Reflections: August 2, 2020
The Eighth Sunday after Trinity
By Joel Shaltanis
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our Lord warns us that there will be false teachers to be wary of. Christians want to do this, but we don't always recognize false prophets and false prophets don't advertise that they are false! As Christ said, they come in sheep's clothing, though inwardly they are vicious wolves. He says there is a way to know the difference between the false and the true: "You will know them by their fruit."
But some false prophets will even preach Christ and perform miracles in His Name. Surprisingly, some of these hypocrites won't even know they are hypocrites! Jesus says they will be confused at the Last Day, saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your Name, and cast out demons in your Name, and do many mighty works in your Name?" It makes us wonder if we can tell them by their actions after all. This makes it sound as though we are sitting ducks, or sheep anyway! Fortunately, Christ provides the solution to this problem in the very next verses. He said, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock" (Matthew 7:24-25).
Christ promises that He will not leave us all alone in the fight against evil. He promises that whoever hears His words and puts them into practice is going to be okay. He guarantees that we will face tough times, but if we remain in His Word, we will not be overcome by them. He is the Good Shepherd and He will fight to keep us safe. He has already laid down His life for the sheep only to take it up again by rising from the dead. This gracious act has won salvation for us and we receive this salvation through faith. Christ also gives us His Word to save us, with the promise that like sheep who hear the voice of the shepherd, our faith will be kept strong by hearing His Word again and again and following where He leads us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord take my hand and lead me Upon life's way; Direct, protect, and feed me From day to day. Without Your grace and favor I go astray; So take my hand, O Savior, And lead the way. ("Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me" LSB 722, st.1)
-Rev. Joel Shaltanis is pastor of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Plano, TX.
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