November 13

Have you ever watched “The Lord of the Rings”? (maybe you’ve even read the books). Did you sense Frodo’s burden and the weight of the darkness coming from Sauron? The seriousness of the quest to destroy the ring? The temptations to quit or take control of the ring? The depressing yet emphasized statement, “Men, who above all else desire power”?

And it is this power to control, to rule, to be God that frightens the noble in the story:

  • Gandalf tells an innocent Frodo who is handing him the ring, “Don’t tempt me Frodo. I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe. Understand Frodo, I would use this ring from a desire to do good. But through me it would wield power too great and terrible to imagine.”
  • He offers it to Galadriel at one point and she says, “Instead of a dark Lord, you would have a queen – beautiful and terrible as the dawn, treacherous as the sea, stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair.”

God’s formula, if you will, is to simply seek Him first (Psalm 69:32), allow His Holy Spirit complete control of our lives (Ephesians 5:18), and to submit to His will (Mark 3:35). He has other things we are to do, but essentially they all represent these three. Nowhere are we to seek first our own kingdoms, to be “in control”, or to do our own will, or to desire power.

As you read through the Bible, notate who follows God’s will (as well as when do they follow it), and who doesn’t. Notice, as you read, the blessing/curse motif as God rewards those who seek Him diligently (Hebrews 11:6) and punishes those who turn their back on Him (Proverbs 17:11). We saw this over and over again in Genesis all the way up to the Tower of Babel when God finally turned His back on most of humanity (later calling and investing in Abram). This narrative continues on throughout the whole Bible. God loves us and has compassion on us, but does not play games with sin and its punishment.

Commenting on the Fall of man in Genesis, Tim Chester states:

  • And so humanity rejects God’s rule. We decide to become like gods – determining for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. We push God off his throne. We seize power for ourselves. We want to be in control of our own lives. We think we will be free.

But we have shaped human rule in the image of Satan’s lie. The rule of God was a rule of freedom and blessing. The lie of Satan was that God’s rule is tyrannical. And we do not use our freedom and power like God’s rule. We rule like Satan’s lie. We rule harshly and tyrannically.

Christian, you and I are light in the darkness. We do not know the day nor the hour when our Lord will appear, but we do know that He has promised good for those who follow Him and who seek to exalt His name rather than to build a name for themselves.

You and I today are being offered freedom, security, compassion, love, mercy, comfort, joy, and the wealth of God’s blessings if we step off the throne of our lives and give God His rightful place. The Bible is full of promises to you and me that demonstrate God’s immense love, and should strengthen and encourage us while we go boldly through the valley of the shadow of death. Here’s just a sampling:

  • God promises us a new heart: Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
  • God promises to give us His Spirit within us: Ezekiel 36:27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
  • God promises to forgive us: Luke 6:37c “pardon, and you will be pardoned.”
  • God promises us sympathy: Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
  • God promises to answer our prayers: James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
  • God promises us peace: Isaiah 26:3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.”
  • God promises us fellowship: John 15:14-15 You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
  • God promises us hope: Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous is gladness
  • God promises that angels will assist us: Psalm 91:11-12 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
  • God promises us good sleep: Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
  • God promises to help us out of temptation: I. Corinthians 10:12-13 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
  • God promises to delight in His children: Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
  • God promises that our Savior never changes: Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
  • God promises that peacemakers shall be His: Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
  • God promises that we can have rest: Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”
  • God promises our spiritual treasures will endure forever: Matthew 16:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;”
  • God promises us an eternal dwelling even though we will die someday: II. Corinthians 5:1 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.
  • God promises us satisfaction: Psalm 17:15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.
  • God promises us victory: Romans 8:37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
  • God promises us rewards if we overcome: Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”
  1. As you read through this list of promises, which ones speak to you the most right now where you are in life? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Do you have power and control issues (C’mon! Be truthful now)? ________________________________________________________
    1. There are areas that I know that I have control issues in. Maybe it’s insecurity that drives me to seek control, or comfort of being “in charge”. Outside of natural leadership roles (small business owner, business manager, foreman on your job), why do you think you seek to be in control of things? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. What areas do you find the hardest to give up control of? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. Following God is about submission. The people at Babel refused to submit to God and the end result was a large-scale punishment. But, remember, God blesses those who trust Him and follow Him. That’s the foundation of salvation as well as the foundation of being His disciples. And submissive disciples result in great spiritual fruit for the Kingdom.
    1. When you read about some of the great people of the New Testament Church, what biblical character traits do you notice?
      1. Romans 16:1 Phoebe: _______________________________________________
      2. Acts 18:24-26 Priscilla & Aquila: _______________________________________________
  • Revelation 1:9 John: _______________________________________________
  1. Galatians 1:10 Paul: _______________________________________________
  1. Which of these traits can you apply to your life today? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I drew this particular “Promises” list from a longer one found in The Great Promises of the Bible by Louis Albert Banks, and published by Eaton & Mains in 1906.