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Don't Be a Hypocritical Judge
(Chapter 7, verses 1-6)
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       (1) "Stop arbitrarily rating the value of a person. That way, your own value won't be arbitrarily rated. (2) The criterion you use to size others up will be used to size you up. Yes, the way you measure a person's worth as an individual is the same way God will measure your worth. (3) So why, then, do you point out the sawdust in your brother's eye, but overlook the log in your own eye? (4) Or how can you bring yourself to approach your brother and say, ‘Let me help you with that sawdust in your eye,' when that log is impairing your own distorted vision? (5) You're nothing but a hypocrite! The first thing you need to do is pry out that large piece of lumber from your own eye, and then see clearly how to extricate that speck of sawdust from your brother's eye. (6) [I know your intentions are good in giving your people helpful advice, but, whatever you do], do not give holy things to people who are on the same spiritual level as dogs. Don't throw pearls of spiritual wisdom to pigs, that is, people who have no appreciation for such. In fact, they'll hate you for trying to help. They're even capable of actually attacking you!

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Be Persistent in Supplicating God
(Chapter 7, verses 7-12)

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       (7) "Continue requesting and it will be given to you; just keep on searching and you'll find it; continue knocking ceaselessly and the door will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who is persistent in asking receives; and everyone who persists in searching finds; and to everyone who doesn't tire of knocking, it will be opened to him. (9) This concept shouldn't be difficult to fathom. When a hungry son asks his loving father for a meal, the loving father won't give him a plateful of rocks, will he? (10) Or, maybe the boy will ask for a fish dinner; he won't be given a live poisonous snake, will he? (11) It only follows, then, that if you sinful humans know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your heavenly Father give good things to those asking him? [If you'd do well by your children, don't you think he'd do it even more so by you? Think about it.] (12) Everything good that you want people to do to you; you must likewise do to them. This, in fact, is the summation of the Law and the Prophets.

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Select the Right Road,
Reject False Prophets
(Chapter 7, verses 13-20)

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       (13) "Squeeze through the tight entrance [to eternal life] because the path that leads to devastation and annihilation is vast, comfortable, and has lots of wiggle room; that's why so many people go through it. (14) The cramped, restricted entrance, on the other hand, takes you to the path of life, but only a few find it, and have the discipline to agonize through it. (15) Watch out for ‘super holy' men and women who say they're from God, but really aren't. They're vicious salivating wolves dressed to look like harmless, innocent sheep. (16) You can see through their disguise, though, by checking out their deeds and course of action. You never see anyone picking apples off orange trees, or pears off fig trees, do you? (17) It's real simple: a good fruit tree produces the same kind of good fruit; a rotten tree doesn't. (18) Conversely, a good tree won't produce bad fruit; neither does a rotten tree bear good fruit. (19) As you know, you have to cut down the rotten tree and burn it. (20) My point is, you can determine a ‘false prophet,' not just by the so-called ‘good' he preaches, but by whether or not he lives his life in harmony with the Scriptures. [The bad he does speak so loudly that you can't hear the good that he's preaching.]

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Do God's Will, Build
Solid Foundation

(Chapter 7, verses 21-29)

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       (21) "Everyone that hollers in Church, ‘Lord, Lord,' making a spectacle of him- or herself won't even make it close to the kingdom of the heavens. Rather, it's the person that actually practices what he or she preaches, thereby doing my heavenly Father's will that'll make it. (22) Oh yes, in that day many will ask, ‘Lord, Lord,' didn't we always use your name in prophesying; in exorcizing demons; and in performing miracles?' [Didn't you see and hear us?] (23) And then I'll give them the shocking disclosure: ‘Even though you used my name, I've never acknowledged your so-call "righteous," but in reality, sanctimonious works! Get away from me! I don't want you hanging around me, you pious disregarders of God's laws!' (24) So that you won't be shocked, listen to my sayings and act on what you've heard. If you do, you'll be like that prudent man who constructed his house on solid rock. (25) When a violent hurricane lashed against that building, it didn't collapse because it was built on solid rock. (26) By way of contrast, everyone who hears my sayings and doesn't respond with right actions is like the fool who built his house on sand. (27) When that same hurricane hit the area, the collapse of his house was so great that you couldn't tell that a house used to be there." (28) When Jesus finished lecturing, the crowds were astounded, in fact, overwhelmed with his style and manner of teaching. (29) Besides, as God's representative, he authoritatively used the Hebrew Scriptures in a way that they had never seen before. The scribes, on the other hand, relied on weak oral traditions as their authority. Their presentation was no match for the devastating logic Jesus employed.

To Matthew: Chapter 8