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Appearances Versus Love

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” Matthew 21:28-31 Doing the will of the Father can sometimes be difficult. The first son just didn't feel like going out into the vineyard and working. But he loved his father enough to change his mind and just do it. The second son wanted to APPEAR to be a good son and to be in his father's good graces, and he answered with nice words, "I'll go, sir." ...But he didn't go. One was about appearances, the other was about love. The context of this passage is a discussion Jesus was having with the Pharisees. They were all show. They were steeped in pride and ostentatious in manner. They wanted everyone to be in awe of them. But their hearts were far from the Father. Their idea of "religion" was to perform rites and rituals, to dress in beautiful religious garments, and to be seen of all men how great they were. Should the Father ask anything of them that was out of character with their "religion" ...well, you see their treatment of Jesus, criticizing every move he made. Even with all the great things Jesus did, the hearts of the Pharisees only despised him. Jesus broke some of their rules, and we can't have THAT now, can we? There is a huge difference between religion and the born-again experience. Religion is the dead practice of "religious" doings, rites, rituals, candles, statues, beautiful cathedrals, and a host of trappings one follows in order to appear religious and to make oneself feel religious. It's also a stench in the nostrils of God. vs 31: "Jesus said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you." How's that for a put-down to the "experts," the religiously proud! To those steeped in pride! The born-again experience on the other hand, is a conversion of the heart, a surrender of the will, a falling in love with the Lord, a desire to abide in his Word daily – not in the Talmud – nor in the Koran or in the Catechism – or in ANY book other than the Bible. Religion can never produce this heart change. The born-again transformation is the result of an encounter one has with the living God, an encounter that changes EVERYTHING, an encounter that transforms the human heart. There is absolutely nothing a person can do to achieve it, it is the sovereign act of God carried out by the Spirit of God, a transformation no religion can offer. Being born again begins with hunger. The person whom the Holy Spirit is drawing will experience a hunger that nothing else can fill. They may go awhile, sometimes a long while, trying to satisfy the hunger with various things, only to find it's impossible. Finally, when they've been convinced there's no way to satisfy it, THEN they are ready to be brought into the Kingdom of God, and when the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus Christ to them, they will receive him with overwhelming joy and will follow him with zeal for the rest of their lives, from a transformed heart of all-encompassing love. If you do not know the Lord but are aware of that hunger, ASK him to reveal himself to you. ASK him to show you the way, the truth, and the life. Be prepared to surrender your life to him, realizing that the crown will shift from your head to his. You will enter into the greatest adventure of your life and later you will upbraid yourself for not doing it sooner. Oh the incomparable joy of walking with the Lord! MORE: How to be born again


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