What Kind of Ruler Do We Really Want?

“And he will be called…Mighty God.” (Isaiah 9:6b)

Many of us have heard the old proverb about power and might coined by Lord Acton in the 19th century:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”[1]

We know that power and might can be dangerous. In some ways, we all want to be mighty or powerful, whether it’s in our social group or in our schools or on social media platforms or at our workplaces. We are drawn to power.

But at the same time we know power changes people, including us. We have seen certain people we love and respect become people we don’t like because of their power or influence. We are scared for some people to have too much power because we are terrified of what they might do with that power.

Because of this, we look for right and good people to wield might or power. But still, we often experience the disappointment that even people we thought were good or right sometimes lose their way in might and power, becoming overwhelmed, disoriented, or deformed by the weight of power and might.

Power is both attractive and scary.

When we look at the words about the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7, we see that the Messiah will be a Mighty God who rules with power in a very specific way:

“He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

The Messiah will rule with might, but that might will be wielded with justice and righteousness. In contrast to the kings of Israel and the surrounding nations of Isaiah’s time, the Messiah will be a different sort of king who wields might in a different sort of way.

The different way is what we see in Philippians 2:5-11. The Messiah will turn away from the alluring influence of false, earthly power by letting go of glory and choosing humility. The Messiah will fully enter into the reality of human life, specifically by taking on human form, even as a servant. The Messiah will make a way through the morass of sin, evil, and death that saturates human nature and experience, opening up a salvation highway through His surprisingly powerful death on the Cross.

And it is because of this different way of wielding power that the Messiah is the Only One worthy to rule and reign with might. Listen to how Paul describes this in Philippians 2:9-11:

“Therefore God 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,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

This King is worthy to rule and reign. This Messiah is mighty…mighty enough to handle power and rule righteously and justly forever. This Messiah is mighty and is exactly the sort of King we would want to have rule and reign over us. Jesus is the only one who is not absolutely corrupted by absolute power, instead being the absolute King with absolute power who absolutely reigns in absolute goodness and absolute holiness.

This is what this season is all about…receiving and celebrating the Mighty God who is worthy to reign over all.


[1] “Lord Acton Quote Archive,” Acton Institute, https://www.acton.org/research/lord-acton-quote-archive.

Refugee Messiah

This past weekend we continued our series “Power in Preparation” at Eastbrook Church. This is the second part of our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew. This week’s message looks at Matthew 2:13-23 and Jesus as the refugee Messiah.

You can view the message video and outline below. The video begins with a time of prayer for our nation that you can see the written form of here. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” (Matthew 2:14-15)

Seeking Refuge in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18)

  • Another dream for Joseph
  • Jesus flees south to Egypt
  • Scripture fulfilled: Hosea 11:1
  • Scripture fulfilled: Jeremiah 31:15

Returning Home (Matthew 2:19-21)

  • Another dream for Joseph
  • Jesus returns to the Land of Promise

Seeking Refuge in Galilee (Matthew 2:22-23)

  • Another dream for Joseph
  • Jesus flees north to Galilee, specifically, Nazareth
  • Scripture fulfilled: Isaiah 11:1/Judges 16:17

Jesus the Refugee Messiah

  • Jesus the new King (Bethlehem – Son of David)
  • Jesus the new Exodus (Egypt – Moses)
  • Jesus the new return (Ramah – Exile)
  • Jesus the unexpected, expected One – “he had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him” (Isaiah 53:2)

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the contrast between Jesus and Herod in one or more of the following ways:

This week dig deeper into the contrast between Jesus and Herod in one or more of the following ways:

  • Set aside some time this week to read Matthew 2:13-23 again. Then write, draw, paint, or pray aloud your own response to this series of events in Jesus’ life.
  • Read Matthew 2 in light of Moses’ life by comparing it to Exodus 1-4.
  • Look at a map of Jesus’ journey with his family to Egypt and back again here
  • Consider watching the BibleProject video, “Messiah

Faith-full Public Engagement

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we concluded our series, “The Kingdom of God.” This week’s message specifically addressed the intersection of Christian discipleship and the public square, with attention to the topic of faith and politics.

You can view the message video and outline for the message is below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:3)

Two Insufficient Ideas about Political Engagement

  • “Faith has no place in politics!”
  • “Politics has no place in faith!”
  • Our faith in Jesus Christ has political implications.

