MANY WILL SAY TO ME ON THAT DAY, LORD, LORD

Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Many associate the kingdom of God with Israel. Some actually teach that Jesus failed to establish the kingdom on earth because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. This is a wrong understanding of God’s kingdom. The kingdom is in the Holy Spirit. Many in Jesus’ day called Him Lord, but never submitted to him as Lord. It is not simply in the words, but in the actions. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus is speaking about the future judgment day. In that day, there will be an accounting for things said and done. On that day, Jesus says there will be those who will declare what they have done in His name, but Jesus will tell them to be gone because He never knew them. He calls them “workers of iniquity” (Matthew 7:23 KJV). The word iniquity means “lawless” as translated in the NASB. This means they did a lot of things in Jesus’ name, but not by His authority.

Today, much is done in the name of the Lord, but not all is done as a directive from Him. In my own life, I have both done things that He directed through the Holy Spirit and I have done those things that turned out to be by my own directive in His name. When He revealed to me my error, I quickly repented. It is so important to wait on the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to direct and lead us. Only what the Spirit does will last and be accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ. Often, our human pride causes us to think, “I am doing this for Jesus.” Maybe we are, but if He did not direct us, it is just a good idea at best. It is good to question our motives; it is good to receive approval from godly authority and let the Lord confirm our decisions as we wait upon Him for direction. As the old adage says, “haste makes waste.” The Lord is never in a hurry.

Invite the Holy Spirit to be in control of all your plans. Know that as you wait upon the Lord, He will bring it to pass. “Wait for the Lord, and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (Psalm 37:34).

EVERY GOOD TREE BEARS GOOD FRUIT

Matthew 7:16 – You will know them by their fruits. The context of Jesus’ teaching is “be aware of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing.” They look and sound good on the outside, but inwardly are “ravenous wolves.” We are to be fruit-checkers. If a person...

ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE

Matthew 7:13—Enter through the narrow gate: for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many that enter through it.

Jesus is teaching an eternal truth that is important for us to grasp. The serpent gave Eve a broad choice in tempting her to eat of the tree. “God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). It is clear from Scripture that God always had it in His heart to elevate man, and open his understanding. God’s ways are narrow and time-tested. He proves us, before giving to us greater responsibility. He wants to protect His sons and daughters from the pitfalls which will stop us from experiencing His very best. This is what Paul meant when he said, “No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13). The way of escape for Eve was Adam who had received the Word of God. Instead of turning to her husband, she ate the fruit. Adam’s way of escape was to turn to God, but instead he followed his wife’s choice. They opened the broad way which humans follow. Jesus teaches we must “enter through the narrow gate.” He is that gate!  He chooses the cross, rather than an easy way out. He established the narrow gate for all of mankind from that point on.

America has become a “pluralistic” society. This means we have swung open the gate to all of the false religions of the world. The original intent of America’s founding fathers was a “Christian Society,” made up of all the different Christian denominations. Everyone could express their Christian faith as their conscience dictated. The founding fathers knew that only the Christian faith would provide an atmosphere for other religions to survive. America, for many years, honored the narrow gate of the gospel of Christ. In more recent times, the narrow has been rejected and replaced with the broad, leading us down a road of destruction. Only by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us back to the narrow gate, which is Christ, will our nation and its institutions survive.

Will it be relativism, whatever feels good and right to you, or will it be God’s Laws, which are narrow by worldly standards, but lead to life and that abundantly? The Holy Spirit is present to empower us to choose life.

Father, today I choose life. Life in Christ by obeying Your word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

GUARD WHAT IS HOLY

Matthew 7:6 – Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

The Jewish people called the Gentiles dogs. We know that there came a time when the Gentiles were accepted and qualified for salvation. Jesus is using the term “dogs” referring to any that reject God’s provision and treat it as a dog might treat a precious possession belonging to his master. What God the Father has given to us is compared to a “pearl.” A swine would not care anything of the pearl’s value. He would just bury it in the mud and slop. Likewise, the swine might turn on you and do you great damage.

