Friday, September 23, 2016

Two by Two

It began in the late 90’s when my husband and I volunteered in a food ministry each Wednesday for almost ten years.  He cooked the main meals and worked in the distribution end, while I worked in the kitchen making desserts, packaging the meals and then did the clean-up.   

Teams usually went out in pairs to deliver food parcels designated to people on the needs list.  On one occasion that I remember quite vividly, my husband ended up making his rounds alone, but that was okay since the people on his list that week were elderly men.   

At the end of the day, hubby had one extra package and quart of homemade chicken soup (what I call “stoup” because when he cooked it was more like a stew than soup).   He was determined not to return to base without distributing all he set out to give.  We’d soon find out how he tried to achieve his goal. 

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New on DFB – Cape Town South Africa; Bridgetown, Saint Michael, Barbados; Elhovo, Yambol Province, Bulgaria; Ethiopia; Arrah, Bihar, India; San Pawl il-Baħar, Central Region, Malta; Ħal Luqa, South Eastern Region, Malta; Myanmar; Shagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria; Mariveles, Central Luzon & Tarlac, Central Luzon, Philippines; Kikinda, Serbia; Uganda; Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom; Mazabuka, Southern Province, Zambia. 

USA Evergreen, AL; Magnolia & Mountain Home, AR; Mesa, AZ; Fresno & Turlock, CA; Cape Coral & Century, FL; Tinley Park, IL; Yeoman, IN; Metairie, LA; Crow Wing & Tower, MN; Duquesne & Koshkonong, MO; Hattiesburg, Sunrise & Pelahatchie, MS; Cedar Rock & Pine Hall, NC; Bridgeton,  Vineland & Trenton Gardens, NJ; Pahrump, NV; Rotterdam, Suffolk County & Milford, NY; Seagoville, TX; Reedville, VA; Sequim, WA; Huntington, WV. 

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Not Quite What Jesus Had in Mind 

We’re not sure how it happened, but somehow my husband was one up on quarts of soup when it came to his route. Doing his best to find a “home” for this extra meal, hubby did something unusual by turning onto a busy main street in town hoping to find someone that could use the meal.   

Driving slowly down the old town street you could see that it was filled with pedestrians moving about, going from store to store on each side of the road. 
Scouting the sidewalks He spotted an elderly lady who was hunched over, pulling a wheeled cart loaded with bags and who knows what else.  Her appearance and behavior might lead anyone to believe she was homeless, and perhaps would welcome a hot meal. 

“Aha”, thought hubby, “there is someone who could use this".  Pulling into to the nearest parking space, he scrambled to grab the food from the backseat of the car hoping to catch the woman before she vanished.

Keeping her in sight hubby ran as fast as he could calling out, “Ma’am … Ma’am, I have something for you.”  Well … he got her attention.  Turning around she took one look at this man chasing her and dashed off in full speed ahead fast as she could. 

That didn’t stop this persistent disciple as he continued on his journey to “feed the hungry” in the name of Jesus.  Shouting as he ran down the street he only had one thing in mind.  He went on to tell me the details of his adventure. 

“I wanted to get this food to her so I took off running, chasing her down the street.  As I was running I noticed my reflection in the storefront windows and realized that people were watching this “Wildman” chase an old lady down the street. 

Reality kicked in superfast causing my running shoes to come to a complete stop, before I turned around to go back to the car.  The last I saw of the little lady she was still running as she turned the corner at the last building on the block.”

There was no way I could keep from laughing as I pictured my husband running down the street waving a jar of soup as he tried to flag down that precious woman!  What a sight it must have been for all his onlookers.  I can imagine the stories that have been shared about it over the years.  Call it an inkling, but I doubt this is what Jesus had in mind when He sent out the disciples on their first mission alone.   

Turn Me Loose

By now Jesus and the disciples were on their third Galilean tour for making the circuit of the surrounding towns.  The twelve men He had chosen had watched Jesus heal, cast out demons, bring people back to life along with listening to His way of life sermons for believers. Through all of this the followers noticed the compassion of Jesus was never ending. 

Although the disciples were learning at a rapid pace, there was still a problem.  Jesus, as a man, couldn’t be everywhere all the time.  What was the point in training people if they didn’t learn to do things for themselves?  

