When Jesus really has your “yes”

Acts 9:10-12 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Saul of Tarsus was known by believers as one that tracked them down and had them thrown into prison. He was a man who hated their faith and their Savior. But he was a man who was chosen by God to be a messenger of the gospel. As Saul was headed to Damascus to imprison Christians, Jesus appeared to him and the glory of that encounter blinded him. For three days he sat in blindness, not eating or drinking, realizing that he had been persecuting the Messiah that he had longed for all his life.

Jesus had followers in Damascus. They knew of Saul and his desire to exterminate them. How many would have been too fearful to go anywhere near Saul? But there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias and the Lord was so convinced of this man’s “yes” to Him that He made that appointment for Ananias before He even approached the man about it. He knew Ananias would do whatever He asked so the Lord could tell Saul the very name of the man who would come pray for him.

How deep is your yes? Does it have limits? To whatever extent you put boundaries on your yes, to that degree you limit your ability to be useful to God.

Ananias got a mention in the word of God because of his yes and he had the honor of baptizing the apostle Paul!

Don’t miss out! Let your yes to Jesus be as big as His love for you!!

Those who yield their bodies

Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!

As background to this verse, King Nebuchadnezzar had erected a gold statue of himself that was about 90 feet tall and commanded his subjects to bow down to it and worship it…. or else.

Daniel 3:6 “and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, as worshippers of God, could do no such thing and it didn’t take long for news of this to get back to the king. In his fury he commanded the furnace be heated seven times hotter than normal and the three men were thrown in. God miraculously delivered them and our opening verse is King Nebuchadnezzar’s response to that deliverance. He called them servants of God who yielded their bodies.

Well, who wouldn’t yield their body for such an amazing miracle?? But remember, when these three refused to bow, they knew what the penalty was and although they believed God could deliver them from it, they did not know if He would. And still they yielded their bodies to God, refusing to bow.

Many of us may hope we would respond the same way. But if you haven’t yielded your bank account, you won’t yield your body. If you haven’t yielded your time (allowing the Lord to prune your life of time wasting activities), you won’t yield your body. If you can’t ever push back the plate, then you probably won’t yield your body.

How can we honestly say we would make the greatest sacrifice when we won’t make the small ones.

Wave your white flag. Surrender to the Lord. Yield your body.

Spirit driven life

Acts 27:40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.

Paul and all the people were on a ship that had been in a terrible storm for some time but land was finally in sight. Nothing mattered except getting to shore. The anchors (those heavy weights that kept them from moving) weren’t retrieved and brought into the boat for later. They were cast off and left behind. They didn’t put oars in the water to try and control the pace of the boat, they raised the sails and let the wind take control.

It made me think about times when my life has been in a storm, tossed around…up, then down. Feeling out of control, I have been tempted to grab the oars, start rowing and controlling things. But should I? Is it not better to just take my hands off everything and let it all be in His control…..raising the sails of my life that I might be driven by the Spirit of God where He wants me to go?

Yes. Yes it is!

Some things just need to die today

1 Kings 2:24 “Now therefore, as the LORD lives, who has confirmed me and set me on the throne of David my father, and who has established a house for me, as He promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today!”

Adonijah had already attempted to take the kingdom before Solomon was crowned as David’s successor. And now he asked for David’s concubine. Concubines were only handed down to the next king, so by doing this Adonijah attempted to undermine Solomon’s authority and position in the eyes of the people. Solomon had previously shown mercy to Adonijah as long as “he proves himself a worthy man, not one hair of him shall fall to the earth; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” 1 Kings 1:52. After all, they were raised as brothers. But Solomon could not allow the latest challenge to go undealt with and he swiftly brought the promised consequences to Adonijah. It had to be done. That leopard wasn’t going to change his spots.

We would do well to learn this lesson from Solomon and deal swiftly and decisively with those rebellious things in us and around us. If we want to serve as kings and priests to our God then we must be prepared to deal harshly with all that interferes with that. The flesh will not change it’s spots. Neither will the world. Some things just need a speedy execution.

A certain part

Acts 5:1-2 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

As far as we know from Scripture, this is the first episode of corruption within the church. It didn’t take long for it to happen. But when it did happen it would have been imperceptible to the natural eye. If the Holy Spirit hadn’t given Peter supernatural insight into what was going on, he would have received what Ananias gave as the whole, and the assembly of believers would have rejoiced in his generosity. Ananias and Sapphira would have rejoiced in the praise of men and very possibly have gone on with the church, cutting corners with God at every opportunity. But God was having none of it and sent a message loud and clear that day- He was nobody’s fool and those who only give a certain part are not worthy of the honor due those who give the whole.

I believe Ananias and Sapphira would have survived that day if they had only admitted it was a certain part. And I believe many of us in churches across the land are in danger of making the same deceptive offering to God…acting like we are giving Him all but really only surrendering a certain part to Him.

A certain part. Not just a random part, but a chosen, a particular part. What we are comfortable giving. Maybe we feel good about fully giving God the spiritual parts of our life, but not the finances. Not the future plans. Those need to be kept back.

