How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 10)

mission

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #175

TEXT: Matthew 10:23-25

This weekend, Americans celebrated the fourth of July. It was the 238th anniversary of the day America declared her independence from Great Britain. That decision to throw off the yoke of British tyranny and forge from nothing but an idea the form of democracy that we have today, caused no small conflict for the thirteen colonies. Britain, France, Germany, and the Native American tribes were all involved in the American War for Independence. There was tremendous loss of life on both sides, and tremendous economic loss for the colonists. But, as we look back on that War today, Americans agree that it was the right thing to do.

When we look at the American Revolution, we can see it as an image of our story as Christian believers. Each of us were once slaves to the tyranny of sin and Satan. When we saw the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and decided to escape the kingdom of darkness and enter into the marvelous light of salvation, Satan was furious. And, just as the British sent their army to attempt to force the Americans into submission causing a conflict, Satan and his demons are after us as well. The devil wants to make us ineffective in our Christian walk, and the more determined we are to faithfully follow Jesus Christ, the more we will come into conflict with Satan and those who are on his side against God and the mission of the Gospel.

In this series on facing conflict as a Christian, we are working our way through Matthew chapter 10 in which Jesus gives a series of instructions, admonishments, and advice to His disciples who are about to go out on their own and preach the Gospel. He tells them how to handle conflict as Christians. Today, we are going to look at three aspects of Jesus’ instructions in verses 23-25.

1. The first aspect we will consider in the form of a question: fight or flight? In other words, are Christians to avoid conflict at all costs, or are there times when we should stand our ground and face the battle head on? Jesus told His disciples, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” Jesus’ advice to His disciples is that if they face persecution in one place, they are to move on to the next, and wherever they go, they should continue preaching the Gospel.

2. Second, let us look at the aspect of shared suffering. Jesus Christ said, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”

3. The final aspect of Jesus’ discourse that we will look at today is the privilege of servanthood. Jesus said, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.” When we suffer for Christ, we share in the work of Christ. There is great comfort in knowing that we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We can not only sing, in the words of the old hymn, “Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod,” but we can sing, “Brothers, we are treading where Christ himself has trod.”

George Bernard Shaw has a piece of advice that is often quoted. He said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” When it comes to living the Christian life, however, it is far better to follow the path that has already been blazed by Jesus Christ. If you try to blaze your own trail as a Christian, you will inevitably wind up ineffective as a believer. No Christian can succeed apart from Christ. We must follow His path. It is a path marked by blood, sweat, and tears; a path on which a major destination is a cross of wood, a crown of thorns, and a cruel, painful death. It is a path that leads to a grave — but, thank God, that is only temporary. The path of Christ ultimately ends in glory!

It ends in glory, not only for Jesus, but for us. If Jesus conquered death, then we will conquer death. If Jesus rose from the grave, then we will rise from the grave. If Jesus ascended from this earth when He had finished His course and entered the glory of Heaven to be with his father, when we finish our course on this earth, we will ascend and enter the glory of Heaven. If Jesus faced conflict in this world and overcame, we can face conflict as Christians in this world and overcome. Because, “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.”

MUSICAL SELECTION: “But God” by Isaac Carree; “King of Heaven” by Hillsong United

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 9)

mission

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #174

TEXT: Matthew 10:17-22

What if I told you this morning that loving Jesus Christ more than you love anything else could cause you to lose your spouse, cause you to lose your job, and cause your children to hate you. Or cause you to lose your life. Of course, you would think that that is unreasonable. However, in our text for today, we see that such things are to be anticipated for the person who is truly committed to following Christ.

I hate to be the person to tell you this, but if things continue the way they are going in America, I truly believe that there are going to be some Christians who are going to die because of their faith and therefore, their stance against the abomination of homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and the homosexual agenda. That is how demonic this movement is. I know it sounds far fetched but I truly believe that I could die for preaching against this sin. Please remember what I told you from Christian history, the saints did not die just because of their belief in Christ, they died because their belief in Christ had so dramatically changed their lives, and they would not go along to get along with the world.

In this series on facing conflict as a Christian, we are exploring Jesus’ admonishment to His disciples just before He sent them out on their first missionary journey. Jesus tells them plainly that living the Christian life is not a bed of roses. It is not all fun and games. Instead, for those who are really serious about following Jesus, it will often mean a life of pain, suffering, and heartache. In light of our passage of Scripture today, I want us to consider three topics that are of importance when we are facing conflict as a Christian.

1. Devotion to Christ. Jesus tells His disciples that they will be arrested, jailed, and put on trial “for my sake,” that is for the sake of Jesus Christ. Last week, we touched a little bit on the idea that we ought to keep in mind that the difficulties we face in this life because of our Christian faith are all because of Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. If we are truly devoted to Him, we should not shy away from suffering on His behalf because He already suffered for us.

2. We’ve talked about devotion to Christ. Now, let’s talk about division in life. Notice Jesus’ words: “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” I told you that loving Jesus supremely could cause some very unpleasant things to happen in your life. Here Jesus tells us that our own family members will turn against us on account of our devotion to Christ.

