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     8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Luke 10:8-12 (NIV)

     The seventy-two followers of Jesus were encouraged to accept what was given them and to proclaim the kingtom by ministering to the needs of the people through healing and preaching about the kingdom of God. These people’s ministry was to prepare the people’s hearts to receive Jesus. 

     Jesus told them not to go where they were not wanted. But they weren’t told to leave without speaking either. He didn’t tell them to argue or debate with people whose hearts are hard, but rather to make a public display of shaking the dust off their feet while explaining the meaning of their actions. They were to continue to tell them with certainty that the kingdom of God was near before they left to go to another town. 

     If we are to take this example for ministering to people in our own day and time, we need also to consider the differences in culture. If we were to shake the dust off our feet when our witness falls on “deaf ears” they probably wouldn’t have a clue what it was supposed to mean. To me the important thing is to caution them that they are losing a battle that is eternal and that they are the ones making their own choices. 

     I am reminded of the scripture where Jesus tells us not to cast our pearls before the swine. (Matthew 7:6 KJV) Offer what you have, but when you are rudely brushed off it is time to back off without apologizing for your message.

     Lord, we want to proclaim your kingdom, but sometimes we find situations that are very tough. Help us to pray this through so that we truly understand the way that is pleasing to you. Please give us right discernment and an extra measure of your Holy Spirit when we find ourselves in these tough situations, so that we may have a right spirit and will say the words you would have us to speak.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     4  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 

     5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7  Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. Luke 10:4-7 (NIV)

     Jesus’ instructions to these followers were nearly the same as those given to the Twelve in Luke 9:3-5. Jesus did not want personal possessions to become a burden to them, they were to leave all behind. Nor did he wish for them to become sidetracked by other travelers on the road. 

    These followers were to speak a message of peace to each house they entered. It appears Jesus was encouraging them to look for men of peace in the same Spirit that they were to pray for workers for God’s kingdom. They were to stay as long as the family who took them in were willing to care for his needs. When it was time to leave they were to go to a new town, not to another house in the same town.

      I am reminded of one of the Beatitudes “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). When we try to win souls for Christ we will be more effective by sharing the love and peace Jesus has to give than by arguing over our differences in how we interpret the Bible. There are times when it may be appropriate to confront a brother or sister in Christ, but not when trying to witness to the unsaved.

     Lord help us to be mindful of the many times you have overlooked our shortcomings when we witness to non-believers, and help us to show them the same love you show to us every day.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Luke 10:1-3 (NIV)

     The Twelve were not Jesus’ only disciples, there were others as well. After the Twelve returned Jesus appointed seventy-two more followers to minister. He didn’t send them out alone, he sent them in pairs. Nor did he expect them to work in their own strength. Their first instruction was to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. As Jesus described their ministry to them, they were being sent as lambs into a pack of wolves.

     How many times do we tackle some situation “for the Lord” without ever giving a thought to prayer. We think we already have all the answers–we are so sure of ourselves and our perfect little plan–and we strike out only to fall flat on our faces. When we try to fight the Lord’s battles for him without seeking him first we should expect no more. We can be so sure we are right and still be so wrong.

     I believe Jesus was not only describing the toughness of the situation when he described it as lambs going among wolves, I detect he was also giving them the spiritual posture he wanted them to assume. They were not to go with a plan of attack, but in a spirit of love and peace.

     My occupation has me sharing with students about the African-American giants like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks during the months of January and February. These people were masters at going out as lambs among the wolves. Their peaceful resistance to the unjust “Jim Crow” laws of segregation serve as examples to all of us. These leaders were master students of the Bible, and their activities sprang from their faith in God.

     Are you willing to be a sheep for Jesus? Do you dare to confront the wolves in our society who are trying their best to eradicate the Christian faith from public view and public consciousness? Is Jesus calling you to step out in prayer and in faith?

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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Luke 9:1-10 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

     The Twelve Disciples had been with Jesus for some time watching as he ministered to the people. They heard his message and watched him drive out demons and heal people of their diseases.

     Now it was time for them to follow his example, so he gave them some final instructions and sent them out to do as he had done. Their mission was to preach about the kingdom of God, to drive out demons and to cure people of their diseases. He did not send them out powerless. He gave them both the power and the authority to drive out demons and to heal the sick. But their instructions were to take nothing with them. Their power did not come from expensive flowing robes or expensive travel paraphernalia or bank account. They were instructed to stay in only one house in a town and stay as long as they were welcome. If they were not welcomed, they were to shake the dust off their feet as they left as a testimony against the town.

