“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:13-15.
Plenty of pop televangelists “give their regards to Broad Way”. Flash, flair, show, big mansions, private jets, living the high style life. Where’s the cross in that?!
Ephesians 2:3 (context verses 1-10). Among them (referring to those dead in trespasses and sins, the sons of disobedience under the prince of the power of the air) we too all (“we” – clearly Paul includes himself, although he had been quite “religious”) formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
At times it can seem like life is giving us a beating. The following are some thoughts about what this might be about, if we love Jesus and are truly desirous to follow Him. It helps to get some clarification on how things work in this relationship with Him.
When we are born of the Holy Spirit, or “born from above”, there is a difference between what we were by nature and what we have become and are becoming in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing short of a spiritual sea change (a transformation) – in thought, attitude, word, deed, worldview, and more. Everything of the self centered, self absorbed life decreases as Christ increases. That includes self righteousness appealing to human pride. Sometimes this is fast and drastic; at other times the pace is very slow. It depends on what God is doing and what He has in mind for the individual.
Locally along the coast of Lake Michigan, where the Great Lakes are sometimes referred to as the “Inland Seas”, we are being given a glimpse of this by the powerful forces of nature – if only we have eyes to see it. There is much of the “sea” rising up against the shore – sand, dunes, bluffs, trees, flora and fauna, trees, and even a few houses of those who have built on the sand are being washed away. The dirt and rocks are no match for the power of ever encroaching wind and waves combined. A sea change is being imposed upon the land by the forces of nature.
Could this be a lesson God has placed in front of us through His creation? As the purpose of the water and wind will have its way, so shall the purpose of God!
The soil, sand, and whatever is growing from it, or is built on it, is being washed away by the power of the water. The “dirt” must go. It stands in the way of God’s plans and purposes for our life, to remold and reshape us into His likeness. We cannot move what stands in the way of that of our own volition. We are part of it in fact. But it cannot stand against the Holy Spirit, represented by the strong wind and relentless waves. Once this process is occurring, it reconfigures everything, never to be the same again. This is God’s kind of “re-formation”. It may mean a dismantling of how things have been entirely, followed by a restart.
This analogy might be a poor one. When we ask and keep on asking for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:5-13), He does not damage us irreparably. He demolishes within us that which keeps us captive to the prince of this world, the works of the devil in us which Jesus came to destroy (1 John 3:8), his “hooks” of the world, and the flesh. He does not damage us like the waters beating against the shore, but He does “storm” the kingdom of darkness within us which has established a beachhead and a foothold in His kingdom! This occupation of His Kingdom by darkness is not to be allowed. Our body and being are God’s holy temple, and His will is to remove all within it that has been set up by the prince of this world (with our complicity!), that stands against His good intentions for us, which is His love and blessing. That is what brings brings Him glory.
At the same time He restores and rejuvenates us, evidentially validating all of God’s promises, which are yea (sure) and amen (firm) in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).
If one is born from above, the process goes on to which we surrender, like the sands must surrender to the invincible sea – to His grace which changes us, causing a sea change within us. At times God’s love must be tough and persistent as a maelstrom. So it is good to understand that this can be a possibility.
“See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39.
If anyone is experiencing God’s sea changes, the evidence will be that we will see changes in that person. This witnesses to the reality taking place, in a living relationship with Christ Jesus. The old heart – core of the being and its motivations – is replaced by a heart that resembles Jesus, because His transformation is taking place within. What takes place on the inside is seen on the outside. At some point. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes very gradually.
For truly, we are His workmanship! (Ephesians 2:10).
More poking the stick at the bear, saber rattling, drum rolls, threats, global bullying, and assassinating as the beat goes on. This world must be a bad dream. May a brighter day arrive soon, when we can awaken.
When will we turn our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks? When will the time come when we learn not to make war anymore?
