Read Matthew 7 -- 9

In Today’s Reading:

Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount; preaching and miracles; call of Matthew.

Jesus warned His followers to: Beware of false prophets . . . in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15). Teaching is false when it offers eternal life without discipleship. Teaching is also false when it says that good works will qualify a person for Heaven.

To clarify the difference between the true prophet and the false prophet and their followers, our Lord said: Not every one that [says to] Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that [does] the will of My Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in [Your] Name? and in [Your] Name have cast out devils? and in [Your] Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess [to] them, I never knew you: depart from Me, [you] that work iniquity (7:21-23). The evidence of being a true Christian is not doing good and great things, but desiring to be obedient to the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Our Lord proclaimed a parable: [Whoever hears] these sayings of Mine, and [does] them, I will liken him [to] a wise man, [who] built his house [on the] Rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat [on] that house; [but] it [did] not [fall]: for it was founded [on the] Rock. And every one [who hears] these sayings of Mine, and [does not do them], shall be [like] . . . a foolish man, [who] built his house [on] the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was [its] fall (7:24-27).

The Rock is not repentance, baptism, or church membership, as important as these things are. The Rock is our Redeemer Jesus Christ, Who is the Word (John 1:1).

The house built upon the Rock illustrates how true Christian discipleship comes through obedience to His Word. The emphasis is twofold: first, hearing these sayings of Mine, and then doing these sayings of Mine. The wise and the foolish are both giving much thought and labor to their activities -- one to laying up treasures in Heaven, but the other to achieving human goals that will soon be worthless (I Corinthians 3:11-15).

When our desire is to please Christ, His Word will be the supreme rule of life. It will lead us to avoid the snares of self-will, pride, and the many deceptions of Satan. Through His Word alone, guided by the Holy Spirit in answer to our prayers, we are enabled to discern true holiness and live as those who are accountable to our Creator-God.

It is impossible to relive the wasted years, but it is possible to turn from the sinking sand to build upon the Eternal Rock. Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie (Revelation 22:14-15).

Thought for Today: As we think on things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, we will not be as likely to think evil of others or to criticize them.

Word Studies:

7:2 mete = to measure; 7:5 mote = insignificant speck; 7:6 rend = to tear or pull apart; 8:31 suffer = permit, allow; 9:9 receipt of custom = tax collector's office; 9:10 at meat = at a meal; 9:36 fainted = wearied, distressed.

Cross References:

For Matthew 7:23: See Psa. 6:8. Matt. 8:4: See Lev. 13:49; 14:2. Matt. 8:17: See Isa. 53:4. Matt. 9:13: See Hos. 6:6.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM), Rep. David Obey (WI), and Rep. Bob Riley (AL) · Pray for the President · Country: Zaire , Democratic Republic of the Congo (38 million) in south-central Africa · Major languages: French and Lingala · Limited religious freedom · 42% Roman Catholic; 28% Protestant; 12% magical practices, ancestor worship, and witchcraft; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to work in your life in whatever way pleases Him (Hebrews 13:21).

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 15:4