Friends Who Pray

Today’s reading is Acts 4.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be arrested and threatened? Once released, what would you do? Go into hiding? Get out of town? Peter and John “went to their friends.” But notice what kind of friends they had. They didn’t go to friends who merely commiserated with them. They didn’t go to friends who decided to take up arms against their enemies. They didn’t go to friends who groused and complained about how bad things were. They went to friends who prayed. Those are the kinds of friends we need to have. Those are the kinds of friends we need to be. And not the kinds of friends who simply promise to pray sometime off in the indeterminate future. Friends who drop everything and pray right then and there. That is a good kind of friend. Don’t you agree?

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 4.

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Peace and Division

Today’s reading is Luke 12.

You can’t put Jesus in a box. Do you think Jesus came to give peace on earth? Of course He did. That was the statement of the angels in Luke 2:14. But Jesus says, “Nope. I came to bring division.” What is that about? Do I put Him in the “peace” box or the “strife” box? Peace is the purpose for Jesus’s coming. Division is how people actually respond. That is, Jesus did come to bring peace. His sacrifice restores peace between the lost and God. As that peace is restored, reconciliation will occur between those who find peace with God. Not everyone, however, accepts God’s terms of peace. Further, those who don’t, no matter how many “coexist” bumper stickers they have, are not satisfied simply allowing us to have peace. They will wage war. The war is not what is shocking. The Jews expected the Messiah to bring war before peace. However, they expected the war to be with the Romans. Jesus says the war will be in our own homes. Not only is that shocking, it is painful. That is why Jesus is preparing us. When even our own family and friends take up the fight against us, that will hurt tremendously. We may be tempted to believe we have somehow done something wrong. Those who attack us will certainly blame us. We will be tempted to believe it is our stand for God’s peace terms that are actually causing the war. However, we must not cave under the mounting pressure of their attacks. Rather, we must continue to pursue peace God’s way, through the gospel and His kingdom, calling people to God’s terms of surrender. Paul’s words still ring true. As much as it depends on us, there is to be peace. But peace will not simply depend on us. If there is division, war, and sword, let it come from those who cannot abide peace on God’s terms, not from us. May we never be bated by the worldly to fight on their terms. However, may we never abandon God’s terms of peace because the worldly attack. Hang on to Jesus no matter what.

Next week’s reading is Luke 13.

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Friends of the Groom

Today’s reading is Revelation 11.

Every hero has friends. Remember Fezzik and Inigo in “The Princess Bride”? In modern weddings, we carry on this idea with the best man and the groomsmen. These are the men who were supposed to support the groom and fight off any who would challenge the groom for his bride. Our Hero, the groom of the church is no different. He has two friends, the descriptions of whom remind us of Moses and Elijah. Then we see the same story cycle repeated over and over in Revelation. At first, these friends are unstoppable. If any would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes the enemy. However, the seemingly unstoppable get stopped; the beast makes war on them and kills them. The people celebrate the death of the Hero’s friends. It looks like the Hero is going to lose. However, then the unimaginable happens. Just when the enemy believes it has won, the Hero’s friends are resurrected (just like the Hero) and are called to the Father’s throne. Judgment rains down on the enemies. God is glorified. Praise the Lord, Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 12.

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A Little Help From My Friends

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 1.

“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.” That’s how this letter to the church in Thessalonica begins. Of Paul’s letters to congregations, two-thirds begin by listing more than one author along with Paul. I know I rarely think of any of these letters as having co-authors. I almost skip over those other fellows as if Paul included their names merely out of some kind of politeness. To be truthful, I’m not really sure why these other names are included. Did they contribute to the message or structure of the letters? Were they merely Paul’s companions at the time? I wonder why Paul included them at all. Wouldn’t that detract from his prominence? Wouldn’t that diminish his own authority? Yet, Paul is perfectly fine with demonstrating a reliance upon friends and brethren in the writing of the majority of his epistles to congregations. I so often try to go it alone, to prove I don’t need others, to demonstrate that “I’ve got this.” Paul…not so much. Think about that today. If Paul was willing to get help and rely on others even in the writing of these letters and in leading, directing, guiding congregations, how much more should we be willing to get a little help from our friends?* Who will you be leaning on today?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 2.

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In the Footsteps of Jesus

Today’s reading is Revelation 11.

One of the biggest objections to the gospel when it was first preached was folks disbelieving that the Messiah would suffer and die before His coronation. The apostles and early Christians had to walk people through the Old Testament, showing all of God’s anointed ones did that: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, even Israel as a nation. One of the biggest objections today is disbelieving the followers of Jesus will suffer before our victory. But that is exactly the picture of the two witnesses. They are the friends of Jesus who testify to Him and seemingly they should be unstoppable. Surely they will never suffer. Surely they will never die. And yet, that is exactly what happens. They are killed and their enemies rejoice. But after three and a half days, they are resurrected and taken to glory. Does that remind you of anyone? Of course. It reminds us of Jesus. Let us not be surprised when we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, it is the path the Lord’s anointed have always walked. But it always ends in victory. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 12.

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