Not Peace but Division

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three (Luke 12:49-52).” This is very contradictory to a sermon I heard about two years ago. The speaker was saying how Jesus came to bring joy and peace to this world. While He did bring joy, peace has not been here for quite some time. While the speaker had some interesting points and five verses to back up his position, I think he missed this verse.
I did not want to bash his sermon; that is not the purpose of this post. I wanted to go more into the verse above, and simply thought it was interesting that these verses contradicted each other. Or do they? Look at the context in the first verse a little closer. “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and I wish it were already kindled!” He is speaking metaphorically at the time, obviously. He is not kindling a physical fire. But if you think about a fire, kindling it is what gets it started strong. It’s what gets it started. He came to open the doors between mankind and God. He was kindling the overall plan for man. He was getting God’s operation started. Now, look at the next sentence: “But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!” Well, if you recall, He was already baptized in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John’s recollection of it in John 1. So why would He need to be baptized again? Take a look at these two verses:
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).” “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).” The baptism that Jesus was referring to was his crucifixion; the release of His Holy Spirit and being bathed in His blood. Jesus was referring to His crucifixion which would occur years later.
And what constraint I am under until it is completed!” This is His desire to miss the crucifixion; to escape from His death. We can see His distressed self showing in Matthew 26:37-45 (Gethsemane prayer). He is weeping and asking that the cup, the symbol He uses for His blood at the Last Supper, might be removed from Him. Or in other words, that He might be granted free from the yoke and pain of the crucifixion that would only days after occur. But God did not remove His yoke, for to do so would make Jesus’ entire reason for being on earth go viral.
Why do you think it is that God came to bring division on the earth?
In my mind, it is not as we envision. From this verse and other verses, we see Jesus speaking in parables, and often with hidden meanings that we cannot detect. It is so here.
He did not come to rouse the people up and fight with one another. He came to bring Christianity and salvation into the world, and in doing so, brought division and persecution and hate and all those things that are familiar to Christians, both in America and foreign countries. Couldn’t God prevent that? Yes. But then that would invalidate His words, “…Take up your cross, and follow me (Matt. 16:24)” Christianity will not be easy. There will be a constant struggle against mankind and the devil himself. But when it is over, your reward – an eternity with Jesus Christ – will be oh-so worth it!

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Surrender

Surrender.

Everyone knows it’s an option you’re given by your capturer. “Surrender or die” is what you frequently hear. However, there are plenty of times when surrender is your only option. I’ve seen movies where the soldiers are surrounded on all sides by lines of enemies. It would be unbelievably foolish to try to escape. Your life is more valuable than escape, is it not? Yes, it is.

Look at this Bible story: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a man named Lazarus, covered in sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” This story has a lot of explanations, some of which I may explore in the future, but now I want to show you the first sentence: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.” He was rich! He dressed awesome and had everything he wanted! He had no reason to submit to anyone, let alone surrender to them.

But, he did have reason to.

You see, if you look at the story, the man had everything going for him. Why should he be worried about “later”? Obviously, Lazarus had something to look forward to. He looked forward to when Jesus would say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. However, The rich man had no care of what was coming. He thought his money would take care of any issues he ran across. But whatever you gain here, it’s worthless in heaven!

I want to switch tones on this post, though. That verse wasn’t my original goal. Please listen to the music video below before continuing.

The words have a deeper meaning than most of TobyMac’s songs. He says in the first stanza that “there’s never any real potential” and that “it always ends the same”. Everything we gain here on earth has no real potential. The only thing we do with the things on earth is get more things here so that we can get more.

“Holding out with all that’s in me, is it worth all this pretending? A story with an ugly ending; it’s never worth the pain”. This is something that I struggle with a lot. I want to be “better” than God made me. I want to fit in, and concerning fitting in, I fall short of the mark. So, I try to make up for it. I’m good at making friends (so I’m told), but I put on a mask that’s not me. That’s not who God made me to be. I’m supposed to be Ryan, not that other kid over there.

“‘Cause I’m letting go, of everything I am, and holding on, to everything You are. I’m letting go of everything I once was; I’m all in…” This is the way that TobyMac is expressing his surrender. He’s giving up on everything he ever got, ever achieved, ever wanted, and instead engulfing himself in Christ, who is everything we need. “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ (Phil. 3:7).”

“Can we just wait out the weather? I could stay right here forever!” Here, he’s explaining the desire to stay in the world, to not surrender his ground to Christ. He just wants to wait it out (which you can’t). You’re a lot more comfortable in the world, doing what you want, rather than obeying Christ. You have to give up what you treasured for Christ. Everything for Him!

“Got to get myself together…” He’s acknowledging that he can’t wait it out and just stay in the world; he’s got to change; to do something.

