July 28

Today's Bible Readings
     Judges 11:12-40
     Acts 15
     Jeremiah 24
     Mark 10
''Then Peter began to say to Him, 'See, we have left all and followed You'." (Mark 10:28)
            We discover later from the experiences of Peter that some of what he was saying here was lip service. It was as Peter matured and developed that he learned the real meaning of ''leaving all and following Jesus." It took some time, but Peter learned the discipline of total surrender.
            In the very next verse, Jesus explained the motivation of this discipline. He said it is ''. . .for My sake and the Gospel's." The surrender of our lives to the Lord Jesus should never be for the purpose of what we will get out of it. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. In the modem church, we have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him and not for God Himself. It is like saying, ''No, Lord, I don't want You, I want myself, but I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say this is what God has done for me." That will never work because genuine, total surrender is a personal, sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
            Our Lord was very stem about discipleship in Luke 14 when He made it clear that if we cannot put our relationship with Him above all others, then ''you cannot be My Disciples." We must beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
            Now, it is very important as you consider the discipline of surrender to realize that there is a high cost. In verse 32, we are told that as they followed Jesus, they were afraid. When you are surrendered to Him, you will enter into His sufferings and His challenges. There will be those times, as a surrendered believer, when you will experience disappointments and even dismay. It is then that you must learn the discipline of dismay. The danger is that we tend to look back on our times of obedience and on our past sacrifices to God in an effort to keep our enthusiasm for Him strong. But when the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy. This happened with Peter and it will happen to you.
            Prior to 1973, Islam was the official state religion of Syria. Since then, it has been a secular state with Islam recognized as the religion of the majority. There has been some measure of religious freedom since then; 90% of the population is Muslim. The major prayer focus should be that the Islamic people would be enlightened as to what a true Christian really is. May they see a holy lifestyle and radiant witness among the believers in Syria. Many Muslims are in daily contact with Christians, as are Syrian soldiers based in Lebanon. Conversions out of Islam are few but increasing. This is a vital time for Christians to be at their very best for Jesus in the Arab world, and particularly in Syria.
''PRIDE is to character, like the attic to the house - the highest part, and generally the most empty."