71.       He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.    -Matthew 10:37

It is a tremendous thing when multiple generations in the same family are all following Jesus! Unfortunately, many people who love Jesus don’t have parents and/or children who love Jesus. Jesus call us as individuals to confess Him before men, even when those we love do not. Historically and around the world today some people are basically kicked out of their families when they get baptized as a Christian. In America, a growing phenomenon is parents walking away from the faith because their children have walked away from the faith. The Bible is clear: any relationship that we put ahead of our relationship with Christ is idolatry. This does not mean we stop loving our prodigal children (and parents), but it does mean Christ comes first and that we don’t join sinful loved ones in rebellion against God! Our fidelity to Christ is among the things God may use to bring them to Christ!  

 

72.       And He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.               -Matthew 10:38-39

Jesus here lays out the challenge for us all: being willing to die for Jesus. That’s what happened on a cross: death. Taking up our cross means a daily dying to self, and living for Christ instead. When you study the lives of those “martyred,” or killed for their faith in Jesus, you don’t fin people with a death wish. You find people who lived for Jesus, and as they were obedient by faith in Him, they were put in circumstances where routine obedience got them “martyred.” Interestingly, the word martyr is Greek for witness, which all of us are called to do. So many Christians in the early church were killed for their witness, the word martyr became synonymous with death for the faith. So don’t read this passage and think that to be super Christian you have to die for Jesus, simply be a faithful witness for Him, whatever the circumstances. He will take care of the rest, including rewarding you later for any “loss” suffered due to faithfulness now!

 

73.       He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.   -Matthew 10:40-42

I want to receive rewards in Heaven, don’t you? After speaking about those who courageously and boldly live and proclaim their faith despite negative repercussions, here Jesus says He will reward those who take care of His disciples that the world mistreats. Do you know a Christian whose family has rejected them for following Jesus? Maybe God wants to meet their needs through you! God may call you to fund the education of a future Christian worker who has been cut off from their family. Maybe through Voice of the Martyrs you can help the family of a Pastor who has been killed for the faith. Maybe through Baptist Global Response you can provide clean water to an entire village. It will all be rewarded one day by Jesus!

 

74.       And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.                                                       -Mark 6:34      Context: Mark 6:30-44

We are perhaps most like Jesus when, moved with compassion, we teach someone the ways of God and meet their physical needs to boot! Here is the event in which Jesus fed 5,000 men. But even as He met their physical need for food, the text reads that He was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He knew He was their Good Shepherd, the One who would lay down His life for the sheep. In John 6 we read that after Jesus fed the 5,000 He told them He is the Bread of Life. If anyone believes in Jesus, they have their biggest need met – the need for salvation, the need for the Eternal Shepherd! In our own lives today we will come across many needs. In addition to the physical and emotional needs teachers, medical people, and others will see, people have the spiritual need of Jesus. May we be moved with compassion as we go through this day!   

 

75.       And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.                                                              -Mark 6:49-50             Context: Mark 6:45-52

I don’t know what kind of storm you are in right now, but I know this: Jesus has not forgotten you. He first commanded them to cheer up and let His presence calm their fear. Only after that did He actually calm their storm. Sometimes He allows your individual storm to continue longer than you wish, but you can experience His calming peace in the midst of the turbulent storm if you will obey His command here. In Hebrews 13:5 He has promised never to leave or forsake His disciples. In Hebrews 13:6 he concludes that because of that we can say boldly, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Cultivate a growing sense of how Jesus is ever-present with you as you face storms. God’s got this!