Wisdom’s Call

First, did you know I have beautiful feet? Yep, that’s right Isaiah writes in 52:7~How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NIV) Well, the peace part may be a little harder with todays devotion, but, you get the gist. In our faith lives, we are going to encounter lessons we don’t want to learn but are necessary. We will encounter storms that reshape our coastline. 

Jesus tells us here in Matthew 10:16-23 that we can even expect some persecution. As Jesus tells the 12 that He is about to send them out, He reminds them that they are sheep. Matthew 10:16~Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (ESV) So I’m going to the wolves and be like a snake? Christ Jesus said we need to understand where and to whom we are ministering. Wolves aren’t always ruthless, but will turn quickly. So be cautious. 

In ancient times, serpents, or snakes, symbolized wisdom because they were thought to be smart, cunning, and cautious. Genesis 3:1~Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made…(ESV) Jesus Christ didn’t call us to be a wolf or a snake, rather, we are to pay attention, and be as harmless as doves. When other birds oppose doves, the doves leave rather than fight. Therefore, Jesus is telling His disciples to avoid strife and conflict. He is instructing them to follow what principle we find in Proverbs 17:14~Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. (NIV) 

This means a quarrel is like a leak in a dam. It may start small, but it can quickly flood our lives and wash away all that we have been building. What should we do? Stop the quarrel before even a leak breaks out because you will only end up in court, flogged, or scourged (10:17). Under Roman rule, Jews were allowed to settle most disputes in their local courts. They could convict and punish by scourging, which was forty lashes (less one by tradition) with a whip Deuteronomy 25:3~but the judge must not impose more than forty lashes. If the guilty party is flogged more than that, your fellow Israelite will be degraded in your eyes. (NIV) Paul describe this experience in 2 Corinthians 11:24~Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. (NIV) 

None of us like to go to the whipping post of life, for any reason. And, it remains to us a mystery as to why people cannot see the good that God is calling them to do. I want to encourage you that you are making a difference in the lives of people, even when you cannot see it. Though, they offer snide remarks, grumbles under their breath, or even spew vehemently at us sometimes, this is really aimed at Christ. It’s had sometimes to not take it personal. So, today I want you to do what Christ called all of us to do in Luke 6:28~Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (NIV) Today, pray for them, pray and ask God to open their hearts to His healing and the Gospel. Ask God to help you let go of anything residual in these situations so that bitterness will not set in on your life. Ask God to forgive and move on to trying to share again, the good news of Jesus.

What to Expect

Have you wondered what God was up to in your life? Have you ever given the Lord a little push back for what He is asking you to do? Listen, God is not asking us or the disciples to do anything that He has not already done. Remember, Jesus Christ was a phenomenal teacher and His miracles confirm our credentials. That is always the purpose of miracles in the Bible, confirmation. 2 Corinthians 12:12~I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders, and miracles. (NIV) Jesus says I got you, take nothing. Matthew 10:9-10~Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. (ESV) Men, maybe we ought to try this on vacation with our wives and daughters. Well on second thought that might get really expensive. This means ministers or pastors are to receive care from those to whom they minister. You may not know, but we did this last week for Jimmy and PJ. Why or how do we? 1 Timothy 5:18~Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and The worker deserves his wages. (NIV) You sent them to Roadhouse for dinner and gave them a little extra to say thank you.

Furthermore, Christ Jesus tells His disciples, to search for a worthy person. Matthew 10:11~And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy (ἄξιος axios) in it and stay there until you depart. (ESV) They are to find someone who appreciates their ministry and accepts it as being from God. Matthew 10:12~As you enter the house, greet it (ἀσπάζομαι aspazomai). (ESV) (ἀσπάζομαι aspazomai) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew greeting SHALOM, which was used as both a greeting and a farewell. It means wholistic peace. Peace to you in every facet of life. Peace in our homes, hearts, families, relationships, work, like Aloha.

Matthew 10:13~And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (ESV) If the home turns out to be unworthy, Christ Jesus says to take it back and shake-it-off, Swift-ly and leave. This expression is a sign of extreme contempt and the action makes it clear that the listeners are responsible for turning down the Gospel, a serious offense of rejection. Matthew 10:15~Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (ESV) 

The Lord is saying you had your chance and here, the dust is proof. Remember, God so utterly destroyed those cities with fire and brimstone that there is no trace of them. A part of the power or motivation of being a disciple is knowing the terrible fate awaiting those who do not receive the message of the Gospel. Moreover, being a disciple of Jesus Christ results in the supernatural power to witness.

At the end of Matthew and again in Acts 1:8, we are told to wait for the power. The power is and always has been the Holy Spirit. From the breath of life to power to witness. God says there are some pretty great expectations on our lives. How will you rise up to meet the Lord today at His in-breaking moment? Will you rely on His power to move through your life? Take time today and seek the Lord and remind Him of your great need for Him to move and work in your life. Keep in mind that when we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up. James 4:10.

Cross Training

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are going to need a constant power source in our faith life. Expect power from the Holy Spirit to flow and fill you for the work God has prepared for you. Christ Jesus tells His apostles not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans in Matthew 10:5~These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, (ESV) A Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. While the Samaritans were Jews of mixed ancestry, who intermarried during Assyrian captivity. 2 Kings 17:24~The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. (NIV) Jesus commands the apostles to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (10:6). 

In Matthew 9:36, we witnessed Jesus being moved with compassion seeing the people as sheep without a shepherd. These were sent forth on a mission, to win the lost. How do we do that? We do that with a message of hope. We are witnessing a short-term mission trip of the disciples fulfilling God’s promise to Abe in Genesis 22:18~and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me. (NIV) Jesus tells His apostles to go and tell. Matthew 10:7~ And proclaim as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (ESV) So if I asked you, have you ever done any short-term mission work? You might say, only to my neighbors, co-workers, and family. These are the opportunities of our everyday walking around lives. Some, who really take hold of the moments God affords, would say I share my faith with servers, stewards, and clerks. Obviously, we must explain what that means. So, what is the kingdom of heaven? Good question Pastor, I have an answer, but what might be a better one. Paul writes in Romans 14:17~For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (NIV)

At the command of Jesus Christ, they go, heal, raise, cleanse, and cast out. Are you all ready for a little OJT? Our heavenly Father loves to give us opportunities each day, week, month, and year to get our hands on the gospel. OJT stands for On Job Training. With God, we get a lot of blue water learning. How many of you served in the military. Thank you for your service. As a part of your service, many learned practical life and job skills that lead to a career. My dad learned dental skills, making teeth, dentures and how to put them in. I’m pretty sure you would rather see Dr. Marji, but many have gone on to have wonderful private practices. 

I would be willing to bet that as you look over your life, there have been some times, moments and seasons that just stick out as odd. You may have asked Lord, why did I go through that, or why did I need to learn that? God is always setting up our future. He sees what is coming in our lives and has planned accordingly. So, today, let’s take time to ask God about one of those crash courses we have at Life University and see how we might apply His wonderful teaching. There is probably someone who needs the encouragement of your testimony, or the happy little accidents (helpful mistakes) that we learned a life lesson from. Let God use you, today.