often times willing to forgive a nation because of the prayers of one person (Exo. 32:32, 34:7-9; Deut. 21:8; Ps 79:9; Isa 2:9; Dan. 9:19; Amos 7:2) Throughout the ages, people have selflessly stood in the gap for those who had no desire to please God. They have been a saving grace to our human race, and all their prayers are appreciated.
In the Old Testament, we find that those being persecuted by pagan nations often prayed for the destruction of their enemies. They did not just pray for their destruction, but they fought many battles to ensure it. In the New Testament, however, there is a new response to those being persecuted by their enemies; and that is praying that they are forgiven. Many of us would not consider forgiveness as a form of intercession. We do not consider it intercession because we often focus on the offense instead of the proper response to it. We often let the hurt fester, and we adopt it as a new chip on our shoulder to stay angry at the world. It is the bitterness from unforgiven offenses that operates as a toxin in the Body of Christ (Heb. 12:14, 15). In the New Testament, we discover the proper response of an Intercessor when the offense becomes a physical attack instead of a spiritual one. We must forgive, and that forgiveness becomes an intercession for those who attack us.
There is leader in the Bible who used forgiveness as a form of intercession. This man led a small core group of 12; fed over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread; and he gave up his life so that everyone would have an opportunity to know God. This man is named Jesus. It was Jesus who spent his life exemplifying what it meant to love God and your neighbor only to be, at the end of it, wrongfully accused and sentenced to death. It was Jesus, who while visiting one city, heard the crowd shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna!” one week and chanting “crucify him!” the following week. It was Jesus, the one who healed the withered hand and crippled feet, who had to have his hands and feet secured to a cross by nails. It was Jesus, the one possessing eternal life, with his last breath uttered these words in Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus who had every right to be upset, offended, furious, and betrayed made his last words an intercession. I would assert that if Jesus was praying “Father forgive them,” that he had already forgiven them (us) in his heart. He made an “allowance for our offenses” as Paul admonishes each believer to do in Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Jesus showed us by example how we should respond to those who would love nothing more than to see us dead, FORGIVE THEM.
In the book of Acts chapter 6 and 7, we find the story of a man named Stephen. The bible described him as “a man full of faith, the Holy Spirit, grace, and the power of God. He performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:5, 8) He was loved by the brethren and hated by religious leaders because of his wisdom and the Holy Spirit in him. These men conspired against him and found people to lie on him. Their lies led to Stephen’s arrest and a meeting with the Council (vv. 6:9-7:53). It was during this meeting that he spoke only what the Spirit told him to say. His words of truth made those living a lie furious. Out of their anger, they drugged him outside of the city and began to stone him (vv. 7:54-58) This man who was obedient to what the Holy Spirit asked of him was now facing death by the hands of those claiming to know God. His response to their actions was a prayer. Acts 7:59, 60 says, “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” Stephen like Jesus interceded on behalf of his murderers so that their sins would not be counted against them.
As intercessors it is important that we are found, even in the face of death, interceding for our offenders. It should be the desire of every intercessor that all come to know God, including those who hurt us. The story of Jesus and Stephen proves that we can be completely in the will of God and have to suffer persecution. They show us that the very people we are called to help may bring us the greatest harm; but we must forgive them. In our humanity, holding an offense will always be justified, but our call to “live according to the Spirit” nullifies that human right (Rom. 8:5). The life of an intercessor will present us with moments to be greatly offended; but we have to be wise intercessors and keep “allowances for offenses” in stock. The enemy would love nothing more than to hold you hostage, from you assignment, by the offenses you refuse to let go. Effective intercessions are those wrapped in love, grace, and forgiveness. Reinhold Niebuhr says “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” It is my prayer that if any of us are found having to surrender our life for this great Gospel that our last prayer would be, “Father forgive them!”

Have You Talked to God Today?

Today I found myself humming the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Joseph M. Scriven. I will admit I only knew the first verse, and I thought it would be cool to add it as part of today’s blog. I soon discovered that a hymn written in 1855, said everything I desired to say as an encouragement to others on February 17, 2015. I hope that as you read the lyrics of this song, you find solace in talking with God. I hope you come to realize as His child that he takes delight in listening to the things that weigh on your heart. If you do not have a relationship with God, I hope these lyrics reveal the magnitude of God’s love for you and His desire to have a relationship with you:

What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Joseph M. Scriven

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer

 Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there

Point of it All: As a Christian, one of the beautiful things about our faith is we are considered friends not just servants (John 15:15). Considering the fact, Jesus gave His life so that we can have direct access to God, it would behoove us to converse with Him about everything! We have two options: live in the peace found in prayer or worry like the world does. Our anecdote for dealing with the affairs of this world is taking them to the Lord in prayer. Today, I hope you have a conversation with God. He’s looking forward to hearing from you and taking the load of this life you are carrying.-Charity Israel

Hymn Credit: http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/What_a_Friend_We_Have_in_Jesus/