Category Archives: Commitment to God

A Faithful Saying

1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to lifeverlasting.

A faithful saying is one that will never fail, never be proven wrong and will never change. You can depend on it from dusk to dawn, from Monday until Sunday, from January 1st until December 31st for every single year you are alive. The saying is faithful for your children, your grandchildren and all future generations. It is true for your aunts and uncles, your friends, your enemies, your coworkers and even the clerks in Walmart. A faithful saying applies to everyone, every day at any time.

Another faithful saying is that the sun will rise, and it will set. Or the stars will shine tonight, even though we may not see them because of the clouds. It is a faithful saying to say that winter, spring, summer and fall will come about this year. It is a faithful saying that we will all grow older and eventually die. There are very few faithful sayings that are of this world. But if God said it, it is a faithful saying. It will happen, or it is true, or it did happen. There is no might, maybe, probably or perhaps about it. He is the author of truth and He is faithful and His word is faithful.

This saying is faithful to the rich, poor, fat, skinny, old, young, white, black, yellow, red. It is faithful in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. It is faithful in wind, cold, warm, hot, rain, snow, hail, sleet, cloudy or clear. It is faithful in your home, at work, in your car, in your church, at play and when alone. This saying is faithful when you are tired, angry, sorrowful, impatient, lonely, happy, peaceful, sick, well, or miserable. In any situation, at any time, in any mood or trial, it is faithful. It can be trusted to do what it is intended to do.

This saying is worthy of all acceptance. You can accept it wherever you are, whenever you want and whoever you are. It is acceptable to the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame and the leper. It’s worthy of acceptance if you are sick, have cancer, downs syndrome, AIDS, lymphoma, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or any other disease. It is acceptable to all in the North, South, East or West. No matter what your situation, where you have been or where you are now, this saying is worth accepting.

What is this saying that applies in every and all situations in Life? This saying that never fails and always applies? This saying that is faithful to the end and above repute?
This saying is that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners! There is no saying that anyone can say that is more true than that. This is why Jesus came. He did not come to be made a King, or a healer, or a deliverer, or a raiser of the dead or a great teacher. He did all of those things, but that is not the main reason He came. He came to save sinners.

He came to earth from heaven’s glory and was born in a manger, meek and mild. He was raised by a carpenter and learned the value of hard work. He knew at a young age that there was something special about Him as He questioned the very teachers in the temple when He was twelve (Luke 2:41-52). But that did not go to His head because he knew why He had come. He submitted to John the Baptist even though John knew he was the greater of the two (Matthew 3:14). When the heaven’s opened and His heavenly Father said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17) Jesus did not let it go to His head and declare Himself something special because He knew why He came. When people started to be healed and follow Him, He did not get dreams of being great because He knew why He came.

He came to be cursed and beaten. He came be whipped with a Roman cat-o-nine tails. He came to receive a crown of thorns. He came to be rejected by the people. He came
to be judged by Pilate and Herod. He came to be condemned by His own followers. He came to have His disciples run away. He came to carry a cross down an old rocky street. He came to have nails put in His hands and feet. He came to drink vinegar and have a spear pushed into His side. He came to have His Father turn aside when all of our sins were laid on Him. He took all this for your sins.

He was the sinless sacrifice given by God for all of our sins. The required Lamb that was perfect. All of our scars, all of our pain, all of our hurt was laid on Him on that cross. For the first time in all of eternity He was alone. Alone, hurting with pain He had never felt before and with blood gushing out from several parts of His body All the emotion and all the suffering He went through was why He came. The sacrifice of the spotless Lamb was necessary for the remission of sins, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). His blood was shed in place of yours and mine.

On that cross, in all that pain and suffering, alone and worn, He spoke. He spoke words that come down through the annals of time and touch every single person on this earth. He spoke words that are faithful and worthy of acceptance. He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He said that about those standing around the cross looking at Him, about the soldiers that were standing guard and about those who were gambling for His garment. He also said it about you and me. Oh what grace! Oh what mercy! That He would speak out and forgive me from that cross.

Then He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). The reason He came was complete. There was no more to do for our salvation. It was done right then and there. We cannot buy it, earn it, work for it or borrow it. It is ours when we accept it. It does not just magically save you from your sin without your acceptance. It is worthy of your acceptance and must be accepted by you in order to cover your sin.

