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August 2012

Outer darkness

Matthew 8:1-13 The Jews were insiders – the chosen race, the people of God.  Israel was a light to the nations, a shining advertisement for the LORD’s grace and glory.  And yet, as Jesus would often say, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” (e.g. Matthew 19:30)  Judgement involves dramatic reversals. […]

Building on sand

Matthew 7:21-27 Jesus splits the world in two.  But He does it by descending right into our midst. There He is, the son of Mary, an itinerant preacher with no qualifications and no fixed abode.  Surrounded by the poor, the meek and the persecuted, He holds forth with His distinctive northern accent.  Yet as He […]

By their fruits ye shall know them

Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus has told us “Beware” of wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They look like Christians, they speak in Christ’s name but they are false prophets.  And their false teaching devastates the flock. But how can we defend ourselves against this secret threat?  After all, these wolves look – at least from a distance – […]

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Matthew 7:15-20 In the sermon on the mount, there is a progression in Christ’s teaching about the Scribes and Pharisees. They begin as standard-bearers for outward righteousness.  If anyone is to enter the Kingdom, they must have a righteousness that exceeds the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).  Of course that means that these do-gooders are […]

Strait and narrow

Matthew 7:13-14 “He used to be a junkie, now he’s on the straight and narrow” we say.  And by that we mean that he’s cleaned up his act.  Now he’s behaving. When Jesus coined the phrase “strait and narrow” He didn’t quite mean it like that. This is what He said: “Enter ye in at […]

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Matthew 7:12 Here is a famous phrase from the Bible.  Yet it’s not in the Bible.  Not in as many words anyway.  Here’s how the King James Bible renders it: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” […]

Seek and ye shall find

Luke 18:1-8; Matthew 7:7-11 Everyone prays.  At least when they’re desperate.  But no-one seems to know why it works or how it could. It’s an uncertainty that keenly afflicts westerners labouring under three false assumptions. 1) We think of “nature” as a closed system, grinding along according to iron laws. 2) We consider ourselves to […]

Pearls before swine

Matthew 7:1-6 The most precious of jewels and the filthiest of animals are combined into a single memorable phrase: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”  (Matthew 7:6) There are people who, at […]

The mote and the beam

Matthew 7:1-6 George Carlin once noted a universal rule of the road:  Everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot.  And everyone who drives faster is a maniac. To the speeding driver, everyone’s an idiot.  To the slow driver, everyone’s a maniac.  But one rule applies to all:  My speed is just right. Hypocrisy is […]

Judge not, that ye be not judged

Matthew 7:1-6 Last year the BBC, CNN, the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many other news sites and blogs reported a hoax as fact.  The hoax was this:  Internet Explorer users are less intelligent than those using other web browsers. It was a lie that spread like wildfire, despite the thinnest of fabricated “evidence” produced […]