"Authority of Jesus over Persecution"-Matt. 10:16-23

This Week’s Core Practice: Love- I sacrificially and unconditionally love and forgive others.

1 John 4:10-12 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Scripture: Matthew 10:16-23

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Introductory Thoughts: Jesus calls us to be wise and be aware. The Christian life is an impossible task; it is a Way that cannot be fathomed. We cannot successfully accomplish it on our own. We face obstacles and pitfalls that derail us from the goal, and we become frustrated, lose our hope, and even our faith. The great news is we are not on this journey alone. Christ travels with us and equips us, and even tells us what is ahead so we can be forewarned and prepared. With His guidance, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christian life becomes a doable deal, a life worth living, and a life worth sharing and accompanying others. It is a life that has no equal! Jesus comes to us, not only to equip us, but also to do what is most essential, that of growing and fulfilling us. This is an incredible and wondrous privilege.  However, it can also be tough. He promises Himself to us on the journey. The path will have unexpected detours and sometimes we won’t be able to see beyond the bend in the road, but He will guide us and show us the next step.

The ways and woes of this sinful, fallen world, seemingly gripped in Satan's control, will get to us on occasions. It may even cause us to suffer and bring us to our eternal home earlier than we planned. But, when our eyes are upon Christ as our Lord, we can have confidence that He is sovereign and will bring us through. We will even grow stronger, and better through adversity. Why? There is a price to pay in life, one for which He made the full payment for--our place in eternity, our salvation.

Personal Reflection:  Use the following questions to help review the application of God’s Word to our Head (What does God want me to know?), to our Heart (What does God want me to desire/value?), and to our Hands (What does God want me to do?)

·       Looking back at Andy’s message, is there anything that especially resonated or challenged you?

·       Can you think of specific examples where the world is getting worse towards the treatment of Christians? 

·       Why does Jesus call us to be wise and be aware? Why can’t we just simply trust Him?

·       Have you ever felt that the Christian life is an impossible task? Why, or why not? What makes it possible? 

·       What are some obstacles and pitfalls you may face that could potentially derail you from the goal Christ has for you to grow growth in faith and maturity? 

·       The world will hate us for no apparent reason other than it hates Jesus. Have you ever experienced that?

·       Why do you suppose most people prefer sin, and what feels good, to His love?

·       What does it mean to be prudent in our action and discernment to prevent needless suffering and strife in our lives? 

·       What do you need to do to let the Spirit speak through you?

·       If you were one of Matthew's first-century readers, and faced with severe persecution, how would you respond to this passage? 

·       What can you do to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves”? 

 (See Romans 16:19, 2 Corinthians 12:16, Ephesians 5:15, and Colossians 4:5.)

Why were the apostles not to worry about how or what they should speak if they were brought before kings and governors (v.18)? (See also Exodus 4:12, 2 Samuel 23:2, Jeremiah 1:7, and 2 Timothy 4:17.)