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Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 24: Matthew 10:34-42 & Psalm 24 - Jesus Did Not Come to Bring Peace?

Today's Reading: Matthew 10:34-42 & Psalm 24

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Jesus Did Not Come to Bring Peace?

"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, ESV

What did Jesus mean when He said that He did not come to bring peace but a sword? Isn't He the Prince of Peace? Didn't the angels on that first Christmas announce to the shepherds a message of "peace on earth"? Aren't we, as Christians, called to be peacemakers and to pursue peace with all people? 

Jesus is indeed the Prince of Peace and He does indeed give us His peace. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27) He also said, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) 

Nothing Jesus says in today's passage contradicts anything Jesus said about peace or anything the Bible teaches about peace. Jesus is acknowledging here very plainly that His coming into the world and the salvation He brings in His kingdom will indeed divide people against each other. Jesus is not calling His disciples to hate people or to attack people with a sword. He is stating the same thing He said earlier in the chapter, in yesterday's reading: Following Jesus will cost you some close relationships and will bring persecution into your life.

Because the world hates Jesus and because non-believers have rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the Gospel is and will always be an offense and a dividing line. God's kingdom will always be at war with the fallen kingdom of this world, ruled by Satan. Jesus tells us that this state of hostility between His kingdom and the world means two things:

1. We must take up our cross daily, if we're going to follow Him (vv. 38-39). We must be willing to die to this world and to the fame, power, success, popularity and acclaim that this world offers. Followers of Jesus should expect none of these things from the world. But we know we have something so much better in Jesus.

2. Those who bless God's children are blessed in return (vv. 40-42). Those who step out of the world's pattern and choose to serve and love and honor God's people are seeing the truth more clearly than the rest of the world. They are blessed in serving the children of God and such a perspective probably indicates that they are on the way to salvation themselves. 

In this world, we must choose whether we will seek the world's acclaim or to follow Jesus faithfully. There is no middle path.

Prayer Based on Psalm 24:

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Heavenly Father, this is Your world. You are the Maker, Upholder and Ruler of all. Everyone who draws breath breathes Your air and everyone walking on this earth walks on Your ground. Lord, I pray that everyone would see the truth and would acknowledge You. 

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Lord, I confess to You that I do not have clean hands or a pure heart. My hands have been guilty and my heart has been impure. I know that I have no right to ascend Your holy mountain or stand in Your holy place. I have lifted up my soul to falsehood again and again. I have sworn deceitfully and have no right to expect blessing from You. 

But I thank You for the glorious grace of the Gospel! How wonderful is the good news of Jesus Christ and His righteousness! He has earned the right to stand before You and He has earned access to Your holy place. You, by Your grace, have united me to Christ and You count me as righteous in Him, giving me access and security before You in Him! 

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

The generation of those who seek You, O Lord, is Your church, Your people. We seek Your face because You have drawn us by Your lovingkindness and have secured us for Yourself. And so we seek You and we cry out to You. Rise up, O Lord, and show Yourself mighty to save and awesome in saving power. Come in among Your people in our times of worship and prayer. Change our hearts and renew our minds in the truth. Go before us into battle and fight for us against our enemies, Your enemies. You are the King of Glory! Be glorified now and always! 

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! Selah  

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