August 17, 2004
Encouragement for Today
For the Sake of the Call
"So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect." Romans 12:1-2 (NCV)
To excel at any sport requires that each competitor learn the true meaning of abandonment. Becoming a champion demands the commitment to live every part of life straining toward that objective. Excellence always requires sacrifice, discipline and a willingness to pay an enormous price. My son, Jered, is a college football player who has learned that to be the best player he can be means he must throw himself into weight training, personal discipline and mental readiness. It takes a cavernous commitment and a willing abandonment to reach that goal of excellence.
Jered has a great role model in his friend, Russell, a young man who really does not have the physical size to execute the position he plays on the football field. As a linebacker, he readily admits that there are other players on the team with superior ability as well as greater strength and talent. But Russell is a "play maker" who can change the entire momentum of the game with one electric play. The coaches say Russell's success is the result of his total willingness to abandon himself every time he steps onto the football field. He has literally knocked himself out several times while blocking the opponent. If you ask Russell the secret of his success he will say that anytime you approach the game with that kind of abandonment, something great is bound to happen.
And so it is with our life journey. Jesus wants us to come to Him with total abandon. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." (NIV) In this verse, "heart" literally means "thought and emotion", "soul" literally means "life or whole person" and "mind" literally means "understanding". In other words, we must lay down everything! Every thought - every emotion - every bit of knowledge - our past, present and future - just like the woman in Luke did. Luke 7: 37b "She brought an alabaster jar of perfume."
Alabaster was a soft stone imported from Egypt into Palestine. Light and creamy in color, it was especially popular for storing perfume and ointments. The jar was small, fitting easily into the palm of the hand. Alabaster jars were very common and of little value. It was the substance hidden inside that was so valuable. The perfume was the woman's most precious possession, very expensive but very necessary in her line of work. You see, she was a prostitute. She was not wealthy by any means and worked the streets, selling her body in order to live. The money that was given to her by the men she slept with paid for the perfume she brought to Jesus.
She could have put a small amount on the feet of Jesus and it would have been a great financial sacrifice. But she brought it all and she gave it all! She came, totally abandoning herself and all that she had to Him. "Abandon" literally means "without restraint or hindrance, a total relinquishment". This woman came to Jesus walking through her fear, ignoring the hindrances and relinquishing her old way of life. She must have ignored the ugly whispers and judgmental stares. I am certain that she wore her own guilt and self-condemnation for all to see.
Why did she come? She was exhausted, weary of living. The emptiness and sin were eating away at her soul. She was tired of being used, unloved and unwanted. Her sin had drained her to the point that she could not go on. This woman was desperate; ready to give up everything for the forgiveness and rest that only Jesus seemed able to provide. This desolate woman came to the One who spoke these words of healing and hope in Matthew 11: 28 "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." "Rest" literally means "a resting place". This woman was looking for a place of rest, a place she could call home. She found that place at the feet of Jesus Christ. Now, He calls you to that same kind of abandonment. As you place your trust completely in Him - with total abandonment - you will begin to experience the power an intimate relationship with Him can bring.
My prayer for today:
Lord, I come to you - giving my all. I am holding nothing back, Lord. I am so weary, tired of trying to live life my way. Right now, I lay my agenda down, surrendering completely to you. Will you raise up what is of you and let fall away what is not. Amen.
I have a challenge for you. Ask your husband, father, child or friend to help you do this exercise. Your partner will stand directly behind you, arms outstretched, ready to catch you. You must abandon yourself and, fall backward, trusting your partner to catch you. That is the picture of abandonment.
What does it mean to offer your body as a "living sacrifice"? Are you ready to make that commitment?
Look back over your life. Pinpoint one time when you have approached a career, relationship or activity with a total abandonment. What was the result?
Think of a time when your fear and insecurity prevented you from taking a bold step. What was the result? What one truth did you learn from that experience?
For the LORD your God is merciful--he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors. Deuteronomy 4: 31 (NLT)
Your faith makes you offer your lives as a sacrifice in serving God. Philippians 2: 17 (NCV)
So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. 2 Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NCV)
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
How to Live a Life of Victory by Mary Southerland
Originally published Tuesday, 17 August 2004.