United we stand, divided we fall.


Today I am so happy because I am celebrating 20 years of being united with my incredible wife. Unity in marriage is important as there will be many things that will try to get in the middle and divide that most important relationship. I am so blessed that the one thing we allow in the middle is Jesus which allows our relationship to grow even stronger (a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken) and draws us closer to Him and closer to each other. I love her so much and God has blessed me with meeting her about 3 years before that at school after a summer where I was praying for a wife. I wasn’t looking for a date, I wasn’t looking for a girl friend, I was looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with and God brought her into my life. Things continue to get better as our family grew and God has shown up faithful in His Word and His promises. Unity is so important! We need to make every effort to stay united! So today as I celebrate 20 years, I pray for God’s wisdom, love, and support in making it many more years together as we come together in unity and love to Him in Jesus’ name! Amen.


The Power of Unity — Day 147: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 68:7-14, John 17:6-26, 1 Samuel 19, 1 Samuel 20


1. The people and the land … Psalm 68:7-14

When there is unity, there is power! When there is unity with God, there is blessings and love! When there is unity with Jesus in the center, there is power!

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from Psalm as follows…

David reflects on the exodus, Mount Sinai and the conquest of Canaan. These were some of the high points of the history of the people of God, when they were genuinely united.

This passage is all about recognising where that blessing and unity ultimately came from – God. It is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise to God for all the things he has done. It celebrates his leadership (v.7), his power and provision (vv.8–9), his generosity, his justice (v.10) and his victories (vv.11–14).

God had led the people to the promised land. Yet today, in this very same area, the challenge of unity is great. The search for peace in the Middle East remains one of the greatest challenges facing our world.

–from Day 147: Bible In One Year 2017

 

2. The church and the world … John 17:6-26

We need to allow Jesus to be in the center! We need to allow Him to be with us with every step of every day! We need to be united with Jesus! We need to share His love with the world around us! We need to share the hope that comes from such a relationship with Him! We need to share our stories of God’s great love and works in and through our lives so that they will hear and be able to learn from it and through it without having to go through it themselves! Let’s testify to the greatness of Jesus! A great example is a story of forgiveness I was blessed enough to share.

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from John as follows…

In the Gospels, we frequently read about the prayer life of Jesus. But only on rare occasions are we informed at any length of what he prayed for. In this great prayer of Jesus, before he goes out to face the cross, we see his priorities.

Jesus prays not only for his disciples, but also for those who will believe in the future – that is to say, he prays for the entire church – which includes you and me (v.20).

This prayer is dominated by the theme of unity. Jesus prays not only for unity among his disciples (v.11), but also for the church (v.20). He prays for a unity like that which unites the Trinity: ‘that they may be one, as we are one’ (v.11, AMP).

The motive for unity is the great commission of Jesus

Jesus prayed for complete unity so that the world may believe (v.23) and know unity with God (vv.21,24). One of the greatest barriers to belief is disunity in the church. In politics, the moment a political party becomes disunited, it loses popularity. It happens in the secular world and even more so in the church. Jesus says that he protected his disciples and kept them safe ‘so that they may be one’ (v.12). Now he prays, ‘protect them from the evil one’ (v.15) who will seek to divide them.

When churches fight each other, people lose interest. Conversely, when churches do unite it is so attractive. It is the source of joy. The followers of Jesus are not supposed to be miserable. Jesus prays ‘that they may have the full measure of my joy within them’ (v.13). Joy comes from unity. Disunity is a joy-stealer. Unity is powerful.

The means of unity is the Holy Spirit of Jesus

Jesus prays for your holiness. Jesus prays, ‘Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth’ (v.17). Holiness comes from the truth. The truth is found in God’s word. That is why it is so important to soak yourself in God’s word.

Holiness comes as we welcome the Holy One, the Spirit of Truth, who comes to dwell within us.

Jesus prays, ‘that I myself may be in them’ (v.26). This is the most extraordinary truth of the New Testament – that Jesus comes to live in you by the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit lives in all Christians of whatever church or denomination. The Holy Spirit unites us.

The mark of unity is the love of Jesus

Jesus prays, ‘that the love you have for me may be in them’ (v.26). What higher love can you have than the love that God the Father has for Jesus his Son? Jesus’ prayer for you is that you should have the same love that God the Father has for Jesus in your heart for other Christians, for other parts of the body of Christ.

The measure of unity is the visibility of Jesus

Sometimes people speak about ‘invisible unity’. But Jesus didn’t pray for invisible unity. Nor did he pray that we might be ‘almost united’. He prayed that they may ‘be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me’ (v.23). He wants the church to be completely and visibly united.

One day it will be (see Ephesians 1:9–11). In the meantime, as we build bridges, work together and come together with other Christians from different parts of the church, as hearts and minds are bonded together in communion with Jesus, we can see, as in Buchenwald, visible signs of our invisible unity.

–from Day 147: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. The friends and rivals … 1 Samuel 19:1-20:42

Will you allow anything to get between you? Will you allow a job to divide or break a friendship? Will you allow anyone to get between you? Will you allow news divide you? We need to keep Jesus in the center! We need to keep first things first!

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from 1 Samuel as follows…

In politics, business or even in church life, two people who are great friends can at the same time end up competing for the same job. How should we handle the tension between our ambitions and our friendships?

The friendship between David and Jonathan was remarkable. They were rivals for the throne. They had every reason to be envious of each other and to hate each other. Yet Jonathan loved David ‘as he loved himself’ (20:17). This type of love, which Jesus commanded, is the highest love one person can have for another (Matthew 22:39).

On the other hand, Saul was filled with jealousy. Jealousy starts with comparing ourselves to others – comparing our achievements with those around us. Jealousy has the power to deprive someone temporarily of their senses. When Jonathan points out to his father, Saul, that David has not wronged him and has benefitted him greatly and it would be quite wrong to kill an innocent man, Saul says, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death’ (1 Samuel 19:6).

Logic and reasonable argument may convince a person who is filled with jealousy at the time. However, jealousy is so powerful that once it gets a grip of a person, as it did with Saul, there is no stopping it. As Shakespeare put it in Othello, ‘It is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.’

David and Jonathan loved each other. Jonathan ‘was very fond of David’ (v.1) and he ‘spoke well of David’ (v.4). Jonathan even said to David, ‘Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you’ (20:4). What a great commitment to make to a friend! Their commitment to each other took the form of a ‘covenant’ (v.16), which included even their descendants (v.42). And Jonathan ‘made David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself’ (vv.16–17).

As a result, Saul’s jealousy flared up into anger: ‘Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan’ (v.30). Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David (v.33) and he ‘got up from the table in fierce anger’ (v.34).

The difference between Saul’s anger and Jonathan’s anger was that Saul’s was unfounded and produced by jealousy. Jonathan’s anger was righteous anger; ‘He was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David’ (v.34). Anger is not always wrong – but examine your motives carefully.

David and Jonathan were not ashamed of showing their affection for each other: ‘… they kissed each other and wept together’ (v.41). As Westerners we often regard crying as showing weakness. They had no shame in crying openly and showing their love for each other. This is a powerful model of friendship, love and unity. Marriage is one of God’s answers to loneliness. Close friendship is another.

It was this love and friendship that enabled Jonathan to be totally loyal, supportive and protective in spite of the fact that he was a rival candidate to the throne.

–from Day 147: Bible In One Year 2017


 

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