21"Not everyone who calls out to me, `Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.22On judgment day many will say to me, `Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.'23But I will reply, `I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'
this one is pretty straightforward. not everyone who calls themselves a Christ follower will be allowed into heaven. anybody can call themselves a Christian. but what's really in our heart? are we doing it for our parents? are we calling ourselves that for a relationship? maybe for recognition? everyone has different motivations. like i've said before again and again, God's always looking at my heart. am i right with Him? am i doing these things for myself? or am i doing it because i love God so much that i simply want to live this way for Him? even if i touch many people's lives and accomplish amazing things in His name, but really all along i was doing it for the attention to myself, man, i never really knew Jesus! if i knew Jesus, i would want all the glory to go to Him! because He deserves it! not me! in the earlier post we were talking about false prophets or teachers, people we would listen or look up to. but here Jesus is slamming down on false disciples. and there are a lot of them out there. there are a lot of people who just don't have that intimate relationship with Him. they go to church, do all the right things, but seriously live lives that are no different than if they didn't know Jesus. i don't want to be a false disciple. i don't want to be someone who says that Jesus is my savior and yet have absolutely no relationship with Him whatsoever. and it doesn't start by going to church more or doing more charity work. it starts right here. in my heart. by reading. by praying. and not only that, but by truly opening up that line of communication between me and Him. without routines. without the same things prayed over and over again without even thinking about it. i want to know who He is. how much He loves me. i want to see Him everywhere i go. i want to be diligently just yearning to know more and more about Him because He's changed my life. i want to KNOW Jesus.
15"Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.16You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.18A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit.19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.20Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
this is not to say that we should be walking around judging everyone on their actions, rather, we have to be wise in discerning who to trust. we can't just be naive and believe anyone who says that they're a Christ follower! one of the best ways to figure this out is by simply looking at their actions, or their "fruit." if we can see them selflessly give themselves away without drawing attention to themselves and we see the Gospel being lived out in their life, we can have a pretty good feeling that their heart is in the right place. on the other hand, if we see someone calling themselves a Christ follower yet living a totally different lifestyle from what Jesus asks, we can be pretty sure that this person's heart is not in the right place us just yet. let's say someone calls themselves a Christ follower and you see them going out to drink all the time with their friends. is this bad? it depends. we can see the "fruit" that this person bears. if this person says that he or she is using this time to fellowship and develop others, we can simply look at the people who he or she is ministering to, is there any change? is there a desire for Jesus growing with that group of friends? or is that first person just hanging out for the sake of hanging out? i don't think i could trust someone who called themselves a Christ follower and didn't bear good fruit. see, a lot of people can say things, or promise things, but it's what they do about it that really matters sometimes, right? not that i'm saying that the most important thing is works, but like i've said before, we want to have hearts that are so on fire for God that we're COMPELLED to do good works. we want to do things for God because we love Him so much. we don't want to do things because we're told to, or we have to, or it's routine.
i like this thing that francis chan said in a sermon, more or less, "you can tell me that you're a christian, that's great. but i'll see if you really are by the way you live your life." honestly, that convicted me. it really gets me to think about the actions i take in my life. the decisions i make. the people i choose to be around. our actions are a reflection of where our heart is. be careful about choosing who to trust and believe! look to their lives and see if their HEART is where it should be. if not, pray with them, don't just abandon them, but build them up! get a group of brothers and sisters to pray over this person. one of the biggest things is to reexamine our hearts. do my actions reflect a heart that is for Jesus or myself?
13"You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hells is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.14But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
this verse actually gives me hope when things are kind of piling on top of me when i try to live for God. it's an amazing reminder that Jesus never said that following Him was going to be easy. we know that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (matthew 11:28-30), meaning we're not held down by endless rules, laws, and regulations. this means that we have true rest and comfort in Him by simply committing to Him. but this does not mean that living for Jesus will be a piece of cake, either. numerous times throughout the scriptures, we see Jesus again and again testing people to their limits, to see if they actually wanted Him or His miracles. we see people drop Him because His teaching is too hard. but when i think about how He says that the way to life is narrow and difficult, i'm kind of encouraged because then i kind of know i'm going in the right direction. following Jesus isn't an easy stroll in the park, it's a race to the finish. but it's only done by depending on the Holy Spirit, our comforter, our counselor. because i think if we were just following Jesus and only looking for difficulty in our lives without looking at the big picture, this becomes legalism, religion, and meaningless. it's about how even though following Him is hard, it doesn't have to be. it's hard to explain! the burdens that the world sees that we have to us aren't really burdens because we're depending on Jesus! is this making sense? from the outside, it looks like this following Jesus business is really hard, we have to give up too much, we have to risk ourselves too much, we get too little recognition, etc. but from the inside and having a relationship with Jesus, it doesn't become the "have to's" it becomes the "get to's." "i get to give up things that would never last, i get to give up the burden of having to worry about things that God would have already provided for, i get to be humble like Jesus, i get to be a stronger person because of the difficulties and lessons that God puts in my life." that's where we stand as Christ followers, and i don't think i would trade it for anything in the world.
