The book Live Before You Die by Evangelist Daniel Kolenda was not only one of the best books I have read on the subject of seeking God’s will for our lives but it was one of the top five books I have ever read. Here is a Bible study I received today based on his teaching from his book. It touched my heart as it addresses so well a present struggle.
This book is well worth the investment but you are welcome to borrow mine….if you promise to highlight things that speak to you and write in the margins your own thoughts as I have had several others do…and then return it to me.
Secret #2 – The Surrendered Will This Bible study has been taken from chapter 7 of LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE
When we talk about being crucified with Christ and dying to self, what do we mean? It means we die to our desires, our ego, and our will. Sometimes this even means dying to our own vision. But you may say, “I’m sure my vision is God-given. It is His will.” Yet there is an inherent danger. It is possible for the calling, promises, and vision God has given us to become our main ambition, making them opponents of God, for He is not willing to share our hearts with anything—not even with good things.
Isaac was the fulfillment of the promise God gave Abraham. Yet God was not willing to share Abraham’s heart, not even with Isaac. So God asked Abraham to lay Isaac on the altar and offer him as a sacrifice, knowing this would be the ultimate test of Abraham’s love. Author A. W. Tozer expounds on this brilliantly in his classic bookThe Pursuit of God.
God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, “It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love. Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent. Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.”
What does it mean to surrender our will to God? The word surrender is a radical word!Many of us are willing to surrender until it begins to hurt, but true surrender is painful. Some people are willing to surrender as long as it is logical, but true surrender is not subject to our rationale. Others can surrender what is bad and harmful, but God is not satisfied. To God surrender is not complete until it is all encompassing, exhaustive, total. It is not simply saying, “Your will be done,” but it includes, “Not my will.” This death to self is not some form of divine sadism. God always has life in mind. Just as a gardener prunes off the old branches so new ones can grow, God desires to remove that which hinders life and growth. This place of death is also the place of birth, and it is how God’s purposes are born in the earth!
John Wimber is best known as the founder of the Vineyard church movement, which is well known for its wonderful music that touched the world and, in many ways, revolutionized worship in the modern church. But many people don’t realize that John Wimber had been very successful as a secular musician. Two of his hit singles reached the US top ten before he met the Lord and abandoned fame and fortune to follow Jesus. His wife, Carol, told the following story:
John and I had been Christians only a few months. We were broke and Christmas was coming. John had laid down his musical career because Jesus asked him to. After refusing a lucrative offer to arrange a Christmas album, he quietly put down the phone. As I watched, John went to the cupboards, closets and the piano bench. He gathered a lifetime of work and talent and placed it in big cardboard boxes and we drove to the Yorba Linda dump. As he pushed the last box out of the station wagon and it sunk into the garbage, John 12:24 came to my mind: “Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” In my heart I know that was when worship was born in the Vineyard.
What if God asked you to give up the thing you enjoy the most? What if He asked you to lay down your gift or talent, the thing that defines you—the thing in which you find self-worth? Could you lay your promise on the altar as Abraham did Isaac, or push your treasures into the Dumpster as John Wimber did? Have you checked to see who is sitting on the throne of your heart? Is it you? Is it your vision? Is it your dream? Or is it Jesus?
My friend, God has a wonderful plan for your life, and He wants to use you in extraordinary ways for His glory. But resurrection only follows death—death to self, death to your will, death to your desires, and death to your dreams. It is in these painful moments of surrender that God’s kingdom is established in us, when we pray with Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” This beautiful brokenness allows us to become an extension of God’s dominion, and our lives become “cracks in the wall” through which His kingdom can come and His will can be done in earth and on earth!