Hope

Hope Devo

Daily Reading: (Romans 15:13):

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

What does it look like to put your hope in God?

When you are troubled and disturbed in your soul, putting your hope in God looks like praising Him in the storm (Psalm 42:11). The Hebrew word for praise means to give thanks. So, we put out hope in God as we give Him thanks even while our soul is still troubled. We are able to give God thanks because He is my Savior, He is my God. This leads us beautifully into our next Scripture verse.

“May the God of hope” Paul writes in Romans 15:13, when you think about who God is, of all the wonderful attributes associated with God, all powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, I think one of the most often-overlooked attributes is that He is the God of hope. If you are not very hopeful in some area of your life, if something is causing you to despair, to be troubled, bring whatever hopeless thing you have to the God of hope and you will be filled with joy and peace (Romans 15:13). Jesus would say about God the Father in Matthew 19:26, “with God all things are possible.” It should be pretty clear He is the God of hope.

When we know of God as the great object of our hope that He is the God of hope it is what fills us with joy and peace.

Where does our hope come from? 

Romans 15:13 gives us the answer: “May the God of hope/(elpis)” Elpis in the Greek means author of hope. So, hope comes from God.

Why does putting your hope in God cause your soul to no longer be troubled? The answer is found in Romans 15:13 but also in Psalm 119:114.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:114).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him” (Romans 15:13a).

The word “may” is not found in the original translation of the text. Instead, the word is perisseuō to make to abound, to be in abundance.

It is not that you may or may not abound in hope, it is you will abound in abundance with hope as you trust in God and it is a work of the Holy Spirit to help bring you to the place of overflowing hope (Romans 15:13).

How can you have hope (elpis)– an expectation of good, when you have bad news? How can you expect good out of bad? Trust in God.

What does Romans 15 look like in a real-world example?

Years ago, I met weekly for lunch with local pastors. At one meeting we were discussing how difficult Monday mornings can be for any pastor. One pastor shared with the group how the previous Sunday service was incredible, there was so much joy and peace. After everyone left the pastor walked to the back of the Sanctuary and the VBS sign-up list had only one name on it, his wife’s name. He said to us, “I was so discouraged.” Another pastor asked, “what do you do about it? It’s not like you can offer Vacation Bible School for kids of all ages with only one volunteer.”

Moments like that can be discouraging, not hopeful. You can look at that sign-up list over and over again and the names won’t magically appear. The answer to our hopeless, depressing situation is Romans 15. God is the author of hope. Trust in Him. If you are short on volunteers for VBS, take it to God, trust that He will provide what you need, and it might begin with wisdom. As the power of the Holy Spirit sets your spiritual eyes on Jesus you will be filled beyond the brim with a sense of joy, peace, and abounding in hope even when the situation remains the same. God will always give you what you need for the thing He is calling you too. At the next pastors’ meeting we asked about the VBS situation again. The pastor smiled and said, “the members of the congregation were having such a wonderful time receiving God’s love in the worship service they forgot all about the VBS sign-up. The calls came into the church the next day asking the secretary to sign them up to volunteer. It turned out we had more than enough volunteers.”

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Protected and Brought Safely Home

Protected

Daily Reading: (2 Timothy 4:18):
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly Kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
To get some context of what Paul is going through when he writes to his young protégé Timothy, we just need to back up a couple of verses to verse 16 where he writes about being on trial because of his faith.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
During the formation of the early church, there were times where thousands were added to their numbers daily. Miracles happened and the Word of God spread in places like the valley of Sharon where for thirty miles everyone believed.  “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and put away your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up, and all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:34-35).
So, when we read 2 Timothy 4 and Paul writes, “no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me”, of all the believers who came to believe from Paul, Peter, and others sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, not a single person came to support Paul. Not one! Paul is not exaggerated here. This is great news because it leads to the conclusion that Paul wasn’t rescued or delivered or enabled to complete the task because people came, he can confidently declare “it was the Lord who rescued me, it was the Lord who strengthened me.” There will be times in your life, when no one can help you, but that is alright, the only one who could ever rescue you to begin with is the Lord, and His protection is over you all the time and He will give you the strength you need for whatever it is that you face.

