(Matthew 7:13-23) It Is Narrow

As I read these verses this morning, I was reminded of a post I read the other day, written by a woman who would tell you she’s a Christian, condemning a Christian University for discharging a female professor planning to marry a woman. The writer, who proudly identified herself as “a woman married to a man,” reeled against the University for having a narrow world-view, something she said she herself had at one time being raised in a Christian home, going to a Christian school, and attending the very University she now condemned.

It was at that University, she said, where her eyes had been open to the broader world-view she now holds. In her opinion, the University’s stand against same-sex marriage was a step back, and she was angry.

Dear One, watch out for false teachers who come to you in sheep’s clothing. The post this woman wrote, and other “woke” views seem right, and logical, and accepting of all views. Watch out.

Like it or not, the road to God IS NARROW. I didn’t make that up. Read these verses for yourself. I didn’t build the road. But I will tell you it exists, and I’ll pray you walk it. All other roads lead to destruction.

All other roads.

I applaud the bold stand this University has taken for the Truth of Scripture in this day and age when that is a stand that could have serious repercussions. So many people are looking for this fight and would love to see the University taken down, as I believe the writer of the post I read would like to see. “Punish anyone who disagrees with me,” is the attitude of our sin-sick world, the attitude of people who will in one breath tell you not to judge, while judging you.

Would you pray with me for this University and others like it that are being faithful to the Word of God? They don’t have it easy. And I don’t see it getting easier any time soon. May God be glorified even in this.

A Scripturally based world-view is both broad and narrow. Broad in the sense that we are all sinners. All of us! Broad in the sense that “whosoever” believes in Jesus’ death on the cross as a substitute for the penalty of their sin, will be saved. Narrow in the sense that Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.” Narrow in the sense that the Bible is the Word of God, and stands as the only Truth.

Broad in the sense you can believe what you want to believe. Narrow in the sense that everything you believe might not be true.

The fact is, the plan of God from the beginning is a narrow road. It doesn’t matter if that hurts your delicate feelings. Walk it, or don’t. Just know the destination of each road is very, very different.

Is it time you narrowed your own world-view?

(Matthew 1-4) It’s A Pleasure to Meet You

Jesus! The Promised Messiah. The Savior of souls.

Jesus! The One of whom the Old Testament prophets spoke, the One whose life and purpose was demonstrated in the lives of the descendants of Abraham. The entire Old Testament is about Jesus.

And here in Matthew’s gospel we finally meet Him! The One who was promised from the Garden was born in Bethlehem just as God said He would. So many intricate details described in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the birth of Jesus alone.

Reading the Gospels helps me to know Jesus intimately, love Him fervently, and inspires me to obey Him faithfully.

Jesus! The Lover of my soul. It is truly a pleasure to meet You!

(Malachi) Something’s Gotta Change

When you read 2:19, do you think of our modern society? Aren’t we living in an age when evil is applauded, and we’re told if there is a God, He accepts everyone equally?

Malachi says we have “wearied the Lord with (our) words.”

God’s prophetic words go on to say there will be a judgment, and NO ONE will be able to face the judge on their own merit, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves of their own worth. We need only to look at Jesus.

“Who will be able to stand when He appears?”

I’ll tell you who: those of us who have bowed to the one and only God of the universe; we who have accepted what the perfect Jesus did when He died in our place on the cross of judgment. It won’t be Connie God sees when I stand before Him. He’ll be looking at the righteousness of His Son because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and have repented of my sin.

Dear Ones, there is good and there is evil. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There is Truth and there are lies. Like it or not, believe it or not.

God has not changed. So we better.

(Haggai) What You Believe and What You Choose

In reference to the words of the prophet Haggai, my study Bible says this:

“To acknowledge the Lord as God has implications for ordinary decisions of life. It is to live before One who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and who has an agenda. He has a plan that impinges on the details of our lives.” (CSB Apologetics Study Bible; 2017; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, TN; p1143)

Do you believe in God? Then how does knowing He knows all, sees all, and has a plan for you that requires your obedience, effect the choices you’ll make today? I’m talking about your choice of clothing, the places you choose to go, the thoughts you allow yourself to think. How does your belief in God impact your day-to-day?

Haggai brings up an important point. It has to do with how close we choose to live with sin before we ourselves become stained with sin. He paints a picture of someone in dirty clothes rubbing shoulders with someone clean. Does the cleanness ever rub off on the filth so that the filth becomes clean?

Have you ever hugged a dirty, smelly person, and watched the dirt fall from their clothes, and their stench replaced by the scent of your shower gel? The answer, of course, is NO.

But, if you hug that dirty, smelly person, you walk away with smudges on your clothes, and the lingering scent of body odor on your skin. You walk away needing a bath yourself.

You catch diseases by being close to the diseased. But they never catch your health by being close to you.

Choices. You and I will make them today according to what we believe about God. And your choices will impact whether or not God’s will will be done in your life today.

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Micah 1-4) The Truth Behind the Words

I believe we spend so much time trying to assign date and time to prophecy we miss the point. There is no eternal value in predicting future events. We need to live as though today is the day we will meet God face to face.

Some people breathe a sigh of relief, thinking Jesus is going to set up a material kingdom for 1,000 calendar years, so they have plenty of time. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take, and not a chance I’d encourage you to take for yourself.

