Have you given all of yourself COMPLETELY to God?

Scripture:
Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. – Romans 6:13

Observation:
The apostle Paul wrote that by the death and resurrection of Jesus we’ve been made alive in him and restored by faith in him regarding our relationship with the Father. He noted that Adam brought sin to us all through his one act of disobedience while Jesus brought life through his act of obedience. The one brought death, both physical and spiritual, while the other brought life, spiritual to mankind. The one gave himself unto death through sin while the other gave himself unto life through truth and obedience. Paul warned us that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves unto righteousness when we live as God designed. Thus, he told us to give ourselves over to God completely so that we may do what is right for God’s glory.

Application:
The part of this passage that struck me life a 2”x4” board upside the head was the phrase, give yourselves completely [emphasis added] to God. Have any of us really, truly given over ourselves completely to God? I would dare say not. I don’t raise the question of whether people are true disciples of Jesus and heirs of the promise of eternal life in him. My thought goes to the point of whether we actually commit ourselves 100% to living life in a fashion that permits us to do what is right to bring God glory.

I know that there are areas of my life that remain a tug-of-war in submitting them to the Father fully. One such area is the talent of playing the piano. From my childhood, I studied piano and learned to play the instrument to no respectable level, as perceived by true musicians. I learned the basic mechanics of the instrument, attempted to practice and play it for nearly a decade, and even performed in public places in my youth. However, I’ve never fully committed this talent to God. I never developed it to any useful point. Sure, I can bang out tunes on the piano, read music, and even wrote some short pieces many years ago, but the joy was never there. It was a laborious endeavor in my childhood thrust upon me by my mother.

Now that I am much older in life and moving in the direction mapped out for me long ago, I have to revisit the purpose and usefulness of this talent that has lain dormant for more than three decades. Did God give it to me for us in his kingdom and for his glory? Or was it merely the desire of my mother to impose this upon me as a child for her gratification? Piano playing has never brought me any joy or satisfaction per se. It was just a part of my life. Is that to say that God cannot use it for his plans and purposes in my life? No! It is merely an area of consideration that I have to deal with regarding giving myself completely to God to use my whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

I have to take up this matter in prayer to the Father and seek out the counsel of the Holy Spirit in this matter. To some, this may seem like a trivial matter, but do we really believe in the whole counsel of God or cherry pick the parts that appeal to us?

Prayer:
Father, you are the holy One, the exalted One, and the magnificent One! To you alone be all glory, honor, and praise! You tell me to come before your throne of Grace boldly to make known my petitions before you. Well, here I am. I dare not think I can demand anything of you, but in all true humility, I stand before you as your son requesting that you help me to the conclusion of my dilemma. You can take a donkey to speak to a prophet to save his life. You can use rocks as witnesses against people regarding oaths and promises they made. You can use the beauty of creation to express your omnipotence. Thus, you can use me to do your bidding and bring glory to you. Please help me come to terms and reach peace over the talent that was partially developed in my youth. I am not gifted in this area but do have the intelligence you gave me to learn how to play the piano and learn music. This is one area that I know that I have never fully and completely surrendered to you. It doesn’t torment me but does give me angst and frustrates me at times. I seek your counsel and ask for your wisdom in the matter. May your will be done no matter what in all areas of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When we obey God’s Word, we experience the blessing of his promises.

Scripture:
Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! – Joshua 23:14b

Observation:
Joshua neared the end of his life. He led the people of Israel into the Promised Land and divided it among the tribes as order by G-d. The leader of Israel warned the people to serve the L-rd and him only and to put away their idols. The people renewed their faith and commitment to serve the L-rd, and him alone. Joshua reminded the people that during their exodus from Egypt and through the 40 years of wandering in the desert of Sinai that the L-rd kept every promise he had made to the patriarchs regarding Israel’s occupation and possession of Canaan. He drove the enemies of Israel and gave them land, houses, and crops they didn’t establish. The L-rd was completely faithful to them! Not one of his promises fell short or failed to come to fruition.

Application:
The scriptures tell us that the L-rd is the God who never changes, he’s the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He promised us that his word always accomplishes what it was set out to do and to never return void to him. Therefore, we can hold to the truth of the Word of G-d and rest in the assurance that the promises he has made to us will come to pass.

