Two Foundations


Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined. When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.  Matt. 7: 24-28   

Jesus makes the relation of hearing and doing to every Christian disciple (everyone who listens).Earlier He had related saying and doing (false teachers).

If we only listen to Christ (read His word, go to church) and do nothing with what He says, what good are we as disciples? It’s not about once a week visitation, it’s about everyday visitation! Everyday worship, everyday prayer, everyday meeting others needs in love, showing the compassion of Christ Himself.

Look at the last verse, if Jesus truly has authority in our lives, we will be changed! We will live out His beatitudes and His laws for the kingdom (sermon on the mount) because we are it’s citizens. His brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the Most High God.

Father, thank you for giving us your instructions to live by.Thank you, that in your love for us, you didn’t leave us as orphans, but left us your family kingdom, with brothers and sisters to love and care for. And the Church, in which your family takes refuge, called out to be the city on the hill. Guide us by your Holy Spirit into all truth so we will continue to be your people who are called by your name. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The False Prophets


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ” Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day,” Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?” Then I will declare to them solemnly,” I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.”  Matt. 7: 15-23   

Ever seen a false prophet? Are there any around today? A prophet is a disciple who claims to speak in the name of God. So, we have pastors, deacons, evangelist, theologians and Sunday school teachers all claiming to speak in the name of God. How can I tell who’s speaking God’s truth? Jesus says we can tell by the quality of their deeds (fruits).

The “wolves in sheep’s clothing” is interesting because Jesus refers to credentials. Prophets in the old testament, wore a sheep’s garb (wool mantel) as a symbol of authority (2 Ki.1:8, Zech.13:4) so it was hard even back then to tell, by their credentials, who was a “true” or who was a “false” prophet just by looking.

Let’s look at three categories of fruit:

1) Doctrine: What do they teach? Where does “it” come from? Where was “it” established? Who established “it”? (Remember the who, what, where, when and why.)

2) Effect of their doctrine: What effect has it had on the people they’ve served? Growth or stagnation? Love for God and others? Rejection of God’s authority? Division or unity? Sensual life or spiritual life? Deception or honesty?

3) Their own moral character: Are they marked by pride, greed or immorality? Are they dominated by worldly things? Do they prey upon the weak and the guilt-ridden?

Remember, the best way to fight “false” teaching, is to know “true” teaching! Why do you believe what you believe?

2 Peter 3:17-18: Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory now and to the day of eternity. Amen  

Amen.

The Narrow Gate


Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.  Matt.7:13-14  

Jesus now starts contrasting the two kinds of life within the Christian community, those who obey His words with those who don’t.

As clearly stated in the passage, there are two choices for us to consider; the narrow or the wide. There are choices to be made everyday. There is no one time choice. I may choose the narrow way today and not feel like choosing the narrow way tomorrow. I may choose to love my neighbor today and choose to hate him tomorrow.

Let me get personal here; when I was fifteen years old, I had a powerful conversion experience. I had prayed a prayer and ask Jesus into my heart, to be the Lord and Savior of my life. I was baptized and I was on fire for God. I wanted to share the good news with everyone and I did! I was not ashamed, scared or embarrassed of Jesus, how could I be, after what He’d done for me! Weeks and months went by and my fire started to die. I didn’t know how to rekindle that fire. I was going to church, Sunday school, I even went to a Christian school at the time, but I was dying inside.(This is the reason discipleship is so close to my heart.) I was not being discipled, and the church was failing me, and I was young, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. So I gave up! “If this is all it is, I’ll do without it!” At that moment, I chose the broad way. I decided to walk away from God, just as I had decided to ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior the year before. What changed? Did God change? Certainly not! I did! I chose to leave God as the prodigal son chose to leave his father. His father’s grace was never removed, just rejected. My Father’s grace was never removed, I had only rejected it. Ten years later, in His mercy, I said yes to His grace…. again.

And Jesus said to all,” If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23 

A daily walk with daily decisions to make. Today, let’s choose Christ!

Amen.

Answer to Prayers


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.    Matt. 7:7-11   

If we do not come to our Father and ask, how will anything be given to us? Can we find what we do not seek? Do we stand in front of the door, with no intention to knock? These are all active, participatory ingredients in our prayer life, just as in our faith life.

