Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminding us of the amazing choice that Jesus made.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In that final moment of His life here on this earth, He performed one last volitional, powerful act: He bowed His head. He chose the pathway of surrender.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, September 5.

Yesterday, Nancy began part one of a series called, Consider Jesus: The Surrendered Servant and Savior. Now, let’s listen to the second half of that message. Yesterday we began to see Jesus with fresh eyes and a new sense of wonder.

Nancy: We’re seeing what I think is one of the most astounding things about Christ, and that is that throughout all of His life, in eternity past, in all of time, and for all of eternity future, Jesus always was, He is, and He always will be a surrendered servant and Savior. It’s His surrender to the will of God that compels us to ask ourselves where we are in relation to the will of God.

How can it be that Jesus would live a surrendered life, and yet we would say, “I’m going to resist the will of God”? And yet, isn’t that often what we do? We want to have it our way, do our thing. I find that I expend so much energy just resisting the things that I know God wants that I think are not going to be pleasant or desirable.

And then you have the experience—you’ve been there, and I have as well—when you finally relinquish your own will, you let go, you acquiesce to the will of God, and you find there’s such joy. There’s such freedom. There’s such peace that comes. Not that life is easy, but there’s blessing that comes through surrendering to the will of God. And as we’re considering Jesus, we’re considering someone who was fully surrendered to the will of God.

We talked in the last session about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, of how He surrendered His will to the will of the Father and said, “I’m willing to go to the cross. I’m willing to do what, to Me, is unthinkable, and that is to become sin on behalf of the world.”

Yes, He did it because He loved us, but more than that, I believe He did it because He was obedient to His Heavenly Father. He was willing to do whatever God wanted Him to do. He was surrendered.

Now, Jesus left the Garden of Gethsemane under arrest. Not many hours later, as you recall the story, He laid down His life on the cross. Now we beautify the cross. We dramatize the cross. We trivialize the cross. We make the cross into something pretty or ornate. But I want to tell you, a cross is a cruel weapon of torture. It is a common criminal’s death and the most heinous death perhaps ever known to mankind.

And Jesus voluntarily went, under obedience to His Father, in surrender to the will of the Father. He went and laid down His life on the cross. The Scripture is clear that no man forced Jesus into this, that He did it of His own volition.

John chapter 10, Jesus says, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again”—a reference to the resurrection that was going to follow the cross—“no one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (vv. 17–18).

“No one takes My life. No one makes Me do this. It’s not the Roman soldiers who took My life. It’s not Judas who took My life. It’s not the Scribes and Pharisees who took My life.”

It’s not the crowd that cried, "Crucify," that took His life. Jesus said, “No man takes My life. They’re just instruments in the hand of God fulfilling the will and the purposes of God for My life. I lay down My life. I choose to walk in the pathway of suffering because it is the pathway of surrender.”

Jesus says, “I have authority to lay My life down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father. It’s His will, and that’s why I choose to do it.”

Now, in John’s account of the crucifixion, we have one little detail that is not included in the other gospel accounts, but I think it’s a highly significant detail.

Let me read in John 19, beginning in verse 28. Jesus is on the cross, and it says:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and [here’s the detail] he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (vv. 28–30).

That little phrase appears only in John’s gospel: “He bowed His head.” Think about that—He bowed His head. He didn’t just slump over. He consciously, intentionally bowed His head. In that final moment of His life here on this earth, He performed one last volitional, powerful act: He bowed His head. He chose the pathway of surrender.

“No man took My life.” He didn’t just die. He gave up His spirit. He laid down His life. He was heard, Hebrews says, because of His reverent submission. He surrendered. He willingly, freely gave up His life so that you and I could inherit eternal life.

What a God! What a Savior! And what a challenge! What a calling is ours! As Christ surrendered to the will of God, it took Him to the cross, so our surrender to the will of God will also always take us to the cross.

You say, “What do you mean? I’m not going to die on a cross as Jesus did.”

Let’s look at it this way: Every time your flesh or mine crosses the will of God, and we choose to bow the head and surrender to the will of God, our will is crucified, and Christ is exalted as Lord. I go to the cross every time my will contradicts the will of God, and I say “no” to my will, and I say “yes” to the will of God. I bow my head. I choose to surrender. I have chosen the pathway of the cross. That’s where surrender takes us.

