THE NARROW PATH?:
(Mat 4:23) And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. .
He didn't sit at home; He didn't build a physical church.
He fulfilled the Law with action or works, birthed in love.
He walked for days, slept rough, went hungry.
But if we fly for ten hours, with food, comfortable seats, entertainment and people to wait on us, it's still too great a trouble…
then there's the cost…"na …not doing that" we say.
Then, do we work in our own country, town?….then where?……let's meander through the Bible looking at references to do with these points.
(Mat 7:12) So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
If we were suffering, persecuted, hungry or without a Bible, how would we want others to treat us?
As Jesus tells us in the above verse, the correct response toward such people sums up the Law.
(Mat 5:20) For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
They had the knowledge and the Law but showed no love.
This "LOVE" is an ALL encompassing love for God, mixed with FAITH, an utter belief in His Word and the offer of eternal life; this belief demonstrated by how we live now;
(Gal 5:6) …the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
(Mat 6:20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Many times we are SPOILT children of a king….we expect blessings, we don't want to go outside our comfort zone, and hour or two on Sunday/Saturday ensures or salvation…Heaven; it's an insurance policy two hours a week for Heaven….God's abundant blessings thrown in for free….and if we give money He will bless it ten fold….win and win.
We refuse to do something that WE think we are not suited to or gifted in…..we deny God being God. Even if it is written in His Word…even if it is His will, we won't stand believing it is possible….because we don't let Him take control, we hold on to our stubborn belief …..faith, what faith…so we don't see faith in action, God has me in a desert place….be careful satan tempted Jesus in a desert.
Some like their McDonald's church, one hour rush through, listening to the Pastors understanding of Scripture, based on mother church doctrine that is never to be questioned, no input, no homework, little practicable application, smile, cup of tea with a biscuit, all done one hour….(if you come late for the singing).
Live for ourselves throw in a little God sometimes….even He understands we have to work, that we have bills; I'm too old or I'm working towards my retirement, then I can give Him some time. We have to be careful.
He created the world for us to enjoy, I do my "bit".
Some even believe they won't face hard end times….being raptured out instead.
We tend to think we have somehow earned this decedent comfort we live in, and we don't have to move too far from it.
It is our God given right to enjoy it.
True…to a point.
(Luk 12:48) …from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
No one could deny we have much, much Biblical teaching, much freedom, much food, much money, transport, entertainment, much of everything compared to the majority of the world population. Many Bibles per person.
The question would be; have we been entrusted with much….then if this is so, much is demanded from us and much much more is asked of us?
Have we fulfilled what is asked of us…demanded of us?
But in all of this, is God FIRST, is He our first love……Have we blind faith in him and His Word?
A love, a faith that transcends money, goals, that puts GOD first.
Example…..If God took you to heaven now…………you wouldn't let lack of money stop you in your endeavour to make people aware.
(Mat 6:24) "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
But we sure give it a good try !!!
(Jam 4:3) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(Jam 4:4) You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
I know we need clothes, food, etc…..true….but what if we weren't working for ourselves first and just fitting God in?
What if we are doing God's will, seeking His kingdom and righteousness….working for His purpose, furthering His kingdom?
(Mat 6:31) So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
(Mat 6:32) For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
(Mat 6:33) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Mat 6:34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Think back to the "love" of our youth, for a boy or girl, nothing stood before us, any cost was acceptable, we blindly fought to be together, overcome all obstacles ……think of a love for His Kingdom greater than this, with His Holy Spirit to guide us, God's very hand to provide miracles through us for the furthering of His Kingdom. Then a fleeting time here to prove our love, next an eternity of fantastic things our mind can't even imagine.
(Joh 15:13) Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(Joh 15:14) You are my friends if you do what I command.
He's got to be joking…who me…you want me to do this…na He's talking to missionaries……He doesn't really mean lay down your life…oh that's NIV it doesn't apply.
(1Jo 3:16) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
(1Jo 3:17) If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
(1Jo 4:20) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
(1Jo 4:21) And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Jesus Himself defined the meaning of brother;
(Mat 12:48) He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
(Mat 12:49) Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.
(Mat 12:50) For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
So we are called to do His will……no questions asked…whatever His will may be.
Not only that, He tests our hearts and why shouldn't He; as we are ambassadors of Christ.
(2Co 5:20) We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
Interesting an ambassador is usually in a country on his own, standing and answering for the interests of his own land. The same must apply when we are ambassadors of Christ…
(1Th 2:4) On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
Interesting that God TESTS our hearts….how do we measure up in this test?...
(2Co 13:5) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?
Do we have a knowledge of God….or is God in us, shown in our actions….and to what degree do we show it…..is there a limit?
There is no doubt that we must bear fruit, or deeds.
(Jam 1:22) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(Jam 1:23) Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a …
(Jam 1:25) But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.
(Jam 2:14) What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
(Jam 2:15) Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
(Jam 2:16) If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
(Jam 2:17) In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
(Jam 2:18) But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do...
(Jam 2:20) You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless...
(Jam 2:22) You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did...
(Jam 2:24) You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone...
(Jam 2:26) As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
So we should, in love birthed through faith, produce flowers then fruits or deeds…..the same as a working power station produces power. If it is new, but produces no power it is useless….even though it may have the potential to supply a huge city's needs.
(Rom 7:4) So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
(Joh 15:5) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(Joh 15:8) This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Often I hear it said we are the "seed that fell on good ground", But… is that correct?...
(Mat 13:8) Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Jesus Himself explains this further.
(Mat 13:23) But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it….. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
When it is explained, Jesus personalises it using "the man" and "he produces".
Of note is the arrangement of the amounts descending as if the greater amount is preferable to the smaller amount.
So the question would appear to be when "we hear the word do we understand it" if so "where is our crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what is sown?
Where is our fruit, or deeds in our life that James talks about…..?
Jesus explains another scenario…
(Mat 13:22) The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
If we are not fruitful then we are unfruitful…….worries of life would include not just worries, but excuses also; I'm too old, its not my gift, the Holy Spirit hasn't told me……He probably won't tell you, as God has already written it in the Bible that you read daily and obey. So why would you expect a personal registered letter from God, telling you to do what He has already written.
So are we held accountable for what we have failed to do?
Could our reward be according to what we have done…..not according to what we believe, or our superior Biblical knowledge?
(Rev 22:12) "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(Rev 19:8) Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
(1Ti 6:18) Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
(1Ti 6:19) In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
(Gal 6:7) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
(Gal 6:8) 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.
(Gal 6:9) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Gal 6:10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Col 4:5) Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
(Eph 5:16) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
(Eph 5:17) Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.
In Jude, a warning is given to certain men;
(Jud 1:12) These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead.
The people talked of here aren't friends of God…..here it's the descriptions I'm interested in…….if we only believe, nothing else, could this be us?
Believing alone is not good enough…..
(Jam 2:19) You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.
(Jam 2:20) You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless.
(Luk 6:46) "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
(Luk 6:47) I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.
(Luk 6:48) He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.
(Luk 6:49) But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
Whether we like it or not we have to do what God says in His Word, it is not multi choice…..it may even be a very narrow road we walk.
Is the road narrow because we don't trust God enough to step out in Faith, relying on the truth in His Word…Letting go of all worldly assurances of money, safety, sensibility and our life and clinging to Him, as we work to further His kingdom, where-ever He would have us do this.
(Mat 7:13) "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
(Mat 7:14) But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
So, choose the narrow path….
The fruitful path….
The path that leads to eternal life…
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