A HOUSE DIVIDED
On June 16th, 1858, as he accepted his party’s nomination to be the senator from the state of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln spoke these words:
“A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
These are strong words that are particularly applicable today as we, the children of God, have become divided by the ideologies of race, gender, economics, and politics!
In Mark, chapter 3, verse 25, Jesus responds to the scribes’ claim that He is Beelzebub and is casting out demons. He responds to their claim with the rhetorical question: How can Satan cast out Satan? His point is that a house divided against itself cannot stand, it cannot survive. He repeats this when He states “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” (Matthew 12:25)
Can we justifiably claim to be the children of God and at the same time perpetuate the divisions within the Church that keep us apart and in conflict?
Scripture: Luke 11:14-23
In Luke 22, we read of how Jesus responded to the question of who is the greater – the servant or the one being served. His response? It is the one who serves another. It is nice to be waited upon but, we are called to be servants just as Jesus was.
Jesus illustrates this point when He washes the feet of His disciples; a task left to a household servant. His point? There is no more humble a task than to serve a brother or sister in even the most mundane of needs.
Occasionally, God reminds of this fact of service through the actions of another. On a warm Saturday morning on a dusty baseball field, in the middle of a game between two teams of second graders, one man stopped play in order to tie the shoe laces of the batter so that when she eventually did hit the ball, she would not be tripped on her way to first base.
His was a humble act of servanthood. There was no glory to be found in it, nor recognition by his peers, nor reward of any kind other than that of living out what it means to be a humble servant.
Scripture: Luke 13:1-17
When we are young, we are invincible; immortal, we will live forever, unscathed. Death, if we even recognize its existence is but a badly blurred picture on the horizon of our life that is itself just barely visible. As we age, there comes a time when that horizon is visible and the picture of our death becomes increasingly sharper in focus. Eventually, we come to the point where we embrace death.
Whether we have reached the point of embracing death or not, at some point in time we find ourselves asking what it means to die. There is of course, the physical definition of death that says that once the body ceases to function there is nothing else. On the surface this seems like a satisfactory answer to the question but, somehow it seems incomplete.
The apostle John quotes Jesus saying that our earthly death is not the end. He goes on to say that it is a beginning of the next phase of life – eternal life that all will experience.
Scripture tells us, however, that there will be a difference in the type of eternal life that will be experienced. For those who deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God their eternal life will be very different from those who do make this confession.
For the non-believer, he or she will experience an eternity separated from God, experiencing the wrath that Christ felt on the cross. There will not be any path of appeal to this sentence.
For the believer, however, life will be completely different. His or her life will be an eternity spent in the presence of God in which peace will be the order of the day and suffering will no longer exist.
Scripture: John 5:19-47
What does it mean to love?
God has much to say about the answer to this question in Scripture. For instance, He tells His children that they are to love Him with all their minds and hearts. He goes on to say that not only are they to love Him, they are also to love their neighbor, i.e. one another. He is not finished, however, for He tells husbands that they are to love their wives and conversely, that wives are to love their husbands and their children. He even tells them that they are to love their enemies!
We are told to love but again, what does it mean to love? How would we recognize the act of love?
We are able to recognize it because He first showed it to us when He loved us. He broke into man’s world and gave His only begotten Son, all that He had to give, as the final sacrifice for the satisfaction of the grief that out sins caused Him. Because He did this, husbands are able to place the wellbeing of their wives and children above their own. We are able to forgive the offense of a neighbor, treating that neighbor as if the offense never occurred.
The examples of love are all around you if you will but take the time to look for them.
Scripture: Proverbs 10:12
Popular wisdom states that a couple should enter marriage wearing rose-colored glasses so as to not see the imperfections in their spouse. Perhaps we’ve got this backwards.
Over the years, experience has shown that it would be better, and healthier, for the marriage for both parties if they began with an honest appraisal of their spouse – warts and all. As the normal events of a new marriage unfold, and we learn to live with those imperfections, then it is time to don the glasses so that we can look past the flaws and concentrate on the good things that attracted us to our spouse.
