Lessons Of A Lifetime

FOLLOW ME
OR
INCREASING OPPOSITION
SUNDAY FEB. 10,2019

Scripture To Consider:
“Then Jesus went out again by the sea; and all the multitudes came to Him, and He taught them. As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’

“Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples: for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?’”

“When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ Mark 2.13-17

Something To Consider:
Jesus loved teaching by the seashore. And yet, once again we are not told what it was that Jesus taught. We are introduced to Levi a tax collector, later called Matthew, the writer of the gospel according to Matthew. Levi means adhesion or joined. Matthew means gift of Jehovah. Either way, Jesus saw this looked down upon Roman government employee as an asset and of much potential value and importance to the kingdom of God. What is it that Jesus sees when He looks upon us?

And to prove Jesus right, Levi had a dinner in his house and invited quite a variety of guests. He who once collected taxes for an oppressive outside nation, was now in the people collecting business for Jesus and His heavenly Father. What is it that we are doing for Jesus? What is it that we used to do before we heard Jesus say to us, “Follow Me.” What change was brought about in our lives after our being spiritually born again? Or did our lifestyle sadly remain the same?

Matthew, a one-time tax collector became a fisher of men and a biblical scribe for Jesus after following Jesus. What is it that we can place our finger on in our lives that marks a distinct difference in our lives and in the lives of others since following Jesus? Or would others claim there really is no difference in our lives since deciding to follow Jesus? Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 5.17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Something Else To Consider:
At dinner that day there were many tax collectors, sinners, Jesus, Levi, the disciples, as well as some scribes and Pharisees who were the religious leaders of that day. Religious leaders were the greatest opposition to the ministry and mission of Jesus and His future leaders in training. No matter what the occasion was in the life of Jesus, there were religious leaders lurking in the background, ready to articulate their criticism and increasing opposition to His message or method of ministry.

How much opposition have our lives and lifestyles met with since following Jesus and making a stand to live by the Word of God? If we have attempted to live godly in Christ Jesus, we have and will continue to suffer persecution. Many early disciples in the book of Acts and in the historical record of the early church suffered some kind of persecution due to the ever-increasing opposition to true Christian biblical convictions.

Here in America, we seldom experience true Christian persecution due to the laws of the land and also due to much compromise that has taken place within Christendom. Many church attendees appear much like the secular world in their actions and lifestyles. And yet, the Word of God proclaims without holiness no man, no woman, and no young person will see the kingdom of God! What is our primary goal in this life? 

Something More To Consider:
There is coming an overwhelming and abounding end time lawlessness to every country including America, according to Jesus. When this abounding lawlessness is unleashed many one-time believers will become offended at the cross of Christ and at biblical Christianity because the things of God will arouse ever increasing opposition. And as in the days of Jesus, this evil increasing opposition will be initiated by religious leaders and religious institutions.

The fact that Jesus, also a religious leader, would voluntarily eat with tax collectors and sinners, greatly concerned these pompous pretenders of the faith. They were filled with prejudice, pride, and pre-conceived ideas of who was and was not worthy of associating with. These prideful leaders were quick to lift their hands to heaven in the marketplace for all eyes to see, but they were unwilling to lend a helping hand to a lonely lost sinner.

Jesus in reaching out to tax collectors and sinners, was an excellent example to all leaders in training. He faced much opposition for reaching out to the lost and yet as Matthew, many followed Him. Leaders will face opposition! How we respond to that opposition is of great importance to Jesus. True spiritual leaders will face religious opposition in the future end times, according to the written and preserved Word of God.

A Few Final Words:
The apostle Paul writing to Timothy, a young leader in training, in 1 Timothy 4.1 declared; “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times [the last days] some will depart from the faith, giving heed [yielding to] deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…” In the midst of ever-increasing opposition, according to the Word of God, some will be seduced and deceived by unseen demonic intervention.

Later in 2 Timothy chapter 4 Paul also proclaimed to young Timothy and all who have spiritual ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches; “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and [biblical] teaching. For the time will come [and has come] when they [those who depart from the faith] will not endure sound [biblical] doctrine, but according to their own [fleshly] desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves [false] teachers; and will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.”

This is what happens when people choose not to follow Jesus! This is what happens when individuals no longer endure to the end. This is what happens when one-time believers and one-time followers of Jesus Christ cease allowing the Word of God to be their illuminating lamp unto their feet and their guiding light unto their paths.

To the contrary, servant style leaders learn the secret of gentle, humble, and patient service in the face of opposition, therefore they communicate compassion and concern to all who come close enough to see and are wise enough to follow Jesus. “Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him [Jesus].”

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, let us not become prideful or unwilling to reach out to those in spiritual need of knowing Jesus of Nazareth. In Him Always, Amen!

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