Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 23: Serpents and Doves

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 23 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “Why do you think Christians feel inadequate and fearful about evangelism?”

After giving His disciples instructions on how to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God, Jesus prepares them to enter a hostile environment. He is sending the disciples among people who will oppose His message, even to the point of killing them.

Read: Matthew 10:16-23, Luke 10:3

Jesus told the disciples that He was sending them as sheep among the wolves. The disciples were to be shrewd like snakes, avoiding contact with them by staying low, moving quietly and purposefully while staying out of sight. They were also to have peaceful natures like doves. The disciples were to exhibit good conduct, not provoking men to argument nor giving them cause to persecute Christians.

Jesus told the disciples to beware of these men, so recognizing the kind of people they are becomes important. Like wolves, they have several common traits. They tend to band together in society, attack the weakest individual as a group and usually are howling about something. Jesus told the disciples you could recognize them by their fruit: (1) living after the flesh instead of walking in love, (2) teaching others to cause God’s children to fall and (3) grumbling and complaining against God and His ways.

Despite taking these precautions, Jesus said the disciples would not be able to avoid all confrontation. Some would be tried in court and persecuted for their message. Jesus assured them that they didn’t need to worry about how to defend themselves when on trial, as the Holy Spirit would enlighten them as to what to say. Once the disciples were persecuted in a city, they were to immediately to flee to the next town.

At this point in His instructions on preaching the kingdom of God, Jesus makes an interesting statement, “For truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” He is essentially equating His second coming with the preaching of the gospel throughout Israel. For many years this preaching assignment was difficult to do since the Jewish people were dispersed among the nations and not in control of the land. In 1948, Israel became a nation once again and the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24-28) was fulfilled. It is still difficult to preach the gospel in Israel since it is against the law but it is of primary importance for Christians to continue the message to the Jewish people in their homeland (Psalm 102:13-18).

The point of the lesson is be wise in the way you declare the gospel.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:

Is it better to live for your faith or die for your faith?

. . . and the homework assignment . . .

Taking the last four lessons into consideration, let’s consider a couple of questions to better understand the sowing and reaping component of the discipleship making process:
  • How long a time do you think it takes between sowing any “word of God” into a person before you can reap what you have sown? 2 Corinthians 6:2 - Amos 9:13
  • What do you think Ecclesiastes 11:4 means?
    • This verse tells us that a fearful person looking for ideal conditions will neither sow nor reap. Their justification runs like this: 1) The wind might blow my seed on unproductive ground; therefore I might be wasting it and 2) The clouds indicate it might rain; therefore the harvest would be ruined.
  • When is the best time to sow the word of God? Ecclesiastes 11:6
  • What is a wise way to sow your seed? James 3:17-18
  • How much sowing should you do? 2 Corinthians 9:6
  • What are you sowing? Galatians 6:7
And finally, pray every day for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His harvest.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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