Flames of Truth Ministries
Monday, October 23, 2017

 

Total Surrender – Total Submission
 
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2003) defines submission as voluntary placement of oneself under authority and leadership of another. In divinely ordained relationships, submission enables a unique Christian harmony based on God’s good design.
 
The world tells us today that we are to look out for number one, meaning ourselves. We need to make sure no one takes advantage of us in any way. We are to be our best self, be anything we want to be, don’t take life too seriously, just say no, tell the boss to take a hike, do what feels good, leave all our cares behind, take time for ourselves, live – laugh – love, stop and smell the roses, etc., etc., etc. We are living life with advertising clichés playing in our heads. Lawyers tell us that we deserve to be paid for every wrong that is done to us.  Life is about me and my comfort and my wants.
 
That couldn’t be farther from what God wants from us. He wants our total devotion and surrender.
 
Proverbs 3:1-8, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.   Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, and refreshment to your bones.”
 
First – TRUST – who do we trust? The Lord – We are to trust Him with all of our heart. There should be no room for doubt or no consideration of any other option. We are to trust Him with every decision, with every thought, with our very life. We have to trust beyond our ability to understand or reason because God’s ways are not our ways.
We are NOT to lean on our own understanding. If we are figuring everything out and have everything calculated then we have left no room for faith in God. Our faith is in our ability to take care of everything and not in a God who has already taken care of all our needs. 
We are to trust HIM and lean not on our own understanding. Do we really comprehend that? Things don’t have to make perfect sense in the ways of the world if we know that we are following God. He wants us to be obedient and to trust Him beyond our ability to understand every detail.
 
Let’s look at some Biblical examples to make sure we fully understand trusting God and being completely and totally surrendered to His will and not our own understanding.
 
Genesis 6:13-22, “Then God said to Noah, The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and it height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second and third decks. And behold, I , even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.   Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. And as for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.
            Thus Noah DID; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.”
 
Consider the task before Noah:
1.      Build an ark. Build a what and what for? We have to assume that Noah had never seen an ark or anything even close to an ark. So he must have been trying to get a picture in his head of what God was telling him.   We all want to know what the finished project is going to look like before we start a project. If we don’t know what the finished project is going to look like then how will we know if we did it correctly. However, in Noah’s case he didn’t have a picture or anything to go by EXCEPT the very precise words of God. The other thing Noah didn’t have was a local Home Depot to run down and get all the supplies needed. I would imagine that he didn’t have the necessary tools to build this huge boat so he may have to have made some tools before he ever began. Not only that, he had to decide where to build the ark. He had to have plenty of room for the finished project. Even before he could start to assemble the ark, he had to cut down trees and make planks without any power tools or heavy equipment and I’m pretty sure he didn’t get much help with this. This wasn’t a task that would be done in a few days, certainly not a couple of weeks, and I’m pretty sure not just a couple of months. This was going to have to be a LONG term commitment from Noah.
 
2.       Gather the animals. Two of every animal, birds after their kind, animals after their kind and two of everything that creeps along the ground, Noah had to gather. Let’s get this image in our minds. Have you ever tried to catch a bird? How would you go about doing that? When you think about this for a minute you probably will come up with the idea of setting traps. That would be good for the birds that come to the ground to feed but what about the owl or the eagle or the hawk that doesn’t come and sit on the ground. What about catching the snakes? What about the animals that don’t live in the Middle East? How was he going to get the animals that lived in different parts of the world? When the task looks impossible it is because we are looking through our eyes and not looking to God for the solutions. Go back and read the part of the passage in red. God said they would come to Noah. OK, that settles that, God would bring them to Noah. He didn’t have to go out and catch every animal. But where was he going to put all these animals on the boat. He couldn’t put the lions with the lambs and I think the snakes would create chaos wherever he put them. What about the rats? Would they stay where he put them? Would the birds need to fly around? Would the owls be chasing the rabbits trying to get lunch? If you think about it, this floating zoo was one of the most ridiculous stories in the Bible – especially when we look at it through our eyes and our minds.
 