So let’s make this practical. My flesh wants to watch that raunchy TV program, but the Spirit says through the Word, “Cast off the works of darkness,” Romans 13:12. What do I do? Do I see it as an opportunity to consciously, volitionally bow my head in surrender to the will of God, to say “yes” to God and “no” to my flesh?

When my flesh wants to lash out in anger, and the Spirit says through the Word, Colossians 3:12–13, “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience bear with each other,” what do I do? Do I say “yes” to my flesh? Or do I say “yes” to God? That’s the time to bow the head and surrender to God.

When your flesh wants to pass along a critical report about another believer, and the Spirit says, “Speak evil of no one,” Titus 3:2, bow your head. Surrender to the will of God. Go to the cross.

When your flesh is tempted to complain about your circumstances, and the Spirit says through the Word, “In everything give thanks,” bow your head. Say, “Yes, Lord.” Surrender to the will of God. Give thanks.

When your flesh rises up against an authority that you think is being unreasonable, but the will of God says, “Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every authority.” That’s the time to bow your head. Say, “Yes, Lord, I will do Your life. I lay down my life. I surrender. I will do Your will.”

When your flesh wants to wound your husband or that child or that friend who has wounded you. It wants to retaliate, get back, but the will of God says, “Repay no one evil for evil,” Romans 12:17. Bow your head. Say, “Yes, Lord, I will go to the cross. I will surrender. I’m willing to suffer being wronged. I’m willing to go to the cross out of obedience to You and Your will.”

When your flesh wants to join in with your friends who are criticizing their husbands, and you’ve got a few things you could criticize yours about—it’s the in-thing to do—but the will of God says, “Let the wife see that she respects [or reverences] her husband” (Eph. 5:33). What do you do? Bow your head. Say, “Yes, Lord. I will respect my husband. I will not speak the words that my flesh wants to speak. I will do Your will. I surrender.”

When your flesh wants to say something that makes you look good, and the Spirit of God says through His Word, “Let another man praise you and not your own mouth,” (Pro 27:7 NKJV) what do you do? Bow your head. Stop. Say, “Yes, Lord, I surrender. I will do Your will.” Don’t say what you were going to say—that thing that makes you look good. Do the will of God. Surrender.

When your flesh wants to escape with romance novels so you can indulge in sexual fantasies—and a lot of Christian women are doing this—but the Word of God, the will of God says, “Blessed are the pure in heart," (Matt. 5:8) and "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV) what do you do? Do you just go your own way, do your own thing? No! Bow your head. Say, “Yes, Lord, I surrender. I yield. I’m willing to go to the cross. I’m willing to do what You want me to do.”

When your flesh wants to eat in excess, to be indulged, but the Word of God, the will of God says, “Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And so you say, “Can I eat right now to the glory of God? Is that why I’m eating? Or am I eating just to indulge my flesh?” What do you do? You go ahead and eat it? That’s what Eve did. That’s what got us in all this trouble. No! You bow your head. You say, “Yes, Lord. I surrender. Your will, not mine be done.”

You see, every time that you and I bow our heads in acceptance of and surrender to the will of God, we embrace the cross, and we manifest to the world the heart of Jesus Christ who bowed His head to the will of the Father. We demonstrate His heart. We’re modeling the surrendered servant heart of Christ to the world. Bow the head.

I find this so practical as I find these times of battle in my own life where I know my flesh is saying one thing, and I know the Spirit of God, the will of God, the Word of God says something different. It can happen many times a day, this battle that goes on inside. Nobody else knows it’s happening, but there’s that wrestling match between my will and the will of God.

I’ve found it is so helpful if I will just consciously bow my head, just say, “Yes, Lord.” Sometimes I just mentally imagine myself doing it, sometimes I just physically do it. “Yes, Lord. I bow to Your will. I bow my head. I lay down my life. I give it up. I surrender to Your will.”

Jesus bowed His head. He laid down His life.

