Matthew 10:26-31 Shift your Focus

Jesus knew that what they would face would eventually be so difficult that it would be tempting to quit and so 3 times in these 6 verses Jesus tells them to not fear. Jesus knew the power of  fear and how it can cripple people from doing what God has called them to do.People do not share about Christ because of fear of rejection. People fear going overseas because they are afraid something may happen while they are over seas.

A)   Fear of Reputation

The verses before this Jesus was warning them that they would be calling them names and slandering who they are. Everyone likes to be liked so simple name calling can have a powerful affect on people.

Read Matthew 10:24-25

If you have ever been wronged for doing the right thing you know the frustration of wondering why God allows that to happen. Jesus healed people, raised people from the dead, loved the unlovely and yet He was accused of wrong doing.

When false accusations happen we have a tendency to question God about why He allows those things to happen. Jesus wanted the disciples to remember that no matter what is said or done to them that God sees all and He will make right the wrongs one day.

1 Corinthians 4:4-5 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

When you are wronged by Religious people, Governments or even family members, you can rest assured that God saw it and will reward you for your endurance and judge them if they do not repent from it.

This goes back to staying focused on the main thing because when you are hurt or wronged in some way your focus shifts to the person who wronged you instead of the mission.

B)   Fear of offending

John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How many times have we stayed silent when we should have spoken up?

Read Verse 27

This fear is being bred into us because we do not believe we have the right to step into anyone else’s life. We are taught to be politically correct with the lie that there are no absolute truths. No one is allowed to call what someone else is doing wrong because it is just a lifestyle choice.

This goes back to  verse 19  and a Rabbi would take his pupil and would whisper in his ear and then the pupil  would shout it out loud. The news we have has to be proclaimed to everyone and so we should do what we can to make sure that everyone can hear it. We are only repeating our Rabbi’s message and so we proclaim what He wants us to say.

A person shouting from a housetop could be heard for a great distance We have the good news that everyone needs to hear but we have been conditioned to be quiet about it because we are told we do not have the right to share with someone what we believe.

If someone was getting ready to drive off a cliff would you speak up? How much more important is the news about eternity need to be shared?

We always justify our own sins and the reasons we do them and so if we say something about someone else’s life then they may see something in our life and show us where we need to change.

Is one of the reasons you are staying quiet because you do not want someone saying something about how you are living?

C)    Fear of Physical Pain

Read Vs 28

This of course is what happened to many of the disciples as they were killed for not rejecting Christ. They saw their savior beaten , killed but raised again so they knew that the one they followed had overcome death.The Disciples were confident that even if they killed their body they would one day rise again like their savior.

1 Corinthians 15:40 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.

We are to shift our focus from the ones who can destroy this physical body to the one who can destroy our soul. We are to stop listening to the threats and start focusing on God’s promises.

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 and ask am I any better than Paul that I should be scared of such treatment?

D)  Fear of God letting you down

Read vs 29-31

Jesus wanted to make sure that no matter what we came up with to fear would be covered so He gives a blanket statement about why we should not fear.

Sparrows were considered poor mans food because they were easy to come by and cheap. God says that He sees them every time they fall to the ground and so how much more will He pay attention to you?

God said He numbered the hairs on your head. If you have ever been around someone who really loves someone they can describe them with great detail. God wants us to know that He cares for every detail of our lives. Jesus uses the intimate term when He says “apart from your father”. This is the abba father or daddy who cares for you.

In the midst of our pain and even sometimes our disillusionment with God we can never buy into the lie that He has abandoned us  forgotten us or just does not care about us.

Many have preached the promises of God but they do so incorrectly or only tell you half of the story. Yes the promises of God will come but that does not mean they will always come this side of Heaven. Teaching that God will always come through this side of Heaven has led many to leave Christianity when things did not work out the way they thought. If we do not have an eternal perspective than we will miss out on what God is doing.

Have you ever heard of Jim Elliot? “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Would we have known his story if he would not have been killed? How many people have gone out into the mission field because of his story? How many people have been encouraged to keep enduring because of stories like that?

We have to remember we do not always understand Gods ways but we can still trust God. The reason I have such a hard time with teaching the promises of God half way is because it is a lesson God had to teach me. I thought once I gave my life to Christ that God was on my side to do what I needed to make me successful. Giving your life to Christ means that you surrender your life to Him to be used as He sees fit. When we do that then we can trust that no matter if it looks like tragedy, God is using it for eternal purposes.