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages,
teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel
of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and
every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35 NKJV)  

Even with Jesus healing all He came in contact with and winning souls for the kingdom, it wasn’t enough.  There were too many to reach.  His love for the lost was so great that He asked the disciples to pray that God would stir the hearts of people to have the same desire as He did in fishing for men.  Do you think they realized He was also referring to them? 

It was time for the disciples to go out into the deep all by themselves taking on more responsibilities for the soul harvest.  Why now?  What caused Jesus to turn the disciples loose?  Matthew 9:36-38 tells us what happened. 

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” 

Sending the Twelve – The Marching Orders 

The time had come for the disciples to step out in faith and test the waters by putting what they had learned into action.  For the first time Jesus would give the marching orders and equip each team with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to do what they’ve only witnessed from Him.  

It was their time … their “for such a time as this” moment for each of the new followers to come into their own ministry.   

Prepared for Action

Making sure that each disciple had what they needed, being thoroughly prepared the Lord sent them out to do the work of God without Him tagging along to see if they were doing the job right.  In other words, you can be sure these “green” servants of God weren’t packing soup for distribution along their way. 

Jesus gave them power against demons to cast them out, heal sickness and disease and spread the message of their Master coming to save souls.  They were sent out as teams, two by two to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal.  This was the plan and purpose for gathering them in the first place. 

Provision for What Has Been Received 

Up to this point Jesus provided for them.  They didn’t need to stretch their faith, beg for a meal or take a second job to pay the bills.  It was time to see if they had what it takes to be a true disciple and follower of Christ. 

This is where I think many believers miss it when it comes to evangelism or pastoring a flock.  When the Lord sent the men out, it was their job.  He told them not to take provisions, extra clothes, money to buy things or even to make reservations at the town inn.  These things were to be provided by those who received or benefitted from the calling or “work”. 

In this age many people in full time ministry have to hold down a job to provide for their families.  That’s not what God intended. 
Preaching or teaching the gospel message with laying hands on the sick is their job, and according to Jesus they should be well compensated for it.  They too are “worthy” to be paid for their work as He stated in Matthew 10:10b, for the workman is worthy of his meat.” 

As they traveled with the Lord each disciple experienced the blessings and favor Jesus received from the people as He ministered to them.  They were given food, lodging and money for their expenses not because Jesus asked for it, but because of the grateful hearts that received the message He preached.   

God took care of Jesus, because Jesus followed the plan of God.  If you really thought about it, why else would Jesus need to keep a treasurer with Him to handle all the money and take care of their traveling expenses?  Jesus gave Judas Iscariot the responsibilities of hiring boats (He didn’t use Peter’s or the Zebedee’s ships), buy food or provisions for them or the needy, pay bills and take care of things that had to do with finances.   

No, this was the true test of whether or not they believed God would take care of them as He provided for Jesus’ ministry.  Their task was hard and required heaps of faith.  Christ informed them it wasn’t going to be easy and that there would be people who would go against them in many ways, even to the point of death. (Read Matthew 10) 

His Advice, Shake It Off 

There was no sugar coating what it would be like for the disciples to carry on the ministry of the Lord.  He made it plain that He was sending them out into a world that wouldn’t always receive the message they were spreading, and at times it would get downright mean, ugly and hateful. 

Headquarters final instructions may have sounded something like this: 

In teams of two I’m sending you in different directions to share the message I have taught.  I send you out as innocent lambs among wolves.  You aren’t to become the wolf, but to remain harmless as doves even when things get rough. 

I say this because you will be hated, turned in or arrested and persecuted, but as you have witnessed, so was I.  Don’t be afraid.  God will take care of you on this journey as He did for Me.  For some, your very own families will turn against you, but remember this, I won’t.   

When you approach the towns and people, don’t force the message down their throats.  If they refuse to receive it, move on to the next city and shake off the dust on your feet as a measure against them.  Let Me judge them.  They will be sorry they refused to listen to what you had to share. 

With having received their orders Jesus sent the first disciples outside of their own cities to spread the gospel and to heal the sick.  Why was it important that they serve outside of their area?  Do you remember what happened when the Lord tried to do miracles in his hometown?  The Bible tells us that not much happened, because the people couldn’t get past thinking that “this is the carpenter’s son.” 

Jesus knew the disciples wouldn’t be received well in their own towns based on what the community knew about their personal lives.  Their effectiveness to minister would be similar to His when He went back home. 