When the hearts, one by one, of every person – regardless of rank in society – have surrendered themselves fully to the Prince of Peace, and thus are no longer at war with God Himself, when we are willing to learn of Him, and remember that we are to reveal His likeness in our own character on Earth while still in a body. Then surrendered to His Way, and loving one another, as if the other is ourself, we can be at peace.
Conflict has so long terrorized this planet that one wonders if we could stand it if we actually did experience a lack of it. It’s not just political and military, but domestic and personal. It’s riding hard that person who cuts us off in traffic. It’s everywhere from grandiose political posturing to the minutiae of daily interactions. Is there anyone who is not in conflict with someone else on some level?
Don’t you ever wonder about that?
Let’s start with what a lot of people think it is, but it’s not.
Christianity is not a democracy. Christianity is not a constitutional republic. Christianity is not about the US Constitution or any other government institution. Christianity is not about gun control. Christianity is not about legitimizing what is morally wrong or any other liberal agenda. Christianity is not about supporting Israel or any other foreign government or lobby. Christianity is not about supporting Donald Trump or any other political leader. Christianity is not about “fire insurance” theology.
Christianity is about the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God coming about through the hearts and minds of humankind, one at a time, through the knowledge of God. Christianity is about individuals being transformed by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit, so as to be conformed to the likeness of the Son of God, not only in love but in righteousness. That’s called “holiness”, which means wholeness. This is the foremost component of what it means to be “saved”, to be salvaged, to be made whole.
Where did we ever lose track of that message?
Why have the pulpits of preachers, pastors, priests, and popes been compromised by these other things having nothing to do with the Kingdom of God?
We must wake up and understand that this world will change when we are each changed from the inside out. Let’s take back the Faith that has been hijacked and supplanted by the world system!
Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.
We can see Jesus’ example when the heat was on, in ways you and I cannot imagine.
Jesus’ Arrest: ‘Then said Jesus unto Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”‘ John 18:36.
Jesus On Trial: ‘Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now, My kingdom is not of this realm.”‘ John 18:11.
Jesus’ Execution / Crucifixion: ‘And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they cast lots, dividing His garments.’ Luke 23:34.
There’s something deeper here than meets the natural eye. How did Christ walk? How was He led? How did He know His Father’s will for Him, which was the way of the Cross? He was led of the HOLY Spirit. (See Matthew 4) He spent many hours in prayer (communion with the Father).
Although the Son of God, 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, ‘Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.’ Philippians 2:6-8.
‘During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.’ Hebrews 5:7-9
‘Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.’ 1 John 2:6.
‘Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.’ Romans 13:14.
‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit.’ Galatians 5:24, 25.
‘The greatest among you shall be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let in those who wish to enter.’ Matthew 23:11-13.
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2,3.
This is all a reminder of some lyrics from an old song: “Dance in the darkness, slow be the pace; surrender to the rhythm of redeeming grace…” by Carey Landry
Signs? Wonders? Phenomena? Apparitions? Prophecies? False teachers? So called wisdom? Philosophy? Eastern mysticism and meditation? Prosperity and success gospel? Everything from dead works religion to extreme liberal antinomianism. (And more…)
What says the Word of God? There are plenty of warnings. The following are but a few. Pray for the Holy Spirit. Pray for discernment. Stay in God’s Word. Embrace the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ alone! These are times of great apostasy, and there is “something for everyone” of it in every branch of Christendom. It is time to not fall asleep at the post, but to watch and pray always.
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of His mouth and annihilate by the majesty of His arrival. The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of POWER, SIGN, and FALSE WONDER, and with every wicked DECEPTION directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15
“Now there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them -bringing swift destruction on themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and PERFORM SIGNS AND WONDERS THAT WOULD DECEIVE EVEN THE ELECT, if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.” Mark 13:21-23.
“The prophets are prophesying lies in My name,” the LORD replied. “I did not send them or appoint them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, a worthless divination, the futility and delusion of their own minds.” Jeremiah 14:14.
“For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
1 Corinthians 1:21-23.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13,14.
Worth a listen.
More than a warning about weather.
Is the USA beginning to reap what it has sown?