Song Trust His Heart

All things work for our good Though sometimes we don’t See how they could Struggles that break our hearts in two Sometimes blind us to the truth Our Father knows what’s best for us His ways are not our own So when your pathway grows dim And you just don’t see him, your never alone

Chorus:

God is too wise to be mistaken God is too good to be unkind So when you don’t understand
When don’t see his plan When you can’t trace his hand Trust His Heart

He sees the master plan He holds the future in his hand,  So don’t live as those who have no hope,  ALL our hope is found in him. We see the present clearly He sees the first and last
And like a tapestry He’s weaving you and me,  To someday be just like him

 

“The appeal to God’s sovereignty is not to foster hope that we will be spared all difficulty, but to foster confidence that when those difficulties come we are not abandoned. (D.A. Carson, The Sermon on the Mount)

We have to shift our focus from this world to the world to come. We have to trust God even when it does not make sense because in the end we will have a full understanding of His plan.

Our Christian life cannot always be about how we can be happier, or to have our best life now but we have to shift our focus on God and off of ourselves. Our Government, Our Families, and even our Christianity are weighed down with self-interest and Jesus is calling us out of that. People may blame religion but Christianity truly does have the cure to this epidemic called sin. The answer is found in Christ and we have to continue  to share with anyone who will listen.

40 Men for Christ

The story took place in 328 A.D.. in a city high in the icy mountains of Armenia. It was a bitterly cold winter and in the middle of that winter an order came from the Roman emperor that every man, woman, and child under the rule of his empire must bow down to him as a god. Now there was a powerful force of Roman soldiers in that Armenian city known as the “Thundering Legion”, and their reputation as a powerful military force was known through all the Roman Empire. But the emperor was not satisfied with their military service – he wanted each soldier to bow down to him.

When the time came for each soldier to bow down, 40 could not. They were faithful soldiers, but more importantly, they were Christians – they could not obey the emperor’s order to make him their god. They said, “We can only worship the one true God.”

Well, when the word of these 40 Christian soldiers refusing to bow down and worship him was received by the emperor, his command back was simple, “Bow down to me, reject your Christian God, or die”. But the 40 Christian Roman soldiers did not bow down – so the decision was made that they would die. But how should they die? Should they be fed to the hungry lions? Should they be burned at the stake? These were both terrible ways to die, but an even more cruel death was prescribed – they were to be frozen to death in the bitter cold winter.

So they took the 40 soldiers to a frozen lake in the middle of a terrible storm. They stripped them of all their clothing and left them to freeze to death.

But the general didn’t want to lose these 40 good soldiers. He said, “Simply bow down to the emperor and save your life?” But they did not. The soldiers taunted and laughed at them – “soon you’ll be back; you will bow down”. But the laughing stopped when these 40 Christians bravely walked barefoot across the icy freezing lake.

Well, through the night the soldiers lit a fire and cooked food to tempt the Christians to give up. But the Christians prayed to God to make them brave, and they began to shout, “Here die 40 men for Christ”.

The freezing bitter cold night went on until finally, the cold was too much for one of the men. He staggered back to the fire and agreed to denounce his God and to bow down to the emperor. But the remaining 39 Christians would not give in, even though they were literally freezing to death.

Then, amazingly, something happened that they could not believe – one of the Roman soldiers sitting by the fire, having watched the bravery and courage and faith on these dying Christians, he stood before the general and uttered these words, “I will take that man’s place – I will be a Christian.” As the general watched in amazement, this Roman soldier removed his clothing and walked onto the icy lake to join the 39.

Well the Roman soldiers sat by that fire all night long and the last thing they said they could remember hearing through the howl of that terrible freezing winter storm was the now 40 Christian men shouting, “Here die 40 men for Christ”. In the morning, sadly, there were 40 frozen bodies; men who have sacrificed for their faith and belief in Christ.

A full 350 years later, in the chapel in the forum of Rome, was dedicated to these 40 soldiers a plaque, a simple plaque which still hangs there today, with these powerful words engraved on it,

“Here die 40 men for Christ”.

What would you have done?

1 Corinthians 15:55 Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

What do you fear?

Is this life more important than the one to come?

It is time we shif our focus from off of this world to the world that is to come.

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