December Devotionals

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A Leader Who Came As A Sacrifice (Monday)

Read Mark 10:35 – 45

When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute a new building called the Sweeting Center was dedicated.  The building was named in honor of George Sweeting, the previous president.  Dr. Sweeting had been the president for a number of years and had recently entered into his retirement years.  Sweeting had traveled the world as the MBI president to visit alumni, missionaries, and preach.  He was a very recognized personality in evangelical circles.  During the course of all the remarks made at the dedication I was particularly touched by one story told about him.  One of the speakers related how he attended the church that was pastored by Dr. Sweeting’s son.  After an afternoon meeting at the church the speaker went into the men’s room.  As he entered the men’s room he heard a voice singing a hymn in one of the stalls.  The speaker asked if was ok to use the men’s room?  Out from the stall appeared Dr. Sweeting in rubber gloves and a plastic brush that he was using to scrub the toilet.  Dr.  Sweeting said, “Absolutely, I just finished.”  Dr. Sweeting volunteered as a church janitor at his son’s congregation.

The text for today reveals that not only leaders, but often followers, desire to use the position of leadership for their own advancement.  James and John wanted the Lord to do whatever they asked of him, and the request was that they be given the best two seats in the house during eternity.  Jesus uses their self-centered request to teach them, and us, the real essence of spiritual leadership.  Spiritual leaders sacrifice themselves and all they have in the service of others.  If we ever use any position we have to get our way we are not acting consistent with being a spiritual leader.  Our desire must always be to serve.

I had a teacher tell me that if I was going to minister to sheep that I should expect to get my boots dirty and my clothes smelly.  I count it a privilege to do so.  Where do you lead?  Are you a parent or grandparent?  Do you serve in some way in our congregation?  Are you involved in some form of ministry outside the walls of our church?  What is your motivation?  The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.  Christ laid down his life for us.  Christmas was the starting point of that life.

What kind of a leader do we follow?  Not one who cares about himself but one who has demonstrated his care for those other than himself.  That is just one of the reasons I follow him.  Whether I’m preaching or cleaning the toilet at home I have a great model of leadership to follow, Jesus Christ, the leader who came as a sacrifice. 

A Leader Who Came As A Sacrifice (Wednesday)

Read Isaiah 53

            This passage lays out the suffering and affliction Jesus will suffer. He suffers not for Himself, but for us. All I can think of is Aslan. Aslan takes the place of Edmund, the Traitor, and is to be killed in his stead. Susan and Lucy follow behind (and then with him) to the Witch’s camp. They watch as he is beaten, humiliated, mocked, and then drug up the steps to the stone table. There is a part in the film where Aslan sees them watching, and you can see the pain in his eyes, but also the compassion. Oh what a savior! Jesus endured a terrible, painful, horrifying death and through the pain He still loves. He is dying for us. Let that really sink in. Have you ever thought about dying for someone? Would you be able to love the ones doing the killing? Jesus did. He was led as a lamb to slaughter: silent, but going. He didn’t buck or argue or call down hellfire. He silently accepted His path to the cross. He is the Lamb who shed His blood that His sheep might come home. He was beaten that we might be healed. He bled that we might be whole. We are the Edmunds! We had gone astray, we were the ones calling out among the scoffers, and our sins are what held Him there. We wanted to have our own way, but God wouldn’t allow it. He loved us too much, so sent His Son to die and take our place. Because Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself, we are justified. Jesus suffered, but He still loved. Dying, His words were “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He died to save, and while dying, forgave those who put Him there. We see the pain in His death, but also the compassion. Jesus is the ultimate leader because He is the only leader who came as a sacrifice.