Jesus was also forsaken in His trials; (Matthew 26:56). In this moment of weakness, for Paul to respond with this kind of grace, where does it come from? It comes from Jesus. May it not be held against them, this is the very example of Christ in Paul. As Jesus would ask for forgiveness for the very ones fighting over his clothes at the crucifixion (Luke 23:34).

No one came, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” Life is a journey where some things you will face, you will feel all alone in it, know that the Lord stands at your side and He will give you His strength. That’s all you need. The Lord has promised that He will never leave you, He will give sufficient grace for the trials you go through. In the trials is where the testimony becomes, God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.”

“But (here is the turning point) the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” Our strength is found the Lord who is always at my side (2 Timothy 4:17). The presence of Jesus is of far more worth than the presence of all our friends put together.
The trials you will go through have a purpose. Paul identifies the purpose of the trial, “through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”  The next thing Paul writes is that he
“was delivered from the lion’s mouth”. Scholars have debated whether Paul was referencing real lions in the amphitheater (1 Corinthians 15:32) or if he was talking about Nero here? Nero throughout history was compared to a lion on many occasions. Maybe it was both. The point is Paul was rescued so that I might have this very opportunity before me with a captive audience of people from all around the world to preach the Gospel.

 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). This doesn’t mean that Christians on this planet would not be killed by evil attacks. That is obviously not the case. Did you know that Paul will be killed shortly after writing this? What Paul is saying here is found in tandem with the and portion of the statement.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly Kingdom.
By the time this letter hits Timothy’s hands Paul might already have died because we know that Paul will die in the persecution of Nero, but Paul already knows this too. 2 Timothy 4:6: “For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.” Whether I live or I die, God is faithful and He is at my side through it all.  Some could quickly jump to the conclusion that God abandoned Paul. You are preaching the Gospel, look at where it got you, you are in prison about to die.  But Paul is setting the record straight that in my most intense moments when no person supported me, I can tell you God is with me. He is at my side and He gives me great strength to face whatever may come.

Whatever may come, my salvation is secure in Jesus (2 Timothy 4:18). You and I will be kept safe in order that we might fulfill all the plans God has for us, and in the end, we will be brought safely into His heavenly Kingdom.

Restoration

Daily Reading: (John 10:10):

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus did not come only to free us from sin or to give us a new nature. He came to give us a new life which includes other wonderful things too. When we preach the Gospel, we are telling people about the new life that Jesus offers to all. “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out, saying, “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20). 

God never gives us anything bad (James 1:17) meaning that God does not give us sickness, diseases, or any other sort of physical afflictions. Satan is the one who wants to steal from your health. He wants to destroy God-given dreams, dismantled families and friendships. He lies to you to destroy you because he knows there is a call and purpose on your life that is only for you. Our Lord Jesus said He came that we “may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The Greek word used for life is zoe, and it refers to the highest form of life, the life God lives by. He does not want you to simply keep breathing. He wants you to live a long, satisfying life, full of His goodness, wholeness, and peace.

The question I get asked from time to time is now that the devil has robbed something from me, what do I do now?  The answer was always a part of John 10:10, “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but…. I have come so you might have life, and have it to the full.” The restoration to abundant life that you seek is found in Jesus.  The word restoration begins with rest. As you rest in Jesus’ grace and finished work, you will see your restoration, we find this truth in Matthew 11:28-30. No matter what you have lost, according to His Word, you can believe God to redeem all that has been stolen from you.

You don’t have to accept defeat or live in despair. You don’t have to be fearful of the future. Instead, you can say, “Lord, restore to me!”, knowing that His sacrifice at the cross has qualified you to receive and enjoy His incomparable restoration.

There was a young woman who was looking forward to starting a family with her husband.  Only to have her dreams shattered when her husband died at a young age. Although her mother-in-law urged her to return to her own country to start over, the young woman refused. Clinging to her mother-in-law, she said, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).

