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_*“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)*_

The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage are quite blunt and direct. Yesterday, we heard Jesus say: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15). As a follow-up to this warning, Jesus, in today’s Gospel passage declares: “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter heaven?” Who is Jesus referring to in this passage? Firstly, Jesus speaks to us, the prayer warriors, preachers, apostles, evangelists, etc., who prophesy, speak in tongues, cast out demons, and so on but are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Secondly, Jesus addresses everyone who hears God’s words and fails to practice them. How can we avoid being kicked out from heaven on the last day?

– Practice what you preach. This is the best form of preaching and the only way to preach without being indicted by your words. For preaching in His Name, God will give us a more severe judgement because we have a greater advantage in hearing God’s word than others. “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make ready or act according to his will shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know and did what deserved a beating shall receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:47-48).

– Learn to preach to yourself. Whenever you proclaim God’s word, imagine yourself in the front pew. If God’s word does not move you, it won’t move anyone else to repentance. “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log in your eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you do not see the log in your eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:41-42).

– Patronize the products you sell. A man selling handkerchiefs approached a woman in her vehicle on a sunny afternoon. There was heavy traffic, and the air was humid. “Buy my handkerchief, ma,” he pleaded. “I am not buying because your handkerchief is not good,” she said. He laughed and said: “Just try it and see, it will take away all your sweat.” “Of course, but why are you still sweating?” she said. The problem with Christianity is that we have too many vendors but very few consumers. Many Christians are convinced about the truth of the Gospel, in theory, but practically deny it by their actions. I was preaching somewhere, and a woman in the congregation shouted: “Father, tell them! Yes. Tell them,” Why do we believe the Gospel is for “them” and not for me?

– Solidify your foundation; repent from shallow Christianity. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.” (Matthew 7:24). In other words, doing God’s word gives you the stamina to face trials and difficulties just as a solid foundation protects a house from collapse. Many Christians approach God with an entitlement mindset; they are only concerned with what they can get from God. When they are not getting what they think they deserve, they revert to their old unchristian ways. You may shout: “Amen. I receive it” to God’s blessings, but you cannot receive heaven if you are not a doer of God’s words. The word of God is not for our entertainment. Today, preachers are more concerned about making people feel good than preparing them for heaven.

– Today’s First Reading demonstrates the message in the Gospel passage. Jehoiachin knew God’s words, but he failed to practice them. Like many Christians who lack a solid foundation, Jehoiachin wanted God’s protection, provision and blessings but was unwilling to do what God commanded. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand, and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27). A few days ago, we read about King Hezekiah. When Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, sent a threatening letter to him, Hezekiah took the letter to God’s house and prayed. That night, Sennacherib lost one hundred and eighty-five thousand men. Hezekiah fought and won the battle on his knees. When Jehoiachin faced a similar threat (when the winds blew and beat against his house), he promptly surrendered himself to Nebuchadnezzar, who took him prisoner alongside all the able-bodied men and women to become slaves. Great was the fall of Jehoiachin.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, give us the grace of authenticity in our worship. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen..

Bible Study: 2 Kings 24:8-17, Ps. 79:1-5,8-9, Matthew 7:21-29).*

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu


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