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God-Given Authority

God-Given Authority

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re looking at God’s authority structures. We need to learn godly submission, if we want God’s best for us.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

Romans 13:3

Under normal circumstances, those in authority don’t strike fear in the ones doing good. It’s those who are breaking the law that fear.

It’s like the people who are in their cars, speeding down the highway. Then, suddenly, when they see a police cruiser parked on the side, they jam on their brakes.

Paul asks and answers a simple question. Do you want to be free from this fear? Then do what’s right.

At this point, Paul gives us an important spiritual key.

For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:4

The apostle makes it clear that the one in authority is God’s servant to do you good. That’s an important point.

We understand that all authority in heaven and earth is God’s. Any authority that someone has is ultimately from God. What we have to do is separate the authority, from the individual who’s in authority.

Authority is a place, a position that someone occupies. We have to realize that God has established the position so there will be order.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This includes kings, presidents, governors, senators, etc. We are to respect the position as a part of God-ordained authority. Who is in that position is immaterial, and that’s the hard part.

In my last post, we looked at this next verse. God was addressing King Saul.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:23

Saul was in the position of king, but God had rejected him. Yet, for years he remained in the office.

At one point, David was being hunted down by Saul, for no reason but jealousy. In the wilderness, David had a chance to kill Saul in his sleep, but he didn’t.

This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’”

1 Samuel 24:10

Here we can see David’s heart. For years the wrong man was in the position of king. The nation was in turmoil. But the position had to be respected.

Our God is a God of order. It’s through God’s order that we can live good and productive lives.

The fact is that no matter who is in the position of authority, there will be those who don’t think he or she should be there. That’s immaterial to the discussion. We respect and pray for our leaders because of the position.

Question: What’s your prayer for our leaders, in both the church and in government?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2021 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Flow of Authority

The Flow of Authority

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. Today we’re starting chapter 13. In this chapter, Paul begins to talk about authority and our relationship to it.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God

Romans 13:1

The first thing we need to do is define what authority is, exactly. There are many people who confuse authority and power. Although they function together, they’re not the same thing.

Authority is basically the permission or freedom to do something. This permission must come from someone higher up the chain of authority. Power, on the other hand, is the ability to carry out that which you have the permission or freedom to do.

Paul begins by establishing the basis for authority. As I’ve said, there’s a chain of authority. It all flows from the throne of God. There is no authority (permission to use power) except what comes from God.

We also need to realize that all authority has been arranged by God in an orderly manner. That’s because God is a God of order.

Please understand – God has established all the authority structures. However, not every person in those positions of authority were placed there by God. It’s the structure that is God-ordained.

This is the reason that we must submit ourselves to those in authority. That’s the only way for authority to flow to me.

The word, submit, means to arrange under. It’s a choice I make to arrange myself under the chain of authority God has called me to be a part of. When I submit myself in His plan, I have God’s authority flowing through me.

That brings us to the next important concept – rebellion.

Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 13:2

The Greek word for rebel in this verse means to oppose the arrangement. It tells us that if we rebel against authority, we’re standing against what God instituted. In other words, we are opposing the way God chooses to work through us.

The Word is very clear on this point. If you do this, you’ll receive a guilty verdict. Without submission, we have no authority. Without authority, we have no permission to walk in the power of God.

This is how it worked during the ministry of Jesus.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Luke 10:17

The disciples understood how their authority functioned. It wasn’t their natural ability. In the same way, we must be clear where our authority comes from. Never think that it’s because of your own goodness.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:23

This is the opposite of how God’s kingdom works. Sorcery wants to have power without God’s authority. This is how demonic forces operate. That’s also why those who walk in God’s power and authority have nothing to fear from the devil’s kingdom.

We must learn to submit ourselves to God’s authority structures. That’s the only way to walk in the power of God.

Question: Who do you submit to in the chains of authority God has placed you in?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2021 in Power of God, Ministry, Leadership

 

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Using Authority

Some people use their authority as a weapon.  They try and force others to do their will.  Paul talks about what he sees as the correct use of the authority God gives to church leaders.