When Ruth followed Naomi, her mother-in-law to Israel, she soon found herself in a tough predicament. Being a Moabite, she found herself among people who were in conflict with Moab, and she had no husband to protect her. It seemed as if the odds were stacked against her. But Ruth didn’t dwell on her unfavorable circumstances. Her declaration of her faith in the God of Israel revealed her dependence on the Lord.

“Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor,” she said to Naomi (Ruth 2:2). Her trust in the Lord as she embarked on the ordinary task of finding work to support her mother-in-law and herself became the starting place for God’s incredible restoration in her life.

What seemed impossible in the natural, Ruth’s life went from having nothing to having an over abundant, blessed life. She had no family, to now having a husband and a son. From being destitute to being well-provided for. And from being an outcast to being not just an accepted and well-loved member of society, part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. This is what the restoration of the Lord will do for you. Because our Lord Jesus has purchased every blessing, including restoration, for you at the cross, you can believe God to redeem all the time that has been wasted and lost. God’s heart is to restore to you whatever the enemy has taken from you.

God’s principle of restoration is not that when the devil has robbed you of something that God will simply restore it back to you. That would be nice but it would simply put you right back to where you started. God’s restoration is not 100% but 120% and even more in the New Covenant! 120% is based on the principle of restitution in the law of the trespass offering found in Leviticus 6:4–5. This principle of restoration was under the Old Covenant of the Law. How much more we who are under the New Covenant of grace—a far better covenant with God, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

In the same way the Lord didn’t want Ruth to just survive, He doesn’t want you to just barely eek through life. Our Lord Jesus never brings us back to where we were, He will increase, improve, promote, and make everything better. Instead of dwelling on unfavorable circumstances, turn to your Savior and expect things to change in your favor. When you put your trust in Him, nothing in your life is beyond His restoration.

Rest Comes with Love

Rest Comes with Love

Daily Reading: (Psalm 127:1-2):

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those He loves.”

“How can I rest with what is happening in my life” is a common question that I get asked from time to time. The answer is the reason you can rest (no matter what is happening in your life) is because you have received His love for you (Psalm 127:2).

Did you know this is the only Psalm that is ascribed as being written by Solomon? What is incredible here is we have the Lord building the house- this is in no doubt referencing Solomon finishing building the Temple. David had the desire to do this for the Lord, but ultimately God determined it would be Solomon to get the job done. In verse 2 when it says that “God grants sleep to those He loves”, this monumental task that was left to Solomon by his father David could have caused him sleepless nights, but instead, God gives Solomon rest. Such a great task would take such great wisdom and this is what God gave Solomon while he slept so that the work would be done. As Solomon wrote, it was the Lord who build the house.

What is it that keeps you up at night? Is it all the things you need to get done the next day? Maybe you are worried about all the crazy things that are currently happening in your life or just generally what is happening in the world today. Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest” (Luke 12:25-26)? Worrying does not help you, it makes things worse for you.

Resting is not inactivity. Rest is what leads to great activity. Rest in Jesus will always result in Holy Spirit-directed activity. How we live a life of rest, as opposed to a life of stress, happens when we become conscious of God’s supply to us. When you don’t see the supply, and the One who is supplying you for what He is calling you to, you will worry and will not enter into rest.

Who are those whom God loves? I ask this question because Solomon says, God “gives His beloved sleep.” Who is His beloved? Every believer in Jesus. Because we are in Christ, we are His beloved (Ephesians 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Let God be the one who builds it for you. Let God be the one to guard your health, your career, and your marriage. Don’t worry about your needs, instead, give your cares to God because you are His beloved child, and receive rest. Know that He is working on your situation.

The Bible teaches us what we can do when we find ourselves in a puzzling or troubling situation and when the thoughts of defeat start to creep in and threaten our rest. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den at night. What did he do?

“Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:23).