3.       Gather food for the animals and for the people. All the different kinds of animals didn’t eat the same thing.  When he figured out what kinds of food to gather, he had to figure out how much to gather. He didn’t know just how long he and the animals were going to be on that boat. When you think about it, everywhere Noah turned with this project, he didn’t know very many details ahead of time about how it was going to be completed. 
If Noah had looked at this project and knew he had to figure everything out before he started, he would have quit before he finished thinking about it. But Noah didn’t have the need to figure everything out before he started. God said do it and he did it just as God said.  The Bible doesn’t say that Noah sought council from others or that he spent time considering this task. It says he did as the Lord commanded. Do you think some very intelligent people tried to tell him he was crazy? Do you think some people he loved dearly tried to tell him he was crazy? I could see the people close to him getting together and planning an intervention to stop him from trying to do this absolutely absurd task. I think the mocking and ridicules got worse as the time passed.  I’m sure he got up every morning and asked God what to do for that day. As he followed God each day and surrendered his will to that of God, God led him to complete the daily tasks so that in the end the whole task would be completed. Do we have the same faith that Noah had? Do we look at the task before us and try to figure everything out and calculate for every possibility before we say yes to God? If we figure everything out ahead of time, then there is very little faith that God is going to work out the details. Our faith is in our ability to complete a project. God wants us to trust Him enough to say yes and move forward even when we can’t figure out the details. That is faith and total surrender. Noah had no concern for the ridicule of others. He didn’t care how hard the task was going to be. He only cared about doing the Will of God. Why don’t we see miracles today? Because we say we are totally sold out to God but we are not going to be moved to shame and ridicule and extreme work conditions to do the will of God and therefore we are not totally surrendered to God for Him to work miracles through us.
 
 
Let’s look at Abraham and his total surrender to God.
Gen 12:1-5, “Now the Lord said to Abram," Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”
 
One thing to keep in mind as we discuss Abraham is that his name started out as Abram and then through God’s blessings He changed his name to Abraham.
In this first section of verses we see the God tells Abraham to leave his home country and his relatives and go to a land that God will show him. And it tells us that Abraham did as God told him to do. Seems simple enough God told him to go and he did. Could you do that? God say leave your country – not move to a new place in the same city where you will still know everyone – not move to a new state – but move to a different country where the language may be different and the customs may be different and the climate may be different and the food may be different (are you beginning to get the picture). The other thing is he didn’t tell him where that country was; only that He would show him. When I plan a trip for me and my husband, I map out every detail of the travel plans. I can tell you within minutes where we will be and at what time we will be there from the time we leave home until the time we return. Mind you we are flexible when we arrive at our destination and have no problem changing our plans during our stay at our vacation spot but the travel to and the travel home are very well mapped out and timed for every possible stop and need. God didn’t give Abraham a travel itinerary. He told him to follow and He would show him. The other part to God’s plan was that he had to leave his relatives – his support system. In today’s fluid and global society, that is not as difficult as it was in Abraham’s day but it is still difficult. We want to be around friends and family who love us and care about us so that on hard days we will be encouraged and supported. We want people around us who will help us when times get tough. We want to depend on the earthly people whom we trust instead of depending on our very creator who loves us more than we can imagine. Abraham didn’t consider all the possibilities, he did as the Lord had spoken to him and left his country and his relatives and began a daily journey with God not knowing where he was going.
 
 
Gen 13:8-18, “So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left." Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.  So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord. The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. "Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you." Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.”
 