3. Finally, today, let’s look at determination amidst the strife. Verse 22 of our passage states, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” This is the point that separated the men from the boys. Who will persevere through the persecution? And who will fall by the wayside? Who will continue pressing on faithfully for Jesus? And who will turn aside in order to please a wife, or a husband, a parent, or a sibling? Who will lose money, favor, and prominence for the cause of Christ? And who will compromise what he says he believes in order to keep a job or maintain some kind of status?

A true Christian will continue on in the faith no matter what comes his way. God’s true children never lose their faith. They are always brought safely to their heavenly home, because it is Jesus who guarantees their salvation. If you are facing conflict because of your faith, it is not because you are doing something wrong as a Christian, but rather because you are doing something right. Jesus lets us know plainly that the Christian life is not easy.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Lay It Down” by Troy Sneed and “Higher” by Regina Belle

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 8)

mission

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #173

TEXT: Matthew 10:17-20

The week before last, we began getting into the practical instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples as He sent them out on their first missionary journey. Jesus Christ warned them that they would face opposition from those who hated the Gospel. In Matthew chapter 10, we are looking at all the ways in which Jesus told them to handle the conflicts that they would face because we can make use of Jesus’ commands as we face conflicts in this day and age.

The first point that we covered was “Christ’s command to ‘beware of men.’” Jesus wants us to be wise in our dealings with the people of this world. He does not want us to go into battle thinking that we are just playing a game. He wants us to be aware that we will run into people who do not like us, who do not like the Gospel, and who do not like Jesus Christ. Some people will hate and oppose the Gospel because the preaching of the Gospel infringes on their lifestyle, convicts their hearts, or hinders their source of income. However, it is not only the Gospel that offends the world, but it is the fact that the Gospel changes people’s lives and minds about sin in the world, and they can be influenced by the devil to try to hinder us as we try to preach the Gospel and live our lives according to the Bible. So, we must beware of men.

2. We must keep the cause in mind. Jesus Christ says, “for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” Jesus tells His disciples that they will have to answer for their faith before the government and religious rulers of their day. Not surprisingly, Christians today are being called upon to do the same.

3. We must trust God for solutions. Jesus says, “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” When we face conflict as Christians, we are not to rely on ourselves and trust our own ingenuity for what to say or do. Rather, we are to trust and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. God knows the hearts of all men, and He alone can give us the right thing to say in every situation.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this promise is knowing that God will be with us during the difficult conflicts that we will face. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will not only give us the words to say, but He will comfort us and provide reassurance that we are His children, that our salvation is secure, and that He will see us through to the end of every trial.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “The Blood of Jesus” by Smokie Norful and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Vickie Winans

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 7)

mission

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #171

TEXT: Matthew 10:17-20

We are moving on in our series of messages on what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Over the past few weeks, we have explored Jesus’ metaphors saying that Christians are like sheep in the midst of wolves, and should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Now, we are getting into the practical instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples as He is sending them out on a missionary journey. Lord, willing, we are going to go through all of the rest of Matthew chapter 10 as we seek to understand how we should carry ourselves when we face conflict as Christians.

This past week, the ruling came down in the case of a Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a homosexual couple. The Civil Rights Commission of Colorado ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Bakery had to supply wedding cakes to homosexual couples and that he and his employees had to undergo some kind of “anti-discrimination training” as well as report to the government how many people they refused to serve each quarter. This dear Christian brother has decided that he would rather not bake any wedding cakes if the government is going to try to force him to do something against his convictions such as even remotely participate in a homosexual wedding.

There are several more cases similar to this one pending across the country. And such instances of conflict between Christians who desire to live by Biblical principles and the world which opposes the principles of God will only increase as time goes on and as we draw near to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. To use Dr. King’s phrase, in light of “the fierce urgency of now” — in light of the fact that this passage has intense and immediate application, let us turn to Scripture and continue to see how we should face conflict as Christians from Matthew 10

Notice Christ’s command to “beware of men.” He says in verse 17, “Beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.” Jesus warns us against being naive as we represent Him in the world. Just because we may come across as harmless people who are delivering a message of love and grace does not mean that there are not others who are out there with the intent to do us harm.

Some people will hate and oppose the Gospel because the preaching of the Gospel infringes on their lifestyle, convicts their hearts, or hinders their source of income. In the book of Acts, the silversmiths and merchants of Ephesus, who gained wealth by making and selling statues of the goddess Diana, rose up against Paul because the preaching of the Gospel hurt their profits. The Jewish religious leaders attacked and arrested Jesus because they were jealous of Jesus’ influence over the people. The message of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached threatened their power and authority.

Recently, a preacher by the name of Carl Lentz, in an interview on CNN, made some comments about not preaching on homosexuality in order to not offend the world. However, the Bible speaks clearly of the offense of the Gospel — how that many people will be offended by the simple preaching of the Word of God. What Pastor Lentz and others like him do not understand is that it is not only the Gospel that offends the world, but it is the fact that the Gospel changes people’s lives and minds about sin in the world. When a person truly gets saved, the evidence of their salvation is shown in how they begin to think about sin.