When there was nothing he could do, Daniel “believed in God,” and he came out of the lion’s den in the morning “and no injury whatever was found on him.” When you don’t understand your situation, believe in the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He loves you and He is your good father. 

Solomon received wisdom, not when he was awake, but when he was sleeping at night. Our night seasons can be the best time to receive teaching and instruction from the Lord. What this looks like practically is when the devil wants to keep you awake at night, use that time to dive into God’s Word.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).

Success is found in Jesus. Jesus is our success. See Jesus as your good success, know you have God’s favor and love, and believe that He is working all things together for your good, making your path prosperous.

Many times, God changes your spirit before He changes your circumstances. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. As those things prosper it translates into good health.

Did you know that when you sleep God gives you more than just rest? “He gives His beloved sleep” has also been interpreted by scholars to mean “God gives to His beloved as he sleeps.” Be established in the Lord’s deep love for you and as you do you will find rest and peace in your soul.

Your Grief turned to Joy

Daily Reading: (John 16:20):

“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

One of the things that are so important to ask is, “what will turn their grief to joy?” The context of John 16:20 is that Jesus had just told His disciples in verses 2-3:“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” 

When we break this down, they would no longer be allowed to worship with their family and their community in the synagogue because of their faith in Jesus, and even more, many followers of Jesus will be put to death for their faith. But there’s more. “but now I am going to Him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things” (John 16:5-6).

So, Jesus is also going to be crucified, but in His Resurrection, the answer to their grief will be found.

Jesus says in John 16:12: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” Whenever God gives us a Word that would contain fearful events, He cannot leave us in that place of fear because 2 Timothy 1:7 says “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Jesus is not giving to give the disciples a spirit of fear, even with this fearful news. “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Jesus, after sharing the troubling things to come says I have an answer for your troubles, I am sending you the Holy Spirit.Jesus will also conclude with another good Word for them too

“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:20-24).

Because we live in a fallen world, the promise is that you will have trouble, and you will have grief. It is unavoidable. Jesus said as much when you keep reading in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble.” But I am not going to leave you with fear. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How did Jesus overcome the world? Through His death and Resurrection. The reason Jesus shared all of this trouble, is so that when trouble comes, we might not be caught off guard and become fearful and stay stuck in grief. Instead, when trouble comes, we might take heart, and receive His peace (John 16:33).

John 16:22-24 is the secret of having your grief turned to joy. “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” The Resurrection is coming and the Resurrection will cause us to rejoice, and turn our grief into joy.

People confuse joy with happiness all the time. Happiness is external, dependent upon factors outside of us, that happens to us. I could go and clean your entire garage for you and cause happiness for you. And then a storm could come and a tree falls on your garage and then your happiness is gone. Happiness comes quite often as a result of things outside of our control. Joy is different, joy is internal. Joy cannot be taken from you by what happens to you. We feel great joy whenever we worship God our Father, we feel great joy when we remember the Resurrection and all that Jesus has done for us. The Resurrection is what turned the disciple’s grief into joy. When a loved one dies, we grieve. But what can give us joy in such sorrow? The promise of the Resurrection. Death has been swallowed up by the Resurrection. We’ll be reunited with our loved ones again who know the Lord. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:33).

Because of the Resurrection, things will change for the disciples and what is available for us as we pray.

“Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24).

Whenever you encountered something that has caused you to fear or grieve, think about the Resurrection and allow God to turn it for you where you have joy.

Time spent with God will put our minds on the victory we have in Jesus. The riches of His glory to meet every single one of our needs. Our inner man will be filled with joy and will be expressed through praise because our despair, and our grief has been turned as we turn our gaze onto the finished work of Jesus Christ. The new way to pray that Jesus says begins with addressing God as “Father”. Jesus came to reveal changes to the way that we relate to God and this was only possible through His sacrificial substitutionary death for us. God wants us to see Him as our Father, that we belong to Him, and we are His beloved child.

Is it possible to turn from your faith?

Daily Reading: (Matthew 24:9-10):

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.”

