Many think that when you surrender to God you will be like the military who surrenders and then become prisoners of war which is followed by the harsh treatment that goes with it. This is just not the case. Surrendering to God does not put you in prison; your surrender frees you. Not only will you be free, but God will also open the floodgates of heaven and bless you. For that to happen, God wants everything you have, including your life. This exchange not only brings you eternal life, but a life with God’s presence until that time comes.

        Jesus made it clear that our surrender is all or nothing. Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” There is no such thing as a sort of Christian. By saying this Jesus wasn’t suggesting that being cold was okay; what He was saying is that being lukewarm was worse than being cold, yet the church is full of the lukewarm. If we are to be a Christian, we are called to lay down our lives for Jesus, our sovereign king and follow Him wholeheartedly. Numbers 14:24 “Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Solomon said 1 Kings 8:23 “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.” 2 Chronicles 31:20 “This is what (king) Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” 

        Following wholeheartedly means that we obey God’s word. It starts with carrying our cross. This means we are willing to die for Jesus, from dying to ourselves to actually dying for Jesus. We will serve no matter the cost and we will not put our lives before Jesus. That means nothing is more important than Jesus. Paul shows us the commitment God is looking for. Acts 21:10 “After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul also said Philippians 1:20 “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Nothing would come between Paul and Jesus, even death. The problem is many think they are living for Christ but continue to follow other gospels. I will talk more about that tomorrow.

        Many Christians say they carry their cross but do not put Jesus first. They foolishly think going to church for an hour or so on Sunday is wholehearted surrender. Jesus answers this way. Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Matthew said it this way. Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” This means nothing, not even family comes before serving Jesus. In fact, Jesus changes what family means when serving Him. Matthew 12:47 “Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 

        This level of surrender is not talked about too much as people don’t like the word hate. All this word does is show the level of difference in commitment to God and family. Your focus is solely on God. Jesus did not hate his mother, but he did not let family interfere with carrying out the will of His father. John 19:25 “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” Even though Jesus own family thought he had lost it, (Mark 3:21 “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”) at Pentecost they were there. Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

        We have to make a choice as to whether we will serve God wholeheartedly or not. Joshua 23:14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” But wait, we are back to talking about households. Although Jesus said to give up everything including family and serve Him, He did not stop there. In the account of the rich young man, we see God’s blessing come to those who serve wholeheartedly. Caleb was promised the land because he was faithful. Joshua 14:9 “So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” Jesus also gives us that promise.

        The account of the rich young man shows us what Jesus was looking for. Mark 10:17 “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Many Christians are like this young man. They feel they have kept all the requirements to be a Christians but fail to give Jesus everything. If the young man believed He would have seen the floodgates of heaven open, but instead he left because he had great wealth. Jesus went on and said “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 

        Here in North America most people have great wealth compared to other countries. The problem is most have not left everything to follow Jesus nor will they. Ask yourself; Are you willing to lose everything to follow Jesus wholeheartedly? You have to come to that point if you are really going to surrender to Jesus and carry your cross. Jesus then makes this amazing statement. Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” No, you are not a prisoner of war if you surrender but the opposite. God wants to bless your faithfulness. When Job lost everything, he refused to curse God. Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” At the end of His perseverance (James says this James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”) God blessed Job. Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. 16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.”

        Trust God and surrender your life to Him. God wants to bless you. satan on the other hand is the one telling you are better off with your great wealth. Don’t listen to him but stand firm on God’s word and believe. Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel (church), what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. 14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.”