Posts Tagged ‘ preaching ’

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 4)

seroent-dove

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #168

TEXT: Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

We are in a series of messages on the theme of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. We are looking at Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 10:16-42 as He sends them out on a missionary journey. Jesus Christ makes it clear that they will face trouble, conflict, and difficulty as they preach that the Kingdom of God has come, and He tells them how to handle the conflict that they will face.

In the first three messages in this series, we looked at the first part of verse 16 where Jesus says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…” Today, we are moving on to the second part of this verse where He says, “be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

When we think of serpents, we most often associate them with evil. The devil appeared to Eve in the Garden of Eden as a serpent, and throughout Scripture, Satan is referred to as a serpent. When we think of serpents, we think of fangs, venom, and the pain that they can cause. We think of the sickening way a serpent kills its prey — by coiling itself around its victim, crushing the life out of it, and then swallowing it whole.

Why, then, does Jesus tell us to be wise as serpents.

1. First, when we are wise as serpents, we are wary of the ways of the world. The word “wise” in this text means intelligent or prudent. When we think of being as wise as a serpent, we are reminded of Genesis 3:1 which says, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” The word “subtil” means cunning or clever.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Thank You” by Walter Hawkins and “I Must Tell Jesus” by The Sensational Nightingales

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How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 3)

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves..."

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #166

TEXT: Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

We are in a series of messages on the theme of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. In this series, we are looking at Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 10:16-42 as He sends them out on a missionary journey. Jesus Christ makes it clear that they will face trouble, conflict, and difficulty as they preach that the Kingdom of God has come, and He tells them how to handle the conflict that they will face. The first thing He says is, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”

In our first message, we saw that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being calm despite the conflict. When we are faced with conflict, a Christian should still have peace in his heart and mind because our peace is found in God, not in our circumstances.

Secondly, we learned that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means following Jesus amidst the frenzy of this world. The broad way of the world is lined by all kinds of attractions, distractions, and temptations. The devil will use the cares of this world to get us to falter in our walk with Christ. But, as sheep, we only follow one leader, and that is the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Third, today, we see that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being peaceful despite the pain. Jesus said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Let me put it simply — wolves bite. As Christians living in a world that seems to be growing increasingly hostile to Christianity, we must be prepared to face pain. Christians in Egypt, North Korea, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and other places around the globe face physical pain each day because they have decided to follow Christ.

Our passage, which we will study in further detail in upcoming messages, goes on to show us that the “wolves”will take the “sheep”to court, whip them, drag them before governors, have parents and children put to death, hate them, persecute them, slander them, and kill them. As John Piper says, “It is clear that when Jesus says he is sending us as sheep in the midst of wolves, he means that we will be treated the way wolves treat sheep.” Already in this country, Christians are being taken to court for standing up for Christian beliefs such as marriage as defined in the Bible.

Listen to these words from Charles Spurgeon: “The weapons of Christians are that they are weaponless. They are to be prudent, discreet, ‘wise as serpents’but they are to be loving, peaceful, ‘harmless as doves.’The Christian missionary will need to be wary, to avoid receiving harm; but he must be of a guileless mind, that he do no harm. We are called to be martyrs, not maniacs; we are to be simple-hearted, but we are not to be simpletons.”

When we face the pain of persecution, how do we respond? If we are to be true followers of Jesus Christ, we must choose to be peaceful in the midst of pain. This means not trying to “get back” or “get even” with our enemies. We should leave everything in God’s hands and let him fight our battles.

One of the reasons why sheep need shepherds is for protection. As I mentioned earlier, sheep have no natural defense mechanisms. The only thing they can do when faced with danger is run, and sometimes they don’t even do that. The shepherd, however, has a rod and a staff. The shepherd uses the rod to drive off predators and keep the sheep safe. A smart sheep will understand this and will stay close to the shepherd, letting the shepherd deal with the wolves.

If you try to take things into your own hands, if you try to avoid the pain of persecution and conflict in your own strength, you will quickly find out that you are not equipped to handle the wolves on your own. So, let me encourage you to just be at peace and let the Shepherd handle the wolves.