The question of “Is it possible to turn from your faith?”, has been asked in various forms, such as, “is it possible to lose your salvation?” Some try and justify the answer as yes by taking a singular verse without any context to the verse at all.

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10-11).

If this is all you read of what Jesus said you would be inclined to believe that it is possible to turn away from the faith and lose your salvation. This is a flawed understanding of what has happened to a believer at salvation, and who is the One who upholds our salvation. If the New Covenant was struck between you and God then most certainly you could lose your salvation, in fact, we all would, and then what would make that different from the Old Covenant? What would the purpose of the cross be if Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins did not remove our present or future sins too? But if the New Covenant is between God the Father and Jesus the Son (which it is), and Jesus upholds this Covenant then we are simply beneficiaries of this will or Covenant because we are a part of the family of God. This is explicitly what Hebrews 9:15-17 says. It is the wrong question to ask, “can you lose your salvation?” because you were not the author of your own salvation, it was by grace through faith that you were saved, this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). So, the question one must ask is, “is your salvation secure in Christ?”

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9-10).

So, there are a few things to note here: Barnes Notes on the Bible says the following: “Not that real Christians would do this, but those who had professed to be such would then show that they were not His true followers and would hate one another.”[1]

If someone goes to a church worship service does that make them a Christian? If someone says they identify themselves as being a Christian based on the good works they do in the name of the Lord does that make them a Christian either? The answer to both of these questions is no.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Some of the people who are attached to the church will not be God’s sheep, they aren’t saved, they never were, and they have pretended to be something they are not. In the last days, they will turn Christians in to be put to death, we learn this from Matthew 24. This is happening even now, in other countries outside of America. This shouldn’t surprise us as we are living in the last days and this will only increase. So, we established that not all who belong to a church are saved.  Let’s continue:

Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’”

This passage of Scripture has terrified many, and led to the question that even the disciples had for Jesus at another time, “who then can be saved” (Matthew 19:25)? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b). You can’t save yourself with your good works, so stop trying. Go back to Ephesians 2:8 and see that salvation is a gift of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, (grace) that whoever believes in Him (faith) shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

John would write the following, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). John had to reassure a group of churches where “false prophets,” denounced as Antichrist, denied the Incarnation of Jesus, and had believers worried about their own salvation. He wrote to assure them that they “have eternal life”.

Looking again to Matthew 24:10 which says, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10). In the original Greek manuscript, it does not say “turn away from the faith.”The English Standard Version of the Bible and several other translations record this correctly: “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”

This Greek word here is (skandalizō) and it means to put something in the way that causes one to fall, it is an enticement to sin.[2]

The sin Jesus is talking about will be found in the next Greek word used for “betray” (paradidōmi) to deliver one up to be put to death.[3] This ties directly into what Jesus just said would happen in verse 9 of Matthew 24. 

A correct Greek translation of Matthew 24:9-10:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will stumble and be enticed to sin to deliver “believers” to be put to death because they despise one another” (Matthew 24:9-10).

When people cast doubt on a believer’s salvation, it reveals how they do not accurately value the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. They are also making light of what our Lord Jesus suffered at Calvary for our salvation, forgiveness, and redemption. Christians who are secure in the Father’s love will be transformed by the renewing of their minds with the power of God’s amazing grace. Born-again believers established in His grace want to live lives that glorify His holy name in every area of their lives. Why? Because grace isn’t teaching, doctrine, or formula. Grace is a person and His name is Jesus!


[1] Barnes Notes on the Bible. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/matthew/24.htm

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g4624/niv/mgnt/0-1/

[3] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g3860/niv/mgnt/0-1/

Did Jesus Come to Turn People Against Each Other?

Did Jesus Come to Turn People Against Each Other

Daily Reading: (Matthew 10:35):

“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.”

There is an old saying that if you want to have peace at Thanksgiving Dinner never talk about what…? Politics and religion. This verse when it is isolated by itself sounds a lot different from what many have thought about Jesus, did He really come to turn people against one another?

