A new friend of Cornerstone, Pastor Jon Kelly, Lead Pastor at Chicago West Bible Church gives us his take on what living a surrendered life to God looks like.
Hey, if we haven’t had a chance to meet my name is Odalis. I’m a part of the Pastoral Team here at CornerstoneSF. Uh, and I’m excited to get to share. This is the final message in our Surrender series. We start a new one next week called The Way of Blessing. I had a little sneak peek on it. And I, I just wanted to share I’m excited for it.
Um, I think the Lord is going to bless us as we pursue His way of blessing in it. Um, and I do pray that it is, uh, a strength to you, uh, in your season. Pastor Terry is going to lead us through that starting next week. Um, but as we’ve been finishing the Surrender series, I’ve been thinking back on it and, uh, have just been challenged by it. As a person who
likes things being ordered and having a sense of control and a good understanding of right and wrong and up and down and good and bad. And anybody else, this little desire for control. Um, not in an obsessive way, but just being able to predict what’s going to happen and being right for once. Um, it seems like we don’t have that a lot in life.
Uh, and we certainly haven’t over the last year and a half to the extent where I know for myself, this open-handed posture, this surrendered before the Lord posture has become more a part of daily life and less just circumstance or occasional. Um, it’s, it’s becoming a life posture and I know I’m working on being okay with that, to do my best with what I can control and really let the Lord inform and direct the rest of it.
Um, and, and I’ve been, I’ve been asking this question, you know, what does it mean for us to carry this posture forward past this Surrender series? Not just with the things we can’t control, but with what we can, which is certainly ourselves. You know, as we’ve talked about surrendering our dreams and our scars and our stories and our expectations and all of these aspects of life, where God works through our surrender.
I asked the question of one more. What does it mean to surrender our ways? And it’s, it’s a weird phrasing, surrendering our ways. It comes from Isaiah 55, where we read, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways. My ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth. So are My ways higher than your . Ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Where the Lord is declaring, informing us that His, His ways are higher than ours.
He is not the same as we are. And that’s a good thing. We have a lot of things in our upbringings and our personalities and our tendencies and our habits, things that we can sort of just say, well, that’s just how I am, uh, that it just informs how I am and what I do, but . Christ is in the business of transformation and it is one of the most exciting things to me that I get to see in my own life sometimes.
And in the lives of those, around me, where God works, even in those places that we would otherwise brush off as that’s just how I am. That’s just how I’m wired. Even there, the Lord can work redemptively. Those things that are sort of our baseline ways. He doesn’t, the Lord, doesn’t just leave us with those, but He transforms us into His.
And in our time together, I want us to consider what it means to surrender our ways. What does it mean for us to live in a way that God intended? This way that’s worthy of whole hearted pursuit. It is beneficial in all ways. We see time and time again in the Scripture and certainly in the lives of those around us, that even though choosing God’s way, doesn’t always make human sense.
It is always the better way. It’s the way to healing and to growth, to true meaningful success to life itself. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Apart from Him, we have none of those. And so together, let’s sit with one of the scriptures, most well-known figures, King Solomon, and work through this.
As we consider his successes and his failures, the ways that he followed God’s way and others that he followed his own and pursue what this means for us to surrender our ways to His goodness. First, I would love to pray and then we’ll dive in. Lord, we thank you for this time that we have together, whether we’re home or in the car or surrounded by people.
God, we thank You that we get to pause here and turn to You and listen to You. God, we just choose to come before You soft. Uh, and, and we bring our whole selves forward as open as we can be. And we ask for you to speak to us. Jesus, teach us Your way and help us to follow You as we, as we’re here together in this time.
We love you and we thank you for it. We pray these things. Jesus, in Your good and beautiful name. Amen. Amen. So we’re going to look at King Solomon. He’s known in the scriptures as probably the wisest man who ever lived. He was prosperous and successful. His father was King David, whom the scriptures give the designation of a man after God’s own heart.
Uh, and how, uh, to me, that’s the best title. It is the cream of the crop to be a person after God’s own heart. How I long for that for myself. Um, and David, before he dies, he sets up his son to inherit the throne. He had carved out the kingdom after a tumultuous reign. He handed off resources and a provision to his son to succeed the throne and lead the kingdom.
