The Holy Spirit Seeks Surrendered Lives
This is part IV in a series on the Holy Spirit
As mentioned last week: Many of us do not want to admit that there is something lacking in our spiritual lives. Pride, religious upbringing, denominationalism, etc. will keep scores of Christians from experiencing the life changing power of God.
Sadly, very few know about the surrendered life. We enjoy blessings, love, and happiness, but not repentance, longsuffering, and surrender. We quote Deuteronomy 28:2, “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you…” but tend to overlook the last half, “because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” We are encouraged by Deuteronomy 28:13, “And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath…” But cringe at Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Historically, Christian leaders were identified by their actions with words such as “total dedication,” “committed completely to God,” “gave myself fully to Him,” and “surrendered all”. But the church today, in general, knows little about the surrendered life. We lean toward “feel good messages.” We are having our ears tickled, but our lifestyles are not challenged. We turn from truth and allow cultural trends to redefine morality. We absorb what we want to hear and dismiss what we need to hear.
In a book I recently read by Leonard Ravenhill, his son, David, tells of a time prior to his father’s death when seminary students would request a visit with his father. The sole purpose was to ask him to lay hands on them and pray that they would receive his blessing/calling. To this, Ravenhill responded: “Everyone wants to have my mantle, but nobody wants my sackcloth and ashes.” His statement is profound—many want the recognition, but not the brokenness; honor, but not the humility; the limelight, but not the loneliness.If the problem is pride, the key is humility through surrender. “There are thousands and tens of thousands of men and women in Christian work, brilliant men and women…men and women who are making great sacrifices, men and women who have put all conscious sin out of their lives, yet who, nevertheless, have stopped short of absolute surrender to God, and therefore have stopped short of fullness of power” (D.L. Moody).If we truly want to experience the power of God, we must surrender pivotal areas of our lives. It is then, and only then, that the “rivers of living water” that Jesus described can flow freely. And, like Jeremiah, we can say that “His word is in my heart like a burning fire, deep within me; I can no longer hold it back.”
The first area to surrender is time. I John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We claim that we don’t have time for God, but we find time to enjoy the things of this world. If we don’t schedule time, time will schedule for us. “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Time is not like money; it can’t be earned, borrowed, or saved. You do, however, spend it, so spend wisely. Ask, “What’s the most important thing for me to do in any given hour?” How we spend our time speaks volumes as to what we cherish. Are we cherishing the things of God, or the things of the world?
The next area to surrender is our mind. I’m not referring to “letting yourself go,” I’m referring to Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 8:5 sheds light as well, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Are you setting your mind on the things of God, or on the things of the world? What you think provides the framework for who you become. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).