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A Place of Surrender

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A Place of Surrender

            Do you ever experience frustration in your life?  Your answer may be like many in saying that you experience them daily.  How can we get through those times of frustration and disillusionment?  We are going to talk about those things today. 

I’ve learned one thing in my attempts at gardening and landscaping. “You have to get all the roots out to get rid of the weeds.” If not they just keep coming back – over and over again. Weeds can be very frustrating because they keep me from having the flowerbeds I want.

Speaking of frustrations listen to these lines from “Life’s Little Book of Frustrations.”

·        You had that pen in your hand just a second ago and now you can’’ find it anywhere.

·        You ask the teacher how to spell a word and she says to look in the dictionary.

·        The elevator stops at every floor and no one gets on or off.

·        You set your digital alarm for 7 PM instead of 7 AM.

·        You have to inform five different sales people in the same store that you’re just looking. Then when you want to buy something you can’t find a single one.

·        Just when you’re ready to watch your favorite TV show the phone rings and it’s a tele-marketer who won’t stop talking.

·        Just when you turn your head something important happens behind you.

Why are these things so frustrating? Because in each situation something keeps you from having what you want.  Face it, when we think about need, too often we are thinking about what we want.  God has promised to supply our needs, but often those do not align with our wants.

I heard a story about a boy that asked his dad to explain the differences between irritation, aggravation and frustration.

Dad picked up the phone and dialed a number at random. When someone answered he asked, “Can I speak to Alf please.” “You have the wrong number. There’s no Alf here.” Dad said, “That’s irritation.”

Then Dad hit “redial” and asked for Alf a second time. The voice on the other end said, “There’s no one named Alf here! If you call again I will call the police.” Dad said, “Son, that’s aggravation.”

“Then what’s frustration?” asked the little boy. Dad picked up the phone, hit redial again and said, “Hi, this is Alf. Do I have any messages?”

Why would the guy on the other end of the phone line be frustrated? Because he couldn’t get the peace and quiet that he wanted.  When we can’t have what we want we become FRUSTRATED.

In a recent survey of teens, 56% said “selfishness” – not thinking of the rights of others – was one of the top five problems in America. Why would they peg selfishness as a leading cause of our society’s troubles?

SELFISHNESS causes many problems because it always takes what it wants, when it wants and doesn’t care who gets hurt.

The problem with that though is that our desires keep on GROWING no matter how many times we try to satisfy them. In other words, we will never be satisfied and we will always be frustrated.

So how do we move from the area of self into the area of selflessness?  It is called surrender.

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:7-10, NKJV)

I. TO WHOM ARE GOD’S MESSAGES GIVEN?

 

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”" (John 6:66-69, NIV)

 

A. Anyone God selects

1. Moses

In the eyes of many, he was a failure. He had lost his position of royalty. He had murdered an Egyptian. He was soon living in a basically servant role, working for a father-in-law who didn’t particularly respect him, who cheated him, broke his promise to him, and now had him out with the sheep like any common farm hand. But God had a different plan, and using a burning bush and a speaking flame, God called Moses to become the leader of a chosen nation.

2. Mary

An everyday "average" teenager. We see no indication of advanced education. Her training undoubtedly was to be a housewife. She had no wealth or position. But God’s angel came with a message of choosing and assurance that her name would be remembered through the centuries.

3. You and me.

There were many that God could have chosen,

Brilliant people with gifts all could see.

With above-average skills

and amazing abilities.

But He didn’t. God chose you and me.

There are many that God could be using

To make His world what it should be.

Folk with talent and knowledge and superior strength.

But He didn’t. God used you and me.

When God’s kingdom arrives in its Glory,

And successes of all folk are seen.

When God’s purpose is clear

And His "well done," we hear,

We’ll be glad God picked both you and me.(3)

B. Here were common shepherds.

I believe God purposely selected the Shepherds for his message.

If God had gone to the theologians, they would have felt compelled to check religious commentaries.