We must be confident of our Fathers love and care for us as His children, knowing that the good things He gives us are just what we need, right when we need them.

Earlier in the study on the Lord’s prayer we observed that, after Jesus had given the prayer to the disciples, He follows it with a warning. That if we don’t forgive others, we won’t be forgiven by our Father. He seems to be using that same formula here: Do to others whatever you would have them do to you, our treatment of others is such an integral part of our spirituality. Our relationship with God often reflects our relationship with others. If we treat others with respect and love, we usually love and respect God. If we disrespect, or treat in unlovely fashion our brothers and sisters, that’s usually the way we treat God. I would say that this is why Jesus keeps bringing it up, it’s just that important! I’ll leave us with this thought from 1 John 4:20-21:

If anyone says “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.  

This is His command, it is not an option.

Amen.

Judging others


Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother,” Let me remove that splinter from your eye,” while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to the dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.  Matt. 7: 1-6  

Possibly the most quoted verse in the bible (v.1) and the most misunderstood. This is not a command forbidding the recognition of others sins, that would go against His statement in verse 5, but against judging those sins in a spirit of arrogance forgetful of who we are before God. 

The recognition of sins should always be done in a spirit of mercy and love. This would be why Jesus warns us that we will be judged by the same measure that we judge. Are we merciful? Are we loving? Do we have the others best interest at heart? Along with the realization of our own sins, these motives are essential.

In verse five, Jesus uses the word hypocrite. He had only used this word in describing the scribes and Pharisees, but now uses it to describe a Christian disciple who is more concerned with the sins of others than his own more serious sins ( splinter vs. beam).

In light of the context, Jesus seems to be applying the “pearls before swine” to the faithful Christian in dealing with the stubborn fellow Christian(18:17).There comes a time when all that can be said, has been.

Please do not allow yourself to bury your head in the sand, when a brother or sister sins. Sin is a cancer that destroys the person (and the church) from within.

Let us then examine ourselves! And in love and mercy exhort others to love and good works!

Amen.

Dependence on God


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will He not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say,” What are we to eat?” or ” What are we to drink?” or ” What are we to wear?” All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.  Matt. 6:25-34  

Jesus isn’t denying the reality of our needs, He’s just forbidding us to make them the object of our worries. If we refuse, then we are worry’s slave, and not God’s child. As a disiciple of Jesus, our faith needs to be deeply rooted in Him. For if we can’t trust Him with the everyday needs and circumstances of our lives, how can we trust Him with our eternal destination?

Faith says we can! But we do have a responsibility in all this, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Remember the “Hunger and Thirst” study on righteousness.  Righteousness is defined as actively doing the will of God. So if I seek His kingdom (the Church) and His righteousness(doing His will) all I’m doing is living up to my responsibility as a true disciple of Christ, a kingdom citizen!

At this time of the year, when we celebrate our nations independence from England, let us become more dependent on God “our Father”, who has given us the greatest freedom of all. Freedom from the power of sin and death!

Amen.

And to everyone, a joyous and happy 4th!

Birthday number 230!

Treasure in heaven


Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be. No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the  other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.   Matt.6:19-24   

No one can serve two masters;this is the main point of this section of scripture. And how relevant it is today. In 1979, Bob Dylan won his first Grammy award with a song titled “You gotta serve somebody” and he was correct! We certainly do! Without quoting the whole song he says,”You gotta serve somebody. It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord, but your gonna have to serve somebody.”

Who is your master? Let’s look within ourselves, deep within ourselves. Do I invest in things that will not last? Do I realize the things I do the most, or spend the most time doing, are the things I value the most?

Jesus commands us not to invest in what will not last, but to invest in heavenly treasures. And whichever we decide, reveals our heart. Jesus is so good about bringing it back to our hearts. Examining our motivations. Making us see where our own loyalities lie.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be. Jesus uses this parable here to point out the need for us disciples to take seriously his teaching on the brevity of earthly treasures. Love of God and love of neighbor show themselves to be eternal treasure. The love of mammon doesn’t.

So, who are you gonna serve?