Devotions this week based on the Message: “United or Divided?”
“A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” Who said this?
If you said, “Jesus.” You are correct.
If you said, “Abraham Lincoln.” You are also correct…but he was quoting Jesus.
163 years ago on June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln received the Republican nomination to run against Stephen Douglas in the race for the Illinois Senator. 1858 found the United states in the throes of decisions of perpetuating slavery in new states or preventing it. The Dred Scott decision was a blow against the ability of slaves to enjoy the full rights of citizens. The tensions between the promoters of slavery and the abolitionists was growing.
Abraham Lincoln began his acceptance speech that night with these words:
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention.
If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.
We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.
Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.
In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
The result? Slavery was deemed unlawful in all the states, but not without the cost of a Civil War.
To point out the ridiculous nature of the charges of the teachers of the law, Jesus teaches this parable (Mark 3:23-26)
Mark 3:23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 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.
It made no sense that Jesus was freeing individuals from the power of Satan if he himself was working for Satan. He was driving out demons because he stood against Satan and came to destroy the devil’s work. His mission on earth was to free people from the consequences of sin and the power of the devil.
1 John 3:8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
To apply this to the church…the Church divided against itself cannot stand. Unfortunately, there are too many stories of churches closing, dissolving, or not even starting because of infighting and bickering between leaders and/or members. At the crux is often whether this will be “MY” church and I will get what I want or it will be God’s church and we will in all things seek to yield to his will and way.
The church can’t survive as part “MY” way and part “GOD’S” way – it must be all one or the other. The Church endures because GOD’S way must and always will prevail. To prevent destruction along the way, let’s unite around God’s Word and ways of truth.
Apply: How have you encountered division in the church? Did the division help the spread of the Gospel or curtail it or make it more difficult? What role have you played? Let’s repent of working harder to do church MY way and spend more effort doing church GOD’S way.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me when I have used your church to promote MY agenda. Yield my will and my ways by your Spirit to strengthen the unity of your church around you and your Word of truth. AMEN.