For example, before I got saved, I did not think there was anything wrong with fornication and a whole lot of other things that I and my friends were used to doing. However, after I got saved, the Gospel changed my mind about sin and I began to see that much of my former lifestyle was wrong.

The same thing happened to the earliest Christians and caused much persecution for them as well. According to The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez, in the first century after the death of Christ, under the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian, the government persecuted followers of Christ not just because they chose to follow Christ, but because their relationship with Christ caused them to oppose much of what went on in Roman society. Gonzalez states that “all social activities — the theater, the army, classic literature, and sports — were so entwined with pagan worship that Christians often felt the need to abstain from them.” The emperor Domitian in particular persecuted both Jews and Christians because “in their rejection of Roman gods and of many Roman traditions, [they] stood in the way of Domitian’s dreams” of restoring Roman traditions.

Believers in the first century and believers today face conflict not only because they believe in Jesus Christ, but because of what their belief in Jesus Christ does in their hearts and lives. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Because of these reasons and others, Christ warns us to “beware of men.” Don’t be too trusting of men. Just because we assume they have no reason to oppose the Gospel, does not mean that they will not oppose the Gospel. The word “beware” means “to devote thought or effort to something.” In other words, use your brain when preaching the Gospel. Not everyone is on our side. Not everyone is supportive of our message. We have to go into each situation expecting opposition. So, beware of men.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin and “Greater” by MercyMe

GLMX #182: How to Have a Change of Heart

changeheart

“Trust your heart.” You’ve heard it said many times. You’ve probably even said it a few times yourself.

When a young person has to choose between two equally good colleges, their parents might tell them, “just trust your heart.”

When a woman knows that two men are interested in her romantically, and she has to decide which one she will date or marry, her friends might tell her, “just trust your heart, girl.”

When a man has two equally good job offers, and he can’t seem to decide which one to accept, his friends might tell him, “just trust your heart.”

“Just trust your heart” — it’s pretty popular advice, but it might not always be the best advice.

Do you know what the Bible says about the human heart? It says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Why do we sin, do bad things, and make mistakes? Because of our hearts, which the Bible says are “desperately wicked.”

Many parents have lamented the fact that their children don’t have to be taught to do wrong, but they do have to be taught to do what is right. Why? Because their hearts, from birth, are wicked. In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

Why do so many people struggle with drugs and pornography — returning again and again to these sins and vices even though they know their lives are being ruined by them and that they are becoming addicted? Because of the heart. God says that the heart is “desperately wicked.” That is so true; the heart so often leads us astray.

Why is it so easy for “good kids” — who come from good families and have everything that money could buy — to be influenced by negative peer pressure and end up ruining their lives dealing in drugs or crime and ending up in prison? Why? Because the heart is “desperately wicked.”

Why do men and women, regardless of age, race, and ethnicity, lie, cheat, steal, commit fornication, commit adultery, hate, and kill. Why? Because the heart is “desperately wicked.”

You see, it’s not always a good idea to trust your heart.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Change My Heart, Oh God” by Eddie Espinosa

GLMX #178: A Reminder About Resolutions

Here we are at the beginning of another year. Like so many others have done, you probably took the opportunity during the past few days to look back over how your life has gone over the past year, and you have made up your mind about some things you want to change going forward. In fact, you probably have one or two “new year’s resolutions” that you intend to keep over the next twelve months.

Friend, I wish you all the best.

However, I want to encourage you not to leave God out of the equation. The Bible does not say much by way of new year’s resolutions. However, in His Word, God does encourage us to examine our lives and seek God’s help as we try to become better people each day. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Haggai 1:5 says, “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” This means we ought to look at and examine our lifestyle. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Thus, it is wise to look back on our lives, and then to look forward with the determination to make changes for the better.

One reason why many people fail to keep their new year’s resolutions is because they try to reach them in their own strength instead of with God’s help. They try to do it all on their own. However, they quickly realize their own shortcomings while trying to make this effort on their own. Despite their best intentions, they just can’t do it on their own.

One of the best things you can do is turn to God for help. God’s Word tells us that the reason why we fail so often, not only in keeping our New Year’s Resolutions, but in many other things as well, is because we have a sinful nature. Sin is the bad or wrong things that we do, and the Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

If you want to truly make a change in your life, something must be done about your sin problem. If nothing is done, you will continue to stumble, fall, and make mistakes despite your best intentions. Thankfully, God has already done everything that needs to be done to take care of our sin problem. The Bible says in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and the punishment of sin are transformed from the inside out. Their lives are changed, and the Bible says they become “new creatures.” They are no longer slaves to sin, but the children of God who have their ultimate destiny and future in Heaven with Him and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Right now, at the start of a fresh, new year, may I encourage you not to go another day without Jesus Christ in your life. He is the Friend you need to lead you, guide you, and walk alongside you on the road of life. Would you like to trust Him today? Allow me to show you how you can do that.

+ Plus, listen to Maurette Brown-Clark singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”