     And who was it that took notice of these ragamuffins as they went from town to town? None other than Herod the tetrarch who had ordered that John the Baptist be beheaded. If you recall, Herod had imprisoned John the Baptist because he didn’t like being challenged for marrying his daughter-in-law.

     What are we to take away from this passage of scripture? What were Jesus’ priorities when he sent the Twelve out to minister?

     First, he empowered them to be able to do what he sent them to do. It was up to the Twelve to use these powers or they would not have been welcomed into the towns they visited. They would not have been able to endear themselves to the people by expecting them to take care of them if they could give nothing in return.

     Does God give everyone the same marching orders? I think not. Many years ago I was camping with my husband, and a neighbor family, when we were approached by two college aged girls who said they were sent out by their church in the same manner as Jesus had sent the Twelve Disciples. I was very skeptical and my feelings have not changed to this day. For one thing, I didn’t see them perform any miracles. In Bible times, it was customary for strangers to go to the city gate where someone might take them in for the night. No such custom exists in America.

     Yet there are people such as Mother Teresa who have become paupers for the sake of serving others. We hear occasional accounts of Christians who choose to live on the streets in order to witness to those who have no other choice, and often these self-sacrificing Christians are the only ones who were able to reach the homeless. The Apostle Paul earned his own keep as he ministered to the people.

     The only answer I can come up with for the question of whether God expects us to use these same instructions is that it all depends on your call. Is God calling you to minister to your next door neighbor? Don’t go with the idea he is to take care of you. Is God calling you to write for publications? You won’t get far without a computer.

     But more important than the physical tools, clothing, and other provisions, you must go with God’s Spirit and his empowerment. Whatever you do in the flesh will turn to dust without it.

     At the end of this period of training for the Disciples, they returned to Jesus and shared their experiences with him.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old–
3 what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
Psalms 78:1-4 (NIV)
    

     These four verses are the beginning of a Psalm written by Asaph in which he teaches the history of the Jewish people beginning with Jacob and his sons in Egypt, through the time of King David. He urges the people to listen as he tells the wondrous story of how God has performed many wonders for the Israelites and impresses upon the people the importance of teaching this to the next generation so they too will learn of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 

     This is why I am blogging. It is my heart’s desire to pass on the truths of the Bible to the next generation. They are not getting Bible teaching on TV, radio, or in the movies. Instead they are being bombarded with one form of blasphemy after another on every front. So few are regular church attendees like their grandparents were. In the majority of schools they are being taught from a humanistic point of view–to look for the answers to their problems from within themselves, to depend on human strength and wisdom. It has become passé to believe in the Bible or to expect God to be anything more than a crutch. 

     It breaks my heart, too, to see Sunday school classes and youth activities that seem to have the philosophy that getting them in church through fun and games is paramount to teaching the children directly from the Bible. Too many leaders and teachers seem to make the assumption that the Bible is too boring to be interesting to their students, so they sugar coat it so much that the students can easily make the assumption that the characters and tales are little more than fairy tales. 

     My hope for this blog is that my readers will discover that there is sound wisdom and direction in the Bible. I pray that they will hunger and thirst to read the Bible for themselves, and that they will find the power, strength, comfort, and direction for life that can be found within its pages. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 Praise the LORD.      Praise the LORD, O my soul.
     
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
     
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
     
in mortal men, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
     
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
     
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
     
the sea, and everything in them–
     
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
     
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
Psalm 146:1-7 (NIV) 

    The Lord alone is worthy of continuous praise. When we put too much confidence in any one person, we may find God taking that person out of our circle.     I grew up with an older brother who I adored. And when I started college, joy of joys, we were thrown into the same group of friends. I loved being known as Keith’s sister and found a certain amount of self-identity there. But at the end of our first year with our wonderful new friends, Keith was suddenly and without warning taken up to be with the Lord. …along with my confidence in who I was as his sister. Now I would have to be my own person with no crutch to lean on. It was a scary thought.     So it is with putting too much trust in any one person. Pastors come and go, or rise and fall. Husbands and wives may find themselves abandoned through death or divorce. Government leaders change and often disappoint us. God encourages us to seek good counsel, but our highest source of direction must come from our Heavenly Father, and nothing short of Him.     

