Surrender: The Heart God ControlsIs Your Surrender Complete?
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminds us we exist to be servants.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So when God interrupts my day with someone who has a need or something I had not planned, for me to groan and moan and get all bent of shape about it, to act as if it were an imposition, is really to forget who I'm serving and why.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Thursday, August 4. All week we've invited listeners to get a hard cover trilogy from Nancy: Brokenness, Surrender, and Holiness. Over the last few days we've explored that first topic of brokenness. We now move to the second topic in that trilogy: surrender. Here's Nancy.
Nancy: Joseph Tson (T-s-o-n is how that is spelled) is a Romanian pastor who was exiled from his native country in 1981 because of the influence that he had had in that country causing people to turn to faith in Christ. Before he was exiled, he experienced extended persecution at the hands of one of the most repressive Communist regimes in history.
When he was exiled, he immigrated to the United States where he ministered for nearly a year before he was able finally to go back to his homeland after Communism fell, and he's still serving there today.
I first met Joseph and his precious wife, Elizabeth, back in the early 80s. One of the very first impressions I ever had of this man was just before he was asked to speak, he was asked how he would like to be introduced.
Here's a man who has earned a doctorate degree from Oxford University. He's brilliant, he's articulate, he's a philosopher, he's a theologian; and he has incredible academic and professional credentials and had suffered so greatly for his faith. He's a hero in many respects.
But when he was asked how he wanted to be introduced, he said, "All I want you to say is that I am a slave of Jesus Christ," a slave of Jesus Christ. It's interesting that he didn't say that he wanted to be introduced as a servant of Jesus Christ. He said, "I want to be known as a slave of Jesus Christ."
And there is a difference, if you look up the two words in the Webster's Dictionary, you'll find that a servant is somebody who is hired to perform services for someone else. He's hired help.
But if you look up the word slave, you'll see a slave is a human being who is owned as property. He's absolutely subject to the will of someone else.
Joseph Tson said. "I want to be known as a slave of Jesus Christ." Now we serve Christ, we are His servants; but there is an even richer concept known in being the slaves of Jesus Christ. I think it's a concept we don't talk about much; we don't tap into, because slavery is a concept, particularly in the West, that we resist.
Because we have seen the concept abused and misused, we think we can hardly tolerate the idea of having servants; but then the word slavery, it kind of sticks in your throat—as it should if we are talking about one human being owning another human being and coercing service from that human being against the will of the servant.
That's a thought that is not a right one. It's not a right kind of relationship between two individuals who were created in the image of God.
But it is absolutely appropriate that you and I should see ourselves as the slaves of Jesus Christ and that we should choose to be His slaves.
Let me ask you to turn to the book of Exodus, chapter 21. And in this passage you will find a lengthy list of regulations where God gave rules about how servants were to be treated. And in the middle of that whole list of regulations is a fairly dramatic scene that I think vividly illustrates what it means to be a slave of Jesus Christ.
Let's pick up at verse 1 of Exodus chapter 21. I'll read verses 1 and 2 and then verses 5 and 6.
Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. . . . But if that slave plainly says, "I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free," then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave, [his bondslave] forever (ESV).
Now let's look at the context here. In the Jewish culture, on occasion, Jews who were poverty stricken were forced to sell themselves into service to their fellow Jews, and God made provision for that.
Now He said, "You have to treat your servants well." You had to. You couldn't abuse them; you couldn't mistreat them. You had to treat them with kindness and justice and at the end of six years, they had to be set free.
You couldn't keep them as servants longer than that. But in this passage, we have a description of an opportunity that was provided for a servant who had fulfilled his six years. He had fulfilled his obligation and now he was due to be released from servitude. He was free to leave.
However, in this particular case the servant had developed a strong, loving relationship with his master and with the wife and the children that he may have acquired during those years of service so much so that he decided, "I don't want to be released from my master's service."
Now presumably, he admired his master. He was grateful for the way he had been treated, for the way he had been provided for, and he wanted to continue serving in his master's household.
