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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Priscilla Shirer » Priscilla Shirer - Surrender Yourself for More

Priscilla Shirer - Surrender Yourself for More

Priscilla Shirer - Surrender Yourself for More

I am the second of four children and my siblings and I all went to this little private school that was around the corner from our house growing up. It was called Brook Hollow Christian School. And kindergarten through about eighth grade or so, we went to this little school. It was a very conservative Christian school where they didn't allow you to wear pants to this school. You had to wear a skirt. And it was back in the day where the skirt better not be below the hem line of your fingertips. They would measure it to make sure that it was the exact length that it needed to be. It was serious business. Which also meant that our teachers didn't wear pants. They wore skirts as well. And I remember every single one of my teachers from every year, I was endeared to them and them to me, the classes were quite small, so we got to know each other very well.

Ms. Wright was my second grade teacher. I loved Ms. Wright. And I can still see her clearly in my mind's eye. To me, as an eight-year-old in the second grade, she seemed to only have three skirts that she owned. They were in constant rotation. It was a black one, a navy one, and a cream colored one. She seemed to have several different blouses she would pair with these three skirts and they were about ankle length, all of them, or mid-calf length, and they were kind of folded and had ruffles and folds in them. When she walked past the desk, I can hear it, swish, swish, swish. She had dark black hair. The only daring that she ever took with her makeup I recall was that she had eyeliner that was dark black and it was kind of wedged up on the side so that she had that enchanting cat eye look. I was so drawn to the beauty of Ms. Wright.

And man, yeah, that hair, that was back in the day where women used to roller set their hair. Where with that wet hair, you put it on those hard rollers and then you sat underneath the dryer for an hour or more and she would come into class and for the entire week she had that helmet of hair, on her head and she cemented it. And I mean cemented it with hairspray. It was so thickly put on her hair that I remember as she'd walked throughout the classroom, the lights would catch the film of hairspray that was on the top of her hair. That was Ms. Wright of the second grade.

And I remember that to me and my friends, this was the only dimension of her that actually existed. Maybe you remember feeling that way about your teachers. It never occurred to you they have a life. Like it never occurred to you that they did other things other than stand in this classroom, in that skirt, in front of that black board with that chalk in their hands with the helmet on their head and teach this particular class. Which is why one particular day I was completely shocked when on this hot Texas Saturday, I went grocery shopping with my mom and I was standing there queuing up in the checkout line, scanning all the forbidden candies that were there on the racks, trying to figure out which one I was gonna beg my mom to get me on this particular occasion, when I looked over the top rack and saw Ms. Wright standing in the next line.

I was completely frozen in shock because this is the first time it occurred to me that she did other things other than teach the second grade. There she was standing there and her hair was not in the same style it was always in, it was kind of hanging loosely and romantically around her shoulders. And I remember she just had on a very light little plastering of blush on her cheeks. The eyeliner was not there. I had never seen her like this and she had on shorts. What I'm saying to you is I didn't know Ms. Wright had legs. I was completely dumbfounded as I stared at her, she was standing next to a man, I assumed to be her husband, standing next to a young boy that I assumed to be her son. She had a family and she had knees and apparently she went grocery shopping on Saturdays! It had never occurred to me that she had more to her beyond the one dimension in which I was used to seeing her.

I had relegated her to this little box and it occurred to me through the years, and by the way, in the 40 years that have passed since then, I don't remember if I even said anything to her because I was dumbfounded at the fact that I was seeing her and her knees! And if somebody had asked me or any of my fellow classmates at the time, "Who do you say Ms. Wright is"? We would've said she's a good teacher. We would've said that's all she is! She's a good teacher. We would've put her in that one box. And by putting her in that box, it didn't limit her life. She still went to brunch on Sundays and went to church and took walks with friends and went grocery shops. She had a life. It didn't limit her. The box just limited my relationship with her.

