Tennis racquets in hand, I stepped onto an airplane and into a new adventure! It was early January, 1983. I left Tampa International Airport and a few hours later arrived in Morgantown, West Virginia, a place I had never been before in my life! As an 18-year old college freshman, I would be a student-athlete at West Virginia University (WVU), playing on the college tennis team.
Prior to my arrival at WVU, I only personally knew one person connected with the university. My hometown friend and former high school tennis teammate, Joey, was playing #1 on the team and had been on campus two years. And it was he who was my so-called “lifeline” to what I could expect and what would happen that first semester on campus, both with the team and in the classroom!
Joey and I had many conversations that fall prior to my arrival on campus, with him providing much instruction.
It was a big step of faith!
The first time Jesus sent out the disciples on their own to do ministry, He instructed them. For He framed their activity, what they could expect and how they might respond to different situations.
His words to them can also be both instructional and inspirational to us as we seek to walk by faith in our witness today. As we explore Matthew 10:5-15, note the following parameters:
Where to Go
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6).
Perhaps you’re wondering why the Lord would direct this mission specifically to Jewish people and not to Gentiles and Samaritans.
Well, it wasn’t because He was forbidding them to preach to Gentiles and Samaritans when they came across them. Rather, it was because at this time the priority of Kingdom preaching was directed to God’s covenant people. For Jesus was Himself, as the Messiah, a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. And He would also during His earthly ministry proclaim that He “came to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Additionally, the Apostle Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles,” wrote that he was “not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
You see, if the Jewish people would have corporately received Jesus as Messiah, He would have set up His physical kingdom then and there. But they didn’t, not at all taking God by surprise!
The Lord was purposeful in sending the disciples specifically to the Jewish people initially. Remember, in Matthew 28:18-20, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus commanded them to “go and make disciples of all nations.”
In your life and mine, God has specific plans for us evangelistically. There are places He wants us to go and people He wants us to engage. Sometimes, it may be to people perhaps very close to home. Other times, He may call us to places and people far away.
Are we listening? Do we want to know His plans and purposes for us today? Are we ready to ask Him, “Lord, where do you want me to go and to whom do you want me to minister the gospel?”
To walk by faith in our witness is, in part, to make oneself intentionally available to the Lord. Are we willing to do that?
What to Do and What to Take
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.’ Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food” (Matthew 5:7-10).
The disciples were instructed in this mission to show and tell, demonstrating God’s power and love, while at the same time proclaiming the kingdom.
The restrictions of what to bring that He placed on them were to teach them to trust Him for their supply, for on this particular mission, walking by faith in Him would be demonstrated by their dependence upon the generosity of those to whom they ministered.
As we seek to be intentional and available in our witness, what to do and what to say is a walk of faith. Sometimes we may not be aware of specifics until we find ourselves in a specific situation. But that’s ok.
As the Lord opens up doors of opportunity, may we walk through those doors to both demonstrate and proclaim His love in the person of Messiah Jesus.
As for what to take, as believers today, we always travel with the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. Additionally, we also take prayer, the gospel message and the truth, regardless of where we are or to whom we’re ministering. And that, my friends, is much!
To Stay or Go
“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 5:12-15).
On this mission the disciples were instructed to minister to those receptive to ministry and “shake the dust off their feet” in response to those who were closed.
These challenging words of Christ, which include the “dust of the feet,” are found in the Hebrew Scriptures: “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3).
Everyone is under God’s judgment apart from receiving His mercy and grace found in the person of Christ. At the same time, God “does not delight in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11) and He “desires that no one perish, but that all would come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
For you and I today, it takes faith to reach out to people, and it also takes faith to know when to disengage people. But more specifically, it seems to me we can draw out another simple evangelistic application from this section: talk to people who are open to talking about spiritual things and disengage from those who are closed, don’t force conversations upon people.
As we seek to walk by faith, may we be available to the Lord, intentional in our witness, and obedient to His direction. You and I are always on a mission for God, the Great Commission.
Lord Jesus, we commit our witness to you today. By your grace and through the power of Your Spirit, help us to follow you, walking by faith. Amen.