Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Weekly Bible Readings 11/10-11/16 for Calvary Baptist Athens


Weekly Bible Readings 11/10-11/16

Sunday 11/10 John 6:52-8:20
Monday 11/11 John 8:21-10:18
Tuesday 11/12 John 10:19-12:11
Wednesday 11/13 John 12:12-14:11
Thursday 11/14 John 14:12-17:13
Friday 11/15 John 17:14-19:42
Saturday 11/16 John 20-21; Acts 1:1-2:13

Monday, November 11, 2019

Gospel Quest Thru Matthew 2 Christ’s Call, Matthew 11:28-30


Gospel Quest Thru Matthew 2: Christ’s Call


Text: Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Audio Link

Introduction:


JI Packer in his book Knowing God. “I walked in the sunshine with a scholar who had effectively forfeited his prospects of academic advancement by clashing with church dignitaries over the gospel of grace. “But it doesn’t matter he said at length, for I’ve know God and they haven’t. Not many of us, I think, would ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definiteness and matter-of-factness of experience to which most of us, if we are honest, have to admit that we are still strangers. We claim, perhaps, to have  testimony, and can rattle off our conversion story with the best of them; we say that we know God - this, after all, is what evangelical are expected to say; but would it occur to us to say, without hesitation, and with reference to particular events in our personal history, that we have known God? I doubt it, for I suspect that with most of us experience of God has never become so vivid as that.”

That quote is quite convicting to me every time I read or think about it. Have I know God vividly? /di  I know Jesus as intimately as that? And yet I believe that that is exactly what Jesus wants. I think in our passage today it is what Jesus is inviting us to do. Last week we looked at the commands of Christs from Matthew 7 and if they showed us that Jesus came not to enable us to keep the law and be made righteous through that law, but he came to keep the law himself and then offer as a gift his own righteousness to those who repent and believe in Him. In order for that to be true, we must come to Christ and in Him find salvation. Matthew 7 give us the clearest call Jesus ever makes in scripture. It is hard to imagine that anyone could walk away from such an personal invitation and yet many do, some even today in this auditorium may walk away. I don’t understand how they could do it, but I know they will.

Others may be here today who believe they have answered the call of Christ but in truth have only answered the call of a parent, a pastor or a Sunday School teacher. Unless you have heard the call of Christ within the chambers of your heart, carried there by the power of the Holy Spirit then you have not answered His call, you have not answered this call.

And for those of us who have truly heard and answered His call, I would challenge you this morning to listen once again because with the call to come to Jesus is the call to take up His yoke and learn of Him. Today would be a good day to hear and once again fully and completely answer the Call of Christ. Let’s go to Matthew 11:28 In this passage Jesus, in a sense, gives three invitations; come, take and learn. And I can will only fully answer His call when I take those three steps.

His Call, Come - Matthew 11:28

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The Invitation to Come


The call of Jesus in Matthew 11:28 is part of a long discourse that begins when the disciples of John the Baptist, are sent by him to ask Jesus if He truly is the Messiah. Matthew 11:3  “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus answers them by telling them to report back to John of the signs and miracles that have been done and that the gospel, the good news that has been preached to the poor. He also tells John vs. 6 “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”  Now you might think Jesus would be upset by John’s question, some would even say John’s failure of faith, but Jesus, instead of being upset, lifts up John and says he was more than a prophet, that he was the forerunner foretold in scripture and that there is no man born of woman greater.

Then he tells the crowd that John the Baptist’s ministry was a line that changed everything that was understand about the kingdom. Matthew 11:12-13 12  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”

So John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus, the Messiah marked the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the prophets who told of a coming Messiah to The Prophet who now told the people that the Messiah is here.
Jesus then shows Himself, absolutely as the Messiah.

Matthew 11:21-24  Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Then Jesus thanks His Father for showing these things to those who are willing to hear it and then with Himself now as the focus, He gives his invitation in Matthew 11:28-30  28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

We must come to Jesus

His call is to all that labor and are heavy laden. Jesus calls to those who are struggling with the burdens of the law, the burdens of our own man-made obligation, struggling in our own strength to achieve righteousness. Struggling with sin and guilt, pain and sorrow. To those who are bearing these great, unbearable burdens, he says, “Come”.

And If we come to Him we do not find even greater burdens to bear but instead Jesus promises us that we find rest in Him.

It is hard for us to understand this, hard for us to accept this. To us there should be something that I must do, in order to earn this rest, earn this salvation. Jesus early in Matthew 11:12 said,
 
 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” We somehow believe that by our good works, or good intention we will storm the wall of Heaven and conquer it with our own self righteousness.

In John 6:28 when once again Jesus was being challenged by the disbelief of the Gospel, by the simple plan of salvation that means trusting and believing is the Son of God. The people there challenging him said,” What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

To fully answer the call of Jesus, you must respond to His invitation on His terms, not yours.
You must let him take your burden of your sin. It is a burn you cannot bear and will drag you down into hell itself. No matter how hard you try you cannot fix even one sin of the past and each day you live adds to that unbearable burden you carry.

Jesus offers rest, but to find this rest we must come to Him. We cannot exchange one philosophy for another, nor new obligations for old obligations.  We must come to find a Savior the only one who can give full restoration.

Let me go further, If you are struggling aa Christian, then it could be that you have begun to try and carry your own burden again.  We may have forgotten that Jesus’ invitation is to Himself.  When I come to Him, he makes me a Christian. He makes me a child of God.  He saves me. He makes me what I can’t be in my own ability or self-righteousness. He bore my burden at Calvary and He must bear my burden every day, else it will crush me.

This never changes.  It is the same at salvation and the same with every work I try to do or sin I try to overcome. I must hear His call, I must come to Him, believe in Him and He will be true to his word and take that unbearable burden upon Himself.

Christian’s Burden is lifted

Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation (Isaiah 26:1). Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.” Then he stood still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks
Transition: The second thing I saw to make me realize that I don’t really know Jesus is His yoke.

His Yoke, Take - Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you,

The Invitation to the Yoke

The next part of the call of Christ is to take His yoke. He did not offer the yoke before He offered his invitation to come. He did not place his yoke upon them until after he had lifted their burden.
What is the yoke that Jesus offers in place of man’s burden? We know that a yoke is a harness placed upon an ox that puts it under the control of the its master. Also, in Jesus day, the rabbis called a school, a way of teaching or a disciple, a yoke. 

But thank God the yoke that Jesus offers is different. Instead of being a yoke, like that of the Pharisees, that would only add to the burden they already could not carry, this yoke took away the burden. In this yoke the master did not just pile on more impossible weight but took it away and in its place gave us his own strength and power to carry His yoke. In this yoke they were joined with Him, the burden now carried is carried by the power that comes from our master, Jesus Christ.

We must be under the yoke of Jesus


Many want eternal life, many want to escape hell, but few want to be a disciple of Christ.  Few of us want to be in a yoke, because being in that yoke means going where He wants me to go, walking beside Him every step of my life and doing the work He wants me to do.

Is it any wonder that we struggle as Christians?  Instead of submitting to the yoke of Jesus, we pull against it. Instead of going where he directs, we try to go our own way.  Instead of putting my shoulder to the work He wants me to do, I look for another field to plow, that is more to my choice and preferences. So as Christians, we struggle in Christian life. We pull our own way until we chafe at the yoke and complain about our master.

Surprise trip to Six Flags.

I remember a time when we lived in Dallas. My children were quite young and one Saturday morning LeeOra and I decided to take the kids on a surprise trip to Six Flags. But it was Saturday morning and the kids are busy watching TV, still in their pajamas and comfortable doing their own Saturday morning thing. They don’t want to go anywhere. So they complained and whined and ignored us until we almost had to punish them just to get them to go.  Finally, after getting them into the car and listening to them grumble and mumble all the way, they see the roller-coasters and towers of Six Flags, their designated destination, designed by their dear parents.  Oh yes, now the kids jump out of the car, screaming laughing, excited. Now they can’t wait to go where their Dad was trying to take them all along. 

Sometimes we Christians are just like that chafing against the yoke of Jesus. We all want to do our own thing, while all the time Jesus is directing us where He wants us to go. And you know what, Jesus is leading us to a place a lot more exciting than Six Flags. Go where He wants you to go, go what He wants you to do. Take His yoke it will be a blessing everyday you wear it.

His Person, Learn – Matthew 11:29-30

…learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Invitation To Himself


The final part of Jesus’ invitation is that we learn of him. This is not the same as saying, learn from me. No what Jesus is offering, what He is inviting us to do is learn who He is. This is another contrast with the rabbis and teachers of Jesus day. Another contrast with those trying seize the kingdom instead of being invited into the kingdom by the Messiah, its rightful ruler.
Jesus’ yoke was different because Jesus was different. Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly.”  He didn’t brag or put on an act. He did not lift Himself in pretension or give Himself “airs.”  His demeanor was humble and lowly, not proud nor and haughty. This is what he said of himself, “I am meek and lowly.”

These people gathered that day, the first ones to ever hear this invitation from Jesus, were required to take a very personal step. They had to submit themselves to Jesus, sit at His feet and learn who He truly was. They had to learn about the one who said he was meek and lowly. Only when they did this would they also come to know that His yoke was easy and his burden light.

We must learn of Jesus

I know that this will take all my life and all of eternity to fulfill completely, but I want take these last few minutes to just consider the characteristic Jesus himself claimed, lowliness, meakness, humility. I think one of the most important things we can learn of our master should be humility, because it is the quality He claimed for himself here.

Paul said something about the humility of Christ in Philippians 2:3-8 3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5   Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

What then is humility? What would show that we have learned of Christ more than having the mind of Christ? What is it then? Paul says very plainly, it is putting others before ourselves. And isn’t that exactly what Jesus did?

Paul in Philippians 2 gives tells us of the “Kenosis” of Christ. How he emptied Himself of the glories of heaven, set aside his rightful place as Creator of the Universe and made himself a servant and then humbled himself even to painful and ignoble death by crucifixion upon a torturous wooden cross. Paul is telling us that Jesus did that for us. His humbleness was in putting us before his own rights as the Son of God. He loved us that much.

If I take the final step in answering Christ’s call then it means learning that true humility, the humility that Christ showed means putting others before ourselves and loving others more than ourselves. This is what Christ did and if we know Him it is what we will do. 

If you should think that this is too much to ask, I will agree with you. It is. If you put this step as the first step rather than the last step of Jesus’ invitation, then you will fail. It is too much unless we come to Jesus, take his yoke, learn of him and then he promises us, “We will find rest for your souls.” Only by truly knowing Jesus can we know that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
When I answer the call of Jesus to come to Him, when I take his yoke and I learn of him, listen, He gives me rest. A rest that begins right now. I am no longer struggling with my burdern of sin and self-righteousness. A rest that grow most blessed and peaceful with each step I take following the Savior. A rest that deepens as my knowledge of Jesus deepens and a rest that will one day bring me to heaven, where that rest will be eternal.

Conclusion: Have you answered the call?

Have you taken his yoke? Are you willing to learn of Christ? Have you found His rest?
Take the first step today. Just come to Jesus. Doesn’t that sound so sweet? Just come to the one who loved you enough to lay aside the glories of heaven and come and take your place on the cross of Calvary.

If you’ve taken the first step than don’t stop, take up the yoke, put yourself fully under the care and loving instruction of your Lord and Savior. He’ll walk right along side you, If you tells you to go somewhere, He’ll go there with you.  Find rest to your soul this morning. Come to Jesus.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Gospel Quest Thru Matthew #1 Christ’s Commands Matthew 7:7-14


Gospel Quest through Matthew #1
Christ’s Commands
Text: Matthew 7:7-14

Video Link
Audio Link
 

Introduction: We all want to be successful as Christians.  We want to do well as soldiers in the Lord’s army. But many times, we have no clue as to what they are doing.  Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes we fool others but most times we just pretend.  Let me share with you how to be a successful Christian.  These aren’t my instructions, they come to us from one who is the ultimate authority on anything pertaining to Christianity, Jesus Christ.  Let’s turn to Matthew 7 and the last chapter of the sermon on the Mount.

The Sermon on the Mount is the best known of Jesus’ sermons, but there is much that is misunderstood about it, just as there is about Jesus himself. When Jesus preached this sermon the people who heard it had a lot of questions. Who was this rabbi, this teacher they had heard so much about? Could he really do miracles? Was He the Messiah? Would He overthrow the Roman invaders and establish a new kingdom for Israel as David and Solomon had done thousands of years ago? And so they came by the hundreds and sometimes by the thousands and sometimes by the tens of thousands to hear Jesus speak. They came on a quest to find who this man was. What they heard was not what they expected and many times it shocked and outraged them, but many times it also eternally changed them. As we start our new series on the Gospels, my prayer is that we could put our selves in same frame of mind as those who first heard the sermon on the Mount. That we would launch ourselves today and everday on a quest to find, know and listen to Jesus Christ. We may not hear what we expect but I pray it will change us as profoundly as it changed those who first heard Him and as dramatically as it changed the world.

Commands of Christ Matthew 7:7-8

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Commands for the Kingdom

We are taking up the sermon on the Mount at the last chapter. Jesus has already given the Beatitudes in the first of the sermon. He has shocked his audience by telling them that their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and pharisees as well as telling them things like cutting off hands and plucking out eyes. He meant to shock them, to make them stop and question what they thought was the way to eternal life by keeping the law. Jesus tells them you might as well be maiming your body. The Sermon does not give us the Gospel, but it dramatically show us our need for some other way to find salvation. That way was Grace and the one preaching this message was the only one who could open that door for them. They wouldn’t find salvation in the method of the Sermon, they would have to find salvation in the Messiah who preached the sermon.

The shocking statements of the Sermon on the Mount would send them on a quest for another way, the only way, the true way of salvation.

Here is a quick outline of the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:1-16 Describes the Kingdom of God,  
5:17-48 Gives the Law of the Kingdom and
6:1-7:14 gives us the actions of those in the Kingdom.
Finally, 7:15 to the end of the chapter teaches us how to judge those who truly of the Kingdom of God.

The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes called the marching orders for the church but it is really more than that. It certainly has application for us but it supersedes our time and is a description of the entire work of the Kingdom of God that will one day be on the earth with Jesus as its King. We, as Christians in this age, are citizens of that Kingdom by our new birth into that Kingdom as Jesus told Nicodemus, but some things contained in the Sermon will not be fully implemented until Jesus returns. In the meantime, we as citizens of that Kingdom are to think, live and represent ourselves as those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Chapter 7 is especially for us in this age as we wait for the coming of our King. In verse 7 of chapter 7 Jesus begins to give basic commands for us to live and think by. He tells us,
Matthew 7:7-8 7  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

We are to Ask, then Seek, then Knock.  The words speak of the necessity of intense and persistent prayer and action as a child of God and citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is should be our overriding attitude if we are to live and serve as Jesus commands.

Quest for the Kingdom

How do we Ask, Seek and Knock?
The commands Jesus gives are truly one of the most important aspects of the Christian life during this Age of Grace. As we wait with hope for Jesus to return and as we work and witness for Jesus to enter the hearts of those who are lost and then become their King, one of our greatest tasks is prayer. In these verses Jesus gives us a powerful formula for persistent and effectual prayer.

First, he tells us to ask. This is only effective if it is done in ways we are taught by Jesus.
We must Ask in Jesus name (Authority and Responsibility) John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

We Ask according to need not want. Philip. 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

We must Ask in faith. Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

And we must Ask according to His will.  1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
Then, Jesus goes on, once again surprising and challenging as with the next command.

We are to Seek. This is an intensifying of the prayer command. By telling us to seek, Jesus tells us that you can’t stop at just asking but you must go further and search.
I believe that Seeking especially involves finding God’s will in scripture that you might know what to pray for. By Seeking God we are looking for opportunities and open doors that that you may more fully serve as representatives of that coming Kingdom and its King Jesus. But most of all seeking God means that we want to know Him more as we see and hear Him revealed to us in these pages and in that knowledge we will be changed. Isn’t this what Paul meant in Philippians 3:8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:

We are told to ask and seek but still Jesus is not finished with His challenge, next he tells us me must Knock! Once again of the action of prayer and the way a Christian should live is intensified. Knocking means actively pursuing and then acting upon those opportunities that God will open as we have asked and sought.

Knocking is just that. When confronted with an obstacle, a setback even a complete failure, knocking means the child of God refuses to accept the roadblocks as final because we know we have asked according to His will, we have found our orders in His Word and we will not be stopped. We will keep knocking on the closed doors until we knock them down. By the power of prayer, and the strength of the Word, we knock them down. We should understand that the obstacles are a part of the process.

Paul saw it that way when he asked the Corinthians to pray for him in 1 Corinthians 16:9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

Luke 11:5-8 Persistence – Importunity In Our Quest

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

 The man in the parable had a need. He was trying to do what was right. He had a someone who he knew could help him.  Therefore, he would not quit until he was successful. That man is a picture of us as we follow Christ’s commands to ask, seek and knock.

Transition: Why should we be so bold, so persistent?  Because of God’s love for us !

Compassion of the Father Matt 7:9-11

9  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

God, Giver of All Good

Here is the next concept we must keep in mind as we continue in our quest. God is the giver of good.
Jesus tells us ask, seek and knock and keep on asking, seeking and knocking because God always gives the best to his children.

Didn’t He give His own son for our salvation?
Doesn’t He give us power, comfort, courage, joy, peace?
Doesn’t He give us a sure unshakeable hope for the future?
Doesn’t He give us the forgiveness of sin and the great gift of eternal life?

Scripture: James 1:16-17  Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God, Our Loving Father

If we are to succeed as Christians, as Citizens of the Coming Kingdom then this you must understand and never waver in your belief, that God love us as a Father loves his children.
He cares for us as an all loving, all knowing father. He works to raise us in love to full maturity. And He delights to give us good things through His only begotten son, Jesus.  That is what Jesus said and I must revel in that goodness and love of God if I am to fulfill my quest as a Christian on my way to that Heavenly Kingdom.

Scripture: Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Illustration
We once had a young woman in our church who forgot to give her tithe that morning. She called me just after she had driven out of the parking lot and said, “I better bring it before tonight because God might do something to me.” 

That's not the right understanding of God and His love for us.

Transition: The final instructions for our Quest in Matthew 7 deal with how we deal with others and with ourselves. Look at verse 12

Consideration of All Matt 7:12-14

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Rules of Gold and Iron

This is the final consideration for our quest as Kingdom Citizens and Servants. The word therefore, shows that it is a summation of what Christ has just said about God, asking seeking and knocking.
This last command is in two parts, the first we know as the Golden Rule: Do unto others. The second we could call the Iron Rule: Do unto yourself.

Measured by the Rules of God and Iron

The Christian life is measure in two ways, first it is measured in how we treat others. The Golden Rule is really a compaction of the law of Christ.

That law supersedes all the laws that went before it and it is encapsulated in the command to love the Lord, lover one another and love our neighbor.

Romans 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

John Wesley’s Rule of Life
"Do All the Good You Can, By All the Means You Can, In All the Ways You Can,  In All the Places You Can,  At All the Times You Can, To All the People You Can, As long as Ever ... You Can!" - "John Wesley-Revival and Revolution," Christian History, no. 2.

As Christians, we must be willing to risk much and even lose much in the power of the love of God.
Second, is the measure of the Iron rule,  the Christian life is measured in how we walk and live. How we do unto ourselves.

We must be prepared to withstand the pressure and the strain, the opposition and the stress as we walk through the strait gate and in the narrow way.

This verse is not about salvation, this is not the one door that Jesus speaks of when he talks of himself as the only way to be saved. This gate that you pass through as you walk, is how we are to live every day. The strait describe here is a narrow passage a long, close and arduous gate that begins when we become disciples at salvation and does not end until we take our last breath and pass through the gate from this life into the next. Jesus tells us the way will be difficult. It means we are measured as disciples by how we discipline our lives

Mark 8:34  And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

All Noble Things Are Difficult –Oswald Chambers

 If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome. … Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons" unto glory, and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milk sops (wimps).

Illustration: The Iron Rule, No wimps in God’s Service
Jim Eliot missionary in South America killed by the Auca Indians.  “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

George Whitefield preached in the fields of both old and New England. Near the end of his life, a friend advised him to go to bed rather than keep a preaching appointment. But Whitefield prayed, 

“Lord Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not of it. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, seal Thy truth, and come home and die!” Returning from the tour he lighted a candle and went upstairs to retire, weary after the journey.  But the people gathered in front of the house and filled the street; and there on the stairway with a lighted candle in his hand, he preached his last message, retired and was no more; for God took him.

Conclusion:

The successful quest of a Christian is not to be rich, nor  smart, pious or influential. The Child of God who will be counted as a good and faithful servant, is one who prays to God, searches for God and finds God’s open doors. Then they set their mind and hands to hard work because obstacles are part of the quest. We continue faithful because we know, without a shadow of doubt, that our Father in heaven loves us. We will do what He says, take the good gifts He gives and will pass on God’s love to others, no matter how difficult that may be or how much it may cost us.  That child of God is a success in the eyes of his Heavenly Father and that is the only measure of success that counts.