Fight the Good Fight

Slander Will Be Levied (Matthew 10:24-25). In these two verses, Jesus shares His definitive teaching about discipleship. He says a disciple is not above his teacher. Matthew 10:24~A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant (δοῦλος doulos) above his master (ESV). Don’t get it twisted, we are not and never will be above Jesus. A disciple is one who learns and follows, becoming more like his or her teacher, and is still under their teacher, though mature. (δοῦλος doulos), A servant or slave is one who is beneath his master socially and economically. This illustration teaches the two most important parts of discipleship: the first is humility, as John said in John 3:30 I am the friend of the bridegroom, I must decrease and He must increase. This leads to the second thing revealed here, and that is submission. First humility, then submission. As a disciple of Jesus, we must willingly submit to Jesus and His plan.

Jesus continues in Matthew 10:25~It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul (Βεελζεβούλ Beelzeboul), how much more will they malign those of his household? (ESV) Teaching about this same truth, Jesus says everyone who is fully trained, or perfect, will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40~The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. (NIV) Our ultimate goal of discipleship is to emulate, to mirror Jesus Christ, as we become more Christlike. However, since the leaders of the Jews have called Jesus, the Head of the house, Beelzebul, He warns us that we will be called so much worse.

The name Beelzebul, or Beelzebub, is a term of slander that can mean lord of dung or ruler of demons and refers to Satan. No, Jesus and Satan are not the same person. If Jesus, who is perfect and the epitome of love, was slandered, how much more can, will they Levy slander on us, His dutiful followers. Do you want to be like Jesus? Then you, we are going to come into the Line of Fire: where Slander is Levied.
 
Perhaps you are facing a difficult place in life right now. I want to encourage you to turn to Jesus who can sooth the weariness of life and a reprieve from the battle you are facing. In your quiet time with the Lord worship Him and watch as you are restored by the joy of His presence. Praise is such a wonder weapon for us, worship the Lord today.


Mirrors

Did you know that as the disciples of Jesus Christ we have come into the line of fire. When we set out to follow and emulate Jesus, we will take on some fire from those around us. The word emulate means to strive to imitate. The Bible teaches we are in every way to grow to be more like Christ. Ephesians 4:15~Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (NIV) Thus, the goal of discipleship is to be more and more Christlike in every facet of our lives. How do we do this? 

We accomplish imposing task by allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23~But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. (NIV) This is a wonderful word picture of Jesus, as these nine characteristics become hallmarks of our active, participating faith. These nine spiritual fruit born in or produced in our lives are byproducts of our spiritual growth in God. As we learn to live in the vine (John 15), melded to the Holy Spirit, who like sap flows through our branch, we will produce these fruit. Yes, it’s singular, fruit. In pericope this week from Matthew, we come into the Line of Fire: as we learn that following and emulating Jesus will cause three things to happen in our lives. 
 
Why not take time today to ask God to help you in your fruit production. Ask Him to release the fullness of His Spirit in your life, as He fills you with the Holy Spirit. Then walk yielded and quick to respond.


The End

One thing I miss, is The Far Side. Yeah I know, they live on in posterity  but I have already read them all many times. As we return to Matthew 10 I am reminded that things don’t always go as planned and that they can even get worse on occasion. This reminded me of the words of Gary Larson who famously once said, The beatings will continue until morale improves. Aren’t you glad that Jesus went to the cross in our stead. Isaiah writes in 53:3-6~He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way; (NIV)

In truth, we all are pretty selfish. Then Jesus Christ is revealed to us. We realize what it is that He has done for us, and that He did it so that we could have a personal relationship with God. Then, the Lord takes time to teach us His ways and then shares how living in our sin-cursed and fallen world is not always easy. How there are choices to be made and hope to be shared. On such an occasion Jesus told the disciples that they will be brought before governors and kings for His sake, and when they are, they will bear witness to Jews and Gentiles (Matthew 10:18). The fact that not all will accept the truth, is known as persecution. Today, countless individuals across our globe are persecuted for their faith. On the first Friday of each month, we are reminded to pray for them. On Sunday, November 3, 2019, I hope you will join the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. What Christ Jesus tells the disciples, applies far beyond this one moment of outreach. 

After the Resurrection, the disciples experience this very thing in Acts 12:1-3~About that time Herod…laid violent hands on some…He killed James the brother of John with the sword…when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also…(ESV) However, even with these difficult words, Jesus offers words of comfort. Matthew 10:19~When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. (ESV) He says, don’t worry, I got you. Matthew 10:20~ For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (ESV) This is the person and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The power to witness and reveal Christ to others.

Some lazy preachers have misapplied this wonderful promise. I had a student in one my college classes at the Evans-Barr Bible Institute, a 40 year veteran pastor told me he didn’t need to study, but relied on the Holy Spirit for all his messages. You all have seen your pastor in the altar during service asking God to anoint and guide his words. The Lord’s helped in preparation all week long, but still, I am reminded of Pauls words to his young protege Timmy in 2 Timothy 2:15~Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)

Jesus warns His disciples even their close relatives will betray them and have them put to death (10:21). During the second and third centuries of Roman persecutions, this happened thousands of times. Matthew 10:22~and you will be hated (μισέω miseō) by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (ESV). The phrase is Miseo hypo pas dia mou. Jesus isn’t saying everyone will hate you, rather that people from every class, each group or from the collective of humanity will hate what you are saying, because it is the truth of God.

And the absolute proof of a genuine disciple will be…drum roll please…those who endure to the end. Enduring does not produce or retain salvation. If it did, salvation would be based partially on works. And, salvation is totally and exclusively by grace. Romans 11:6~And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (NIV) This means salvation is not based on a combination of grace and works because they are mutually exclusive. Salvation is not based on our works in the past, present, or the future. 

Start being the Disciple God called you to be. Our walk of faith requires that we understand the work of the Gospel. We are to prepare ourselves for the opportunities to share, knowing that the Power will come from the Holy Spirit, and understand that there will be rejection. Colossians 4:6~Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (NIV) Today, live as a genuine representation of Jesus Christ to our hurting world. This means our speech should always be gracious, kind, and tasteful.