Lately I’ve been staying busy, more than I want to be. For some reason I have gotten a lot of calls for jobs this year. I’m a house painter. That’s what I have been busy with. Though I am retired, I just keep working. But I’m not complaining—too much. The main complaint this year is the terrible heat. We are having a lot of 90-degree days. Too hot to paint!
My latest book, The Tribulation
I’ve written a few books on prayer, a few books on bible prophecy, and my memoir. Now I’m back to bible prophecy. I’m just getting started on this book on the Tribulation. I’m excited to know how it will turn out. I’ve done some research, but I know I will do more as I go along. I do have an outline, so I know what the content will be, but I also know that I will have some surprises—I will learn as I go. And, as is my custom, I will blog the content as I go. That will start soon.
As Christians often say, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” That has more and more been my attitude, especially since the news is so bad. I listen to the radio—probably more than I should—to get a conservative slant on things. But you know, since the Dem’s control everything, there is not much good news. And can you believe this Critical Race theory they are pushing? Terrible. And there seems to be no end to the upsurge in crime and murder. The only good news of it all is that the Rapture will be coming soon!
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
If you have been following along you know that I have been using D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons from his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount as my reference. Hence, the main points and teaching are from his book (which are his sermons); and then I bring some of my own ideas into it. This sermon is much like the previous one, using the same text, but we go deeper into the meaning of it. In these two verses of Jesus’ sermon, we will discuss now the meaning of entering into the Christian life, based on His description here of the narrow gate as well as the narrow way. And we will also discuss a few things that will go along with the entire process of becoming a Christian. Please be attentive now to the following four principles on this subject.
1. Becoming a Christian demands a decision and a commitment.
When a person begins to understand some of the teachings of Christ and when God begins to tug on his heart so that he desires to follow Him, the gospel demands that he make a decision right then to leave whatever he is doing (and all of the old life) and go follow Him. You may remember how it was with Jesus’ first followers. Jesus met Peter and his brother Andrew on the beach of the Sea of Galilee as they were casting their nets into the sea. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” What did they do? Did they think about it? No! Scripture says, “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” Apparently, they knew enough about Jesus and had heard enough of His words to know that they wanted to be around Him and to learn more of Him. So they were not hesitant when the opportunity came to follow Him.
2.Look for the narrow gate and go through it.
Having made a firm decision to be a Christian, the next step is to look for the way of entrance. It is described by Jesus as a strait (or narrow) gate. And so, it is not very public or visible or even desirable by many. It is small and unpopular; yet to the one seeking it, it will be desirable, because Jesus will be there, waving at him to come in. and he will be excited to enter.
Now there have been many who think that they want to be a Christian and they have somewhat committed themselves to that goal; yet when it came to actually entering into it (the Christian life) they did not. Why? Because they did not put the effort into looking for it—for the narrow gate. As verse 14 says, “Few are those who find it.” This implies that they were not looking very intently—or maybe not at all. Perhaps they were looking for the wrong kind of gate. They may have envisioned it as a very large and majestic gate. Hence, they may have passed by the narrow gate without even knowing it.
3. Talk to yourself regarding what you have done and what things are different.
(This is something I wouldn’t have thought of, but Lloyd-Jones includes it; and now I think it is a good thing to do.) So, after a person has decided to enter, and he does find the way and enters in, and so gives his life to Christ, he will probably begin to ask himself certain questions: what did I just do? Who am I now? So, the point is that a new Christian should be always reminding himself every day that he is a child of God, a unique person and belonging to the family of God. Also, he should remind himself that Christ has died for him and that he is going to heaven and that he is just passing through this world, with its many temptations and trials.
4. For those who are disbelieving and doubtful.
Here in our text Jesus shows us two different ways and where they lead to. He is trying to take away the reasons for not entering in by the narrow gate. The obvious reason He gives is that the broad way leads to destruction—hell.
Some may reason that there are two choices to make: to take the narrow way or the broad way. However, if you examine other Scriptures, you will discover that by man’s nature he is already on the broad road, and God’s wrath is already on him (Jn. 3:36).
Another thing to consider is that since all (all those who have not believed) are already traveling on this broad road leading to destruction, that they know nothing of the narrow way that leads to life. And so, they may be satisfied with their life, having seen no other way. For this reason the Christian must do all he can to warn the unbeliever to where he is going, also he must tell him about a better way, a narrow way, yet a way that leads to life.