It limited my experience of her, my expectation of her, my encounters of her were limited because I didn't know and understand and have an awareness of the full scope of who this woman was. Which is why one of the most poignant and powerful and necessary questions that Jesus asks in the New Testament is the same question that He's getting ready to ask you today. Because in Luke 9:18 and 19 and 20, He looks at His disciples and He says, "Who do you say that I am"? It's a necessary question for you to consider. Because most often we have this tendency where we've put God in a box that matches up with our experience or it matches up with the denomination we grew up in, or it matches up with the traditions of our family line where we've come from, what our mama and grandmama and them said that Jesus was.

Maybe what the culture around you is declaring that Jesus is. But Jesus asked the 12 disciples in the New Testament, y'all, and He asks us today so that we can consider for ourselves, who do you say that Jesus is? The reason why this question is going to be so important in Luke chapter nine for these 12 disciples that are following closely with Jesus. The reason why it's gonna matter so much is because in verse 23 of Luke chapter nine, He is about to give them one of the most stunning and staggering invitations that they will ever receive. That we will ever receive. He's going to invite them to be disciples. They're already believers, but He's getting ready to invite them to surrender all.

And here's what He's gonna say to them in Luke 9:23. "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to gain his life is actually gonna have to lose it. And whoever is going to find his life is going to lose it for my sake, for what does it profit a man who gains the whole wide world but loses his soul"? He's gonna offer an invitation to discipleship to these 12. But before the invitation, He asks them a question about His identity. Identity first, invitation later. Because think about the gravity and the weightiness of the descriptive words that Jesus uses to describe discipleship here. He says things like, deny, cross, lose, follow me.

Y'all think of how sobering these terms actually are that remind us that actually surrendering all, actually being the kind of disciple that Jesus describes here, it really does require and necessitate a solid divorce from much of what society and even the Christian culture has begun to purport and promote that following Jesus actually looks like. It flies in the face of a self-focused faith that celebrates excess and hustle and a life of ease and comfort as being the mark of what divine favor is on somebody's life. It's going to demand that we reorient the compass of all our religious activity back in the direction of virtues that have been lost, like simplicity and discipline and obedience and holiness, and the restraint that the spirit of God develops within us. It reminds us that we're going to have to recalibrate and reckon with what it actually means to surrender all, to follow Jesus fully and completely.

'Cause y'all, there are many people who have placed faith in Him, but there are much fewer who have actually decided to follow Him, to walk in step with Him. And the question we've gotta ask ourselves, honestly and truthfully, is will we pursue and surrender to this discipleship? Christ's definition of discipleship? Or are we actually going to create our own definition that coddles our flesh and esteems this earth more highly than the kingdom of heaven? But know on this occasion right here, when Jesus describes what it means to surrender all, He cuts the legs out from underneath the modernized, politicized, cliche version of discipleship that we've seen bubbling up to the surface. And He defines what it actually means to follow Him, to live in step with Him, to walk with Him, to surrender to Him. He makes it plain and clear on this day that it looks more like selflessness than it does selfishness.

That actually, it actually requires that we trust Him with our lives, with our futures. It means that we're more interested in being marked by the Holy Spirit than marketing ourselves. That we trust Him and surrender all to Him. And for that kind of invitation, like to really be willing to surrender all, we gonna have to know who Jesus is. Because why would we surrender our lives to somebody who's just a good teacher? Why would we surrender to somebody unless we actually believe that He is who He said He is? That He actually did redeem us, that He actually did pay a debt that we could not pay on our own. That apart from the gracious gift of salvation, we would be separated from God for eternity and find ourselves in the pit of hell if we really don't believe it, that we won't actually follow Him and surrender all.

So He deals with his identity first before the invitation. Our willingness to surrender fully and completely to Him demands that we ask ourselves the question, "Who do we say Jesus is"? I remember about two decades ago, long time ago, I had the opportunity to speak in upstate New York. And I was there with three other women who were gonna be ministering at this women's conference. We all flew in around the same time. And then one of the women from this particular conference that was on the board, she came in this little minivan to pick us up and to take us to what we thought was gonna be the hotel where we were going to be staying for this particular event. And as we all got our bags and got into the car, she, with a bright, bubbly smile on her face as we began driving, she started telling us that we actually weren't going to a hotel, that we were gonna be staying in the home of another woman who was on the board of this ministry that graciously had opened her home to us to stay with her for those two or three nights that we were gonna be in town.

