Have You Surrendered?

surrender31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:31-33).

Many people are fighting a war of resistance against the kingdom of God. They are attracted to the Lord Jesus and His call on their lives, but there is something within them that wants to keep distance between them and God. Many are afraid of the changes that becoming a Christian will cause. Yes, there will be changes in your life when you surrender to the King of Kings. But what is the alternative? Do you wish for your life to continue the way it has been? It is time to sit down and think through your options. There is only one option. The option of surrender! How long are you going to keep fighting against King Jesus? What are the terms of surrender that He asks? An unconditional surrender is what is needed! You must give up everything you have to Him to be all that you can be in Christ. Only when you surrender completely all that you are and all that you have can He begin to work in your life to transform you into His image.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

During the latter stages of the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was told by his commander to fight a guerilla campaign against American forces on the island of Lubang in the Philippines His name was Hiroo Onoda and his commander’s strict orders was that he was forbidden to die by his own hand and they were to continue the fight until Japanese forces were to come back for him. When the island fell to the Americans, he kept to his orders and carried on fighting with three other soldiers. They survived by eating coconuts and green bananas that grew naturally in the jungle.

Occasionally they would come out of hiding, killing one of the local villager’s cows for meat. It was at one such time that they found a note left by a local resident, appealing them to come and surrender for the war had come to an end two years ago. The soldiers took it to be a clever propaganda trick to draw them out of the jungle to capture them. They received the truth that the world was at peace with mistrust and unbelief. They carried on killing and wounding the islanders whom they saw as the enemy. In September of 1949, four years after the war had finished, one of the soldiers, without a word to the others, sneaked off during the night and surrendered. The remaining three felt that he was weak willed and coerced by the ‘enemy.’ They continued their guerrilla attacks for another three years until Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. He died at the age of 40 years old. For nineteen years Onoda and the remaining other soldier, Kozuka, carried on the fight, refusing to surrender. They felt that the Japanese Army would return as they had been promised and recapture the island. Nineteen years after the death of Shimada, in October of 1972, 51 year old Kozuka was killed by a Filipino police patrol, ending his guerrilla war of 27 years. Lieutenant Onoda carried on the fight on his own, refusing every bit of information that came his way that the war was over and that he should surrender. The Japanese authorities sent out search parties but he evaded them all. In 1974, Norio Suzuki, a Japanese college student, managed to track him down. Still Onoda would not surrender, explaining that he would only surrender to his old commander, Major Taniguchi, who had given him orders to fight on and never surrender. Major Taniguchi himself went to Penang and told him that Japan had surrendered many years previously and that it was futile to carry on fighting. When the reality of the truth sunk home that peace had come and that he had been deceived into fighting a war that was over, he broke down weeping. He formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974. He was pardoned for the crimes he had committed under the false belief that the war was still being fought and that he should never surrender. He returned to Japan to receive a hero’s welcome. His memoirs were entitled, “No Surrender: My Thirty Year War.”

Lieutenant Onoda fought gallantly but for a misplaced cause. In his 30-year war, he killed 30 individuals and wounded over a hundred people. If only he would have listened. If only his countrymen from Japan would have gone earlier to find him, so many families would not have been in mourning. Much pain was endured because He did not surrender. How about you? How much pain has been endured in your family because you have been unwilling to surrender to Christ? Can you hear the call to surrender? If so, today is your day to surrender fully to His grace.

Keith Thomas

Ask for Whatever You Want Me to Give You

imagesKing Solomon was just a young man when he was anointed King over all Israel. Soon after becoming king, God tested his inner motives by offering to give King Solomon whatever he wanted, it was his choice, and nothing was off the table. God said to him:

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5).

Solomon responded correctly to the test. Because of the weight of the responsibility that was on his shoulders, and because of his youth and inexperience at leading a nation of five or six million people, he asked God for the gift of wisdom that he could govern correctly and distinguish between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:9). God was pleased at the motive that issued from the young man’s heart. Because he didn’t ask for the death of his enemies or wealth for himself, God not only gave him his hearts desire but also riches and honor more than any other man before him or after him.

