“I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11-12 HCSB
I have officiated at several funerals. Some families are confident that their loved one is in heaven, but other families wish and hope that their loved one has gone on to heaven. Most of those families say that he or she loved the Lord and was a good person, but too many times as I talk with the family I discover that their loved one was not involved in church for years. The loved one lived a good life but his or her life did not exhibit any true faith in God. He may have grown up in a Christian home and gone to church as a child, but a person’s Christian heritage does not save him.
Jesus said that people from all over the world, both Jews and Gentiles would enter the kingdom of heaven. Jews should have known this (see Isaiah 25:6 and 55) but many of the Jews felt that salvation was just for the Jews. They believed that because they were descendants of Abraham that they were guaranteed to be a part of the kingdom of God. They also relied on their ability to follow the rules and regulations to get them into heaven. Neither of these will save a person. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ that one can enter the kingdom of God. Jesus made it clear that the sons of the kingdom (Jews) that did not have the faith would be thrown into hell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Challenge: Many will say, “Lord, Lord” but will not enter the kingdom of God. Neither a good life nor a Christian heritage gets one into heaven. No one can be good enough to get into heaven. Faith in Jesus is the only way to know you have eternal life. Ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your life. Place your faith and trust in Him and avoid the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! Matthew 8:10 HCSB
My two year old granddaughter was visiting our home. Her uncle was just playing with her by making some funny sounds. She did not find the sounds to be funny and came running to me and grabbed my legs because she was afraid. She had faith in me and knew I would protect her.
That is what Jesus desires of each of us – to come running to Him and have faith that He will take care of us. The centurion had faith that Jesus could heal his servant just by speaking the words. Jesus was amazed at how great a faith the centurion had.
Challenge: Would Jesus be amazed at how great a faith you have? Jesus is not talking about the quantity of faith but rather the quality of faith. Do you really believe that Jesus can take care of you? Trust Him with your life and with every situation you may be facing. Pray that your faith will increase.
“Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:8-9 HCSB
God has been very good to me and allowed me to work in a variety of positions in my career. I have worked as a youth pastor, as a youth ministry consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention, as an editor at Lifeway Christian Resources, and as an Education and Administration Pastor. In some positions I have supervised other employees and had a great level of responsibility and authority while in other positions there was no need for me to have much control.
The centurion understood that Jesus was a man of authority and had control over many areas. He may have seen Jesus heal people or perhaps he had heard about some of the miracles Jesus had done. He understood the power of Jesus and realized that Jesus did not have to be present to heal his servant. All He had to do was to speak the command and his servant would be well.
Challenge: Do you really understand the awesome power of Jesus? Do you realize that none of us are worthy of being called a child of God? None of us deserve any attention or consideration from Jesus, but because of His love for us He was willing to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus has all power over everything and we can trust Him to take care of any situation we may face. Praise Him for who He is and for His great power and authority.
“I will come and heal him,” He told him. Matthew 8:5-6 HCSB
I am very proud of our four children. Each has been willing to go and do what God has called them to do. Bethany served in China, India, and Mexico on mission trips. Nathan helped plant a church in New York City. Jonathan served the poorest of the poor in West Africa, and Sarah assisted with clean up after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Each one has developed a heart for missions and has been willing to follow God’s leadership.
Jesus did not care if this man was a Roman soldier. He would not let the opinion of others prevent Him from doing what God had called Him to do. The Jews hated the Roman soldiers because of their ridicule, control, and oppression. Jesus, however, looked beyond the soldier’s ethnicity and His position as a Roman centurion and saw Him as a human being that deserved to be loved and cared for as much as anyone else. Jesus was willing to go to the house of a Gentile to heal someone which would have made Him ceremonially unclean by the rules and regulations of the the Scribes and Pharisees. He often disregarded ritualistic rules in order to minister to the needs of others.
Challenge: Are you willing to go and do what God has called you to do? Are you willing to go against the opinion of others to follow God’s will for your life? What is God calling you to go and do? Pray for God’s wisdom and direction.
When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him pleading with Him, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony! Matthew 8:5-6 HCSB
I grew up in the 60’s and remember the tension between white and black people. Black people were not allowed to ride in the front of the bus, there were separate water drinking fountains for blacks, and some were refused service at restaurants. The attitude of white people toward black people was wrong. The black people were often treated as outcast and were not welcome in many locations and businesses.
The Jewish people would have had nothing but disdain for the Roman centurion. First, he was a gentile or non-jew. Second, he was a part of the Roman military. The presence of the Roman soldiers were a constant reminder that the Jewish people were not free and under the authority of the Roman government. The centurion would have been a commander of a unit of approximately 100 solders. The Jewish people would have treated all Roman soldiers as outcast. They would have avoided having any contact with them. This Roman centurion comes to Jesus with respect and honor, even addressing Him as Lord.
