This one was a doozy. I’ve been chewing on this chunk for several days now. There’s a lot to think about here. In the last bit of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us we’re either with Him or against Him. By the way, The Message version of this section is great.
- V13 – The gate to Life is narrow because Jesus is the only way to God.
- V15 – There are some people, even pastors, who “look like Christians but their hearts aren’t ruled by God. Notice that this is right after the “don’t judge” statement. I guess He’s really clarifying that it’s not our job to judge people’s hearts but it is important to not foolishly follow just anyone. This is where the discernment we talked about yesterday really comes into play.
- V15 – My Study Bible says, “False prophets were common in Old Testament times. They prophesied only what the king and the people wanted to hear, claiming it was God’s message.”
- V16-18 – I need to examine myself (Matthew 7:5) and those who are teaching/leading me for good fruit. (See Galatians 5:19-24 for a list of bad fruit and good fruit.)
◊ What are some of the fruits I see in my life?
◊ What is some of the good fruit I see coming out of my leaders and church? I should send them an encouraging email with my answers.
- V19 – Here’s another example like Matthew 5:13 – We’re pretty useless if we aren’t producing good fruit and building the Kingdom.
◊ “Producing good fruit” and “building the kingdom” are kind of abstract phrases. What are some practical, concrete things I can do today to build God’s Kingdom. (See “Read This First” for a reminder that we’re not “working” our way to God, but God is working in us to build His Kingdom.)
- V21 – First Jesus warned about false leaders, now about false disciples. This is a very interesting follow-up to verses 7-8 in this chapter. A person can claim Jesus without ever asking for (or receiving) His Spirit. If His Spirit is in me, I will “do the will of my Father in Heaven.” Which would show up as fruit!
- V21 – It says “who does the will of my Father.” Not who knows the will or talks about the will, but who does the will!
◊ Father help me to take action!
- V22 – This verse is heavy. The people did all these “things” in God’s name, but apparently their hearts were in the wrong place and they didn’t even know God. They didn’t ask, seek, and knock for God’s will, but used God’s name to bring themselves glory. This is a good follow-up to the previous question, which should be not “what can I do?” but “what is God asking me to do?” After falling asleep thinking about this one (at night, not in the middle of my quiet time), I woke up with the realization that even though these people “prophesied, cast out demons, and did mighty works” all in Jesus’ name, which seem like Really good, Biblical things to be doing, Jesus never asks us to do those things. He asked us to make disciples. So if we’re doing lots of things in Jesus’ name but those things aren’t making disciples of Jesus, we’re on the wrong track. Especially if we’re doing them for the attention, or “glory,” that they bring us.
◊ Am I seeking to know God and His will? Am I obedient to His Word and His will? Am I doing things for His glory or my own? (My fruits will give me some clues to these answers.)
- V23 – This verse seems to indicate that these weren’t people with good intentions who were trying to serve God but were people using God’s name to build themselves up. In other words, I don’t think we need to fear “accidentally” falling out of God’ will, but this is an important reminder to check the motives behind my actions and if I find that I am being driven by pride rather than love for God, to offer that to Him and ask for forgiveness and redirection.
- V24 – If the tenets of your faith – your foundation – change with time and popular opinion or your season of life, or your mood, you probably have a sandy, shifting foundation. God doesn’t change. Building your life on Him will give you a firm foundation.
- V24 – When I hear and obey I’m in relationship with God and in love so when storms come we nestle down and ride out the storms together.
- V26 – If I hear Jesus’ words but don’t do them – I could even believe them or frame them and hang them on my wall – but if I don’t do them theres’ a faith/trust/control issue and that’s not a secure relationship.
◊ God what are You asking me to do today?
- V26 – The Message translates “If you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life…” Ouch.
◊ As I’m meditating on God’s word, am I also beginning to obey more? What words have I heard and processed but not obeyed?
◊ King Jesus, help us to hear Your words and do them! Give us courage and strength to be obedient to You. Clean out our ears so we can hear You well. Open our mouths so that others can hear Your words too.
- V28 – This sermon was astonishing! The things Jesus said are so backwards from the way we thing things should work.
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?