If the God of the universe came to you today and asked you what one thing you wanted, what would you ask for? Be careful how you respond—for He is listening! Surely you would think hard and carefully if God made such an offer to you. Maybe you are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Maybe you are from a poor family and your aged parents are looking to you to provide for them. The weight of the responsibility hangs heavy on you—what should you ask for? Maybe you have been through hard, difficult times and you would like life to be easier, different, and more meaningful. Perhaps what you do in life gives you the feeling that you are making no difference with what you do every day—is there anything more discouraging? I had years as a commercial fisherman where I cried out to God for Him to use me.  Day after day I was out at sea not making a difference in anyone’s life, for it was just my father and I alone on our boat. But there came a day when God called me from my nets to cast out His nets. Don’t despise the day of small things when God is teaching you in the waiting time. The time at sea was spent in many hours of reading and meditating on the Bible. When I look back I see that I was being trained for what I am doing now. It was the small things and a correct heart attitude that led me to now work with my other Father with His nets.

“Who dares despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).

When I look back on a full life of serving my Lord for 39 years now, some of my best times of intimacy with Christ were out on the North Sea off the coast of England alone with my father and my Lord. It was the testing time when God was working on the inside of my heart to prepare me for what I am doing now, writing words that reach your heart—I trust God inspired words.

I put it to you that the greatest need of every man, woman and child on planet earth is to be right with God through faith in Christ. This is what God would have you ask Him for.

28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29).

God wants for you to ask Him for the gift that He so freely wants to give you—the gift of eternal life in Christ His Son. There is no work to be done. It is the finished work of Christ that satisfies the Father’s justice. If you ask for this, just like Solomon, you will get everything else too!

32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).

Keith Thomas

Jesus, Son of David, Have Mercy on me!

Harold_Copping_The_Healing_of_the_Blind_Bartimaeus_7001eef83446Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road (Luke 18:46-52).

As Jesus approaches the city of Jericho, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting beside the road in a place that was strategic for begging. With the popularity of Jesus being what it was, a great crowd of people were traveling with Him. It is possible that because of the crowd Jesus did not even see the blind beggar; His focus may have been on His teaching while walking. It is also possible that Christ did see the blind beggar but chose to wait until there was an expression of His faith. I wonder how many times it is that Jesus has passed us by because we have not cried out to Him in our need.

When Bartimaeus heard the commotion of a large band of people passing by, he inquired who it was. He must have heard testimony about Jesus at some time because when he was told it was Jesus of Nazareth, his response was to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Notice that he did not call him Jesus of Nazareth. Son of David was a title for the Messiah (Messiah is the Hebrew word for Christ; it means God’s Anointed One). Mark in his narrative tells us that all he had in his possession was a cloak. He also adds that when Jesus called him, he threw his cloak aside, jumped to his feet and came to Jesus:

49Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus (Mark 10:50).

He may have been homeless and it is possible that his cloak was his evening blanket. Faith and desperation rose up within him as he shouted out to Jesus. Some on the outskirts of the crowd could not hear the master teach over the beggar’s shouting. They rebuked him and told him to be quiet, possibly because they thought he was begging money from Jesus.

Those around Christ could not keep Bartimaeus quiet. A different Greek word is used the second time, in verse 39 it is translated: “he shouted all the more,” the Greek word used is krazō, which means to scream or shriek.[1] The tense of the original Greek language brings out the fact that he kept on shouting and screaming. He would not shut up! The picture we get is of a man going crazy with emotion. There is desperation behind Bartimaeus’ voice. If ever there was a picture of one who sought for Christ with all his heart this was it. Bartimaeus had this one opportunity and he was not going to let Jesus go by without doing all in his power to get his need met.