How often do you promise yourself (and God): “Ok, it’s time I changed. I no longer will do _________”? Probably many a time. For the same thing. This is what TobyMac is saying now: “This time, I’m so for real; it’s time I sealed the deal. Shut down my lame appeals…” We often make excuses with God and ourselves, trying to convince God that it’s not so bad! God created us; He knows us; how can we deceive Him?

This song was inspiring to me in the fact that you not only cannot deceive God, you can’t hide from Him as Adam and Eve discovered, but you have to face Him like a man, take the blame for what you did. You also not only have to make Jesus your Savior, as many people think, but you have to make Him Lord of your life. You have to give Him the final decision.

However long and boring this post might have been, I hope it did some good to someone out there. Thanks for your support.

Ryan

Mark 16:15

Nothing New/What do People Gain?

Welcome back to A Message for the Messenger! I want to talk a little bit about a passage that jumped out at me; Ecclesiastes 1:3-11. Now, don’t form an immediate dislike for this passage, just because it’s in Ecclesiastes, and you may think it’s another time where he’s ranting about everything being meaningless, but it’s not (directly). Look at it: “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.”

This passage I have never heard discussed. Yet it gives a fairly simple idea. What do people gain from their work? What benefits or blessings do they gain/receive? As some of y’all know, we’ve been working to get our house ready for the market. Every morning, I’d wake up at seven, do some chores and the dishes, and then start working. I’d take two or three 30-minute breaks during the day, four or five lunch breaks, and stop work 6 or 7 o’clock. We did this routine for three months with no end in sight. I felt almost like verses 3-8 were written for my daily life/routine. Then, about a week after those three months of monotony, it seemed to me like God FINALLY revealed His face, and everything jumped into place. Before I knew it, there was a sign in the yard with “FOR SALE” on it. Four days later, the “FOR SALE” sign had a “SALE PENDING” added to it.

My point is, even though I could see no end to the strenuous work, and we were all at our breaking point, God came through the darkness, illuminating our path and restoring hope. Now, how does this apply to the first verse? The man that works hard may not be doing anything new, as I saw, but he does earn his living, and he has a right to feel good about it.

The Addressing of Verses 9-11

Flashback

In the early 1900’s, the first automobile was invented. Wow! No more wagons! No more horses! What an upgrade!

Present

Cars have heated seats, A/C, reclining seats, seat belts, seat belt comfort clips (!?), push button-starters, and a back up camera! Are all these necessary? No. Are they beneficial? Some. Are they comfortable? Yes. Are they new? Yes. Was the Model T new? Yes. Now it’s a legend; a thing to be remembered. Nothing’s new. We may redo things, but does that make it new? No.

“11 No one remembers the former generations; and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.”

Ryan

Mark 16:15

God’s Wrath Demonstrated

I want to show you today how seriously God takes offense to wicked deeds; the second commandment is not the only passage that talks about this (and why God hates wicked deeds). This following passage (Ezekiel 8:5 – 9:11) does, too: “Then he said to me, “Son of man, look to the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy. And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing –the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.” Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He looked at me and said, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing there.” So I went in and looked, and saw portrayed all over the walls all sorts of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.” Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things even more detestable than this.” He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about 25 men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east. He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke me to anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose!”

A few things before we continue: 1.) v. 7 talks about “a hole in the wall” where the 70 elders and Jaazaniah were. Some people call this a “secret sin”. I call it “sin”. But they are worshipping these evil things in secret, so as to not be caught. They’re worshipping the creation, not the Creator. This is detestable to God, as he states in the Second Commandment. 2.) The image of the 25 men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and bowing to the sun in the east, sounds a lot like Islamic behavior; praying towards the sun in the east. 3.) This image the above passage gives us is sad. People are openly (and secretly) defying the Holiness of God and worshipping “detestable animals” as verse 10 states. this almost if not completely compels you to do something about it. This so was the case for Ezekiel’s guide. Look at 8:18-9:11:     “Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will neither look on them in pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.” (9:1:) Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand.” And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood before the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” As I listened, He said to the others, “Follow him throughout the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. Then He said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out and began killing throughout the city. While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell face down, crying out, “Ah, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?” He answered me, “The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city full of injustice. They say, ‘the Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.” Then the man in linen with the writing kit on his side brought back word saying, “I have done as you commanded.”

Wow. God doesn’t listen to the evil Israelites even though they shout in His ear. That is a fearsome thought. You would hate to be on the receiving end. Yet we were, once upon a time. However, for those of us who are saved, we’ve been saved from God’s wrath by the blood of Jesus Christ. What a glorious thought!

Ryan

Mark 16:15