DAILY DISCIPLINE #134
By Colleen Donahue
Jesus was aware that he had come to men with new ideas. In coming to the Jewish nation he had come to a people that were passionate to keep things as they were. They believed God's law with his last and final word and therefore a new idea was not only a mistake but a sin. They were steeped in their traditions and even had two bodies of men -- the Scribes and the Pharisees-- that built a fence around the law to keep it contained and unchangeable.
This study looks at the problem with new ideas and the need for Christianity to be established apart from Judaism. Then we'll learn Christ's instruction to his first disciples and messengers which still relate to us today.
The Formation of Christianity in a Jewish World With the First Disciples
Studies continued from Matthew 9 & 10
The Problem With New Ideas -- Matthew 9:16,17
(Also Mark 2:21-22 and Luke 5:36-39)
Day 1- Jesus himself (as the Son of God) was a new idea and was very aware that you can ruin a new idea by trying to take parts of it and merge it with the old way. The new idea loses its dynamic and the old becomes worse.
Matthew 9:16 / Mark 2:21 / Luke 5:36
Day 2- In ancient times skins were used instead of bottles. When new wine was poured in, there was still fermentation going on. The new wine needed the elasticity of the new skins since old skins had lost their elasticity. If new wine were poured into them they could only burst from the pressure.
Jesus is saying that when we take a new idea and try to fit it with an old format we may lose the new idea because the old way does not have the flexibility to contain the new. Therefore there are times when it is far better to introduce the new idea in its own new packaging and not try to amend, patch, rewrite, or revise.
Day 3- And so Christ's disciples established Christianity APART from Judaism. It was too new and radical to have ever fit into the Jewish mold. And God had initiated all this not by just sending another Jewish prophet, but by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful man.
Romans 8:3 / Philippians 2:6-7
Setting Limits and Defining Goals - Matthew 10:5-6
Day 4 - On the first reading of Matthew 10:5-6 we might be shocked by Christ's command to his new apostles to stay local and begin giving the new message to the Jews only.
Exclusivity is so unlike Christ. How do we make sense of this restricted mission?
Day 5- In all of history we see that the Jews were indeed God's own chosen people and even though they rejected the gospel they deserved the first opportunity to hear it.
Exodus 19: 5-6 / Deuteronomy 14:2 / Deuteronomy 26:18-19
Day 6- But I believe there was a very practical reason for this temporary first assignment. Jesus was sending out twelve willing Jewish men with no training or experience. Starting with people they were familiar with gave them the greatest chance of success and learning. Limiting a travel area kept them from wandering and dissipating their energies. In today's business world we might phrase this as setting limits or defining goals. Notice in these verses that there is a sense of local leadership and boundaries. Ezekiel for example was sent to the House of Israel which kept his ministry focused and thus effective.
Each of God's ambassadors serves a local group of people in which they are accountable.
Acts 20:28 / Hebrews 13:17 / I Peter 5:2
Day 7- We have already seen in earlier verses that Christ knows the heart and personality of each of his disciples and therefore knows where they can be of best service. It was not until a man of Paul's background emerged, that the gospel could be preached effectively to the Gentiles (or non Jews).
Acts 18:6 / Acts 28:28
The Words and Works of The King's Messengers - Matthew 10:5-8
Day 8 - The message was to be very simple. The Lord summarized it in a few words.
Matthew 10: 7
But what did this mean?
"The Kingdom of God is a society on earth, where God's will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven." - William Barclay
In Jesus, the kingdom had come because he was the one person that obeyed and fulfilled God's will perfectly. By pointing men to Jesus they are shown a life that "IS the kingdom." Only when we look to Christ will we ever see what being "in the kingdom" means.
Jeremiah 23:5 / Daniel 7:14 / Hebrews 3:1 / Hebrews 12: 2a
Day 9- But speaking isn't the only task for Christ's messengers. There are four things "to do".
These are all to be taken in a double sense, both physically and spiritually.
Day 10- We know that Jesus came to bring health and healing to the bodies of men.