For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.
2 Corinthians 10:8

Apparently, there were those who vilified Paul’s ministry.  They looked at the fact that he didn’t force his authority on others as a weakness.  They falsely claimed that this was proof that he had no authority.

Of course, Paul was not the type of person who cared what others said about him.  He continued to walk in his calling before God.

He explained to the church that the reason God has given him authority was to build them up and not to tear them down.  Paul boldly declares that he won’t be ashamed of not being a spiritual bully.

I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.  For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”  Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
2 Corinthians 10:9-11

Even in his writings, Paul is not trying to force anyone to do his bidding.  But there is a greater ministry at work here.

There are obviously people who are jealous of Paul’s ministry.  So in order to feel better about themselves, they have to discredit Paul.

In their critique of Paul, they admit that his letters are powerful.  The words they use show that they see the weightiness and the force behind what he’s saying.

There’s a reason for this.  I don’t think that anyone knew it at the time, but God had anointed Paul to write New Covenant Scripture.  Of course, these critics could see that Paul’s letters were important.

The letters had to be powerful.  The Holy Spirit was empowering them to speak to the church for another couple of thousands of years.  Without question, they had a force behind them.

But in person, Paul was speaking to a congregation that he had given birth to in the spirit.  He wanted to nurture and love on them.  That’s why some despised Paul, saying that his in-person ministry was of no comparison to his letters.

What these people didn’t realize is that Paul had the authority of God to “clean house”.  He just preferred to use a gentler method.  He wanted those under his ministry to desire the changes that were necessary.

This should speak to us.  As church leaders, it should never be our goal to force those under us into submission.  We should be seeking to lead by example.  In that way, we’re portraying the true picture of Christ to those around us.

Question: What are your thoughts on leadership by example?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2020 in Anointing, Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Men, Women, and Authority

As we continue to study Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we now come to another controversial section.  He begins to talk about men and women in regards to the principle of authority.

I think that so much of our debating and anger over this section comes from both a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation of what Paul is teaching.  We need to see this without any preconceived ideas of what’s being said.

Therefore, I’ll try to stick to the simple statements found in Scripture, rather than my personal perspective.  The key word is “try.”

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:3

Let me get started by getting everyone mad at me!  This Scripture is a loaded minefield if you’re not willing to take it at face value.  It deals with the issues of authority and submission.

First of all, we’re talking about headship on an individual basis.  Notice that both the word man and woman are singular.  Paul is not saying that all men are the head over all women.

We make submission a very complicated subject.  I’m not going to talk about it much in this post.  I’ll simply give you some homework.  If you do a study of submission, you’ll find that the specific areas in which a woman is told to submit are to her own husband, or to her own father.

Having said that, this verse is saying that the head of a man is Christ.  The head of a woman is a man (either her husband or her father).

Women – Please don’t shut me off just yet!  Wait and see where I’m going with this.

All too often I’ve been flagged down by a husband, dragging his wife along.  He needed to ask me a “Bible question”.

“Pastor Nick, doesn’t the Bible say that the husband is the head of the wife?  Doesn’t she have to submit and do what the husband says?”

Immediately I see a problem in the relationship, and it’s not the wife.  It stems from a total misunderstanding of authority and headship.  Let’s see how Paul explains it.

In the above verse, he makes it clear that even within the Godhead there is headship and authority.  God the Son – Christ – is under the headship of God the Father.  Does that make Christ any less God?  Absolutely not!  He is fully God.

What then is the relationship when it comes to headship?

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

Notice what Jesus said here.  He did not say that He does everything the Father tells him to do.  Instead, He tells us that He does what He sees His Father doing.

The head sets the direction for the body.  In my last post, we saw Paul instructing them to imitate him as he imitated Christ.  This is true in any headship – authority relationship.

In my experience, the relationship of a wife to her husband is usually the same as the husband to Christ.  Godly men who are serving Christ faithfully usually don’t complain about lack of authority in their families.  It’s not about trying to get others to obey me, but about me getting my relationship right with the Lord.

