Important Instructions from Jesus Our King (Part 4)
Important Instructions from Jesus Our King (Part 4)
The Gospel of Matthew
Sermon by Rick Crandall
(Prepared February 17, 2022)
*Please open your Bibles to Matthew 10. Most of you know that in this chapter, Jesus was about to send His twelve Apostles out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In vs. 7, the Lord commanded them to preach that the kingdom of Heaven was at hand. And to confirm this vital message, Jesus gave the Apostles the power to perform mighty miracles. In vs. 8 Jesus told them, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."
*This was their mission, but the Lord also filled this chapter with important instructions that still apply to His followers today. For example, vs. 16 teaches us to walk in the wisdom of the Lord. There Jesus said, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
*Jesus also wants us to be aware of our adversaries, so in vs. 21-22 the Lord said:
21. "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
22. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved."
*Jesus also wants us to be encouraged by how much God values our lives, so in vs. 29-31 He said:
29. "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.
30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
*God wants us to be encouraged by how much He cares for us, and there are more important lessons for us today. These instructions focus on our love for the Lord, so please think about that as we read Matthew 10:32-42.
*Today's instructions focus on our love for the Lord.
1. FIRST: WE SHOULD LOVE JESUS ENOUGH TO CONFESS THAT HE IS OUR LORD.
*Our first love, our greatest love must be for the Lord God Almighty. And one of the most important ways to show our love for Jesus is to confess that He is our Lord and Savior. We see this truth in vs. 32-33 where Jesus said:
32. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."
*Jesus said that we need to "confess" Him before men. Let me remind you that the original word has the idea of agreeing with someone, and saying the same things they say. Confessing Jesus before men means that we agree with God. We are in unity with Him. We say the same things about Jesus that He says about Himself. We take an open stand for Jesus Christ, and start to speak out for the Lord. Or as Jesus told the Apostles in vs. 27, "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops."
*We show our love for the Lord with a public confession that we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. In our church, we ask people to do this by walking down front during the invitation and telling me the great news that you have received Christ. Then we ask you to be baptized as another public way of confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior. We also ought to confess Christ in our daily lives both with words and actions that show Jesus is our Lord.
*Some of us remember a man named Evel Knievel. It's not spelled E-V-I-L like the word for bad, but E-V-E-L. This man was a motorcycle daredevil who made some amazing jumps back in the 1960s and '70s. He jumped at many places, like Las Vegas and the Snake River Canyon. Evel also suffered some life-threatening falls. Trying to jump over the fountains at Caesar's Palace left him in a coma for 30 days. Evel is also in the Guinness Book of Records for having more broken bones than any other person. He had 38 broken bones!
*Evel Knievel died in 2007 from lung disease. He was 69 years old, and it's amazing that he lived to be that old. But the great news is that Evel is going to live forever, because he trusted in Jesus Christ earlier that year! Here's part of his testimony:
*"Before the Daytona Bike Week this year when I started thinking about God more and more, I called people to talk to them. I don't know why, I just did. I called a friend I hadn't talked to in 30 years, Eldon Wright from the New Hope Community Church in Portland, Oregon. I talked to him, and he called me back a week later, saying, 'I've had my whole church praying for you.'
*And I said, 'That's not the first time that this has happened. My daughter's had her entire church praying for me in Bozeman, Montana, and my ex-wife Linda had her church praying for me in Butte, Montana, and she has prayed for me for 25 or 30 years that I would become a Christian!' I get hundreds of letters from people saying we read an article about you where you don't believe in organized religion. You've got to believe in Jesus Christ.
*So, I don't know what in the world happened. I don't know if it was the power of the prayer, or God Himself, which was reaching me while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping . . . the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me! It just took hold of me. It was so strong. I can't tell you how strong it was, and I became a person who was filled, just filled with Christianity. All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did! I believed in Him! I don't know what happened to me. The second night in Daytona, I rose up in bed. Then I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put His arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go.
*I know that there's more to life than what I've had. I wrote a book called, "Evel's Ways," where I wrote about my tough life growing up. I was a wild person doing crazy things. I wrote about my motorcycle jumps. I wrote about the jump in the Los Angeles Coliseum when I jumped 52 cars all lined up and stacked up. . .
*I wrote in my book that I've had a life better than any king, president or prince. That's hog wash! Because I didn't have Jesus Christ in my life. I had five Rolls Royces. I've had five Ferrari's, the Stetsons, the Lamborghini's. I've had two jet airplanes. I flew one alongside of the other so I could read my name, Evel Knievel, on the side of the other one. . .
*I've had the diamonds and the gold, the racehorses, women, and the booze. I tell you, I've been a sinner! You're looking at a real sinner, but not anymore. This leap of faith is the greatest leap I've ever taken."
