be real…

Matthew 7:17-27

Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 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!” Therefore 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, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house; and it fell. And great was its fall.

Does this mean that there are some in the Church, who will not enter the kingdom of God after this life, even though they professed they were Christ-followers, were witnesses to miracles, cast out demons? All because they kept one foot in the world and one behind Jesus, as they “practice lawlessness”, as they do not do what Jesus commanded?

If you really have a personal relationship with Jesus, you will begin to do His will. You will live your life, seeking to please Him. You will obey God. What kinds of things would qualify as obedience and disobedience? What were the religious teachers of Jesus’ day doing that precipitated this word spoken to them? We know that they were leading people astray. But how?

Matthew 23:27-35

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.  (There’s that lawlessness word again.)  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” Fill up, then, the measure of your father’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth…

We hear hypocrites, lawlessness, murder, outward appearances of righteousness but inward uncleanness in these verses. Have you ever been around someone who is incredibly good at helping everyone but at home they are ranting and raving and full of negativity? You might think of them that they are a hypocrite. You might also realize they are “who they want to be in public and who they really are at home” my friend Cheryl always says. The situation with the Pharisees was like this but to a much deeper degree. Their hypocrisy included murder and bribery and all forms of stealing and evil. They were lining their pockets as they took money from the desperate people trying to make sacrifices at the temple. Yet in the public they were appearing to help everyone, even teaching the Word of God.

Every one of us suffers with hypocrisy. We all say we will do something and don’t follow through. We all put on masks and act like everything is fine when inside we are going through a nightmare. We save face. We come home from the meetings and cry, we yell at our kids, at our husbands and eat too many candy-bars. We all battle with being real.

Yet Jesus was real. And we are called to be like Him. You know, some of the most satisfying and fulfilling relationships I’ve ever had are the ones where I am real, vulnerable and sharing what’s really going on in my life and people were doing the same with me. I’ve been part of a Bible study group of women for many years now. We laugh together, cry together, and tell the stories of life together. Had I never experienced the kind of intimacy I have with these women I feel I would really have never lived. We have something I am desperate for, we KNOW each other. We don’t always remember each other’s birthdays, or get in each other’s refrigerators without asking, but we know when one of our sister’s heart is broken. We are there for each other.

Jesus wants us to have an even deeper intimacy with Him. He longs for the relationship with us. He doesn’t want us to pretend, or to hide anything and can handle whatever we need to say. He knows who we really are.

I love this passage from Exodus 33, it says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…” God wants all of you, face to face. He is your friend. He is there to hear you, to listen, to laugh and cry and be real together with you. He doesn’t want you to “save face” with Him, just be real.

My old pastor that moved away put sermons on CDs, the one I have spoke of God’s grace and what it is. In the cd he talked about what keeps people from entering heaven. It’s not all your sins. It’s actually you missing the grace God wants to give you through the relationship with Jesus. It’s not sin that keeps you from heaven, it’s missing the grace God desperately wanted to give you! Don’t let your hypocrisy, your yelling at your kids, your impression that you’re not good enough keep you from God. He’s waiting on you today!  You can be real with Him!

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