“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” (Matthew 10:34-39, ESV).
In a post-game interview Baker Mayfield, rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns was asked how he had led his team to an amazing victory. Mayfield responded, “I woke up feeling dangerous today!”
Following Jesus is a dangerous undertaking! It sets you at odds with the very world in which you live.
Following Jesus can set your family against you when you love Jesus more than them. Following Jesus can set your your friends and colleagues against you when it becomes a higher priority than work or hobbies.
Following Jesus can set you against the popular culture and politics of this world when His values become your values.
It makes you look suspicious… unusual… dangerous!
“I love you, Lord; you are my strength…I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,and he saved me from my enemies…But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears…He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters” (Psalm 18:1,3,6,16, NLT).
This psalm describes how God will move heaven and earth to save those who love Him. David, the psalmist, entitled this as a song to the Lord when He rescued David from Saul and all his enemies.
The psalm first expressed David’s love for God and his assurance that God was His protector. When David called out to God for help, God heard him from His sanctuary in heaven where He resides and rushed to his aid.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
When the first wave of Jewish exiles returned to Judea, they were enthusiastic about rebuilding the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians nearly fifty years earlier. But when their efforts to start rebuilding the Temple were opposed and resisted by neighboring nations and internally by the current inhabitants of the land, the repatriated Jews became discouraged and the Temple continued to lie in ruins for almost twenty more years.
This meditation is Part 2 in a three-part series of meditations on Romans 6-8.
As Christians, we live life in parallel universes. Our old self has been buried with Christ in His death and He has given us a new self: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which i now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB).
In Christ the new self is now the real self, but the old self is still there. It’s like it hasn’t been completely subdued in spite of one’s surrender to Christ. In Romans 7 the Apostle Paul provides a firsthand description of this inner struggle with one’s old self, this duality dilemma.
“When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. ‘Where have you put him?’ He asked. ‘Lord,’ they told Him, ‘come and see.’ Jesus wept” (John 11:33-35, HCSB).
This meditation is Part 4 of a four-part series from the story of the raising of Lazarus from death. When Jesus arrived in Bethany after Lazarus had died, He encountered family and friends mourning over the death of Lazarus.
Jesus exhibited a wide range of emotions as He shared in the sorrow of Lazarus’ death with family and friends.
“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ This is the declaration of the Lord God. ‘Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?'”
Sometimes people think that God is somehow out to get them.
In Chapter 18 the prophet Ezekiel provides a highly detailed explanation to refute the notion that God punishes the innocent for the sins of others. Ezekiel clarifies that each individual bears personal responsibility for his or her own sin (see also 33:7-20).
“At that time men came day after day to help David until there was a great army like an army of God.” ( 1 Chronicles 12:1-22, HCSB).
1 Chronicles 12 records the assembling of David’s army during the years that David was in hiding from King Saul.
What’s interesting about these warriors that joined up with David was that they were defectors! They changed loyalties! They transferred their allegiance!