So make it personal. What’s an issue that you are currently facing in which you need to bow your head in submission and surrender to the will of God? There’s a wrestling match going on inside.

Can I tell you this: The wrestling match will stop the moment that you bow your head, wave the white flag of surrender and say, “Yes, Lord. Your will be done. I delight to do Your will.”

On the front side of that you think, “It’s going to be so hard. I just can’t do this.” We fight, and we wrestle, and we kick, and we resist, and we resent. But on the other side, it’s so sweet. And then I look back, and I say, “Why did I fight? Why didn’t I bow my head sooner?” Bow the head. Surrender to the will of God.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been encouraging you to surrender to God’s will just like Jesus did. She’ll be right back with the second half of today’s program.

We don’t have time to air the complete message this week, but when you order the series on CD, you’ll get substantially more content. For more details on ordering our current series called, Consider Jesus: The Surrendered Servant and Savior, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Let’s get back to Nancy’s message.

Nancy: I think that one of the greatest issues we all have to wrestle with in our Christian life is this thing of clinging to our rights. In fact, wouldn’t you agree that that’s perhaps at the root of all conflict and most of the struggles that we go through? We want our way. We want our rights.

Well, as we’ve been considering Jesus in this series and contemplating Him and looking at Him, we’re seeing that His life was just the opposite of that. There was no clinging to rights but rather the surrendering of His rights, the laying down of His rights in obedience to the will of the Father.

We’ve been looking at Christ’s submission, His surrender to the will of God, in eternity past, in creation, at the incarnation when He came to earth, throughout His earthly ministry, in Gethsemane, as He prayed and surrendered His will to the will of the Father, and then as He went to the cross in that supreme act of surrender.

And so—what does that have to do with us? Well, Philippians 2 tells us what it has to do with us. It says your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus who being in very nature God—He was equal with God. He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped. (see Phil. 2:5–6)

Another translation says, “He did not cling to His rights as God.” He was God. He had all the rights of God, but He laid down those rights. He surrendered those rights. He made Himself nothing.

Think about the rights that He gave up, what He surrendered in order to obey the Father: Giving up the power, the glory, the honor, the reputation, the rights, the authority, all the angels in heaven falling down and worshiping Him all the time, to come to this earth where people are screaming, “Crucify Him!” giving up the exalted position, the home, the proximity to God, laying it down.

He made Himself nothing. He did not cling to His rights as God. He did not grasp equality with God. He took instead "the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death [He bowed His head. He gave up His life], even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:7–8).

So what does the Scripture say? Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Our lives are intended to be like His, laying down our rights, giving up our rights. Don’t you think our marriages and families and churches and work places would be infinitely different if we would learn to lay down our rights?

We want our way. That’s where contention comes from. That’s where tension comes from in our homes, in our churches, in our relationships. We want it our way. We won’t lay down our rights. We’re called to lay down our rights as Jesus did.

Years ago I came across a book written by Mabel Williamson who was a missionary in China for many years. The book unfortunately is out of print today. It’s called, Have We No Rights? And in the course of that book—she’s writing directly to missionaries—but by way of application, she’s saying that every truly consecrated Christian has to be willing to give up his rights—the right to the normal comforts of life, to physical health and safety, the right to privacy, the right to time.

Mothers are always having to give up these rights, aren’t they? And you know, that’s one reason we have so many resentful, angry mothers, because their rights are being taken away from them, but they’re trying to hold on to their rights.

She closes that book with a reading called, “He Had No Rights.” Let me just read you a portion of what she wrote:

He had no rights [speaking of the Lord Jesus] no right to a soft bed and a well laid table. No right to a home of His own, a place where His own pleasure might be sought. No right to choose pleasant, congenial companions, those who could understand Him and sympathize with Him. No right to shrink away from filth and sin, to pull His garments closer around Him and turn aside to walk in cleaner paths.

No right to be understood and appreciated, no, not by those upon whom He had poured out a double portion of His love. No right even never to be forsaken by His Father, the one who meant more than all to Him.

His only right was silently to endure shame, spitting, and blows, to take His place as a sinner at the dock, to bear my sins in anguish on the cross.

