The Onus

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. Matthew 10:9-15

Jesus issued the first of many directions to those he sent out. It was a test of faith. Let others help you out because you’re doing God’s work.

The penalty for not accepting these Disciples seems harsh, doesn’t it? Worse than the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t have Jesus in their midst; these cities did. They would be judged based on that fact.

And so it goes with the world as we know it. When we share the Gospel with people and they reject it, that rejection is on them.

The responsibility, however, to tell them is on us.

Certainly we don’t all have to become itinerant evangelists or missionaries dedicated to the cause, do we? 

Many hang onto the cliche that “we are all missionaries.”

Well, not really.

Sure, we’re all called to tell those in our sphere of influence but that doesn’t mean you’re giving up your lifestyle, raising support, and jetting off to far away lands such as Irian Jaya or Lesotho. 

No, a more apt cliche is to ‘bloom where you’re planted.’

You’re where you are for a reason. You have relationships with people I have never seen or heard before. 

When the early Disciples went into the towns to preach and teach, they couldn’t preach to everybody in town. Those they did preach to were people who now had an opportunity to know Christ. The Holy Spirit drew people to the truth. 

Likewise, the Holy Spirit will draw people you know to the truth. 

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5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:5-8

Much has been written about Jesus commissioning the twelve and what they were told to do and where to go. Interesting, though, is the last sentence in this passage: “freely you have received, freely give.”

It’s an interesting phrase in light of the last 20 years on the internet. People can be very generous with sharing their knowledge of subjects ranging from gardening to nuclear science. You see it in long form posts and video teachings. It’s like they’re practicing this verse.

But this verse is especially important for Christians to practice, whether through the use of their gifts or acts of charity.

Many of us, I’m afraid take in teaching over and over and over again (I’m totally at fault here) and have forgotten or neglected to give away freely.

Contrasted to that are the givers. They give and give and give until they can give no more. Sure they’ve received but their giving far outweighs what they’ve taken in. I’ve known many pastors and compassion workers who have done that, and they burn out quickly.

Both types of people are in a dangerous spot but for different reasons.

Take some time today to assess your giving ratio.

Are you over balanced in receiving?

Are you too far the other way in your giving?

Only you know where you need to balance out if any place at all.

Freely you have received, freely give.

**While writing this post I have not even considered money or finances in terms of giving, though the principle applies. Mainly I am referring to gifts and actions.

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Another Pretty Big Deal!

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:1-2

Within this initial group of disciples were two sets of brothers, a tax collector, and someone who would eventually betray Jesus. He chose them to teach them, mentor them, and send them out to change the world.

They didn’t have standing in the world.
They probably didn’t have a lot of education.
They may not have even known what they were getting themselves into. In fact, I’m sure they didn’t know.

But He chose them and gave them authority. When the Son of God gives you authority to do something, it’s probably a pretty big deal!

As sons and daughters of God, He has given us authority in the spiritual world as well.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand…Ephesians 6:11-13

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Words and Actions, Actions and Words

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Matthew 9:35

We are only privy to the details of a few healing miracles. We have no idea what the other diseases and sicknesses were about or how many. On top of that he taught in the synagogues wherever he went. Plus – and this often gets overlooked – he proclaimed the Gospel message, the Good News of the kingdom of heaven.

So what was this Good News that He preached? What did He preach?

From BibleHub, A call to repentance, the promise of the kingdom of heaven, and that he Himself would be in charge of that kingdom.

Because He was healing and teaching in the villages, people would see who He was and what He did for the people. His actions matched His words completely.

That’s not always easy to do nowadays, but not at all impossible.

We just need to supernatural strength to do it.

We need the Holy Spirit daily to remind us whose we are and why we’re here. If someone cuts us off, they cut us off. If someone gossips about us, that’s on them. If someone lays into us at work, we can defend ourselves but not cross the line of maligning that person in person or behind their back.

I know, much easier said than done, but He set the standard, and by the Holy Spirit’s help, we can meet it.

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Ministry is People

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” Matthew 9:32-34

Leave it to the Pharisees to throw cold water on a miracle.

As Jesus said elsewhere, it wasn’t logical for the prince of demons to drive out his own kind, but their hatred for Jesus and what He was doing had no end. They were blinded by their own self-righteousness that they couldn’t possibly see the Messiah for who He was. Were they happy for a grown man who could now speak and live a normal life? Probably not. They didn’t seem to be interested in people. Sure, they used them as objects to try to trick Jesus, but they weren’t truly concerned about the people.

There’s a scene in the movie Patch Adams, where the instructing doctor is running down a list of pathologies of a particular patient to his students (in front of the cognizant patient) and asks for questions from the students.

After two questions, Patch Adams asks from the back, “What’s her name?”
“What’s the patient’s name?”

The doctor fumbled through the paperwork and found the name. The instructing doctor was so busy imparting knowledge that he didn’t have time to address the patient as a person.

These Pharisees were similar in their approaches. They had no desire to get to know the people Jesus touched and healed. That wasn’t and probably never was their focus. They were out to trap Jesus.

This is merely a reminder that ministry (whatever ministry you’re engaged in) is about people.

Not processes, not tools, not programs, but people.

We may need all of those, but when all is said and done, it’s about the people we minister to.

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