Where A Godly Leader Must Go First

…He took me there… (Ezekiel 40:1, 3).

God had an important message to deliver to not only the people currently alive but all the people who would walk the face of the Earth from that moment onward. God chose Ezekiel to deliver this message. 

But here’s the important concept for all leaders—A leader cannot take people anywhere unless he has gone there himself.

And it’s corollary—A godly leader cannot take people anywhere that God is blessing unless he lets God take him there first.

If a leader tries to take people where he hasn’t been himself, at best he’s a tourist; at worst he’s a hypocrite. 

When God prepared to take Ezekiel to where He needed Ezekiel to take other people, God wanted Ezekiel fully engaged:

Son of man, LOOK with your eyes and HEAR with your ears, and FIX your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see (Ezekiel 40:4). 

A mark of a godly leader is one who lets God take him “there” before he tries to take anyone else there.

This is part 25 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Book Reviews From 2015

8 Quotes Worth Studying From “Proverbs”

ProverbsIn my review of Proverbs by Charles Bridges (which you can read by clicking here), I noted how he weaved the principles in the biblical book of Proverbs into the teaching that occurs throughout the Scripture. In others words, he showed that the wisdom in Proverbs wasn’t just a “stand-alone” wisdom, but integrated into the whole.

In the quotes I’m sharing today, I trust you will get a glimpse of what I mean. The reference in brackets before the quote indicate the Proverb to which Bridges is commenting. I have also linked all of the Scripture references to my friends at Bible Gateway, so you can look them up easily (and I encourage you to do so!).

[Proverbs 1:10-16] “If the temptation prevail, charge it not on God; no—nor on the devil. As the worst he can do, he can only tempt, he cannot force us, to sin. When he has plied us with his utmost power, and most subtle artifice, it is at the choice of our own will, whether we yield or no (see James 1:13-15). The habitual resistance of the will clears us of responsibility (cp. Romans 7:14-17, 19-20, 23). The consent, even if it be not carried out into the act, lays the responsibility at our own door.”

[Proverbs 2:10-11] “The forsaken sin only makes way for some more plausible, but not less deadly passion. The heart, cast into the mold of the Gospel, is the only cover from those snares within and without (Romans 6:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 3:18), which so imperceptibly, yet so fatally, estrange us from God. Never, till the vital principle is implanted, is their mischief discerned. Never, till then, does the heart find its proper object, its true resting-place.”

[Proverbs 3:5-6] “Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction (cp. Ezekiel 18:21-23; Nehemiah 1:11). Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without His counsel. He loves to be consulted. Therefore, take all thy difficulties to be resolved by Him. Be in the habit of going to Him in the first place—before self-will, self-pleasing, self-wisdom, human friends, convenience, expediency. Before any of these have been consulted, go to God at once. Consider no circumstances too clear to need His direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let Him be supreme.”

[Proverbs 3:11-12] “Faith understands the reasons of the discipline (1 Peter 1:6, 7); acknowledges it as a part of His gracious providence (Deuteronomy 8:2, 15, 16), and the provision of His everlasting covenant (Psalm 89:30-32); waits to see the end of the Lord (James 5:11); and meanwhile draws its main support from the seal of adoption.”

[Proverbs 4:14-17] “To pray not to be led into temptation; yet not to watch, that we enter not into it (Matthew 6:13; 26:41)—is practically to contradict our prayers; to mock our God, by asking for what we do not heartily wish.”

[Proverbs 11:18-19] “Righteousness is the seed; happiness is the harvest. The reward indeed is not from cause, but of consequence; not of debt, but of grace depending upon a free promise; mercifully yet surely linked with Christian perseverance (Ecclesiastes 11:6; Hosea 10:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:7, 8).”

[Proverbs 17:22] “If then, Christian, you believe the Gospel to be ‘glad tidings’ (Luke 1:19; 8:1), show that you believe it, by lighting up your face with a smile.”

[Proverbs 28:13] “The love of sin struggles with the power of conscience. The door of access to God is barred (Psalm 66:18). Christian confidence is clouded (Psalm 32:3, 4); and, unless Sovereign mercy interpose, it must end in the sting of ‘the never-dying worm’ (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44-48). The covering of the disease precludes the possibility of the cure. Only the penitent confessor can be the pardoned sinner.”

“The best work on the Proverbs. While explaining the passage in hand, he sets other portions of the Word in new lights.” —C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this book

Tears And Humility

History of ReshJust has God sent His holy Son “below the line” to rescue us, so we who are in Jesus have been sent below the line to those who are staggering to death. If we are going to be effective rescuers, what must our attitude be?

George Whitefield, when he saw a convicted criminal on his way to the gallows said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” He also said to those who questioned his deep emotional response when preaching, “You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction?”

Isn’t a humble, empathetic rescuer going to be more effective in reaching those staggering to their eternal demise than one who stands aloof, saying, “You got yourself into this mess”?

Resh (Psalm 119:153-160) shows us our posture: It signifies a head bowed; it means we are confidently humble. Confident that God delivers us, defends us, redeems us, preserves us, and saves us (vv. 153-154); but humble enough to know that we could never have earned this!

We have to have this confidently humble posture in order to be effective as His holy rescuers. We grieve for those who are without God because of what they face—

  • “Salvation” is only gibberish to the wicked because they’ve never looked it up in Your dictionary. (v. 155, MSG)
  • They don’t know His compassion is great (v. 156), nor how great is Your tender mercy and loving-kindness (AMP).
  • They become the foes who persecute Christians (v. 157). How they will grieve on Judgment Day, if they don’t repent!
  • Their actions are loathed (not them as a person!). What God said of the Israelites who went into captivity will be true for those who don’t accept Jesus before they die—Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember Me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. (Ezekiel 6:9, emphasis added)

Tears and humility will keep us in the proper position to reclaim these lost treasures for our King! 