Jesus was preparing kingdom-minded people for the reality of the tribulations that lay ahead for those trusting Christ. In our witnessing, we need to use wisdom and not flaunt what Christ has done for us. The conduct of our lives is our real witness to the unsaved. Vocal volume and many words will not bring the lost to Christ. It is our steady and faithful lifestyle that will ultimately convince people of the kingdom of God and create a desire to follow Christ.

Many Christians suffer persecution because they do not follow the counsel which Jesus gives to us in this verse. The Holy Spirit is our guide in witnessing. We cannot hope to be effective without His power and leading. We must learn to hold our counsel as well as share it as the precious Holy Spirit leads. Paul’s witness on Mars Hill gives us valuable lessons regarding receptivity. “Some began to sneer, but others said, we shall hear you again concerning this” (Acts 17:32-34). A third group received the Word of God freely and became disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, to give you power to proclaim the gospel, and live a consistent Christian witness before all.

REMOVE THE LOG FROM YOUR EYE SO YOU CAN SEE CLEARLY

Matthew 7:5 – You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

It is easy to look on another person and evaluate all that is wrong with them. It is very difficult to look inside one’s self and rightly evaluate our own condition. Hypocrisy is a powerful attitude in religious circles and I dare say some hypocrisy is demonic at its core. The religious hypocrites of Jesus’ day had as their father, not Abraham, but the devil (see John 8:44). Those religious leaders had a huge log in their eyes. In fact, Jesus called them blind (see Matthew 23:16-26). Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remove the log from our eye. He does this by enabling us to be “crucified with Christ.” Only death can cure the self-centered hypocrisy that lives in all of us. “Nevertheless I live.” I live, because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me (see Romans 8:11). Now, that being said, “The life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). It is only by Jesus’ faith that I can live free from judging others and His faith operates in me by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Paul said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). He goes on to answer his own question by giving thanks. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). Yes, the Holy Spirit of God gives the life of Christ to us and enables us to do what was impossible in our own ability and strength. He helps us to remove the log in our own eye and graces us to help others remove the speck in their eye. That speck is really a log to God, but was a speck to us because of the log which blinded our eye. How wonderful it is to have one’s sight recovered and to look on another without judgment and condemnation, but to see through the eyes of Jesus a new person redeemed by Christ’s precious blood.

Today, let the Holy Spirit do surgery and remove all the obstacles that cause you to be hindered in your sight. Ask God to help you see others as Christ does.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW, TODAY’S PROBLEMS ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH

Matthew 6:34 – So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Stress has always been a great emotional and physical health problem. Worry is at the heart of stress and is the opposite of rest. Worry and stress come from trying to control our circumstances. They prevent us from finding a place of rest for our mind and our body. Jesus says, “So do not worry about tomorrow.”  The emphasis is mine. After Jesus teaches on the cure for anxiety in Matthew 6, He concludes with this statement found in verse 34. The word so means; based on what I have taught you “don’t worry”! I can’t help but think of the old hymn, “I Surrender All.” It is in the act of surrender that we open the door for the Holy Spirit to enter our situations and give us God’s perspective. Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father and is seated, meaning He is at rest. He is not pacing heaven, trying to solve the troubles of today and of tomorrow.

A friend of mine would always say “one step in front of the other.” What a concept and what an attitude! Stability in physical walking comes through balance and coordination. It is also true in the spiritual realm. If your thoughts are all over the place, so will be your spiritual walk. The Holy Spirit wants to establish us in the promises of His Word. He wants to strengthen us to receive the Word and then to apply the Word of God in our daily life. This is harder than it sounds, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can apply the Word of God and enter into His rest. I will not worry about today’s problems, and for certain I will not worry about tomorrow’s. Some people practice mind over matter and positive thinking in this regard. That might help, but I am not speaking of my works, but His power through His Word and His Spirit.

Trust Him today by turning every worry you have over to Him. Speak it to Him and say, “Holy Spirit I give this worry over to you.” I receive from You the rest of Christ. Show me what to do, for You have said, “The steadfast of mind, You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:3). I choose to trust fully in You my Lord.