Question: How well do you follow the headship of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Whose Authority?

I’ve been posting about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Now we’re going to get into a new area as we start chapter 4.

Just to remind you, I’m going through the New Testament in the order it was revealed to the church by the Holy Spirit. The first four books, James, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark, are the foundation stones of our walk with Christ.

Because of this, there are a lot of “firsts” in these writings. In this post I’m going to deal with an important first principle. It’s one that’s almost lost in our modern church experience. I believe that God wants to restore it in this generation.

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

Before I get started into the main subject, I want you to see that God’s desire is always for our growth. Whatever we’ve learned and implemented in the past, it must always increase more and more each year. We want the life of Christ to become increasingly brighter all the time.

The principle that we need to understand is that of authority and submission. These are two subjects that most people don’t want to deal with in the church. That’s usually because it’s not done in a Scriptural way.

In these verses, we see the first time that a church leader talks about his authority in Christ. It’s the foundation for the relationship between leaders and followers in the body of Christ.

When Paul says that we instructed you, it literally means you received instructions from us. I believe that there’s a big difference in those two phrases.   Paul didn’t just talk to them, they actually took what he said seriously; and applied it to their lives.

He taught them how to live in such a way that it pleases God. To please God means that you evoke a positive emotional response from the Lord. Some of our modern teaching gives us the wrong ideas.

The fact is that God loves us and wants us as His children at all times. However, not everything we do brings a good emotion to the Lord. When I operate outside of His will, He’s not smiling happily saying, “That’s My boy!” There are plenty of Scriptures that implore us not to grieve the Holy Spirit within us.

On the other hand, our present church culture usually doesn’t want to be instructed on how to live for God. It’s okay to suggest to us some things, but don’t tell me what I need to do. I’ll decide for myself what I will and won’t do in my life.

By this time, you might think that I’m simply talking about being obedient to church leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. This lack of submitting to instruction has a lot to do with our present leadership.

I call your attention to the second verse above. The word instructions is actually the word commands; like in the military. They’re not optional.

Here’s the important point that I don’t want you to miss. The word authority is not in the original Greek verse. Paul actually says; you know what commands we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

Please understand that Paul is not saying that Jesus gave me the authority to tell you what to do. Unfortunately, that’s how many leaders incorrectly interpret it. Then the leaders try to force people to do their will.

On the contrary, Paul was saying that he spent quality time in the presence of the Lord. He then heard from Christ certain commands that he was to pass on to the church. And that’s where, I believe, we’ve missed it.

We need leaders who are willing to do what it takes to hear a Word from God. People don’t need to hear my opinion on how to live for Christ. They need to hear from Christ, Himself. That’s where God is bringing His church to in our generation.

Question: How have you seen the effect of leaders operating in their own authority?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Resistance is not Futile

I’m continuing to post from the book of James. He’s been telling us about how to humble ourselves before the Lord. This is important, especially when confronted by the enemy.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

Causing the devil to run away sounds great. But I’ve had people come to me and tell me, “I tried resisting and the enemy kept pestering me. This verse doesn’t work.”

Things like that happen because we take things out of context. The enemy doesn’t flee simply because you resist. There’s more going on in this verse that you need to apply.

The first thing James says is for us to submit ourselves to God. That word, submit, means to place under. Its usage is like what happens in the military when a soldier takes his orders from a superior officer.

When we find our place in the kingdom of God, under submission to Christ – our Commander in Chief – we can then resist effectively. The devil flees because heaven is backing me up, not because I’m resisting on my own.

The Apostle Paul tells us pretty much the same thing.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

The word stand in this verse is the same word as resist that James used. We need to stand our ground and resist the devil. We’re told that if we do this, in submission to the Lord, the enemy will flee. But I’ve found that it’s the time frame between the resisting and the fleeing that gives us the most problem.

Why would the devil ever flee from us? After all, we’re not that strong compared to him.

