My memory verse this week:
"You have made known to me the paths of life; you fill me with joy in your presence." -- Acts 2:28
NT Challenge Day 4- Matthew 7-8 and Acts 10-12
I find it very interesting to read these two books at the same time. In Matthew, we hear of Jesus' teachings and miracles, and how he interacted with his chosen disciples. In Acts, we read of how those same disciples work to begin the Church.
MANY things hit me while reading today. If I wrote about all of them, this message would be WAY to long. Here are a few of them:
Matthew 7 continues on with Jesus' sermon or teachings about God's laws and how we should live. From one famous passage, I found some new insight this morning.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13, 14 NIV)
To be honest, I always had the idea that these verses meant that the gate and road we should take is narrow as a way to keep the wrong people out of heaven. I mean if you take the easy path full of sin and destruction, then you can't find God, or you shouldn't deserve heaven, right? But, I think those ideas are wrong. I think the gate to heaven is narrow so you have to LOOK for it. If it were easy, then it wouldn't MEAN anything! Jesus says in verse 24 that if you hear his words and put them into practice, you will have a firm foundation and will not fall in a storm. (My own translation of the house built on the rock.)
I believe that even if you start down the wrong path, headed to destruction, if you begin looking for the narrow path, reading Jesus's teachings and begin to put them into practice...it is never to late! You will find that narrow gate!
Something else that seemed important to me from today's readings: "...God does not show favoritism." Acts 10:34.
Peter had a vision that occurred to him three times, and in Acts 10, he tells the same story twice. When things are repeated in the Bible, it must mean they are important concepts! Peter's vision had the following message from God: "Do not call anything unclean that God has made pure."
Those first people of the church had been preaching to Jews, telling them the Good News about the saving grace of Christ. Cornelius, a Gentile, had a vision also, where he was called by an angel to bring Peter to him. Peter did come to Cornelius and preached to him and many others. The Holy Spirit came to them...they received the gift of God as well! Peter saw that his vision was true..."So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God's way?" (Acts 11:17 NIV)
There are those Christians out there who think their denomination is the only way to God...who are we as humans that we think we know better than God? How do we know that people who aren't immersed won't be saved? How do we know who God is working on? I believe there are different denominations because different people need to worship in different ways. God knows that. But when we start judging others because they don't follow our customs and practices...we are holding back the kingdom of God! If A person has been seeking, praying and asking God to come into his life, who are WE to keep them from that narrow gate? Who are we to judge who and how a person receives God's gift of the Holy Spirit?
I'm sorry for getting up on my soap box, but I have had friends who have been very hurt by other Christians who tell them they are not going to heaven because they are going to the wrong church...what arrogance! Only God makes that decision! God can work in ANYONE...ANYWHERE...ANYTIME! As Christians, let us be loving, kind and make sure we take care of the planks in our own eyes before we try to take the speck out of someone else's! God doesn't show favoritism and neither should we!