This sacrifice that He gave covers every person, no matter what they did. The murderer, the rapist, the sex offender, the violent, the thief, the deceiver, the mocker, the unbeliever. It is faithful and acceptable for all. No matter how bad, as Paul says he was the chief of sinners. He had killed Christians. He had taken them captive and delivered them to judgment. He terrorized the church. Yet it was faithful for him. It was acceptable for him. It is for you as well.

We most likely will not suffer like Paul suffered for Christ. Shipwrecks, stoning, beatings, near death experiences, mocking, rejection and many other things followed Paul everywhere he went. The pattern of suffering he went through was to let us know this walk with God will not be a bed of roses. It is not all on the mountaintop. We often go into the valley where it is much more difficult and we don’t see the mountaintop clearly. The valley can be a time of sickness or pain or depression or loneliness. The valley is a tough place to be.

The valley is also the place where life is. It is the place where waters flow and birds sing. It is the place where flowers bloom and trees sway in the breeze. The mountaintop is barren and cold. It is lifeless. When we are in the valley, it is a time of growth. It is where God is working on us whether we see it or not. It is a place where He walks with us and talks with us. The valley is a wonderful place to be.

Have you accepted the faithful saying? Have you acknowledged that Jesus Christ died for your sins? Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? If you have, I am grateful and thrilled for you. You have entered into the life that God has prepared for you and it will be a magnificent journey. There will be mountains and valleys but you will trust in God and come through every trial with joy and peace. You know He is in control and you just have to put Him in the driver’s seat and enjoy the ride. It’s a good ride!

If you have not, why not ask Him today. Simply pray and acknowledge that you are a sinner. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. Ask Him to come into your life. Ask Him to be Lord of your life. It’s that simple. After you pray that get out your Bible, or borrow one, and read John in the New Testament. Then go back and start with Matthew and read through the New Testament. Find a good church and some Christians to fellowship with. You have just entered into new life! Enjoy it!

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Does God Count You Faithful?

1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I like to take credit. I like to think I did something myself. It was me who read the Bible and gained the knowledge I have. It was me who began to understand how the Old and New Testament worked together., It was me who figured out how the scripture applies to everyday life. I wrote all these poems and songs through the years. The moving of the Holy Spirit is due to my ability and expertise in putting a worship service together. All these years, I have been slaving away for God and coming up with these thoughts and ideas on how God works in our lives. I did it. Me!

That paragraph is the definition of pride. I did it. I accomplished it. I figured it out. This is where I lived for years, and truly believed the sayings in that paragraph. It caused me to start top think I could disregard all that I had learned and do what I wanted to do. After all, I had done it all for God!

But I soon fell hard, lost my job and almost my family and had to take inventory on my spiritual life. What I found out was what Paul says here. God has enabled me. I do not have the ability within myself to do the things above. It is God in me and through me. That is the only way these things can minister the way they do. That is the only way the right words can get on paper that will touch hearts and heal up wounds of the soul.

You see, I was once very much like Paul. I certainly was a blasphemer, a breaker of all the commandments, a drunkard and drug addict and a person who could care less about God. My own way was the way I would go and no one could tell me I was in the wrong. I had walked away from God in high school and had no plans on coming back to Him. I was a persecutor, maybe not of the saint, but of everyone around me. I would put down, speak badly of, and try to hurt with words anyone that wronged me. I was a smaller guy and not a physical specimen, so I relied on a quick wit. This also made me injurious, like Paul. My words could injure peoples spirits and hearts quicker than a dart being thrown at them. The bigger problem is that they could dodge a dart, but could not avoid my stinging words.

Then grace came in. Love came in. Faith came in. Somehow I found myself driving to Iowa to see my best friend. Clear out of the blue I had decided to make the 1300 mile drive from Massachusetts to Iowa. When I arrived at his house, we had a great reunion, having not seen each other for over a year. He was a Christian, and had tried to sway me a year earlier at our high school reunion. It didn’t work, but it also did not hurt our friendship. Here I was on His doorstep in Iowa. Through the last year we had sent letters back and forth and each one of his letters had a scripture address on it. I had to look it up to see what he was saying. He was a sly old fox (well, not that old. He was a week older than me).

