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Sheep among Wolves: What to Expect, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
May 11, 2021 7:05 am

Sheep among Wolves: What to Expect, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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May 11, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Kingdom: A Study of Matthew 8–13

Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
The Line of Fire
Dr. Michael Brown
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Running With Horses
Shirley Weaver Ministries
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

Today on Insight for Living... At the heart and core of Jesus' words is the all-important value of inner character. You and I as believers live among wolves. We live among them, and they are growing in number. Their savagery is making more and more of the headlines. Be aware.

At the same time, don't be afraid. Sometimes we mistakenly believe that God has called His followers into a life of comfort and ease. The abundant life as we see it should be devoid of conflict and suffering. And yet when Jesus recruited the 12 disciples, He warned them about the hostile culture in which they lived. Jesus referred to His new recruits as sheep among wolves. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll will describe the meaning of that surprising metaphor and its implications to his followers in 2021.

Chuck titled today's message, Sheep Among Wolves, What to Expect. We're engaged in a journey through the gospel by Matthew. We've come to the 10th chapter. We spent our time together last time in the first several verses of Matthew chapter 10 down through verse 10. And then we take over or take the next step as we go on through the chapter. We'll not be able to complete the chapter, but we'll at least see more and more of what the Lord had in mind for the 12 He had chosen, verses 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, names them for us, and then He sets them out on a journey on their own as they were to be sent forth with His message. So our scripture begins at verse 11, and I'll read excerpts down through verse 31. I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Your Bible may be a different version, but you'll follow along very clearly.

Matthew 10, verse 11. Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home. Until you leave town, when you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand.

If it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. Verse 16. Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.

So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware, for you will be handed over to the courts and will be flawed with whips in the synagogue. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.

When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time, for it is not you who will be speaking. It will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Down to verse 26. But don't be afraid of those who threaten you, for the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is in secret will be made known to all. 28. Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body, for they cannot touch your soul. But fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

31. So don't be afraid. You are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. We mentioned earlier the thrice repeated words. Look at the three times repeated command. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. It's His way of saying there's no reason to fear. I am in control of whatever. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture Studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck about sheep among wolves, what to expect. All of us played the same little game when we were kids growing up. It was called follow the leader.

Remember? Someone was designated as the leader and the rest of us got in line and did just what the leader did. And it seems strange, but the crazier the better, huh? You walk along, you turn around in a circle three times, then you walk along. The ones behind you walk along, turn around in a circle, do the same thing. You get to a little stream. You jump across the stream.

Everybody in line jumps across the stream. There's a group of people there and you walk by them. Hey there. Hey there. Hey there.

Hey there. You do just what the leader does. And then we get into school and it comes in handy because the leader is the teacher. And he or she is always saying, follow my instructions.

If you follow what I tell you, you will be able to do well in this course. We grow a little older. We play sports. We have a leader called the coach and the coach calls the shots. And when you play the game, follow the leader. If you go into music, there's a conductor.

And as the conductor leads those of us who sing or play, follow the leader. I'm reading a fascinating book that's about leadership, but from another point of view. It's called Turn the Ship Around, written by Captain David Marquette, one of the top graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. Captain Marquette ultimately, in his promotions, finds himself the skipper of the USS Santa Fe.

It is a multi-billion dollar nuclear powered fast attack submarine. Interestingly, he was responsible for more than 100 sailors deep in the sea. And in that high stress environment, as you can imagine, there was no margin for error. It was crucial that each member did his job and did it well. The problem was, when Captain Marquette took over the ship, there was a low level of morale.

There was poor performance, and that particular ship had the worst retention in the fleet. He committed to turning the ship around by changing the thinking of the sailors. Throughout their time on the ship, they had thought of leadership from the top down. Leader, follower. Leader, follower. Whatever the leader says, you follow.

There's no responsibility there except just doing what you're told. He determined the way to increase performance and lift the morale was to communicate a whole new direction, and that's what he called leader, leader, where he, the leader, would release much of the responsibility to each member of the crew and convince them of the value of taking responsibility and carrying it out well. The results, remarkable. It became the single most awarded ship in the fleet, and the retention immediately grew. The most improved ship in the Pacific, the most combat effective ship in the fleet. He's convinced that when he turned the ship around, he did so by turning his sailors, rather than followers, into leaders.

