Scripture reading for January 9th: Matthew 7
Jesus concluded His message to the people on kingdom living with an encouragement to seek God. They must be people who would be persistent to find what they needed from God. They must ask! They must seek! They must knock! All these verbs are in the continual sense of ‘ask and keep on asking, etc’. “Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:8) God is a loving Father who will give good gifts to those that seek Him!
But Jesus also warned His followers early in His ministry to watch out for false prophets. He likened them to wolves dressed up as a sheep! What an example Jesus used in that rural cultural setting! He told them that they would know the false prophets by their fruit. Bad trees don’t produce good fruit! “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) False prophet may do miracles and prophesy in His Name, but will go to hell!
Every person is building a spiritual house. You can hear the Word of God and not do it! That person is building on the sand! Those that hear and then apply it to their lives are likened to a man building his house on a rock. Storms of life come and test the foundation. Those on the sand collapse under the pressure and are destroyed. Those on the rock survive every storm! Which kind of builder are you?
Scripture reading for January 8th: Matthew 7, Psalm 6, Proverbs 2:9-11
Jesus liked stories that His listeners could identify with. He was good at picking out simple stories that illustrated his teaching. Jesus had been talking about what life in the kingdom of heaven was like and how people who were seeking that kingdom would conduct their lives. Kingdom life is all about living in obedience to God by faith. The world lives by the senses and the flesh and has its own way of doing business. The people of God’s kingdom follow the Lord and His holy word.
In Matthew 7, Jesus covers instructions for some common worldly ways of doing business. His people are not to judge others and condemn them, for with the measure they give, they will be judged. (Matthew 7:1-2) Judging others and finding fault with others is sinful because we cannot know the heart of another person and how they really stand with God. Only God has this ability and it is best left to the One who knows everything perfectly.
God’s people ask Him for their needs. This kind of asking is persistent in that it seeks an answer and knocks hard on God’s door. God promises that one who asks will receive and find an open door. God is good and willing to be entreated, but this doesn’t mean He is like a heavenly slot machine that dispenses miracles according to a formula. God is a loving Father who knows all things and sometimes answers in ways we did not expect or even says “no” or “not now”.
Jesus warned his followers to stick close to His teaching and to Him because the gate is narrow leading to life and few find it. Jesus is that gate! (John 10:7) The broad way is heavily populated and many are on their way to destruction. In fact, those who hear the word and obey it, putting it into practice are likened to a builder who built on a rock. The house will stand against any storm. Those who hear but don’t apply His teaching are like those who build on the sand. A storm comes and the house comes down with a great crash! (Matthew 7:24-27) Just hearing the teaching is not enough. The key is in applying the word to daily life. Our house are being built daily. Is yours on a rock or sand? A great storm is coming!