This is shocking what Jesus said. It most certainly isn’t what we picture in our minds of what Jesus came to do or the way we see in which how Jesus interacted with others. A great majority of believers don’t know what to do with this verse. Context is always vital to our understanding. What did Jesus have to say before and after this shocking statement, when we look at the whole of what Jesus said, then we will understand what His words here mean to us and actually help us when people, even loved ones persecute us for our faith in Jesus.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). I thought Jesus said He gives us His peace? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). So, did Jesus come to bring peace or a sword? The Messiah is prophesied in the Old Testament as a Lamb that would be slain for the sins of the world. By doing so He brought peace and reconciliation with God our Father not to the world but to only those who would believe and receive His sacrifice for them. This is why Jesus said not to the world, but to His disciples, the promise that He has given us His peace. We have it always, but here He says I have not come to bring peace, but a sword and He is speaking about the world.

Jesus is not speaking of a literal sword, in Revelation 19:15 it says, “Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.“ When Jesus first appeared to John in a vision at Patmos, a sharp two-edged sword proceeded from Jesus’ mouth (Revelation 1:16). The returning King of kings and Lord of lords uses this sword to “strike down the nations.” Since the sword of the Lord represents His Word (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17), it is reasonable to expect Jesus to mow down His foes with just a spoken word. He brought the world into existence by His speech (Hebrews 11:3), and He can assuredly destroy His enemies with just a word from His lips.

Jesus is speaking of a sword of truth, and truth is divisive. What happens as a result of Jesus who is the truth, coming to the world? ““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.”

People divide themselves by their response to Jesus, who He is, and what He came to do. When a Jewish believer was water baptized in the first century, they would be disowned by their family. They would receive a slap on the cheek, which was the deepest insult and they were they were put out of the Synagogue- separated forever from their family and their religious community. Everyone has a decision to make and that decision about Jesus would turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Jesus said: “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” (Matthew 10:36). At this part Jesus is quoting from Micah 7:6. What this means is that the spirit of Christ can have no union with the spirit of the world.

Jesus’ mission wasn’t to turn people against each other, this is a byproduct of what happens from what Jesus’ mission did which is stated clearly in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus’ mission was to set the captives free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and this mission will turn people against each other.

The Lord’s Turn

 The Lord’s Turn

Daily Reading: (2 Samuel 15:31):

“Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness” (2 Samuel 15:31).

What is happening here is heartbreaking. At this moment Absalom (David’s third son) was plotting to seize David’s throne. Absalom relied for the success of his rebellion upon the personal support he had built up among the country people. This was one reason why he chose Hebron as the place to declare himself king (7-10). The leading citizens of Jerusalem were unaware of the plot, except for the man who was possibly the mastermind behind it, David’s own chief adviser, Ahithophel (11-12). Ahithophel’s name means brother of ruin or folly.  

“So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness” (2 Samuel 15:31b).

David wrote this of Ahithophelin Psalm 41:9 as David lamented,

“Even my own close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me [betraying me].”  Which also speaks of what Judas would do to Jesus.

And in Psalm 55:12-14, “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; Then I could have born it: Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; Then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, My guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked unto the house of God in company.”

These verses show how close Ahithophel was to David and the level of relationship they had. He knew David’s way of thinking and strategies, so he was the best in position to give an insider’s view of David’s possible reactions to the rebellion. Ahithophel’s son Eliam is listed among David’s 30 warriors (2 Samuel 23:34). This relationship gets even wilder because where else is Eliam’s name mentioned? 2 Samuel 11:3 notes that Eliam is the father of Bathsheba. Bathsheba is one of David’s wives. PerhapsAhithophel may have been seeking a way of revenge against David for the sin he committed with his granddaughter and the death of his son-in-law which happened in 2 Samuel 11.