Then he said come to church with us tonight, and I said OK. I had no problem going with him, just don’t give me any of that salvation stuff. Don’t tell me I need saving. I was doing just fine. And I was so wrong. That minister, who was a missionary home on leave, told me I was headed for a burning hell. I did not want to go there! Then he told me there was only one way to avoid it, and that was Jesus Christ, I wanted Jesus. Jesus took me into His arms later that week and saved my soul. His grace covered me completely.

Now He enables me. I do everything I can to keep my thoughts out of this blog, out of the poetry, out of the songs that fill the pages of my web sites. I seek God’s wisdom and His words for these pages, not mine. I have nothing of value to give except my life. These are His words, His thoughts, His songs. I claim no ownership.

Since He has enabled me, it is now up to me to be an open conduit. He has put me into this ministry and now I need to allow His message to flow through me out to you. Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means God gives us the ability to shut it down or make it flow. We can muzzle the message God gives us to share. We can say “God gave this to me and I’m not going to share it!” We absolutely can. But I do no want to be that person.

My heart’s desire is to be counted faithful. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The words, songs, melodies and so on come from God. He has given them, for some reason I will never understand, to me. He entrusted me with the ability to hear His voice, and I for one want to make sure He will say I did it well. I could care less if anyone on this earth says the same. I am aware that very few hear God the way I hear Him. Very few have learned to listen as He has taught me to. He holds me accountable for those things He has entrusted to me.

What about you? What gift, or gifts, has God given to you? What talents do you possess? What are you doing with them? I suggest you make a list of all the gifts and talents God has bestowed on you. Some will have just a few items they can think of, others might have many dozen. Pray about it and be thorough. Once you have compiled your list, take each item one by one and ask God if you are doing a good job with that talent. If you’re like me, there are some you are doing well with and others you need to do better.

After this is done, ask God to help you do a better job of ministering in the areas where He has gifted you. Ask Him to enable you to reach more, teach more, love more and touch more. Ask Him to make your light shine so that you might bring Him glory. Give yourself as a living sacrifice for Him so that you might prove the will of God is alive in your life. Be vigilant in your ministry and never back down. This world needs you!

Use the Law Lawfully

1 Timothy 1:8-11

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Today our cities are being torn apart by the unlawful use of the law. We have seen many riots in the streets because law enforcement officers are suspected of using unnecessary force against people of different color than they are, They are accused of paying closer attention to infractions that minorities commit than the majority commits. They are accused of playing favorites between their own race and those of a different race. It is thought that the over zealous actions of the police has resulted in a large majority of minorities in prison, not because they commit more crimes, but because the police concentrate more on catching them. This is a perfect case of using the law unlawfully. The law is not a respecter of persons. The law should be applied to everyone equally and not single out anyone of one race or one social class. The law should be pure and undefiled. The law should be used lawfully!

In this plea to Timothy, Paul is addressing the fact that many well-intentioned Jews were trying to make the Corinthians live under parts of the law after they had been converted. They were saying that circumcision must be done to truly be a child of God. It is an old case of works vs. grace. They claimed you must do something to earn your salvation. They taught that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough to receive a pardon from God and be adopted into His family.

The fallacy of the necessity of works for salvation is still alive today. There is nothing in the Gospels or the writing of Paul, Peter, James, John or anyone else in the Bible that says we must do something to earn our salvation. The gospel is a simple message. Jesus said God loved the world so much He gave His Son so whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). The key word is “Believes”. That is all it takes. Faith. Pure and simple. Paul wrote that we are saved by faith through grace (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is given to us so we can have the faith to accept Christ’s sacrifice. Paul goes on to say it is not works that saves us (Ephesians 2:9). This is because if we were saved by works we would tend to become full of pride that we were saved because we found favor with God through our works, and that pride would puff us up. Romans 10:9-10 says if we confess Jesus Christ with our mouth and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead we will be saved. Once again, no mention of works is made.

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. It is a free gift from God. If you have been trying to earn God’s favor, you will never be able to do it. All you need to do is accept it, accept His sacrifice for your sins, accept that He rose from the dead to give you eternal live. Believe it! Have faith in God and His word. Paul goes on to say here that the Jewish law is what was given to show us our sin – it is for the unsaved. It was given to teach us what sin is. The heathen nations around that area had all kinds of ungodly mannerisms and practices that God did not want His people practicing. So He gave them the law to give them an idea of what holiness was.

