Tuesday, January 26, 2016
letting go and gaining life
The difference between wanting and needing.
The difference between what is essential and what is trivial;
The difference between what should be considered a luxury and what is truly fundamental.
Many expectations are bombarded on us.
Impositions are regularly instigated by Satan, by others, and even by ourselves.
"We must behave a certain way."
"We must possess an impeccable style and charm."
"We must be organized, well-read, educated, and the best at what we do."
"We must appear model beautiful and be desirable to all."
"We must have a family, wealth, and a certain social status."
"We must succeed, and our success must remain equal or better to the would-be expected successes of others."
"We must be more..."
"We must, we must... we must increase our bust!" (I remember a Christian camp counselor teaching me that chant when I was a pre-teen. Sigh.)
So... what happens when the beautiful become wrinkled?
What happens when the healthy become weak?
What happens when the wealthy lose their fortune?
What happens when what once defined us no longer exists as a realistic possibility?
The difference between living transparently, cleanly, honestly, and holy or sleepwalking in questionability, pollution, fraud, and disgrace really comes down to letting go of our original expectations. We must unlearn what we have learned to be truth. For much of what we think is important in this world really, REALLY, is not. We are tainted and corrupt, and our ways and expectations are erroneous, imprecise, and faulty from the very start... "every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood." (From the Lord's Word in Genesis 8:21)
So, what do we do?
Do we just give up?
Do we keep walking down a broken path of unrealistic expectations?
Or do we turn to our Creator?
Do we let go of all we think we know and seek after God's more stable, reliable, trustworthy Way?
I used to think that surrendering "my way" to God was a form of giving up and not, in fact, the act of wisely letting go. But it turns out that letting go and giving every thought, thing, expectation, and desire over to God is the wisest thing we humans can do.
Surrender leads to love.
Sacrifice insures everlasting success.
Jesus says in John 15, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:1-17)
Isn't it interesting that God's version of success is simply for us to stay close to Him. To stay connected with His Word. To remain in His love and share it with others. God asks us to devote our days to letting go of all other pre-conceived notions and instead focus only on obediently keeping His commands and bearing His fruit.
It seems so much simpler, doesn't it? Letting go of our would have, should have, must be mindsets and allowing the Vine to feed us. Trusting His abundant LIFE to fuel our hearts, minds, souls, and strength with His love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Furthermore, God promises that His Way is everlasting and His Word is eternal.
How do I know?
Well, move with me a chapter over into John 16 and read what Jesus says to his disciples. Here, Christ has just finished informing everyone that He would depart from them and the Holy Spirit would soon come. Check out what He says...
"When he (The Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned..."
Now don't stop reading here because this next part is the most important part I want to share:
"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:8-15)
Did you get that? Jesus said that He still had MUCH MORE to say to his followers, but knew they could not bear it all at once. Instead, God promised to send The Holy Spirit to make known to His people what we all need to know... and His Spirit would then guide us into all truth!
Considering this, we must return to the life-giving Vine mindset in our day-to-day. We must remain connected to God's unchanging, ever-bearing truth. How do we do that? We need to be where our Redeemer is alive and active. Yes... our health, our vitality, our entire life depends upon receiving, digesting, and sharing The Word of The Lord!
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:12-16)
Our devotion to Christ is not something to fit in from time-to-time. It is not something centered around our faulty way of thinking. No. Our devotion must regularly bring us to the Master's throne and His Way, His Wisdom. Our devotion is about seeking Him in order to find and know Him. And in His presence, at His feet, on His altar, we must let ourselves go. We must sacrifice what is not of Him in order to stay connected and alive. We must abide in the living Vine so that we might receive His mercy, find grace, and LIVE FULL! We must show up frequently and wait upon His timing - for there is more He wishes to share. There is more His Holy Spirit will show us through His eternal, living Word!
Need more confidence in the Lord? How about this... God promises to cover all areas of our life. He will provide exactly what we need when we need it. He will take on every burden, and He will protect and teach us in His perfect faith, hope, and love!
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
The older I get, the more I am learning the difference between giving up and letting go.
Surrender leads to love.
Sacrifice insures everlasting success.
Believers, let us seek first the Vine, for we are His branches. Let us daily approach God’s loving throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive His mercy and receive whatever more He wishes to tell us and teach us through His Word. We exist to produce His fruit. We are alive because we live in Him!!!
THIS IS THE DAY!!!
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