The Perfect Reader (aka Asbury Reader) covers Matthew 7:13-23 and they are using the Message. I want to share this with you, not in it's entirety, but at least some of what jumped out at me.
Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God - is vigorous and requires total attention.
Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say...
What comes to mind for me is the easy stuff in life that we think get's us closer to God. Sitting in church on Sunday doesn't make you a Christian (or get you closer to God) anymore than sitting in your garage makes you a car. I am sure I will use that until the day I die! But think about it, did you get through school in 15 minutes a day? Does showing up in a kitchen make you a great cook? If you stand beside someone with great hair, will you have great hair too? If you answered yes to any of these, you need to stop reading this blog and call someone, heck call me, I need to hear about this!
When I got serious about seeking God, I had to get real about a lot things I was doing that were shortcuts. One of the shortcuts I was dependent on was a study Bible. Now, there is a time for study Bibles, so don't send me comments about how much you love your study Bible and won't give it up! The Disciples Bible Studies are a perfect place for these Bibles. They give you maps, pictures and commentaries. Which is where I want to stand for a minute.
Commentary = someones thoughts on the subject...someone other than you... = shortcut! When you read scripture, things will jump out at you. When that happens, you need to sit with it for a while and ask the Holy Spirit, What's up with this part of scripture jumping out at me? Then just listen and see what happens. Here is where the problem begins, we have to listen and we have to be still...and know that God is God and you are not.
I decided I really didn't care what the commentaries were telling me, cuz that's not why I was in the Bible. I was in there to find out what God had to say to me. The Bible is the Living Word of God, people! That means He wants to talk to you, personally, without all the shortcuts. However, if you want to hang on to your shortcuts, God will let you. He will also let you sit in the garage making engine noises with your mouth! But you will still not be a car!!!