Now once you are saved, you have a responsibility to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Jesus says if we do not do the commands of the Father, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). You cannot just get saved ands go on your merry way. Grace covers a lot, but Paul tells us that we should stop sinning. We have no right to keep sinning so He will shed more grace on us
(Romans 6:1-2)

There is preaching out there that once you are saved, you are always saved. The Bible does not support that idea. John 10:28-30 tells us that no one can snatch you out of the Fathers hand., But that does not mean that you can’t leave on your own. You have a choice. You can decide to leave God’s safety by not following His word and walking away from repentance when you do disobey. His grace reaches a long way, and it will reach you no matter how far away you might get. But if you decide you don’t want to be reached, that is your choice. If you decide you will not follow what He has said, then you are in danger. Repent!

There are a lot of other teaching out there that say we must do something on top of our confession of faith in order to truly be saved. Paul says it is the glorious Gospel, the simple gospel that will save us, not laws. Let us never be ones to put burdens on new converts saying they must do more. Let us encourage them in the faith and show them the way to grow in their newfound faith. Faith that came by grace. Grace that saved their souls

Where is Your House Built

Matthew 7:24-27

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

This is probably one of the most familiar little stories of Jesus. We sang it as a children’s song when we were young and I would guess all of us believe we know the meaning of this verse. We tell people we have built our house upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ and the wind and waves of life cannot topple our house. We think of Him as our great foundation, holding us up by His word and His promises. What more can I possible say about this verse to give it deeper meaning?

Jesus was a great orator. We don’t often think of Him like that. We think of His healing and miracles, about His parables and stories, and about the price He paid for us. We think about His birth, His baptism and His death and resurrection. We think about blind eyes being open, the dead rising up, lepers healed and demons cast out. But we don’t give much thought to what a great speaker He was.

I have seen many great speakers in my life. Zig Ziglar, Colin Powell, Brian Tracy, Billy Graham and many others have awed crowds with their use of the right words to motivate others and get their message across. I have been in Toastmasters for over 30 years and have won many a speech contest, once taking the Iowa Table Topics contest 1st place trophy. There are elements that make a speech great, and the conclusion is the most important.

The conclusion must make an appeal for action to the listener based upon everything else the speaker has said. It should sum up in a few short sentences what the speaker is trying to get the audience to understand and should leave them with a desire to do what the speaker is asking them to do. We’ve all seen preachers who “close” their sermons three or four times before it is finally over. This is not great speaking, but it can be effective. Here, Jesus closes once.

This little analogy is very powerful and very specific. It is about doing what Christ has asked us to do in the previous three chapters. It is about following through with all that He has said, not just part of it. Jesus does not want us to flounder and fall into the waves that life will toss at us. He wants us to have that solid foundation that is based on His word. This is a foundation that the world is trying to do away with. The world does not want to have a standard of morality. The world does not want anyone to tell them what is right and wrong.

Jesus says the choice is simple. You either follow the words He has said and stay on a solid foundation or you don’t do what he says and you fall. Real simple, real precise. The Sermon on the Mount is a revealing of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and we best heed His words and do His words if we want to be a part of that kingdom for all time. What Jesus reveals to us is God’s will for our lives. This is how God desires that we should live here on this earth. This is how we should treat one another – not just our brother, but everyone. This is the standard, this is the way. In our last lesson we went through all the various things Christ taught us in Chapter 5. Let’s move on now and review Chapters 6 & 7.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to keep our giving to ourselves and not let others know what we are doing. We shouldn’t even let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. He says our prayer lives should be private, not public. They should be personal, not vain repetitions.. He teaches us a pattern of prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, then He tells us we should forgive or our father in heaven will not forgive us. That should be enough to get your attention! Jesus next addresses fasting, telling us we should not let others know we are fasting by our appearance, but make sure we look good even though we are fasting. It’s none of their business! He tells us that the most important treasure we can store up is that which we have in heaven not on this earth. What a contrary statement to the worlds thinking this is! He explains how we must be singularly focused on the Light and not darkness, and that we can only serve one master. Then He explains how important it is to trust God for the daily necessities and focus our attention first on the Kingdom of heaven. We should not worry what tomorrow will bring. That’s a lot to take in from one speech and we still have another chapter to go!