This is a great lesson that the church needs to hear. So many people give up when things get hard. Some of us are under the impression that working for God should be all hearts and flowers.

Why then does Paul use the analogy of a warrior, fully armed, and dressed for battle? The fact is that there are spiritual forces that don’t want us to succeed in our service to the Lord. The victory comes from knowing that it’s the Holy Spirit giving you strength, and not giving up.

We need to learn how to stand in the center of opposition. The ancient Romans knew how to do this. It was the secret to the success of their army. Each of the Roman soldiers was taught how to defend a 3-foot square of ground from an invading army. When they fought together, there was no way to break through their lines.

We need to get it into our heads that the only way to victory is to move forward in the Lord. Backing up WILL NOT get you out of the battle. It will only make you have to fight to regain that ground later.

But the thing about this verse that gives me the most trouble is when Paul says, “when the day of evil comes.” Not “if”, not “there might come a time when problems arise”. He tells us in a straight forward way that this day is coming whether you’re ready or not. So the best thing to do is prepare now.

The word that both James and Paul used for stand literally means to stand in opposition to. We must be prepared for the enemy to oppose us.

The phrase after you have done everything actually translates after you have fully accomplished your work. When you have done everything you were assigned to do by the Lord, then it’s time for the Holy Spirit to take over. One thing I’m certain about. The enemy is no match for the God I serve!

So, being forewarned with the knowledge that the day of evil is coming, we need to be ready. We must be fully armed and prepared to stand our ground in Christ. Then we will see the victory of God manifest in our situation.

Question: What are you going through right now that will require you to stand your ground?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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It’s Not Magic

PowerlessThis is the final post in a series about spiritual warfare. Specifically talking about the helmet and the sword of the spirit. They correspond to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

We need to understand that in God’s kingdom power flows through authority.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Matthew 8:8-9

The centurion understood the principles of power and authority. Just say the WORD. He knew what it meant to be under authority. Notice that he didn’t say that he was a man in authority. It was because of the authority he was under that he could say, “Do this,” and see it happen.

So if we say, “Be healed,” and nothing happens; what’s the problem? I think it’s an issue of authority and power.

To use power we must line up with authority. We sometimes think that the subject of authority and submission is not a big deal. Things like…

Where I go to church. How I respond to leadership. Where do I fit in ministry? Or even submission within the family.

And I agree. These aren’t a big deal. They don’t cause us to lose our salvation. Unless you want to walk in the power of God.

One of the hallmarks of this generation of Christianity is a lot of talk and no power. We even have a lot of faith and no power.

We sometimes think that if we can say the right words, we’ll receive our miracle. The truth is that the reason the words work is because you’re correctly lined up under authority.

I’ve heard people say, “The Word doesn’t work.” Please understand, the Word of God is not a magic spell like in the movies. That may be what we want the Word to work like.

There’s no magic in the words. The authority and power rests in God. Unless we correctly align with Him, we have no power and authority that activates the Word.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
1 Corinthians 4:20-21

We have to realize this truth. Talk is not enough. If you want power – you must be in position. You need to get yourself rightly aligned under the authority of God.

God’s church needs to walk in this right now. There’s no time to waste. We need the power of God. That’s what will change lives and usher in a harvest of souls in our generation.

Question: How do I align myself under God’s authority?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Warfare

 

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The Road to Advancement

ProfitI’ve been posting about Abraham as our example of the obedience that’s born in our faith. It’s not always pleasant, but God has a great destination prepared for us.

I said in my last post that God usually calls us to leave something before calling us into a new and better place. Unfortunately, laying hold of that better place is based upon our obedience. That’s why Jesus made the following statement.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

There are many who don’t want to go out in order to go into a new place. We are sometimes so satisfied with the good – we don’t want the excellent.

If we want the inheritance that God has destined us for on earth, then there are two attitudes we need to learn. These are the attitudes that energize our obedience to Christ. In today’s post, I want to talk about the first of these.