I suppose we could say that each person thinks on the things that he does each day. We think about what we do, or what we plan to do, or what we hope to do. And along the way we are forced to think on the decisions we will make; will I do this or that?
For those of you who have a job, you are forced to think about what you do in your job. And for you who work around machinery, you’re thinking process had better be clear. And for you scientists, we all hope that your decisions are well thought through.
And for all you who are not working, and retired, you are freer to think what you want. You are not so restricted; that is, no one is telling you what to do, how to think. That is where I am. I do a few painting jobs, and so I have to think about how best to paint and please my customers. Yet I do have more time off, and so I can choose what I want to do and what to think on. And of course, that carries with it a greater responsibility. I am accountable to God as to what I think on.
That leads me to what immediately came to my mind when I began this post. That God has told us in His word what He wants us to mainly think on, or to set our mind on. I thought of two verses. First, in Colossians 3:2 it says, “Set your mind on things above, not on the earth.” Of course, God knows that we have many things we have to think about in our day-to-day living; but He was referring to what is more serious—having to do with our values. We are to have holy thoughts that are of His will and purpose. Our thoughts are to be free from sin and corruption, which God despises. We see that in verse 5. Our thoughts are to be free from fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness.
A second verse is Philippians 4:8. Here is a list of things God wants us to meditate on: things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Here it seems that God is telling us that we have a responsibility to choose what we read and hear and to dwell on; only those things that are good and pleasing to Him—things on this list. I think there are many things in this world that are worthy to think on, but it is up to us to find them. What movies do we see? What kind of books do we read? What kind of people do you hang out with?
Here’s one for me. What radio programs do I listen to as I work? I think I am guilty of listening to too much political junk. And I have been reminded lately that there are some very good bible-based programs on at the same time. So, I must make better choices.
As far as weighing all the things I think about during the day, it’s one thing to make myself aware of what’s going on in the world, yet another thing to take responsibility for what I set my mind on (Col. 3:2-5). And now that I am thinking about it, if we set our mind on things above, then and only then will we have a clean mind to be able to think clearly about governmental things, political things, world view things, etc. I think we can see how many who have been in Congress so long have corrupt minds. I think everyone in any government position ought to have term limits.
If a Christian gets away from meditating on the word of God and the glories to come, and if he or she becomes too involved with the way of the world and with government things, he can become very depressed and burdened down. On the other hand, if you feel called to serve in government or in any community position, I think that is a wonderful calling. But, like Daniel, who was a gifted servant in that area, he knew that he had to spend much time in prayer every day. He had his priorities straight.
We live in an evil time and in an evil world. Like Daniel, we must keep ourselves in prayer before God. And we must, as Paul has written, set out mind on things above. It is up to us to saturate our mind in the word of God and meditate on the word day and night (Josh. 1:8). Let His word be your guide at all times. I love Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” And in Psalm 119:97 it says, “oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Again, in verse 103 it says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”
Just a few minutes ago I wrote a blog entitled No thoughts. But on my way home from Perkins, where I was having breakfast, I drove through a yellow arrow. I was supposed to yield to the cars coming from the other direction, but I wasn’t thinking. I was still in my no thoughts mode.
So, even though I was content on having a no thoughts day, I am now resolved in my mind that there are times when thinking is necessary. I must be prepared to think when I am driving—so I will abide by the traffic rules and be safe. Oh, and now, on my way home I will do some grocery shopping, so I will also have to think on what I need to buy. And then later I will do some reading, so I will have to think on my reading. And everything I do in a day will involve thinking.
On a related subject, I remember when I was composing my book Prayer A to Z, that I was a little down on myself because I didn’t have many, if any, original thoughts on prayer. My ideas mainly came from the bible and from other authors. And I relayed my frustrations to this visiting pastor—who was a retired professor. And to my surprise, he told me that no one really has any original thoughts. He said that we either get our ideas from others or from God. Ultimately, I suppose every idea we have is from God. Even the evil twisted ideas were originally from God, but twisted and turned around.
In my previous post when I said I had no thoughts, I know that is impossible, but what I meant was that I was in a mode where I didn’t want to make any or few decisions. I was trying to rest my mind. But we can’t continue to do that or we will get in trouble. Satan or the flesh will take advantage of us and feed our mind with evil ideas to think on. So, I think it is best to, every once in a while, pull out a Scripture verse card, or maybe you have a few verses memorized and you can pull them out from the back of your mind.