So we were going to a woman's home. And I remember feeling all of us feeling grateful and excited to be able to be welcomed to this woman's home. But we were also a little bit concerned. Because you don't really know if the cat sleeps in the same bed they're gonna put you in. You're not sure if the guinea pigs are allowed to walk on the kitchen counters. You're just not always sure what you're getting yourself into. And so we were kind of just bracing ourselves for wherever we were going. On the drive, the lady told us that this woman had a beautiful home. She said, "You guys are gonna be so comfortable. I'm so glad that she's letting you come into her home".

So we were just kind of getting more and more excited as she talked about it. But we could not have prepared ourselves for where we ended up. We drove down this beautiful winding street once we got off the freeway. And we came to a gate with a huge fence line that seemed to go as far as I could see to the left or the right. We were now very, very eager to see what in the world was behind this gate. When the gate finally opened, there was a long winding driveway with huge oak trees that were on either side of this driveway. We couldn't even see the home when the gate opened because the property itself was so vast and so plush and so gorgeous. Our mouths were agape, our eyes wide open, because we could not believe that this place was the place where we were going to be staying. We asked her again, "Are you sure this is not a hotel"? She said, "No, this is a residential property".

We drove down this winding driveway and finally the landscape revealed a home. I have never in the 20 years since then, seen anything comparable to what I saw on that day. I would later find out this home was 20,000 square feet. We drove up underneath the porte-cochere where the car went under to let us into the front door. We were all stunned and grabbed our bags and sort of staggered out of the car, eager to get inside to see what in the world you put in a 20,000 square foot house. So you know how you're trying to act cool and collected, but really you're like, "I can't wait to get in here and see what's going on up in this house".

That's how we felt that day. The front door opened and this slight woman, small woman came to the door, rosy cheeks, a big beautiful endearing smile on her face. She welcomed us into her home and we stepped into the foyer of her home and it was outstanding. It took our breath away. There was a foyer that we were standing in right at the edge of the door. And you could see straight through to the living room where there were beautiful floor to ceiling windows that shone out to the back of her property where there was more land and acreage and beautiful trees. It was absolutely staggering. We were just about to take our first step with our bags in tow into her lobby, I would say, of the front of her home. And she said, "Oh, oh, oh, do you just, do you guys mind taking your shoes off? Because we don't actually walk with shoes around the house".

And so we took our shoes off, and didn't mind at all, because if I had a 20,000 square foot house, I can assure you, y'all would be taking y'all shoes off. So we took our shoes off and we began to make our way in. Well, right in the center of the lobby of her home, there was a beautiful European woven rug. So we're just about to walk onto the rug 'cause that's what you do. And she said, "Oh, oh, oh, just, I'm sorry, one second. This rug was imported from some place in Europe and it was very expensive. So we don't actually walk on this rug, we just kind of walk around the sides of it". So now we have our bags, we are barefoot, and we are walking around the margins of the rug. Seriously being careful not to touch the rug that was in the middle of the floor. And this wasn't like a two by three rug. It's a huge rug that's in the middle of the floor.

So we get around it, now we are standing inside the living area, and she began to point out different things and just welcome us into her home. She was such a gracious lady and she was pointing to different things. Took us through the living room towards those windows. We made a sharp left so that she could take us down the hallway to the elevator that was gonna take us to the third floor where the bedrooms were. So we've got our bags now, we are tiptoeing through the house, making sure not to touch anything. And now we're about to step onto the elevator. We were in complete disbelief. And just as we were stepping onto the elevator, she said, "Oh, oh, oh".