Are you following Jesus Christ today? If so, then you have been sent out as a sheep in the midst of wolves. I want to encourage you to be calm despite the conflict, to follow Jesus amidst the frenzy, and to remain peaceful despite the pain.

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 2)

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves..."

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #166

TEXT: Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

On last Sunday, we began a new series that continues the theme of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. In this series, we are looking at Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 10:16-42 as He sends them out on a missionary journey. Jesus Christ makes it clear to them that they will face trouble, conflict, and difficulty, and then He tells them how to handle the conflict that they will face. The first thing He says is, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”

What did Jesus mean when He called us sheep? First of all, we saw last week that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being calm despite the conflict. When we are faced with conflict, the response of the Christian should be to have peace in the midst of the storm because our peace is found in God, not in our circumstances.

Today, the second thing we notice is that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means following Jesus amidst the frenzy. Jesus said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” As I mentioned before, sheep are followers. At first, that may sound like a bad thing, but it is not. There is nothing wrong with a sheep being a follower as long as he is following the right leader. Who is the leader that we should follow? Our leader is the Great Shepherd — Jesus Christ Himself.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ means conforming our lives to His life — not only in words, but in actions. Our fast-paced world can be a very confusing place. If you are not careful, you can be sucked in by opportunities and attractions that will lead you off the straight and narrow path. This world can be likened to Vanity Fair in Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan wrote, “At this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts.” There is nothing the devil would like to do more than get Christians sidetracked by entertainment, pleasure, and easy living — which are just wolves dressed up to look harmless, but that bite nonetheless.

Amidst the frenzy of our crazy world, amidst the cries and howls of the wolves of this world, Jesus Christ calls us to faithfully follow Him, and to humbly and unquestioningly obey His will for our lives. A sheep sent out amidst the wolves is not on his own. Rather, he has the best guide on the journey of life. He has the Good Shepherd who will lead him through the valley of the shadow of death to the place of still water.

There is a famous prayer written by a monk named Thomas Merton which embodies the spirit of the following lamb. It says, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end… Lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

No matter what kind of persecution, hatred, harassment, or slander you face because of your Christian faith, always remain committed to following Jesus Christ. No matter how attractive the world’s path may seem, no matter how carefree those who reject Christ may appear to be, no matter how hectic a day may become, be a sheep who follows the Good Shepherd.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “When I Rose This Morning” by the Mississippi Mass Choir and “The Storm is Passing Over” by John P. Kee

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian (Part 1)

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves..."

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #165

TEXT: Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

On the last Sunday before the beginning of Easter week, you might recall that we finished a series of messages titled, “Are You a True Disciple?” In that series, we looked at Luke 14, and asked ourselves if we are willing to become true disciples of Jesus Christ. We saw some hindrances that those who set out to be true disciples will face — namely the pull of the crowd, the pull of family ties, and the pull of self. We also looked at what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ.

Today, we are beginning a new series that continues the theme of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. And one of the things that a true disciple will experience is conflict. Yes, as a Christian, you will have conflict, difficulty, tension, and misunderstanding as you attempt to serve the Lord. If you thought that Christianity was a bed of roses, I’m sorry to disappoint you. In Matthew 10:16-42, which we will be studying throughout this series, Jesus Christ makes it clear to His disciples that they will have trouble. G.K. Chesterton famously said, “Jesus promised his disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.”

In Matthew 10, Jesus Christ is commissioning His twelve disciples. He is sending them on a missionary journey to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God to the Jewish people of Palestine. They have been with Him for a while, and watched Him preach, now it is time for them to step out on their own and preach themselves. As they prepare to do this, Jesus gives them (and us) a head’s-up on what they will face. He tells them that they will face conflict, and He tells them how to deal with conflict — how to live in the midst of it. Today, we are looking at His words, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”

Jesus says you and I are sheep in the midst of wolves. Now, most of us would not like to be compared to sheep. Sheep are not the most intelligent of animals: their eyesight is bad; their hearing is bad; if they fall down on their backs, they can’t get up; they are followers; they have a tendency to wander off and get lost; and they have no natural defense mechanisms like claws, sharp teeth, horns, camouflage, or poison, thus making them easy prey. Yet, God in His wisdom, chose to use young sheep — lambs — as a symbol of salvation, forgiveness, and atonement in both the Old and New Testament. When John saw Jesus coming to be baptized, he did not say, “Behold, the lion of God” referring to the king of beasts, or “Behold, the eagle of God” referring to the king of birds, or “Behold, the stallion of God” referring to a strong, fast, beautiful creature. No! He said, “Behold, the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” And, here, Jesus compares us to sheep. So, what does it mean to be sheep in the midst of wolves?