Matthew 8: 3 /Mark 3:10 / Luke 6:19
But, the Greek word used for "sick" is part of the Greek verb 'asthenein'. It's primary meaning concerns "weakness". When Christ comes to a man he strengthens our weak will, and puts backbone in our resolve. He exchanges his strength for our weakness.
Isaiah 40:31 / Isaiah 41:10 / Acts 1:8 / Romans 5:6 / Romans 7:18-19 / 2 Corinthians 3:5
Day 11- So when we share the good news of Jesus with others who are weak, tired, and afraid, we introduce them to the one man that will stand with them and give all the courage and confidence they will ever need.
Psalm 73:26 / 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 / Hebrews 11: 33-34
Day 12- Over and over we see how God has been the strength of his people and today that strength has been given through his son.
Exodus 15:2 / Psalm 28:7-8 / Psalm 46:1 / John 17:1-3 / Acts 10:38
Day 13- The second thing the Lord's messengers are to do is raise the dead! A man may be dead in his sin and therefore deaf to God. He is unable to live a life of goodness and holiness. When such dead men and women are introduced to Jesus, they are resurrected -- made alive again -- to God and able to walk in newness of life.
2 Corinthians 5:17 / Ephesians 2:1-9
Day 14- Then we are to "cleanse the lepers". A leper was a man or woman that was unclean or polluted. As a result they had to live alone. They were to live far away from other people in towns or cities.
When men and women live in sin they are like a leper. As long as they pursue a life style of sin they are unclean or polluted and therefore must live outside of God's fellowship. They may appear to enjoy the fellowship of other sinful people, but inside there is a loneliness that won't go away because man was made to have fellowship with God.
Revelations 3:20 / John 14:20 / John 17:23
Day 15- Therefore when a "leper" (or sinner) is introduced to Jesus, the door is opened for him to "be made clean" and saved from enslaving habits of sin. This doesn't happen because of will-power and resolve, but because of Christ's own intervention on our behalf.
Hebrews 7:19, 25 / Hebrews 10: 12-14
Day 16 - But, will a man's sin (leprosy) always be an indictment against him?
Jeremiah 31:33-34 / Hebrews 10:17-18
Day 17- So if we bring a sinner (leper) to Jesus for forgiveness (cleansing) then what will they be able to do with confidence?
Hebrews 10:22 / James 4:8a
Day 18- The fourth "to do" for God's messengers is to drive out demons. A demon possessed man was in the grip of an evil power and therefore he no longer had mastery over his own actions. Men can be mastered by sin's power or evil habits. When we introduce a person to Jesus we lead them to the one person with the power to forgive sin and break its power. Jesus brings to those enslaved in sin the liberating power of God. Are you helpless in regards to some sin (demon) that enslaves you?
Jesus Christ died for every person and that includes YOU and ME!
Galatians 1:4 / Titus 2:14
Day 19 - He has already broken sin's hold over your life. If you want, you can be forgiven and freed from its enslavement.
Colossians 1:13-14 / Colossians 2:15
Day 20- Finally Jesus reminds his messengers of something very fundamental which all Jewish Rabbis taught as well.
God, in freely giving us his son has given to men the secret of overcoming sin and the means to abundant life. It is our sacred trust to share the truth of God's son with the world and must be done without profit motives for ourselves. As we share Jesus with others what is promised to us?
The King's Messengers and Their Equipment - Matthew 10:9-10
Day 21- What does Jesus advise his messengers NOT to take along on an evangelistic journey?
Matthew 10:9-10 / Luke 10:4
Jesus isn't deliberately laying on us calculated discomfort. As messengers of God we must never give the impression that we are people of business -- i.e. out to get what we can. Our interest must first be in God and not in the material things surrounding us.
Day 22- Part of the reason for not being concerned with a lot of material things is found in the last phrase of
The workman for God deserves his keep and that is the privilege and obligation of the people he/she serves to provide it.
Luke 10:7 / Galatians 6:6 / 1 Timothy 5:18
A double truth is given in Matthew 10:9-10. A man of God must never be concerned with material things but the people of God should never fail in their duty to provide a reasonable support.