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
Hebrews 11:9

The original Greek of this verse is very interesting. It says that by faith Abraham lived near the promised land as if it were another’s property. This is an important lesson to learn, especially those in leadership positions. We understand obedience from serving in another’s ministry.

At one point in my Christian walk I was under a great man of God named Pastor Anthony Spero. He’s the one who trained me in the ministry. There were things he asked me to do that I liked, and other things – not so much.

What I didn’t realize at that time, was that as I submitted under his ministry, God was doing a work in me. All that time I worked under him, not knowing that the place God was bringing me to was a pastorate of my own.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
Luke 16:10-12

You can’t advance in the Kingdom of God without obedience. We get the idea that because this isn’t mine, who cares if I do a good job or not. This is especially true at work or church. I didn’t know it, but when I was putting out the trash as a teenager, God was preparing me to be a husband and father.

We need to pick up the attitude of Abraham. The ability to see my submission to authority as preparation for the authority God wants to entrust me with. My future advancement is based on my present obedience.

Question: What are the areas of obedience that God is currently using in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Faith, Leadership, Ministry

 

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Understanding the Kingdom of God #kingdomofGod

CastleThere are some things about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that I think we’ve lost sight of.  I want to take a few posts to take a detailed look at the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17.  There are some very surprising things that Jesus said in that text.  But first, He had to correct the Pharisees’ view of the kingdom.

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Luke 17:20-21

The Pharisees were always looking for an occasion to accuse Jesus.  They wanted to find something against Him.  So they came up with this question.  When is the kingdom coming?  They knew that the Messiah was supposed to establish the kingdom.  So they decided to see how smart He was.

Please understand what these men were doing.  They didn’t want to believe in Him.  They weren’t looking for the arrival of the kingdom of God.  They were just looking for a chance to test the Lord and to trick Him into saying something that would open Him up to some accusation.

How does Jesus respond to their question?  In dealing with these men, He turns the tables on them and gives them an answer that refers to the spiritual kingdom instead of the physical.  The Lord’s exhortation to them is that you will not find it by careful observation.

They first needed to understand what “kingdom” means.  A kingdom can be any place.  A king-dom is the domain, or place of dominion of a king.  It’s any place or person over which the King has authority.

So, if the King of kings has authority in your heart, that’s where the kingdom of God is.  Wherever the King has authority to rule is where the kingdom has been established.  The kingdom of God could be among you or in you.  It all depends upon whether or not you have received the King.

If you’re submitted to the King, you’re a part of the kingdom.  If you’re not submitted to the King, then you are not in the kingdom and the kingdom is not in you.  Instead, you will find that the kingdom of God is among you, just like in the parable of the weeds and the wheat (Matthew 13:36-43).

The wheat is a part of the kingdom, the weeds aren’t.  Jesus was explaining the same concept to these Pharisees.  He gives them the spiritual truth even though it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.  They were asking Him for the physical manifestation of the kingdom.

The same applies to us today.  Many believers want to receive the blessings of the kingdom without submitting to the King.  We need to learn that you can’t have one without the other.

Question: What does it mean to be submitted to Christ as King?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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The Garden of Prayer – Part 2

Matthew 26:39
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

This is one of the most simple yet profound prayers in the Bible.  It is during these times of struggle that we dispense with the “religious protocol” of prayer.  We forget about the intricate prayer charts or King James English.  Our goal is to get right to the heart of the prayer – HELP!!!

It was no different for Jesus.  He wasted no time on introductions.  However, there is one difference between His prayer and many of ours. This is seen in His attitude.  Rather than trying to convince the Father to work out His plan in an easier way, our Lord immediately bowed His knee to the revealed will of God.

This is the example we need to follow.  How often do we try to convince God to do things our way?  Instead, our goal should be to learn the kind of submission that brings us right into the center of God’s will for us.

Are there things that God wants you to do that you are having a hard time yielding to?  Take this time to follow Christ’s lead.  Surrender your whole life to God.  Submit yourself by saying, in your own way, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Make this time today your garden of Gethsemane with the Lord.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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