Thursday, November 7, 2013

Matthew 7

Jesus continues with the "Sermon On The Mount" teaching respect to man's relation to others.  He warns against judging others, teaches persistent praying, to watch out for false prophets and reminds us to be wise as we obey God's Word.

Matthew 7:1-6 - Humble Hearts

To judge means to form opinion without weighing the evidence.  Jesus warns against judging other or we ourselves will be judged by the same standards.  We are to be humble, gentle, and patient.  "Love your neighbor as yourselves." - Gal. 5:14.  Before judging others we need to examine ourselves and fix our problems first.  We are not condemn or we will be condemned.  We are to forgive and then we will be forgiven.  "Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap..  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Luke 6:38.

"Do not judge" doesn't mean that Christians can never express their opinions.  Jesus wants us to discern between spiritual truth and falsehood.  It means we should not condemn.  Not all judging is wrong, only that which is hypocritical.  "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." - John 7:24. 

These verses teach what we can judge:
Matthew 18:15-17 - other believers who sin against us.  If we see a fault with another, we are to first examine ourselves.  If a brother has sinned against you, go speak to him and if he doesn't listen then take another with you.  If he still doesn't listen, take him to the church.  If he still doesn't listen, then treat him as a pagan.  When you do something wrong, wouldn't you want someone to tell you?  When we judge another believer, we not to be critical, but restoring.  We need to hold each other accountable and always with love and humility.
Gal. 1:8 - tells us we can judge people who do not preach the truth.
Gal. 6:1-5 - believers who are caught in a sin, but to do it gently.
2 John 7-11 - people who do not acknowledge Jesus.

Jesus referred to some unbelievers as dogs - those who mock the truth and are unwilling to listen to the pearls of God's truth.  They reject God.  Matt. 7:6 says we should not impose the truth on others even if we are right if they don't value the truth and are unwilling to listen.  We can't force them to believe and we are just wasting our time.  The only thing we can do is to live a holy life as an example to the unbeliever and let them see Jesus in you.  That is a better witness that harsh critical condemning words. 

Believers are called to be discerning, but not condemning, when we relate to others.

What relationship are you approaching with a judgmental spirit?
Will you ask God to reveal this to you?
Where is your heart?  Is it full of legalism, grace, or humility?
What part does kindness play in your attitude toward others?

Matthew 7:7-12 - Persistent Prayer

There are three stages of prayer:  Ask, Seek, Knock. 
Ask - This is dependence on God.  God wants a relationship with us even though He already knows what we ask ever before we ask.  He wants us to talk with Him.
Seek - This is a yearning for God.  When we seek God, we are earnestly seeking Him and focusing on Him.  We look for Him expecting to find Him as well as answers to our prayers.
Knock - This is to be persistent.  Keep on praying and never give up. 

Do you persistently pray for something or have you given up?  Remember God answers prayers in His timing, not ours.

"If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matt. 7:11.  Does this mean He will not answer prayers of unbelievers?  No.  We are all evil and it is only by the grace of God that He has forgiven us making us righteous by the blood of Jesus.  Remember no one is perfect, only Jesus.

Like a parent, God already know what His children need and what is best for them.  You don't give your children everything they ask for, because you know what they need and what is best.  We don't get everything we ask for from God, because He knows what we need.  Sometimes He gives us suffering and desperation to draw us closer to Him.

Jesus tells us in verses 12 to do everything to others as you want them to do to you.  This is known as the "Golden Rule".  This is hard to do sometimes.  We can't do it without God.  Jesus said the greatest law is to love God.  We can't show true love for Him unless we love others as ourselves.

God the Father gives wisdom, discernment, and love for others through persistent prayer.

Do you pray persistently?
Will you ask god for His best plan?
Will you ask Him to help you follow the Golden Rule?

Matthew 7:13-29 - Discerning Decisions

Jesus tells us "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the    road that leads to destruction, and many will enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." - Matt. 7:14.  Narrow is Jesus.  He is the only way to heaven.  To follow Him is hard, but leads to eternity.  Jesus said, "I am the truth the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father, except through me." - John 14:6.

Jesus warns us to watch out for false prophets.  We can identify them as wolves in sheep's clothing and by their fruits (Matt. 7:14-20).  We should not be fooled by their outward appearances.  They distort the truth to gain disciples (Acts 20:29-30), they deny the Lord bringing destruction on themselves (2 Peter 2:1-2). 

We are to test them to be sure if they are from God (1 John 4:1).  We should pay attention to the way they live.  Do they show righteousness and humility in the way they live?  Is their teaching the true Word of God?  Are people growing in their faith because of them or are they falling away?

These false prophets do not know Jesus (Matt. 7:23), they do not do what He says (Luke 6:46), they do not have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:40-43), they do not accept Jesus or believe in Him (John 6:29), and they reject God (Hosea 8:2-4).  These deceive themselves by accepting praises from each other and were not doing God's will.

When judgment day comes, there will be those who Jesus will not recognize even though they called Him their Lord.  Maybe they went to church and performed some religious duties.  They spoke about Jesus, but really didn't mean what they said.  They only lived it on Sundays.  It isn't enough to believe in Jesus - even the devil believes.  They did not truly accept nor obeyed Him.  They never truly had salvation.  Jesus made a great claim about His identity on that day in Matt. 7:22-23 - He is Lord!  He wants us to build our life upon Him, the sure foundation (Matt. 7:24-29, Luke 6:46-49).  We are to believe in Jesus and obey His Word.  We are to put His words into action.

We can be sure.  Jesus wants you to be sure.  In 1 John 5:13 - "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." If you are not sure, tell God, "I want to be sure and I can't do it without you.  Jesus, save me from judgment.  Help me not to doubt."  Then believe and let Him change your life.  It's that easy.  "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." - John 6:37.  Then thank God.

These verses also talk about the true foundation:
Isa. 28:16 - Jesus is the precious cornerstone.
1 Cor. 3:11 - Jesus is the sure foundation.
1 Peter 2:4-8 - the true foundation is Jesus.

When storms come the Christian will stand.  Our foundation is Jesus.  Build your foundation on Him before the storms come.

What foundation is your life built on?
What is the true direction of your life?
Will you seek Him this week?
The more you obey that which is right, the more you can recognize that which is wrong.

People were amazed and astonished at Jesus' teaching, because He taught as one having authority (Matt. 7:28-29).  When God's Word is presented truthfully, it has great power and is set apart from the mere opinions of men.

Hope you received great lessons from Jesus' teaching.  I know my toes were stepped on big time.  See you next week for Matthew 8.

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