Gracious God, as the evening falls and the dusk of night appears, there is comfort in knowing you are still God, the One who has promised to love and keep us forevermore. Release me from the burdens of this day and open my soul to receive your goodness. In the stillness of this evening I rest in you, God, and meditate upon your goodness. Shelter me from the hands of your enemy. Give me rest. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Daily Archives: July 1, 2021
Psalm 79:8-9 (NRSV)
8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,
for your name’s sake.
Matthew 7:21-29 (NRSV)
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 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 deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
Hearers and Doers
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21)
Do you know someone who has a collection of T-shirts in their closet? Maybe they are souvenirs from various events: races sponsored by local charities, music festivals, retreats, or volunteer activities.
What if someone went around wearing a shirt representing something he or she had never taken part in? It would be kind of awkward if someone walked up and said, “You were at that event? Tell me about it!” That wouldn’t be very authentic, would it?
Jesus spoke about authenticity here at the close of his Sermon on the Mount. He told his listeners that simply “wearing the shirt” wasn’t enough; their lives had to change as well. That still holds true today. Being a member of our local congregation or attending Sunday worship regularly are good things, of course. Hearing good teaching is also very important. But if the grace we receive from these things doesn’t change our hearts and our lives, we are building on sand (Matthew 7:26).
However, we need to remember that in these words, Jesus isn’t trying to bring us down. Neither does he want us to obey him out of fear. No, he wants us to see that his commands offer us the most uplifting, exciting, and fulfilling way to live. He wants us to build our spiritual house on the solid rock of a life lived in his presence, a life guided by the power of his Spirit, a life in which good triumphs over evil and mercy triumphs over judgment. It’s the devil who tries to convince us that following Jesus is a burden and a threat to our freedom.
“Wearing the shirt” of faith is not a burden; it’s a privilege. It’s what gives you a chance to do great things for the Lord. Every day can be a new opportunity to exercise that faith, to put his grace into motion. Today, you may feel called to pray for someone in desperate need. Or you may feel led to fast for an important intention. Or you may feel inspired to share your faith with someone who is lonely. The possibilities are endless, and each of them offers you a fresh experience of Jesus’ joy and his love.
Thank you, Jesus, for inviting me to love you and to be filled with your love and your grace. Amen.