Division is our Demise

splitting wood

Mark 3: 24 NIV

24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

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God will provide; not divide.  But, how often do we become ensnared by the enticing allure of daily bouts of division.  Our homes, jobs, and daily routines are fraught with division.  It tries to seem fair and just.  Yet buried beneath it’s deception, it was bred from fear, competition, selfishness, and evil desires.  I have argued with the idea and played around with making the division seem just what was needed in a situation.

Is this what we as Christians are suppose to be a part of?

The simple idea is taking one whole and separating it into equal parts.  One for you and one for me.  No one can deny the simple truth that this will create harmony if done with precision.

In the beginning when the church was just getting its feet wet and leaders were determining the coarse they would take in the new faith, division was afoot.  The bible gives us clear direction as to how to function.

1 Corinthians 12: 21-26 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Each person in our union of faith has a part to uphold.  No one is more needed or less worthy.  All necessary in how we function in unison.  If one is separated, the whole body dies.  Yes, it will die.  Our faith, our strength, our connection with our Lord will fall and become lost in the broken world.

Each of us must realize that when a separation happens, God’s power here on earth weakens.  He is still present, but we are not.

When this separation occurs, complacency, confusion, misunderstanding, and chaos begin to form.  It starts gently, but then the chasm is so large, isolation is the outcome.

I have been a part of this outcome.  Too many times I have been drawn away from fellow Christians by life.  In addition, I have watched as opinions, misunderstandings, and the lack of empathy can drive situations into a state of complete futility.

Who loses? Everyone.

Who wins? Satan.

Colossians 3:12-15 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful

Since we are his beloved, our state of being must be one that upholds His words.  These words call for unfairness.  If one person sins and takes another’s peace, it is to be repaid with grace, humility, and patience.  If this person repeats an offense or believes that your way is not the way it should be, you are to forgive and bind it up with love.

Our only recourse in all of this unfairness, is prayer.  Lifting our requests for understanding and peace.  Lifting our request for fairness and truth to prevail.  Lifting up our sinful decisions to repay what has occurred with righteousness and discord.

I yearn for this peace. The peace of the mountain-top.  The peace that transcends all understanding.  Yet, our great Lord wants us to live in the valley.  Live where shattered men, women and children slice the peace with jagged edges cutting its flesh.  It causes such pain at times, but our great father in heaven knows that it is only temporary.  As we take the hits, He takes his healing hand eliminating its presence.  We move on and show others that nothing can separate us from our God.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

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This is a Test

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Psalm 139: 23-24

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Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

One moment I am running freely basking in God’s love and the next I am knee deep in mud with obstacles surrounding every path.  Downtrodden and weak.  How can this be?  I pick up my cross daily and connect with the Lord as much as my day will allow.  This was suppose to be a joyous experience, full of unexplained peace.

Life happens to move in such a way that comfort follows disruption in a majestic dance without a lead.  

The barriers that enter my life are not ones I want to entertain.  Most of them are unresolved feelings that have been so nicely contained and covered by forced appeasement. They lie and wait, unexpectedly raw when they are provoked.

1 James 2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Find joy in the trial?  When a hurtful event occurs and it seems to have no justification, how can we find joy?

My first gut reaction in these situations, flight.  I curl into myself and replay the experience like a silent movie.  Analyzing every move of each of the actors in the scene.  What did I do to provoke the reaction?  How could I have handled myself to avoid this type of situation in the future? 

This behavior begins to settle in and my fear of people begins to take shape followed by the untamed emotions of hurt and embarrassment.  How do I find acceptance and appreciation in the people around me?

Where is the joy?

Matthew 10: 13-14  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

Finding the joy and peace comes when we recognize how our trials lead to testimonies. When the trial shows up at our doorstep uninvited, we are to leave it and shake it off.  Turn our back and follow Jesus.  Listen for His righteousness and grace to soothe the pain.  Then, allow His words to fill our hearts so that we can begin to identify weaknesses in our faith.  

My weakness; an insatiable need for acceptance.  I have seen this undo many relationships, entice  isolation, and secure a lock to the openness I need to have with my Lord and Savior.  

The testimony is created when others see how we handle ourselves and don’t allow it to demean our faith.  

Lean.  Pray.  Listen.  Wait.  

They will see our Lord.  They will see grace.  They will see His mighty hand protect us and allow us to walk through the fire.  We just need to be still and know.

Exodus 14: 14  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

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Investments

Luke 12: 33-34

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Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Our world view of investing involves many facets of our day to day lives.  The driving force is behind investing in our future.  This determines the comfort in which we may live when our life slows down and our end draws near.  We spend time investing in our jobs, our status, our knowledge, our accomplishments to secure a spot in the hierarchy.  Unfortunately, this only fulfills a want and never a need.

Not only do we monetarily focus on our future, but we also hyper focus on our self image, our memories, our schedules, our feelings, and our possessions.  These all lead us to earthly slavery.  Slaves to an unending trail of bread crumbs to a deep pit of despair.

As Christians our worship of God becomes muddled as we grasp onto our ties to this theory.  Worshiping idols alongside our savior.

Luke 16: 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The one and only investment that pays with dividends is our savior.  We are called to invest in Him and invest in His people.  Why people?

Philippians 2: 3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

As we develop our faith in Christ, we need to know that our purpose here is not to maintain a comfortable existence.  Our purpose is to keep God’s people from falling into the wrong hands.  We need to bring all to Christ with a humble heart and forgiving way.

As we reconsider our investments, we need to remember that our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors, and those we yet to know are all His people.  The love for them is insurmountable. His sheep are not to go astray.