     The God who made us knows us completely. He knows what we need and is able to provide for us. He knows how to separate what we want from what we need; he knows what is truly good for us. We can trust in him fully without reservation.  He alone is worthy of our praise.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”      16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’      18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘      20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’      21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:15-21 (NIV)   What do we do with our abundance? The man in this parable was so thrilled with his good crop. He knew he had more than enough to last for a long time so he made up his mind to build bigger barns to store the excess so he could take life easy from that time on. Little did he know that God had other plans and he would not live to see the next morning. But what do we do with our excess possessions? Build bigger barns in the form of bigger closets, bigger storage buildings, bigger homes, second homes? Before I appear to be anti-rich people, let me turn on myself. My house is small in typical American standards (though fantastic in the eyes of the third world standards). We are always running out of space for the things we want at our fingertips. So what do we do? Enclose the carport and add another storage area behind our home. Are we not guilty of the same thing that Jesus faulted the rich farmer of doing? We waste money on hoarding things that might benefit others, but they are things we can’t bear to part with. They are things that weigh us down rather than lift our eyes to Jesus. I pity our children and grandchildren who may have to sort it all out one day if we don’t get around to it. Dear Heavenly Father, bless this mess by helping us to rise above it. Help us to trim it down to a size that blesses and honors you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Note: His Whisperings is now in a new location. If you are interested in following this blog you need to follow it at www.hiswhisperings.com.

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    32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 32-34 (NIV)

 

 

     Referring to us as sheep, Jesus reminds us that we don’t need to be afraid. He understands our fears and our limitations, yet he reassures us that it pleases God to give us his kingdom. He wants to bless us.

 

     Then Jesus encourages us to sell our possessions and give to the poor. Wow! That can feel like a punch in the stomach if our eyes are focused on the things we have worked so hard to get or the things we are still striving to obtain. But while struggling to regain our composure, Jesus gently assures us by encouraging us to provide for ourselves purses that will not wear out. The things we give away in this world are the treasures we are storing up for ourselves in heaven. 

 

     When we store up treasures for ourselves on earth, we are always at risk of having them stolen or otherwise taken from us. When we give them to others who need them, we are placing our treasures in heaven where they will never be destroyed.

 

     We so much need the courage to step out in faith on this teaching. Here in America where we have so much, especially in comparison to what people have in the impoverished nations of the world, yet we cringe to consider giving up what we have and settling for less. Lord, help us to focus our eyes on you so much that we will be willing to let you replace these earthly treasures that keep us down with heavenly treasures that will lift us up.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:29-31 (NIV) 

      If we will pause to think of the people and their culture in which Jesus first gave this teaching, it will help us to bring it into perspective. People raised their own food, made their own clothes, and lived in homes we would consider sub-standard in our day and time. The primary modes of travel was by foot, by donkey, or camel. The average person’s wardrobe would probably have fit in a suitcase. Their water was drawn in pots from public wells. 

     Keeping this in mind, re-read the passage again. Somehow it has a greater impact when we realize that food, drink, and clothing were not taken for granted by these people. For many, to have more than this would be luxury. 

       In our culture these items are taken for granted by most. We find ourselves setting our hearts on bigger homes, nicer cars, bigger retirement accounts, computers with all the latest features, bigger TVs and sound systems, boats, RVs, second homes, the list goes on and on… 

      I understand that statistics have shown that persons who have the least are the most likely to tithe their income, while those with the greatest resources give the smallest proportion of their income to others. 

     How safe do we have to feel before we can trust God to meet all our needs? Is it true that the more we have, the less we trust him? What is the Father asking of you or me that we are afraid to give? How wholehearted are we seeking his kingdom? What is getting in the way? 

     Lord, help me to give all of myself in your service. Help me to seek you and your kingdom with all of my heart. Help me to prioritize my days and hours to spend personal time with you every day, so there will be no question about how you would have me order my steps. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     27 ” Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  Luke 12:27-28 (NIV)

     I have never been known for my great wardrobe.  Even as a teenager, I found other things to spend my clothing budget on than clothes.  Yet there are times when I’m envious and even covetous of the clothing I see others wear.  On those occasions when I attempt to bolster my wardrobe, I’m often disappointed with the outcome. 

     For some reason, it so often isn’t the most expensive things I have purchased that have been my best outfits.  Rather, it tends to be the items I have found on sale at the times I really needed them that have been my best purchases.  And right in there with these purchases is clothing that has been given to me.  It hasn’t been hard to recognize these as two of the ways God has been there for me.

     I am also reminded of the passage in 1 Peter 3-5 in which women are encouraged to enhance their beauty with the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”  If we put our faith and trust in him, we open the door for him to clothe us with a beauty that money can’t buy.

     Lord help me to draw closer to you day by day that I may be fully clothed in your righteousness.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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