So the walls in the elevator were slats of beautifully burnished carved pieces of wood. And she said, these slats of wood that had these beautiful carved creations in them, she said they were specifically made for the elevator and they were imported from a province in India, and they're very expensive. So we wanna make sure we don't ever chip the wood that's on the walls, 'cause we don't even know how we would begin to get it fixed. So if you could keep your bags tucked in really closely, that would be helpful. So I kid you not, y'all, we are barefoot, tiptoeing through the house with our bags like this. We get up to the third floor. There are four beautiful bedrooms. Each one of us had our own bedroom. To me, they looked like master suites. They were big, beautiful, spacious rooms. The beds were king-sized beds with beautiful comforters that were laid on top of them. And we've been traveling all day long.

For me, from Texas, all the way to upstate New York. It had been a long day and I kind of set my stuff down and was just about to take a seat on top of that bed with that big beautiful comforter. And she said, "Oh, oh, oh! We don't actually use the comforters. They're actually just here for decoration". And even as she said it, she was already pulling it off the bed and folding it up and tucking it away and putting it inside the closet. She did that in each of the bedrooms. And when she was done sort of settling us in, she stood in the middle of the hallway in between the rooms and she just said, "I'm so glad y'all are here. Make yourself at home"! She didn't mean that. She said it, but she meant in theory, make yourself at home. And this is what we say to the Lord.

We say, "Come on in, make yourself at home. But ooh, oh Lord, there's this part that I treasure right here, this entertainment choice. There's a relationship that I have. There is a habit, there is a dream, there is an aspiration. And Lord, you can come on in, but don't touch that Lord. Don't renovate that part. Don't recalibrate that. Don't redecorate that. Don't realign that Lord, make yourself at home. But in theory, Lord, not fully and completely". He says to the disciples then and to the disciples today, will you say, make yourself at home to me and actually mean it? That every single part of our lives, we will give Him full and complete access to, who do you say I am? I'm either just a good teacher or I am master and Lord. You either relegate me to the Sunday part of your life or you welcome me into the Monday through Saturday part of your life.

That it's not just for a meeting and a greeting on a Sunday, but know it's in your decision-making on Monday and your relationship choices on Tuesday and your financial decisions on Wednesday and your political preferences on Thursday and your inner entertainment choices on Fridays and Saturdays that every part of our lives are fully, completely surrendered to Him and to Him alone. I am who I say I am. I'm not just a good teacher. I paid too high a price to be relegated to a box like that. And so Luke's gospel, when you take time to go through it, you actually see that chapters one through eight, y'all, are really just a buildup to this question in chapter nine. That right here in this short little pocket of scripture that we've read, where He asks the disciples, "Who do you say I am"?

And then gives them this invitation to discipleship. The lead up to it has already been happening all throughout Luke one, all the way through chapter eight, where he's been introducing himself, trying to get them to understand that He wasn't just a good man, that He wasn't just someone of whom the prophet spoke, that He wasn't just another religious leader like they had seen before. But every aspect of every description that Luke gives us of what Jesus did, the miracles that He pronounced upon people, of every message that He spoke, was designed to show His distinctiveness, to authenticate His messiahship, to introduce the fullness of His identity to these 12, so that when they were asked the question, they would have a full description of who it was that Jesus is. And so in chapter one, we discover that no, He was not just an average kid in chapter one and two, but He was a boy in the temple who wasn't just lost and playing games. He was in His father's house and He was about His father's business.

And then in Luke chapter three, no, He was not just a man being baptized by John the Baptist, but He was the one upon whom the spirit descended like a dove. And a voice came from the heavens, saying this, this one is my son, in whom I am well pleased. And no, He wasn't just a man fasting in the wilderness. He was the one upon whom the redemption of all humanity rested. The one of whom the prophets testified, the anointed one who had come to preach good news to the poor and to proclaim release to the captives. And no, He wasn't just a helpless bystander, hearing about and becoming overwhelmed by people's sickness and their lack. He was the architect of the universe, able to heal and restore and to banish demons back to hell. He was the one who could look at the winds and the waves and say, "Peace be still".