The truth is that we are all sinners and no matter how much we love our spouse, he/she, like us, is going, to be flawed by sin. The consequence of that flaw is that we will fight, we will say angry things, and we will go to bed angry even though we shouldn’t. It says that there will be difficult days in the life of our marriage. This is a natural outcome of two sinful, loving people living in intimate contact with one another.
However, when we re-read what Paul has to say concerning the roles of a husband and wife in the marriage, obedience to what he has written automatically demands that we don the rose-colored glasses.
Have you got yours on and how are they fitting these days?
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-32
The Most Important Life Lesson Ever Learned
There are many lessons that we learn from God’s Word – The Bible. We can make ourselves dizzy just trying to remember them all, let alone putting them into practice.
At times, it is a good idea to just step back and take a look at what is truly fundamental in our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus. Anna B. Warner did exactly that when, in 1860, she wrote these words: “Jesus loves me – this I know, for the Bible tells me so; little ones to Him belong – they are weak, but He is strong.” We of course know this as the first verse to that children’s hymn – Jesus Loves Me.
These words are simple, direct, and fundamental to our relationship with our Lord and Savior. So, the next time that you have the opportunity to sing this hymn, do so with the gusto and innocence of the Child of God that you are.
Know that you are loved in spite of what you may have done in the past, what you are doing, and what you might do in the future. Allow that love to bring you to the confession of your sins and to guide you this day and every day that follows.
Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-18
The Power Of Identity
Who are you – mother, father, aunt, uncle, friend, foe, old, young, etc.? Your identity is important! It informs others about you and to an extent, defines how they treat you.
As a Christian, what identifies you? How can others tell that you are a Christian and how does your identity determine how you are treated? In truth, there have been numerous books and articles written answering these two questions.
The answer to the question of what identifies you is your baptism. This is where you are linked to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This linkage changes your life. No longer can you continue in the ways of your former identity. You take on a new identity; the identity of being a Christian.
Others cannot help but notice the changes. Some will react positively, while others may not. But for you, these changes will carry you into eternal life as promised by God the Father.
Scripture: Romans 6:1-14
Hugged Your Family Today?
Did you hug your children before you left for work today? How about telling your spouse that you love him, or her? If you don’t have children or are not married, did you tell a friend how much you value their friendship?
If you didn’t, you missed a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your relationships with them. Perhaps you were just too busy or something else had your attention. Yes, this happens to all of us at one time or another. However, can we ever justify being too busy or too distracted to focus for a few moments on a loved one? Just maybe your day would have been better if you had taken the time to tell someone how much you love them.
It’s a good thing that God is never too busy or too preoccupied to tell you how much He loves you. Even when you don’t think that you deserve it you do, for His love is unconditional!
Give it a try this week and see what happens; you might be surprised.
Scripture: John 3:16
This Year, Whose Time?
Who will control your actions this year – the world, you or God?
On the surface the question seems trivial but it’s not. We do well when we operate according to God’s plan for us but not so well when we allow ourselves and/or the dictates of the world to control our actions and how we spend our time.
The issue here is two-fold. The first is discernment. We have to know His will for us and we do this by asking for it in prayer. The second is patience as we wait for Him to unfold that will.
So, how did you do last year? Was it a year of seemingly constant struggle? If so, then why not try a different approach? Try making God a part of your plans and see what happens.
Life In The Balance
There is no doubt that we live in difficult times. There are forces, sometimes self-imposed, that tend to throw us off balance. We’re living and breathing but that’s about all.
So why is this? How have we let our lives get so out of control? Perhaps we’re chasing after the wrong things – things that we think will bring peace and contentment but can only fail to deliver.
Jesus spoke of the danger of doing this. He said that man cannot served mammon (that which separates us from God) and God at the same time. He further said that if we attempt this, we will wind up serving one and hating the other.
He’s saying that we can’t have everything. We are free to decide which one, but serving both is out of the question!
So, if you find yourself just existing then perhaps you need to decide – mammon or God. Who should I serve and why? A little prayer might just be in order here.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 5