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“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

These words of Jesus do not forbid us to judge another’s doctrine; for Jesus says, just a few verses later in His Sermon on the Mount, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits…” (15-16a).

They do not forbid us to judge between right and wrong and to admonish our brother when he sins; for Jesus also tells us, “Moreover if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone…” (Matt. 18:15ff.).

So, what does Jesus mean when He says, “Judge not…”? A reading of the verses which follow will provide the answer. Jesus is warning against our propensity to pick out and condemn the faults in others, no matter how small, and to overlook our own sins and shortcomings, even if they are large.

Thus He says, “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye.”

It is hypocritical of us to condemn the faults of others while, at the same time, overlooking or excusing our own.

And Jesus warns, “For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

It often happens in life that we end up being treated in the same way that we have treated others. Thus, if we have been overly critical and judgmental, we are likely to learn what it is like at the hand of others.

But, of far more serious consequence, is God’s judgment. If we condemn the sins of others and are unwilling to forgive them, our Father in heaven will condemn us for our own sins and not forgive us, either! As Jesus says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).

Rather than being overly critical and judgmental of others, we should first look at ourselves in the light of God’s Word; for when we compare our thoughts, desires, words and actions to God’s commandments, we all come far short of God’s holy expectations.

Again, it is as the Scriptures say, “For there is not a just man on earth, that does good, and sins not” (Eccl. 7:20; cf. Rom. 3:23).

Rather than look at the sins and shortcomings of others, we ought to agree with God that we are sinners and acknowledge and confess our sins before God, trusting that He will forgive us and cleanse us for the sake of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in our stead (cf. 1 John 1:7 — 2:2).

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … he was buried … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4).

Rather than being judgmental and unforgiving toward our fellow sinners, God’s Word tells us to “be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36); and “be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

O dear Jesus, forgive me for being quick to judge and condemn others when I myself am a sinner and full of faults deserving of Your just punishment. For the sake of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the world, forgive me and cleanse my heart and move me to love others and seek to bring them to You that they too may know Your love and forgiveness and walk with You unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the American King James Version.]

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Paul’s Letter to the Believers at Colosse

A Series of Devotions by Pastor Randy Moll

Colossians 1:1-8

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: as ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.” Colossians 1:1-8

Though the Apostle Paul may never have visited the church in Colosse, when he heard of the believers’ faith in Christ Jesus and the resulting love they had for their fellow believers, he, together with Timothy, gave thanks to God for giving them the confident hope of eternal life in heaven through faith in Messiah Jesus.

The good news of God’s offer of pardon and forgiveness and the promise of everlasting life in heaven because God the Son became true man and redeemed mankind reached the ears of the Colossians through Epaphras (and perhaps others, too) and faith in Jesus was kindled in their hearts through the hearing of the Gospel.

As the good news of God’s gracious gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven for Jesus’ sake was used to generate faith in the hearts of the believers at Colosse nearly 2,000 years ago, so this same message generates faith in human hearts today. The same Gospel, that Word of truth, tells us of the certain hope laid up for us in heaven, not because of anything we have done or can do, but because God’s own dear Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world and suffered and died for the sins of all and rose again in victory. God’s Word tells us that His gift to us for Jesus’ sake is life everlasting in the mansions of heaven.

Such a gracious gift of God — the forgiveness of all our sins because of His own Son’s holy life and innocent suffering and death in our stead and the assurance that we have a place in His eternal, heavenly kingdom — will also move those who believe to selfless love for other believers and fellow heirs of eternal life in heaven, but this love is the result of God’s loving gift of salvation to us, not the cause of it.

What a comfort to know that, though we have sinned and come short of the holy demands of God’s good law, Jesus fulfilled it for us and then took our sins upon Himself, paying the just penalty upon the cross that we might have forgiveness and life everlasting through faith in His name! And this hope which we have is not an uncertain hope but simply waiting for the things assured to us by the promises of God.

God has offered and promised us a place in heaven through faith in His Son. That place has been made certain to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We await that day in confidence and assurance that heaven is ours for Jesus’ sake. And, when we face the end of our lives here in this world, we need not doubt and wonder if we will make it into heaven. Heaven is guaranteed to us because Jesus shed His blood for us and paid in full for all our sins. If our salvation depended upon us or anything we did, we could have no certainty and no hope; but because it depends upon Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for us, we have every assurance and hope of everlasting life in the mansions of our heavenly Father’s house!

Paul wrote this letter while he himself was a prisoner because there were those who were seeking to rob these believers of the assurance and hope they had in Jesus by placing other demands upon them — suggesting such things as the worshiping of angels, eating certain foods or observing certain days. Today, too, there are many false teachers who would suggest and say that to be true Christians people must exercise certain gifts, eat certain foods or observe certain days.

