The 5 W’s of Coaching the Dream Team

Matthew 10

matthew 10 32 33

 

WHO will go?

Peter

Andrew

James

John

Philip

Bartholomew

Thomas

Matthew

The other James

Thaddaeus

Simon

Judas

 

In today’s reading we observe Jesus delivering the ultimate pep talk to the “Dream Team” – excluding one. (Spoiler alert: by the end of the Book of Matthew it will be abundantly clear that one of these gentleman will be ejected from the team.) This pre-game speech comes on the heels of Jesus overwhelmed with the needs of the people he’s encountered in the past few weeks. He needs help, so he enlists these 12 with quite a rallying cry. They will soon be experiencing “on the job training” and his instructions are enduring.

 

WHERE will they travel?

Jesus makes it explicitly clear just where the “Dream Team” is to deliver his message: the lost sheep of Israel. (verse 5) “Don’t go to the Gentiles or any Samaritan village.” It was not quite time to take this radical message to the other communities. Perhaps Jesus thought the message would be better received first within Jewish circles since prophecies had been foretold for HUNDREDS of years regarding his coming? (Or not.) Doesn’t take long before the hometown crowd turns from cheers to jeers as the game progresses and one of those “Dream Team” players plots to sabotage the whole tournament.

 

WHAT will they say?

“The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (verse 7) This is the message the disciples are to deliver. They will proclaim this message of power and authority given to them by Christ himself when they demonstrate these actions: 1) Heal the sick. 2) Raise the dead. 3) Cleanse those who have leprosy. 4) Drive out demons.

 

Sure Jesus… Need anything else?

 

As you might imagine, this is quite a directive, and he wasn’t quite done instructing. “Travel light” was just the tip of the iceberg. For the rest of the chapter Jesus spells out what to keep an eye out for. He tells you not to get discouraged even though you should expect to be unwelcomed, flogged, arrested, hated, persecuted, abandoned and lied about by your family, and most likely, killed. Where can I sign up?

 

WHY & WHEN will this occur?

My favorite verses of why this is all to occur shoots from verses 16 & 17. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Beth Moore, a renowned Bible teacher recently tweeted it best,

“What I think has happened here is that in our discipleship, we are not teaching what is normative in the believing life. When we carry our cross and we follow Jesus, we are walking into a storm. We were told that in Matthew 10 we will be ‘sheep among wolves,’ not wolves among sheep.”

Beth goes on to further tweet that “sheep among wolves” means Christians will be “persecuted,” “criticized,” “imprisoned” and even killed for speaking the truth.

“We have been very proud of the fact that we have not subscribed to a prosperity gospel. But what we have subscribed to is a pampered gospel where we are so afraid of suffering and we are so afraid someone is going to criticize us and hurt our feelings.”

 

Hello. That sounds just like January 15, 2019, and speaks to WHEN. Once again we see that God’s word is timeless and a double-edged sword for all generations cutting to the heart of the problem. Whatever it takes, no matter how unpopular, we must contend for the gospel. Just like Jesus called the disciples to move out of their “comfort zones,” we too must grow a thicker skin. Beth’s final tweet about this subject sums it up:

“All that stands between us & an astonishing work of the Holy Spirit is repentance. Quit being scared of rocking a boat that has run aground on an island of compromise. Walk on water.”  

 

What would our lives and our futures look like if we invested our earthly time and resources into eternal values?  How would you live if you were completely confident that every act of love, service, or unselfishness would carry reward where it mattered (and lasted) most – even if nobody in your neighborhood, church, or community ever noticed? “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Verse 42).

 

We are now mid-January. How many of us have long forgotten our resolutions for the New Year? Jesus was trying to teach his “Dream Team” to not focus on the here-and now. Instead of looking for New Year’s resolutions we can keep, what if we tried finding some that could actually keep us.

Sign me up. Lord, please teach me to play on your team!

-Julie Driskill

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Showing your Light through what you Say

Matt 12 33

 

The last few days I have been talking about following the Light which is Jesus, and yesterday I gave an example of how to show our light through forgiving others. I will continue along with another way we can show our light to others. I truly believe that one of the simplest ways people show who they are is through what they say. It can be one of the most obvious ways to show your light in the world and for the world to notice that there is something different about you.

