Yesterday I met with my teachers to continue our study on the “Essentials for Effective Prayer”. We have already covered several lessons and you can read them in the following links:
This lesson focuses on what it means to pledge allegiance to Christ and submit fully to the will of God. As we learn to pledge allegiance to Christ and fully submit to the will of God, the fruit of that will be our attitude of gratefulness. The lesson will focus on Christ’s teachings on allegiance and submission and then 2 examples of grateful people who submitted to the will of the Lord in their lives.
What kind of allegiance does Christ expect from His followers? Does He mention in His teachings or are we supposed to figure it out on our own, even make up different levels of allegiance? (as some do) I would like to examine the calling that Christ gives, the calling to anyone who will respond to follow Him. In that calling, we learn the type of allegiance necessary. In the Gospel of Mark 8:34, we find the calling that Christ gives to anyone who wants to follow Him. Jesus is teaching the crowds. His disciples, who have already chosen to follow Him, are with Him, learning how to call and make more disciples. Jesus gives a calling to anyone who can hear, that if they want to follow Him, there are three things that must take place.
- deny themselves – the verb used in the original Greek for deny is in the aorist tense. This means a completed action in the past with present consequences. For example, I was hit in the face by the ball 3 days ago and my eye is black. My eye has been suffering the consequences each moment from the action completed in the past. Jesus is telling His audience that they must make a one time choice to deny themselves. The consequences of that choice will be seen every moment of every day from the moment of the choice until eternity. The verb is in the middle voice. This means that the audience cannot deny themselves on their own. They need an outside source to act together with them to be able to deny themselves. God is the outside source whom allows us the ability to deny ourselves. On my own, I cannot deny myself. I have to have the power of God to help me.
- take up their cross – This is a common reference that all of Jesus’ audience would have immediately understood. The person who carried his cross was a criminal who had been caught and was standing before the judge for sentencing. He is condemned by the judge to die a tortuous death on a cross. He would have to carry the cross beam of the torture device from the place of sentencing to the place of execution. His will is gone. He only does as he is told. The rest of his life is the road to the place of execution. Jesus is giving His audience a radical calling. They must choose to die to their will, their hopes, their dreams, their desire etc. to everything in order to walk this road before them. The Greek verb is in the aorist tense. This means that at one point in time, the audience would make a choice to take a walk down this path. The voice is active. This means that they alone choose to do this. There is no outside source to help. This is total allegiance. This is not a simple calling. This is not “accepting Jesus into your heart”.
- follow Him – The final command given is the call to follow Him. While on this road, their one desire and main concern is to follow Jesus as He leads, where He leads, and when He leads. The verb is in the present tense. This means that moment by moment, day by day I make the conscience choice to follow Christ in every aspect of my life. The voice is active which means that I alone do it without an outside source of help. It does not just happen to me. I choose to do it.
Have you ever pledged this kind of allegiance to Jesus Christ? Can you be a Christian without actually pledging this kind of allegiance? Once you have made that choice, what are you supposed to do every day as you “follow Christ”? Let’s turn to what it means to be submissive to the will of God here on earth.
Jesus also teaches us what it means to submit to the will of God and what that looks like on a daily basis. Let’s turn to the famous “Sermon on the Mount” to see what He has to teach on submission to the will of God. Matthew 6:33 will be our starting place. Our daily job is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We live for His kingdom here on this earth and to establish what He has called us to do while on this earth. His last command before ascending to heaven to to tell His disciples to go and make more disciples. This is God’s will that I must make priority #1 every day of my life. This is what gets me out of bed every morning, not the fact that I have to go to work and make money so that I can pay my bills. My job that allows me to make money and pay bills is also an opportunity for me to make disciples of the people around me with whom I work. I am a disciple maker who happens to be a teacher/doctor/farmer/pastor/pilot etc. Is that the reason that you get out of bed every morning? If you have pledged your allegiance to Christ then this is how you submit to the will of the Lord. In order to get recalibrated every morning so that I can accomplish this task, Jesus tells us to feast on the Word of God in Matthew 4:4. We do not live on bread alone, but, just like we need physical food to survive, we also need spiritual food to survive and that food is found in God’s Word. This should be the first thing that we do every morning. When we feast on God’s Word, He sets our priorities for the day. We head out to work with the purpose of carrying out the will of God, to make disciples. Going back to the “Sermon on the Mount”, we discover that there will be fruit to this kind of submission to the will of God. The fruit is revealed in Matthew 7:18-27.
- Submission means doing the will of the Father, not just talking about the will of the Father.
- Submission means no longer practicing (habitual way of life) sin.
- Submission means hearing the Words of Christ.
- Submission means acting on the Words of Christ.
- The fruit of submission is wisdom.
As you can see, these “fruits” are all evident. When we pledge allegiance to Christ and submit to the will of God, this will be our lifestyle. This is what we produce and do as we follow Christ moment by moment, day by day. Is this fruit being produced in your life? Do you live to carry out the will of God in your daily life? Are you making disciples? Where does discipleship rank in your list of daily priorities? Do you feast on the Word of God daily? What gets you out of bed every morning?
I want to examine two people who pledged allegiance and submitted to the will of God in their daily lives. They are found in the Old Testament.
Daniel is our first example. He was raised by faithful parents who had taught him the Word of God. When Daniel was a teen, Jerusalem was destroyed and Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity. Even though Daniel was away from his parents, living in a pagan land, he held strong to his faith. He had pledged allegiance to God and was submissive to His will. While in Babylon, the king had a dream and wanted to know the interpretation of that dream. The great magicians and astrologists from Babylon could not do what the king requested. As a result, all of the wise men were about to be put to death by the king. Someone remembered Daniel and he was sent for and brought before the king with the same request. Daniel did not know the answer so he ran to God. The answered was revealed to Daniel and Daniel revealed to the king that the God whom he serves revealed the answer. Daniel writes a prayer to the Lord to teach others who God is and what He has done. In this prayer, found in Daniel 2:19-23, we discover Daniel’s attitude of gratefulness. He gives credit to God as he glorifies God privately and publicly. We see the outflow of allegiance and submission; gratitude. Are you a grateful person? Do you show your gratefulness to God? Do you express your gratefulness to others?
David is our second example. In Psalm 100:1-4 and in Psalm 118:1-9, David, a man who had pledged allegiance to God and submitted to the will of God in his life, also writes prayers to God to teach others how to show their gratitude. We have much to learn from him. In essence, David tells us to manifest our gratitude in word, in song, in deed, in attitude, in everything that we do and say. Do you have an attitude of gratitude? Do you share about God’s goodness in a grateful way every chance that you get?
May the Lord bless us as we pledge our total allegiance to Christ, submit to the will of God in our daily lives, and live lives of gratitude each and every day!