In all my years of church and Bible study I had never realized that Matthew chapter 10 came right after chapter 9. Now...obviously I can count....I do teach 1st grade. What I mean is that chapter 9 closes with Jesus praying for workers for the harvest and chapter 10 opens up like this..."The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields." I had never connected the two passages. Shawn will probably say that he has preached on this before, but it was probably when I was tuning him out, or on bedrest, or listening to the music in my head, or daydreaming or something. Seriously, when I pray for workers for the harvest, it never occurs to me that God might answer that immediately. I need to have more faith, and be more aware of looking for God's immediate provision.
Then all of chapter 10 is like the instruction manual to the first church planters. Hello...never noticed that before either. It's like I have never read this chapter. Maybe it was missing in my other Bible. Seriously, maybe I should go check. Listen to these ministry guidelines from vs. 5-8, "Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously." Dude...I don't think that matches my ministry description so well. Talk about living large and courageously and boldly and ooooh...awesome! I want to get me some of that power!!!!!
Then there's vs. 9-10, "Don't think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light." How much easier would that make church? If people were our only equipment. How much less stress. Certainly adds some perspective to ministry.
OHHHH, and I love this verse, vs. 16, "STAY ALERT. THIS IS HAZARDOUS WORK I'M ASSIGNING YOU...." Definitely a different take on ministry. Not a cushy, easy, cruise ship lifestyle. But way more exciting. I love good spy movies and occasionally entertain daydreams about being a sexy, secret agent (Okay you can stop laughing now and finish the rest of the blog you silly people...it's not like you don't daydream, too).... so I guess I love the the drama in this verse and the reminder that we are on a critically important mission....maybe not a covert operation, but certainly not a safe one either.
Vs. 38-39, "If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me." Many of God's principles are backwards and upside down. But this is one that I have discovered and rediscovered many times over in my life. It is only when I am emptied and filled back up with Christ that I am able to really know who I am and what my purpose is in life. When I am pursuing my own desires, I am never satisfied.
Vs. 40. "We are intimately linked in this harvest work." I know that this is talking about our relationship to Christ. And it is a beautiful truth that when we are on mission for Christ we enjoy an amazing intimacy with Him. However, I have also found this to be true about my relationships with people on the launch team. It is as we have gone into "harvest work", aka, "missions" together that our relationships have become so amazing. The people that have walked with us on this journey have very much become part of my family. I can't believe that I never knew that the Bible talked about this relationship growth that occurs when you are involved together in ministry.
Anyway, this is the most a passage of scripture has spoken to me in a long time. I condensed, edited, and cut out several other points due to the length of the blog. You'll just have to read this chapter for yourself. I love the way the Bible is eternally new. That no matter how many times I read a passage, I never have it all figured out. There is always so much more to learn and apply. God is cool like that.