In Matthew 7 He starts out by telling us not to judge others. We have enough troubles of our own to figure out. We should take care of our own faults before trying to fix someone else’s. Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking if you want an answer to pray is Jesus next point. We are told to do good things for each other, and He gives us the Golden Rule. He tells us the narrow gate leads to life. This narrow gate is at the end of a path that is straight and follows His words. He also says the broad gate has many people going to it because they do not want to follow His Word and stay on the straight path. We then are warned of false prophets and are told we will know them by what they produce. They are very deceptive, and we must be diligent. We must do the will of the Father or Christ will say He never knew us on that day when He returns. The will of the Father is all in this Sermon.

The conclusion is that we have a choice. We can choose to live out all the things that Christ taught us in Matthew 5-7 or we can choose to just do what we want to do and maybe follow some things but not others. We can strive to please the Father or we can aim to please ourselves. This is our choice. Jesus tells us that if we will follow His Word then we shall have a solid foundation to stand on. Our lives will be built on the rock, and no storm will be able to knock us down. This is a promise that there will be storms, and what we do with Jesus’s words will determine how well we will survive those storms.

Or we can choose to just go our own way and follow what we choose to follow. If we make that choice, our house is built on sand, which shifts whenever the tide comes in. There is no solidity to it. There is no sure foundation, but it changes all the time., When the storms come in, the sand can wash away, leaving us trying to stand up with little or no foundation. I do not want to ever be in that place. I want to be where I can firmly stand.

Please never take this story away from the previous three chapters and all that Jesus tells us we should be doing. God desires us to be so strong in the storm that our light will shine for all to see. He wants us to be a lighthouse to a lost and dying world because they are floundering in the storms with no foundation. They have chosen their own way and are falling farther down all the time. They need us to reach out and grab them by the hand and pull them back up on the firm foundation.

Will you be there for them, standing on the Rock?

Not Everyone

Matthew 7:21-23

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Of all the things Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, this is probably the most controversial and the most ignored. I will admit that for years I thought I was headed for heaven because I was working hard in the church, leading worship, doing evangelistic work, writing songs and choruses and being faithful to my local church. I prophesied on occasion, prayed for the sick and they were healed and did all kinds of wonderful works. Surely I was headed for heaven!

These words of Jesus “Not every one” should be taken literally. There are many who will come to Him at the judgment seat thinking they have done all these things for Him and in His name, only to be disappointed and asked to leave. Jesus will say He never even knew them. Those words will surprise many in that day. All these people worked hard in the church and thought they were all set. They had paid their dues. They had punched their ticket. They loved God and worked for Him all their lives. Why would Jesus say He never knew them?

Let’s look back quickly and see what He has taught us so far in this amazing sermon. First are the beatitudes, where He says we should be poor in spirit, we should mourn, we should be hungry for righteousness, we should be meek, we should be merciful and pure in heart. We are to be peacemakers and we should rejoice if we are persecuted for His name. Many of us can’t get past these first twelve verses in following what Jesus says is the Fathers will. This whole sermon tells us what the will of the Father is. This whole message, laid out methodically and with purpose, shows us the narrow road that brings us into God’s will.

Next, we are to be salt and light to a lost and dying world. We are to shine our light so God will be glorified, not us. Our righteousness should be better than the religious leaders. We should not be putting them on any type of pedestal and thinking we do not have to live up to that same standard. We must watch our anger and not call someone a fool. We must take the initiative to settle our differences swiftly. We must not lust after the opposite sex at all. We must not allow offenses to enter our body at any time. We should not divorce, for God instated marriage to be a life-long commitment. We should not make an oath that we will not fulfill, but just say yes or no when someone asks us something. We should go the extra mile and lend the extra clothes. We should bless those who persecute us and love our enemies. We should be perfect in these things and in God’s sight. This is all in Chapter 5.

I am not going to review all of Chapters 6 and 7 at this time, but if you want to see what Jesus was leading up to here, you should go back and read it for yourself. The Sermon on the Mount is one long message about what the will of God is. Jesus does not leave us wondering what it is. He does not tell us that we must do the Father’s will and then not explain what that means. I hear people going around all the time who say “I just don’t know what God’s will is for my life.” Here it is, in black and white. This is the pattern for everyone. If we don’t get this right, Jesus will say He never knew us.