He said plainly, "I love my master." A relationship had developed. They had become more than employer and employee. There was a love relationship and on the basis of this, he said, "I want to be a slave for life."
Now remember, he was under no obligation to stay. He could walk free, but he wanted to stay. He loved his master, and he made a voluntary choice to become his master's bondservant or bondslave depending on which translation you're using.
A bondslave was this man who was a slave for life. And in making this commitment, he wasn't just signing up for another six-year stint, or a tour of duty, he was making a permanent lifetime commitment. He was surrendering himself and giving up all his rights permanently to his master.
This was the act of a man who said voluntarily to someone that he knew and loved and trusted, "I'm yours. I belong to you. I want to spend the rest of my life fulfilling your wishes."
Now this transaction that forever marked the man as a bondservant or a bondslave took place in a public ceremony. And in the ceremony, the surrender to being a bondslave, to being a bondservant for a lifetime that surrender was recognized in a visible way and a painful way.
It involved suffering. A sharp instrument was taken, an awl, it's called here, a-w-l. It was used to pierce a hole in the servant's ear and that hole forever signified a mark of ownership. I don't belong to myself. The decision was irreversible. And once that hole was in the ear, you were forever marked as a bondservant.
Now interestingly, nowhere in the Scripture or any other historical records do we find a single instance in which a servant actually made this choice referred to in Exodus chapter 21.
So you wonder why God would even suggest such a scenario. Well, like so many other Old Testaments pictures, I think this picture was intended to point us to Christ and to depict our relationship as bondslaves of Jesus Christ.
You see the New Testament tells us that when the Lord Jesus came to this earth, Philippians chapter 2, "he took upon Himself the form of a bondservant," a slave (v. 7 NKJV).
The word there in the Greek is a word doulos. It's the word for the lowest form of slave. It's that bondservant, that one who is totally obedient to his master for a lifetime permanent surrender.
Jesus came to this earth in obedience to His Father, fulfilling the will of His Father because He loved His Father and because He loved His Bride and the family that He came to save. So He humbled Himself and voluntarily became a bondslave so that He could deliver up those of us who were in bondage to sin.
Now we have a picture of this prophesied in the Old Testament in Psalm chapter 40, which is one of those Messianic psalms speaking prophetically of Christ. And it says. "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have [pierced]. . . . I desire to do your will, O my God" (vv. 6, 8 NIV).
What's it saying there? As far as we know, no one had ever opted to have his ear pierced in the ceremony that we read about in Exodus chapter 21 until Jesus came to earth. And that passage was fulfilled in Christ. "You have pierced my ear. I desire to do your will, O my God."
He came as a slave. He came as a servant of His Heavenly Father. And in His desire to do the will of God and His willingness to bear and suffer the marks of that submission, He became the bondslave, who symbolically fulfilled that literal exchange that was described in the Old Testament Law.
And that is ultimately what motivates us then to be willing to say, "Lord, I am your servant. Pierce my ear so that all may see and know that I have a lifetime surrender to you as Lord."
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back. She's been inviting you to take an important role and to become a true servant. You'll learn a lot more about how to embrace the servant's lifestyle by reading Nancy's book Surrender: The Heart God Controls.
We packaged it along with two other books by Nancy. Those are Brokenness and Holiness. We'll send this trilogy of books in one hard cover volume when you donate any amount to support Revive Our Hearts. For details call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Nancy is back with part 2 of this study on surrender.
Nancy: We all know what a bio sketch is, a biographical sketch. I've been involved on the speaking and writing end having to come up with bio sketches. And when you write a little bio sketch about yourself or about someone else, you don't pick out the common, ordinary stuff usually to put in bio sketches. You put the things that you think will be particularly impressive.
It's interesting to me that when we get to the New Testament and we open to the letters, the epistles in the New Testament, that the authors give us a little bio sketch. But they don't typically put in the bio sketch the things you would think are most impressive.
For example, the apostle Paul, I mean, he's an apostle. There weren't many of those. But he often doesn't even refer to himself as an apostle in his initial bio sketch or introduction.
