Tag Archives: rich young ruler

Completely Surrendered

Every one of us are somewhere in our walk with Jesus. The spectrum goes from rejecting Him to being completely surrendered to Him. On this journey, we need to be constantly moving towards being surrendered. However, all of us hit plateaus, get knocked backwards at times and go through valleys. The plateaus are dangerous. We can feel like we’re doing good enough, so we don’t keep trying to get closer to Him. We’ve known Him for a long time, learned the stories in the Bible and pray often. These plateaus can lead to complacency and keep us from knowing Him more.

In Mark 10, Jesus was headed out of Jerusalem when a young man ran up to Him and asked what He needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus recited the commandments to him. The man got excited and said he had followed those since he was young. Then Jesus added, “‘There is still one thing you haven’t done,’ He told him. ‘Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’” (NLT). The man went away sad because what Jesus was requiring was total surrender, and he wasn’t willing to do that.

Many Christians live on this plateau. We’ve served Him a long time and live the way the Bible teaches us to, but we’re missing that something more because we’re not willing to surrender all. God is calling each of us into a greater relationship with Him. The more of our life that we’re willing to surrender to Him, the greater our relationship will be. If you’ve been on a plateau for a while, and are ready to experience more of Jesus, ask Him to show you what more you need to do. Just like this man that encountered Jesus, the choice will be yours to either surrender or to stay on your plateau. My prayer is that you will have the courage to let go of what’s holding you back and live completely surrendered.

Photo by Ali Gooya on Unsplash


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Surrendering Completely

One of the things I talk with pastors about is spiritual growth and how to help people along the path. According to “Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth”, there are four places we find ourselves in when it comes to spiritual growth. They are: Exploring Christ, Growing in Christ, Close to Christ and Christ Centered. There are different habits, behaviors and disciplines of people when they’re in each segment. The goal is to help people move from one segment to the next. The hardest segment to get people to move to is from Close to Christ into Christ Centered. One seeks God’s wisdom and direction for their life along with daily disciplines. The other is complete surrender to God allowing Him control over your life. It’s a hard jump for people to make.

In Mark 1, Jesus had just begun His earthly ministry. He had been baptized and was beginning to preach. As He did, people began to follow Him. There were some people though that He asked to be disciples instead of just followers. In Mark 1:17-18 Jesus saw Andrew and Simon Peter cleaning their nets and said, “‘Come follow me and I will transform you into fishers of men instead of fish!’ Immediately they dropped their nets and left everything behind to follow Jesus” (TPT). These two, along with the other 10 disciples, left everything to give themselves completely to Christ. Most people simply took off of work, listened to Him preach, and then went back to work. These guys dropped what they were doing in complete surrender to follow Him. They gave up everything.

I’m not suggesting that you quit your job to be a Christian and have a better relationship with Christ. I am asking you to examine the things that you’re holding onto that are keeping you from complete surrender to Christ. It could be control of your schedule, your money, your time, your talents, etc. The Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19 was called to move from Close to Christ into a Christ Centered life. He walked away sad because he wanted to hold onto things. It didn’t mean he wasn’t a Christian. It meant that he didn’t move to a Christ Centered life to experience all God had for him. Like him, we hold onto things that Christ is calling us to let go of. We need to be like Andrew and Simon Peter where we immediately drop those things, leave them behind and surrender to God’s will.

Photo by Andrés Canchón on Unsplash

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Complete Surrender

There was a Rich Mullins song that said, “Surrender don’t come natural to me. I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than take what you give that I need.” That lyric has always stuck in my head because of how true it is. We like to say we surrender everything to God until He asks us to give up something. It’s almost like we’re the rich, young ruler. We don’t mind following the commandments He gives, but when we are asked to surrender things of earthly value, we get sad. The truth is that being a Christian is truly about surrender because it’s an action of the heart. It’s an inward thing versus the outward showing of following a bunch of rules.

Since the beginning of creation, God has been concerned with what’s going on inside of us. That’s the truth of who we are, and only He looks past our outward displays to see our intention. If we truly want to be a follower of Christ, it starts with surrendering authority over our life to Him. We give up our rights to what He wants. That’s the cost of being a disciple. If God asked you today to sell everything and give the money to the poor, what would you struggle selling? That’s the barrier between you and a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Surrender doesn’t come natural to us, but I believe it’s something we can all get a little better at.

Here are some Bible verses on surrender.

1. For all who belong to me now belong to you. And all who belong to you now belong to me as well, and my glory is revealed through their surrendered lives.

John 17:10 TPT

2. When you live a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection. And complete satisfaction!

Proverbs 19:23 TPT

3. All who seek to live apart from me will lose it all. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life!

Matthew 10:39 TPT

4. Likewise, unless you surrender all to me, giving up all you possess, you cannot be one of my disciples.

Luke 14:33 TPT

5. (I use everyday language because of the weakness of your natural selves.) At one time you surrendered yourselves entirely as slaves to impurity and wickedness for wicked purposes. In the same way you must now surrender yourselves entirely as slaves of righteousness for holy purposes.

