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Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Matthew’

I saw this picture posted on Facebook and it really grabbed my attention.

This can be oh so hard… the world, and especially the culture of today, calls for us to compromise, to live in the gray areas we try to create for ourselves.  We try to rationalize our own known sin because we WANT to do it.  Then we attempt to assuage our guilt by getting self righteous and looking at others and their sins to make ourselves feel better. “Well, I’m not so bad cause look at So n So and what they’re doing! At least I’m not doing THAT!”  Doesn’t matter, never did.  God sees absolutely ALL OF IT – even what we may not see for ourselves quite yet. The Bible tells us in James 1:5-8If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.   You can’t live with one foot in with the “world” and one foot in with God.  It just doesn’t work that way, as the Lord is clearly telling us here in James.

It is of utmost importance that we get something straight and sooner, rather than later.  Jesus didn’t suffer and die so we could continue in our sins, doing whatever pleases us.  Far from it.  Don’t take my word for it though! Please don’t!  God’s own Word, the very book He gave to us in order for us to learn all we can about Him and from Him – The Bible – explains it to us quite well.

In Matthew 18:3 we are told by Jesus Himself – “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”   Jesus isn’t mincing words here.  Turn from your sins and become like little children (innocent) OR you will NEVER get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  We may not like it, it may seem harsh, but regardless, He’s pretty clear.  Jesus also tells us in Matthew 18:7-9 “So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet.  And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”   According to Jesus, we are better off if we cut off limbs and gouge out our very eyes, than we are if we sin.  That’s a pretty clear statement regarding sin!  Another statement Jesus made that tells is as plainly as possible is Matthew 7: 21-23 “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.”  That folks, is a dramatic and clear statement and no one can deny after reading it that turning from sin and obeying God’s laws is something Jesus wants and expects us to do. 

In Matthew 16:24-27 we’re told – “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.”  The very definition of a Christian is to be a follower of Christ.  Jesus tells us to be one of His followers we must give up everything for Him. 

It’s heartbreaking, as well as quite terrifying, to me that for so many years I believed various things I was told about Jesus.  Things like:  Jesus is LOVING so He’ll not send me to Hell as long as I believe He’s saved me.  All you need to do is say the “Sinner’s Prayer” and then you’re Heaven bound no matter how you’re living.  You can’t “earn” salvation, so don’t worry about your sins.  Only God can “change” you, so just “believe you’re saved” and don’t try to change anything because that would be “works” and no one can “earn salvation” since it is a gift.  It sure was nice thinking I could say a simple little two minute prayer and then I could carry on living as if nothing happened and will still enter Heaven!  Were I to have died, it wouldn’t have been “nice” at all. My life and the way I lived proved only that Jesus wasn’t Lord of my life at all, thanks, in part, to my believing false teachers, but also thanks to the fact that I enjoyed some of my sins and didn’t want to give them up.

The Bible warns us of false teachings. Matthew 7:15-16“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.   You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.  Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

Please do not misunderstand me.  I’m not suggesting that we work for our salvation at all.  It is a free gift, no doubt about that.  However, where I messed up for many years, and where many others appear to be messing up, is in taking advantage.  Thinking that since Jesus paid for our sins with His very death, that it was okay to continue in sin – known sin, and to not fully love Him.

To truly love Jesus means to put Him first in our lives, as the Bible clearly tells us to, and I didn’t do that for a long time.  Oh, I had all sorts of convenient excuses…. “I’m busy and don’t have time to read my Bible cause I just have so much going on right now, I don’t like going to church, it’s full of hypocrites, well I’m only human so sure I’m gonna make mistakes, and no one is perfect except Jesus, but it’s okay cause Jesus died for me.”  There were plenty others too, but you get the point.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 23: 37- 38“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment”  Again, Jesus is clear in His teachings.  Put God first in your heart, in your soul, and in your mind. He doesn’t tell us to put God first, but only if it’s not going to interfere with your other plans, wants, or desires.  I can’t find Jesus saying that anywhere in the Bible!  