David knew that even Ahithophel’s wisdom had come as a gift from God, God can turn it where wise counsel sounds like foolishness to David’s enemies. God can turn it for us. Everything and almost everyone was conspiring against David, but God can turn it. What looks like a certain defeat, God can turn it into a surpassing overwhelming victory. When we don’t know where to turn, we don’t know who to trust, remember to turn to the Lord for it is the Lord’s turn to lead us into a great victory for His name’s sake. When we don’t have the wisdom, when we don’t have the strength. We are in a perfect position to see things turn as we turn to the one who can turn it, as God shows Himself strong on our behalf. Turn it for me Lord, may this trial turn into a testimony of your faithfulness and great love.

David will in this moment give us a foreshadowing of Christ to come. Because where is David at when he prayed?

“But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up” (2 Samuel 15:30).

David went up the Ascent of the Mount of Olives: When Jesus went from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, He essentially traced these same steps of David. Both David and Jesus suffered for sin, but Jesus suffered for our sins and David suffered for his own. Wept as he went up, and he had his head covered and went barefoot: These were emblems of mourning. David was struck by the greatness of this tragedy for the nation, for his family, and for himself.

How will this prayer be answered? David sent his other aide Hushai back to Jerusalem to frustrate Ahithophel’s counsel to Absalom. David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice (2 Samuel 15:33-34).

Hushai’s name means hasting, swiftness of motion, speed. I believe there is a hidden message in who David sent. Right after David prayed, his action demonstrated his faith in God answering his prayer. David immediately sent “swiftness” (Hushai) as a part of the plan and prayer for God to turn Ahithophel’s counsel into sounding foolish to Absalom. When we pray, may our actions and our words demonstrate our belief that God is actively working on our behalf through those cares we have given over to Him.

Turn Back

Turn Back

Daily Reading: (Exodus 14:2):

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.”

It would appear that they are hemmed in. They are turning back to camp. They are located opposite the center for worship of the lord of the north (Baal Zephon) who is the god of the sea and storm. What God will do by splitting the Red Sea right in front of the center of worship of the god of the sea and storm is to declare that Baal Zephon is no god at all. There is only one true God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

How did the Israelites camp? We learn in Numbers chapter 2 that God had a prescribed way in which the Israelites were to camp out? They would form a cross. The children of Israel all faced the tabernacle and trusted the Lord to defend them from their enemies. The message is that we are to look unto Jesus and trust Him to be our rear guard! We don’t have to look around us at what the enemy is doing, trust that the Lord will take care of us against the attacks that come from the enemy.

Why did God tell His people to turn back? 

“Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this” (Exodus 14:3-4). If God didn’t reveal why He was doing this, I’m not sure the people would have listened.

What was the Israelites’ part of the plan in order to experience the victory of the Lord over the Egyptians? Camp out, rest up, and trust in God. This hasn’t changed. Our job is to enter into the rest Jesus gives us. It is His finished work at the cross that gives us victory over what comes against us. 

Did you know that Exodus 14 is a picture of Psalm 23 and our Good Shepherd leading us? Listen to this.

They encamped Pi Hahiroth which means a place adorned with green grass. He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).

I use to think “why would God need to make me lie down in something so beautiful?” Wouldn’t I want to volunteer to lie down in green pastures? Exodus 14:2 shows us why we might need the Lord’s help to rest in such a beautiful place, perhaps we are hemmed in at this place by a powerful foe that is against us. We might not feel like lying down and taking up camp in the green pastures if it involves camping out near a powerful enemy. When we lie down in green pastures it says; God has got this, I trust Him. I will rest in Him and believe He is orchestrating something amazing because He led me here. God is preparing a victory feast for me. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

Green pastures in Psalm 23:2 is plural, there is more than one. God is leading you from one green pasture to another. That is why the end of Psalm 23 declares “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What comes next in the 23rd Psalm? “He leads me beside quiet waters,” What do we read next in Exodus 14? “Encamp between Migdol and the sea” Exodus 14:2).


Psalm 23:3 “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths”. How do we know that the Israelites were guided to the right path here? We learn from the previous chapter that God was the one who was leading them.

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Exodus 13:21).