Do I have it all figured out? No, I don’t. Everyday new truths explode in on me, helping me get through this life day by day/ Little by little He reveals my imperfections and starts to work on them. One by one, He shows me the areas of my life that still need to be molded and shaped into His image. Doing the Father’s will is also allowing Him unlimited access to my life, to mold and transform me into His image. I have a choice to make and so do you. Will I listen to the Holy Spirit when He speaks into an area of my life? Will I allow the Word to become a sword that will pierce me through and separate my desires and wants from the desire I have for Godly things? Will I let change happen in my life when He speaks to me to change?

This is a lifelong process. Salvation does not happen in a day. We are saved through grace by faith on the day we accept Christ as our Savior. On that day, we are bound for heaven. At that moment the transformation is real. From that moment on, it is up to us to work out that salvation into every nook and cranny of our lives. If we came to Jesus as a drunkard, God will appoint a time for that to be gone. If we come as a drug addict, He will work on that in His time. If we came as a prostitute, as the woman taken in adultery did, God tells us to go and sin no more once we are forgiven. We can no longer walk in sin.

Walking in the will of God is hot hard, but it is demanding. Jesus says here that if we are not doing our all to live our lives according to the Father’s will, He will say He never knew us. That should cause us to look hard at our lives right away. It should cause us to want to do everything we can to bring our lives in line with what we have been taught in the scriptures. If we are not doing that, we will miss the kingdom of heaven. I for one do not want to miss the mark! How about you?

Bear Good Fruit

Matthew 7:15-20

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them

Genetic engineering these days is fascinating. I remember quite a few years ago visiting the Land O’ Lakes Answer Farm in Duncombe, Iowa. I was there to write an article for an Ag Issue our local shopper did every year. When I asked them what they did there, I was amazed. The have a weed plot across the street from the main facility. On this weed plot were several different types of weeds that corn can come up against as it develops. They test various chemicals to see what will work best against that weed to kill it’s growth.

Another thing that fascinated me back in the early 1980’s when I visited with them was how they worked with the corn to make it resistant against pests. Those of you who don’t know farming don’t realize how many different pests there can be out there. These pests attached themselves to the seedling or the stalk and can eat through it and destroy it. There is a constant search for the most resistant seeds.

Genetic engineering in plants has come a long way since then. I’m sure the same strategies are also used in apples and oranges and other crops. They are used for livestock as well. Anything to get a better yield. But no matter how much genetic engineering they do, a corn plant will always yield corn, and apple tree will always produce apples and a cow will always give birth to a cow. You will know them by their fruit!

In the creation account found in Genesis, one of the things that is said about the vegetation is that it has it’s seed inside itself (Gen 1:11). All living things are this way. The seed inside is what is seen as the fruit outside. That seed is what is reproduced by the plant or animal. God put the seed inside so that when anything comes forth from that particular plant or animal, you would know what kind of animal it is from what is produced. It’s a principal we all take for granted and easily overlook.

Jesus says to be careful we do not fall for the deception of false prophets. There are many who are preaching a false gospel in the world today. I know I have a Catholic friend reading who believes the Protestant church is a false doctrine. I would say the same of the Catholic Church. We disagree wholeheartedly and have had lengthy conversation about the subject. I will not get into that argument today. I preach Christ and Him crucified. That is the central message of the Gospel that we must stick to. It is when we veer off the track that we can easily get into false doctrine.
For example, those who say that we are saved by grace, and once we are saved we can go our merry way and not follow Christ are preaching false doctrine. Christ tells us we must follow His commands to get to heaven (this is part of the next lesson). The woman taken in adultery had her sins forgiven, but Jesus also told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11). We cannot accept Christ and ask Him for forgiveness only to pick up those sins again. Once He cleanses us, we must stay cleansed. Philippians 2:12 tells us we must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” God helps us along the way but we have an obligation to Him to walk in the Light as He is in the Light (1 John 1:7). There is nowhere that the Bible says this is optional.

There are others who say if you are not baptized by immersion your will not go to heaven. They say that your salvation is not complete until that baptism takes place. This is false doctrine. If that is true, than they are also saying that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough to save you. I’m here to tell you that His sacrifice is enough. He gave His life so you could be saved. He did not say you had to be baptized as well.

