“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. On 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.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).
Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won’t hear those terrible words, “I never knew you”? Continue reading →
2 For He says. “ In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Salvation is both a onetime event and an ongoing process. The new birth that Jesus talked about in John 3 is a onetime event. Just as we were born once physically, we are born again once spiritually.
But that is just the beginning of the process of changing and growing and becoming more like Christ. Paul said:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2.12-13).
Just as we should not put off getting our lives right with God initially, neither should we put off obeying God in the ongoing day-to-day areas of our lives. Delayed obedience = disobedience.
In what areas have you stubbornly refused to obey God?
Is there a relationship that needs to be reconciled (Matt. 5.23-24)?
Is there a habit of the old man which needs to be put off and its biblical alternative put on (Eph. 4.22-24)?
Has God called you to some area of ministry yet you have failed to prepare yourself or get in motion (Rom. 12.6-8; 2 Tim. 2.15)?
Have you failed to grow in your understanding of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2.15)?
Have you been lazy about memorizing and meditating on the Scriptures (Ps. 1.1-3, 119.9, 11)?
Do you pray regularly or only when there is nothing else you can possibly do (Lk. 18.1; 1 Thess. 5.17)?
Is there some other area where you have failed to obey God?
Have you been faithful to share the gospel with those in your life or do you procrastinate thinking … maybe later?
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
True worship is more than a time of music and singing. True worship involves how we live our lives, whether we obey God or respond by hardening our hearts to His commands.
Also, God is a God of order and He has ordained authority as part of that order. No matter what we think, we are not living obediently if we aren’t fully submitted to the authority He has placed in our lives.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work.
True worship is more than merely showing up at church to sing and raise our hands. It is submitting our hearts and lives to God in obedience and realizing that “He is God.” It’s then that we “will hear His voice.”
No matter how often we attend church or what kind of outward religious activity we perform, if we’re not submitted to God in our hearts, which is demonstrated by our obedience, we are no different from those who hardened their hearts, rebelled, and tested God.
In spite of all his miseries, Job could still say, “For I know that my Redeemer lives …” That should put most of us to shame! He went on to say, “… I shall see God.” So no matter what, he was sure of his eternal destiny. Continue reading →
“Mirror, mirror …” How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?
Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.
But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage.
“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v. 38.8).
He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands.
We walk into our homes and there is a mirror in the entryway, a mirror in the bedroom, a mirror in the bathroom. We go to work or church and … more mirrors. Even in our cars, we flip down the mirror for a last minute look. But in the desert, if a woman had a brass hand mirror, I imagine that was really something … possibly a luxury … but they gave them up!
I have to ask myself, what would I be willing to give up for the glory of God? What is really more important to me, people seeing the beauty of Christ or how I look to others?
And I wonder, on what is my own gaze fixed? Is it more on myself or God and His Word? Am I focused on my life and wants or is my desire to use whatever I have to point others to Christ?
As I have said over and over in the last couple of commentaries, God is not withholding His wisdom. It is here in His Word, but we must look for it. It’s not about being smart … or memorizing half the Bible … or sitting in Bible studies week after week and filling our heads with knowledge. It’s about faithfully seeking to know Him better through His Word and time spent with Him. And it’s about having a heart to please Him by choosing to obey what we know to do.
Hebrew 5.14 says, “… solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
It is by knowing and obeying that we grow in wisdom and maturity. On the other hand, James 1.22 says if we are hearers, readers, or sitters in Bible study without applying it, we deceive ourselves. We may think we’re mature. We may even be able to quote a lot of Scripture, even stand up and teach a Bible study ourselves, but we are spiritual lightweights! Continue reading →
Jesus gave a pretty serious warning in Matthew 7 when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven …” There are people, sitting in church every Sunday, who believe they are headed for heaven when they’re really in danger of hearing those words, “I never knew you, depart from me …”
Read today’s post to see what won’t save us. Don’t let pride or fear of what people might think keep you from seeking answers if you think that could be you!
Also, read about the importance of removing the logs from our own eyes before we can be any help to others in “Judging Hearts & Log Removal,” what it really means to live “Life on the Rock,” about “God’s Favor,”“Our Higher Standard,” and from our Old Testament reading, “Why did Sarah laugh at the promise of God?”
Verses 1-5 remind us of the dangers of judging the hearts and motives of others (although we are to judge sin and even, at times, to lovingly rebuke one another, more about that in a later commentary).
Verse 5 points out that we must first judge ourselves! We are to see the sins of others as specks in comparison to ours. Our sins are the “logs” or “planks” that keep us from seeing clearly!
Verses 21-23 should serve as a serious warning to us:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”
This passage should remind us that there are many people sitting in churches who think they are right with God, but who Jesus says are in danger of hearing, “I never knew you!”
Believing in God, coming to church, reading your Bible, teaching in church, serving in ministry, taking sacraments, doing good works, prophesying (God spoke through pagans and even a donkey once so this is not a test of spirituality), casting out demons, and doing wonders cannot save you! Continue reading →
Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? Have you recently faced a devastating loss or were the holidays especially difficult? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …
Verse 4.6 says, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Sixteen years previously, doubt, discouragement and opposition had caused the Jews to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was God’s chosen leader and this word from God was meant to be an encouragement to him that they were to finish the task God had given them.
This should be an encouragement to us, as well, when we feel beaten and bruised or when God has called us to some challenge—whether raising a strong-willed child, honoring Christ in the midst of a difficult marriage, growing a ministry, or serving Him in the workplace. It is not by might, not by our own strength or abilities, but through God’s power that we will succeed.
[Tweet “How do you raise a difficult child or handle other challenges? Not by might, but …” #soulsurvival]
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When we come to Him boldly in prayer, He promises to give us the help and the grace we need in every situation.
And James 1.2-7 says:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.