Romans 6:19 GNT

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Earning Heaven

In Mark 10, there’s a man who runs up to Jesus and asks, “What do I need to do to receive eternal life?” Jesus knew his heart, so He listed off the Ten Commandments and said to obey them. The man replies back, “I’ve kept those my whole life!” Then jesus changed things up in verse 21 and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me” (GNT). The man left upset because he wasn’t willing to do that.

I’m sure you’ve heard this story a hundred times, but I want us to look at it a little differently today. One of the things I notice is that this man wanted to know what he could do to receive eternal life. We have to be careful not to think our salvation is based on anything we do. Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” This Man was trying to figure out what boxes needed to be checked off to get to Heaven because he wanted man’s approval and not God’s.

We live in a performance based society. If you do certain things, you get promoted and make more money. We have to be very careful to not let that infect our faith. Jesus’ response to the man was reminding him, and us, that God looks at our heart, not at our works. We cannot earn salvation or favor with God By doing certain things. He loves us because of who we are. There’s nothing you or I can do to make Him love us more or less. If you are truly thankful in your heart for what Jesus did on the cross, it will show up in how you live your life.

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The Raccoon Trap

I’ve always heard that the best way to catch a raccoon is to create a trap with a shiny coin dangling, and then put a small hole in her side. A raccoon will reach in, grab the coin, and not be able to get his hand out because it’s in a fist. The simple way to get out is to let go, but the raccoon won’t because he wants the coin to badly. I’ve laughed at how stupid a raccoon must be, but then had to stop when the mirror was turned to me. 

Each time I hear the story of the raccoon, I wonder what things I’m holding on to that I need to let go of. There was a young man who approached Jesus in Mark 10, and he asked Him what he needed to do to get eternal life. Jesus rattled off several commandments, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother” (MSG). This got the young man excited because he had kept all of those. Just then, Jesus added one more to the list.

Jesus said, “There’s just one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor.” The young man’s face dropped, and he went away with a heavy heart. Verse 22 says, “He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.” He got caught in the raccoon trap. He was holding on to things God was asking Him to let go of. In the end, he lost it all because he couldn’t let go. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

What are you holding on to that God has asked you to let go of? It could be hurt, regret, pain, bitterness, or something physical that you own. Whatever it is, it’s best to let go of it before God pries it out. Don’t let those things trap you and keep you where you are. Release them, no matter how important they may seem. You’ll find that God’s freedom is greater than whatever you’re holding on to. I’ve also learned that I have to let go of things before God can give me new and better things. The choice is ours. What’s it going to be?

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One of my favorite games to play is chess. I learned to play it as a young child on my dad’s chess board. I learned what moves each piece can make. I learned how to strategize and to have patience. The lessons I learned playing it have drifted over into how I live my life. I look at decisions, weigh out the consequences and make the best choice based on what I think will happen in the future as a result of it. What works in chess and life though, doesn’t always translate well to the spiritual.

If you’re unfamiliar with chess, the entire front row is comprised of pawns. There are many of them, they can only move one space at a time and have to stay on their line. I am more than willing to sacrifice them and to put them out there to try to draw out my opponent’s key players. On the other hand, I see my queen as the most valuable player. She can move in any direction and as many spaces as she likes. I do everything I can to protect her.

In life, there are many things I’m willing to sacrifice like my pawns in chess. It’s no sacrifice really. I have plenty of whatever it is and I don’t see it as a loss when I lose them. It’s the key things in my life that I try to protect. I’m not willing to sacrifice them and give them to God. When I look at Abraham, he was willing to sacrifice Isaac. He put what was most precious to him out there to be taken. It doesn’t make sense in life or in chess, but He was rewarded for being willing to.

I look at my life and wonder if I’m being too careful with things that I think matter. Am I too willing to sacrifice the things that don’t matter to me and not willing enough to sacrifice the things that do? Jesus was in the habit of asking people to sacrifice what was most important to them. He asked the disciples to give up their sources of income to follow Him. He asked the rich young ruler to give up all the possessions he held so tightly to. He honored the widow who gave all she had in the offering.

If we really want to follow Christ, it means we are going to have to put ourselves in position to face checkmate. We are going to have to make the hard sacrifices, the ones we haven’t been willing to make. In return, He promises to give us more than we could ever ask or think. It’s time each of us stopped “sacrificing” things that don’t matter and started really sacrificing what does. Only then will we get a full revelation of who He is.