 

Whether it be foul language or gossiping, people will see who we truly are by the things that we say. We have the ability to be a hindering block or a light to those around us. The way we speak can either confirm to people that we are different or that we, as Christians, are just like the world. Jesus makes it clear we are to be different in how we speak.

 

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” – Matthew 12:33-35

 

Theses verses warn us that if we put bad things into our hearts and minds they will eventually come out through what we say or what we say about others. We often fall for the lie that what we say and how we talk doesn’t matter that much, but in the book of James we can see just how important it is to watch what we say.

 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”- James 1:26

 

We want to make sure we are being the light by what we say. We need to make people wonder what it is that make us different from the rest of the world, and I promise you that people will notice!

 

-Luke Elwell

Showing your Light through Forgiveness

 

matt 6 14 15

Yesterday I talked about being the light to the world around us, and how we are to point people to Jesus and to the glory of God. Today I will be talking about a simple way that we can be the light to others and to just be different from what the world and our natural desires tell us to be.

 

Forgiveness: this one can be really tough for a lot of people, myself included at times. But the Bible makes it clear for us, as Christians, as to what we are supposed to do at those times when we feel like we have been mistreated or cheated by someone. The world tells us that when someone does something to us we need to get them back. But when we choose to follow Jesus we need a new way of thinking. Jesus calls us to forgive, but Jesus doesn’t just call us to forgive once, but to forgive over and over again.

 

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! Matthew 18:21-22

 

Forgiving others shows the world the light we have inside us, and if we forgive others the world will notice. Forgiving others shows that we have accepted and embraced the forgiveness that God has showed us. I can speak for myself that God’s forgiveness is a lot more than seven, seventy-seven, or seventy times seven times. Paul reminds the Gentiles of this very thing in Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It’s also a great reminder verse for us today. So show your light today by forgiving someone who you have been holding a grudge against, and acknowledge and accept the forgiveness that God has shown to you through Christ.

 

Matthew chapter 6 —- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

-Luke Elwell

You Died

Col 3 3

Colossians 3:1-3

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I wonder how those believers in Jesus understood those words when Paul first penned that letter to them. “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”. He told them that they died. What would it have meant to them to hear that they had died? Obviously they were still physically alive and breathing. They were not zombies or vampires or other popular dead, but not fully dead creatures. What part of them was dead.

Sometimes today we speak metaphorically about death. “I’m brain dead” means that I did something without thinking it through, it was silly or stupid. “I’m dead tired” means that I need some sleep.

I think that Paul was telling the believers in Christ at Colossi that when they were baptized into Jesus Christ, that part of their nature that was under the control of “the flesh” or their brokenness and alienation from God had died. Apart from Christ, that which drives us or controls us is sin living within us. When we come to Christ, that part that controls us is put to death. Our focus is no longer to satisfy our sinful desires. We live by the spirit of God, our life is now found in God. It has not yet been fully revealed. We are still living under the influence of sin, and the new nature has not yet been fully realized in our daily living. That process, known as sanctification, is ongoing. It requires, as Paul goes on to say, a daily putting to death of things like “immorality, evil desires, greed, rage, malice, slander”.

We’re baptized into Christ, then you died, and rose again. Your new nature has not yet been fully revealed and won’t be until the coming of Jesus, but as you live as a follower of Jesus in this present age, you die to your old self a little more each day as you live by the spirit of God in practical ways.

-Jeff Fletcher

Holy and Honorable and Radically Counter Cultural

1 Thess 4 4.png

I Thessalonians 4:3-8

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Paul was writing this to Christians in the first century. He was calling them to live holy lives (set apart for God) in a culture where there was a great deal of immoral behavior that was accepted by society, but which went against God’s standards. Paul contrasts the believers call to live a holy and honorable life that is vastly different from the “passionate lust” that marked the life of the pagan. He warned that God would punish sexual sin and that to reject Paul’s teaching on this was to reject God.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a young person or a new believer to navigate sexual morality in this age today. It’s gotta be tough. It was tough enough for me as I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s and there was plenty of confusion in society then, but at least the Church still gave a clear and for the most part unified message of what right and wrong was all about. But today, young adults are bombarded with images and messages about sexuality that are far different. So much that the Bible clearly speaks of as a departure from God’s path is considered normal by today’s society. To even question such things as premarital sex, homosexual activity, homosexual marriage, serial monogamy etc… is to be considered narrow, judgmental, or even a hate monger. So young people and those who become followers of Jesus Christ later in life face challenges in understanding and adapting to a Biblical world-view regarding sexuality. Exactly the way it was in the first century when Paul wrote this letter.