There are many other preachers out there who bear the testimony of false prophets. Anyone who says you do not have to follow Christ’s teaching is a false prophet. Anyone who says the Bible is antiquated and we have to take it with a grain of salt is a false prophet. I hear there is a new movie coming out named “Corpus Christi” in which Christ and His disciples are pictured as homosexuals. False prophets for sure. The New Apostolic Reformation is one to really be careful of and stay away from. There are many false teaching in this church that closely mimic truth.

Jesus said we shall know false teachers by their fruit. The problem we have today is that many false doctrines so closely mimic the truth, a lot of the fruit looks real good to eat of. The NAR is a great example. Many of these churches are thriving and growing even though they teach so many things contrary to scripture. Their fruit looks good. Many churches that have been walking in the truth for years are falling for the deception. These are perilous times. Jesus said in the last days even many of the elect will be deceived (Matt 24:24). So how do we know?

You shall know them by their fruits. If what they are saying glorifies God and the Word of God, that is good fruit. If they are preaching Christ crucified as the way to heaven, that is good fruit. If they are preaching the resurrection as a way to eternal life, that is good fruit. If the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) is evidence in their lives that is good fruit. If they adhere to the tenants of scripture and don’t make up their own gospel, that is good fruit.

Those who are bearing false witness and putting forth bad fruit will eventually meet with judgment. Christ says they will be hewn down and cast into the fire. I believe that he means what He says. Anyone who says there is no hell, and God will not send anyone to hell is a false prophet. Christ is pretty clear here and in many other places where he spoke of the torments of hell. When we deny there is a hell, that is false teaching because it does not line up with what Christ taught.

Anyone who says you can be a part of the kingdom of heaven without being born again is a false prophet. Jesus was very emphatic. He said “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3). That sounds pretty straightforward to me! How can we believe anything else? Anything else goes against what Jesus said and is false teaching. The fruit we must look for is if it lines up with what Jesus said. He said He is the way. The Baptist church is not the way. The Mormon church is not the way. The Catholic church is not the way. Your church is not the way, nor is your denomination. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except by Him (John 14:6). That is what He said and that is truth. Anything that says different is false teaching and we must beware.

The last part of this post is just as important. Make sure your fruit is good fruit. Make sure you are teaching and preaching the things that Christ did and that His Word still does today. Make sure you are doing good works, saying things that minister grace and thinking on those things that are good. Make sure you are walking in the Holy Spirit every day, seeking His guidance. The previous two and a half chapters tell us what good fruit is. Be fruitful!

The Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:13-14

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

It saddens me to see what is going on in the church as a whole these days, and I think it saddens God as well. When the church was established, a standard was set by our Lord Jesus Christ that we live above the world, yet in the world. That we should turn our backs from the worlds ways and follow Him, even if it means turning away from our family and friends (Luke 9:23, Matthew 10:38). We are to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). We are to put away the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life because they are not of God (1 John 2:16).

Let’s start with one of the most glaring of the attacks against the church in our times: the LBGTQ (hope I didn’t miss a letter) community. Churches are folding left and right to this group of people. This community is bent on having to be accepted as they are, no questions asked, in every capacity the church has to offer. Ordained, youth leaders, deacons, marriage counselors – every area. They are determined to make same sex marriage be OK and demand it be performed by anyone they might decide to ask. They are determined to make Christians go against their moral foundation to serve them, even if they can get the service easily somewhere else. It is eroding the very fabric of our society.

The bible is clear on what the narrow gate is here. The narrow gate is traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The narrow gate is cleaving to one another for a lifetime. The narrow gate is to love one another through good times and bad, sickness and health, richer or poorer, until death do we part. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate is just give up because we don’t love each other anymore. The wide gate is marry anyone you like, no matter what sex they are. The wide gate is fool around and swing with as many as you want. The wide gate is the world and it leads to destruction. It destroys lives of the parents, lives of the children and the fabric of our society. More and more you see kids with two sets of parents. More and more you see children to apart by a world that has no sound foundation. The church has as many divorces as the world outside. Why? This should not be so – not by a long shot. The wide gate is everywhere. The wide gate leads to destruction

Then there is the acceptance of these individuals in the LBGTQ community. Many denominations have decided they are due every right and privilege that anyone else has. The Methodist church is riddled with this philosophy, and their churches are falling left and right. Lawsuits are brought against churches, schools and businesses who don’t fall to their demands, and the3y are being won. Our legal system has even said they are OK.