And he, uh, the scripture say that Solomon deeply loved God and walked in His ways. And so we, we pick up from 1 Kings chapter 3, if you have your own Bible, if not, you can open up the digital handout. We’ve got the verses there so that we can read together from verse four, it says, “And the king went to give in to sacrifice there for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that alter his worship to God.
Um, verse five, that Gideon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, ask what I shall give you. Solomon said You have shown great steadfast love to Your servant, David, my father, because he walked before You in faithfulness in righteousness and in uprightness of heart, towards You and You have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him
a son to sit on his throne this day. And now Lord, my God, You have made Your servant king in place of David. My Father, although I am, but a little child, I do not know how to go out or how to come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people, whom You have chosen a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.
Give Your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people. That I may discern between good and evil for who is able to govern your great people. Verse 10. It pleased the Lord that Solomon asked this and God said to him, because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right. Behold,
I now do, according to your word, behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind so that none like you has been before and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you all your days. And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.
I will lengthen your days. So this is an incredible account. Solomon worships God, he goes asleep. God appears to him in the dream, asks him what he wants, he answers. And the Lord says yes. And then some, it’s a beautiful moment of relationship that comes from not just the one instance where it happened, but built over Solomon’s life of loving God and walking in His ways.
And so there’s two things immediately for us to look at. There’s Solomon’s worship and Solomon’s humility. We don’t read about all the things God did for Solomon beforehand. Solomon offers his worship and devotion to God first, his love for God first. And it shows us right away that a surrendered life, the life that chooses God’s way over its own is one that worships God wholeheartedly and without condition.
Solomon goes to Gideon and offers his sacrifices, not because the Lord gave him wisdom and riches and honor in the life of his enemies and long life. He did it by nature of just looking at God and seeing who God is. You don’t offer a thousand sacrifices that’s well above and beyond sort of the expected structure of sacrifice of worship.
The way that the nation of Israel was invited to be in relationship with God. It’s a thousand it’s well above and beyond. This is a demonstration of, of worship, not out of obligation or checking a box, but out of love, devotion to God. He’s demonstrating his commitment to putting God where God should be, which is above all else.
He said, I love the Lord. I align my ways to the Lord and I demonstrate it and declare it in my worship. And it’s the same for us. In, in our surrendered lives, worship is an inseparable part of it. It’s an exercise and practical expression of choosing God’s way over our own. And when we worship God, we’re talking about yes, worshiping God in song and in music, in the privacy of our homes and cars and small groups, as well as surrounded by other people.
It is a powerful and specific expression of worshiping. And also worship in our thanksgiving and in our prayer and in our stewardship of our resources and responsibility across all areas of life. We’re talking about worship as a lifestyle, a quality of life that’s reflected across all areas. It demonstrates God, us declaring You
Lord are worthy. And I show it in everything I do. So when we’re talking about surrendering our ways we’re talking about holding God up to the place, he should be above all else. And Solomon’s life demonstrates that in those first couple of verses, he worships without asking for anything. He worships the Lord and then he goes to sleep and God comes to him in a dream.
And Solomon is given the opportunity to ask for anything. Ask me what I shall give you says the Lord. I mean, he, anything, I, what would you ask for, I sat with this and I have seen Alladin enough times to have asked myself that question in the past, if you got three wishes, you know, there’s a couple of rules.
What would you ask? God’s not a genie, of course, but I think we can sort of put ourselves in that place and, and ask ourselves, what would we ask for? Our deepest longings, what would we ask for? A dream that if it were fulfilled, our heart would just leap for joy every morning when we’d wake up to start living each day or that, that provision, that one thing we need, that’s like the key to unlock the rest
of our lives or that, um, that, that, that person to be helped or, or that situation resolved that relationship mended, that dream car, that dream home, that whatever, you know, what would we ask for? I personally thought of a lot of really me-centric things. I also thought of a couple of deeper options, and I hope that were I presented with that choice, I would choose the cheaper options, but it is, I mean, can we picture it this newly anointed king of Israel who has an established throne and resources and people around him, he registers.
He has registered already that he’s young and inexperienced. It didn’t come to him in that moment where he says, um, I’m a child. I don’t know how he had already come to that conclusion. So he doesn’t ask for safety or long life or love or, or anything else he asks for wisdom. Of all the things he could have landed.