Luke 15: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

When I am loosing sight of my purpose, I hang onto His words.  I know that I am one of His sheep. He isn’t leaving me and I too should gently direct others to Him.

As we strive to get through the gates of heaven and invest in growing His kingdom, we will be greeted with opens arms knowing that our lives helped save.  Each life precious and important.  We should leave no one behind.

I can only pray that my life can bare witness to His unstoppable love that engulfs and transforms.  A love that will fill every need and create a greater want to knowing Him.

Psalm 63: 1  You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

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Hide and Seek

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Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

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13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Playing a simple game like hide and seek.  I’ll hide Lord and you can seek me.  Count to 10 and then call, “Ready or Not, here I come!”   

Simply find me since today I have to hide.  I will hide from others, hide from myself, hide from my path, and hide from you for just a bit.  I will be hiding from my sin just like Adam and Eve.  I’ll come out when you call.

As time goes on Lord, I don’t hear you. Are you still there?

Psalm 88:14 Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?

There are days in which I just want to retreat into my own world.  I want the comfort of my home.  Stepping out into the world just seems exhausting and frustrating.  I need to keep myself safe.  This is where I can be me, all messy and content being alone.

Unfortunately, I want to hide but I have to chose to seek.  I need to recognize that even if I take cover, the Lord sees and knows all. I need to seek Him with an open heart for His merciful love.  His love is never-ending, yet mine is undependable to say the least. 

The outcome of my commitment to push through this need to escape is knowing that the close relationship with my good father outweighs the discomfort.  The discomfort I ultimately want to avoid is the thought of dealing with the world.  Oh, how painful it is being a Christian in a broken world. The pull, the heartache, the chaos, and the temptation. It takes its toll on us and disconnects us from hearing God’s whispers when we listen to its shouts.  

What do we do?  Do we find an out?

Luke 5:15-16

15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

When Jesus felt the pressure of His duty, he sought refuge with His father.  He went and prayed. Our duty is to go into the world, heal the sick, bring food to the hungry, and offer the love we have received.  If it becomes overwhelming, the answer lies here.  Just pray.

My prayer life picks up when I see a need.  I often pray for answers.  Yet, do I pray before, after, and during my interactions in the world?  This is where my relationship needs some repair.  I hide, but He stands waiting for me to seek Him for everything.

Not only do I need to increase the prayers, but I also need to understand what His expectations are of me in this world.  

Matthew 25 31-40

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

In this we learn that our responsibility is to take care of the Lord’s people.  Not just the people who surround us and are like us. It is the hungry, thirsty, and the complete stranger.  It’s the person who makes us uncomfortable.  It’s the person who seems beyond redemption.  It’s the person who we may even fear.  But, the power of the spirit comes when we meet the needs of the “least of these”.  This is looking into the eyes of another and seeing your brother, sister, mother, father, and child.  You feel their pain and empathize towards their trial.  You love them as our Lord loves us.  When they see this type of grace, our father knows we are appreciative of His love.  He knows we are committed to the relationship.  This is when we feel a connection beyond words.  It is a feeling of complete joy wrapped in an understanding of how we can bring heaven to earth.

When the world says, “I am beyond restoration!  Leave me to my sin.”  We return it with, “I love you anyway.”

Luke 8:16

16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

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Worship & Commitment

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Romans 12: 1-2   

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Commitment is the foundation of faith.   It allows us to build a solid belief and it stabilizes our lives.  Yet, suddenly this foundation acquires a small fracture.  One so minuscule.  The world’s views cause these types of cracks which widen and chip away at our commitment.  

Our focus becomes centered on the fractures and how to stop them from growing, that our whole commitment to faith falters and our foundation collapses.  

The pieces of our committed faith lie scattered and fragile.  Seemingly incapable to be used to rebuild what we once possessed. 

Our gracious God and loving Lord, carpenter by trade, can pass us the tools to reconstruct this committed faith.  Our human hands need to get dirty and grab each piece, tenderly molding it, placing firmly on the ground, and layering it one on top of the other with patience and purpose.  

As we begin to rebuild, questions are often pondered. Why am I taking the time and energy to start again?  What will I receive as an outcome? Why do I worship a God who makes me work so hard for a heavenly reward?

My early walk in faith began with worship that consisted of many rules, traditions, and guilt ridden expectations.  I worshiped out of selfish gain.  But, today do I worship…

to get to heaven?  to please God?   to receive blessings?  to witness miracles?  to accumulate answered prayers?   to have peace and joy?  or to be protected?

My commitment to worship and building are often muddled by my questions and preconceived expectations of faith.  I push through only to find myself patching cracks. Over and over in a never-ending cycle.  

The reality of our dedication to faith and belief in God our King of Kings is that we should do it all for Him.

1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

I repair to show others how to mend. I fracture to show others how to restore. I remodel to show others how to change.  I listen to show others how to avoid collapse.  I worship unconditionally because I am loved without stipulations or conditions.  

My commitment is what He wants.  I need to wholeheartedly worship and build to prove that I want the relationship.  In that beautiful relationship, I receive blessings as a byproduct.  

The time I spend in the morning and in the evening speaking with my dear Jesus, are a small way to maintain and keep my relationship fresh.  I know there is even more if I read His word and follow His guidance in all situations.  This gives Him the evidence He needs to see how dedicated I am to the future of His kingdom.  Risking, Growing, and Striving towards the love, for the one who loves my brokenness. I offer this to all of mankind because He is committed to my salvation. 

1 Chronicles 16: 23- 31 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
28 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
30 Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”

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