Abraham didn’t go on this journey by himself. He did take his immediate family with him including his nephew Lot. God has blessed both Abraham and Lot with an abundance of possessions. As happens with most families, everyone doesn’t get along so well especially when traveling. This was happening between Abraham and Lot’s families and workers. Abraham didn’t want to live in strife so he told Lot to choose which part of the land he wanted for his family and possessions and then Abraham would choose which part to take for himself. Now remember Abraham is the patriarch of the family and Lot is not even a son; he is a nephew. Abraham has every right to take whatever he wants and give Lot whatever he wants to give Lot. But Abraham knew that this new land and this walk of faith was not about what Abraham could get for personal gain. It was 100% about God’s leading and God’s glory so Abraham had absolutely NO desire for personal gain and advancement. So Abraham says to Lot, “you choose whatever piece of land you want and I’ll take my things and go settle somewhere else.” He told Lot to choose and he would take whatever was left. So Lot chose what he thought was the best of the land. He saw something enticing that looked beautiful and full of abundance because he was looking through human eyes with selfish ambition and the desire for selfish gain. What he didn’t see in his choice land was the wickedness of the people there. Through total surrender to God, Abraham got the best of the land and the blessing of God. Abraham didn’t do it just to get the blessing of God. He did it out of love and obedience and was rewarded for his total surrender to the Will of God. It is important to remember that if we are doing something expecting a reward for what we give up, then our motive is not total surrender but is for personal gain. God is more interested in our heart’s motive than in any act. Our total surrender should be expecting nothing in return except for God to be glorified in what we do.
 
 
                Abraham was precious to God and through this act of leaving his country and his family; you would think that Abraham would have proved his love and obedience to God. That was not the case. God had another test that would be much more difficult than the first.
 
 
Gen 22:1-18, “Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."  He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."  So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.  On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.  Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you."  Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.  Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"  Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.  Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."  He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."  Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.  Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the Lord it will be provided."  Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, " By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.  “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
 
                WOW! This is one of the most difficult passages in all of the Bible for us to comprehend, especially for those of us who are parents. Did Abraham love God and totally surrender to His lordship? Without doubt!! This is probably one of the most absurd events in the entire Bible.  First, let’s back up a little bit and remember that Abraham and Sarah were getting very old and they did not have a child. God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations but he didn’t have a child to start those nations with. How blessed both of them were when they found out they were expecting Isaac. They treasured this child as not just a child for them but as the living promise that came directly from God. Through Isaac many nations would grow and become a people that would be God’s chosen people. How special this was – until – God ask the ultimate surrender from Abraham. Not only did God ask Abraham to give back the child but to use his own hands to take the child’s life. A friend of mine’s daughter surrendered to do mission work in college. She had the assignment of going to the Middle East. I asked my friend how she could allow her daughter to go into the extremely dangerous area to which she would be going. She told me that they had to surrender her completely to God. The act of my friend, which was difficult for me to understand, was pale in comparison to what God asked Abraham to do. The Bible doesn’t allow us to see the mind and thoughts of Abraham as he obediently followed the directions of God. We can imagine that the walk up that mountain was the extreme of difficult. Abraham was human. He loved his son as a treasure that had been given to him through the hands and blessings of God. NOTHING about this made any kind of sense! Abraham in total surrender obeyed God. I would think that we every step that he took, he was hoping that God would say, “OK, that’s far enough. You’ve proved your obedience.” Abraham walked with his son knowing that his son trusted him just as he trusted God. Sarah trusted Abraham. What would she think when he had to go back home and tell her that he had sacrificed their son? When he got to the mountain and prepared the altar and then took his son to bind him and place him on the altar, he heard the cries of his son.   When we hear the cries of our children we want to do anything in our power to comfort them. Abraham couldn’t comfort his son or stop his fear. He was the cause of the pain and fear for his son. God said to sacrifice his son and he willingly obeyed everything that God said. Don’t you think that Abraham’s heart was crying out to God to provide that sacrifice before he had to put him on the altar? God wanted to know if Abraham was truly surrendered to obedience no matter what was asked of him.   As Abraham drew back the knife in total and complete surrender, THEN God stopped the action and blessed Abraham.
                When we get to this type of total surrender we have to be sure of two things. The first and most important is that we KNOW that we KNOW that we KNOW that we are hearing the voice of God. We have to walk so closely to Him and stay in His Word so that we can discern the Word of God and the will of the Father above all other things that we hear. Second, we have to be obedient without understanding every detail knowing that God’s ways are not our ways and we are not to lean on our own understanding. When God directs our paths, things don’t always make sense to us but through total surrender and obedience, we get to see the miracles and glory of God. We won’t see that any other way.
 
