Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Is it well with you?


Do you ever wonder why your life never really changes?

Why do the same old quirks and pains derail you time and time again?

Have you thought about the meaning of life?

Have you become so weary inside and out that it really doesn’t matter anymore?

 

If you can answer yes to any or all of the above, I want to congratulate you. You are probably thinking that the last thing you need is congratulations right? I understand that completely because not long ago if someone had said that to me, I would call them a nut. The reason I can say congratulations is this; you have been chosen by God to walk through this because there is purpose in the pain.

How do I know there is purpose in the pain? I know because God does not throw time or opportunity away like we do. He is not some cosmic giant in the sky who is bored. Every thought every movement is carefully and expertly calculated to bring about the greatest Glory in us.   

Remember in Matthew 7 Jesus was talking about Fathers and how they give good gifts to their children?

We all know and can quote Matthew 7:7

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:   

Yea, we are all familiar with that verse because as humans we tend to live more on the “me” side of things. On reflection, our motivation for God is born most often out of our need for Him to fix things, to change things for us so we don’t suffer. However, if you move further down the passage about 6 verses Jesus says something very interesting.

Ideally we like to separate the two scriptures as two distinct thoughts but logically He was speaking in a conversation that flowed from a single thought. Basically He was having conversation so the ideology was flowing not broken as we often suppose. Look at Matthew 7:13, 14

Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

So Jesus goes from one thought straight to the next. One moment He’s a Father who knows what you need and the next He’s talking about gates. This is an odd connection don’t you think? Why did He do that and what was His purpose for it?

I looked up what gate & straight and narrow and all that means? I find them to be extremely revealing in their context. So bear with me a moment while I attempt to dissect those words.

 

Strong’s Concordance:

Strait: G4728 ~ stenos ~ probably from the base of 2476; narrow (from obstacles standing close about) :-

Gate: G4439 ~pule~ apparently a primary word: a gate, i.e. the leaf or wing of a folding entrance (literally or figuratively :-

Wide: G4116 ~platus~ from 4111; spread out “flat” (“plot”), i.e. broad:--wide.

Broad: G2149 ~euruchoros~ from eurus (wide) and 5561; spacious:-- broad.

Narrow: G2346 ~thlibo~ akin to the base of 5147; to crowd (literally or figuratively):-- afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble

Way: G3598 ~hodos~ apparently a primary word; a road; by implication, a progress (the route, act or distance); figuratively, a mode or means:-- journey, (high)way.

Can you connect the dots with me?

Matthew

7: 1-5 Don’t judge others

7: 6 Don’t give holy things to dogs or cast your pearls before swine

7: 7-12 Ask the Father what you need and He as a Father provides

7: 13-14 Enter into the strait gate.

Now it goes on, but I’m stopping here to try and bring clarification if God will allow me to.

He didn’t really start His thought about judging, this is just where scholars decided the break in His conversation should be. It’s an interesting place so let’s go back to my original questions and pick up the reasons why you should be congratulated.

Right in the very middle of all that instruction Jesus talks about gates one you shouldn’t enter and one that you should. The first gate is broad and packed with many folks, but the second is hard and full of troubles. This is the very gate that Jesus told you to seek for and not only seek it but go through it!

So backing up a little He said our Father knows everything we have need of and has already provided abundantly for it. Wait a minute, does that mean He picked the strait and narrow gate and does that mean HE wants us to go down that road? Absolutely!

You see we spend a great deal of time on that broad path that leads to destruction because we don’t want to be on the narrow road. Naturally speaking our flesh screams out No Way! That road is hard, it hurts and cost is way too high a price. I’m not taking that road and so we start praying and asking Jesus, expecting (we reference Mat. 7:7) that He is going to lead us off that narrow way. That road chocked full of trials and tribulations. Never realizing that this road, this painfully hard road is the very one Jesus wants us to be on.

You might say well that’s just wrong and any God that would require suffering is just a sadistic tyrant in the sky. Really? How many cultures and religions around the world and throughout time have walked through literal fires, cut their own bodies ritualistically and sacrificed their children on the altars of idolatry. And for what exactly? Do we think their so called gods answered them or instructed them to do this? These people willingly do this without the benefit of a viable and living deity requiring it. It is a built in illusion created in their own mind.

We serve the Living Creator God who not only promised beforehand that He was a Father over us but that He would provide everything we need.

So our lives never change, because we never become willing to walk the narrow road that leads us to the very life we crave. We cave in and beg God to release us from the very things bringing us to Him. The same old quirks and habits repeatedly manifest because we get off the road at times.  We question the meaning of life when we begin to focus solely on ourselves. This brings a weariness and heaviness that we can’t explain and we can’t ignore.

Now here’s the good part rejoice, because God is working in your life. Rejoice that you have chosen to walk with Him. Rejoice that He has counted you worthy to walk the road with Him. Whatever you do; DO NOT GET OFF THE NARROW ROAD!  It's purposely designed to bring you where you long to be. He is so loving and kind He promised you beforehand that He would be there with you before He asked you to go through the door.

Whatever He is doing in you let Him do it!   

Again I will say to you “Congratulations” you are in the arms of your Father and He is leading you to Higher Ground. A place where His Holiness abides! You will not have much company, for most will reject the suffering and choose the easy road. The best way to look at that is that there is more opportunity to have complete, un-interrupted fellowship with Jesus.

Look up and press on!

 

Always I’m hid with Christ!

Shawn