God, through the prophet Micah tells us who live in the 21st Century some things we need to hear. It’s the same message the people in Micah’s day needed to hear.

  1. God punishes sin. No one can escape His judgment. We are all found guilty before the Judge. Do you wonder what constitutes sin? Micah, in 2:6-11 tells us covetousness is a sin, or idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Rejecting God’s Word is a sin (Micah 2:6-11) Paul, in the New Testament gives a short list in I Corinthians 6:9-10. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it is specific: idolators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Jesus said that if we even entertain thoughts about sin, we are guilty of that sin. (Matthew 5) So, my friend, listen up. YOU ARE A SINNER. And God punishes sin.
  2. There is hope. (Micah 2:12-13) Yes, the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). Paul, after listing the sins in I Corinthians 6 says this in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

That’s the message I believe God wants us to hear through the words of Micah. You can pick apart Micah’s word pictures if you want. Just don’t miss the Truth behind the words.

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(Hosea 4-8) I Want That, Too

Sometimes I can almost feel God’s heart breaking. Even as He spells out the judgment to come, even as He expresses His anger over the continued disobedience of His children, He says, “I want to redeem them.”

If only they would repent. If only they would obey. If only they would let Him, He would save them. He wanted to redeem them. But because they’d rather hold on to their idols, He couldn’t.

God threw out a lifeline, but they were still drowning because they couldn’t let go of their sin. And it broke His heart.

I don’t think I can fully understand the extent of His pain because I can’t fully understand the depth of His love. But as I read God’s message to us through Hosea, I know I don’t want any part of adding to His pain.

I want to repent of sin the moment God reveals it to me. I want to resist temptation, and obey Him with every breath I take. I want only to bring Him joy. My redemption cost Jesus so much. I don’t want to waste a single drop of the blood He shed paying the death penalty for my sin.

There isn’t an idol, a sin, that’s worth a fraction of the cross. I hear God say, “I want to redeem Connie.” And I want that, too.

(Hosea 1-3) A Real Life Object Lesson

Hosea lived a dramatic object lesson. It’s so dramatic there are people who believe he never actually married a prostitute. They would tell you God simply gave Hosea a parable to tell to the people, the lesson being what their unfaithfulness looked like to a faithful God. Their reasoning is that God would not tell a priest to marry a prostitute because that was strictly forbidden by God’s law.

Myself? I believe Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer in obedience to God, just like other prophets obeyed God by running around naked, or lying on their side for months at a time, or digging through walls with their bare hands, or burying leather belts. I believe the Jews’ rejection of God was as unthinkable as a priest marrying a prostitute, and that was the point of the object lesson. It was a lesson the Jews wouldn’t miss because Hosea married a real life prostitute.

I see myself in this object lesson – faithless, unclean, disgustingly drawn to sin, yet loved by a faithful God who longs to forgive and restore me to Himself. I see a God who blesses me even though I don’t deserve it, blesses me even though I might be faithful today, yet knowing I’ll fail Him tomorrow.

I want to recognize myself in Gomer, as filthy as she is, and learn a lesson here. Rather than pointing a finger at her, I want to recognize God pointing His finger at me:

“You are a sinner, Connie. But I love you. You are unfaithful, Connie, but I want to forgive you. Come to me, Connie. I long to bring you home.”

So today, as I read this first part of Hosea I am encouraged to return God’s love from a purity that isn’t mine. I want to be the woman he sees in me. I want to please Him rather than myself, love Him like He deserves, and run from any sin that would separate us.

I don’t want to miss what God wants me to learn through Hosea’s real life object lesson.

(Daniel 8-12) Is It Time?

If God sent an angel to interrupt prime time regular programing with a message that the world would end in 1,290 days – what would you do? How would you spend the next 3 1/2 years? Would you live it up with partying, sex, and drugs? Would you marry your sweetheart (or maybe divorce your spouse)? Would you buy a yacht and sail around the world, or would you climb Mt. Everest?

Maybe you’d live the high life for the first 2 1/2 years, then clean up your act just in time for the end. Or maybe you’d hit your knees, repent of sin, and spend the remaining 3 1/2 years of life on earth praying that people would turn to God. Maybe you’d be more bold when speaking to your friends and loved ones who need Jesus.

Would you take the angel’s warning seriously if you were sure he really was sent from God?

Well, my friend. That angel HAS appeared. That message HAS been sent from God. We don’t know if we are living in day 1,289 and have years and years before the end, or if we are actually living day 0002. But God, through the vision he gave Daniel, wants us to understand the day of the end has been set. It’s going to happen. There is no doubt, no alternate plan.

Many people are looking for signs of the end. Many try to figure out who or what the “last days’ will look like. I mean, you don’t want to get ready too soon or too late, right? I think their focus is misdirected.

The point is: it’s time. Now. Today. It’s time to clean up your act and get busy because the day is coming when the last chance to be saved will be past. Jesus IS coming again. And when He comes, judgment will follow. And eternity will be set.

Heaven? or Hell? There is no third option. And there will be no change of address a few millennia down the road.

Quit looking for signs. Quit postponing a decision to submit to God. He has spoken. The end is much nearer today than it was last week. You have this lifetime to make a decision that will determine your eternity, an eternity where you will be conscious of your every moment. A very real heaven or a very real hell await each one of us, depending on what we do with Jesus in this lifetime.

Friend, it’s time to choose. Choose wisely. Eternity is a very long time.