If you are in a really good place with the Lord, and you think you have no issues, no qualms, then you can stop reading right now. However, if you think you have no issues, no qualms with the Lord, then you really should keep on reading.
We all have issues or things that need to be addressed or resolved. It is a matter of whether or not we are going to be willing to look at those things in our life, if we are going to be willing to say, “this is not for the person down the road, this is for me. These scriptures that I am reading are not just to make me feel good, but also to bring conviction to me.” Now, conviction is not a bad thing. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a picture of the grace that would put on us the ability to repent, to look inside our heart, to see if we have gone down a wrong path. It’s an awesome thing for us to be able to look into our own hearts, be honest, be objective, be open, be transparent, and then… be changed!
Let’s read Matthew 7:13, Jesus says:
“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.”.
Enter in the straight gate. A straight gate is very narrow. Jesus says enter at the gate; the one that people have trouble finding.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then I will declare to them ‘I never you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matt 7:21-23
How is it possible that Jesus didn’t know them? They are all looking for the narrow gate, but only a few will find it. Everybody who, in their heart is searching for truth, is searching for the narrow gate. Jesus tells us that there are very few men who find it. And the reason for that can be found in the words He preached prior to that when He is talking to us about putting others first, when He’s talking to us about dying to ourselves and loving our enemies and blessing those who curse us and despitefully use us and all of the things that He says. This is the gate that we should be looking for. This is the narrow path that we should be walking down. But few there be that find it because self gets in the way; because distractions come up; because worldliness crops up; because something comes into our vision that attracts or draws us in another direction or down another path. I don’t think there is anybody that is in their right mind who starts out searching for truth and wants to have everything that is true and right and is good, who set out to abandon that truth that they have spent their lives searching for, but when Jesus said, there will be few that find that narrow gate, that tells me it’s going to be a little bit difficult. Doesn’t it you? There are a lot of us who set out on the right path, but something will knock us off course and cause us to get lost. We didn’t set out to make that mistake, but we make it because, although we do something right in the beginning and make the start, we get comfortable. We made peace with our sin. It no longer convicts us.
There is a place in my heart that even I don’t go. I don’t want to take anybody there because it brings conviction upon me! It causes me to know that there is something there that is not right, not the way God would have it be and I don’t want to have to deal with that because it’s uncomfortable. Because then I would have to get with a brother or sister and be held accountable to them and say, “I was wrong. I set out on this path but somehow I’ve gotten off the path. Can you help me find my way back?” That’s hard to say because it makes me look bad, because I feel wrong and convicted and it should, but the beautiful part about it is when I say, “Brother, I have judged you, will you forgive me?”; that cleanses, that purifies, that changes the dynamics of our relationship so that now I can be close to that brother/sister and they can feel even closer to me. I have been open, honest, I have been transparent and I have decided to take the narrow path instead of the broad and easy path. I decided to look, search and dig until I found the right way and I have gone down that right way, ‘I am so sorry and I am changing, will you forgive me?’ Of course, being the man/woman of God that they are, ‘Sure absolutely, I forgive you’, and then we hug and it’s all over. There is healing that takes place there. There is a deliverance that takes place there. There is a freedom that comes, there is a lifting of a burden off of me and now even off of them, that they have maybe not even realized that was there and then healing comes to the relationship. So then, it becomes easy and I walk away light, refreshed, feeling right and feeling good about things. I have taken the narrow way, the hard path that no one else wants to take or at least they tried and perhaps couldn’t find it.
Where did you go after you couldn’t find the narrow path? You’ve stopped listening so closely to Jesus since then and even though He has been speaking, you have not been listening. You got caught up in materialism; you got caught up in the world, you got caught up in unforgiveness, judgment, criticism or gossip. Have you backed off the narrow path and found your way down the wide path that leads to destruction? God is still speaking if we are listening. He doesn’t want you to go on yesterday’s victories or accomplishments. I have to live on the fresh manna, on the fresh word, on what is happening right now. I don’t want to hear Him say, ‘depart from me I never knew you, you have practiced lawlessness’ and that is what that means. It means that you have ignored My word more than you have adhered to it. It means that you have embraced yourself and your selfish desires and your comfort more than you have embraced dying to all of those things and accepting my way, taking up My cross and putting to death your flesh and following after Me. You continued to practice that lawlessness. You continued to stay in that place that I urged you and commanded you and compelled you to come out of and you continued to stay there and you continued to live there and you continued to be at peace with it and make peace with it, and it was with you so long, you thought,’hey, it’s just me, I am critical, deal with it, I just have a hard time loving because of what has happened to me in the past, it’s not my fault.”
Keeping that shield up; keeping that wall around your heart prevents God’s love from coming in. It prevents God’s grace, His mercy and His peace from flooding in and driving out everything that is not like Him.
Church, when we get to the place that we are open, honest, transparent, real; that we confess, that we can say whatever is there, that we can read this word, know what is in it and apply it to ME: God begins healing. It’s like the word He spoke to me years ago ‘when the heart of man touches the heart of God, miracles happen’. Boy! What does that look like when my heart and my desires are the same as His? I want him to change me and I want Him to work on me. That is His heart for us, Church. That is when I see my walk with the Lord, new every day and His conviction on His power on me is fresh and His anointing on me is fresh every day because my heart is the same as His. I want what He wants. What about, “God, just do in me as it pleases You”? “God, change me where I need to be changed. I know You are a faithful God and You never leave me and you will never forsake me.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
You are not going to be blessed all the time. You are going to be tested and tried.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does then, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was it’s fall.” Matt 7:24-27
The one who reads this today who hears these words of the Lord and does them and applies them and takes them to heart and does them and says “that’s for me and I want and need to change. I want what God wants. I want my heart to be God’s heart.”
“He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.” Luke 6:48
That is a wise man who dug down deep, who dug down through his heart and he found fear, who dug down into his own heart, with the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shining through his eyes and he looks into his own heart and he says ‘there is a bit of jealousy, that’s got to go’, and getting deeper and ‘there’s is some greed down there, and there is some hatred down there, and there is some lust down there… man there is a lot of junk here before I get to rock, but if I keep digging, if I don’t stop looking with the light of this word, I am going to find it. He promised me that I would. He loves me just that much. I have realized that I could be guilty, and then I also know that I can be forgiven, that I can be cleansed and restored.
Are you ready to dig deep and enter the narrow way?
by Chet Murrell