The apostle’s message, the true Gospel, is that we are complete in Jesus — our salvation and everlasting life are certain in Him — there is nothing we need to add to His redemptive work!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for graciously bringing to us the Word of Truth, the saving Gospel of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting through faith in Your Son, Christ Jesus. By Your Spirit, move us to believe and take heart and be assured that, for Jesus’ sake, our sins are forgiven and, for Jesus’ sake, we have life everlasting with You in heaven. Amen.

[Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come….” Matthew 22:1-3 (Read 22:1-14)

The chief priests and Pharisees, along with many of the Jews, rejected Jesus and would not trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins and a place in God’s eternal kingdom. God’s servants, the apostles and prophets, proclaimed to them the way of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; but they made light of God’s gracious invitation and even mistreated and killed God’s servants.

With the parable of the king who made a marriage supper for his son, Jesus illustrated to his hearers how they were rejecting God’s gracious invitation to have a part in His kingdom and partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb through faith in His own dear Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 19:7ff.). They were too busy with their own lives and religious service and they made excuses and did not come and partake of the salvation God provided in His Son who He died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again in victory.

As described in Jesus’ parable (v. 7), the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants were judged by God for their rejection of Christ Jesus. The city was destroyed and burned with fire, and its inhabitants were either killed or carried away captive by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.

The LORD God has also sent His servants out to invite others to have a part in His eternal kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus. The Gospel has been preached, not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles around the world and many have heeded God’s gracious invitation. Through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross, many have received forgiveness of sins and will partake of the eternal joys of heaven.

And they are clothed, not with their own sin-tainted righteousness, but with the perfect righteousness of Christ. It is only for the sake of Christ and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead that they are acceptable to God and have a place in His everlasting kingdom (cf. Eph. 1:6-8).

But, like the man who came without a wedding garment, there are also those who try to enter God’s kingdom by their own sin-tainted works rather than by simply receiving the righteousness of Christ which is ours through faith in Him. Such, who attempt to partake of God’s eternal kingdom clothed in the spotted garment of the flesh rather than in the righteousness of Christ, will be cast out into the darkness and eternal torment of hell.

God’s gracious invitation continues to go out to all — us included — but only those who, by the grace of God, repent and heed the Gospel call, trusting in Christ alone for eternal salvation, will be saved (cf. Mark 16:15-16; John 3:18,36; Eph. 2:8-9).

As Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Christ died for all and the Gospel invitation goes out to all, but only those who by the gracious working of God’s Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament heed the Word, repent of their sinful ways, place their faith in the shed blood of Christ Jesus and continue in that faith will be saved (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:3ff.; Acts 13:48).

Therefore, as we learn from Jesus’ parable, we also need to beware lest we begin to take that invitation lightly and neglect the Word and Sacraments or we begin to depend upon our own sin-tainted righteousness rather than trusting alone in the perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus our Savior.

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in that great Day, for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully thro’ these absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #371, Verses 1-2)

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“Then He said to him, ‘A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, “Come, for all things are now ready….”’” Luke 14:16-17 (Read Luke 14:15-24)

You have been invited to the greatest banquet of all! Even though you are a sinner and deserving of God’s eternal wrath and punishment, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s Law in your stead, and then to suffer and die on the cross and bear the full punishment for your transgression and sin. God calls you through the preaching of the Gospel and invites you to receive His pardon and forgiveness and to take part in His everlasting kingdom.

The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). It tells us that “Jesus Christ … loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5); that “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7); and that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).

And, the risen Lord Jesus even now is preparing a place for all who believe in Him, in the mansions of His Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Through the preaching of this good news, God calls you to come to Him and receive the everlasting blessings of His kingdom.

Even now, as you read these words, God’s Spirit calls you to “come, for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17); and to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Jesus told the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24) to admonish His hearers for rejecting the salvation God was providing for them in His Son.

The Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures, which promised eternal salvation through the coming Messiah and Savior; but when Jesus, God’s Son, came into this world to accomplish the salvation God had promised of old — when the Gospel invitation went out: “Come, for all things are now ready” — the Jews excused themselves for various reasons. They were too busy with the things of this world to come to Christ Jesus and receive from Him forgiveness for their sins and eternal life. One bought a piece of land and wanted to go and see it; another had bought a yoke of oxen and wanted to try them out; and another had just gotten married and could not come (cf. Luke 14:18-20).