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Free To Fail

It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away an autographed copy of “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I heard something this week by Tullian Tchividjian, author of “One Way Love”, that challenged me. He said, “Because Jesus succeeded, you are free to fail.” Think about that for a second. Because Jesus was successful at the cross, you are free to fail. You don’t have to live a perfect life. Now before you start going nuts, I’m not saying you should go out and do whatever you want because He will forgive you. Paul addressed that in Romans 6:1-2 when he said, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”

What I’m saying is take the pressure off to constantly be perfect. You are an imperfect person who can’t live a perfect life. I know the pressure that comes from trying to live every day as perfectly as God described in scripture. I also think of three people who tried that as well. One was the Pharisees. They were so caught up in living by the law, that they couldn’t see when the law was fulfilled. They not only lived by the law, but they forced others to live by it as well. You don’t have to live by someone else’s personal convictions. Don’t live a life in sin, but also don’t live a life bound by so many rules you lose sight of the creator.

Another person that tried to live perfectly was the rich, young ruler. In Matthew 19:16, he asked Jesus, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life.” Jesus responded that he should keep the commandments. He looked at Jesus and said, “I’ve obeyed all those. What else do I need to do?” In verse 21 Jesus said, “If you want yo be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor… Then come and follow me.” He left sad because he had a lot of money and didn’t want to give that up. If you listened to his question, he thought doing good things got you in to Heaven. They don’t. Only the grace that Christ gives from His death on the cross can do that.

Finally, I think of Paul. In Philippians 3:3-4, he said, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could.” He goes on to say how strictly he lived according to the law more than anyone else, but then verses 7 and 9 come along. He said, “(7) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. (9) I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” There is nothing you can do to earn God’s love. So stop trying to live like you are earning His love and live a life out of love for Him.

When we grasp that, truly grasp that, the pressure of being perfect is lifted. There is freedom in being able to fail. I tell people all the time, “You learn the most when you fail.” I’ve got a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks. I’ve failed miserably in my life and have been embarrassed by it. I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus was. I don’t have to be successful because Jesus was. I don’t have to live up to the letter of the law because His grace makes up the difference between its standard and my failure. I am free to fail and so are you. Live in that freedom today. Be set free of trying to be perfect and let God’s grace make up the difference in your life.

If you would like to win “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (April 12, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.


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Being A Go Giver

Epaphroditus is one of the lesser known people mentioned in the Bible. He was barely mentioned at the end of Philippians 2. From what Paul tells us, we can tell that he was a former soldier possibly from the Praetorian Guard. We also know that he was a believer in Christ and a big help to Paul. We don’t know how he was saved or how he ended up in Philippi, but we know that he was willing to give his time, energy and life for the sake of Christ because verse 30 said he risked his life for the work of Christ.

He is a great example of giving for each one of us. We don’t have to have a lot in the bank to give something. We can be like the widow who gave her two mites in the offering. Jesus said she gave more than all the others. We can be like the churches in the New Testament who gave to the apostles as they spread the Gospel. Without their contributions, the Early Church wouldn’t have had the ability to spread like it did. We can be like Epaphroditus who gave of his time and talents to help others.

God isn’t so much concerned with how we give as He is with us just being givers. I heard a phrase yesterday that sparked something in me. It said, “We need to be go givers instead of go getters.” The world tells us to be go getters. “Take all you can, save up your money, get rich and live in luxury.” But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor and come follow me.” His point was that we shouldn’t be tied to earthly wealth. We shouldn’t store up everything only to make ourselves comfortable. We should be mindful of others and store up our treasures in Heaven.

I’m not saying that saving money is bad or even having a lot of money is bad. I believe God blesses each one of us according to our abilities and willingness to give. If you want more of what you have, give it away. If you want to know what it’s like to have the windows of Heaven opened up and blessings poured out that you can’t contain, then give. Give your time, your talents, your abilities, your money or whatever God asks you to give. He is interested in our ability to trust Him for our needs rather than for us to feel self sufficient in our own abilities to accumulate wealth or to develop talent that will get us where we want to go.

One of my favorite phrases from one of my favorite hymns says, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” God’s love for us outweighs anything we could ever do to repay Him. The least we can do is to give back to Him what He has blessed us with. For Epaphroditus, that was his life in service. For the widow, it was all the money she had. For the Early Church, it was their possessions. Each of us have a choice. We can be like the rich, young ruler and walk away sad because we’d rather be a go getter or we can choose to be a go giver. We can be someone who stores up treasures in Heaven through giving. What will you give to God today?


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Live Simply. Give Generously.

At the ReWrite Conference I attended this past weekend, Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom blog spoke. She shared lots of great insight into writing and growing an audience. While I took notes on all of it, one thing she said resonated with me and I’d put on a plaque if I could. She said, “Live simply so you can give generously.” Those words weren’t just a catch phrase from her either. She donated all the proceeds from her last book to build a shelter for 160 mother’s and children in the Dominican Republic.