The very same assignment as the Lord Jesus when he chooses his 12. Remember his first command, follow me. He said to a group who were working with fishing nets, I will make you fishers of men, but right now you follow me, and they did. They listened when he spoke. They watched as he healed. They marveled as he raised the dead.

They stood back with mouths open as he cast out demons. He was doing it all, and they were in the shadows watching, leader, followers. Until we get to the 10th chapter of Matthew, where we read not only of his selecting these 12 who were named for us, verses 2 through 4, the very next statement we read, Jesus sent them out.

Down in verse 16, look, I'm sending you out. At this point, he feels he has trained them sufficiently to take responsibility. Oh, for sure, verse 1 tells us he empowered them. He gave them authority over demons.

He gave them the ability to heal every kind of disease and every kind of illness. But they had not done it, not until he sent them out. Mark 6, verse 7 tells us that he sent them out, duah, duah, two by two.

So they went out in groups of two, six groups, six pairs of them, went out into the real world. No longer mere followers, but now in a real sense, though under his command, they are on their own. Wouldn't you have loved to have been a bug on the wall in places where they began to do what he had done? And they watched the Spirit of God work through them to carry out the very things they had only seen the Master accomplish.

He loved these men. Because he did, he told them what to do and what not to do. He told them where to stay and where not to stay. They would have to be discerning. They would have to determine if it was a good place for them or not. It was a town that rejected, and notice what he calls it, your message, down in verse 14. If they reject your message, it's no longer my message, you're now carrying it. And he dispatches them to do what he had been doing.

They are following Jesus for sure, but they're now doing it without his presence around them. And so because he loves them and cares about them, he pauses to prepare them with very carefully chosen words. I like the way verse 16 begins.

I would like to render it, listen up, pay attention, look. And what's the next sentence? I'm sending you out as sheep among wolves. This is kind of a reverse strategy. Normally wolves come into sheep pens, but now he's having the sheep leave the pen and go out among the wolves.

Let's pause and think about the two analogies. They're sheep. They're vulnerable. They're defenseless. They're easily frightened. They often go astray, and I might as well say it, they are incredibly stupid. Before you get to feeling really great as a wooly in the flock of God, remember you're a sheep. I'm a sheep. People never go to a circus and see a group of sheep carrying out some performance.

They don't ever get it. The problem is when they stray, they become a hot meal for the wolves because wolves never stray. They run in packs.

Where you find one, you'll find many. They're like roaches in Houston. If you've ever lived in Houston, you have roaches. My mother would never believe that our home had roaches.

I mean, they were all over the place. Turn on the light, it looked like a rodeo broke out. She said, no, no, no, we do not have roaches. It's a clean house, so we'd go in the kitchen at night and click on the light. Off they would go. I don't know where roaches go, but they get out of sight.

She said, turn the light off. They're here on Saturday nights, but they're not normally here. We don't have roaches. If you've got one wolf, you've got many wolves. You've got packs of them.

If you ever watch the documentary from time to time, Life Below Zero, you've done that. If you notice when someone in one of those lonely houses notices a wolf, they'll often say there's more around. I may see one, but there are more. And they'll circle their prey. I wanted the analogy, wolves are aggressive. Wolves are vicious. Wolves are cunning.

They're unafraid. In fact, scripture uses interesting words just before the word wolf. Savage wolves. Ravenous wolves. Wolves are predators. When you walk among wolves, you're walking into combat.

So he says to them, men, listen up. You're sheep. I know you're sheep, and I am your defense. I know that you can never on your own take on wolves.

That's why I'm here with you, and I give you the power to deal with the wolves. But please remember, you are to be as shrewd. Here's another couple of analogies. As shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. Think about that one.

Think about a snake. Pretty clever. Very patient.

Ever aware. Cautious. Discerning. Smart. You may look like a sheep, but you need to think like a snake. Be discerning. Stay smart. Don't be gullible. Eyes wide open.

Shrewdish serpents. If that's all there is to it, you'll become ugly, argumentative, belligerent, stubborn. So he says you're to be harmless as doves. Gentle-like.

