Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday, July 18 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 25-26; Psalm 122; 1 Corinthians 10.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 9:1-6.

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

So, after spending more than a year teaching and preaching and performing miracles and after having gathered together a group of men who would carry on for him after he was gone, Jesus sends them out to reach more people in less time, to multiply his ministry.  Probably also to let them learn about how to minister on their own while he was still there to instruct them.

People knew about Jesus - he was something of a celebrity.  They knew of the miracles that he had performed and many if not most would have a difficult time to deny that Jesus had power and ability to do things that could be ascribed to no one but God, therefore God must have given him this power.  So how were the apostles going to show that they too were delivering the message of God?  How would people know that they were truly followers of Jesus?  From MacArthur's sermon A Profile of a Christian Messenger, Part 2:

Answer: by giving them the ability to do the very same things that Jesus did which were unmistakably powered by God the Creator and therefore it was clear that God had given them the power to validate the message He had also given them. So they were given the power to do exactly what Jesus did, to preach exactly what Jesus preached. Today we have the same responsibility to preach exactly what Jesus preached, not to change the message at all, to preach the same message He preached. We don't have the miraculous power, we don't need that because our message can be measured as to its validity against the New Testament. Once the New Testament was complete, the need for those validating gifts passed away. 

So then, Jesus goes on to say that they aren't to take any money, bags, extra clothes, food, nothing.  Why would he instruct them this way?  MacArthur has this to say:

 Well, this was training and the deprivation was to teach them that when they did have nothing, which would happen again, they could trust the Lord to provide everything. It's like Matthew chapter 6, "Take no thought for what you shall eat, or drink, or what you shall wear, just know this, you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else is going to be...what?...going to be added. I'm going to take care of you." He was teaching them that they could trust Him. He was teaching them dependence, such a marvelous thing to learn. 
They were also not to take payment or reimbursement of any kind from anyone.  We all know that someone with a family member who is ill or dying would give or pay anything if he or she thought it would help.  It is very easy to take advantage of someone in a vulnerable position and Jesus wanted to make sure that this wouldn't occur.
That's the last thing His apostles needed to do. Jesus would never do that. But the apostles might. And so by giving them virtually zero options, He guaranteed that there wouldn't be any corruption of the enterprise by men who were far from perfect. So they were going like in ancient times, the rabbis used to go to the temple with no staff, no money and no shoes. This was boot camp stuff. This was to learn. Plus, there wasn't a lot of time to assemble certain things, they had to go immediately.
Never, ever, ever put a price on your ministry, I don't care who you are or where you are. Be content with what you have. Make reasonable provision for your life and then let God give you what He chooses to give you, and then be a steward of it. Don't ever put a price on your ministry, ever.
Verse 4, whatever person first offers you hospitality, you stay there until you leave that city.  In other words, if someone wealthier, with a larger home or more food to share with you offers you a place, but you've already accepted hospitality from someone else, you don't leave.
You know, this is a...this is the mark of a true servant of Christ. He demonstrates, or she demonstrates contentment...contentment. Doesn't have to have something better all the time. Doesn't use people for personal gain. Content to let the Lord meet needs.
I really "felt" the summary paragraph of MacArthur's sermon.  I know it rankled a bit with me, and there are some things in this paragraph as it applies to me where a little work will need to take place.

We have the Great Commission. Our responsibility is to go into all the world and preach the gospel, as was theirs. We are to call sinners to repent and believe in Christ. We are to tell them that the only way to enter God's Kingdom, enjoy forgiveness, spiritual blessings through all eternity, is to come to Christ. We are also to show lost sinners compassion, kindness, tender and mercy. We are to live lives that are constantly marked by trust so that no one ever, ever could assume that we do ministry for money. Getting rich at the expense of the people you're trying to reach is sinful. We are also to demonstrate that we live lives of complete contentment with God's sovereign control over our circumstances wherever we are. And as kind and loving and gracious and selfless as we are, we also have a responsibility to speak judgment where there is fixed rejection and a mocking of the truth and move on to open hearts.

Happy Thursday, everybody.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 9:7-9
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  2 Chronicles 27-28; Psalm 123; 1 Corinthians 11.


Roxie said...

Funny how the word "contentment" keeps coming up when I talk to so many of my Christian friends. Society tries so hard to tell us that we should not be at all content with what we look like, what we do, what we have...even who we are spending our time with (who knew beer could make a person so popular...and get invited to so many rockin' beach and pool parties???). Thanks for the reminder, Miriam. Contentment is definitely something that I need to strive for in my life...contentment through gratitude will bring deeper joy, yes?

Miriam said...

You bet, Roxie. It's funny how we have been trained to think "If I just had.... I would be happy." "If we could afford..... then we wouldn't need anything else anymore." "Once I have ....... then I will be satisfied." The truth is, we will never be satisfied if we are looking toward material things or that tropical vacation or whatever it is to make us happy or satisfied. It is difficult to remember, but nonetheless true, that there is more contentment when we can see how blessed we are already and learn that having our NEEDS met is enough. (Of course, not all of us have the same definition of NEEDS.)

Tammy said...

Great post Miriam, thanks! That was a great summary at the end.