                At this point you may ask if you can’t just live your life like you want and not worry so much about TOTAL surrender. Well there are consequences for partial obedience which really is disobedience.   Let’s consider Saul.
1 Sam 15:1-22,  “Then Samuel said to Saul, " The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the Lord.  "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt.  'Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"  Then Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah.  Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley.  Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.  So Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.  Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying,  " I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands." And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.  Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, "Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal."  Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord."  But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"  Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed."  Then Samuel said to Saul, "Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night." And he said to him, "Speak!"  Samuel said, "Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ' Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.'  "Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?"  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.  "But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal."  Samuel said," Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king."  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.  "Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord."  But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel."
 
                God was very clear in His instructions to Saul.   Saul started out obeying and doing exactly what God had said but when he got in the midst of the battle, his earthly reasoning started taking over. When Samuel asked him about his disobedience he started to justify his actions. Saul told Samuel that he did defeat the Amalekites and he brought back the king as a trophy maybe to show his people his (Saul’s) power. He then told Samuel that his men saved some of the animals to sacrifice to God and that was a noble and honoring thing to do. He was justifying to Samuel why his disobedience was the right thing to do. Samuel told Saul that God does not delight in sacrifice or burnt offering. It is not the act of what we do but the heart of complete surrender and obedience that pleases the Lord. Saul’s “partial obedience” was to God complete disobedience. God doesn’t accept partial or half way reasoning. You either completely obey no matter what sounds reasonable to us, or you are in complete disobedience to God. We see parents today who bargain with their children and give them numerous chances to obey and then eventually tell them it will be OK even if they don’t completely obey. That is not how God parents us. He expects immediate and complete obedience. If he doesn’t get immediate and complete obedience He can and will remove us from the place He had for us. He does not tolerate disobedience.
 
 
                Jesus Christ was the ultimate example of complete obedience and total surrender to God.
 
Mark 14:36, “And He was saying,” Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will."
Phil 2:5-11, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
 
 
Jesus left glory to come to earth and be born as a human to feel and experience every human emotion and condition. He didn’t come to a palace but was born with the animals in a barn where it was dirty and smelly. He lived a life of poverty as the son of a carpenter.   He was hated and mocked by those that He came to save.   The church that should have embraced Him and exalted Him persecuted Him. In His humanness He asked God to remove the up from Him – the cup of suffering and the sacrifice at the cross – yet He surrendered His will, His suffering and pain, to the Will of God the Father. In ultimate surrender and obedience, He went to the cross to suffer and die and become the sacrifice for my sins and your sins so that we could have a way to cover our sins and to enter heaven one day. If God allowed His son to suffer in this way, do you not think that He will require you to suffer in surrender and obedience. Through our total surrender and complete obedience, God’s glory is revealed. This is certainly not easy but walking with God daily is what we must do. We don’t have to look at our whole lives and contemplate what each day will bring. We only have to look at today and follow everything that God requires of us today and let God worry about the next day. 
 
 
Pray and ask God today to help you surrender everything you have and everything you are to be able to be in complete and total submission to Him. This will mean looking at all of your earthly possessions and saying to God that He can take every single one of them away if He needs to in order to bring you to complete surrender. You must look at every single relationship that you have including family and say to God that He can remove anyone from your life that is preventing you from being in complete submission to Him. Be prepared that when you say these words that you mean them and that you are really ready to give everything up to be in complete and total submission to God. Remember God doesn’t play games. But also remember this, God rewards those with blessings beyond measure for total and complete surrender. May you be blessed today through your total surrender to God.