*Before this unexpected Christian died of lung cancer, he left instructions for his tombstone. Rather than requesting words about his daring feats, Evel wanted his grave to proclaim the most important thing in his life, and in any life. So, he instructed that his grave marker simply say: "Believe in Jesus Christ." (1)
*Evel Knievel loved Jesus enough to confess that He was his Lord and Savior. And Christians, so should we!
2. WE SHOULD ALSO LOVE JESUS ENOUGH TO CHOOSE THE LORD OVER OUR FAMILY.
*This may sound harsh, but loving the Lord moves us to make the right choices in life. And sometimes this leads to hostile divisions in our families. Jesus made this truth clear in vs. 34-36. Here He said:
34. "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
35. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.'
36. And 'a man's foes will be those of his own household.'"
*We must not be surprised by spiritual struggles in our families. Sometimes they can be excruciating. Jesus began to speak about this hard truth back up in vs. 21. There He said, "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death."
*Thank God it's not always like that! If you are blessed to live in a home where everyone loves God and each other, then you are blessed beyond measure! But most families have at least some spiritual struggles. In those times we are required to make a choice. And in vs. 37 Jesus said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
*Does this mean we are not supposed to love our parents? -- Of course not. Otherwise, God would have never given us the Fifth Commandment. Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
*Does vs. 37 mean that we should not love our children? -- Of course not! God wants everybody to love and care for children. As Jesus said down in vs. 42, "Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
*God wants us to love our parents, our children, our neighbors, even our enemies. But the big question is: "WHO COMES FIRST IN MY LIFE?" It must be God! That's why the greatest commandment from Matthew 22:37 is, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Our love for God must come first, and it should, because He is the Source of every other good thing in life.
*Do we love our families? -- Of course we do! And the truth is that the more we love Jesus, the more we will love our families. But in vs. 36 Jesus said that a man's enemies would be the people in his own family. And if you are a Christian in countries like Libya or Pakistan, then someone in your family may well be trying to kill you.
*In 2020, Forbes reported that 260 million Christians live in the top 50 countries where believers face dangerous levels of persecution. "Open Doors" reported that the number of Christians killed in 2020 went up 60% over the year before. They also reported that anti-Christian governments around the world have used COVID-19 restrictions to persecute God's Church. That's no surprise because we have also seen it here in the United States. (2)
*Sometimes the persecution can even come from our own families, and there comes a time when we have to make a choice. Again, in vs. 37, Jesus said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
*If you ever have to choose between Jesus and your parents, choose Christ! If you ever have to choose between Jesus and your children, choose Christ! We should love Jesus enough to choose Him over our family.
3. CHURCH: WE SHOULD ALSO LOVE JESUS ENOUGH TO CARRY OUR CROSS FOR HIM.
*Our love for the Lord leads us to carry a cross. As Jesus said in vs. 38-39, "He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
*Carrying our cross. This is extremely important, and we know it because Jesus tells us the same thing six different times in the Gospels. (Scriptures listed below.) (3)
*The cross was an instrument of death. The only reason to take up a cross was to die. So here is one of the great paradoxes of Christian life: We have to start dying in order to live. The only way we can really live is to die to our own selfishness, and let Jesus live His life through us.
*In Luke 9:23 the Lord put it this way, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." This means that the Lord's challenge to die to self is a daily thing. And the only reason we can do it at all is because as believers we have been crucified with Christ. But as long as we are in this body, our old, selfish, sinful nature can rise up in us. That's why we have to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.
*Here in vs. 39 Jesus also said, "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." It's a matter of focus: The more we keep focused on ourselves, the more we will miss the life God has planned for us. But if we focus on Jesus, we will find more and more of His abundant life.
*Jerry Shirley saw this truth in the story of a little girl and her mother. They were staying overnight with some friends. On one wall of the bedroom was a mirror, and on the other wall was a picture of Jesus.
*Lying in bed, the little girl could see the reflection of Jesus in the mirror. She wanted to see the picture better, but rather than move toward the picture, she moved closer to the mirror. But as she did, she got in the way of the reflection and couldn't see it.
*Her mother asked her what she was doing, and the little girl said, "I'm trying to see Jesus, but I keep getting in the way!" (4)
*Christians: We have the exact same problem. We need to get out of the way, and put our focus on Jesus. Start dying to live. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. Certainly, we should be willing to take up our cross for Him, because He took up His cross for us. Jesus Christ died on the cross for just one reason: To pay the price for our sins.
*Now Jesus calls us to take up our cross every day for Him. And we should love Jesus enough to carry our cross for Him.
4. WE ALSO SHOULD LOVE JESUS ENOUGH TO BE FULLY CONFIDENT IN HIM.
*Jesus Christ is most worthy of our trust! He is worthy of our full confidence, so notice what happens when we put our trust in the Lord.
 FIRST: OUR CONFIDENCE IN JESUS LEADS US TO RECEIVE.
*In vs. 40-41, Jesus said this to His Apostles:
40. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
41. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
*The key word in these verses is "receive." God wants to give us so much, but we have to be willing to receive. In John 3:16 Jesus tells us that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." God the Father gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, but we have to be willing to receive our Risen Savior.