It’s crazy how all the little things we spend money on add up each week, month and year. I think about a convenience store run I made this week for junk food. I walked out with a bag full of goodies and spent $12. Imagine if I did that once a week. That would be $48 a month or $624 a year. I could feed an orphan in Haiti 2 meals a day for almost two years with just what I spent on junk food in one year. What I spend on junk food in a week could feed that child something nutritious for almost two weeks.

I’m not living simply, I’m simply living. There are so many other ways to look at this. What about the time I spend in front of the TV or on a device playing games? I easily spend an hour a day doing that. What if I spent that hour investing in someone else’s life who needs a mentor? What kind of difference would that make in both of our lives? What if I spent it at the nursing home being a friend to the elderly who’s family rarely comes to see them? I wonder how our quality of life would improve. What if I volunteered as a Big Bother for a kid who needs guidance? If I was able to change the trajectory of one life, it would be worth it.

When I think of that phrase, I imagine so many possibilities. So many ways I could give generously. Then reality sets in. I don’t want to give up my Kit Kat and Coke. I love playing Minion Rush to give my mind a break. When the need for helping an orphan arises, I’ll say,”I can’t this month.” When someone needs my attention, I’ll say, “I don’t have time.” When an organization looks for volunteers, I’ll say, “I’m booked. Maybe next month.” It’s easier to live in abundance than it is to live simply. It’s easier to make an excuse than an effort. An orphan goes hungry. A kid grows up without a mentor they can look up to. Other’s lives are affected, but not mine.

I don’t want to affect my own life. I’m comfortable if I don’t think about the impact I could have on someone else if I could give generously. All of a sudden living simply is too hard. I’ll console myself that I go to church, put money in the offering plate and help out minimally. I’ll tell myself that I’m a good person and everything is fine. The truth is that I have RYRS. That’s Rich Young Ruler Syndrome. I tell God that I’ve kept His commandments since I was a child. When He asks me to live simply and give generously, I walk away sad because I have lots of things I’d rather not give up.

He asked me to come follow Him and instead I’m walking back into the life I told Him I was willing to give up. When push came to shove, I couldn’t do it. An orphan went hungry. A wayward child went to jail a few years later. Someone’s grandparent died alone. I had the power. I had the choice, but I walked away because I wasn’t willing to let go of the little things keeping me from living simply and giving generously. I wonder how that conversation will go when I stand before God and He asks what I did with what He supplied. How will your conversation with God go?



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Changing Routes

When I lived in the Middle East, the U.S. Embassy would often tell us to change our routines and the way we went to work. We were told to find a different path, go in at different times and to be unpredictable in our routes. It was easy to take my route to the church each day. I would ride my bike over the flyover, go up a few blocks, turn left for one block and then go right. I waved each morning to the men at the bakery. I said, “Good morning” in Arabic to the furniture makers. I nodded at the guards at the intersections. I was comfortable in that route.

I think we love routine because we feel there’s safety in it. We can do it without thinking and it’s easy. We see the same things each day and they become ordinary to us. Changing routes and routines throws everything off. There are new sites, new people, and new patterns that cause us to have to be alert and to pay attention. We as Christians should be doing this in our lives often. Not only will it give us a heightened awareness of what’s around us, it can increase our circle of influence.

I pray each day for God to open my eyes to see what He wants me to see, but I keep the same routine and wonder why I’m not seeing anything. Changing routines and routes in our lives changes our perspective. It forces us out of the mundane and into the extraordinary. It allows God to reveal things to us that we couldn’t see from our old perspective. It helps us to see other people who need our help that weren’t in our path before. It keeps our lives fresh.

I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. How can we expect God to move in our lives, open our eyes and change our perspective if we just keep doing the same old things over and over? We have to get out of what is familiar to us. We have to quit asking Him to put people in our path and start asking Him to put us in their path! If we want to grow, we have to be willing to change.

I’m not a person who likes change, but the company I work for believes in it and I’ve learned to adapt. Being comfortable doesn’t help you to be the best. It helps you fall into a false sense of security. It makes you think that what you’re doing is enough. The rich, young ruler who went to Christ was comfortable. He had kept all the commandments since he was a kid. He did what was right. Jesus asked Him to make a radical change to his routine and route. He couldn’t do it and walked away sad. He wanted different results while doing the same thing.

What routines and routes do you need to change? What is God asking you to do differently than you’ve always done? Are you asking Him to put people in your path or to put you in their path? Changing isn’t easy and doesn’t produce immediate results always. It isn’t comfortable so we typically run from it. Don’t be afraid to ask God what paths, routines and routes in your life you need to change. Once you ask, have the faith to make those changes so you don’t end up like the rich, young ruler.


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