Leonard Ravenhill, the Bible teacher, once said: “God doesn’t answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer!” I’m not sure I completely agree with that statement, but there is a truth that is worth extracting from the quote. Desperate prayer touches the compassionate heart of God. We see example after example in the Gospels of desperate people getting their need met by Jesus.

Mark, in his Gospel, indicates that this happened as Jesus and the crowd was leaving the city (Mark 10:46). Whatever the reason for the discrepancy, it is a beautiful thought that even though Christ was on His way up to Jerusalem to be crucified, He had time to stop and call Bartimaeus, asking him what he wanted from Him. Whatever He was teaching while walking, it was forgotten due to a persons need. Don’t ever think that Jesus does not have time for you in your need. He cares and will hear your cry if you will seek Him with all your heart. The cloak was thrown aside. He did not have another concern about that cloak. Perhaps it represented to him his old tattered life; Christ was now his only concern.

Because he was blind, people led him to Jesus. It was pretty obvious what his need was, so why did Jesus ask him what he wanted? Often Christ waits for us to put into words exactly what we want. He is looking to see how much of our heart is in what we desire Him to do for us. Our heart must be in what we pray for. How much of yourself goes into your prayer life? Fervency of heart is something that Bartimaeus had. The Greek word translated fervent is energeō. We get the English word energy from this Greek word. Bartimaeus’ heart was in his approach and plea to Christ. It was filled with energy or fervency. The ability to call and not be put off by distractions, people, and things is most important in a prayer life that is effective. Jesus found a man in great need and He would not pass by. When the man voiced his need to the Lord, the immediate words were: “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” (Verse 42).

What did Christ see Bartimaeus doing that was an expression of his faith? Bartimaeus had never seen Christ; all that he learned about Christ was due to the testimony of others. When people told him: “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you” (Mark 10:49), he believed their testimony, abandoned his cloak, and men led him to Christ. His faith was expressed not only through his actions by coming to Christ, but also by his ability to not be put off without getting his need met. There was a mixture of faith in his words, his acts, and his passion or fervency. No wonder he followed Jesus, praising God. Who wouldn’t?

Can you see Him with the eyes of faith today? He is very much alive and close to all who are hurting and in need a Savior. All He waits for is your heart felt call, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Would you tell Him your need today? He hasn’t changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). What He did for Bartimaeus, He can do for you. When Jesus had finished saying the words “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” the blind man’s eyes were opened to see…The Savior of the World, Jesus, God in the flesh! Wouldn’t that be awesome! One day, these eyes of flesh will close for the last time, and spiritual eyes will open to the same sight, Jesus the Christ. I hope you know Him! We will gaze on His loveliness and majesty, and all the pain of this life will be gone. What an awesome day that will be!

Keith Thomas

[1] e.Sword.com

Sundar Singh’s Miraculous Release from Prison

de932e7bb6547ac87f4dcbc4884b3d28Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Paul writes to the church at Corinth that they should give themselves fully to the work of the Lord. What is meant by the work of the Lord? It is the stewardship of the gospel—the most powerful thing on planet Earth! If we had discovered a cure for cancer, there would be a responsibility to get it to the world to save lives. We have a cure for the cancer of the spirit—the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cure for the disease of sin that ravages our planet. The propagation or furtherance of the gospel and the edifying (building up spiritually) of the saints (the people of God) is the most important work of the Lord in the world.

We have been thinking in the last few days about the life of Sadhu Sundar Singh, the godly Indian Christian. This is what Sadhu Sundar Singh gave the rest of his life for—the furtherance of the gospel. He crossed the Himalayan Mountains often from India into Tibet, called by many the Roof of the World because of its altitude, to share the gospel with the Tibetan people. God was with him as he would go into the market places of Tibet and just start preaching the gospel to the poor.

