Making Wise Decisions

Sun, May 15, 2022
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:27 mins 18 secs

Message text


MATTHEW 7:13-27

INTRODUCTION: Several years ago, there was a news story about a man named Don Wyman. He was muscular and worked for a mining company.
One day about 4:00 p.m. he was alone in a forest cutting down a tree when the tree snapped back in his direction and knocked him to the ground.
The massive oak landed on his left shin – shattering his bone and ripping his flesh.
He tried to free himself, using his chainsaw to no avail.

He did everything he could think of, but still he couldn’t get free.
He realized that unless he got help soon he was going to bleed to death. He knew it would be hours before someone might figure something had gone wrong and come looking for him.

So, he made a courageous decision.
Pulling the starter cord from his chain saw he tied a tourniquet to his leg, shutting off the blood flow to his shin. Then somehow, with his pocket-knife, he proceeded to amputate his lower leg, just below the knee.
Now, on one leg, he had to find help.

He crawled 135 feet uphill to his bulldozer, climbed in, started it up and drove that extremely slow machine 1/4 mile to his pickup truck.
The truck was a stick shift and he had to use a metal rod to depress the clutch when he shifted.

He drove a mile and a half and came upon a dairy farm where someone called an ambulance.
1. Don Wyman survived the ordeal.
--But only because he realized that being pinned like that under that oak tree, to keep his leg would probably cost him his life.
--And he chose to live.

This morning, our sermon comes from the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount

with a message entitled “Make Wise Decisions”
1. Jesus concludes His best-known teaching by encouraging people to make wise decisions

2. He does so with a well-used method that reverberates through the whole Bible --the invitation to choose to be wise or to choose to be foolish

a. The book of Proverbs is almost entirely devoted to the comparison between the wise person and the foolish person

b. Moses – Duet. 30:19-20a – “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”

c. Joshua – Josh. 24:14-15 – “’Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.

But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.’”

d. Jeremiah- Jeremiah 21:8 – “"Furthermore, tell the people, ’This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.”
--God was saying, “You get to choose which way you will go.”

3. Everyday we’re faced with decisions --Will we be wise or will we be foolish?

4. Jesus gives us three important questions to ask ourselves to ensure that we are following the way of the wise and not the way of the fool

--Matt. 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

A. The foolish person says, “There are no boundaries.”

1. The world thinks total freedom with no restrictions is the goal.
2. Prov. 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death .”

B. The wise person says, “The Road is narrow.”

1. Prov. 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
2. There’s a reason Jesus says, “Narrow is the path.” --He knows this route provides the most fulfillment.

C. Comparing the two ways:

1. The broad way

a. The broad way is kind of like an Interstate highway

1). It’s easy to get on
2). You can travel very fast
3). You can be enticed by the many billboards along the way
4). You can quickly exit the highway, partake in whatever pleasure without accountability, and get right back on again.

b. IN CONTRAST, The narrow road is more like a winding rural road

1). It’s not easy to find and therefore not easy to get on
2). You have to be careful how you travel
3). It is very restrictive
4). The word translated “narrow” is from the Greek word for “tribulation” which usually means persecution
5). You have to leave your baggage behind

D. The wise person realizes that the way to life is very narrow as taught in the Bible:

1. John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
2. 1 Tim. 2:5 – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..”

E. Pursuing the narrow path is an ongoing decision.

1. There is the one time we decide to follow Christ, but we must continue daily to make wise decisions in order to stay on that road.
2. To head on the pathway to hell requires that you do absolutely nothing: simply follow the crowd.

--Matt. 7:15-22 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.

Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

1 Thess. 5:21-22 – “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
A. The wise person says, “There’s a difference between truth and falsehood.”
Jesus is condemning more than just false teaching; He is discouraging false behavior, impure motives, and inconsistent actions.

B. Jesus points to “fruit” as the essential method for discerning what is false and what is true.

1. In Israel the buckthorn plant produced little, black berries that could, initially be mistaken for grapes. There was also a thistle that produced a flower similar to the fig. --So the idea of carefully examining the fruit of a plant was a familiar one to Jesus’ listeners.

