Monday, November 16, 2015

Which Way?

Matthew 7:13-14 - Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Wow. this is as I have said before...bear with me as I share my thoughts on ways, paths, roads, freeways and expressways! And since this has been sitting in my iPad Notes for several days, I can add a few choice nuggets from my Pastor's sermon yesterday. And then something from a message I listened to later in the day regarding journeying with Christ. I am amazed.

This comes from our Bible Study Fellowship Notes, Lesson 7 of Revelation. In the beginning of time Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden and sin entered the world. Eventually they had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain, you will recall, killed Abel...more sin! This was in the notes: Humanity was divided into two distinct camps along with the two sons of Adam and Eve: those who followed God and those who pursued their own way. To this day the majority of people reject God completely or believe they can satisfy God by their own efforts and agenda.

Until we know Jesus, we all wander that wide road to destruction, like an expressway, believing we can, as the lesson states, satisfy God by our own efforts. We can think we are basically good people, who are content to just know Jesus in our minds, not in our hearts, believing our good works here on earth will provide eternal life without Christ, without church, without studying His Word, without fellowship with other believers. That, my friends, is that wide road. We want it our way and we want it now.

Jesus says He is the Way and He is a narrow way. Too narrow, as some point out. The word way is defined as a journey. I equate a journey as a long time of travel, not get-to-your-destination-quick. We can wander the narrow backroad with Jesus or zoom right along on the wide expressways with all the others bent on getting to where they need to be quickly without taking the time to take anything in. With Jesus on the narrow road we learn a lot because it is slow going, an ever-learning way. Nothing zooms right by.

Don't we know that Christianity is becoming a contentious point these days? There may be some who would rather not go that route...too dangerous. Steer clear of the controversy. And yet in the end being secure in Christ is the safest place to be. 

Y-e-a-r-s ago I used to do a lot of bicycling. It took time to build up strength and distance. But after awhile I was ready to bike with the big kids! Hour trips turned into two, which turned into half day, then all day, then weekend days back to back and eventually a week, two, to three and even (one) seven-week long trips. What I remember most was how slowly the scenery went by on a bicycle. Sometimes it seemed like forever but other times those mountains we could see in the distance for hours, not minutes, eventually loomed ahead or alongside us. We definitely experienced our trip. We were right in the middle of it all.

Following Christ is like that. He is along side us. As we walk with Him we are in the midst of life in Christ. He shows us new things and it never grows tiring. Life doesn't just zip right by and we never think we've arrived. Each day is new. As Pastor Terry Fischer said yesterday in his sermon, Walking With God: Walking with God means we are going someplace with the Lord; jogging with God is not so often do you see a smiling jogger?! I'm sure you get the point!

A wide road offers nothing that lasts long enough. Paths are about taking everything in. A walk with the Lord is like a walk in nature...Pastor added: There is simplicity in it, it's peaceful and our minds, being focused on God, can be stimulated. 

Jesus, the narrow Way. Take Him in. Take in His words. Take in His promises. Learn of Him. Know what future you can have with Him. The wide road offers no opportunity to take Him in. Life will just fly on by with not many rewards on that wide road to get to that next destination fast. Slow down, take in the life He offers on His narrow road.

Look at Moses as He led Israel through the desert. God kept them secure under His pillar of cloud or fire. They moved when He directed in the perfect direction He wanted for them. It may have taken 40 years for all their grumbling, but He still provided for them along the way. Had they gone off in their own direction, He would not have been there. The narrow way or the wide road? 

The BSF Lesson 7 notes go on to say: Since the beginning of time, God's people are the people of faith, whom God chose, redeemed and lovingly preserves for eternity. We must maintain a closeness with the Lord for this to happen in our lives. Walk with the Way on the narrow path. Let Him show how He provides. Let our faith be strengthened. The wide road offers none of this. Whatever we seek on the wide road slips through our fingers leaving us still unsatisfied, longing for more. 

I remember biking alongside, through and over parts of the Alps. It took days. The scenery never got tired. Every bend in the road offered another breathtaking sight. Jesus does this too. Having faith in Him is amazing. He doesn't fail. I'd rather be on the path with Him, maybe stumble a time or two just to have Him lift me back up, than crash on the wide road. 

One more quote from Lesson 7: The letters to the seven churches in Revelation are love letters. They are designed to encourage, build up and take people off the wrong path and get them onto the right path. The seven letters to the seven churches listed in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 each contained a word of warning or praise. The love came in the way of 
Jesus showing them their ways and how they could improve upon some of them through repentance and turning back to Him. The whole Bible is our great love letter from Jesus showing us how we are basically not good people but people who have strayed and how He wishes for us to return to Him. 

He uses ordinary people, like the twelve ordinary men of His day, to draw people to Him, to share the truth of His Word, to steer them onto the right path, the narrow road. Which road do you think you are on? The highway referred to next are roads that Jesus puts us on. They are His high ways. His ways are higher. He lifts us up and plants us on a higher, better way. 

A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray.
(‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭35:8‬)
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
‭‭(Psalms ‭16:11‬)

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