The key lies in what Joshua told the Israelis. He told them to observe the Word of the L-rd and to be obedient to G-d. Joshua told them that those who stray away from G-d’s Word would find themselves outside the blessings of G-d. That truth still holds today. We may have grace and mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Messiah, but we still have to be obedient to G-d’s Word if we expect to receive the fruit of his promises. It has often been said that you can’t live like the devil Monday through Saturday and expect G-d to move on your behalf on Sunday! How true!

Let us make a concerted effort to be vigilant in our thoughts, words, and deeds to reflect the life that bears fruit of repentance and conversion. It’s one thing to give lip service allegiance to G-d, but it’s another to actually live out the life he expects us to live. Many cry foul and say that it’s impossible to do so, but they either don’t understand the full extent of grace or don’t know it. Messiah said that his Grace is all that we need to live life as he designed. In our weakness, he is made strong! It’s not by human power or strength but by the Spirit of G-d!

If you want to experience the fulfillment of G-d’s promises, you have to be obedient to his Word! This is not salvation by works! This is not legalism! This is the bear truth of G-d’s Word…obedience brings blessing! There is no other way!

Prayer:
Father, king of the universe! Humbly we come before the Might One, the Creator and L-rd of all! Blessed are you above all creation! We don’t deserve the many blessings you pour out upon us. Because of your unfailing love and faithfulness, we can and do live. I confess to you this day that the words of truth in your scriptures rang through my ears like the clangs of steeple bells and if I were only feet away from them! Even now, my heart languishes because of the stain I see upon it. I know that I’ve not be fully obedient to your word. I rebelled against you in the slightest of things, but I know that I must confess my sin to you and trust that you wash me clean of all iniquity, sin, and treachery, regardless of act. I long to follow after you and live holy before you, but it takes your grace to empower me to do so. I cannot live holy without it. That is an exercise in futility. Grant the strength to walk as you desire. Help me to stay on the narrow path inside the narrow gate. No one ever said it was an easy journey or without difficulty. However, I trust you to lead me and guide me, to bless me and to correct me, and to love me as your own. Forgive me, Father. I ask this all in the name of Messiah, Yashua. Amen.

Fulfilling Our Duties Even If It Hurts.

Scripture:
Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan. – Joshua 3:17

Observation:
The LORD told Joshua it was time to lead the people over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. They were to prepare themselves to cross over and enter the land. Joshua instructed the priests, who carried the Ark of the Covenant, to enter the river and stand there until all Israel had passed over. According to the LORD, the riverbed would be completely dry ground during the crossing. Once all of the people crossed over, the priests were then permitted to come out of the river.

Application:
The priests, who had to carry the Ark, manually supported the Ark on their shoulders whenever the Ark was moved. They were not allowed to use anything but the holy, gilded staves that ran through the hoops external to the Ark. When the LORD ordered the priests to carry the Ark across the Jordan River and stand in the middle of the riverbed, they had to endure the weight of the Ark until all Israel had crossed over into Canaan. They stood there like statues supporting the Ark and feeling the burn in their shoulders, arms, backs, and the rest of their bodies while millions of people passed by and crossed the river. Can you imagine the strain they felt???

What has the LORD asked of us to do? We, who are the children and chosen of the LORD, are destined to do a given work within the kingdom of the LORD. Are you a teacher, giver, encourager, server, clergy, food worker, driver, or whatever position the LORD has assigned? Do you do it to the best of your ability and through the grace of Jesus? How taxing is the work you’re assigned? Do you feel it? Do you bear it? Does it take all you have within you? What are your limits? What are your results?

The priests endured agonizing hours of strain and pain supporting the Ark while Israel marched across the river. Let us not complain about the little things we are called to do in this age of comfort and ease. We cannot even begin to imagine the strength and encouragement those priests needed to succeed. There were a finite set of men who could carry out that mission. Anyone else who attempted to do so would have died. There were unauthorized! You have been given a specific mission that only you can complete, no one else. Therefore, let us get to the task at hand fulfill the mission that the LORD has given us and do so without complaint but express joy instead!

Prayer:
Father, Forgive me for not carrying out my duties to the fullest and creating excuses along the way. The priests who carried the ark were not allowed to complain or faced death. That was harsh, but it was necessary for them to worship and serve in your presence. I have grace, but it’s not an excuse for laziness and inefficiency. Help me to do what you’ve called me to do and do it without regret or complaint. It should be a joy to serve you in any and all capacities. Give me the grace to do so. I thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.