He asks for wisdom for the Lord to guide his thoughts and his words and his actions in his leadership and in his work. He was self-aware to be honest about his lacking in that place. And this is the second thing we can see about a life. Who’s the, the, the life of art. When we surrender our ways, we see that it is a humble life and we see that the Lord recognizes and
honors a humble heart. We see when, when we choose not ourselves, our own way, the things that we want, even, even though they’re not bad in and of themselves, we see this beautiful demonstration that when Solomon says, well, I’m not going to choose the things that I think I want or need, but I’m going to choose to
hear your way God. If I could ask for anything, I want to be able to hear your voice, to know your way enough to lead from that place and to lead aligned with you. It’s a beautifully humble demonstration of his heart it’s and it’s these, these two aspects, his worship and his humility demonstrate that, that, that beautiful aspect of the surrendered life.
Worship and humility are received by the Lord, right? He says, yes, I give you what you asked for. And then some, okay. So it’s not to say that if we go to church on Sunday and sing along and we’re occasionally open to other perspectives that God’s going to bless us with every other dream or desire. Okay?
That’s not what we’re saying, but it is to say that when we worship and when we choose humility instead of our own way, and it is a choice. God will never force us, but when we choose worship and humility in the same way that Solomon demonstrated, he chose it every day, we find that the, we find the Lord’s way affecting us.
We find and discover his way to be truer and fuller and a more whole way of living. And we find ourselves transformed to look more like it, our hearts and minds different afterwards. We find ourselves becoming conformed to the image of Christ who showed us what it means to be truly human, what it means to live in perfect alignment with God’s way.
In the moment of that dream Solomon’s worship and humility culminated in this beautiful declaration of choosing God’s way over his own. He didn’t ask for his own way or hold his own views in higher regard, but he had a lifestyle of putting God first. And in that moment of decision, he chose well. He chose well, and Solomon was given not only what he asked for, but the Lord provided
in abundance, riches and honor, and success and favor and long life. And if we continue reading his account, you see the various ways that that appeared in Solomon’s life. The Lord made His promise and kept it. People heard from all over about it and came and experienced it themselves. And God was glorified because of it.
Solomon is a prime demonstration of the fruit that God will bear through a person whose ways are surrendered to Him. And this is such an encouragement for us too. When we look at Solomon’s requests, we see that we know, right. We know that the Lord, uh, like a good father gives his children good gifts. We know the Lord longs to bless us.
But from that moment in the dream, we can also see that the Lord especially does so when we want to take that blessing and bless others with it. If we look back at what Solomon said, he wanted wisdom. Why? Not just for himself, but to lead God’s people well. He didn’t want the wisdom to secure his own position or to make himself feel better.
He wanted it in order to do well with the role that God had entrusted him. The same is true for us. What are the roles we’ve been placed in, in our lives? Right. I don’t think any of us are kings in our day to day. Right? But we are, uh, we have jobs, right? We’re employees or employers, maybe we’re investors, we’re entrepreneurs.
We are creatives. We are medical professionals. We’re teachers. We have jobs, right? That we do. That’s a role in our lives. We have roles relationally as well. We have friendships. We have families. So we have parents, or we are parents. We are a child, or we have children. We are providers. We are supporters. We are together with others.
We have roles, even in our hobbies, even in our hobbies, there’s these roles that we’ve been given. And what are the places God has placed you. We can ask him to bless us, to guide us, to strengthen us and help us in those places so that we can bless others. And this is Solomon’s request there for wisdom was to bless others and we see how God blessed him and others through him because of that, that posture of humility and of love for God.
And if that was the end of the story, I mean, we would, what a story. What a wonderful the end they lived happily ever after moment. It’s not the end of the story we see over time that Solomon, uh, in one area of his life stuck to his own way instead of choosing God’s way and it led to a tremendous failure.
Right? A good start didn’t determine. Uh didn’t uh, yeah, it didn’t determine a good finish. And he can’t say he didn’t know better because he was the wisest man who ever lived. We read a little later in 1 Kings chapter 11, it says now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, Hittite women from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel.
You shall not enter into marriage with them. Neither shall they with you for surely they will turn your heart away after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines and his wives turned away his heart for when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord
his God as was the heart of David, his father. So the number of wives here is descriptive. It’s not a moment where the scriptures are giving instruction about acceptable numbers of wives. The scriptures are clear that if a person chooses to take a spouse, they have one spouse. Instead it’s a description of some of the customs of the Kings at that time.
