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Here's a thought for March 25

March 25, 2011
By the Rev. Bernard Wing

Grace Life Church

'Surrendering all'

I have been thinking on the word surrender. Definition says to give up possession of or power over; to yield to another on demand or compulsion. Or to voluntarily give up like when you see you have lost the chess match and your next move would result in a check mate. It seems no matter how you define surrender it is something that can be hard to do.

Now there can be many situations in life when we feel like giving up and even say so. Like a child trying to learn to do something for the first time will say I can't do it and want to give up trying. There are other things in life when we refuse to give up which can be bad or beneficial. Surrender sounds like a bad thing when we think in terms of a military conflict as nobody likes to have to surrender and admit defeat. Sometimes it can mean to live to fight another day.

Lent is a season when we do think of surrendering something in order to receive something in return. We voluntarily give up some food, pleasurable past time, or maybe a habit as a way of allowing for more time and attention to our relationship with God. The giving up part should also be combined with penitence or repentance in order to have a more intimate relationship with God.

Jesus had already surrendered His place in heaven alongside His Father to come to earth limited in form of a man. His battle in the wilderness was one of surrendering the earthly pleasures of food in order to accomplish the purposes of defeating the enemy Satan.

The 40 days of fasting by Jesus in the desert is our model for this Lenten season. Jesus did spiritual battle with Satan and won. The battle was really one of thoughts or perhaps outright suggestions by Satan for Jesus to go against what He knew to be the word and will of His Father in heaven. At each thought or test, Jesus was able to answer with the truth of the word of God. Even when Satan used scriptures in his attempts to trick Jesus into sin of compromise and failure; Jesus came back with a higher trump from the words of God.

Matthew 6:16-18 (The Message) "When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well."

Notice it does not say if you fast but when you fast or as the message says practice some appetite denying discipline. I do believe the intention was to fast from all food but there are fasts like what Daniel did forsaking certain types of food for 21 days. Today I know fasting from some very time consuming habits or past-times can free up considerable amounts of time to spend on focusing on prayer and reading of God's word as a means of improving our relationship with the Lord. Two such things I have recently heard young people surrendering for a season are their time on Facebook and email.

My thought for today is this. I hope you began to fast or surrender something on Ash Wednesday for the 40 days of Lent. I pray that whatever you have surrendered has provided extra time to spend in repentance and reflecting on your heart and attitude in your relationship with the Lord.

My challenge to us is now that Lent is about half over we would focus on something new. Just as you surrendered or gave up something we would now consider asking where we need to add something back into our lives. It is said it takes about twenty-one days to either break a habit or to start a new one. Hopefully what you surrendered in the first 20 days may have broken a bad habit and will now become a disciplined way of life. Now if we would surrender our gifts and talents in dedicated service to the Lord during these next 20 days to where that becomes a good new habit.

Whatever we do and surrender our Heavenly Father sees and will reward us and bless us. Surrender your life to Jesus and allow Him to live His out through you to demonstrate the power and glory of God.



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