“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
For many years as a new Christian I trembled in fear over the verses above. Mainly because as a new Christian I did not know how to study my Bible properly by taking things in context. So, if the verses above have left you doubting your faith, today I want to put those fears to rest. It is no coincidence that the above verses come immediately after the verses on false prophets. In fact, Matthew 7:13-29 definitely seems to have a theme in regards to who we listen to, put our trust or faith in, and how we live our lives. Today's verses can make some Christians wonder if they are really saved. After all, if you prophesied in Jesus' name, cast out demons and did many wonders all in His name, why would Jesus say He didn't know you? Probably because, as I discussed last week, the people Jesus is referring to in these verses are false prophets and false teachers.
Today while reading Romans 10:1-21 a few things jumped out at me. First, the Apostle Paul begins this chapter by expressing his heart's desire and prayer that Israel would be saved. He attests that they are zealous for God, but they have no real knowledge of Him. I found that very interesting. How can someone have a zeal for God but no knowledge of Him? Why would you be zealous for someone you knew nothing about? Could their zeal be based purely on the fact that they were called God's chosen people? Was their zeal more of a national pride? Like Americans are zealous for their flag or Canadians are zealous for hockey? Was their zeal more of a "status" thing, than an intimate knowledge of God?
Paul says in Romans 10:3 that the Israelites were ignorant of God's righteousness. How is that possible? They received the Ten Commandments from Moses. They had whole books in the Torah dedicated to God's requirements for righteous living. They had a huge Temple smack dab in the middle of Jerusalem where they believed God resided in the Holy of Holies. How then were they ignorant of those laws? Is it possible they had forsaken the commandment written only for them, that they MUST read their Torah and obey it (Leviticus 18:4-5; Deuteronomy 11:19)? Did they, like many Christians today, simply stop investing the time in reading God's Word?
What happens when we stop reading the Bible? A shift in our thinking occurs and we forget that we serve a righteous and holy God. Our attitudes change and before we know it, we are agreeing with the world. Paul explains it this way: "Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness" (Romans 10:3). In other words, they did whatever felt right to them. They developed their own sense of righteousness. And like today, right became wrong and wrong became right, all because they stopped reading the Torah and submitting to God's righteousness.
Before the Law was given, the Jews had no sense of right and wrong. They were like wild children. God literally had to spell right and wrong out for them in the Ten Commandments and in the Levitical Laws that followed. Unfortunately, as Romans 10:3 suggests, not all of them submitted to God's plan of righteousness. In fact, the Jews are the only people or nation in the world who have been called by God to actively study the Torah. By not doing so however, many miss the blessing God intended for them. So He created a new way to attain righteousness.
For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Before I begin my devotions I always pray that God will lead me into all truth and that any words I write here, will be words from Him, not from me. I want to be very careful on what I say because the Word of God is not to be taken lightly. So when I write, it is always with trepidation and with an ear listening for guidance from the Holy Spirit, so that I do not go off on a tangent, leading God's people astray. I take the discerning of Scripture very seriously. That said, let's look at the verses above and I will attempt to convey what I heard the Holy Spirit telling me about this passage.
The chosen and precious cornerstone spoke above is Jesus Christ. How do we know this? Scripture confirms it (Acts 4:10-12; Ephesians 2:20-22; Isaiah 28:16). What is the importance of a cornerstone? The cornerstone (also known as the foundation stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. This stone is the most important stone in the structure because all the other stones will be set in reference to this stone. So it determines the position of the entire structure.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
The above verses are just a small segment of what we have in Christ Jesus. The riches we have been given because we acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and our Saviour are astounding when you think about the fact that it was all done for one reason - God loved us. There is, when it comes right down to it, no other reason why we have been granted these incredible gifts. Therefore, today I would like us to meditate on just a few of those gifts of love the Lord bestows on all who come to Him.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
As I was thinking about the above verse today I was reminded how some people behave once they come to know Jesus as their Saviour. We are trying so hard to "get it right" and to not fail in our walk with God that we unintentionally assume an air of self-righteousness. We don't think we are superior in any way to those who don't have a relationship with God. However, to those on the outside looking in, our striving to deny ourselves and follow Christ, might give them the impression one has to be perfect to be able to approach God. They don't understand that we are sinners saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and our desire to live a holy life comes only from our thankfulness at being saved in the first place. We want to please the Lord by making sure we do not bring shame to His name. But sometimes, it has the reverse effect.
I can remember back in the 70's, singing at the Yonge St. Mission in Toronto. At that time it was called Evergreen and operated as a coffee house where many Christian bands or soloists would come in for the evening and perform. One night while I was singing, a young woman came in and sat down at a table right in front of the stage. I should point out that singing at Evergreen could at times be dangerous. Drug addicts would often come in and you never knew what they would do. So volunteers were always at the ready should someone be difficult. This young woman was clearly stoned when she sat in front of me, but she was also clearly in need of God's love. At one point she laughed out loud and said, "Jesus isn't for someone like me. I'm too far gone." I looked at her from the stage and told her that no one is too far gone and that Jesus loved her just the way she was. She then said something that shocked me and has stuck with me for years, "Lady, you don't know what you're talking about. I'll bet you've never even sinned." I was floored. Was that the impression people were getting from me now? That I was perfect? I wanted to get off the stage and sit and talk with her for the rest of the evening. Instead, I told her that I was someone who had been changed only because of God's grace. That I used to be like her, in a bad place, far away from God. But she didn't believe me. She said, "Lady, you have never been as sinful as me." I found out later that she had been coming in regularly and that many of the counsellors available had talked to her about Jesus. But she was convinced that because she was a drug addict and a prostitute God would never love someone like her. She believed she had no hope because she was under the mistaken impression that she had to change first and then come to God.
Sadly, I believe many people think that same way today and this post is for them. Jesus died on the cross for you and me, He did it knowing we are sinners. He never said, "Change first and then come to me." He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
1 Corinthians 13 is probably the most well-known and well-used chapter in the Bible because of its subject matter - love. It is the "go-to" chapter for weddings for it uniquely and perfectly describes the many facets that make up love. But to keep it in context we need to look at the chapter before it, which talks about spiritual unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
It was this diversity that the Apostle Paul was addressing and he wanted people to realize that even though we are one body with many members, we have all been baptized by the same Spirit and so we should try to live in peace with each other. So speaking tongues, or having the gifts of prophecy or faith, were not important if you didn't have love.
Paul eloquently reminds us that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. And when we look at Paul's description of love we see the object of his affection right away.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
The above verse was one of the first verses I ever memorized as a new Christian and it has stuck with me for close to forty years. But what does it mean to trust in God? How do we know when we are hearing from Him and how do we step back from our desires and submit to Him alone? Surprisingly, the verse above gives us the answer.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test
The picture above says it all. There is only one way to have a renewed mind that is transformed and not conformed to the patterns of this world. Without this WAY you will never know God, grow spiritually, or understand what it means to follow Jesus.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
One of the things I found most difficult when I became a Christian was learning how not to be anxious or worried about things. Every time something troubling occurred I would worry, or at the very least try to figure out how to make things work so that I didn't have to worry anymore.
When I ran across the above verse in my Bible I couldn't understand how prayer and thanksgiving would make my worries go away. As far as supplication went - well...it took me a while to figure out what that even meant. So, let's look at these two verses and find out what they are really saying.
Today's meditation or devotional is a poem I wrote some years ago during a time when I was purposely quiet before the Lord. Rather than coming to Him with all my worries and prayer requests, I deliberately sat still and just listened - waiting for Him to speak. This poem is the result of that time of quiet reflection.