June 14, 2020
Pastor John Hering
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. You do not gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, do you? 17 So then, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 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. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and drive out demons in your name and perform many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’
24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on bedrock. 25 The rain came down, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was founded on bedrock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine but does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—it was completely destroyed.”
28 When Jesus finished speaking these words, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught them as one who had authority, and not like their experts in the law.Matthew 7:15-29
Baseball fans are getting excited because we may still be able to watch our teams play this summer. Professional baseball players who are left-handed and can throw a great curve ball can still make a lot of money. I’m left-handed. How many of you are left-handed, please raise your left-hand! I hope you don’t have anything against left-handed people. I don’t have anything against goats either. I don’t have any goats, and if I see some in the field I’m not going to stop and pet them. But, when we read the account of Judgment Day you’d think Jesus didn’t care much for left-handed people or goats. What Jesus said in Matt 7 he expanded on in Matt 25, listen: “31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matt 25:31-34, 41). The Goats on the Left side are unbelievers. Jesus wants us to be sheep, not goats. He wants us to be on his right, not his left. He wants us to be in heaven, not in hell.
Two and a half years before Jesus said this, he took his followers up a mountain where he preached to them how they can end up as sheep on his right and not as goats on his left. Today Matthew 7 encourages us to
Make Sure You Have A Right Life
Jesus knows the challenges we face and begins with these words, “Watch out for false prophets.” You have your idea of a false prophets from the Bible. Maybe the false prophets on Mt Carmel shouting to their false god Baal. Or maybe you think about those fellas on the TV who say, “Put your hand on the TV screen to be healed and send in your cash.” Some of them were arrested for fraud and tax evasion and marched off to jail. Those were false prophets. But, just by looking at them you may not recognize false prophets because, “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” So, they may appear godly and spiritual, but their poisonous words do not match the words of Jesus.
For example, my friend is a farmer owns a ranch and large vegetable fields. You enjoy eating the potatoes, corn, carrots, lettuce and tomatoes. You’ve been BBQing the pork and beef and even frying the eggs for breakfast! Then you hear the news: The soil has been tested and it’s laced with radioactive waste. If anyone eats these products they are contaminated and will die a slow death. And if couples have children while infected, they will pass along the sickness to their children! To make matters worse, the farmer has been taking his produce to market and selling it at a much lower price for years and making boatloads of money. His wife is a friend of your wife and recently said, “I’m so proud of my husband. He works so hard and has become so successful!” You overheard the conversation and replied, “I know he has a huge ranch and farm, but I don’t approve of what he’s doing!” Then last week the farmer called me and asked if I would help him advertise this produce and products full of vitamins and energy! What would you say to that? “I love you, but what you’re doing isn’t right. And if I would join you then I would be sending the signal to you and everyone else that I approve of what you’re doing. And I don’t. I can’t see into your soil, and I’m no expert, but I know the veggies aren’t rooted in what is right and your animals are not eating what is right. That means what you’re selling to the public is hurting people, and that’s not right!”