On one occasion, in a Tibetan town called Rasa, he was arrested for preaching a foreign religion. He was sentenced to death by being thrown into a pit, the bottom of which was covered with dead men’s bones and rotting flesh. The stench was overwhelming. He had come alone and was in a country where he was unknown so there was no possibility of help from any human source. He was in that pit for two days, suffering painfully with a wrenched arm from when he was thrown in. On the third night, he heard a noise from above, the cover of the well was being unlocked and lifted off. A rope came down and a voice told him to slip the noose under his arms, upon doing so he was slowly drawn up to the top. As he breathed in the fresh air he was strangely revived and the pain in his arm had gone. On top of that, his rescuer had disappeared. You’d think that Sundar Singh would have left Tibet at being released from death, but no, not this man of God. He went back into the village and started preaching at the market again! He was arrested again and brought before the head lama, the religious leader of the village. The man wanted to know who had stolen the only key to let him out. A search was made for the key only for it to be found still on the head lama’s belt. This was alarming to the head lama; some superior power was evidently at work. There was spiritual power accompanying Sundar Singh’s message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gave no further order for Sundar to be arrested but asked him to leave the village. Sundar had no option but to leave and come back at a later date.

We need the power of God to be working with us as we communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that, like Sundar Singh, we will share the gospel of God, no matter what it costs.

Keith Thomas

Taken from Phyllis Thompson’s book, Sadhu Sundar Singh, published by OM Publishing, Page 76.

What Does Your Faith in Christ Cost You?

SadhuSundarSinghIf you would walk a godly life in Christ Jesus there will be a cost. Many of us in the West have known little cost to taking the path of discipleship. But if we are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus, there will be times of challenge to our faith. The Lord, the Vinedresser of His vineyard will make it so:

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).

Your faith will be challenged. Ask God for sensitivity so that you will know and realize the challenge when it comes. The challenge will be for you to compromise and take a side path rather than the highway of holiness to God.

When Sadhu Sundar Singh of India was converted to Christ from his family religion of Sikhism, he was immediately challenged to compromise and leave the path of faith in Christ. When he told his father of his having seen Jesus Christ, his father said, “don’t bring disgrace on your family by joining those dirty outcastes,” referring to the fact that the gospel had taken hold among the lower caste system in India. The local Christians were mostly of the sweeper castes that did all the dirty work in the village. How could Sundar bring such shame to his family by becoming one of them? His friends in the gang that he was a part of, threw muck at him and rejected him from the group. He no longer could eat meals with his family and was told to eat outside.

After all kinds of pressure on him to abandon his faith, his uncle took him down into a deep cellar, and opened an iron box filled with money and precious jewels. His uncle promised that it would all be Sundar’s, if only he would abandon his faith in Christ and return to the religion of his family. Sundar refused to abandon Christ. He knew he had to do something that would release him from these daily trials and attacks to turn him from the faith. One day, he went out and cut off all his hair. To a Sikh in the Punjab region of India, long hair was the chief of the Five Signs, his glory, the Kev which he wore tied in a knob at the top of his head.

The shock and horror of his family at this act knew no bounds. His father ordered him out of the family. He had to sleep the night under a tree. He knew he had to leave, but before he left, his sister-in-law, unsmiling, put some food out under the verandah, the place where outcastes were allowed to eat, and indicated that it was for him. After eating the food he left to see a local Presbyterian pastor. When he got there he began to have violent spasms of pain. He had been poisoned by his family! Later he found out that his only Christian friend, one that had also been converted from Sikhism, had also been poisoned and had died. The doctor came quickly but said that the amount of poison he had could not be stopped. He left him to die. The doctor could do nothing. Sundar turned to the scriptures and read aloud the passage:

17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).

The next morning, to the doctor’s amazement, Sundar was completely well. The Lord had healed him. The doctor, for the first time, read the New Testament and a complete turn around came to him from that point.

For Sundar, this time was full of joy at the working of the Lord in his life. The peace of Christ was with him and he was free of religion full of ritual to a true relationship with Christ. How about you, dear reader, is your relationship with God something real? Get the real thing—faith in Christ.

Keith Thomas