KINGDOM WATCH: We started out the book of Matthew watching for the use of the phrase 'Kingdom of heaven,' but we got a bit sidetracked and haven't mentioned it for a few days. In chapter 10, the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven makes itself known in a big, aggressive way. The primary message Jesus commands His disciples to communicate is the same as Jesus began His ministry with: 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near' (v7, 4:17).
I use the phrase EXPERIENCE THE PEACE OF JESUS CHRIST often as a tagline for the churches I've served in. I use it because research suggests that peace is the one thing people want above all other things, and 'the peace of God that comes through Christ transcends all understanding' (Phil. 4:7). In light of this, v34 is quite upsetting, where Jesus says that He 'came not to bring peace, but a sword.' If you're looking for a quiet life in which you can indulge whatever it is you like to do uninhibited, you will not find any peace in Jesus; quite the opposite, in fact, for in v39, Jesus says 'Whoever finds their life will lose it.' On the other hand, the person willing to 'take up his cross and follow Him,' (v38) will sacrifice living for himself, but will find life in Christ and will experience the peace of Christ ruling in his heart (Colossians 4:15).
CONTEXT IS KING: So says the first rule of proper Biblical interpretation. Knowing the context of Jesus' words here will help you understand them properly. Jesus gave these instructions to newly appointed 'apostles' (v2) to go to the 'lost sheep of Israel' (v7). They were sent to 'heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons' (v8). None of us are apostles, none of us have been sent to fetch lost Israelites, and none of us have been given the powers in v8. So are the harsh words of Jesus in chapter 10 applicable to us? Yes and no. Our mandate from Jesus will come later in chapter 28 in the Great Commission (28:18-20). Certainly in this short space we can't point out all of the differences & similarities in these two different commissions. Just a couple simple examples: you are not likely to be flogged in a synagogue (v17), but the principle remains that you are likely to receive pushback on behalf of the gospel. On the other hand, the truth that those who disown Christ on earth will be disowned by Him in heaven (v33) is just as applicable to us as it was to these apostles. The point is that understanding the context of this chapter will help you interpret the really tricky verses in it. See how many more examples you can find.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The King of Heaven who knows you so well that He has your hairs numbered (v30).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to make it plain where you need to 'take up your cross and follow Him' (v38).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: