Monday, November 30, 2015

The Sword of Christ

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34

            As we enter the Christmas season, this verse is one that should be addressed.  It should be addressed because it flies in the face of everything we tend to think and believe about Jesus.   After all, isn’t he the Prince of Peace?

            Jesus is absolutely the Prince of Peace.  We know that, by his death and resurrection, he stands victorious over sin, death, and the devil.  We know that, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.  And we know that, in the end, those who’ve received the grace of God will live in a state of absolute peace.  We will live in a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

            However, in the meantime, Jesus has come not to bring peace, but a sword.  He goes on to say that he’s come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  He says that a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

            Many of us have seen this truth play out first hand.  Often, there are some members of a family who have faith in Christ and others who don’t.  And this difference places them at odds with one another.

            An extreme example I witnessed was a Pakistani who studied at the same college I attended.  He had come to faith in Christ and was baptized.  And, because of this, he was disowned by his family.

            We don’t typically experience anything this extreme.  However, members of our family often fail to understand our faith in Christ.  They are often less than accepting of the way that we live our life.  And this makes our family life less than harmonious.

            Jesus doesn’t desire to disrupt our families.  But this is a natural result when some possess faith in Christ and others do not.  It’s a natural result when some reject the gospel and the salvation Christ has provided for them.

            For this reason, Jesus reminds us in verses 37-38 that we must love him above all else.  He tells us that if we love father or mother more than him, we’re not worthy of him.  If we love son or daughter more than him, we’re not worthy of him.  And if we love our own life more than him, we’re not worthy of him.

            As we face this sword, as we encounter this kind of division in our family, we must remain faithful to Christ.  Regardless of the impact that it has upon our family life, we must remain true to him.  Yes, we must love our family as well.  But our love for them must not cause us to compromise our faith.  It must not pull us away from the Lord. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We are all sinners.  We have all violated the Law of God.  But, how do we respond when we're confronted by the Law?  Do we flee?  Or do we repent and follow Christ? To hear this message, click on this link:

Hang On!

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 24:13

            As believers, we know that Jesus has assured us of his return.  For example, in John 14, he tells his followers that he’s going to prepare a place for them.  And, knowing this, they could be assured that he would return for them.  He would return for them that they might be with him where he is.
            Yet, when we think of the return of Christ, when we think of the end of the end of this age, it seems rather scary.  It seems scary because of his description of the events surrounding the end.  One of the places we see this description is the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew.
            When asked by his disciples about the signs of his coming and the end of the age, he tells them that many will come in his name, claiming to be Christ, and lead many astray.  He tells them that they will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  He says that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  Yet, even as they see these signs being fulfilled, they should understand that the end is not yet.  In Mark’s account of these words, Jesus says that this is beginning of birth pains.
            Most of the ladies reading this know what he means.  As they come to the end of their pregnancy, they begin to experience labor pains.  Yet, even though they know the baby is coming, they have no idea how long it’ll be until the child is born.  They know that there is much more pain ahead.
The same is true for us.  When we see these signs, we know that the end is coming.  But we also know that we will experience much more hardship before it arrives.
            Jesus goes on to say that his followers will be delivered up to tribulation.  He says that they will be put to death.  He says that they’ll be hated by all nations.
            Jesus says that many will fall away.  And not only will they turn from Christ.  They will also betray one another and hate one another. 
            False prophets will arise and lead people astray.  Lawlessness will increase, and the love of many will grow cold. 
            Based on this description of the end, as well as others that we read in Scripture, it sounds absolutely terrifying.  It’s safe that, if at all possible, we’d prefer to escape these hardships.  However, as we get closer and closer to the end, we must be prepared for what is to come.
            Yet, even though the end does seem scary, it brings with it a great hope for believers.  This is what we see in the above verse.  Jesus tells us that the one who stands firm until the end will be saved.
            Even in the face of these hardships, we have the hope of his salvation.  We know that we’ll be delivered from this world of sin.  We know that we’ll be saved from this world of suffering and death.  And we know that we’ll enjoy eternity in the presence of our Lord.
            Let us, then, remain strong.  Let us remain faithful as the end approaches.  Let us endure as the signs of the end are fulfilled among us.  Let us not throw away this eternal hope to escape momentary trials.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Patience of God

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance .”

(2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

            As believers, it’s easy for us to get frustrated as we watch our world go to pot.  We see all of the evil in our world.  We see the world’s rejection of Christ.  And this makes us wonder why the Lord hasn’t put an end to it.  We wonder why he hasn’t come back, ushering in the new heavens and the new earth.