“You’re a what?  Disciple?  What’s that?  Aren’t you that fisherman who lives near the shore with that brother who is always in trouble?  I know who you are.  I used to fish with your Dad and he’s no angel.  Why should I believe what you’re saying?”  Get the point? 

This is still true for today and rare that individuals become ministers in their own area. It does happen, but not as often as you may think.  Strangers would receive the message of salvation more readily than those that they grew up with or even their own kin.  Thus another good reason to “go ye into all the world” as Jesus instructed. 

Go Two by Two 

As a young Christian I witnessed how to disciple from my mother, and not once did it involve running down a street with a quart of soup.  Every Thursday night several men and women would gather at our church to be sent out in teams of two just like Jesus did with the first disciples, to evangelize the surrounding towns. 

The teams would consist of two females or two males. If there was an uneven number the teams would go out in threes, two females and one male.  One woman would never be teamed with two men.   

After prayer, each team received instructions on whom to visit and given direction not to overstay their welcome.  A time preference was under one hour, but never more than that if possible.  For the most part the radius for sharing the message of salvation and inviting the people to church was about thirty miles.   

Something I learned from my mother was that she didn’t need to wait until Thursday to “go and tell” the good news.  Throughout the week Mom would call a friend, and with a meal or gift in tote the two would set out on their mission to serve Christ. 

This Week’s Challenge:
It’s Time … Serve Outside Your City 

My husband’s youthful version of what a disciple looks like was his own interpretation of how to carry out the ministry of Christ.  In other words, “get ‘er done!” 
For the rest of us, we had a good laugh at what “NOT” to do.  You can be sure none of us ever took that particular example to heart.

The discipleship challenge this week is to evangelize outside our own city or town, sharing the gospel message of the Kingdom of God.  Pick a specific day and time to do this.  Ask a Christian friend to go with you to the next town specifically to share the message of salvation.   

Follow the examples of how to do this given by our teacher Jesus, and from what you’ve learned here.  Since we are practicing how to be “discipled by Jesus” (not Paul or the other disciples), as guides use the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which outlines the works of Jesus when He walked with the first disciples.  This includes not going out in mixed pairs unless you are a married couple.  Besides, if the group is large there will be too much “me” talking and not enough witnessing. 

Remember you are not on a social call, but on a commission as a disciple.  Before you set out on your journey of evangelizing to the lost and hurting, make sure you have prayed asking the Lord to lead, guide and direct your steps, mind and mouth. 

You only have two things to achieve:  

1 - Tell them about the salvation message of Jesus and that He loves them.  Sharing a brief version of your journey to Christ makes it more believable for others to receive what you are saying. 

2 - Address the healing issues in their family.  Don’t get into anything else on this first visit. 

When you arrive at each location discuss the purpose of your visit and if they would let you share how you came to know Jesus as Savior.  If they receive you, ask if they have any prayer requests or “needs” and then pray with them about their concerns at that time.   

Leave them with a gift of helpful information that may answer some of their questions about Christianity.  Then invite them to your church or one that is near their house, only be sure it is one that preaches the same message as Jesus.  For those who don’t want to be bothered, thank them for their time and be on your way. 

As we progress through the scriptures we learn about the squealers, the haters and the backstabbers who wanted to bring harm to the disciples.  After all they were about to meet up with some wolves; but let’s not forget those who became lambs. 

Team by team excitedly reported back to Jesus on their excursions and what happened as they ministered to the lost.  Once they were all together Jesus had one question for them.  “Did you lack anything?”  No, they replied … not one thing. 
God had provided for them as He did for Jesus when they took heed to their instruction when being discipled by the Master. 

The favor promises of God’s provision for modern day disciples still holds whether you are sharing the good news in the next town or across the globe.  As Jesus did, so do I … so send I you.  

Go … be the disciple you were “born again” to be.  Love and live the journey you were made to take, knowing Jesus has equipped you for all you were meant to be and accomplish for Him. 

“And He said unto them (us), go into all the world and preach
the Good News (gospel message) to everyone.” 
(Mark 16:15 NLT) 

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Until next time, the favor of God goes with you! 

Check out my new book progress this week.

“Go, tell of me and receive My favor for the journey .”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

When used, the words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

... and yes the word "discipled" isn't a word used by the world, but that of believers. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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