Do you see what people are facing today? There is socially destructive radioactive material in our country right now. There is racism, hatred, greed and evil thoughts. These in turn produce violence, abuse, stealing and ruins families and society. What should you do when you see these things? Quote Jesus’ story about the trees: “16 By their fruit you will recognize them. You do not gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, do you? 17 So then, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 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.” Who is doing God’s will? Those who are connected to God through faith in Jesus, the vine, who are branches producing these good fruits. A good fruit would be following God’s rules for judging. For in Matt 7:1 ff Jesus says you don’t judge hearts, but then he does say we are to “recognize” them by judging their words and actions. So, when we “recognize them,” we will be careful to speak these words after looking at our own hearts first and confessing our own sins. Neither would we speak these words to those who have no knowledge of God’s holy will. Jesus wants us to speak these words to each other and help each other make right decisions because he wants us, and he wants us to lead others to a right life. Jesus can look into the heart to make his judgment on someone. We cannot. But, we can, and the Bible calls us to, make observations and make right decisions based on their words and their actions…“by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Another challenge for us is when you hear someone say, “How can you say that? You’re not loving and accepting?” To which God calls us to respectfully reply, “Wait a minute. Why are you accusing me of not being loving and accepting when all I want is for you and me to be Rooted in Jesus and his Word?” Why? Because Jesus’ Word leads me and others to a right life. Yes, I care about my own soul. Yes, I care about the souls of others. Yes, I care about God’s Word. I am not wanting any people to be killed by slow, spiritual radioactive lies that are contrary to what Jesus says. So, you’re right, I’m not accepting of someone who is selling radioactive produce and products, even if it tastes good, feels good, or can be gained at a discount. I am not accepting of anyone who says, “It’s okay” when God says, “It’s not okay.” Some may also say, “That’s their private business,” to which I reply, “It may be their private business, but I don’t want them to cut themselves off from their relationship with God. But don’t force me to approve of it or support it. I want to stay rooted in Christ and bear good fruit.” Because, “19 Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Jesus’ Words Lead Us To A Right Life that is properly rooted. And when we pursue a godly life, then God promises we’re on
I met a man who once ran a business building houses. He was an expert carpenter and hired only concrete, electrical and plumbing experts to build his houses. He went out of business. That’s because the community building suppliers began slapping together pre-fab homes faster and less-expensive. Homeowners didn’t see the difference between a thin concrete slab and a thick one, between cheap electrical wiring and quality wiring, between pipes and drains precisely constructed or loosely glued together. But then it happened. “27 The rain came down, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—it was completely destroyed.”
Jesus knew something about building. After all, he grew up a son of a carpenter. But he was not so much concerned about people building their houses on the sandy shores of the Jordan as he was about having their lives built on solid ground for heaven. “25 The rain came down, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was founded on bedrock.” If we’d take a survey of people today and ask them their most important things to do in order to prepare for a bedrock happy life, what do you think they would answer? Google answered it like this: A good education, stable career, and wise investment plan. But, what happens to these when the rains fall and the winds blow in their life? The education of years gone by is lacking today—that’s why old people have their kids help them with their smart phones. The career is great, until Covid-19 hits and you lose your job. And it only took a little virus to crash the stock market. How will we hang in there, stay on the right track, and live a right life that is God-pleasing?
Listen to Jesus’ answer: “24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on bedrock. 25 The rain came down, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was founded on bedrock.” How can we know that Jesus’ words are rock solid? Consider the source. When a 4-year-old asks, “Why?” parents offer the best explanation they can. But sometimes we answer, “Because I said so.” The 4-year-old learns to accept this answer because of the source—the one in authority. So, we learn to trust the words of those in authority. I see some of you smiling, because you’ve also learned that often times those in authority are not trustworthy! What’s the joke? How can you tell when a politician is lying? When their lips are moving! So, I get it that today people are very skeptical of the words authorities speak. But, we can count on Jesus’ words. I mean we can count on the authoritative, true, inspired, inerrant Word of God. What the Bible says is Rock-Solid Truth!
People in positions of authority speak on all sorts of areas of life. Weather, fashion trends, sports. But, Jesus Words are all centered on one thing: God’s Love for Sinners! These are the words we need most of all! If we find ourselves saying to doing things contrary to Scripture and begin to think, “Don’t bother me with that because my life is just fine. My life is right where I want it to be,” then you’re building your life on sand. But, if you realize that you can’t and won’t have a right life without the forgiveness of Jesus, then your life is built on a rock. So, we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus for his forgiveness. This is so practical: When you hurt your spouse what do you expect to hear? Silence? No, you want to hear, “I forgive you.” When you are caught cheating what do you expect to hear? You’re caught and you’re in big trouble. No, you want to hear, “You’re forgiven.” When you doubt God is in control, that he isn’t watching over your family, that he doesn’t care about you, what do you want to hear? “You weak Christian!” No, you want to hear, “Jesus forgives you.”
That’s what Jesus’ words are all about. There will be times when we’re guilty of digesting the radioactive sins of the world, when we foolishly build our lives on the sands of this world. When his happens, what do you want to hear? You loser! You’re a goat on the left side. NO! You want to hear? “You’re a sheep Rooted in the forgiveness of Jesus. You’re a sheep Rock Solid standing on the Forgiveness of Jesus. Your Life is on the Right Side. Believe it!” Amen!