Sovereign Love

Jesus is on His passionate journey toward the Cross. Every step on this journey is a step of love. 

After Jesus finished His last supper with His disciples, they all went to one of their favorite places to pray—the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a place they all knew well. Including Judas, who had been looking for an opportunity to turn Jesus over to the religious authorities when He was out of the public eye. 

Jesus knew this time was coming (Matthew 10:33-34; John 13:1, 3; 18:4), and His knowing prompted His serving. So we can say that His foot-washing service was as much a reminder to Himself as it was to His followers. 

After they entered the garden to pray, events began to unfold at a fast pace, ultimately culminating in Jesus being crucified. 

But let us never forget that through all of this horrific, inhumane mistreatment and torture, Jesus remains the King of kings, the Son of God. In fact, very God Himself.

The Jewish religious leaders knew this too (John 8:54-59; 10:31-33). And without “knowing it” the soldiers that came to arrest Jesus knew it as well.

Just look at the absolute authority of the King of kings. Grown men—religious leaders and hardened soldiers—fall to their knees at just three words: “I am He.” 

Christ’s kingdom has overruling authority. It collects no taxes, it has no standing army, it requires no checks-and-balances because its Sovereign IS Truth and Love. This unequaled, unrivaled power was contained in Jesus—“You would have no authority over Me unless it was given you from above.” 

Which makes His submission to Pilate and others even more amazing! One word from Him could have crushed legions and toppled governments—yet for love’s sake, He submitted. Let that sink in—Sovereignty submitted.

What appeared to be the cruelty of man was the sovereignty of God. 

No one can take My life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what My Father has commanded. (John 10:18) 

“Christ’s death was not the death of a martyr, who sinks at last overwhelmed by enemies, but the death of a triumphant conqueror, who knows that even in dying He wins for Himself and His people a kingdom and a crown of glory.” —J.C. Ryle 

Christ has bought us out from under the doom of that impossible system by taking the curse for our wrongdoing upon Himself. For it is written in the Scripture, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is cursed” (as Jesus was hung upon a wooden cross). (Galatians 3:13 TLB) 

Sovereign love submitted to the cruelty of man SO THAT you and I could be saved from the inescapable doom that will inevitably crash down on us. Jesus loved us so much that He allowed the Cross to happen to Him. 

The question now remains—what are you doing with this sovereign love? 

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you received this gift He willingly, lovingly purchased for you on the Cross? 

If you have, let me ask you another question: Christian, are you living in a way that leads others to this sovereign love too (John 13:34-35)?

Anytime you see the Cross, remember what sovereign love did there for you. 

What Are You Doing With God’s Story?

…You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above… (John 19:11)

As Daniel says, “The Most High is sovereign over all the kingdoms of the earth, and He gives them to whom He pleases.” 

God is sovereign. All of History is His story!

Pilate tried to change the story—twice he said, “I find no fault in Him” (vv. 4, 6). But still his caving in to the chief priests fulfilled His story.

The soldiers were looking for personal gain (v. 24), and yet their greed unwittingly fulfilled His story.

Jesus knew what was happening, and purposely let people treat Him a certain way to fulfill His story (vv. 28-30, 36-37). 

God is still telling His story today.

The question is—am I willfully fighting against it (like Pilate), or ignorantly fulfilling it (like the soldiers), or obediently submitting to it (like Jesus)?

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.

Christian Citizenship = Stewardship

“For the Christian, citizenship is about stewardship. That’s especially true in a country where our most important governing document begins with ‘We the People.’ That means we have a lot of responsibility. …  

“God has ordained a government as one way that He shows grace to all people. Government should recognize the God-given duty of human beings and respect the roles and responsibilities of family and church. Government is to keep the peace through the rule of law and to use force to punish those who break it. The role of government is to maintain justice and peace in society so other institutions, especially the family in the church, can do what they are designed to do. …

“Christians should enter the public square with a biblically shaped perspective. To apply a Christian worldview to questions of public policy is not exercising self-interest. It is simply serving our neighbor by testifying to the way God has made the world.” —Jennifer A. Marshall 

For the Christian, citizenship is about stewarding the responsibilities God has given us to the countries in which we live. Those include things like:

  1. Showing proper respect to those in leadership positions (Romans 13:1-6)
  2. Submitting like we’re servants of the King of kings (1 Peter 2:13-17)
  3. Praying for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  4. Voting for those people who uphold biblical principles

“All the opportunity for self-government through the rule of the people depends upon one single factor. That is the ballot box. . . . The people of our country are sovereign. If they do not vote they abdicate that sovereignty, and they may be entirely sure that if they relinquish it other forces will seize it, and if they fail to govern themselves some other power will rise up to govern them.” —President Calvin Coolidge

Thursdays With Oswald—How God Prepares His Workers

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

How God Prepares His Workers

     If the worker for God is going to go all lengths for God for the cure of souls, he has to allow God to examine to deep down the possibilities of his own nature. That is why it is hard to deal with the “two-faced.” That is why, Christian worker, God will take you through disciplines and experiences that are not meant for your particular life; they are meant to make you ready for God to send as He sent Nathan [2 Samuel 12:1]. … 

     Worker for God, before you go among the infirm, the sick, the subtle, the hypocritical, let God deal with you. A child cannot wield the sword of the Spirit; it must be wielded by one fed on strong meat, one who has been deeply dealt with and examined by God’s Spirit, in whom the last springs and possibilities of iniquity and wrong in his own nature have been disclosed to him that he may understand the marvel of God’s grace. …  

     God grant that we may understand that working for the cure of souls is not a babe’s work; it is a man’s work, requiring man’s power, grasped and transformed by God Almighty, so that God can get straight through the worker to the man He is waiting for. 

From Workmen Of God

Being used by God is no light, trivial matter. God wants to use you to reach those “He is waiting for.” But in order for you to “wield the sword of the Spirit,” you first have to allow God to strengthen and prepare you.

Are you willing to let God prepare you for His service? It will require us to pray, as Jesus did, “Father, not My will, but Yours be done.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Whose Temple Is My Body?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Whose Temple Is My Body?

     If you have been laid hold of by the Spirit of God don’t think it strange concerning the spring-cleaning God is giving you, and don’t clamor for anything because it will have to go. … My body is designed to be a “temple of the Holy Ghost,” and it is up to me to stand up for the honor of Jesus Christ in my bodily practices. … 

     The Spirit of God will not allow me to use my body for my own convenience; the whole limit must be God’s. I am not to serve my own ends with my body, I am to serve the ends of Jesus Christ and be a devoted disciple of His. … 

     The historic Temple was twice cleansed by our Lord; and when He came again to Jerusalem He no longer spoke of it as “My Father’s house,” but “Behold, your house is left onto you desolate” [Matthew 23:37-38]. A terrible pronouncement, and a terrible possibility in our own lives. It is appallingly true that we may get to the place where Jesus can no longer say of us, “My Father’s house”; where He can no longer give us the benefit of scourging and cleansing, but can only retire, a weeping Christ, over our willfulness. “How often would I … and ye would not!” … 

     I am responsible before God for conducting my body as the temple of the Holy Ghost. Am I doing it, or is my body dictating to God, telling Him what it must do? … “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” [Romans 6:12]. 

From The Soul Of A Christian

This is the key question: Is my body my house or is it my Father’s house?

In other words, after becoming a Christian am I saying, “I can do whatever I want with my body” or am I saying, “My body is Yours, God, to do with as You see fit”?

Whose temple is your body?

10 More Quotes From “Shade Of His Hand”

In Shade Of His Hand, Oswald Chambers is giving us his insight on the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. I typically share longer passages from Oswald Chambers’ works in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” posts. Here are a few shorter quotes from this book.

“In personal life, in church life and in national life, we try Jesus Christ’s teaching, but as soon as it becomes difficult we abandon it, or else we compromise.”

“Jesus Christ says, ‘Come unto Me… and I will give you rest,’ i.e., I will put you in the place where your eyes are open. And notice what Jesus Christ says we will look at—lilies and sparrows and grass. … The salvation of Jesus Christ enables a man to see for the first time in his life, and it is a wonderful thing.”

“The essential element in moral life is obedience and submission. If you want spiritual truth, obey the highest standard you know. ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God or whether I speak from Myself’ (John 7:17). Intellectually, curiosity is the thing; morally, obedience is what is needed.”

“Whenever our spiritual life is unsatisfactory it is because we have said to God—‘I won’t.’ … If Jesus Christ has done no mighty works for me it is either because I don’t believe He can, or I don’t want Him to. … Get to the place where you make the thing inevitable, burn your bridges behind you, make retreat impossible, then go ahead. Solomon’s counsel is wise—‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.’ It is leaning to our own understanding that keeps the bridges behind.”

“When you are joyful, be joyful; when you are sad, be sad. If God has given you a sweet cup, don’t make it bitter; and if He has given you a bitter cup, don’t try and make it sweet; take things as they come. … Suffering, and the inevitable result of suffering, is the only way some of us can learn, and if we are shielded God will ultimately take the one who interferes by the scruff of the neck and remove him.”

“For a man to have doubts is not a sign that he is a bad man.”

“If your religion does not make you a better man, it is a rotten religion. The test of true religion is when it touches these four things—food, money, sex and mother earth. These things are the test of a right sane life with God, and the religion that ignores them or abuses them is not right. … A man needs to hold a right attitude to all these things by means of his personal relationship to God.” 

“We do not think on the basis of Christianity at all. We are taught to think like pagans for six days a week and to reverse the order for one day, consequently in critical moments we think as pagans and our religion is left in the limbo of the inarticulate.”

“It is only when a man is born from above of the Spirit of God that he finds the ‘want to’ is altered.”

“If you are the servant of men for their sake you will soon be heartbroken; but if you serve men for the sake of Jesus Christ, nothing can ever discourage you (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:5).”

To read more quotes from this book, click here. To check out my review of Shade Of His Hand, click here.

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