He had no rights and I, a right to the comforts of life? No, but a right to the love of God for my pillow. A right to physical safety? No, but a right to the security of being in His will. [If you’re in Christ, this is something He has given you as a promise.] A right to love and sympathy from those around me? No, but a right to the friendship of the one who understands me better than I do myself. A right to a home and dear ones? Not necessarily, but a right to dwell in the heart of God.

All that He takes, I will give. All that He gives, I will take. He, my only right. He, the one right before which all other rights fade into nothingness.

This issue of laying down our rights is so very practical. I mean, we have to deal with it every day in all kinds of circumstances of life. I came across an Elisabeth Elliot newsletter where she made a list of some of the rights that we need to be willing to lay down. I just want to read that list to you—don’t try and write it down. We’ll have it on our website—and next to each of these, by the way, she has a Scripture reference which we will have if you go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, and look up this list.

  • The right to take revenge (Rom 12:19–20)
  • The right to have a comfortable, secure home (Luke 9:57–58)
  • The right to spend money however we please (Matt. 6:19–21)
  • The right to hate an enemy (Matt. 5:43–48)
  • The right to be honored and served (Mark 10:42–47)
  • The right to understand God’s plan before we obey (Heb. 11:8) [Wouldn’t we love to have that?! But she says,"‘No, that’s a right you need to lay down.”]
  • The right to hold a grudge (Col. 3:13) [If you’re a child of God, lay it down.]
  • The right to "fit into" society (Rom. 12:2; Gal 1:10) [You don’t have the right to fit into this culture. Lay it down as Christ laid down His rights.]
  •  The right to do whatever feels good (Gal. 5:16–17; 1 Pet. 4:2)
  • [I’d like to skip this one.] The right to complain (Phil. 2:14; 1 Thes 5:18) [How about laying that right down? You know, I’m willing to suffer, but at least let me complain about it. Let me tell everybody else how hard my life is. Lay it down. It’s not a right.]
  • The right to put self first (Phil. 2:3–4)
  • The right to end a disappointing marriage (Matt. 5:31–32) [Lay it down. It’s not a right. It may be something you want to do. It may be something the world encourages you to do, but if it’s not according to the will of God, then as a child of God, bow your head, surrender to the will of God, and say, “I relinquish these rights.”]

So we read in Philippians chapter 2, “Let the same mind—the same attitude, the same mindset—be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited [one translation says] but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (see vv. 5–8).

What did He do? He emptied Himself of all His rights—Christ, the surrendered servant and Savior. But thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. The passage goes on: “Therefore, God exalted Him.”

God’s Word says if you lay down your life, you’ll get it back. You try to hold on to it, you’ll lose it. He laid it down, and “therefore, God highly exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow” (Phil. 2:9–10 NIV).

“Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” Surrender. Lay down your rights. Every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth should "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11).

Now, surrendering your rights may take you to a cross. How did Jesus endure the cross? He did it because of the joy that was set before Him. He knew that beyond the cross there would be a resurrection.

Some of us never get to experience the resurrection because we’re not willing to go through the cross.  We do everything to go around it, past it, by it, but not through it.

Lay down your rights. You cling to your rights, you’re going to lose them anyway. You lay them down, and God will give you new resurrection life—everything you’ve ever dreamed of—not without pain in this earth, not without suffering. That’s a promise, too. We fellowship with Him in His sufferings.

What’s the right that you’ve been clinging to? That may be what is causing the tension in your marriage. You’ve got a man and a woman clinging to their rights. That may be what’s causing the friction between you and your teenager—you’re both clinging to rights. You can’t make your teenager or your husband lay down their rights, but you can lay down your rights and trust God to defend you. Trust Him to take you past the cross into resurrection life.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been challenging the popular idea: “I have my rights.”

Maybe you’ve been challenged to lay down your rights to focus less on yourself and more on the will of your Father. Nancy’s book, Surrender, will help you learn how to continually give up your will for the sake of God’s will.

We’d like to send you the book, Surrender, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

So, who is the person in your life always causing trouble and worry? Tomorrow Ney Bailey will revolutionize your thinking about that person. When our team heard this message, they couldn’t wait to get it on the air. You’ll hear it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture was taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.