Challenge: Who do you treat as an outcast? God has created all people and we are called to love everyone just as Jesus loved everyone. Ask God to help you overcome your prejudice attitudes and see all people as equal.
“But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!” Matthew 7:26-27 HCSB
While traveling in Israel our guide pointed out a mountain with areas where the rain had run down the mountain making a trench. At the bottom there was an area that looked like rock, but in reality it was a sandy area that was like a dry riverbed.
He explained that this would have been the example Jesus may have used to illustrate the wise man who built on the rock and the foolish man who built on the sand. The people of Jesus’ time would have understood that it would have been foolish to build a house on the sandy area at the bottom because when the rains came the house would be washed away. There would be a great collapse of the house.
Challenge: Where is the house of your life built? Are you like the foolish man or the wise man? Are you acting on the words of Jesus or refusing to follow His teachings? If you build your life and actions on the words of Jesus and His teachings, you will be able to stand strong when temptations come your way. Refuse to listen and obey His teachings and certainly destruction will follow. Ask Jesus to help you know and follow His will for your life each day.
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 HCSB
While serving the Belle Aire Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the church decided to relocate due to the need for additional space. We purchased land, enlisted an architect and contractor, sold our existing property, built the new facility, and then moved. It was quite a challenge that took about two years. We had a capital campaign to help pay for the facility. We needed a theme. The land we had purchased was very rocky, so the capital campaign committee decided to use the theme, “Building on the Rock”, which had a double meaning of literally building on the rock and figuratively building on the rock of Jesus. It was an exciting time as we grew and moved into our new facilities.
Jesus used the image of a man building his house on the rock that provided a firm and stable foundation to teach a principle to His disciples. That man is like the wise person who follows Jesus’ teaching. All of us will face storms and challenges in life. When our lives are built on the firm foundation of Jesus, we can weather the storms that come our way.
Challenge: What storms are you facing today? Is your life built on the firm foundation of Jesus? Ask Jesus to help you and give you strength as you walk through the difficulties of life.
“So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:20 HCSB
The first church I served out of seminary was the Delaney Street Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida. My wife and I lived in a house that belonged to our church that backed up to an orange grove where there were hundreds of trees. Each year we expected to see oranges growing on the trees. Imagine if one year we saw apples or pear blossoms. We would know that something was wrong because the trees would be producing the wrong type of fruit.
Jesus continued His message about false prophets that He began in verse 13. He used the illustration of a tree to explain His point. We should evaluate teachers by their fruit (actions and how they live their lives). Their actions should be consistent with what they teach. Good teachers should exhibit exemplary behavior and high moral character as they seek to live out the truth of the Scriptures. The bad trees (teachers) are those who produce fruit that is not consistent with their teachings. These teachers deliberately teach false doctrine. Consequently they will say, “Lord, Lord” but will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Challenge: Will you enter the kingdom of heaven? Evaluate your own life and make sure your actions and teachings are consistent with what you claim to be – a follower of Jesus Christ. What type of fruit are you producing?
“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.” Matthew 7:15 HCSB
There is a new game called Jelly Belly Bean Boozled. There are some jelly beans that taste good mixed in with jelly beans that have nasty flavors like stinky socks, lawn clippings, rotten egg, canned dog food, and skunk spray. They all look alike so a person does not know if he is getting a delicious jelly bean like tutti-fruity, lime, peach, chocolate, or a bad-tasting one. Players spin and then have to select a jelly bean from the pile that is that color and eat it, hoping they get a good tasting one instead of a nasty tasting one.
Jesus warned His disciples to beware of false prophets who looked like innocent sheep but were really wolves. Just like the jelly beans that look delicious but in reality are not desirable, false teachers teach principles that are against God’s commands and laws. They sound religious and even claim to be delivering God’s message, but they are motivated by money, fame, or power. They minimize Christ and glorify themselves.
Challenge: There are false teachers today. Beware! They may look and sound knowledgeable. They may even be on television and radio preaching and teaching God’s Word. Always test what someone says against God’s Word. Is the person trying to bring glory and honor to Christ or are they trying to sell more products and make more money? Pray that God would give you discernment and wisdom so you do not fall into the traps of false teachers.
Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 HCSB
While traveling in Israel our guide pointed out a type of door that was used in Biblical times. It is a door with another door within the first door. The large wide door was used to move animals in and out easily, but the narrow door within the larger door was used for people but kept the larger animals inside.
Jesus used the illustration of a wide and narrow gate to describe the path to heaven. He may have been referring to this type of door with which the people would have been familiar. Jesus made the point that each person has a choice to make. The majority of people will select the easier, wider path that does not lead to God. Christians are called to follow the narrow path of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He is the only way to God (John 14:6).
Challenge: The wider road leads to death, while the narrow road leads to life. Follow the narrow path and find the abundant life that Jesus refers to in John 10:10. The narrow road may be more difficult at times but it brings eternal life.