It related to both political alliances and just the lifestyles of extreme extravagance. Um, but what we see right, is that his good start didn’t translate to, uh, a good finish. He, he had to finish well. But neither does a poor start mean a poor finish Solomon was set up for success. He had everything he needed by all accounts to start and end well to live with flying colors.
But there is no guarantee. And there are areas in each of our lives of weakness of vulnerability if left unprotected or unaddressed, that can cause us to stumble along the way. But the reverse is also true. There are countless stories in the scriptures of people who had a horrible start, who ended up finishing so well, you can read the story of Ruth as one of a horrible, they had no control over it,
start that just ends beautifully. And there’s also for those of us with lives a little more in between neither a silver spoon nor a horrible start. Where we’re reminded the Lord of the whole universe is for us and with us and drawing us into life with Him. If Jesus said He came to that, we would have life and life abundantly.
That’s not monotony or trudging through one day at a time, but an abundant and beautiful life. Surrendering our ways means surrendering our brokenness to the grace of God. There are parts of our past and present areas of our hearts and lives that are not what God meant. They’re not what He meant for us to live.
And it may not be in the extreme way of Solomon, but it’s no less important to surrender these places. These ways of weakness to the Lord’s goodness. And surrendering our ways to the Lord means choosing to live in a way controlling only what we can control, which is ourselves. Living in a way that believes God can do in us,
what we could never do for ourselves. Breakthrough and healing and hope and healthy habits and mended relationship and living actually how Jon. Pastor Jon shared with us last week, the surrendered life, how we were always meant to live and how we were constantly being invited to live. Now, Solomon had a good start, but he had his stumbling and this is our, uh, our last encouragement here.
God is restorative. We need only to return to Him and we will find Him faithful and steady, full of love and grace. Although Solomon had quite the failure. Tradition holds that he likely wrote most of the book of Proverbs in his older age, that he was restored to his love for God. And the Proverbs are full of wisdom.
That it, when you read it, you think this sounds like it’s learned through experience, right? One of them, there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, leads to death where you’re listening to someone who has learned the hard way and is teaching so that we don’t have to. God did something restorative in Solomon.
And we need to remember that for ourselves too, that when we stumble and when we fail, it is unfortunately when it’s not if. At the end of the day, God is for you. He will work in us and with us to turn our ways to His way. His way is one of truth and beauty and life itself. And He is calling us even now into His way.
And maybe we follow Him. Maybe we hear Him and say yes to Him. And in a moment, the, worship team is going to share a song,that is a prayer along these lines, the bridge things, I will be yours for all my life. So let your mercy guide the path before me. I want to be yours and help me to be yours. Um, and this is also our time of giving to express our faithfulness, our gratitudes of the Lord.
You can give online, you can mail in a check, you could give on the app. Um, but to just, it’s a different way, uh, area actually of aligning our waste. Um, and it is one where, uh, yeah, the Lord honors it. Um, but I would love for us to pray together. And if you’re comfortable to open your hands to have an open-handed posture before the Lord, um, if you’re not ready for a full surrender, even an openness to, to giving Him a try.
Um, and for those of us who have been following Him, so just once again, be renewed before Him and commit more areas of our hearts, but, but I would love to pray together for the Lord to help us continually turn our ways to His and to work something beautiful in our lives. So would you join me in prayer? Uh, Lord God, we thank You, uh, that You are a redemptive, restorative, kind, loving and powerful God, uh, Lord,
and even the most grandiose failure is not too much for You to restore God. We thank You for your restorative ways. And we thank You for Your constant invitation to us to live lives of full devotion. Lord, so we give You our hearts here in this moment and whatever area of a heart that we feel we honestly can.
Uh, and, and we ask for You to show us Your way, Lord, help us to follow You in, in greater and more committed ways. Jesus. And we ask for You to help us and for You to bless them. That we could bless others. We love You. We thank You for this time and we pray, uh, just for Your blessing over us in this week, we choose You and we pray these things in Your beautiful name.
Amen. Amen. Now let’s, let’s receive this song, this prayer together.
Alex Costanzo, part of the Cornerstone Teaching Team, talks about how surrendering our expectations to God can lead to having more hope and less disappointment.
Guest Speaker David Brickner, Executive Pastor of Jews For Jesus, talks about how we can surrender our story to God.