Archive for December, 2017

Jesus Creates Division


          “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!  Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth?  I tell you, not at all, but rather division.  For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.  Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12: 49-53.)


          Jesus corrected the commonly held belief that he came to bring peace to the earth; his real purpose was to give everyone the opportunity to choose their eternal destinations for themselves.  The baptism Jesus underwent on the cross divided the world in two; some have accepted his sacrifice and followed his teachings; still others believe he was just a man, and the cross has no meaning in their lives.  On this earth the strongest of all bonds exists within the family unit.  Loyalty among siblings is paramount; as is the fidelity between children and their parents; yet not even these sacred relationships can withstand the new order Christ’s sacrifice has produced; the believer’s new supreme allegiance belongs to the Son of God, and those who share this allegiance make-up, ‘The Body of Christ.’

          In the book of Luke, Jesus presented a man with the gospel, saying, “Follow me!”  The man responded, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus then replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you, go and preach the kingdom.”  Then another man came to him and said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  Jesus responded saying, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  In both cases Jesus caused turmoil and division; separating those who believe from those who do not.

          Jesus Christ is the prince of peace; however, he is also a sword that cuts the world in two.  He came to create unity amongst followers and division between those followers and everyone else.  Often, if we are at peace with the world, then we are in opposition to God.  Persecution is a very real part of genuine faith.  We will be divided from others and suffer many afflictions, but we will never be alone.  We must be strong for each other; as one body we can endure and overcome the world through the power of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

          “Lord Heavenly Father we ask that You give us the strength to step out in faith.  We desire to be Your followers; may we be filled with love, and may we never be ashamed of the truth.  May our allegiance to You and to Your Son be supreme; may we never put anyone ahead of You Lord.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!


Pride and Humility


            “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18: 10-14.)


            The Pharisees were the rigid religious leaders of the day.  They loathed sinners, and they loathed the impure.  They became angry when they heard that Jesus was eating with sinners (those who didn’t behave in Godly ways.)  The tax-collectors earned a living by cheating the people.  A tax-collector survived off of whatever amount of money they charged above the normal taxes.  So they were seen as traitors and thieves.  This was an illustration about humility.  The Pharisee believed that because he had done so many good things, he was righteous.  The tax collector however, feared God, and held God in high esteem; he couldn’t even lift his eyes up toward God, and was angry with himself for not having measured up to God’s standards.  In his reverence he asked God to show him mercy.  The one who was a screw-up was more acceptable to God than was the person who had been doing all of the right things, because the screw-up honored God and not himself.  One man exalted God, the other man exalted himself.  Jesus said the one who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

            In high school, I never liked to run in track; I pole-vaulted, but I never liked to run.  I avoided it like the plague.  I knew I wasn’t that fast of a sprinter, and I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness.  One time my coach told me I had to run or I would get kicked off of the team.  Everyone had to run, and it became common knowledge that I was disobeying the coach.  When I eventually ran, I lost horribly; someone later told me, “I heard Triganowen beat you,” some sophomore kid who wasn’t a starter on the football team.  Man did I feel less than low.  I was prideful, just like the Pharisee in this scripture.  Interestingly enough, on that same track team there was a boy named ‘Billy.’  He was mentally disabled.  He could run, but he couldn’t run fast.  His parents would drop him off for practice.  He wore coke-bottle glasses and had buck teeth.  He couldn’t carry on a conversation very well either.  He was an oddity to most people, because he showed up every day, and he worked hard to run faster.  He practiced to improve his speed even though it was at a snail’s pace; we knew he would never place in any race, but he would run for a different reason.  One day, the word went out, Billy was running in an event.  He ran, and as he did, people began to gather, and run beside him, and cheer him on.  The other teams were looking over at all of the excitement, but they didn’t understand what was happening.  This one little kid had an effect on my heart and on everyone on our team in a way that none of us had had on each other.  I now know that it was the humility in Billy that we were honoring.  Because he was weak but tried his best, we honored him.

            We as well as Christians should show similar humility.  We should never be focused on our own righteousness or on how good we are compared with others because in the end we are all nothing next to the righteousness of God.  We can’t honor God and honor ourselves at the same time.  God honors those who are humble, and he humbles those who are full of pride and self-righteousness.  Be the humble person.  Remember how merciful God has been to you, a ‘lowly sinner.’  Think of how Great God’s love for you is, in that, while you were still a sinner he died for you, and you will know the love and the joy of an all powerful God living within your heart.

            “Father, if there are areas of self-righteousness in us, we ask that You please reveal them and remove them from us.  Help us to lift you up, and to honor You and put You in the place of honor in our lives.  Help us also Lord, to not look down on the others, but to reach out to them in love.  We thank You Father, we love You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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