To truly love Jesus and put Him first in our lives means we’re to turn from sin and to do as God’s Word tells us.   James 1:22- 25 tells us – But don’t just listen to God’s Word.  You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  

To live a Godly life instead of a worldly life can be hard, of that there is no doubt, but God will help us.  In Galatians 5:16-25 we are told: So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealously, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.  Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  

Yes, let’s do that.  With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can.  Amen!

I am so thankful that the Lord chose to keep after me until my eyes were opened to what is  real instead of leaving me to die in my sins.  Now, I seek Him daily and am more in love and alive than ever before in my life.  Giving it all up for Him isn’t like losing anything at all, it’s more like gaining everything and then some.  I am thankful to know Him and blessed by His amazing love.

You know what?  He loves YOU too!

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If you’ve read any on my blog, or even more so if you’re a friend of mine on Facebook or Twitter, then you know how touched I’ve been by Kimberly L. Smith’s book, “Passport Through Darkness.”   Her book has started to literally change my life.  It’s changing the way I look at everything in life, including the simple things like having running clean water. I’ve always taken running clean water for granted.  It’s been there since birth and I can’t imagine not having something so seemingly simple. But there are those that do not have running water, that do not have clean water, that have to walk miles to get even dirty water.

Because of it’s impact to those who read this book, I want to see as many as possible read it.  God is using Kimberly L. Smith to open eyes to see needs that are there.  Jesus very clearly tells us in Matthew 22: 37-40 that we are to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind and that equally important is to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We read that in our Bibles, most people know those verses well, but what does it look like in a practical way? Kimberly gives us perfect examples in “Passport Through Darkness” of exactly what that can look like.

So here’s the deal –  Kimberly and her organization Make Way Partners will give away a copy of her incredible book to the person that shares this blog post, and/ or my blog in general,  the most (the particulars of how this will work will be at the end of this post).  You can keep the book you win or you can give it to someone else and change their life, either way you will be helping to make a difference for the Lord.  Listen… The more we share this information, this incredible story of love, the more people will be made aware of the great need that’s out there and the more people will be changed and thereby helped.    I am going to run this contest from the second it’s published until Thanksgiving Day (November 22, 2012).

Contest Rules:  To win you simply need to share, share, and share this post and my blog in general,  everywhere – via email, Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, and so on… JUST SHARE and when you share, ask each and every person to comment below or to email me at LetsSpeakGently @ gmail . com,  and let me know that you’ve shared it with them.

The person who shares it the most will be the winner and the winner will be announced on my blog on November 22, 2012.  Please come back here to look to see if you’ve won around the time frame of 7:00 pm EST. 

Please, above all else remember – Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27   This contest is about sharing a story about what it means to do exactly what this Scripture tells us to do and how doing so not only changes the people being helped, but also how it changes the lives of the helpers.  It’s important – God says so, let’s help others “hear” this story.

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Be careful what you say today because the power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20) You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him.  This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Deuteronomy 30: 19, 20

 

34 You offspring of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil (wicked)? For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks.

35 The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things.

36 But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.

37 For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.     

Matthew 12:34-37    Amplified Bible (AMP)

Do we pay as much attention to our words as we’re supposed to these days?  I think we can all admit that the honest answer to this question is a definite no.

There are all sorts of opportunities to use words in our lives.  We can chat it up with all kinds of people, whether friends, family, or simply people we encounter in our day-to-day lives.  There are more methods of communication available today than ever before.

And with all this talking that we’re able to do, what are our words doing?  Are they blessings for those around us or are they curses?  Are we blessing or cursing ourselves? Are we using our voices to share love, to teach people about the love of Christ or are we gossiping, perhaps even causing someone to stumble?

What are we accomplishing with our words?

I believe this is something we need to all be more aware of and in more control of in our lives.  Let us all pray for the Lord’s help with this and begin blessing those around us.

Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body.  Proverbs 16:24  (AMP)

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