The Conduct of The King's Messengers - Matthew 10:11-15
Day 23 - The apostles had the task of making their way around the towns and villages of Palestine. They were to travel lightly -- i.e. unencumbered with material things. Then when they got to the village they were to stay in someone's home. That family had to be chosen carefully. An alliance with someone that had an evil or immoral reputation would be a handicap to the message.
Matthew 10: 11-12
Once the home or family was found, they had to be asked if their house would be available to the messenger while in the region. The idea of giving a blessing and then taking it back is very Eastern and found throughout scripture. (Isaiah 55:11, Zechariah 5:3-4)
In this situation Jesus is not saying that certain people are beyond the gospel and will be abandoned, but that if their home wasn't open for the situation the apostles should move on so that they could get the message out as quickly as possible.
Day 24- The permanent truth given is the fact that someone who rejects as opportunity, may never get it back. In this case the gospel was being brought first to the Jews. While there were many who listened, there were sadly many that did not and followed in the footsteps of their ancestors.
Psalm 50:17 / Isaiah 5:24 / Jeremiah 6:10
If God is giving you the opportunity for learning and service take it and grow.
The Challenge of the King to His Messengers - Matthew 10:16-22
Day 25- We can't read the next passage without being struck by the Lord's honesty. He tells his followers exactly what they can expect at the worst. He needs men and women of adventure and spirit. How does Christ describe our relationship to the people in the world we are sent to?
Therefore what does Christ advise us to be like?
Day 26 - Jesus offers his disciples three kinds of trials. They would come from the state, the church, and the family. What things will be likely to happen to us?
Matthew 10: 17, 18a, 19a, 22a
Day 27 - At the same time that trouble and hardship are promised will come opportunities to share the truth of Christ. These first apostles were for the most part unlearned men and they were afraid that their words under pressure would injure the testimony of their faith. Christ knew their inadequacies and He knows ours. What does he promise us?
The Lord knew that there would be many hardships to walk through -- both then and now. Endurance would be needed for the job. What is promised to us for this endurance?
Matthew 10: 22b
Day 28- We can persevere in our task not because we are strong in ourselves but because Christ is faithful.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 / Hebrews 10:23
In HIS faithfulness we can persevere and maintain our confidence. We can do God's will right through to the end by working in the certainty of what Christ can do through our submitted life.
Hebrews 10: 35-39
The Lord also had very wise advice for those being persecuted. While some would become martyrs for their faith, this was not to be sought. Life is precious and there is no point in throwing ones life away needlessly.
Matthew 10: 23a
The Treatment the King's Messengers Can Expect - Matthew 10: 24-25
Day 29- Being one of Christ's ambassadors is a tremendous privilege but once again Jesus is straightforward about what we can expect from others.
Matthew 10: 24-25
Christ as our Lord and master is our example to follow even if that may lead into suffering.
Matthew 16:24 / John 13:15 / 1 Peter 2:21
But when we follow Christ and take on only the load that he wishes us to bear, what will we find true in our life?
Freedom From Fear - Matthew 10:26-31
Day 30- Throughout the scriptures God tells his servants not to fear, be afraid, or dismayed.
Genesis 26:24 / 2 Kings 6:16 / Isaiah 41:10 / Isaiah 43:1-5
Jesus reinforces this advice three times.
Matthew 10: 26a, 28, 31
Day 31- Once I read that FEAR stood for "false evidence appearing real". If we think about what we fear we'd have to say most of it is in our heads. The part that appears very real is still false because God is always the one in control. He is always the final reality and nothing is allowed to come our way except through His hands.
Exodus 19:4 / Deuteronomy 33:27 / Isaiah 46:4 / 2 Timothy 4:18
Day 32- The key to standing strong in the Lord no matter what we face is given by Jesus in ....
This verse is about having a relationship with God. We can't tell others about Christ until we have been with Him alone and heard his voice. We must first learn to listen and be quiet enough (inside and out) to hear Christ whisper in our ear. Then we will have the words to speak in the daylight and the confidence to proclaim from the rooftop that truth!
