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Jan 29 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 27, 2013 – Acts 22:6-11

A Spiritual Mentor and Surrender to God’s Will

And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand voice of the One who was speaking to me. And I said, “What shall I do, Lord?” Acts 22:9-10

INTRO: Is Paul’s story the classic model of surrender?

He was at war with God – in Paul’s case, his religious fanaticism was the cause of their conflict
– for Paul to surrender, he had to be knocked down – broken
• for his eyes to be opened, he had to be blinded
– when he tells his story later, adds a line

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you  to kick against the goads (Acts 26:11)

• the goad was a long pole used to prod oxen when they resisted the harness
• “What shall I do, Lord?” — at this point Paul stopped fighting Jesus
– but this isn’t God’s only strategy – it’s only one way some people are brought to surrender

A spiritual mentor helps us learn to surrender to God’s will

In fact, a mentor can greatly assist us this area of development
– we have to find our way through it individually
• surrender comes more easily for some
• there are people who panic at the idea of surrendering control — or the illusion of control
– God doesn’t ask all of us to surrender the same things
• or to surrender to the same degree
• at times he may ask less from us that he will ask of us later on
○ how can we know?
– it comes down to discerning the will of God

I don’t do very well at this – and usually avoid the subject
– this whole week has been a struggle
• I assumed it was with my circumstances
• by the weekend, I realized I’d been fighting God
– this is an indication that I have wrong ideas about surrendering
• still, it was nice to quit struggling and surrender to his peace
• that’s one reason why it’s important to get this straight

Surrender to God is not:

The end of the world — or of your life as you have known it

Giving up – “Am I supposed to lay down and die?”
– Paul did not surrender his destiny – he found it through surrender
– we don’t abandon our plans, we exchange them for a higher set of plans

Putting up with pain or bad situations that could be avoided
– but when we can’t avoid them, we “learn” to be content
– to desire only what God gives us and not desire what he withholds

. . . for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. . . . I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need (Php. 4:11-12)

That we stop trying to improve our situation
– many biblical characters prospered in the world
– Paul prayed God would cover physical needs of Xians awe well ..

Surrender to God is:

It is what we mean when we pray, “Thy will be done”
– what does it say about God if we assume this means something awful?
• Jesus’ idea of God’s will is that it would be peace on earth
• that he would reign over the world and every human heart in love
– in essence, we are praying, “Your will be done in me” — we are asking, “What is Your will for me?
“Lord, I’m ready to do a lot of things and I’m ready to do nothing. It isn’t up to me to decide, it’s only up to me to listen”

It’s not like God is always pressing his will on us for every little thing
– directing us to do something other than what we’re doing– God’s will is never trivial
– surrender means that when God makes his will known, we abandon ours for his
• if we need to know God’s will and we begin looking for it, we find it is everywhere, all the time

A day will come when we will either want to seek his will or we have to seek it
– when confused, conflicted, upset, agitated, and so on
• in every instance, he has his way through these things
– God has a way through the bad things that happen
• when we ask, “Why did this happen,” we only waste time and deplete energy
○ surrender asks, “What do You want me to do?”

Imagine arriving at scene of a recent car accident. What is more helpful, to stand there and speculate, “How could God allow this?” or to ask someone, “What can I do to help?” Some of us treat life like it’s a tragedy we’re supposed to grasp, when it is an opportunity we are meant to seize

Despite our best efforts, bad things are going to happen
– we will fail at some endeavors, lose a friend, grow old, . . .
• God is willing to use these things for good
• if we could pick and choose our losses, failures, trials, etc.,
○ we would choose only those that would preserve our ego, that would allow us to still have our way without self-denial
– the trials God allows do a much better job of penetrating our thick shell than the trials we would allow

“Okay. But couldn’t God accomplish same thing without so much misery?”
– of course – that’s known as “cheap grace” – it results in a faith that costs nothing because it is worth nothing
• but God wants us to grow into his will – to own it
– gradually we learn to take the good and the bad as it comes, without judging it and without allowing it to take over our mood
• we “learn” to accept “consolations” and “desolations,” knowing that each one plays a specific role
○ each one has its own specific lessons to teach
• before we can remodel a room, we have to demolish it
○ so we get to the place where we can say, “If God wills it, I am at peace with it”
○ “Give me, Lord, not what makes me happy, but what makes You happy”
– if you find yourself in tension with God’s will, bring that into his presence and sit with it before him until the tension goes away

It is to “present” something to God (Ro. 6:13, 16, 19; 12:1) — eventually everything
– another word for surrender is “yield”
• our time, our energy, thoughts, body – our selves

It is to stand before God in a state of acceptance — rather than resistance

It is to sit with God in receptivity — prepared to receive whatever he has for us

It is to “trade up”
– as we loosen our grip on our own will, we have more peace
• because surrender requires greater trust, we become less anxious
• we surrender our fears, worries, and doubts
○ we experience less suffering (maybe no less pain, but less suffering), because we’re not fighting
– surrender doesn’t diminish who we are, but enhances who we are
• was Queen Esther less beautiful, honorable, or majestic for surrendering herself to God’s will?

CONC: Why does it help to have a spiritual mentor walk with us through surrender?

Because we tend to think it’s a decision or commitment we make, when it is actually a process
– this is our spiritual journey
• it is many decisions and many commitments
– a spiritual mentor helps us recognize this and encourages us to choose wisely

But better than a mentor, is God himself assisting us with our growth
– he gives us grace to do a better job than we could on our own

Helmut Thielicke, “The Spirit accomplishes conformity to God by releasing love in me so that I will what God wills.”

Should we ever arrive at complete surrender, we will not be able to distinguish our will from God’s
– we will have no other will than his

Experiment with surrender this week
– focus on a particular person, situation, or worry
• ask, “What does it mean to surrender this to God?”
– or take one specific moment–by the way, moments are hard to hang on to–
• take one moment and in it surrender yourself completely to God

Surrender is always connected to specific moments
– perhaps the best we can do is surrender to him from moment to moment
And any moment of our life can be a doorway to eternity

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