            We fail to realize that this is a sign of God’s grace.  Even though it’s right for us to be concerned about the evil in our world, and even though it’s easy for us to get discouraged as we watch our world drift further away from Christ, we must understand that God’s desire is for the salvation of all men.

            This, then, is why he waits.  As we see in the above verse, the Lord isn’t slow to fulfill his promise.  What we perceive as sluggish is, in reality, an expression of his patience.

            The end will come.  At the right time, God will bring it about.  However, in the meantime, God is giving man the opportunity to repent.  His patience is allowing more opportunity for the gospel to go forth and for the Spirit of God to work in the heart of man.

            Because of this, we should not become discouraged as we await the fulfillment of his promise.  Even though we’d all love to be free from this world of sin, and even though we’d love to be experiencing eternity in a place free from the consequences of sin, we should revel at the Lord’s patience.  We should rejoice because the day of grace continues.

As the people of God, we must share the heart of God.  Even though we long for his promise to be fulfilled, and even though the end of evil is something to be desired, we shouldn’t yearn for fate of the wicked to come quickly upon them.  Knowing that God is giving man the opportunity to repent, knowing that he desires the salvation of all, we should seek the salvation of the lost.  We should make use of the time God is giving to the world by carrying out the call he’s given us.  We must make use of the day of grace by proclaiming the message of grace to all creation.

Yesterday's message at Prince of Peace: We're reminded by Jesus that things aren't always as they seem.  Those who seem holy can be putting on an act and seeking attention for themselves.  Or, those who seem to be contributing little may be, in reality, giving a great deal.  So we must take care that we're not caught in a cycle of comparing ourselves with other believers.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


"So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.”
(Ezekiel 33:7-9 ESV)

            This past Sunday, at Prince of Peace, we talked about outreach.  We talked about the fact that each of us have been called by Christ to reach out to those around us.  And, because of this call, because of this need, we should be compelled to do so.
            In the above passage, we see how imperative it is for us to carry out this call of God.  Ezekiel was a prophet of God.  And God tells him that he’d made him a watchman for his people.
            When we think of a watchman, we typically think of a soldier in the tower on the city wall.  He’s there, scanning the horizon for any dangers that might be approaching.  And it’s his responsibility to sound the warning.
            If he fails in his responsibility, if he sees a danger coming and fails to sound the alarm, he then is guilty.  Had he sounded the warning, the people could’ve taken precautions.  They may even have had the chance to escape the approaching threat.  But, because of his failure, their fate is sealed.
            The same was true for Ezekiel, according to the Lord.  If God gave to him a message of warning for the people and he failed to deliver it, he was then responsible for their judgment.  They would die in their sin, but their blood would be required by his hand.  In other words, their blood would be on his head.  He would bear guilt for their judgment.
            We see in the next verse that, if he warned the people, if he delivered the message of warning the Lord had given, and the people failed to heed his warning, they would die in their sin.  But Ezekiel would be found innocent.  Because he delivered his warning, their blood would be on their own head.
            The same truth applies to each of us, as believers.  We’ve been called to reach out to the world with the hope of the gospel. We’ve been called to warn the world of God’s approaching judgment.  And we’re to do this that they might have the opportunity to trust in the Lord and receive his salvation.
            If we fail in this calling, if we fail to give the people warning, they’ll have no chance of escape.  Their fate is then sealed.  And their blood will be on our head. Because we’ve failed to give them the chance to escape judgment, we will find ourselves responsible for their condemnation.
            This is a great responsibility that we often fail to realize.  Even knowing the call that Jesus has given us, we fail to understand the consequences of our failure upon the lives of others.  We fail to understand how our failure to carry out our call takes from them the possibility of their salvation.

            When we understand this, it should create within us a sense of urgency.  I wouldn’t want my inaction to cause the death of anyone in this world.  And, in the same way, I don’t want my inaction to bring about the eternal death of those I’ve been unwilling to reach.

Monday, November 02, 2015


Yesterday, at Prince of Peace, we looked at a paradox we find in the church.  We find that, although we're very concerned about church growth, we're unwilling to share the gospel with those around us.  Despite the call of God, we feel no compulsion to carry it out.  Jeremiah, on the other hand, was Compelled. Even though this wasn't a role he chose for himself, and even though he went through periods where he didn't want to carry it out, he couldn't help himself.  And this should be true of us as well.