Written Oct 2012: I make mistakes. I screw up. I sin. I am proud, selfish, angry, deceitful, harsh, rough, and uncontrolled – and all of that before breakfast! I am far from perfect. Thankfully, I don’t have to be. But the more time I spend in God’s shadow, the less I will do these things. Matt 1:21 says that Jesus “will save His people from their sins.” That is a good thing, because if I had to become perfect to make it to Heaven, I wouldn’t have a chance. Matt 2:6 says that Jesus will be a “Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” Here, Jesus is set apart as my Saviour and my Guide. As sheep are lead by a shepherd, they are safest when they know him: when they can recognize his voice and his direction, when they can understand what his crook on their side means, and when they stay close to him. The same is true for me and Jesus. I have no hope of saving myself. But He saves me. And He has come to lead me. I don’t know if I have actually spent much time following Jesus. I have spent lots of time following the church or other Christian writers or thinkers or local Christians that I look up to. But have I been following Jesus? There have been times in my life where I have compared myself to others. I thought, “Oh I am better than this one,” or, “I will never be as good as that one.” Then that changes the way I think about myself and what I am willing to do, and sometimes it makes me think that God does not favor me like he does others, and maybe I am not good enough. Then there are those reminders of my sin and that I really am not good enough and what is the point of trying anyway?? But if we continue through Matthew we see Jesus taking this issue on. He talks about the religious figureheads. They are “perfect.” They say long prayers for everyone to see, they fast in public, they keep the letter of the law. But Jesus shows us that it is not what people can see that is important, but what God sees. They may not have committed adultery in the flesh, but they were in their hearts. They were praying and fasting in public for the praise of men and that was all the benefit that would come from it. But Jesus told us that God sees and knows what is done in secret. In the secret place. He is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. He brings God out of the dimension of religion and into the dimension of reality. God is alive. He is not found in rules and traditions, but in individual experience. Jesus tells us that we do not need to worry, that God can take care of us (Matt 6:25-34). He is again bringing God out of the theoretical and into our lives. Then He goes on to tell us not to judge others. We are in no position to judge others. We cannot see them as God does. And they cannot see us as God does. In Matt 7:21, we are told that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. This race that He has commissioned us to run is not run with others. We are not to compare ourselves to others, or find our direction from others. This is an individual sport. It is just Him and me. He leads me. He knows what I need to be doing. Those that I keep comparing myself to: are they the ones that in the end will not enter the kingdom? Only God knows. I am not getting on down my path if I am taking my pace and direction from others. I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. He tells us to seek what we need from God. He wants to give us good things (Matt 7:11). He is not a rule or philosophy or” feel good” lifestyle. He is powerful and loving and able to hear and answer and get involved in our lives. In verse 23 (Chap 7), Jesus says to those who are not permitted to enter the kingdom, “I never knew you.” He said in verse 21 that the people who get in are those who do “the will of My Father in heaven.” In order to know His will, I need to know Him. Not man- made rules, traditions, philosophies, etc. I need to know Him. He wants me to know Him. He has a wealth of love to share and all of the knowledge to impart. There is no better Guide. No other Saviour!