March 18, 2014

A surrendered to-do list . . .

Following Jesus Christ is not a part-time job, a Sunday recreation, a game played when the need arises. It is full-time, 24/7 with all my heart. I know this because Jesus said, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

While monks and ascetics assume this means moving to a remote place and wearing rags, that is not at all what Jesus is asking. He wants me to be a responsible member of society, taking care of things like my home and family, but renouncing all my wants, desires and possessions in total surrender to His will. He set the example . . .

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:4–11)

I am to take care of my interests, but not selfishly shut myself off from the needs of others. At the same time, I don’t get to decide what, where, and when I will be involved in that either. All service and ministry is up to Jesus. He decides what I do and when I do it because He is the Lord of my life.

The word “Lord” means master, the one with the power of decision. I plan what I need to do today, but He directs my steps. For instance, yesterday’s plan had a to-do list, but God had other plans; three people called me with a need to talk. In the past, I’d often look at the call display and determine whether I had time to visit, but now I consider every “interruption” as God’s to-do list. He directs my steps.

He does this because He is Lord, “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth . . . who loves me and has freed me from my sins by his blood and made me a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Revelation 1:5–6, personalized). Because of who He is and what He has done, I respond by giving Him “glory and dominion forever and ever.”

Of course, this is not easy. The sinful nature is not submissive and fights that ‘surrender’ word with great vigor. However, Jesus does not leave me to my own resolves. He sent the Holy Spirit that I might be able to partner with Him in obedience . . .

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

This is about prayer too, for I must say ‘Jesus is Lord’ in my heart before it comes out on my lips. I say it in my prayers before it is lived out each day. Again, Jesus set the example by rising before dawn to pray, beginning each day surrendered to the will of His Father.

Calling Him the Lord means I am a servant, but He has also put me in a privileged position, a place of honor. The Bible calls me, and all His servants, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.”  We are given this exalted job title “that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

Because He is my Lord, I must rise up early to pray, making certain that His to-do list has priority over anything that might be on mine.

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