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Friday, March 4, 2016

Day 17: Matthew 7:15-29 & Psalm 17 - What Would Be the Most Terrifying Words You Could Hear?

Today's Reading: Matthew 7:15-29 & Psalm 17

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What Would Be the Most Terrifying Words You Could Hear?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ - Matthew 7:21-23

These words from Jesus have to be one of most frightening passages in the Bible, if we understand them correctly. Jesus is here saying that on Judgment Day, when He returns to judge the world, many people will call Him "Lord, Lord" and will testify about all of the things they have done in His name and will still be lost forever.

The people Jesus is describing in this passage are professing Christians who are active within the life and ministry of the church. But Jesus says, "Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." They have done "many mighty works" in the name of Jesus but they will spend eternity separated from Him.

How does this happen? How can we be sure we will not hear these terrifying words on Judgment Day? It really comes down to a very simple question: Does Jesus know you and do you know Him? Is He really your Lord and do you walk with Him? The reason why this blog is titled "Walking with Jesus in the Gospels and Psalms" is simple: Only a daily walk with the Lord, a real and vital relationship with Him really matters in eternity.

Those whom Jesus truly knows are those who are His and who know Him. They are the ones who understand the kingdom of God, the heart of God, the ways of God. Jesus is not talking about moral performance when He condemns these people as "workers of lawlessness." If we do not know the Lord, everything we do in His name is done for our own glory and honor and is thus lawlessness, even our best deeds.

So, do you know Him? Does He know you? 

[Side Note: Jesus' words in verses 15-20 are instructions for how we are to evaluate leaders and teachers and decide whether or not we should listen to them or follow them. If a leader says wonderful-sounding things and promises wonderful-sounding things, look for fruit. What have they actually done? Look also at the fruit of others who have said and promised similar things. Jesus wants us to be discerning before we follow anyone.]

Prayer Based on Psalm 17:

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
    Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come!
    Let your eyes behold the right!
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
    you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
    I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
    I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
    my feet have not slipped.

Heavenly Father, I know that I am guilty of deceit. I deceive myself and others in ways I'm not even aware of, but I also know I can never deceive You. I know that I cannot claim innocence in my own actions, and that when You test my heart, You do see sin and find wickedness there. But I have trusted in Your Son. He is perfectly righteous and He is the fulfillment of this Psalm. I come to You in His name, claiming His righteousness on my behalf. I know that Jesus never slipped, never spoke a wrong word, never went stray in His heart, never failed any test, and I thank You for hearing my prayers offered up through my perfect High Priest.

This morning, as my day begins, I call upon You in the name of Jesus for protection from my enemies. Deliver me and deliver all of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at Your Right Hand. Let all of those who call on the name of Jesus find security and peace in You today. I pray especially for those in my family and in my church. Protect, deliver and surround us with Your love.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;

    when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

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