Archive for November, 2019
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward” (Matthew 10:41).
To receive the Message from God’s messenger is to incur a great responsibility. You have now become part of a great lineage; entrusted with the gospel that it might be passed on to the next generation. Historically, apostolic succession wasn’t about any one person but a particular teaching to be handed down; an unbroken chain of understanding traced back to the apostles themselves. You and I are responsible for this succession of the theology of the apostles; a theology properly understood only in the context of the community of believers, the local church. Does this characterize what you are seeking for your family? Or, are you pursuing some new, accommodating theology that says the church doesn’t matter. If the church doesn’t matter to you and your family then neither does it matter to whom you listen.
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10:40).
While first understood as Jesus honoring vocational ministry; a respect acknowledged both early and late in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17-18), I see, also, a telling insight to our receptiveness to biblical truth. How you receive the messenger reveals how receptive you are to the message. God’s people have had a long history of killing the messenger because they didn’t like the message (Luke 13:34). If truly desiring the attainment of Christlikeness in our faith journey, it will not happen by chance. We need truthtellers to coach us up and awaken us from our place of self-satisfaction.
“Let my cry come before You, O Lord; Give me understanding according to Your word” (Psalm 119:169).
Only the most misguided follower of Christ would ever say they have no interest in theology. If theology is but the study of God, then it is a given that you will have a theology. The question then becomes, is it going to be a biblically based theology; rooted in the Christocentric writings of the apostles, faithfully proclaimed and handed down from generation to generation? Or, is it going to be a theology rooted in one’s own desires and fashioned after a chosen lifestyle? We can cry out now for the former, or weep later for having chose the latter.
“Consider your ways! You have sown much; but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes” (Haggai 1:5-6).
Busyness is the greatest enemy of Kingdom work; pursuits and accomplishments that are meaningless and void of purpose. Busyness hides the boredom dominating the the life of the masses. Let all that we do be a glorification of Him and the work He is accomplishing in our lives and in the world.
“On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable” (1 Corinthians 12:22-23).
While the world looks up to its role-models, the church should look beneath the veneer of success to those around us who perform the most menial of tasks; whose absence would be the most glaring were their duties not performed. It is these who exemplify the spirit of service that is to characterize our custodial care of the grace entrusted to us.
“Do not think I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).
Because the Christian faith is so counter-cultural, when you choose to walk the narrow path that leads to life, while all others within your concentric circles (family, friends, acquaintances) continue upon the wide path that leads to destruction, we should not then be surprised that conflict and division arises. Jesus is willing to sacrifice all such social accommodation for the sake of your undivided allegiance to him. The good news of taking up your cross and following him (v.38) is that everything you might lose is replaced beyond all human measure.
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
Confessing Jesus isn’t so much what you articulate with your lips but what you say with your life. If we limit the confessing/denying of Jesus to some communist or radical Muslim holding us at gunpoint; demanding the renouncement of our faith, we then miss the hundreds of opportunities presented each day to stand up for Jesus and the faith we espouse. It is by our attitudes, actions, words, choices, and decisions that we confess or deny Him throughout the day.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
Having acknowledged the suffering that can be anticipated by those that follow him, and recognizing the fears that will confront us, even so, Jesus says we can expect God’s providence to prevail. What an encouraging analogy of God’s care that is found in his awareness of the sparrow. That Jesus loves the animals of God’s creation so much that he would utilize them to portray God’s abiding care, indicates with greater assurance his watch-care over us.
“Therefore, do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Matthew 10:26).
That you will be afraid is a given. The question is, “Will you fear man or God?” The ego rises up to say, “There is no man I fear.” Maybe so, but most people fear the opinions that others hold of them. This is why so many labor and posture to fit in, be accepted, and judged worthy of some group. Ours is a call to boldness (v.27), however; to be a counter-cultural people of a counter-cultural Savior; holding to and speaking to the counter-cultural truth of His teachings. This narrow path will not gain the favor of those having chosen the wide path.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household” (Matthew 10:24-25).
For those expecting faith to be an exemption from the trials of life, like most assumptions, they will soon be disappointed. Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t paint a pain-free landscape before those who would be his disciples. The relationship we share with Jesus transcends that of student/teacher, slave/members; we are the most intimate members of his household. As his life was underwritten with the verbal clause, “He suffered,” so will ours. Memorize these verses and you will never again complain of life’s hardships.