Being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being calm despite the conflict.

Jesus said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” We must always remember that it is Jesus who does the sending. He has called us and appointed us to be His ambassadors in the world. Charles Spurgeon said, “It would be foolhardy to go if Jesus did not say, ‘I send you.’ When Jesus sends forth sheep, they may go fearlessly into the very ‘midst of wolves.’”

When we look at the trial of Jesus Christ, we see a perfect example of someone who is calm despite the conflict raging around Him. The Jewish religious leaders spit on Him, beat Him, and threw false accusations at Him. The Roman soldiers stripped Him, whipped Him, and pressed a crown of thorns on His head. People passed by the cross mocking Him and criticizing Him. Yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus never lashed out verbally or physically. He was calm throughout the whole ordeal.

How do you respond to conflict? Do you become frantic and hysterical? Do you become depressed and negative? Do you forget that God is in control?

When we are faced with conflict — and we will be, because Jesus said, “In this world, ye shall have tribulation” — the response of the Christian should be peace in the midst of the storm. If false accusations are brought against you, don’t respond negatively. Understand that Jesus warned you such things would happen. There are wolves in the world who hate Jesus, who hate the Gospel, and who will do anything they can to hinder the Gospel and make life difficult for believers.

Someone once said, “Safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.” Instead of focusing on the conflict that you face because of your faith, focus on God who is above the storm that you are facing. God is always peaceful. Nothing ruffles God’s feathers. Nothing gets under His skin. Nothing surprises God. You can always find peace in Him.

Being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being calm despite the conflict.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Awesome” by Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago and “Nobody Greater” by Vashawn Mitchell

M.C. Hammer: The “Master of Ceremonies” Now Lives and Works as a “Man of Christ” (Gospel Light Minute #99)

M.C. Hammer

M.C. Hammer

He is best known for his hit rap songs “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit”. He is the first artist to gain diamond status for an album and has sold 50 million records throughout his lifetime. He is remembered for a rapid rise to fame, flashy dance moves, choreography, and his trademark parachute pants. His superstar status and entertaining showmanship made him a household name and hip-hop icon in the 1980s and 1990s. He was also a TV producer, television show co-host, and is the head of his own music management firm. A self-described “super-geek”, he is currently either investing in or consulting for eight technology companies. He was one of the first celebrities to embrace social media and spends 10-12 hours daily working on his technology projects.

He grew up in a Pentecostal church, however, he admits that he strayed from the faith during the years of his success. Even during this period of backsliding though, he promised to dedicate one song to God on each of his albums, and one of his most popular singles was the song “Pray.” However, it took a bankruptcy, a fall from favor in the music industry, and what he calls a bout of “official backsliding” to turn him back to the church, Jesus Christ, and a commitment to preach. He has since been ordained in the Church of God in Christ, preferring smaller pulpits “where they don’t expect to see someone famous.”

He says, “I am honored that Jesus has taken a wretch like me and said I got some work for you to do.” Today, he devotes his time to prison and youth ministries. His name is Stanley Kirk Burrell, but he is better known as M.C. Hammer, and he now says that “M.C.” stands for “Man of Christ.”

How Shall We Escape? (Part 2)

Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #8

Do you know what makes God’s gift of salvation so great? In the second message in this three-message series, Daniel Whyte III shares how salvation is great in scope.

+ Plus, listen to Walter Hawkins singing “Until I Found the Lord” and Anthony Evans singing “Glory to the King”

Click the play button below to listen now.

MP3 Download Link: Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #8

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