Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1-42

Matthew 9:34-35 - 10:1-4 - The Call

Jesus continued to travel around healing and preaching to the people.  He had compassion for the people who were like sheep without a shepherd.  The religious leaders of that day were not very good shepherds.  They were selfish and cared only for themselves.  They neglected the flock (people).  Jesus came to be a caring shepherd for people in desperate need.  The people were being harassed and helpless.  They were like sheep without  a shepherd.  They were like a field full of grain ready for the harvest.  Jesus told His disciple to pray for workers. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." - Matt. 9:37-38.

Jesus called 12 disciples.  He chose them individually.  These were regular men with different personalities.  He not only called them, but gave them power to do what He called them to do.  He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal disease and sickness.  When God calls us, He also equips us.

Do you see others around you with Jesus' eyes?
Do you know someone like those in the crowds?
Will you pray for God to send workers?
Will you be one of His workers?
 
Matthew 10:5-15 - The Instruction

Matthew called them apostles.  An apostle is someone who is sent to do a job by his master.  Their job was to tell others about Jesus.  For their first mission He gave them instructions to not go to the Samaritans or the Gentiles, but to go to the lost of Israel.  The gospel would go to both the Samaritans and the Gentiles later.  God's intention was to go to all the world, but it must begin with Israel.

They were to preach "the kingdom of heaven is near", heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who had leprosy, and drive out demons.  He told them, "Freely you have received, freely give." - Matt. 10:8.  They were not to take any money with them, but trust God to provide.  He would give them what they needed.  They should expect God to inspire the hospitality of others.  They were to look for a worthy person and stay at their house.  If they were not welcome or did not listen to their words, they were to leave and not waste their time.  God does not force His truth on anyone.   

Do you feel unprepared for the job?  Replace that thought that if He called you He will equip you.
How faithful are you in carrying out His instructions?

Matthew 10:16-39 - The Warnings

Jesus warns them that people will oppose them.  He was sending them into towns that would be very judgmental and they would be like sheep among wolves.  They were to "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves". - (Matt. 10:16).   They are to be on guard against men who will arrest them because of Him.   Then Jesus encouraged them to not be afraid and to not worry about what they would say.  The Holy Spirit would tell them what to say.  Men will hate them because of Jesus.  They will be betrayed, but they are to stand firm.  Jesus says, "Do not be afraid of them.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known." - Matt. 10:26.  At judgment all their evil thoughts and deeds will be revealed for all to see.  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." - Matt. 10:28.  "Don't be afraid; you are more worthy than many sparrows." - Matt. 10:31. Yes, you are more worthy and more important to God than anything else.

Are you as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove?
 
Jesus tells them that trouble will come to families.  Jesus didn't come to bring peace to the earth.  He wanted everyone to have peace, but there are those who do not accept Him and will cause trouble.  Others will be loyal to Christ which will cause a division in families.  We all have the freedom to choose.  Some will choose Jesus and some will oppose Him.

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father in heaven." - Matt. 10:32.  We need to confess Jesus publicly before men, if we expect Him to be public about His allegiance to us.   He called everyone publicly.  There is no such thing as a secret Christian.

Have you confessed Jesus publicly?
Are there situations where you are afraid to be identified with Christ?

Jesus said, "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matt. 10:38-39.  This means you should be willing and prepared for hard times.  You may not actually die on a cross, but you should give up your own desires and do what Christ wants you to do.  You die to self.  Resurrection life only comes after we take up our cross to follow Jesus.  It is a personal thing, a personal choice.  Everyone must do it for themselves.  We aren't forced - we are to do it willingly. 

There are many places in the world that persecute Christian even to their death.  100 million Christians in 60+ countries are being persecuted and is increasing in Muslim countries.  See the following websites:

http://www.persecution.org/awareness/persecuted-countries/
http://www.christianfreedom.org/persecuted-christians-map/

Do you deny self and identify with Christ?
How do your actions and attitudes show others following Jesus is necessary?
Are you willing to follow Him, when it's difficult?
 
Matthew 10:40-42 - The Rewards

If we welcome Christ's servants, we will be rewarded.  "And if anyone give even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." - Matt. 10:42.  When we support God's servants/workers and their work with even the smallest act of kindness, it is remembered in God's eyes and we will be rewarded.

Do you see the needs of others and try to help?
Do you tell others about Jesus?

Principles:
Jesus calls regular people to work for Him.
When God calls us to serve, He equips us.
When you identify with Christ, expect persecution.
God uses persecution to further His kingdom.
Following Jesus is rewarding.
Living a life of Christ is not easy, but has eternal value.
Serving Jesus is all about Him and not about you.

Lots of lessons again this week - as always.  This week is Thanksgiving.  We take so many things for granted.  I hope you will stop and thank God for the many blessings He has given you and how He has provided for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

See you next week for Matthew 11 -12. 

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