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Raise the White Flag

He must become greater, I must become less."- John 3:30

This response of John the Baptist to those who were concerned that Jesus was receiving more of the attention, serves as an invaluable lesson and daily reminder of what it takes to living a godly life. There are several things we are called to walk in and walk out each day: Fellowship with God; Taking up our cross; Dying to our flesh and sinful desires; and extending love, mercy, and forgiveness to others. The lesson we learn from this prophet's amazing answer is the importance of living a SURRENDERED life to Jesus.

One interesting thing to note as we focus on this principle of "surrender", is that this word in our English language is rarely, if ever used in the Bible when it comes to the idea of our relationship and devotion to God. The Bible writers use other words to convey this kingdom truth: There is a call to live a HUMBLE life. James 4:6, 10 tells us, "But He gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says, 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.' Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."; There is a call to FOLLOW Jesus. Ephesians 5:1-2 provides a roadmap, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."; There is a call to TRUST God in all circumstances. In one of the most often quoted scriptures, Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to, "Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."; There is a call to DIE to self. Galatians 5:24 proclaims, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Over this last season I have been reminded how important it is to surrender to Jesus the areas of concern, need, and desire in my life. There are so many things I want to control and see an immediate answer or result to, that it can be hard to stop, seek the Lord in prayer, and surrender it fully to Him. In these last few months I have felt the tension as it relates to our move into the new property and wanting to see instant growth; I have felt the burden of seeing a handful of relationships in crisis and wanting to see a change of heart; I have felt the battle of working through some areas of personal healing/strength and wanting to just wake up one morning to see it just done with!; I have felt the weight of raising our children in such a way that they have a model of faith that is founded on a life of worship, service, and love.

Each of us needs to come to a place of confession and submission like John the Baptist did. There is a fundamental flaw and detrimental danger when we seek to be in CONTROL of our lives. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 16:25, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it." Being in control will come at a great cost. A person that needs to be in control can struggle with finding times to rest (even causing sleepless nights), because they feel the need to always be "on" and on alert. A person that needs to be in control is unsettled when they are away from their spouse and children, worrying at every moment (rather than praying) as to their well-being. A person that needs to be in control finds it difficult to not know the schedule or plan and struggles when things are fluid and there is need to be flexible. A person that needs to be in control may not allow others to speak, think, or act on their own. The list can go on and on.

Relinquishing control of our lives and learning to surrender to the Living God is a challenging discipline and a daily practice. Here are some simple starting points to put into place that will begin the transfer from our meager human accounts to the marvelous heaven account:

1) Take time throughout the day to pray to the Lord.

2) Slow down! Do not immediately react to every situation (i.e.- phone call, email, another person's problem, your own need).

3) Find a quiet time and place to mediate on Scriptures of truth and promise that speak to the season you are in.

4) Confess to the Lord (and to another Christian brother or sister) areas of weaknesses that you need His power to meet you, deliver you, and rest upon you.

5) Keep record (Journal) of the ways in which God has provided to serve as a reminder that you can trust Him for the next thing.

6) Take a break from things that seem to easily drain you (i.e.- don't watch/listen to the news; don't check your bank account balance each day; don't go on Facebook or email).

7) Live with an attitude of joyful expectation. Find times to praise God and give thanks. Exercise your smile muscles!

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