the sad part is, people see the narrow way and pass it up. they see the easy and broad gate and waltz right on through. it's easier living for and caring for yourself. we know that. it's easier keeping the things that make us happy. it's easier not sacrificing our time, effort, and energy for other people. it's easier to not face our depression and anxiety. it's easier to sweep things under the rug. it's easier to just live in sin without acknowledging it. can't we see that the easy way out doesn't make us any stronger? can't we see that to be stronger people, courageous people, people with something to live for, we have to go through difficulties? the world tells us differently. media blocks out the children in need. the desperate families. the oppressed people. the hungry people. the dying people. and we're amazed by televisions, computers, gadgets, clothes, magazines, celebrities, ipads and we forget about haiti, chile, and new orleans. to go through the narrow gate, the difficult road, doesn't just mean putting yourself in a tough place, it means depending on Jesus and trusting Him to use you for amazing things. to strengthen your character and make you the person that your children look up to. that's what the narrow gate offers, and the wide one, well, in the end, it does lead to nothing.
12"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
i was almost not going to blog on this passage. it was just so short that i was just going to pass it up and go straight to the wide and narrow gates. then i realized that Jesus didn't say these words, even if they are short, so that people can just pass by it. maybe this is something i should practice more often for myself. sometimes, i get really frustrated at people because i see what they're doing and i don't approve or i just simply don't like it. but i don't get the whole story. i just boil on it and don't tell anyone. and you know what? i hate it when people do that to me. i do something wrong and they never say anything about it until one day we just stop talking and i never find out until it all blows up. seriously, how hypocritical is that?? i do the exact thing that i cannot stand when other people do it to me. what i would want other people to do for me is be real with me, be straightforward with me, and at the same time, let me know that i am still loved. this shows me that they love me enough to let something come between us, that they would risk being rejected or humiliated so that our relationship can continue to grow and flourish. do i do this? man, i've got some work to do? i wonder what the church would be like if we all did to each other what we would like done to ourselves. how amazing would that be? and you know what, i'm tired of thinking about what it would be like, and i actually want to do it and see it! don't just wait around until someone does it for you! take the initiative! application, application, application, it's not just what we learn, but it's how we're so moved that we have to do something about it!
ask yourself, what is it that i cannot stand when people do it to me? and am i doing that to other people?? also ask, what would i like to be done for me, and then take the initiative and just go and do it! i think we'll all be amazed by what the outcome might be. =]
p.s. just for some scriptural background, the second part talks about how this is the essence of all that is taught in the law of the prophets, if you want to learn more, turn to matthew 22:37-40. the greatest commandment is loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. and the second that is equal to that is....loving your neighbor as yourself! whoa! high up there, guys! loving everyone around us as ourselves. it's a challenge, but it's something i'm ready to be put the test to.
7"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.8For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9"You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?10Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!11So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
we kind of learned this this past week at rock harbor. we were in luke, though, and we were learning about the widow who kept on asking. see, the parable Jesus tells in luke is about this old widow who keeps asking for justice from this corrupt judge. he keeps on putting her off until he's finally so sick of her asking for him to do something that he finally does it! then Jesus tells His disciples that if a corrupt judge will grant this widow's needs, how much more will our loving, heavenly Father give us justice! this kind of goes along with this teaching. Jesus asks the parents in the crowd about their own families. He asks them if they would give their children food when they asked for it! and He goes on to say, if you earthly parents love your children and would give them what they need when they ask for it, how much more will God, the Father, give us when we ask!
a very important thing that we have to note is asking. we were talking about at rock harbor if we have ever gotten to that point in our lives where we just stopped hoping for things to happen. where we're so tired of asking that it's better not to get our hopes up. where we've felt like it's better just not to ask God for what we need because we're scared He won't come through. it's tough. how do we keep on asking with so many unanswered prayers? how do we keep faithful? what does Jesus say? keep on asking. keep on seeking. keep on knocking. He doesn't say ask for a while and then give up. if it's something that we truly need, God will answer. to not ask then, would be us losing faith in God. to not ask then, would mean that we don't think God can come through. maybe that's what we need to pray for then. that God would restore in us the hope and faith to believe that He still answers prayers. mike erie was sharing with us the story of a family who was praying for their sick son for about 10 years and they still haven't stopped praying because they truly believe that God is the God of miracles. he shared about how he still prays for his son who is diagnosed with down syndrome because he truly believes that God is the God of miracles. because to not ask, would mean that God simply isn't the healing God. and we've seen miracles happen, amazing ones. we've seen lives changed, diseases and illnesses healed, because people trust in the Lord. the reason we pray is because the kingdom is here, and the reason we keep on praying is because the kingdom is coming. prayer is about waiting and humility. two things, as humans, we're all not very good at. it's about teaching us these things, saying, "God, I need You, I can't handle this on my own, I know that You hear me. Do what You will." but at the same time, Jesus tells us to be shameless in our requests. pray boldly. be shamelessly persistent, because you know that God will answer your prayer, whether it's a yes or no. just remember that this isn't the end. there will be a day when He will wipe the tears from our eyes, when all suffering ends, no more weeping, the day the kingdom is finally here. and what a beautiful day that will be. =]