I will be continuing our series on Psalm 119 in our P119 Spiritual Workout next Sunday. Hope you can join me!

If you are interested in watching the entire message, the video is below—

The Fearful Privilege Of Being A Pastor

PreachingI was studying the life of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, and I jotted down some thoughts in my journal of what God was speaking to me. But I also felt like this was a message for my fellow pastors as well. So here are my unedited thoughts, just as I penned them in my journal. 

The Lord said to me, “Son of man, look carefully, listen closely and give attention to everything I tell you….” (Ezekiel 44:5).

I have to take personal responsibility for this. This is not something I can pass off to anyone else―“instead of carrying out your duty in regard to My holy things, you put others in charge of My sanctuary” (44:8). No, never!

I have been given the privilege and heavy responsibility for souls in this community. I must, therefore, hear what God has to tell me about this city and these people. He knows, and He wants to share with me. He calls me to look carefully, listen carefully, and give careful attention to what He’s saying. He is desirous that everyone in this community will see His radiant glory (43:2), and―wonders of wonders!―He has asked me to deliver His message of life to my community.

Who am I that You would choose me? But you have, and I am grateful. I am also filled with holy dread that I carry out my duties in a way that pleases and glorifies You, my King. I need Your help. I need to hear Your voice. I need Your Spirit to stamp the image of Christ ever more clearly in me.

May I only live to bring You praise!

13 More Quotes From “Notes On Ezekiel”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersHere are some more quotes from Oswald Chambers’ book Notes On Ezekiel. My book review is here, and my first set of quotes from this book is here.

“We are too shallow to be afraid of God. … It requires a miracle of grace before we believe this, consequently we are foolishly fearless, but when the grace of God lifts us into the life of God we fear nothing and no one saving God alone. … Confusion arises when we do not see God as Almighty.”

“God will put us in circumstances where we have to take steps of which we do not see the meaning, only on looking back do we discern that it was God’s will for us.”

“We are always on the wrong line when we come to God with a pre-occupied mind because a pre-occupied mind springs from a disloyal heart: ‘I don’t want to do God’s will, what I want is for God to give me permission to do what I want to do.’” 

“What God burns is not weakness, not imperfection, but perverted goodness.”

“Every part of our human nature which is not brought into subjection to the Holy Spirit after experiencing deliverance from sin will prove a corrupting influence.”

“We all have the sneaking idea that we are the favorites of God—‘It’s alright for me to do this, God will understand.’ If I as a child of God commit sin, I will be as sternly dealt with as if I were not His child.”

“Don’t tie God up in your own conceptions, or say too surely you know what God will do. … The sovereign purposes of God work out slowly and inexorably, but ever be careful to note where God’s sovereignty is at work among men in matters of history and Time, and where it is at work in matters of eternal destiny. Beware of allowing your memory of how God has worked to take the place of present vital moral relationship to Him.”

“When I have been using ‘the sword of the Spirit’ in a spirit of indignation against another, it is a terrible experience to find the sword suddenly wrested out of my hand and laid about me personally by God. Let your personal experience of the work of God’s Spirit instruct you at the foot of Calvary; let the light of God riddle you through, then you will never use the Word of God to another, never turn the light of God on him, without fear and trembling.”

“Liberty is the ability to obey the law of God, with the power to live according to its demands; license is the unrestrained impulse to traffic against the law of God. … The seal of immorality is that I do what I like; the seal of freedom is that I do what God likes.”

“If the Holy Spirit is obeyed the stubbornness is blown out, the dynamite of the Holy Ghost blows it out.”

“Pride in its most estimable as well as its most debased form is self-deification; it is not a yielding to temptation from without, but a distinct alteration of relationships within.”

“I may suffer because of the sins of my progenitors—I am never punished for them.”

“In dealing with Bible experiences we must ever make allowance for the miraculous, which never contradicts reason, but very often does contradict common sense. The miraculous transcends reason and lifts it into another world than the logical one, consequently spiritual experience is something I have lived through, not thought through.”

4 Reminders To Avoid Pride

PridePride deceives. Pride perverts. Pride corrupts. Pride brings God’s punishment. And persistent pride brings utter destruction.

If we trace the origin of pride, we’ll see why it is so destructive.

An entire city saw themselves as flawless―“You say, O Tyre, ‘I am perfect in beauty’” (Ezekiel 27:3).

This proud attitude came from their king who saw himself as a god―“In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas’” (Ezekiel 27:2).

And the king’s attitude sounds just like that of lucifer’s, who saw himself as greater than God―“I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).

It’s too simplistic to simply say, “I need to remain humble.” You and I need a constant reminder of why we must not let pride creep in:

  1. I am a created being, not the Creator of beings (Ezekiel 28:13, 15).
  2. God has ordained a plan for me; I am not a self-made man (Ezekiel 28:14).
  3. God gives gifts―beauty, wisdom, ability―to whom He sees fit; I don’t have any of those things because I choose them (Ezekiel 28:12-14).
  4. Pride removes me from God’s presence (Ezekiel 28:6-10, 15-19).

I am valued because God loves me. God doesn’t love me because I have value. The more I recall that, the easier it is for me to remain humble.

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