Daniel 2:22 / John 15:15 / John 16:15
Day 33- If we live in fear of other men what will this lead to?
1 Samuel 15:24 / Proverbs 29:25
What message does it give to God?
Day 34- Why can we do our work for God without the fear of other men?
Deuteronomy 1:17b / Psalm 118: 6-9 / Isaiah 12:2
What or who is our only legitimate fear?
Deuteronomy 10:12 / Ecclesiastes 12:13 / Isaiah 8:13 / Matthew 10:28 / Luke 12:4-5
The Loyalty of God's Messengers and the Reward for it -- Matthew 10: 32-33
Day 35- In just two verses there is laid down the double loyalty in the Christian life.
Matthew 10: 32-33 / Mark 8: 38 / Luke 12: 8-9
If we acknowledge Christ as our Lord here on this earth, then He will be glad to honor us as His faithful servant in Heaven.
Day 36- How is it that we can call ourselves Christ's followers and still deny him?
A. By our words
Matthew 26: 34, 69-70 / 2 Peter 2:1 / 1 John 2:22
We can tell others we are Christian but we are not a "radical Christian". By this we mean that our life and behaviour are still able to fit into the world around us.
B. By our silence. This is the most common way that we deny our Lord. At a time when it matters most we don't say anything. What are we to always be ready for?
1 Peter 3:15
When we are truly full of God's Spirit what will naturally happen?
Jeremiah 20:9 / Acts 4:20 / 2 Corinthians 4:13
C. By our actions. It is sad but true that Christians can say one thing but do another, while still feeling satisfied that they are good servants of Christ. They walk in self deception and deny Christ to the watching world.
Psalm 36:2 / James 1:22, 26
The Warfare of the King's Messengers - Matthew 10: 34-39
Day 37- Again in the passage before us Jesus does not try to glaze over what we can expect as His messengers. Truth brings conflict and Christ promises it.
Matthew 10:34 / Luke 12:51 / John 7:43 / John 9:16 / John 10:19
Christ offers us four things......
Day 38- He offers us warfare and conflict.
Matthew 10:34 / Ephesians 6:12 / 1 Peter 5:8
The fact is that Jesus, God's Son, in breaking into the world, had to divide people. Each of us must make a decision to accept or reject him. The most bitter pill will be if our own family becomes divided.
Day 39- Christ offers us a choice. It is between those closest to us here on earth or loyalty to Himself.
Matthew 10: 35-37 / Luke 12: 51-53
Day 40- Christ offers us a cross. The biggest thing that we sacrifice as a Christian is our will. No Christian can do what he likes but only what Christ wants.
Matthew 10: 38 / Matthew 16:24 / Mark 10:21 / Luke 14:33 / Galatians 2:20 / Philippians 3:8
Day 41- He offers an adventure. We are sent into this world to serve God and our fellowman. In doing that we find our own life and fulfill the purpose God has for us.
Matthew 10: 39 / Romans 12:1 / James 4:15
The Reward of Those Who Welcome the King's Messenger -- Matthew 10: 40-42
Day 42- The Jews felt that to receive a messenger was the same as receiving the person who sent the messenger. In this verse we see the chain of salvation link by link. The Father sent His Son Jesus. Jesus was now sending out his disciples and they in turn would go to towns and villages to speak to anyone who would listen. That person who receives Christ's disciples in turn receives Jesus and His Father.
Matthew 10:40 / Mark 9:37
Day 43 - The opposite is also true.
Luke 10: 16 / Acts 9:1-4 / 1 Corinthians 8: 12
Jesus makes plain an amazing truth that if we provide hospitality for those that serve Christ we will have the same reward as they will receive. That means that many an unknown housewife meeting the needs of someone working for Christ with the public will have the same reward -- just as if she had been doing the preaching and teaching!
Matthew 10: 41
Day 44- There is no service too small and insignificant that will miss Christ's notice.
Matthew 10:42 / 1 Corinthians 3:8 / Revelations 22:12
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