The narrow gate is that God created make and female (Gen 1:27). There are no more than two sexes, and the difference can be seen anatomically. God did that so there would be no doubt which was which. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate is be whoever you want to be and we will make sure this world will give you all it’s benefits. The wide gate is to not let parents talk to their children about being male and female as they were born, but to let them go the way they want to and just grin and bear. The wide gate is to turn aside and do nothing, say nothing and hear nothing as we slowly drift from the standard that our society has believed for it’s entire existence. The wide gate leads to destruction.

Then there is the question of creationism vs evolution. Evolution was theorized in in 1859 in Charles Darwin’s Book “The Origin of the Species.” The scientific community latched onto this idea because it could explain God out of the picture – they loved it. Evolution says that man evolved over millions years from protozoa in the ocean. He was the first to speculate the age of the earth was that long. In the 1927 the Big Bang Theory stated that the universe came out of one big simultaneous event, something Augustine said back in the 4th century. Augustine said it was God. Now the scientific community had to take one more stab at God. Taking Genesis out of the picture by saying it is a false account also takes God out of the picture of being in charge. Creation says the earth is 13.7 million years old

The narrow gate says God created the Heaven’s and the Earth (Gen 1:1) out of nothing, in essence a Big Bag. The narrow gate says the earth is 6,000 years old as the Bible says. The narrow gate says man was created individual, as were the animals and the plants. The narrow gate says that God did it all in six days. The narrow gate says we have dominion over all the earth. The narrow gate says the Light came before the Sun and the Moon. The Light is Jesus and He was here from the beginning. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate says we are just descended from apes. The wide gate says we are no better than the plants and animals, and that we should make sure they are protected above all else. The wide gate says we are not valuable. The wide gate says that man is capable of destroying what God created. The wide gate says that Genesis just cannot be taken as truth, we must believe man’s wisdom and not God’s The wide gate deems man’s wisdom to be higher than God’s in all things. The wide gate leads to destruction.

The last I will mention is morality. What is moral? What is just? What is right and what is wrong? Answers to these questions are challenged everyday by man. They are challenged everyday by a society that moves farther and farther away from any standard of living. They are deteriorating at a rapid rate around the world.

The narrow gate says that God has a standard. That standard is the Ten Commandments. Then there is the Golden Rule on top of that. If we could love by these two rules, all other rules would be unnecessary. The narrow gate says God’s ways are moral and right. The narrow gate says God executes judgment. The narrow gate leads to life.

The wide gate says that anything goes. The wide gate says that we do not have to be oral by any standard that already exists. We can make the standard as we go, The wide gate says whatever you think is right and Ok is right for you. The wide gate has no foundation in any kind of truth. The narrow gate leads to destruction

These are just a few things we have to consider. There are many more. What it boils down to is whether we believe the Word of God or not. Today, man is exalting his wisdom above Gods wisdom. In our schools our children are taught man’s wisdom, not God’s. It is sad and it is so wrong. As we trust more and more in man’s wisdom in our schools and our churches, more and more people will head to the wide gate.

Which gate are you headed toward? Are you walking in the wisdom of this world You are headed to the wide gate. Are you accepting this worlds idea of moral behavior? You are walking toward the wide gate. Are you discounting the truths of the Bible for what man says happened all those years ago? You are walking toward the wide gate.
Are you trusting in the Lord and His Word for the wisdom you walk in? You are walking toward the narrow gate. Are you walking in the morality God set forth in His word? You are walking toward the narrow gate. Are you a believer in the Genesis account and all the truths delivered there? You are walking toward the narrow gate.

And, last but most important. Are you a born again, Spirit filled, bible reading, praying and worshiping Christian, walking in the word and doing everything you can to obey it’s precepts? Have you accepted the atoning blood of Christ as your sacrifice for sin? Have you asked God to forgive your sins and have you repented and left them behind you? Are you a witness to His mercy and grace with all you come in contact with? Are you eagerly awaiting His return, knowing He could come any moment? You are walking toward the narrow gate!

The wide gate leads to destruction. The narrow gate leads to life.