Had God visited the elite, they would have checked to see who was watching.

If the successful had been approached, they no doubt would have had to check their Palm Pilot to find an open date.

It was to shepherds that God first visited. They were going about their responsibility, not in a particularly "religious" mode. They were carrying out their secular employment responsibilities. Shepherds were to protect and care for sheep. Often they were hired hands, probably paid less than minimum wage. They weren’t in the synagogue when the call came. They weren’t expecting it. It simply was a night of God’s timing and God’s choice, and God acted.(4)

II.  HOW DO HEAVENLY URGES ARRIVE?

A. Any way God Desires

God can speak to us through a sermon, a friend, an enemy, a neighbor, a stranger, the news media, etc.

The shepherds first heard one angel - In our lives, an idea or thought is born in our minds. And so often we believe we are the only one who has heard it. We feel all alone, and that’s frightening!

But, Then, the shepherds saw many angels. Those new angels didn’t replace the first. They supplemented his message. There was suddenly a multitude of heavenly host - ’an army,’ ... ’celebrating peace!’ who had come down to let it be known here how this great event is regarded in heaven: praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (5)

We hear God’s urge. But we feel so alone, so afraid. But,if we are faithful and follow, So often we soon recognize others who also have heard and responded to the same call we did.

In I Kings 18, A prophet, Elijah met on Mt. Carmel the prophets of Baal and through God, defeated them. He later ran in fear and hid in a cave when the queen threatened in death. Elijah sank in despair and cried out to God that He had to see God and know the call was true. In the 19th chapter, God passes by, and then whispers to Elijah that he wasn’t the only one faithful. There are, God said, 7000 whose knees had not bowed to Baal.

So often, the first voice heard telling of God’s glory is a lone voice. But when the message is given, the first thing happening is that other voices join in, and we recognize we’re not alone...

God will not be silent! You start, and others will follow. If you or I don’t respond, God will still succeed, but we’ll miss the blessing of faithfulness. Jesus, on the triumphal entry said that if the crowds were silent, even the stones would cry out.

But remember, the angels left, and then it was up to the shepherds. They decided what to do with the message they had heard. God may give you encouragement and a message, but eventually you are called to stand "along" and act on what has been heard.   Your must come to a place of surrender

III.  WHAT SIGN DOES GOD GIVE OF HIS ANNOUNCEMENT?

A. Any sign God Desires

God says, "You will find the Messiah by this token: he is lying in a manger, where surely no newborn infant was laid before." The shepherds might have expected to hear "you will find the Messiah dressed in robes, laying in state in the best home in town. You will see a crowd of attendants, dressed in appropriate garb. But that’s not what the angel said. In all of Christ’s life on earth, nothing portrayed so well his divine royalty as his insistence on total humility.

Sometimes God’s signs are spectacular. However, more often they are common things that could be missed if one is not prayerfully attentive to God’s presence.

Sometimes we pray, God, if you want me to ... make the sun rise in the west, save my marriage, give me a raise at work, let me win the lottary, etc. God does confirm His will, but so often in such common ways.

IV.  EACH OF US FACES A DECISION WHEN GOD CALLS.

Be ready for God to speak to and use you. God may call in a moment of "spiritual" involvement. He may speak today in our worship. He may call through the words of a friend - or even an enemy. Our decision is how to respond.

V.  WHAT IS THE OUTCOME WHEN GOD ACTS?

Some wonder about it, but it may make little difference in their lives. That’s what happened in today’s scripture.

Think of this: Everyone "celebrates" the birth at Christmas, of which the date is only a guess. But so many ignore the Easter resurrection, which we can fairly accurately date.

Some ponder about it, and the planted messages grows into a life change. Mary had this experience

Some are changed in everything they do from that moment on, like the shepherds were.

The shepherds went to find the baby.

The shepherds told everyone what God had done in their lives.

The shepherds returned to their daily responsibilities praising God

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