Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for the privilege of public worship. Praise God that we can sing his Word, hear it read, and preached. Give thanks that more people from the congregation were able to join in public worship yesterday. Pray for those who, for health reasons, feel unable to do so, that the Lord will bless them and keep them safe.
Confess the sin of being a hearer and not always a doer of God's Word. Pray that God would unite our hearts with his, and enable us to see where he is pointing us to in his truth, and then give us a heart to obey.
Please read Luke 9:1-6 - Go out with the Gospel.
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
This morning we find that there is a new development in the lives and work of the apostles. Up to now, these twelve men have been travelling with Jesus listening to him preach and teach and observing the miracles he has been doing. They wouldn't have been with him day and night. They lived in the area and would have gone home and been with their families at times. Now they are leaving, being sent out by Jesus to preach the Kingdom of God, having been given authority over demons and illnesses to heal.
Starting with the latter, the degree to which these twelve men were able to heal people in the power of Jesus is not always appreciated. Some think that the Apostles’ healing began after the Ascension of the Lord. For example, Peter and John healed the lame man at Solomon's portico at the temple in Jerusalem, Acts 3:1-10. But that was not the case as we read in verse six of this chapter; they began healing from this point on, having been given the authority by Jesus to do so.
The message they were to proclaim was the same message that Jesus had been proclaiming, the Kingdom of God – Christ's rule over those whom God has chosen, to his glory. It was a simple but powerful message of truth. They were neither to add to, nor take anything from, it. They had heard Jesus declare it; now, it was their time to herald the same message. Two thousand years later, the church across the world is called and charged with proclaiming the same message in the same name and by the same power – that of the risen glorified Christ. When Jesus announced it, the lives of men and women, young and old, were radically changed for time and eternity. Where the Apostles preached it, the lives of men and women were radically changed for time and eternity. Where it is declared today, the lives of men and women are radically changed for time and eternity. The power is not in the one who heralds; it is in Christ the Mediator King, through the work of the Holy Spirit. If you have a hunger to hear the Kingdom of God preached, thank him for that hunger and ask him to keep giving it to you, to keep uniting your heart with his. If you lack that hunger, if you don't have a strong, insatiable desire to hear God's word preached, and you know in your heart whether that is the case or not, then ask God to give you such a hunger, a craving, to hear the good news of the Kingdom of God preached. As that hunger grows within us, as individuals, as families and as a church, Christ will work in our lives, and we will become more conformed to him; the goal of our lives.
V3. Sent out with nothing but trust.
The twelve were sent out with next to nothing, other than the clothes on their backs. This is an issue in that Mark says that they are to take nothing except for a staff, Mark 6:8, whereas Luke say that they are to take "no staff". This is not easy to answer, and more able and gifted men than I have wrestled with it and have been unable to come up with an explanation. I think it is a case that they are both right, in the sense that Jesus is telling them to take nothing more than what already had on, or with, them. Why does Jesus give them such stringent directions? It was for two reasons. First, they are to concentrate solely on the task they had been given, and second, they are to rely solely on his provision for them as they did so.
This provision would not be made through miraculous means. It would come through those who would receive and, by the gift of faith, believe in the Lord Jesus. Once a home was opened to them to stay in, they were to remain there for the duration of their time in that community. They were not to move from one home to another; otherwise, it may have appeared that they were seeking the best place to stay.
The liberty given to a minister to read, study, pray and then have the privilege of preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God twice on the Lord's Day is incredible – especially given that we are paid to do so. The challenge for every man who has this liberty and privilege is not to become distracted. There are numerous ways that distractions can take place. It can come through sheer laziness. The fact that a minister doesn't have to 'clock in and out' means that some men, through a lack of personal discipline, become distracted because of their laziness. Other men become distracted from their principal responsibility though serving the Bride in other important and necessary ways, but to an excessive degree. I am thinking of church committees, etc. They are a great place to feel that one is contributing, but too often the productivity level doesn't match the investment of time spent in travel and often the circular discussions engaged in. Some men, for want of a close walk with the Lord, simply find the task too demanding and find other work for their hands to do. Despite being focused on the task in hand, I have failed in this area. And it has been due to a lack of trust in the Lord's ability to provide. There have been occasions when tested, that I decided to try and sort things myself. While it involved wholly legitimate and honest endeavour, it wasn't right, because it meant that I was giving time and energy to try and over-provide for my family, when I should have been wholly focused on Kingdom work.
The privilege of being called to be a herald of the good news is a wonderful one, but it also demands clarity of focus and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is non-negotiable. Jesus came and gave his all to the work set before him. He did so trusting in the provision of the Father for all his needs. Those sent out by Christ must have that same focus and determination to engage with the task, and to do so exercising reliance solely on Christ for all that they need. Like everything in the Christian life, it is much easier said than done, but also, as with everything else in the Christian life, a simple steady plodding along with Jesus is the secret to success.
Pray for your minister, that he will be able to stand whatever temptations come his way. Pray for him, that he will be able to stay focused on the Lord's task of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God, in the knowledge that God will provide for him and his.
V5. Shake the dust.
If the Apostles entered a village, and no one responded to the preaching of the Kingdom they were not to persist. They had clear instructions to leave and 'shake the dust off their feet' as they did so. One commentator writes, "There was a rabbinic idea that the dust of Gentile lands carried defilement and strict Jews are said to have removed it from their shoes whenever they returned to Palestine from abroad." The act of shaking off the dust was symbolic and spoke as a witness or testimony against the community for their refusal to accept the good news freely offered to them. People were to get the opportunity to hear that truth of the Kingdom of God, but Jesus would not force the truth on those who did not want to listen to it. It is the same today. The truth is to be freely proclaimed, but there are those who just do not want to hear it, despite possibly giving the impression that they do. There are times when nothing more can be done, and it has to be a case of moving on, despite the desire to want to keep trying in the hope that something might change.
V6. They went.
So, Jesus sent them out, six pairs of two men, and they went. Jesus commanded, and they did what he said. It is as simple as that.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 96C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us,”
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 61 - What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
Answer - The fourth commandment forbids the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the misuse of the day by idleness, sinful acts, or unnecessary thoughts, words or works about our worldly affairs and recreations.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that the Lord Jesus sent out the twelve to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God.
Thank God that this message has been spreading around the world ever since, and because it has, we have the joy of knowing Christ in a saving way by faith today.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley