Posts Tagged With: Sermon on the Mount

Follow the Narrow Way, Your life depends on it!

I was listening to the Sermon on the Mount on my smartphone’s Bible app as I was cleaning the kitchen the other day. My wife was in the other room and I kept saying to her, “Catherine, he sounds serious… Catherine, he’s not kidding”.

This morning I am wide awake at 1:55 with Jesus words echoing in my ear, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)

Jesus GateOf course it must be stated right from the start that Jesus himself is the narrow gate. He says:

“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” (John 10:9 NLT)

Relationship and fellowship with him is to follow the narrow way.

Jesus has been so kind and compassionate to me. I think some of the reason I often avoid listening to him and seeking out what he has to say to me daily is because I think he is going to come down hard on me.

He never does. It seems that his aim is to kill my sin with his kindness and turn me from my self-destructive sin. (Is there a sin that isn’t self-destructive?)

I just looked up and read this from Romans 2:

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.”

The fact is, I want to walk the narrow way that leads to life. Fact is, I don’t want to store up judgement by refusing to repent. I want to stop all the ways I live for myself and wickedness and “give Jesus a try”. I don’t want any vice to keep me from experiencing the life of Jesus to the full. I want to be a good friend to Jesus.

I don’t doubt for a moment that deep down you also want to respond to Jesus in this way. I have no doubt that you want to experience for yourself the abundant life Jesus said he came to bring to you:

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10 NIV)

Are you experiencing a rich and satisfying life?

As I ponder this question for myself I am amazed to be able to say, yes. In spite of myself I actually am experiencing an abundant life. Crazy huh?

It may seem like we don’t have too many real live examples of someone experiencing the abundant life, but I think that is because we are always looking for examples of someone who follows Jesus perfectly. I know that I follow Jesus. A cursory glance over my blog posts will reveal that I don’t do this perfectly and often times there are still foxes on the loose in the vineyard (to borrow a biblical metaphor).

We often wait till someone is dead to honor the memory of their life because the living still have time to disappoint us and leave us with egg on our face as they have been known to do (It’s happened to me so many times!).

You Are A Role Model

Even though you or I may not be bold enough to say like Paul, “follow me as I follow Christ”, we are still ALL role models for someone. We like to think we aren’t or we may even blatantly say as some sports figures do, “I never set out to be a role model.” We pretend we aren’t because we love to live for ourselves and seek our own pleasure. (Jesus brother James writes that this makes us adulterous people – see James 4).

If we are looking for perfect examples to follow, look no farther than Christ. He followed his father beautifully. He modeled what a follower looks like with a kind of trust that led him to do only what the Father does and speak only what the Father speaks. He followed His loving Papa all the way to the cross. He knew his Father deeply loved him. He was secure and grounded in that love and knew that his Sovereign loving Papa was leading him every day into what would be the most joyful ending to the story. Jesus didn’t have a five-year plan, he had a “what’s next Papa?” plan. We can too.

Someone told me yesterday that there hasn’t been anyone who has done a pure deed with the purest of motives besides Jesus. That touched my heart to hear that. My Savior and your Savior, has the purest of motives in his dealings with you and I.

The Narrow Way

theWaySo, back to talking about the narrow way.

For whatever reason this quote from the Matrix comes to mind. Morpheus tells Neo, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”

Did you know that Christians were first called “followers of the Way”? This, no doubt, was a reference to Jesus who called himself the Way.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Yes the way is narrow. Jesus is it. The only way. There is no other way to the Father. So rest assured if you have received and are trusting Jesus you are on the narrow way. But are you walking in the way? Are you walking the path of Jesus that leads to you experiencing a rich and satisfying life?

Walking the path is going to look different for every one of us. What does “walking the path” look like for you? I can’t tell you. You have to ask the One who is the path and who destined a specific path for you.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2 NLT)

What good things has God planned for you? The question is, will you take the time to seek the One who holds the answers? He will never force the way upon you. You will never just stumble upon it but must do your part. We have a role in this. Paul writes in Philipians 3:12:

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

I am reminded that the Christian life, being a follower of the Way, has much to do with maintaining a clean conscience before God. This means we “get to” repent and turn from sin every time it is brought to our awareness. This is how we stay on course and remain in fellowship with the Way.

