This is just a blog about my thoughts, my family, my everyday life. Because I am a Christian and have ups and downs like everyone else, I hope it will encourage others to either turn to Christ for the first time, or lean on Him when times are rough. Often life is just random and funny. I started this blog after many years of writing to my church about our vacations. They began to encourage me to blog and finally I am. Thanks for reading.

"Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!" Nahum 1:15

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Thursday, May 3, 2018

I Came Not to Bring Peace, But a Sword

This title might make you think I have gone from promoting peace (in my last post) to denouncing its existence and importance in faith. Quite the opposite. There is no true peace without Christ, but peace on earth lies in the heart and not always in relationships.
Matthew 10:34-39  "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 
Some will take these verses and see them as license to argue with and/or reject family.  This was never meant to be the Believer's attitude of heart.  It was/is a call to stand for righteousness and truth when challenged to remain silent and ignore wrong.
So often Christians poorly represent their faith either by elevating themselves and their standards in haughtiness (which the Lord hates  - see Pr. 6:16-17) or by remaining silent in the face of evil, making no choice at all in order to avoid rejection and controversy.  Scripture tells us we will be rejected when we live steadfastly in a fallen world that is not our home.  We are made aliens simply by our declaration to follow Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Albert Barnes states in his commentary on Matthew 10:34 ff:
One part of a family that was opposed to Him would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men, and not the religion of the gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unnecessary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled until all unite in obeying his commandments.
Christ must be loved supremely, or he is not loved at all. If we are not willing to give up all earthly possessions, and forsake all earthly friends, and if we do not obey him rather than all others, we have no true attachment to him.
The cross was usually composed of two rough beams of wood, united in the form of this figure of a cross It was an instrument of death. To carry it was burdensome, was disgraceful, was trying to the feelings, was an addition to the punishment. So "to carry the cross" is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or is trying, or is considered disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, let the people of the world think of it or speak of it as they may. It does not consist in making trouble for ourselves, or doing things merely "to be opposed;" it is doing just what is required of us in the Scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jesus is required to do.
He said it better than I ever could.
Hebrews 12:14  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 
Romans 12:18-21  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
We make a million decisions every day. They will not all bring with them controversy. Sometimes the controversy lies within us as we fear repercussions for our decisions.  Just make sure your heart is without guile or malice and full of grace and truth and the love of the Lord Jesus as you gently speak truth when it is called for in dealing with others...and that you are prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so.
1 Peter 3:14-17  But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. 
Remember to be gentle and respectful.
1 Peter 2:7-9  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 
Steve Camp wrote a song in the 90's entitled "Consider the Cost." The chorus is a challenge for us as Believers.

Consider the cost of building a tower
It's a narrow way that you must come

For to do the will of the Father
Is to follow the Son
To love Him more than father or mother
You will love Him more than even your own flesh
To give all that you are, for all that He is
This is the gospel according to Jesus.

Let's give all that we have for all that He is for this is the call in following Jesus.

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