Whatever it might be, God isn’t unaware. Those around us may believe that we are totally sold out to Jesus, but God knows the truth about us. He won’t strike us dead for it, but we suffer loss in every area of life that we greedily cling to. Some may disagree, saying that those areas of their life are actually going pretty well. However you have no idea the tremendous things God may desire to do in those very areas if they were yielded to Him. We don’t need to be afraid of full surrender. He doesn’t desire it so He can hurt us, but in order to bless us.

So it’s up to you. Do you want a certain part of your life blessed or your full life blessed? Go ahead and give it all to Him.

The Widow’s All

Mark 12:38-44 Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Pharisee loved to be noticed and to be prominent among men. His attire and his seating at events communicated that he was a notable personage. He craved the attention that his seemingly superior spiritual life attracted. He was so educated, a brilliant man, and everywhere he went he heard the greetings “rabbi, rabbi” and he secretly glanced around to see if others heard it too. His attainments in life gave him great advantage, so that he was a man of some means. He was the epitome of a holy man, respected by all…except God.

His eye was drawn elsewhere. He saw the little lady who had escaped the attention of everyone else. She was nothing special. Plain. Uneducated. Poor. But she loved God. Unknown and unnoticed by the Pharisees around her who so casually tipped God from the excess of their wealth, she left the temple having given everything to God. It was such a pitifully small amount, yet it was the most extravagant offering given. And it attracted the notice of God.

Many give some, but few give all. Which one will you be? The Pharisee seeking the accolades from the crowd for his spiritual attainments or the unknown widow, giving all.


The unconditional yes

The unconditional yes….is that in your heart towards the Lord? Anything He wants you to do. Anywhere He wants you to go. Or does your yes have conditions….stipulations….exclusions? Is there a “yes Lord” in your heart or a “mostly yes Lord”? The reality of a “mostly yes” means that somewhere there is a “no Lord”. There is a line you will not allow Him to cross….things you will not permit Him to require of you….a point where His Lordship in your life ends.

Beloved, the one who knows and loves us perfectly and who has washed us in His own blood can be trusted with an unconditional yes. We have nothing to fear except the misery of a life not fully surrendered.

May the Lord search our hearts, demolishing every barrier we have erected against His complete Lordship. And may we give to Him a deeper and unconditional yes.

Rend your heart

Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence— Isaiah 64:1

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:12-13

Several years ago I heard a woman tell of a dream she had. In the dream there was a large group of believers who were worshipping God. And they were calling out to Him “Oh Lord, rend the heavens and come down!” And the reply came back from heaven “Rend your heart and not your garments.” And the people would cry “Rend the heavens and come down” and heaven would answer “Rend your heart and not your garments.”

The rending (or tearing) of garments was an expression of grief common in that day. It was an outward expression of the intense emotion of the heart. But just like many things, it frequently became nothing more than a ritual, void of any real anguish of heart.

We are very good at rending our garments. On any given Sunday morning, in the intensity of a moment of worship when we feel very moved by the music, we cry out to Him. We tell Him how much we need His Presence, how desperate we are for Him. And then five minutes later we are discussing what our restaurant options are for lunch. The garment has been rent….but the heart remains intact.

I absolutely love the joy that I have as a follower of Jesus. But at some point we are going to all have to admit that even in the midst of all of our smiles and laughter, we do not experience His presence like we know is possible. Maybe one day soon we will no longer be satisfied with just rending our garments, but we will let our hearts be truly rent before Him, no longer willing to pretend that the superficiality of our walk with God is abundantly satisfying. And maybe then He will rend the heavens and come down.

Poured out and spent

Philippians 2:17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

2 Corinthians 12:15  And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

These verses characterize not only the Apostle Paul’s  labors for The Lord, but the essence of his life. Poured out and spent. Paul was all in to give all out. Doing without, suffering want and personal hardship, enduring rejection and loneliness …. he lived with reckless abandon for the glory of Jesus only.  I wonder how many times this man’s heart had been absolutely broken by betrayals, by false accusations, by rejections; and yet still his life was one poured out and spent.

At some point early on I would have been tempted to throw in the towel – “I’m done with you people!” – and find a wilderness where it could be just me and Jesus.   But the blood of Jesus was poured out and the body of Jesus was spent…for people.

If we are going to seek and save the lost (which we are called to do) and if we are going to be the body of Christ (which we are called to be) then it might be good to go ahead and settle it in our hearts now – we will at times be betrayed, accused, and rejected by those we are trying to lead to Jesus and by those we are following Him with.   It’s all part of a life poured out and spent.   But there is abundant grace available to us in Christ so that we can love when hated, bless when cursed, do good when treated poorly.  We are without excuse. So let us love one another fervently, even when we don’t deserve it.  And let us love the lost with a heart filled with compassion even when they hate us for it.  And let us be poured out and spent for our Lord Jesus Christ.

The beautiful heart of the handmaid

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord!  Be it unto me according to Thy word.”

Luke 1:38 “Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.”  1 Samuel 25:41

The beautiful heart of the handmaid – surrendered to Him, His will, His word, His plan…..even when it isn’t understood and seems impossible.  Even when it is difficult and humbling.  It submits in a precious obedience to the wisdom of the One who loves perfectly and guides faultlessly.  Unafraid to trust the Lord and His holy purposes; unafraid to humbly serve the people of God.

Oh to have such a heart!