The still small voice of God is here right now. He is speaking to your heart in this very moment. Are you listening? The stakes couldn’t be higher. Your life is at stake.

God rewards those who diligently seek him. Won’t you join me in submitting to Jesus today? Cave to his kindness and just let him love you. Repent and turn from your sin so you can enter his loving kingdom and come under his protection and experience his wonderful guidance along the narrow path to true and abundant life!

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Categories: faith adventure, Repentance | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Death Takes Me Down

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15 KJV)

I had this Scripture rolling around in my mind as I stepped into the Nursing Home yesterday to share some music with the residents. As I came in I was informed by a nurse that there was a resident who was passing away. I asked if I could play a song for her. She asked the family and they invited me in.

As soon as I stepped into the room she took her last breath. Soon, they were listening for a heartbeat… nothing. She was gone.

It is hard to process watching someone pass away before your eyes. As the family sobbed one woman was reading the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. As she finished, I offered a song. We sang Amazing Grace and then by request How Great Thou Art. I had played this song (her favorite) on so many occasions before for this woman and now it was for her gathered family.

I got the chills as I thought about how she might be observing us hovering in the room. It was a sobering moment. The faith and love of the surrounding family spoke volumes about who this woman was and of the faith and love she had passed down. Jesus has her covered. If she trusted that, then she’s in glory. Simple as that.

Some Thoughts

Do you ever think about how frail life is? We take it all for granted and we think we are so strong and are the masters of our own destiny, don’t we? Truth is, we are all just a few short breaths and heartbeats away from eternity.

Due to a certain vitamin deficiency (magnesium) I would sometimes get heart palpitations. My heart would stutter and flutter. Sometimes I got light-headed. When this first happened to me more than a year ago I was terrified! I thought my heart stopped and I fell to the ground and begged Jesus, “Have mercy on me! I don’t want to die!”

When this has happened since, I calm myself and just take the moment to receive the Lord’s grace, forgiveness and love. I realize he has my days in his hands and I exist for his pleasure, and I die for his pleasure as well. I trust his perfect timing in this and as much as I enjoy life and my family I’d welcome the promotion.

I know I’m going to be with Jesus. I know I’m going to paradise… forever.

This isn’t because of anything I have done to deserve or earn it, but simply because I trust Jesus. He has me covered. My salvation is secure. For me the biggest questions have been answered.

As I was running in the park the other night I wondered if I will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Master” from the LORD Jesus.

I expect so. Everything we have done for him by his Spirit will be remembered while all our sins are forgiven and forgotten. What a deal.

Of course everything not done by his Spirit but by our own efforts or for ourselves will be burned and we will suffer great loss, but, for the believer, our spirits will still be received into glory (but as through fire). Because of Gods great love he has made it impossible for him to reject the believer because he has made himself one with us and he cannot deny himself. But John makes it clear that the true believer will not continue to make a practice of sin. There is great tension in this and it causes us to examine our own faith and life and areas that we need to repent of.

I thank God for the tension. He never intended us to coddle ourselves in carefully scrutinized and dissected theology. No. We are all on trial every day of our lives until our last breath. Will we embrace and pursue Jesus and his love and let this effect who we are and how we live? Or  will we live for ourselves and pursue the world and it’s passing pleasures?

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

His word is a constant challenge to our hearts as he intended it to be. My question for you. Are you letting it challenge you? Or are you running?  If your heart stopped right now would you be in terror or have peace? Are you ready to take your last breath?

“When death takes me down and I breathe here no more
My anthem will sound on that eternal shore
I’ll join with the angels in heaven on high
I’ll sing Praise the Lord, He is the light”
(I Saw The Light Lyrics, David Crowder/ Hank Williams)

Categories: Death | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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