I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:11-13 NLT
I began my walk with the Lord when I was 16 years old. I was invited by a girlfriend from school to go away for the weekend with her church. As a Teenager, I was enticed by the notion that there would be “boys” there. There were a ton of boys there alright and, in fact, I met one that changed my life forever… His name is Jesus!
While on my journey through the years, I have been encouraged many times with verse 13 of Philippians, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” I also see it quoted often by others. What I haven’t seen often, however, is the verses just preceding it (Versus 11-12):
“I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
The Apostle Paul was the a perfect example of living the life of a Disciplined Saint. His faith was so strong that it didn’t matter what was going on around him, he remained steadfast, believing in God’s mighty hand with every part of his life. He didn’t let his circumstances deter him from doing God’s work. This level of discipline is achieved through absolute surrender. God used Paul’s many difficult trials and circumstances, including imprisonment, to bring Paul to a place of surrender. Surely it’s easier to be content when we have all we need, but what about in the times when we have almost nothing…when nothing in life makes sense… when it seems like our entire world is caving in around us and we couldn’t possibly survive! It’s only when we fully surrender to the Lord that he can do amazing and miraculous things in and through our lives.
This level of discipline, however, cannot be attained by trying to use our own “willpower”. We may enjoy some success, but it’s only when we fully surrender all that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever hope to have to him that he can truly begin to use us according to His will and His divine plan. What a mighty work did God do in Paul’s life indeed!
Surrender is a choice… Certainly, God has the power to “force” us to do whatever He wants, but that’s not how He rolls. Even from the very beginning of creation, He gave Adam and Eve the will to choose. Unfortunately, they made a very bad choice. If I were in their shoes, likely I would have also made the same wrong choice. Boy have I made some whoppers during my 50 years on earth so far. Can you relate? However, when we make the choice to stop sinning, choose God and to surrender to His will, that’s when we begin to see God use us in a mighty way that we’ve never seen before. It’s in this state that when we pray, we will finally have eyes to see and ears to hear to do God’s will and live the life He’s designed for us. Unfortunately, this is not a one-time choice… every minute, moment by moment, we have to keep choosing and keep surrendering. I don’t know about you but I cannot tell you the countless times I have surrendered, given my trouble, circumstance, and worry to the Lord, only seconds later to take it all right back and let doubt roll right back in.
I remember a few years back when I my son was getting ready to start high school, I had moved and he didn’t want to attend a new school. I told him that I refused to lie and say we lived in a district that wasn’t true. I told him that I would start house hunting and if God opened the door for us to get into a new home back in our old neighborhood, then we would move. To be honest, I was scared to move but I fully surrendered it to the Lord and put it completely in His hands. I found the perfect home, literally almost across the street from my little ones elementary school and just blocks from the high school. It was around the corner from the home I let my ex keep that we lived in together. The location was better than we could have ever imagined. Not only so, but there were 7 offers on this home and one of them was a CASH down deposit! My offer surely wasn’t the best and it was contingent on the selling of my current home. The owner picked ME! He sold me the home! It made no sense at all except for God’s mighty hand at work.
A few years after I bought my new home, I was struggling to hang onto to it because while God opened the door for me to get the home, it wasn’t as smooth as a transition as I had hoped. My other home didn’t sell for 10 months! Another time in my life that I finally threw up my hands and said, “Lord, it’s yours!” BAM it sold, but I had incurred more debt against it in the interim. As a single Mom, I was working literally day and night trying to earn enough money to make my monthly payments, as well as keep up with all the expenses of a life with 2 young kids and a teenager entail. A friend recommended that I try to get a modification. I have always paid my bills and had very little to no debt other than my huge house debt. I was literally crippled with fear that I was going to lose my home after all the hard work I had done just to hang on to it. The night before I was scheduled to have my first call with the creditor to negotiate the modification, I remember finally getting on my knees and just throwing my hands in the air and saying okay, Lord! Enough! I trust you Lord… I accept whatever you decide whether it’s to let me keep it or to lose it, I trust you. The Lord gives and the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord! I choose to let go and just trust that it was 100% in His hands and whatever he decided, it was going to be okay, we were going to be okay. The next day the creditor granted my loan modification ON THE SPOT over the telephone! If you’re at all familiar with house loan modifications, it usually takes MONTHS if not years to get it modified. Mine was modified INSTANTLY. That NEVER happens ever… well unless by God’s mighty and capable hands!
We when decide to surrender to the Lord, it’s kind of letting go… letting go of all our wants and ways and becoming emptied so to speak. Once we surrender and we let go and are emptied, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As we surrender, let go, and fill ourselves up with the Holy Spirit through prayer and God’s Word, we will be in a prime position for God to use us to the utmost. We will find that our level of discipline will increase, our walk with God will become so strong that whether we find ourselves in a season of want or in a season of fullness, we will stand strong. It’s in this state of content and surrender that we are able to do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
Are we willing to live our life with this level of discipline in 2016? How about right now we choose to let go, let God and start living our life by God’s design and enjoy a Sweet 16!