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"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they wll hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:16-20 NIV)

JESUS DEFENDS HIS WORKERS

"Sheep among wolves" is the expression Jesus used to describe the workers he sends out to preach his Word. We are to proclaim the simple messge of the gospel without craftiness or guile: "Jesus lived the perfect life we could not in order to supply our holiness before God. Then he died on the cross to pay for our sins and for the sins of the world. Everyone who trusts Jesus for salvation will go to heaven. Everyone who rejects Jesus will be lost forever."

The world in which we are to proclaim this gospel is filled with cunning wolves. They see Christians as foolish sheep, easy prey. The wolves are masters of deception. They say the commandments are outdated, Jesus was a phony, and heaven is just wishful thinking for losers. The wolves are led by the great deceiver in their mission to destroy the sheep.

Yet the sheep are not as helpless as they may seem. Jesus gives us godly wisdom so that we can be "as shrewd as snakes." We do not need to use the wolves' tactics. We can be "as innocent as doves," because the Good Shepherd is with his sheep to defend us and take care of us. In times of trial, the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to speak.

These promises can help us speak boldly and confidently to a world that needs to hear the truth about sin and about the only Savior for sinners. Jesus gives us his powerful Word, which can change hearts and turn wolves into sheep, Saul into Paul. We will use this powerful Word as we witness to governors and kings. And Jesus' powerful Word will defend us and protect us!

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, as we go out to seek your lost sheep, help us so that we are not discouraged or intimidated by the wolves we encounter along the way. May we always trust the power of your Holy Spirit to enable us and protect us. Amen.

THE LORD BLESS THEE, AND KEEP THEE;

THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON THEE, AND BE GRACIOUS UNTO THEE;

THE LORD LIFT UP HIS COUNTENANCE UPON THEE, AND GIVE THEE PEACE.



PENTECOST 4


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