What about you? This same Gospel invitation has gone out to you: “Come, for all things are now ready.” Do you have time to come to Jesus and learn of Him and the eternal blessings He has won for you? Do you come to hear His life-giving Word and learn of God’s offer and promise of forgiveness for all your sins and of the everlasting joys of heaven? Or, are you too busy with the cares and concerns of this life?

What is your excuse? Are you too busy checking on land or property? Do you have to try out that car or truck or tractor? Do you have to try out that new tool or toy? Are you too busy with work or school or business to come to Jesus? Have you married a wife and become too busy with family concerns to take time for church services and the hearing of God’s Word? What is your excuse?

The excuses in Jesus’ parable angered the man who made the great supper (v. 21). He said, “None of those men who were invited shall taste my supper” (v. 24).

Will God accept your excuse? Is not this a warning to us not to become so busy with other things in this life that we neglect that “one thing [that is] is needed” (Luke 10:42).

Jesus admonishes us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). And Jesus warns: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him…” (Heb. 2:3)?

What did the master of the house in Jesus’ parable then do that his house might be filled with guests? He sent his servants out into the streets and lanes of the city to bring in the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. And, when there was yet room, he sent them out into the highways and hedges (where the poor often camped) to compel those there to come in (Cf. Luke 14:21-24.)

It is by the grace of God that we have heard the Gospel of Christ and come to trust in Him for forgiveness and life (Eph. 2:4-9); but “STILL THERE IS ROOM” (v. 22)! Our Heavenly Father sends His servants out into the streets and lanes, and to the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in — to call upon all, whether rich or poor, healthy or handicapped or sick, to come to Christ Jesus and partake of the blessings of His kingdom.

Jesus commands His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). They are to preach “repentance and remission of sins … in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). They are to say: “Come, for all things are now ready!” (Luke 14:17). And, Jesus tells us: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Dear LORD God, our Savior, grant that we not neglect and excuse ourselves from partaking of the salvation so graciously provided for us through the innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Jesus Christ. Fill us also with Your love for lost sinners that we may obey Your command and send men into all the world with Your saving Gospel and compel them to come in! In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Jesus once said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). And, when I see the things happening in our world today, it gives me cause to wonder about the answer to that question.

Yes, there are many who profess to be Christians, but how many are left who really hold to the true and Biblical Christian Faith?

How many believe the Triune God of the Bible created the heavens and earth and all things in six days (each with an evening and morning) and that the age of the earth is only about 6,000 years and not millions or billions of years old?

How many believe the account of the fall of mankind into sin in Genesis 3 or of God’s judgment upon the world in the Great Flood of Genesis 6-8? How many believe that the imagination of Man’s heart is (since the fall) evil from his youth (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Jer. 17:9)?

How many believe all the Biblical accounts regarding the patriarchs and believers of the Old Testament period?

How many believe the Bible’s accounts of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments?

How many believe what the Bible teaches throughout about marriage being the lifelong union of one man and one woman unto one flesh? How many believe the Bible when it condemns fornication, adultery, homosexuality and every other perversion of God’s design for a man and woman in marriage as instituted by God in Genesis 2?

How many believe what the Bible says in regard to human life being God’s creative work in the womb and believe that abortion and euthanasia are contrary to God’s commandment against murder?

How many believe what the Bible teaches about the roles of men and women in the church and in the world? How many accept the Bible’s prohibition against women in the public ministry?

How many believe the commandments of God are good and right even though we all come short of keeping them as God intends and they reveal the sinfulness of our thoughts, desires, words and actions? How many believe the Bible’s teaching regarding their utter sinfulness before God and their inability to be acceptable to God on the basis of their own works and life?

How many believe that Jesus is truly God the Son in human flesh, born into this world of the virgin Mary; that He lived a sinless life in the stead of all mankind and then was crucified to atone for the sins of all mankind and rose bodily from the grave on the third day? How many believe He has ascended to the right hand of God the Father in heaven where He is over all things, and that He is coming again to raise up all the dead and will judge every human being who has ever lived?

How many believe that they — not just others — need to repent daily of the many sins and shortcomings in their lives and look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for mercy and forgiveness and then seek God’s help and strength to amend their lives and live in accord with God’s commandments?

How many believe that the only way to be acceptable to God and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness is through faith in Jesus Christ, which is not of our own will or decision but created by the Holy Spirit’s working through the promises of the Gospel?

How many believe there is only one way to be spared in God’s final judgment and not be condemned to the eternal fires of hell and that is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world?

Yes, I could go on and on, but you get my point. Many who claim to be Christians are smorgasbord Christians. They pick and choose what parts of the Bible they believe and reject or ignore the others. But we won’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are used when we are judged on the Last Day.

Considering the current direction of the world, most churches and so many people who still claim to be Christian, “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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