At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").
When we truly surrender to God there is a time of darkness and despair, when we feel out of control and fearful, not knowing whether or not God is there. Surrendering our control means turning away from it, and completely abiding in trust that God will deliver us. Jesus’ obedience on the cross was complete abandonment to God’s plan, regardless of the inevitable pain He knew He would endure. There is pain in the sacrifice. We will experience suffering when we truly let go of control and rely upon God. It may seem like we are alone in the suffering and that God has left us, but know that it is a time when God is testing our sincerity. Are you relying on Him, calling out to Him, when you feel like He is not there?
Surrender rises above emotional feeling. It is an unwavering trust that believes God is present and will sustain me, even when I am fearful because I don’t know His plan.
Almighty, Ever Present God, sometimes I have failed to truly believe that Your will is greater than my own. I have been reluctant to cry out to You in my darkness, and in my pain I have turned away from You because I believed You did not care for me. Father, forgive me. Your Word tells me that You will never forsake me. Help me to abandon myself to You, and to endure the pain I may face because I am no longer controlling the outcome. Strengthen my faith and create in me a desire to live in complete surrender to You. Amen.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
Jesus’ teachings confront us with choice, purpose, and obligation. Do we choose to let go of the old self and earnestly desire to be conformed to His likeness by doing what He asks of us? If we are called to glorify Him on this earth, to be a fragrant aroma, how can we accomplish this if our hearts are stubborn and unwilling to conform? When I continue to ask for my needs to be met, rather than seeking how I can pour myself out for Him, I am hindering my own spiritual growth, and missing out on the blessings He has for me. How can we possibly produce fruit if we are reluctant to obey Him? Eagerly seek His Kingdom by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you.
Love Jesus by desiring to obey Him, instead of turning away when you are confronted with sacrificing a little more of self. Let His Kingdom come in you so you will bear much fruit.
Almighty Father, You chose me in Christ Jesus to go and bear fruit for Your Kingdom. I confess, I have refused to hear Your Word out of fear of what it might cost me. I ask that You would change my heart and grant me a revelation of Your glory. Help me to comprehend the sacrifice it cost You in order to save me, and that what you ask of me is truly for my blessing.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him."
Believing is the essence of the Gospel, and an act of submission. To claim to believe, yet live one’s life apart from Jesus, in obedience to His will, is fallacy. When the Isrealites were stricken with poisonous snakes because they sinned, God commanded Moses to make the image of a snake out of bronze and lift it up before the assembly. The only way they would be well was if they believed, by looking upon what they feared most. Where are you today? Are you claiming to know Jesus, yet unable to look upon the cross and believe everything it stands for, namely, self-sacrifice, obedience, and humility? Do you reject it because it asks too much of you, is too uncompromising, inconvenient, or inflexible? Would you rather live with the curse or be set free from it? Will you choose to truly believe?
Submission means to depend upon His saving grace, His power, and to walk in obedience to His plan.
Heavenly Father, when I choose not to believe all that Your Word says, I am deliberately unwilling to submit to You. I am relying upon my own efforts to save me, and that is not what Your Word teaches. No matter how hard I strive, only by believing will I truly be saved. LORD, help me overcome the power my will has over me that keeps me from submitting myself through the simple act of believing in You. Only then will I know true freedom and the promise of eternal life.
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
The risen Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but she is unable to recognize Him. Her thoughts are fixed on earthly things, and she is awash in uncertainty, trepidation, and fear. Jesus appears, still dressed in His earthly form, not yet having ascended into heaven. Maybe it’s fear of the unknown, or shock from witnessing the recent catastrophic event, but she clings to the familiar- the form of Jesus she had known, and fails to fix her eyes on the miracle of heaven now glorified in front of her.
How often do we miss seeing God because we are clinging to earthly things? When tumultuous circumstances come crashing in, will fear of the unknown keep you in darkness, desperate, and without hope? When we stop clinging to this life and surrender ourselves to Jesus, we want to be in His presence, where there is peace. Surrender is an unwavering belief, that recognizes that we cannot control the situations we are thrown into, and acknowledges that God can. When you are faced with moments of overwhelming fear, when you are anxious because you cannot see the outcome, do not let fear control you. Don’t cling to this earthly dwelling and put your hope in it, but set your thoughts on the presence of His light where there is no fear. Know that He is directing your path and promises to deliver you through every trial.
Almighty God, Your word tells me that I shall not fear. Help me to stop clinging to the familiar and take a step of faith that causes me to surrender more of myself to You. Give me a mind that discerns Your presence even in the darkest moments, and desires to be present with You as You carry me through my trials. Enable me to adopt a mind that is fixed on Your profound glory and is not overcome by darkness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.