Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July 7, 2016

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another." Matthew 10:21-23

When the Twelve answered the call to follow Jesus it was the trendy thing to do. This young rabbi from Nazareth was rock star popular and everywhere He went everyone wanted to be there. Locals flocked to the sea shore or the mountain side or the synagogues or wherever He happened to be speaking.

Now, He was sending them out to the villages and cities to preach and minister in His Name. Before He sent them out He counselled them and tried to prepare them for their first encounters with opposition.

The popularity they were currently enjoying was about to change. Family members would reject them. Life-long friends would turn on them. There would be times they would forget why they agreed to follow Jesus and seriously consider unfriending Him before they were unfriended by the hometown folks.

Why did you begin following Jesus?

What has it cost you?

Are you willing to part with friends and put up with the disapproval of family members?

Jesus needed His disciples to count the cost and face those fears before they went any deeper into this discipleship thing.

Anyone can follow Jesus when it is pleasant and popular. But can you follow Jesus when there is pressure, prejudice, punishment or persecution?

The fact is if you follow Jesus long enough you will experience the pain from each of these forms of opposition.

Does this frighten you?

I'm sure it left the disciples wide-eyed.

I invite you to listen to Jesus' repeated reassurances to them - "fear not" - "don't be afraid" - "trust me and don't worry".

What was going on here?

Could it be that Jesus was attempting to strengthen their faith?

What is the primary obstacle to faith?

Isn't it fear?

What happens every time your faith is challenged by a fearful situation?

You are confronted with the choice between faith and fear!

What happens to your faith when you cling to it instead of being fearful?

Following Jesus is choosing faith when you are faced with fear or even when you are feeling fearful. That's how faith is strengthened.

As you prepare for today, there could be some fearful circumstances facing you.

Jesus would say, "Fear not!"

What will you say?