Sunday Devotional: Matthew 10:16-23

“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. Because people will hand you over to sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will even rise up against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of My name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. When they persecute you in one town, escape to another. For I assure you: You will not have covered the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:16-23)

Jesus spoke these words to the 12 disciples before sending them out on mission to preach the Gospel.  He was letting them know about the dangers and risks that were in front of them.  He was informing them of the harshness that they would face.  He was telling them the truth about how hard the mission would be.  It was not going to be easy but it would be worth it.

The same is true today. We will face hardships and persecution when preaching the truth of Jesus Christ. We will be hated. We will be despised. We will be rejected. Jesus Himself was despised and rejected. We as his followers should not expect less. But Jesus promised us we would never be alone.  He has promised the Holy Spirit with us. And one day He will return.

In the meantime, we are called to share the truth in love. We are to keep sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of hardship and persecution, in the midst of being hated and despised. We are to keep fighting the good fight for the sake of the Gospel.

Advertisements

Sunday Devotional: 2 John

“The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,  for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

The children of your elect sister greet you.”

The letter of 2 John is one of the shortest books in the New Testament.  However, there are a lot of important things in this brief letter.  The main thing is the importance and the interconnection between truth and love.  John made it a point throughout the letter that the wrote to a congregation that he knew and loved to emphasize this.  Truth and love are intertwined.  You cannot separate the two.  If there is love but no truth, then there is not real love there.  If there is truth but no love, then it is legalism and not the whole truth.

Jesus was all about truth and love.  He was the way, the truth and the life.  He demonstrated His love for us.  If we are to be followers of Jesus, we need to be about truth and love in our lives.  This week, let us show love and speak truth together to others and to ourselves.

The Cautionary Tale of Adam Muema

I was surfing the web today and came across this article.  It’s on ESPN.com and is going to be in the next issue of ESPN the Magazine (here’s a link to the article).  It was written by Kevin Van Valkenburg entitled “Hiding in Plain Sight”.  It’s about the story of Adam Muema.  He was a college football player at San Diego State University.

For those that don’t know who he is or don’t remember, he was a running back with the Aztecs and inexplicably left the NFL Combine this past February.  The story was that “God told him to leave the combine and if he did he would get drafted by the Seattle Seahawks”.  Back in February, I remember hearing about the story because A) Because of the circumstances of why he left and B) I’m a Seahawks fan.  Besides the initial sounding weird thought, I didn’t give it much thought after that.

That was until today and Mr. Van Valkenburg’s article.  There was much more to this story.  It turned out that he was supposed to be at a pro day on the campus of San Diego State and he didn’t show up to the event.  For those that don’t know, pro days are workout events that happen on college campuses so that scouts can see players in action.  As Mr. Van Valkenburg began to dig deeper into the story of Adam’s weird behavior and apparent disapperance, there’s a rough story underneath.

It turns out that Adam had fallen into the teachings of a self proclaimed “messiah” Lord RayEl.  When I read this I was like “Who?!  So I did a google search and what I found made both angry and sad.  Apparently, there is this guy who claims to be the second coming of Jesus and that he came back in 2011.  And among some of the answers in his FAQ, he said that one of the “two witnesses” that was prophesied in Revelation was Harold Camping (the guy that said the world was ending in 2011 on the day that ironically was the day I graduated from seminary) and that people should leave their churches if their churches weren’t aligned with him.  He also said that he was the Son of God among other reasons because “his striking resemblance to most artistic depictions of Christ”.

Unfortunately Adam, who didn’t have a strong male role model growing up, latched on to this guy (who’s real name is Raymond Ellwood Howard-Lear) and now is one of his followers.  The article ends with the author trying to meet in person with Adam but got snubbed.  Adam still has an online presence but his actual whereabouts are unknown.

This article made me both sad and angry.  It made me sad because this young man is hurting and searching.  He needs the love and truth that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It made me angry because this false teacher is flat out lying and acting in such a way that is leading people astray.  This article was also a reminder.  It’s a reminder of the importance of discipleship and relationship.  The truth needs to be taught.  As followers of Jesus, we have a responsibility to share the truth with those around us.  When the Gospel is shared, the true Gospel, then lies like the ones that ‘Lord RayEl” teaches are exposed.  And it’s important to be in community.  When we’re not connected in community with a body of believers, then perspective is lost and falsehoods can have access to creep into those who are new to the faith or those that are checking out Jesus.

I pray for Adam.  I pray that real truth can be spoken into his life.  That true followers of Jesus can speak into his life and show him what the Gospel really is.  And for those of us who are followers of Jesus, I pray that we find those Adam’s in our lives and preach the Gospel to them so that they know the truth and can choose the real Gospel as opposed to the fake ones that are unfortunately out there.