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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We’ve Already Won

Today’s reading is John 16.

When I read the last verse of today’s reading, I can’t help but think of the Israelites heading into the Promised Land. Multiple times, God spoke of the land He had already given them (cf. Deuteronomy 9:23). That is, even before they took possession, God had already overcome Canaan land. When they listened to God and maintained their covenant relationship with Him, they overcame. We are not looking for military conquest today. However, we are at war. The world is fighting with all of its might. Often, that is discouraging and disheartening. Of course, I can’t tell you what the casualties will be. As we watch those casualties, it is painful. Especially when those who cave to the world are close to us. However, we are fighting on the winning side. No matter what it may look like, God always wins. In fact, through Jesus Christ He has already won. The world is already conquered. God is already victorious. Whose side will you be on today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 17.

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Living in a Modern Crete

Today’s reading is Titus 3.

According to historical study, the Cretan populace was, in general, sinful and immoral in the extreme. And not just by the standards of the likes of Paul. The rest of the Roman world looked down on Crete and Cretans as vile, beastly, immoral liars. That means they were pretty bad. So we can imagine when Paul wrote to Titus about what to teach the Christians, he had a lot to say about how the Christians should wage the culture war among the sexually immoral, morally destitute, sinfully wicked Cretans. No doubt, he encouraged them to have public demonstrations, to take every opportunity to shout down the immorality, to argue constantly with everyone who disagreed with the revelation coming from the apostles, to belittle and shame the sinners. Or wait. Maybe he gave different instructions. Look again at today’s reading.¬†

  • Be submissive to rulers and authorities¬†
  • Be obedient
  • Be ready for every good work
  • Speak evil of no one
  • Avoid quarreling
  • Be gentle
  • Show perfect courtesy toward all people

Wow! Why? Because we are surrounded by people who need a Savior just as we do. The only difference between us and those who still pursue sin with reckless abandon is through Jesus Christ we have the empowering strength of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we are to neglect teaching truth and correcting opponents (see Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7-8). However, let us think about Paul’s instructions to the Cretan Christians before we act, before we interact, before we react.

Monday’s reading is John 1.¬†

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The Battle Begins

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

You’d think Satan might wait until Jesus had a chance to grow up a little before starting his all out assault. But no. The dragon takes on the woman and her child in His infancy. Herod is the adversary’s instrument who slaughters a city full of children in this first attack. However, Jesus escaped. Please understand, our enemy is ruthless. He doesn’t care who gets hurt or killed in the fight. He will do whatever it takes to conquer the offspring of the woman (yes, I’m mixing this with the imagery of Revelation 12). He will do whatever it takes to conquer you. However, God is on your side. God will win; God does win. Even if we are killed in the battle, we will still have the victory in Jesus because He not only survived this beginning battle, He won the war. No matter how Satan attacks, hang on to Jesus. That is the only place of victory.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

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Sober and Alert

Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 5.

Paul’s language is the language of battle and war. We have an enemy that is ready to take advantage of every chink in the armor we have. So, Paul reminds us we are children of the day. We aren’t children of the night. What does that mean? It means we need to be sober and alert. We need to be vigilant and clear headed. Obviously, he isn’t saying we are never allowed to sleep (consider Psalm 127:2). And, frankly, I’ve almost given up on trying to convince even Christians that maybe God wants us to stay away from intoxicating drinks (people don’t seem to want to hear that anymore). But, I know this. He wants sobriety and alertness to describe our lives and our days. How alert and sober does He want us to be? He wants us to be as sober and alert as an on duty soldier. Interestingly, to be sober and alert, we actually have to get appropriate amounts of rest and sleep. On the other hand, to be sober and alert, we need to stay away from intoxicants. So, if you were at war and your life was in the hands of a wing man, how sober and alert would you want that person to be? How much rest would you want them to have had as you go on duty together? How much alcohol, pot, or narcotics would you want them to have just had? Why not strive for that same kind of sobriety and alertness today in your war? After all, night time behaviors do not become us, we are of the day.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Thessalonians 1.

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The Weapons of Our Warfare

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 10.

We are in a kingdom. Our king is Jesus. He is opposed to all other kings. The battle is on for domination of the world. However, our kingdom is different. We do not wage war according to the flesh. Sadly, this has been overlooked throughout the centuries. Perhaps the worst of these oversights was the Crusades. Then there were the holy wars during the Reformation years. Of course, there was the Inquisition. But is it any different today when churches mount political campaigns and try to mobilize social justice marches and movements to get the world to act like Christians are supposed to act? These may use voting booths instead of military offensives and sit ins instead of bombing raids, but they are still weapons of the flesh. We bring the gospel. Then we live by the gospel, holding those in Christ’s kingdom accountable to the gospel, and let the kingdoms of the world see what that looks like. These are our weapons. They worked in the first couple of centuries of Christianity. Let’s pick them up again.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 11.

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Ready to Die

Today’s reading is Acts 21.

How many people throughout history have been willing to die for their king? It is not surprising at all to hear of a knight, soldier, ambassador who says he will put his life on the line for his lord and liege. And yet, we are surprised when we hear Paul say that about his King, Jesus. However, he is saying what so many others have said. Paul understood what was happening. This wasn’t just evangelism, personal work, missionary work. This was war. There was a battle between the forces of evil and his King. He was ready to step up to the fight. Of course, unlike literal war, the battle isn’t fought with sword and shield, but with the Word of God. He was ready to take the Word of God that he might be part of the enemy’s defeat and the deliverance of his prisoners of war. He was ready to die in service of his King. I have a long way to grow. Let’s grow there together.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 22.

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