2. So, how do we tell between a false teacher and a true one?

a. We should pay attention to the manner of living a teacher shows.
--Do they show righteousness, humility and faithfulness in the way they live?
b. We should pay attention to the content of their teaching.
--Is it true fruit from God’s Word, or is it man-centered, appealing to ears that want to be tickled?
c. We should pay attention to the effect of their teaching.
--Are people growing in Jesus or merely being entertained, and eventually falling away?

D. Along with false teachers, there are false disciples
“Counterfeit Christians, like counterfeit twenty-dollar bills, are not easily detected. It takes a trained, discerning eye.”
--Sadly, the difference between genuine and counterfeit is always subtle, never obvious.

1. Let’s say I went to a local store with a twenty-dollar bill that was printed on yellow paper, had my wife’s picture on it, and was shaped in a funny way. Would they take it?
However, if a gave them a crisp, perfectly shaped, green piece of paper with what looked like the right ink and right background, and had a very distinguished picture of Andrew Jackson on it, I would have a much better chance at deceiving the clerk.

2. In comparison to money, counterfeit believers are a lot harder to spot.

a. They can mouth the right words or even do the right things but that’s religion
b. Jesus calls us to a consistent path, walked daily and regularly, marked by a sincere relationship to God’s word … one that follows Jesus’s example

John 14:15 à “If you love me … then keep my commandments

--Matt. 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

A. The foolish person says, “I plan for the temporary.”

1. Christ continues throughout the Sermon on the Mount to get people to think long term.
2. As Paul put it, Gal. 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

B. The wise person says, “I plan for eternity.”

1. Who is the individual who plans for eternity?
-- There is a qualifier, Jesus says: “The one who puts these words of mine into practice.”
2. James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

C. Notice the similarities between the builders:

1. Both are builders
2. Both are building houses
3. Both have similar life situations – they both go through storms
--It’s THE STORM that proves the difference

a. We have to understand that we’re all building something.
b. And what we build will be tested.  --1 Cor. 3:11-14 – “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.
c. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

D. The important thing is the differences between the two builders

1. Two different kinds of people --they build on two different kinds of foundations

a. The first hears the Word and then builds upon it
b. The second hears the Word but chooses to ignore it

2. Two different outcomes

a. One house stands firm
b. The other is completely destroyed.

3. This parable is the inspiration for that great old gospel song:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

E. Two different underlying principles

1. If you’re only hearing and reading the truth, you’re not prepared for life’s storms

2. If your foundation is sure, no storm will cause your life to collapse.

3. Jesus didn’t preach this message so it would sound nice or so that we could sit around and discuss it.

He preached it so that we could act on it.
--He emphasized obedience

CONCLUSION: A. Many years ago a man conned his way into the orchestra of the emperor of China although he could not play a note. Whenever the orchestra practiced or performed, he would hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play but not making a sound.
He received a modest salary and enjoyed a comfortable living. Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician. The flautist got nervous. There wasn’t enough time to learn the instrument.
He pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn’t fooled. On the day of his solo performance, the impostor took poison and killed himself. The explanation of his suicide led to a phrase that found its way into the English language: “He refused to face the music.”

1. Today you can pretend to be a part of God’s orchestra by just blending in with the crowd and going through the motions. No one notices because you say the right things, go to the right places, and hang out with the right people. And you can enjoy the comfort of being accepted by the crowd of your choice.

2. But there will come a day when you must face the music, one day you will be separated from everything.

--On that day you will stand alone before God

B. Every day you are building a foundation, based on which path you travel and to whom you listen.
2. The question is: Will you do it?
C. It’s time for you to make your choice:
1. Have I chosen the right gate?

2. Am I traveling the right road?

3. Does my tree bear the right fruit?

4. Am I following those who teach the truth?

5. Is my faith being demonstrated in what I do?

6. Do I truly know God through Jesus Christ?



Where and when we meet

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128 Maple Avenue
Chardon, Ohio 44024
Phone: (440) 286-5505

Our Schedule of Services

10:00 - 10:45 AM
 Bible Study 
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
 Morning Worship 
6:00 - 7:00 PM
 Evening Worship "Suspended Temporarily"
7:00 - 8:00 PM
 Bible Study: "Suspended Temporarily"
Ladies Bible Study: Last Tues. of the month 
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