| (Mat 10:5-40)
At the end of Mark, Jesus says, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."(Mk16:15) In this study Jesus sends out the disciples and says, "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'."(vs5-7)
We know that God appoints different Believers to various tasks. Some are prophets, some evangelists, some teaching pastors.(Eph4:11) An "evangelist" is one who proclaims the gospel to those who have not heard. While "teaching pastors" are those whose specialty is to train and nurture the believers within the flock.
And then, we have the "prophets." Whom do they minister to? And what is their message? We have a complete Old Testament full of "prophetic" books. To whom did Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, etc. minister? To Israel. Who was Israel? God's chosen people. Those who supposedly "knew Him" and were "saved and on their way to heaven." What was the message of the prophets? "Repent...and return to God...why are you rebelling and insisting on the path that leads to death?" (Jer25:5,Ez33:11,etc.)
If a person has been called as a prophet, is it the duty of the evangelist to tell him he's doing wrong because he's not evangelizing? (1Cor12:14-18) Oh, the stories this writer could tell of condemnation from the "evangelists" for not following "their" footsteps! You see, my whole life, the Lord has had me ministering "to the church." Years ago, I thought it was for the purpose of exhorting "Christians" to live "more holy" and "increase their love and devotion" for God, etc. But in the last few years, I understand the prophet's message. "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand... BE SAVED!!" (Mt3:2,Mk1:15)
You notice, Jesus sends the disciples "to Israel." He tells them NOT TO go to others. They are going to the "LOST sheep." They have a "name that they are alive, but [they] are dead." (Rev3:1) The "church" today is the same. It has a "name that [it] is alive" but it is "dead." This is the great need today! To reach the church people with God's truth. The world knows they are lost. But the "church" doesn't. The world looks to the church. We've gotta get the "church" SAVED first. Which, it then, in turn, can reach the world.
Yes, evangelists...if the Lord has called you to that, keep to your work; the non-church people need reaching, too. But if the Lord has called you to be a "prophet" keep ever so faithful to that task! And don't be dissuaded by the ecumenists, that your services are no longer required! They are needed "now" ever more as the apostasy is in a full nose-dive with after-burners full blast! There is a big "harvest" (9:37) out there which is "going to rot," and aren't going to make it into the granaries.
So, what is the characteristic of service as a prophet? Jesus said, "whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet."(vs14) Yes, you will be "in" and "out" of "churches." And you will not necessarily be leaving "quietly." Sometimes you will be announcing it at the business meeting, explaining "why" you are leaving. Sometimes, you will write a letter of resignation, or to cancel your membership. When you write that letter, be sure to send "copies" to all the key people...because, if you don't, you can expect the leaders to "hide" them, and lie to the rest of the congregation about "why" you left. Your departure needs to be a "testimony" AGAINST them. "Shaking the dust" off your feet...
And yes...you will feel "down in the dumps" over it, too. But take courage! Remember what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. God's justice will make their judgement seem mild compared to what is in store for those who reject God's message through you.(vs15) In addition, they will find themselves on their knees before you (Rev3:9) as God instills into their consciousness the fact of His love for you.
The company you find yourselves in will seem like you are surrounded by wolves. They will growl and gnash their teeth at you. They will call you before their "church" councils with false accusations. They will even inflict punishments and tortures upon you "in their synagogues." (vs17) You will even find yourselves before judges and governors as they drag you into court. (vs16-18) And we know Jesus wasn't talking about "just" the "twelve" He sent out that day, because He mentions "the Gentiles."(vs18) (Remember, He was sending them "to Israel.") He is obviously speaking prophetically of those who would "believe through their word."(Jn17:20) Even, us today.
When all these things start happening, Jesus says, "do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."(vs19-20) I receive e-mails periodically from people who are going through these experiences, seeking encouragement, or asking "what shall we do? ...are we doing right?" type questions. And I would expect there are many of you that I don't hear from, too. From personal experience, let me encourage you that, indeed, the Lord gives you "what you should say." You may not understand it at the moment it is happening...but afterward you will find yourself revelling, remembering how the Lord's hand was obviously in it all. And, if you are in communion with Him, He will often have prepared you ahead of time, so you are "primed" for the exact event.
Not only will persecution come from the "church/religious" leaders; Jesus said that even "family" would be against you.(vs21) And rather than "love" which they claim to have, the "love" will be for everybody EXCEPT CHRISTIANS. Believers are hated. If persecution comes from one place, leave and go somewhere else.(vs23)
Always REMEMBER... you are not alone. Remember what they did to Jesus. If we are obedient to Jesus, we are to expect the same treatment He received.(vs25) Jesus said, "I am not alone, because the Father is with Me."(Jn16:32) Jesus promised, "I will not leave you comfortless." (Jn14:18 -kjv) We have Jesus "in" us (2Cor5:17) through the agency of the Holy Spirit. (Jn14:26)
Therefore, "do not fear them."(vs26) They think they are getting away with what they do. But it will "be known." We are to continue faithfully proclaiming the message He has given. To "preach on the housetops."(vs27)
And if it should come down to giving your life as a martyr, do not fear that either. The same Father who knows each sparrow, and has a count of all our hairs, has us in the palm of His hand.(vs29~) He does not promise an easy road or peace. (vs34) The hardest thing to accept is the fact that even "family" will be the ones persecuting. That's the nurturing group under which we grew up. We "trust" them. We lean on them. How can anybody go against their own kin..."flesh and blood"? And so, as it comes, it will baffle us. We will be bewildered. Sometimes in a state of deep emotional trauma, because "my own father and mother, siblings and cousins are against me."
When that all comes...and COME it will! ...the decision must be made. Who are you going to follow? Your family? Your spouse? Your children? ...or Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, Savior, Shepherd and God? The decision will come. And you cannot have it both ways.
Jesus said, "he who loves [family] more than Me is not worthy of Me." (vs37) And "worthy" is what it takes to "walk with Him..in white" (Rev3:4) We must take our cross (instrument of death) to follow Him. If you try to "ride the fence" to appease your family, friends and acquaintances, to "get along" ...you will "lose [your life]" for eternity. (vs39)
Be assured of this one thing: whatever you receive, as you are faithful to Him, is not directed at you. If you receive praise, do not accept it; but rather redirect that praise to Whom it rightfully belongs, as Daniel did, "..there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known...[the king's dream]"(Dan2:28) If you are rebuffed, do not worry about it. It is not "you" they are in antagonism with, but Jesus.(vs40)
And ultimately, whatever they are reacting to Jesus, they are actually doing so to "Him who sent [Jesus]."(vs40) Jesus is the "express image of [the Father's] person."(Heb1:3) Thus, any praise for a Christian, is praise to God. Any persecution of a Believer is rebuff against the Most High.
At judgment day rewards and curses will be measured out, not only according to one's acceptance of God in his heart, but also on his treatment of God's servants on this earth.(vs41-42,25:40,45)
But, whatever the treatment received, the servant is to be "faithful" (1Cor4:2) surrounded by the grandstands, laying aside any weight of sin, striving with "endurance" (Heb12:1) "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."(vs2)
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