Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
“Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.
“Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
Matthew 10:5-42 NLT
My Thoughts: I’ve been out of pocket for a while because Jesus has been walking me through some personal changes. Change is good when Jesus is directing, but the journey is not always easy, am I right?
On top of that we’ve had another great granddaughter enter into our lives! We are so blessed! No pictures included because we can’t be too careful these days, but they are both precious!
We also just adopted a four year old rescue dog on 3/13! It’s been awhile since I’ve owned a big dog and I think Miss Daisy qualifies as my biggest at 84 pounds! Here are pictures of this big baby which I can show on my blog!
Now let’s get down to business and catch up quickly! In my last blog for the book of Matthew, Jesus was preparing his disciples to go out and share the good news of Jesus Christ. They were disciples as they learned about Jesus but when they left for their first assignment they were now his apostles.
First, Jesus prepares his apostles with very specific instructions to only approach the Jews!
What??? Did you just hear the sound of skidding brakes in your head because we thought the gospel was for everyone? I sure did! We can rest easy, because Jesus isn’t excluding Gentiles or Samaritans, he is just sharing the gospel in the proper order; He did come for the Jews first:
“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 NLT
“After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.” Romans 3:29-30 NLT
Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” Acts of the Apostles 10:34-35 NLT
(For clarification, a Gentile is anyone who is not Jewish, and a Samaritan is a mixed race of Jew and Gentile.)
The first verse says that God’s plan is to save everyone who believes, but the journey starts with the Jews. Otherwise, we see in all of these verses, no one is excluded from God’s plan of salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ. How magnificent it would be if the Jews, God’s chosen people, believed first and then shared this truth with everyone! The steps for believing Jesus is the Messiah has been laid out clearly in the Bible should anyone decide to look for this truth.
Aside note: When I saw the phrase ‘Kingdom of Heaven is near’ in verse seven, I looked for clarification in my study Bible. They say it points to the Jews waiting for the Messiah to bring about the new kingdom. They hoped for political and military kingdoms that would free them from Roman rule and return them to the glory days under David and Solomon. But Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom so the gospel we share even today is that the kingdom is still near. This new age starts immediately after the Return of Christ.
I know there is a lot of reading today, but there was really no reason to split up the verses. I do hope you took the time to read everything that Jesus says to his men. He explicitly guides his new apostles and he was very candid about the good and bad things they would encounter! He started with this truth:
“Give as freely as you have received!”
They were to share all the blessings they themselves had received from Jesus, as well as perform miracles. In addition they were to go to these towns empty handed and expect all of their needs to be met by the locals. In other words they needed to rely fully on the kindness and generosity of people who may have been complete strangers. Can you imagine their excitement and willingness to get going?
However, the next truth had to have caused them to lose whatever excitement they may have had initially! Jesus told them they should expect persecution, they would be beaten, and their own families would turn against them for sharing the gospel. He warned them to be as shrewd as snakes yet as harmless as doves. The very men they were going to tell about Jesus could be the same men who turned them over to local authorities to be arrested or flogged. So Jesus tells them to be on guard!
Maybe you are asking yourself, why in the world would they go? I think they went willingly for two reasons:
- Jesus also promised blessings! In times of trouble when they needed to speak, God would give them the right words at the right time through the Spirit. I love knowing God will give me just the right words to say when I need to fully represent the kingdom. Also Jesus tells them, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” He expands on that more in the final paragraph.
- The second reason is the main reason I am driven to share Jesus in spite of the risks and challenges: so unbelievers will come to know Christ. Many of my beloved family members and friends have not surrendered theirs hearts to Jesus. I am bold for them and I hope you are too, primarily because my loved ones won’t hear it from me, but maybe they will listen to you!
The bottom line? Everything in life has risks and challenges, so why not take those risks as an apostle for Jesus because he offers some pretty magnificent rewards!
Closing Prayer: Father God, I thank You for the amazing promises You give when we first surrender to You, and then share that truth with others. I pray that we all remember Your promise that the Spirit will guide our words when we are called to speak about Your authority and blessing in our lives. Father I love that there are still people today who are not only called for special mission trips, but are willing to go and tell, in spite of the risks, just for You. I pray that we remember it’s an act of obedience to You, to fully equip and provide for those called on these mission trips. Thank You for this clear picture of the blessings and risks we encounter so we don’t become bitter or downtrodden when we do encounter hardships. Father we love that You fully prepare us for everything. We ask for extra blessings and protection for all who boldly speak for You. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.