Beliefnet
Next Steps

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP TWO: day 3

Surrender and unleash the Spirit’s power within you

Back in the Old Testament, a man named Abraham had been given a promise, the promise of a son. Twenty-five years later, after many years of praying and waiting, God fulfilled that promise and gave Abraham a son named Isaac. And then this happened:

“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’” Genesis 22:2

This is not how Abraham planned on his fatherhood going. He finally had what he’d wanted his entire life, and now God was asking him to give it up. God was asking Abraham to surrender Isaac. As difficult as it was, Abraham did just that:

He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy.” Genesis 22:9-12

God didn’t ask Abraham to surrender because he wanted to punish Abraham but because He wanted to bless him. And God did exactly that, blessing Abraham abundantly and renewing His covenant with him. When Abraham surrendered to God, God blessed him above and beyond. When we surrender to God, He blesses us with freedom.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. Abraham is an extreme example of what it looks like to surrender to God. What are some things (i.e. possessions, relationships, control) not as extreme as your own children that you’ve struggled to surrender to God?

2. Surrendering ultimately hinges upon trust. Do you really trust that if you surrender fully to God that He’ll take care of you and meet your needs?

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP TWO: day 2

Surrender and unleash the Spirit’s power within you

There is one phrase, one teaching repeated by Jesus more times in the Gospels than anything else. Six different times, Jesus is recorded as teaching this timeless truth:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:25

If this was important enough for Jesus to teach repeatedly, it should be important enough for us to live out today. What Jesus is teaching here is the principle of surrender. Our natural desire as humans is to live for ourselves, to be the masters of our own fate, to direct our own path and to be responsible only to ourselves. As natural as that is to us, it will only lead to death. Freedom comes through surrender, when we stop doing life our way, when we stop being in charge, when we stop trying to save ourselves and when we surrender everything to God. 

That’s when the power comes through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). We’re called to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and when the Holy Spirit fills us, we have the power we need to see our lives forever changed. But the Holy Spirit is not going to fill us if we’re already full of ourselves. To experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit unleashed within us, we need to empty ourselves, we need to give up control of our lives, we need to surrender. If you want to experience true freedom, you have to do it God’s way. You have to put both hands up and surrender yourself completely to God.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. It doesn’t make much sense on the surface to find your life by losing it, but Jesus taught that freedom comes through surrender. How hard has it been for you to fully surrender to God in the past?

2. If you were honest, what is the one thing today you’re holding onto the tightest, the one thing you have trouble giving over and surrendering to God?

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP TWO: day 1

Surrender and unleash the Spirit’s power within you

Where do I find the power to change? If you’ve struggled with addiction long enough, you’ve asked yourself this question before. Whether it’s the alcohol that no longer numbs your pain or the depression that used to come and go but now hasn’t left in quite awhile, you’ve wanted to change. You’ve wanted to clean yourself up. You’ve even been willing to get help. Your ‘want to’ is not the problem. Some moments, either in the depths of despair or feeling empowered by a transcendent moment of clarity, your desire to change has made the difference, for awhile. But it just doesn’t seem to be enough. You’ve gone through countless cycles of guilt and shame, promises followed by more guilt and shame. Change happens for awhile, but your willpower always gives out sooner or later, to the point where you might be tempted to lose hope. But as we discovered last week, we can have hope because of Jesus. But hope isn’t enough to change your life. You need power. If you (or someone you love) has struggled with addiction long enough, you’ve come to the grim realization that your willpower, your self-control, your ‘want to’ simply isn’t enough. You need something greater, something deeper, something more powerful.

That power is step two on the road to freedom. The power of God, the same power that created this universe with a spoken word and the power that raised Jesus from the dead, that power is available to everyone who believes in Jesus. So why aren’t more Christians leveraging the power of God within them? Because it hasn’t been unleashed. And that comes through surrender.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. Have you tried to break free from a bad habit or an addiction before? How long did it last? What was the result?

2. Read Romans 7:21-25. Do you identify at all with Paul’s struggles? How so?

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP ONE: day 5

Fill your soul with the hope of Jesus

Let’s say you’re a baseball player and you’re about to bat. It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, the bases are loaded and you’re down by a few runs. The pressure is all on you. How successful do you think you’re going to be in your at-bat if you walk into the batter’s box repeating to yourself, “I’m going to strike out! I’m going to strike out!”?

Now let’s say you’re in a marriage that has seen better days. You’re still trying to make it work but you’re struggling. How successful do you think you’ll be if you wake up every morning saying, “My marriage is going to fail. My marriage is going to fail.”?

Freedom is no different. If you constantly say to yourself, “I’ll never be free. I’ll always be addicted. I can’t beat this.”, don’t be surprised when you stay in chains. Filling your soul with the hope of Jesus means speaking to yourself, “I am free because Jesus sets me free. I can overcome this because of the power of Jesus living inside of me.” (Try saying that last statement out loud). The first step to freedom is hope because until you believe that you can be free, you’ll never experience freedom. The beauty and power of the death and resurrection of Jesus is that our hope to change isn’t wishful thinking, it is reality. When Jesus conquered death and the grave he overcame the power of darkness, and His presence inside you through the Holy Spirit now gives you that same power to overcome the darkness within you. Do not despair! Through Jesus you can be free! Let that hope fill your soul and light the path through the next nine steps to freedom.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. Describe an experience where your attitude had a negative effect on your life. Do you tend to be more optimistic (hopeful) or pessimistic (despairing)?

2. Instead of praying to God to set you free, how would it change your perspective (and begin to fill you with hope) if you started to thank God that He has already set you free through Jesus?

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.