And another thing we can do when we are in that no thought mode is to thank our Lord and praise Him, and then let the Holy Spirit move you into some praise-filled prayer.
I brought my writing pad and a pen to my breakfast outing, intending to write a blog post. But as it turned out, I have no thoughts. It reminds me of my earlier days on the farm when I would sometimes sit and stare out into space; and when someone would ask me what I was thinking about I had to say… “nothing.” I had no thoughts. I wonder if that’s possible. I suppose we are always subconsciously thinking.
It’s a terrible thing for a blogger to have no thoughts! But today I feel content to just sit here and eat my food and wait for something to come to me. An inspiration. A message from God. Oh no. My food is almost gone. Panic. I know… I’ll get a piece of caramel apple pie, with whipped cream. That will prolong this “no thought” blog, or it may stimulate a thought or two.
My pie came. It’s cold. I said I wanted it hot. But I don’t want to say anything. Just like I don’t want to think anything. Am I lazy? Or am I just resting, taking a thinking break. I think the later. Oh not, I just made a thought. I decided that I am not lazy, that I am taking a thought break. That sounds logical to me.
My waiter just asked me what I was writing on. I told him and he laughed. Hey, I made somebody laugh! My day is complete.
I’ve been living in this apartment for over twenty years, and this branch has been hanging in front of my bedroom window for at least half that time—ten years. I’m not superstitious, but it is a mysterious looking branch. When I wake up in the morning it is the first thing I see. And when I go to bed and the moon is bright, it is the last thing I see. Well, here’s a poem—Oh Branch.
Self-confidence is inherent within us. It is something we were born with, a gift we have from God. But that kind of confidence can be abused—when we give into our pride. A better, more reliable source of confidence, and what I want to talk about now, is God-confidence. This is something a bit different. When we are confident in God we are not confident in our strength, rather in our weakness, so that He is made strong in us (2 Cor. 12:9-10). We could also say that a God-confidence will serve to help our self-confidence—to help us not to abuse our self-confidence.
So, with that said, how do we get this God-confidence? I want to suggest four ways: by repentance and trust, by obedience, by meditation, and by fellowship.
Repentance and trust. The first step on your way to confidence is to admit your spiritual…
This will sound like a broken record, but I am still on this journey to get rid of worry—worry…worry…worry…
Recently, I have been having auto troubles—hearing loud grinding noises from the starter. Yesterday morning I was reading from Psalm 37. The words trust, rest in, and wait on the Lord were the most predominant and helpful. I said “yes” to the Lord in regard to those things. I will trust Him and wait patiently.
Well yesterday afternoon, just before I was ready to leave my work place, I wondered how many starts I had left in my truck. Just before I would turn the key, I prayed and gave my situation to the Lord. I turn the key. It made a little noise and then nothing. It was gone. I called a tow truck and waited.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t too worried because I had given it to Him. Yes, I knew I would be tested, but I also knew that He would be with me—as He always is. I don’t know why I worry.
Today my auto shop guy gave me a new starter. All is well until the next test. I will try to remember those words: trust, rest in, and wait on Him. I think it is just a matter of my will saying “I will trust Him… I will rest in Him.” And in every test, it is another opportunity to trust Him.
It kind of feels like nothing’s happening in the world. Every day is a blah news day. But is it really? Well, there’s nothing much to read in the newspapers, except your everyday burglaries, etc. No big headlines. And nothing much is on TV, except the news by the ever-observant reporter of the almost daily killing of a black man by the white police. Oh, that’s big news! The biggest news of our day.
But there is nothing quite as big as it used to be—about what Trump has done! All the news about Biden is fairly good and what is expected of a president—so the news says.
The answer to these blah days is that there really is big news, but the media is not reporting it. They are fairly silent. And if they do report something that is legitimately bad news (evil activity) they will report it as good news, or as common stuff.
Oh, how I long for Trump again. Then there will really be HEADLINE NEWS. They will report it as terrible. But we (most people) will know better. We will know that it is really good news, that something good is being done; or that it is good news made by the press to look bad.
I hate these prolonged cover-ups, these on-going-deceptions. When we have these quiet times, these slow news days, I feel uneasy. I fear for the country. I fear for so many good people who think that all is well, that no news is good news. They are so wrong! They are so deceived!
What can we do? What can I do? As Christians we should keep in prayer, asking God what to do and how to live. We should be vigilant in everything, keeping on guard against every kind of evil. And we should joyously live from day to day with an expectation of His return. Now that will be big news!!