Disarmingly powerful weapons when dealing with wolves. One man has written, it is neither wise nor brave to be abrasive, coarse, retaliatory, inconsiderate, or blunt. Verbal abuse is still abuse. Stay gentle in your tone. Gracious in your response. Disarmingly wise.

All of this is a part of equipping these 12 to face the real world. Alert, smart, in touch, cautious, discerning, and yet at the same time, without guile, and I must mention, the one symbol that the dove often illustrates is purity. This isn't just for the men, but because I am a man, I exhort us men to be pure.

I appreciate the words of one keen thinking writer. Men, if we are Christians, it is imperative that we live pure, godly lives in the midst of our Corinthian, pornotopian culture. Coins the word, pornotopian. We must live above the horrifying statistics or the church will become increasingly irrelevant and powerless and our children will leave it. The church can have no power apart from purity. Listen to these words, men. The heat of our culture oppresses us with its obsessions and pornotopias.

Many in the church have wilted. The statistics tell it all. In order not to become part of those statistics, there has to be some disciplined sweat. Are we men enough? Are we men of God? I pray we are, writes Kent Hughes in Disciplines of a Godly Man. Those words aren't limited to men.

You ladies need similar exhortations. Purity is a part of our marching orders. We're to be dove-like and snake-like. They balance each other out.

At the heart and core of Jesus' words is the all-important value of inner character. You and I as believers live among wolves. We live among them and they are growing in number. Their savagery is making more and more of the headlines. Be aware.

At the same time, don't be afraid. Now the warnings that follow are for you to read and analyze. I haven't the time to do much in depth. I will simply give the overview. First, you can expect, as he speaks to his apostles, religious persecution. Look at this. You will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogue.

And you didn't misread it. This is religious persecution. When you encounter fellow Jews, and they are all Jews, these disciples, when you encounter fellow Jews, they will hate you because of me. You may not know it, but even under Roman rulers, the Jews were often allowed to settle most disputes among themselves, and often they were settled in the synagogues. Jews had the right under Roman authority and approval to try, convict, and punish. That would be flogged with whips, as we read here. Fellow Jews in their own religious courts, a Jew accused of breaking the Mosaic law, or a rabbinic tradition, would be brought before a tribunal of judges who decided the verdict, determined the sentence or punishment, and then would be meted out by those in the synagogues. In New Testament times, the scourge usually consisted of 39 lashes with a whip. One judge would call out the sentence, one would announce the punishment, one or more would do the scourging, and the others would count the lashes. He's telling them, that's what you face.

I would imagine they were as quiet as you are right now. Shocking information, but designed to prepare them so they won't be surprised. Religious persecution. Wise as a serpent, harmless as doves.

Relevant stuff, isn't it? When you read of those who are at the point of the knives and the spears and the bombs of the terrorists, they are often punished because they follow Christ. I can't think of a season when persecution seemed more prevalent. Christians are sensing growing opposition from those in authority, not only here in our country, but all around the world as well. This is Insight for Living. To learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at As your radio Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll makes it his personal mission to preach the whole counsel of God's Word, even the unsavory passages like the one we're looking at today.

This warning from Jesus, though presented 2,000 years ago, has immediate application for our times. And to help you apply these principles to your daily life, you'll be glad to know Chuck wrote a helpful commentary on this first book of the New Testament. In fact, because of its depth, the commentary for Matthew comes in two volumes. This isn't a stereotypical commentary that sometimes feels dry and academic. The format of Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary on Matthew is clear and easy to navigate. And it's integrated with articles, practical application, and a variety of helpful pictures. So whether you're a serious student of the Bible or you're just beginning to learn what it means to follow Jesus, we believe Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary on Matthew will help you. To purchase both volumes, go to slash store. Or call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. In addition to the commentary, each of the messages you hear on this program is complemented by an interactive online lesson.

We call them Searching the Scriptures. These study notes are absolutely free. You can even print out the PDF files and share them with your friends.

So to access these documents, go to slash studies. As God prompts you to contribute to this nonprofit ministry, we invite you to participate financially. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888 or give online at What did Jesus mean when he called us sheep among wolves? Well, listen Wednesday to hear the answer on Insight for Living with Chuck Swindoll. The preceding message, Sheep Among Wolves, What to Expect, was copyrighted in 2016 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 18:41:23 / 2023-11-19 18:49:39 / 8

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