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Recognition and Destination


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Knock Knock Who’s there ! Banana ! Banana who ? Banana split so ice creamed !

Why are bananas never lonely? Because they hang around in bunches.

What’s yellow and always points to the north? A magnetic banana.

What would you call two bananas? A pair of slippers

Why did the banana go to the doctor?  Because it wasn’t peeling well.

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Ok, those jokes were kinda fruity, but this week’s focus is not fruity at all.  Jesus takes his hearers on the mountain side through a simple illustration ending with eternal consequences.  He is coming upon the close of the Sermon on the Mount, as we read in Matthew, and is going to pull some strings together for the ending.  He has just talked about a number of Christ-like behaviors and attitudes.  He has given us a picture of His Father in Heaven and shown us why we can rely on Him…no worries.  Last week we looked at the verse that talked about the narrow and wide gates (Matthew 7:13-14).  Many will go through the wide, few will even find the narrow.  He is slowly explaining that this simple message is not easy to accept and enemies are around intending to keep many from following and obeying.  Some of those enemies are standing in the crowd described in this passage.

First, Jesus explains that there are people lying about who they really are.  Wolves dressed as sheep.  Christ has just given us a picture of His Father and how His children should behave through the past 96 verses.  He now tells us that these wolves will be known by their fruit.  We know of course that apples don’t come from banana trees.  Pears don’t grow on grape vines.  Neither will these wolves look like God.  They are not connected to God.  They are not following God.  They are enemies of God.  Their tree is bad (Matthew 7:18).  Their tree will not produce good fruit that God is looking for, therefore, their tree will be cut down and burned.  Imagine being there and looking in the direction of one of the Pharisees or Sadducees who might have been there gathering “intelligence” about this Jesus guy.  Many of them are the wolves being talked about.

Jesus then widens the discussion to not just wolves, but everyone.  I’m sure at this point that the crowd is fairly quiet minus the children playing in the background.  Christ lays out the following statement, “Not all who calls ‘Lord, Lord’ will get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”  The next words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13 say this, “Only those who do the will of my Father will enter.”  Did you catch that first word.  “Only.”  Jesus is drawing the line in the sand and explains that He is going to have to judge people.  He is going to be discriminatory.  He is the definition of Love, however, He is also a perfect judge and all will be judged concerning their eternity with Him.  By their fruit they will be known and judged.

Fruit is all about what it is attached to.  Many are going to claim Christ in the end, but Christ will know that they are not connected to Him.  Their fruit will not match up with His likeness.  I think this is a reality check for all standing or sitting there hearing Him speak.  There will be an end to this life.  There will be a judgment.  They will be judged.  There is an eternity waiting…and they, through their fruit (by deciding who they are connected to) will choose their eternity.  Christ’s judgment will only verify and confirm who they chose to follow in their life.

Carry that forward about 2000 years.  The same truth is right there before us.  There will be an end to our physical lives here on this planet.  There will be a judgment.  We will be judged by Jesus.  There is an eternity waiting for us.  And by our fruit we will be judged.  Our fruit will verify and confirm who we are connected to.  Who are you connected to?

I know, this is not an easy lesson to think about.  The message is simple, but the ramifications are hard to swallow.  The consequences of being connected to the wrong tree are eternal.  I’ll ask again, who are you connected to?  Here are some questions to help you evaluate…we’re just going to scan the past 96 verses.  Please take the time to look up the verses as you ask the questions.

  • Do you resemble those mentioned in the beatitudes? (5:3-12)
  • Are you salty? (5:13)
  • Can people see your light…God’s light… through your actions , words, decisions? (5:14-16)
  • Do you keep Christ’s commands AND teach them to others? (5:19)
  • Do you have hate in your heart? (5:22)
  • Adultery?  Lust? (5:27-30)
  • Unrepentant divorce? (5:31-32)
  • Is your word really and truthfully your ‘word’? (5:37)
  • Do you act out in revenge? (5:39)
  • Do you love your neighbor as God loves them? (5:48)
  • Do you give, pray and fast to show people you’re religious, or out of love for God and for others?  (6:1-18)
  • Are you focused on and study to know Heavenly ideals, principles and values? (6:19-21)
  • Do you see this world and people around you as God does and watch for where He is working and leading? (6:22)
  • Does your focus on this world and your own strengths/weaknesses cause you to worry? (6:25-34)
  • Do you judge others before loving and caring for them? (7:1-6)
  • Do you really approach God with full trust as a perfect parent? (7:7-11)
  • Golden Rule rule your life? (7:12)
  • Are you always looking and seeking the narrow gate? (7:13-14)

I truly believe that how we ‘look’ as we go about life proves what tree we’re connected to.  How we look, our fruit, comes from our behaviors.  Our behaviors come from our thoughts and intentions.  Our thoughts and intentions come from our values and moral code.  Our values and moral code come from one of two places…Heaven or Hell.  Are we connected to the tree of the Creator?  Our fruit will show in the end.

Someone may ask where forgiveness is in all of this.  Our fruit doesn’t cause us to be good enough to enter Heaven.  We can’t earn a ticket there.  Jesus’ death took the wrath of God away from those who accept Him as their savior.  His resurrection from the dead beat death.  Yes our bodies will die, but we will…like Him…be raised to an eternal life.  Our fruit simply shows if we’ve truly made that decision in our life to be connected to the tree of forgiveness.  If we have been truly connected to Christ, then our thoughts and behaviors and words should, as a tree grows and bears fruit, look more and more like Jesus.  Sanctification.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

PS – For more evaluation see the Fruit of the Spirit list – Galatians 5:22-23

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