Four Theological Truths that Should Shape Our Political Engagement

  • Creation calling: Human beings are called by God to exercise dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28)
  • Sin’s complication: Sin and the fall from grace has impacted every aspect of society (Romans 8:20)
  • Jesus is Lord: everything is subject to Him, and we will reign with Him (Philippians 2:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:11-12)
  • Love and truth: God’s kingdom agenda must guide us (John 3:16; 1:14)

Six Questions for Faith-full Political Engagement

  • Am I living out of a growing life with God that brings the fruit of the Spirit into my politics?
  • Have I taken steps to be informed on the issues at hand or am I taking action out of lack of knowledge?
  • Am I approaching this issue rooted in my kingdom citizenship and the agenda of God’s kingdom or from my earthly citizenship and political agenda alone?
  • How will my activity cultivate love for my neighbor and promote love, justice, truth, and moral order as God defines it?
  • How will my action serve the common good, not just for me and people like me but for all people?

How will my action promote the glory of God and the kingship of Christ both in the church and the broader world?


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the theme of the kingdom of God in one or more of the following ways:

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of This World

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series, “The Kingdom of God” by exploring the ways in which our citizenship in the kingdom interfaces with our earthly citizenship. I proposed that we need to live by the power of the Holy Spirit as exiles in and for the world, concluding with five practices that may help us live this out.

You can view the message video and outline for the message is below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

“Jesus is Lord!”

  • The closeness of the kingdom and responding to Jesus (Mark 1:15)
  • The fundamental declaration of faith (Romans 10:9)
  • Everything is subject to Christ and God’s kingdom (Philippians 2:10-11)

Kingdom Citizens: Recognizing our Dual Citizenship

  • We are citizens of God’s kingdom (Philippians 3:20)
  • We are citizens of earthly kingdoms

Living by the Spirit as Exiles in the World

  • Remember God’s kingdom is a different sort of kingdom (John 18:33-36)
  • Remember we are a holy nation established by God in Christ (1 Peter 2:9-10)
  • Remembering we are exiles scattered in the world (1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:11-12)
  • Remember God has delegated authority to earthly rulers and kingdoms (John 19:10-11; Romans 13:1-2)

Living by the Spirit as Exiles for the World

  • Living as exiles for the blessing of the places we are scattered by God (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
  • Living as good citizens within the structures as established by God (Romans 13:1-7)
  • Living in Christian service in relation to the needs of the world (Matthew 25:31-46)
  • Living prophetically in relation to the powers and authorities (Acts 4:8-20)

Five Practices of Kingdom Citizens amidst Earthly Kingdoms

  • Hold to our primary citizenship
  • Discern the times and agendas
  • Walk by the Spirit
  • Maintain perspective
  • Live in the tension of hope

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the theme of the kingdom of God in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Romans 10:9 or Philippians 3:20.
  • Take time to meditate on Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate in John 18:33-36; 19:10-11. Respond to the passage by drawing, painting, journaling, or going for a walk to pray.
  • Based on this message and study guide, talk with a friend or journal on your own about what it means to live in the tension of hope as a citizen of the kingdom of God and a citizen of an earthly kingdom.
  • Join us for the Leadership Community with Dr. Vince Bacote on Monday, September 28, at 7 PM, as he speaks on “The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life.”

The Holy Spirit in Us: Living in the Kingdom of God Now

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series, “The Kingdom of God.” This first two weeks of the series I explored the theme of the kingdom of God through the Old Testament and New Testament. This week , I walked through three main aspects of living in the kingdom of God: personally living in the kingdom, living as the community of God in the kingdom, and joining God’s kingdom work in the world.

You can view the message video and outline for the message is below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, 
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’” (Romans 14:17)

I: Life in God’s Kingdom by the Spirit

  • Life in the Spirit (Romans 14:17-18)
  • The surprisingly blessed life  (Matthew 5:2-12)
  • The obedient and fruitful life (Galatians 5:13-26)

We: Life Together in God’s Kingdom by the Spirit

  • The community that takes on Christ’s kingly character (Ephesians 4:14-16)
  • The community that takes on Christ’s servant character (Philippians 2:1-11)

They: Kingdom Mission with the Spirit

  • Word: The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
  • Deed: The Great Commandment  (Matthew 22:34-40)

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the theme of living in the kingdom of God in one or more of the following ways: