Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sweet Surrender to the Sovereign One

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. – Daniel 3:17-18

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were given a choice of life or death in the fiery furnace, they faced their fears and rested in the sovereignty of God. They knew the Lord was fully able to deliver them – and He did – yet they were prepared for anything. They determined to lean on Him and worship Him no matter what.

Living may be the one thing to which we cling the tightest. The instinct to survive is good in itself, but an obsession with living can expose our soul to perhaps the most destructive fear – the fear of death. Jesus came to set us free from this fear:

… that through death He (Jesus) might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. – Hebrews 2:14-15

There is a powerful solace in a yielded approach to our life and death. Consider Paul’s holy abandon in Acts 20:24, when he was being warned that evil men wanted to take his life:

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

In the TV series, The Band of Brothers, an incredibly brave soldier was asked how he did it. He responded, “You have to fight like you’re already dead.”

If you’ve read my book, My Stronghold, you may remember my doctor predicted in 2003 that I had just days to live with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. I describe how I bounced in and out of bold surrender and gripping fears. So trust me, I know yielding is extremely difficult, more like impossible, but it is definitely doable with God’s grace.

I know this is a hard message and may strike some readers as icy cold and inappropriate for people who truly are on the brink of death. But I’ve been there and learned the secret of surrender and peace in the face of death. During those times, when I was open to life or death, my spirit and soul were never freer. Plus, for those who are in Christ (learn more about how), being on the other side will not be such a bad thing! 2 Corinthians 5:1 says, “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Lord, help us surrender to your sovereignty and grace no matter where we journey.

When A Plan Comes Together

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. – Acts 4:27-28

Who put Jesus to death on that cross on Good Friday? Was it Herod? Pilate? The jealous Pharisees?

Not long after Good Friday, Peter’s answer to that question may surprise you. But first, let’s review Peter’s initial response to Jesus’ death. He went into stealth mode out of abject fear of Herod, Pilate and the Pharisees. He “knew” one thing for sure: if he was out of control – everything was out of control.

Yet Jesus’ resurrection transformed Peter’s thinking between Good Friday and the time of his prayer in Acts 4. It was God who had “gathered together” the rulers to do what He had purposed and predetermined to occur. God didn’t violate the free will of these rulers, He simply utilized it. Isaiah foretold this sovereign planning of God, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (53:10). The Father sacrificed His Son as an offering for sin, so that He could be just by punishing sin, yet merciful to those who receive Jesus’ offering for their sin (Romans 3:26). More here.

Far from a tragic defeat, the crucifixion was part of God’s perfect plan.

So what is the lesson for those in crisis and battling cancer? Could suffering, even death, be a part of God’s sovereign and perfect plan? When I battled Stage IV metastatic melanoma and they gave me days to live in May of 2003, this is exactly what I concluded: my suffering and even my possible death, would all be part of God’s perfect plan.

Honestly, my resolve on this stance was shaky at times. Yet, during those moments when I surrendered to His sovereignty, I was filled with serenity.

We may feel out of control, but that does not mean He is. The lesson of Easter is that He trumps apparent tragedies. Will you trust Him?

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