*This is true of salvation, wisdom, love, joy, and all the good things God wants to give us. We have to be willing to receive them. We have to be willing to receive the Word of God, receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, receive forgiveness for our sins, and receive eternal life as a gift from God.
*Imagine that it's your birthday, and I stop by for a visit. I love you very much, and I also happen to be very, very rich. In my hand is a little wrapped-up box, and inside the box is a key. Maybe it's the key to a $75,000 Bass Cat PUMA Bass Boat, or a $71,000 Ford F-150 Limited, or a million-dollar home!
*I tell you how much I love you. I tell you about the gift, and I leave the box on the table for you. The key is in the box, and it's yours for the taking. But you never take the wrapping paper off. You never open the box. You never do what you can do with the gift. I really gave it to you, but did you really receive it? -- NO.
*God's gift of eternal life is something like that. Jesus Christ paid the highest price for your gift when He died on the cross for you. And now the Risen Savior freely offers the gift to you. But you have to receive it.
*In order to receive God's gift of eternal life, you don't open a box, you open your heart. And you don't take something out. You let someone in. By faith, you let Jesus Christ into your heart. By faith, you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you are born again by the Holy Spirit of God. That's why John 1:12 says: "As many as received Him (that's Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."
*Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Our confidence in Christ leads us to receive.
 AND IT LEADS US TO A REWARD.
*When we trust in the Lord enough to receive Him, we will also receive the rewards He has promised. Notice the rewards in vs. 41-42, where Jesus said:
41. "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.''
*That's my favorite verse on heavenly rewards. And it moved Kent Crockett to say, "If Heaven had a daily newspaper, the headlines would read quite differently than our earthly tabloids.
*The good deeds which don't get credit on earth would make the front page in Heaven's newspaper. Take a peek at this edition:
'HEAVEN'S HEADLINES -- Keeping You Informed about Significant Events on Earth:
-Kathy S. Changes 10,000th Diaper
-Rod K. Mows Neighbor's Grass
-Tony P. Gets Saved, Starts Tithing
-Max M. Delivers Brownies to Enemy
-Gayle H. Takes Meal to Sick Person
-Unnamed Widow Puts Last Two Coins in Treasury Box'"
*Then Kent explained, "Did you know that it's often the little things we do that please God? This means that anyone, including you, can make the headlines in Heaven. God not only wants to save us from hell. He also wants to reward us in Heaven!
*Jesus would not have told us about heavenly rewards if He didn't want us to know about them. He could have kept the truth about eternal rewards a big secret to be revealed on the Day of Judgment. Instead, He specifically told us that some things we do now will be rewarded in the next life.
*Why did God give us so much information about rewards? -- He wants us to know that another world exists beyond this life, and that when we serve Him, our labor is not in vain!" (1 Corinthians 15:58). (5)
*God is going to reward every little act of kindness you do in His name. God is going to bless your service in ways you cannot imagine. Church, we can be the answer to someone's prayer. We can see people saved because of our faithful service, and I can think of no greater reward than that.
*Let's follow the King! Let's love the Lord enough to follow all of His instructions. And if you don't know Jesus, please believe that He loved you enough to die on the cross for you. Three days later He rose again from the dead. And He will give His everlasting life to you, if you will put your trust in Him. Open your heart to receive Jesus as we go back to God in prayer.
-Adapted from: Hour of Power - 1942 - 04222007 - Evel Knievel's Leap of Faith by: Robert H. Schuller and Evel Knievel
-Outreach, May/June 2008, p.124 - Source: "In Other Words" - August 2008 #3 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net
-"Persecuted Christians Are Not Given Much Hope In 2020" by Ewelina U. Ochab - Feb 18, 2020 - https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2020/02/18/persecuted-christians-are-not-given-much-hope-in-2020/?sh=7f74af646889
-"60% rise in Christians killed worldwide in 2020: Open Doors report" by Jackson Elliott, Christian Post Reporter - Thursday, January 14, 2021 - https://www.christianpost.com/news/open-doors-finds-60-rise-in-christians-killed-worldwide-in-2020.html
-For information about persecution in Nigeria, also see: "International Religious Freedom - The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria" by Lela Gilbert - February 2021 Edition - https://www.frc.org/issueanalysis/the-crisis-of-christian-persecution-in-nigeria
Matthew 10:38 - "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."
Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Mark 8:34 - And when He had called the people to Him, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Mark 10:21 - Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.''
Luke 9:23 - Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
Luke 14:27 - "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."
(4) SermonCentral Sermon "The Path of Praise" by Jerry Shirley - Psalm 34:1-7
(5) Adapted from “Rewards in Heaven” (Excerpt from “Making Today Count for Eternity” by Kent Crockett, Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pages 65-78) kentcrockett.combiblestudiesheavens_headlines.htm