I note that Paul says that each of us must “learn to control [our] own body”. It’s a process of learning. There are difficult lessons to be learned. As most of us who have had to learn something new realize, learning is a process which takes time and seldom happens without mistakes. Those believers who are more seasoned in their walk with the Lord should remember this, and while teaching faithfulness to God to young and new believers should remember that is it is a process and be patient with those who are still learning. And even be patient with ourselves, for learning something so radically counter cultural is never easy and we are all capable of making mistakes. Truth must always be mixed with grace.

-Pastor Jeff Fletcher

Forgiveness

luke 23 34 a

Society is filled with people who have no forgiveness.  We judge, ridicule and try to come up with the next sarcastic zinger to roast someone.  Escalation of situations that could have been resolved in their infancy are full blown Hatfield and McCoy level feuds because people did not possess the unceasing ability of Jesus to forgive.  Jesus was able to forgive even in the midst of extreme situations like being on the cross:

Luke 23:34 NIV Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Jesus found the strength to forgive even though he had been mercilessly mocked, beaten and ultimately murdered!  Meanwhile we struggle to forgive people for minor infractions like not liking our outfit, or denying the fact that we are the greatest spike ball player on the planet.  Seeing how Jesus was able to forgive his persecutors who had done much more to him than anyone else has experienced convicts us as Christians to be able to forgive others who have wronged us regardless of our situations because Jesus was able to forgive in situations worse than us.

-Zack Dylewski

The Plagues

exodus 6 7

After Moses goes back to Egypt and starts trying to get things going with the exodus it backfires on him and he is starting to have doubts (Exodus 5).  God replies

 

Exodus 6:6-8

6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”

 

God is ready to go.  He is done with people doubting him, and he is ready to show his power.  To do this he sends the ten plagues on Egypt. (Exodus 7-11) Each of the plagues was very symbolic and directly attacked the gods and culture of the Egyptians.  I’ll cover just a few of them here and their symbolism.

 

The plague of blood turned the water of the Nile river into blood, which killed the fish and other things in the river.  The Nile was the source of life in Egypt and was represented by the god Osiris. God shows that he is more powerful than Osiris and that refusing him brings death.

 

The plague of gnats/lice was a really fun time.  The dust became gnats that covered everything. This was an insult to the god Set who was the god over the desert.  This also was directed towards the priests and magicians who prided themselves on being pure and clean, but God was pointing out their sin and uncleanness to everybody.

 

The plague of livestock involved all of the Egyptian cattle dying. This attacks many of the Egyptian gods because many of them take the form of cattle.  This came right after Moses says that the Egyptians would stone the Israelites for sacrificing cattle and livestock to God. God is telling Pharaoh that he can either give up some of his cattle to God, or lose them all.

 

The plague of the firstborn involved an angel of God killing all of the firstborn in Egypt that were not covered by the passover blood of the lamb.  This obviously killed a lot of people but it also was a direct attack on Pharaoh who was supposed to be a god in Egypt but could not protect his own son from the wrath of God.

 

Each of these plagues tore down a god or aspect of Egyptian society that the Israelites had adopted and showed that it did not bring life or an escape from sin, but only brought death in the end and that only God is worthy of being worshiped and followed.

 

I hope that once we come to Christ it is obvious which aspects of our old lives were only bringing sin and pain.  Sometimes though we do not realize which things in our society are against God and many Christians continue to live in their old ways.  We need to pray and be wise in our life choices to make sure we are not putting any idols before God, because one day Christ will return and most parts of the book of Revelation make the plagues look like a walk in the park.

 

On that happy note, I’ll see you guys back here tomorrow 🙂

Chris Mattison