Why would God do this? The Psalmist says, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake”. What are we told in Exodus 14 of why God is doing all of this. “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4).

The parallelism continues as Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staffthey comfort me. It is obvious that God is with His people, but is there also a mention of a staff in Exodus chapter 14?

“Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16).

“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant” (Exodus 14:31).

The people (yare’) stood in awe, in reverence and put their trust in God.  The journey to the miracle led the people to a place where they put their trust in God (Exodus 14:31).

The victory in our lives is already ours, so don’t let fear fill your hearts. Walk in the victory of Jesus Christ by faith as you rest and receive His love for you. Know that God is with you as a Good Shepherd leading you from one green pasture to another. Sometimes the path goes through an unexpected desert path but the journey will strengthen our trust relationship with Him as He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. God’s actions will display His glory for His name’s sake and so others might receive the salvation of His Son.

Where Can I Turn?

Where Can I Turn Devo

Daily Reading: (Genesis 37:29-30):

“When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes, He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”

Approximately 3700 years later when things seem to go wrong and there is no one who can help us, we might ask the same question that Reuben asked, “where can I turn?” God will immediately answer Reuben’s question and many people have missed it.

In this moment in time, Reuben discovers that Joseph is not in the cistern where he left him, apparently the decision to sell Joseph into slavery was made when Reuben wasn’t there for the vote. We learn of Reuben’s intentions and they are to return Joseph safely back to their father. “Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father” (Genesis 37:22b).

Reuben’s plan to protect his younger brother failed, and he tears his clothes as a sign of mourning. This is what he says, “Where can I turn now?” Have you ever felt that way before? All your best-laid plans don’t work out, you tried to do something good and it blew up in your face, and you are standing over this empty void, all your hard work and nothing to show for it, or worse the report you receive is devastating news, and you ask, “where can I turn now?”

If we were left with that question in our own life with no answer, tragedies of life could haunt us forever. When the worst news is received to have an answer for where we can turn is of utmost importance. The Bible gives us the answer to Reuben’s question but most do not see it. Immediately after his heart-wrenching question what is said?

“Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe” (Genesis 37:31-32).

Reuben probably felt as though he threw that question out into the universe, and there would be no answer for it. He had no idea that what came next was a foreshadowing to the answer, “where can I turn?” and that answer is Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins.  His sacrifice of Himself gave us His righteousness and we are restored in relationship to God, God as our Father. Being a part of the royal family means we have direct access to His throne. The One with ultimate power, authority, and love for us is the One who we can turn to.

Joseph points us to Jesus and we immediately see it in Genesis 37:31 right after the question where do I turn? Both Joseph and Jesus stripped of their coats (Genesis 37:23, John 19:23). We have their coat was dipped in blood (Genesis 37:31, Revelation 19:13). Both were sold by one of the 12 named Judah. In the Greek Judah is Judas (Genesis 37:26-27, (Matthew 26:15, 27:9). Joseph was apparently put to death, Jesus truly was by their own people to get them out of the way (Genesis 37:18-28, Acts 2:22-23). Reuben wanted to rescue Joseph (Genesis 37:21-22) and Pilate wanted to rescue Jesus (Matthew 27:24). Joseph was sold as a slave to Egypt (Genesis 37:26-28). Jesus was betrayed for the price of a slave (Matthew 26:15, Exodus 21:32, Zechariah 11:12-13).

One of the most important questions that anyone could ever ask is, “where do I turn?”, it has an answer and that answer is found in Jesus. Because the truth is if we all would turn our attention to the One who is our success, who purchased for us to have His divine abundant life, we would be able to declare like the Psalmist, “Lord you are good to me”. I might not understand all of what I am going through, my best-made plans may just crumble before me, just like they did for Reuben, but ultimately your plan is a plan of salvation (Genesis 50:20).

The dreams Joseph was given were fulfilled and ultimately it resulted in the salvation of the 12 brothers, their parents, and many more lives. When trouble comes, look to Jesus where you will find salvation for what has come against you.

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