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The Wide And Narrow Door

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 
 Matthew 7:13-14


“Let’s Make a Deal” is a game show that has been watched by nations around the world for years. The contestants make deals with the host, trying to win the best prize offered. Sometimes a contestant is shown three doors. He has no idea what is behind each door.  He must randomly chose a door and hope for a good prize.

Perhaps you feel like you are playing this game in life. Doors can represent beliefs, choices or even opportunities. Which choices are best? Which direction is right? Which door will lead to a life of satisfaction, joy and fulfillment? 

In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus describes two kinds of doors (gates), which people enter on their quest for heaven, joy or meaning. There is a wide door-- the popular door. A person who travels through a wide door can take all his baggage with him. He can take his suitcase filled with his own views or the views of the world. He can take his ‘good’ works--those things he does that he believes will earn him a place in heaven. The door is wide, allowing each to carry with him what he deems best. Many choose this door.

Then there is the narrow door that few enter. It is a narrow door because it allows for no baggage. The person who enters must be stripped of all but one thing—faith in Jesus Christ. He must leave behind all his trust in himself, his trust in his own views and his trust in his own good deeds. When he enters through the door, he acknowledges that his trust is in Jesus--Jesus alone. 

Which door is the right door to enter? Which door leads to heaven, to eternal life, to lasting joy, to true satisfaction and fulfillment? Jesus warns that the wide, popular door does not lead to heaven; it leads to destruction. The narrow door leads to life. Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father, except through Me (John 14:6).

Which door will you enter?

Jan Burkhart

Gentleness

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:29


Gentleness! Isn’t that a sweet, comforting word? The Greek word translated gentle can also be translated meek. Gentleness or meekness is not a weak quality at all. Gentleness is a restrained and disciplined strength that leads to great blessing.

My pastor, Dr. David Dykes, says this about meekness (gentleness): “Meekness is not weakness; it is strength under control.” In our Scripture for today, Jesus describes Himself as gentle and humble in heart.

Gentleness and meekness are words that are totally misused and misunderstood today. We think these words describe one who is passive, submissive, weak, and like a doormat ready to be stepped on.

My husband and I enjoy a TV show on Netflix, “Heartland,” that is filmed in Canada. The leading actress is Amy. Amy trains horses. She can take the wildest horses and tame them to do just exactly as she wants. She actually does this in real life also.

The Greek word for meekness is the regular word for an animal which has been domesticated. So gentleness is like a horse that has been broken to ride. The stubborn will of these horses has to be broken. In the same way, our stubborn will has to be broken by God. A well-trained horse wants to follow his master’s directions. We must be broken to follow our Master’s directions.

How do we become meek or gentle? We must allow the Spirit of God to break us from our self-centeredness and arrogance. Only the Holy Spirit can produce gentleness in the heart of a Christian.

Today’s Challenge:  PRAY FOR A GENTLE SPIRIT AND A HUMBLE HEART.


Georgia Andrus

Just Do It

Be doers of the word and not hearers only.
James 1:22


“Just Do It” is a phrase Nike coined in 1988. It’s a slogan to inspire athletes to out run, out train, and out move. The apostle James used similar words to inspire Christians hundreds of years earlier. 

James said, Be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22). In other words, we are to do more than simply listen to the Word of God. According to James, we must apply God’s Word in our daily lives. 

I was encouraged recently by an example of someone being a doer of what Scripture teaches. It happened when my husband and I went to a big sale at the mall. We purposely went early to beat the crowd, but apparently the crowd had the same idea. The parking lot was already full, and cars were circling to grab a spot.

We eventually parked and entered a store. The aisles were jammed with people, inching slowly toward their destinations. It was Christmas shopping on steroids, worse than Black Friday. 

For a moment we considered going home. However, since we were already there, we decided to split up, shop for an hour, and then leave. When we met seventy minutes later (yes, I was late), my husband shared this story with me.

While he was shopping in men’s wear, a nice sales lady had answered his questions and helped him find his size. When he checked out, she was working the cash register at the end of a long, impatient line of customers. As he paid for his purchase, my husband asked her how she was able to deal with such a trying situation. 

She replied, “I just ask Jesus to help me love everybody.” Her answer blessed my husband, and me, when I heard it. She was a doer of the Word.

God has said we are to love others. That sales lady purposed to obey God and trusted He would enable her to do so. I am reminded by her example that the Spirit gives us the ability to obey God when we ask his help.

Father, impress us with the importance of obeying you in daily life. 
                                                                                       
Carol                                

Truth … Eternal Life is in Jesus

God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:11-12


I am a bit surprised to read in Denison’s cultural commentary March 11 that “92% of Americans believe they are their own sole determiner of moral truth.” Truth is not “what we say it is”, never has been, never will be. Only God has its full measure. Only He Who is Infinite, Who is light, Who is Love, Who calls us children.  

Truth #5 is this: Eternal life is in Jesus.
John proclaimed Jesus the Word of eternal life right off the bat (1 John 1:1-2). As he finishes his epistle, he hones in on the essential truth of salvation: the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God (1 John 4:14-15). This truth was being seriously undermined in the fledgling church in Ephesus.

So too the matter of eternal life today. We have friends who say there is no eternal life, that death is the end of it all. I’m sure you do too. We have friends who say there are many paths to heaven and all will go. You do too. We have friends who hope they’ve been good enough to get there. You also? We have many to pray about, as you do.

John says it simply. First of all, you can’t work hard enough to get there—eternal life is a gift from God. It also is very real, as illustrated by Jesus’ story about the rich man in agony in hell, begging Lazarus, who is at the side of Abraham, for a drop of water to cool his tongue (Luke 16:19-31). There is one and only one way to heaven: He who has the Son has life!

He who has the Son? How do you have the Son? Has is the Greek word echo, in this case to hold, to possess. You’ve got to believe in Who Jesus is, and trust yourself to Him, to possess Him. Romans 10:9 may say it best: If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. You have Jesus!

Lord, Your Word assures us that we who have Jesus have eternal life. May we diligently pursue truth as silver, search for it as hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4).


Nancy P

Truth … God is Love

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…because God is love.
1 John 4:7-8


Good morning ladies. How about it—are not these truths we are stacking one upon the other this week increasing your joy? I’m loving it. And speaking of love, let’s dig a little deeper into its true nature. Yesterday we talked about the lavish love of God, so lavish that we should be called children. Even more basic however is Truth #4: God is love.

Did you catch that? God is love. Love saturates His character—true, pure love. To adequately define it is way beyond me. To understand it, well I get what Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, is saying: “I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a teacup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”

This much I have figured out though: I am compelled to love others because God, Who is Love, is in me. My loving others then, so they can see Him, will bring His love full circle back to Him, bringing glory to He Who is love.

Remember Carolyne from yesterday? When Carolyne finished her schooling, she married Samuel and the two of them opened a store. She funneled what she could of the profits to the Rescue school to help with the necessities. Girls fearing FGM soon knew to come into her store for wise counsel. This made the Masai men angry, to the point of threatening Carolyne’s life. She and her family are in the US on asylum.

But she continues to do what she can. She and Jennifer and Allison were able to travel to the school in Kenya last year to spend time with the girls and assess their needs. And you, you can jump into this circle of love with Carolyne. Visit Kenyan GIRLS Rescue Program on facebook and see for yourself. Full sponsorship is the greatest need; books or clothing are good options. Call Cassie at 903-525-1186 to find out how you can help.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another (1John 4:11).

Nancy P