And all of creation obeyed Him. He wasn't just another religious leader, a mere teacher of the law. He was the fulfillment of it. He had come to inaugurate it. He was the one that when He opened up his mouth, He spoke with such authority that people who had heard good preaching before realized there was something different about this man. That He wasn't like the Pharisees in the Sadducees and the religious leaders of the day. They realized there was an authority dripping off of every word. And so wherever Jesus was, a crowd followed, because even if they weren't quite sure about this whole messiah business, they didn't quite yet believe that He was who He said He was, that the kingdom of God was actually at hand.

What they did know was that when this guy showed up, blind people could see. That's what they were sure of. They knew that when Jesus showed up, deaf ears could hear and the blind were able to see and the lame could walk and the dead were being raised. They knew that people's lives were transformed everywhere that He was. And so wherever Jesus went, in the book of Luke, you'll see multitudes followed. Thousands came to be around Jesus in hopes that they could be like that woman with the issue of blood who elbowed her way, forced her way through the crowd and got close enough, where she could reach out and touch the hem of His garment. She didn't even have to touch Him. Just touching the hem of His garment, changed the course of her life. And they wanted to be like that woman who was in proximity. They just wanted to be in proximity of Jesus.

And so there were hordes of people that were always around Him. Which is why before he asked the 12, "Who do you say that I am"? A couple of verses earlier in verse 18 of Luke chapter nine, He'd asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am"? 'Cause they always here, they're always in close proximity. They're always marveling about what it is that I do. But I have a question, "What do they say about my identity"? Because it is possible to be a fan and not be a follower. And I fear y'all, particularly in the western part of the world, in which you and I live, that we have hordes of people who have gotten enamored with production.

That were fans of the business of Christianity, that were enamored, that our ears maybe are being tickled, that we've seen what it is that Jesus can do in the testimony of other people that maybe we come to church because our mama and grandmama and them said, "That's what we're supposed to do". That it's just become a part of the rhythm that our friends are going to see this Jesus, so we go too, and maybe we read a verse a day to keep the devil away because that's just what we're supposed to do. It's part of the checklist. We're part of the multitudes that are just coming because it's what the culture does. But there is a difference between the fans and the followers. And we have to decide whether or not we're going to surrender all to Jesus or just stand on the sidelines, being enamored by Him.

And so He says to the disciples, "Who do the multitude say that I am"? And they give Jesus a great compliment. They say, "Some say you're like John the Baptist, and there are others that say you're like Elijah". And these would be great compliments to any regular man. Being compared to these great revered names of old. But for Jesus, it's an insult. Because to even put Him in the same category as other people is an insult. Because He is not just y'all a bigger version of us. He's not just a better version of us. He is in a class and a category all by Himself. He is without comparison. And He is absolutely and completely without counterparts. He is completely a singular being all by Himself. He cannot be compared.

And so they thought they were complimenting Him, but really their compliment had embedded within it the biggest insult of all. That Jesus is in a class all by Himself. And until you and I do business with His identity, in fact, one of the ways that you can know whether or not you really believe, whether I, whether you really believe Jesus is who He says He is, is how fully and completely we've surrendered our lives to Him. And it's not just about what we surrender, it's about the response time and how we surrender it. Oh man, how long does it take us? When the spirit convicts, when he challenges, when he tells us to walk away, when he asks us to loosen our grip and let go. How long does it take? How hard does he have to pry our fingers open to get us to let go of the lifestyle or the habit or the choice? Oh, I'm preaching to myself right now.

Lord, forgive us, when we've played games with surrender. Because you have paid too high a price for us to not give all.

And so on this day, I ask you to take personal inventory. I'm gonna do it for me and you gonna do it for you. And you can't do it for me and I can't do it for you. Only you know whether or not you really believe He is who He said He is. And if you do, it will be easier for us to fully release to Him every aspect of our life because we'll know beyond a shadow of a doubt He's worth it. He's worth it. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

Lord Jesus, we surrender. Forgive us for the places in our lives where we have gripped so tightly and we have not been quick to let go and to release to you every aspect of our lives. But Lord, today we say, "Come on in and make yourself at home". You are worth it. And you are worthy in Jesus' name, Amen.

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