He was an incredible preacher and teacher and evangelist and I think of all the titles that (if you were writing or if someone else were writing his bio sketch for him today) he might include; his impressive credentials.
I mean he had advanced theological training and sometimes he made references to those things; but usually when he did, it was things that he felt were humanly impressive but really didn't matter much to God.
When he introduced himself in his epistles, he would often say, "Paul, the doulos, in the Greek, the bondservant of Jesus Christ."
Now keep in mind that in the Roman era in which Paul wrote, slavery was still very much in practice. And to be a doulos, a bondservant was to be the most lowly of lowly in terms of your position.
This was not an impressive credential. This is the scum of the earth. These are the people at the bottom of the totem pole. It's like putting something totally meaningless or insignificant on your bio sketch as far as the readers are concerned.
And then we come not just to the apostle Paul but to James and Jude who both wrote New Testament letters. They were both brothers of the Lord Jesus. Now I would think that was worth putting in a bio sketch. Wouldn't you think that would give them increased credibility when these letters were written?
But when you open the book of James and the book of Jude, you find that they introduce themselves as, not as a brother of the Lord Jesus, but as a doulos, a bondservant, a bondslave of the Lord Jesus.
These men followed in the steps of that great bondservant, the Lord Jesus Himself. They knew that they were sons of God. They knew that they were co-heirs, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and they were not ashamed to say that those things were true. But first and foremost, they wanted to be known as slaves, doulos, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now what does it mean to be a slave of Jesus Christ? Well, several things. First of all it's obvious that it means we're owned by Him. Being a slave means my life is not my own.
To be a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ means that we live and walk and function under His authority, that we're obedient to His direction. Absolute obedience is a mark of being a bondservant.
There's an interesting passage in Luke chapter 7. The centurion has a servant who was sick (a bondservant is the word there, doulos) and at the point of death. This centurion greatly valued his servant. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to go to Jesus and to ask Him to come and heal His servant.
When the representatives of the Jews came to Jesus, they pleaded with Him and they said, "This man is worthy to have You do this. He loves our nation; he built us a synagogue," and so Jesus went with them.
When he got near to the house, the centurion sent some friends, Luke chapter 7, verse 6 and 7. You read there a message from the centurion saying, "Lord, don't even trouble Yourself to come to my house because I am not even worthy to have You come under my roof. And that's why I didn't presume to come to You. Just say the word and my servant will be healed."
Then comes verse 8. This man, this centurion recognizes what it is to be a servant under authority. He says through these messengers to Jesus, "For I too am a man set under authority. I have soldiers under me. I have a boss, and I have people who report to me."
He says, "I know about authority. I know about servanthood. I know about being a doulos. When I have soldiers who work for me, I expect of them absolute, unquestioning obedience." He said, "I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; I say to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it" (v. 8 NKJV).
Obedience, absolute unquestioning obedience is what this centurion expected of his soldiers and those under his authority, his servants. And He is saying in this context, "Because I am under Your authority and You have such great authority, I know You can just say the word and it will happen."
Well, in that scenario we have a wonderful description of what it means to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. To be a slave of Jesus Christ is to be under His authority. To be a slave means that we look to Him for direction.
Lord, what do You want me to do with my life? How do You want me to use my time? You see, the bondslave, the bondservant, the doulos, exists to fulfill the will and the wishes of his master.
And as we recognize ourselves as bondservants, bondslaves of Jesus Christ, we're saying "I can't set the agenda for my life." The question isn't what's on my to-do list for today, the question is, "Lord, what do You want me to get done today."
And that means that continuously I have to be surrendering my to-do list to the Lord. My to-do list is always longer than what can be done in a day anyway, and frequently the Lord arranges to have interruptions in my day that I had not planned.
It's easy to become resentful of those until I stop and realize, "Wait a minute, I'm not the one setting the agenda here. I want to know what His agenda is for my day, for my life."
Those of you who are mothers, you get all kinds of those interruptions. It is hard to plan your day because your schedule is being uprooted and challenged. If you remember that you are a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you exist to fulfill His agenda, His wishes, His purpose, then you can respond to those interruptions because the question is not, "Am I doing what I want to do." The question is, "Am I doing what He has called me to do?"
So when God interrupts my day with someone who has a need, or something I had not planned, for me to groan and moan and get all bent out of shape about it, to act as if it were an imposition, is really to forget who I'm serving and why.
When I'm called upon to serve, I'm really just getting a chance to fulfill the very purpose for which I was created. So I ought to say, "Thank You, Lord, for this privilege of being Your servant and serving Your people."
To be that bondslave is a lifetime surrender. It's a permanent surrender. It's 24-7 surrender. It means I have no time that is my own; always I'm on call for my Master.
I was with a family last night for a little bit who is being asked of the Lord to do something extremely difficult—to make a surrender in serving the Lord that is not what they would have chosen.
And it was so precious to be with this family and to hear the dad, the mom, and then the children one at a time, through their tears, praying and saying, "Lord, we want to do what You want us to do. We're Your servants, and if this is what You want us to do, we surrender ourselves to that."
And then it was so sweet after the prayer time, we got up and gathered together and the dad said, "Let's sing. What shall we sing?" And the mom said, "Let's sing 'Trust and Obey.'" And they did, through their tears.
Trust and obey for there is no other way,
Than to be happy in Jesus
Than to trust and obey.
Regardless of whether God calls you to serve Him in ways that seem menial, some of those household tasks that you do day after day that seem so unimportant, or whether He asks you do something that's significant by your measurement, whether His assignments include tasks that are hidden or highly visible, whether He asks you to do things that seem beneath your skills or He asks you to do things light years beyond what you're able to do and what you think you can do, whether they're common tasks or exciting, exhilarating tasks—whatever He asks, wherever He sends, we need to remember that we are His servants. We exist to do His will.
Lord, make us bondservants, women with a hole in our ear, recognizing that we are slaves, joyful slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Leslie: It's impossible to truly live for the Lord if you're not surrendered to Him. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you how to give up everything in order to follow God's will.
We're thankful that He is using Revive Our Hearts as a daily reminder for women to surrender their lives to Him. Nancy received an email that talks about one of these moments of surrender.
Nancy: This was a really sweet email from a gal who I’ll call Hannah who wrote to us and recently met with her pastor, expressing some reservations about some of the initiatives of her church. She had been discouraging her pastor from following some of the plans that the church had been making for outreach.
Then Hannah downloaded a Revive Our Hearts series and started listening. She wrote and said to us, “It's as if God sat me down and said, 'You need this.'" She was convicted that she was trying to control things at her church because of hurts from her past.
She went on to say “From about 10:30 one night until 4:30 the next morning, God had me in my basement on my face and knees in tears over my wickedness.” That night, God brought Hannah to a place of fresh surrender.
She wrote some of what she prayed that night. She said, “Forgive me, Lord, for my desire to sabotage Your work. You are all powerful, and nothing can stop You from accomplishing Your will. Forgive me for my arrogance in thinking I know best. Forgive me for my lack of trust in You and the work of Your Holy Spirit. Thank you for revealing my sin and breaking my will.”
Well, the radio series that convicted Hannah in this way was available at ReviveOurHearts.com because of listeners like you who support this ministry financially. These special friends provide the resources that allow us to produce programs and distribute them both online and on the radio.
Would you help us to make sure that Revive Our Hearts continues to be available for women like Hannah when they need to hear it? Your gift at this time would be a real blessing—to me, this ministry, and to the many other Hannahs out there who need to come to a fresh point of surrender to Christ.
Leslie: When you contribute any amount, we'll say '"thanks" by sending a trilogy of books Nancy wrote. They’re Brokenness, Surrender, and Holiness. Our team has packaged these three classic messages into one hard cover volume, and we'd like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for the trilogy when you call 1-800-569-5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Well, Nancy says, “In a world of 50-percenters, a 100-percenter really stands out.” Find out what she means as she continues the series Surrender: The Heart God Controls. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.