VIDEO Narrow Road

Aug 16, 2011

Narrow Road, Hillsong 2011

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A Consistent Life

He knelt down on his knees . . . and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. —Daniel 6:10

While studying the book of Daniel, I was struck by how easily he could have avoided being thrown into the den of lions. Daniel’s jealous rivals in the government of Babylon laid a trap based on his consistent practice of daily prayer to God (Dan. 6:1-9). Daniel was fully aware of their plot and could have decided to pray privately for a month until things settled down. But that was not the kind of person he was.

“When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (v.10). Daniel did not panic, nor bargain with God. Instead, he continued “just as he had done before” (v.10 niv). He was not intimidated by the pressure of persecution.

The lesson for me was the power of Daniel’s life of consistent devotion to the Lord. His strength came from God, whom Daniel wanted to please every day. When a crisis came, Daniel didn’t need to change his daily practice to meet it. He simply stayed committed to his God. By David C. McCasland

Daniel’s three friends were thrown into the fiery furnace (Dan. 3), and Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den (ch. 6). These stories teach us that God is in control, even when it doesn’t look like it, and we can trust Him.

Father, I want to stand for You when persecution
comes as Daniel did. Give me that same bold
commitment to pray and not to be ashamed of
knowing You. Help me to live my faith publicly.

God empowers us to stand for Him as we bow to pray.

The Narrow Road

Matthew 7:13-14

Like many people today, the Israelites in Jesus’ time believed they were destined for heaven. They mistakenly thought that to join God’s family, good works and an intellectual faith were all that He required.

To help us grasp the truth about how to enter His Father’s kingdom, Jesus described two roads leading in opposite directions. One is a broad highway, where most people travel. Theirs is an easy journey, as it requires few commitments and allows all kinds of philosophies. Because just about everything is acceptable, each person is free to be self-indulgent and choose whatever seems best. The broad path promises to give us whatever we desire, but in the end, it delivers nothing of lasting value.

The other road is narrow. It has a small entrance, because there is only one way to be reconciled to God—through faith in Christ. Traveling on this path requires a commitment to the Savior and a lifestyle of dependence, sacrifice, and trust.

Once we belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit empowers us for everything that is required on the way of righteousness: loving God with our whole heart, loving our neighbors, and carrying out the Lord’s purposes. His plans are to take precedence over our own. In contrast to the disappointments on the broad road, every divine promise is guaranteed.

Each of us must choose which path to take: the wide one that ends in hopelessness and eternal separation from the Lord, or the narrow one leading to life everlasting. If you desire a relationship with God through Jesus, just ask Him.

Lessons from Amos: Don’t Enter Gilgal

“But [do not] . . . enter Gilgal . . . For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity.” (Amos 5:5)

Gilgal was the place of new beginnings. Twelve memorial stones from the Jordan were set up at Gilgal after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 4:3). The nation was circumcised there in preparation for their possession of the Land (Joshua 5:5). The Passover was celebrated (Joshua 5:10), and the miraculous manna ceased (Joshua 5:12). The victorious campaign in the hill country of Judea extending to Kadesh-barnea and Gaza was conducted from Gilgal (Joshua 10:15). The great battle at the waters of Merom was conducted from Gilgal (Joshua 10:43, 11:5). Saul was crowned Israel’s first king at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:15).

Yet, the activity at Gilgal began to obscure the Word of God. Saul compromised and sacrificed at Gilgal to try to gain God’s blessing. His desire for political favor resulted in direct disobedience to God.

A zeal for “righteous action” without obedience can result in evil. Jephthah’s foolish vow and subsequent bad leadership led to a horrible slaughter (Judges 11-12). Micah’s selfish desire for a personal priest led to terrible apostasy (Judges 17-18). A Levite’s false zeal for revenge led Israel into civil war (Judges 19-21).

When activity substitutes for “holiness,” the cause starts to justify the activity. Activity then becomes necessary to preserve the cause, and dedication to the activity is equated with loyalty and holiness. In many cases, preservation of a memorable event overrides biblical truth. We don’t need “activity” at Gilgal as much as we need “abiding” in Christ. The “branches” need the “vine” (John 15). HMM III

Desire to Be Filled

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with me Spirit. —Ephesians 5:18

Again, before you can be filled with the Spirit you must desire to be filled. Here I meet with a certain amount of puzzlement. Somebody will say, “How is it that you say to us that we must desire to be filled, because you know we desire to be? Haven’t we talked to you in person? Haven’t we called you on the phone? Aren’t we out here tonight to hear the sermon on the Holy Spirit? Isn’t this all a comforting indication to you that we are desirous of being filled with the Holy Spirit?”

Not necessarily, and I will explain why. For instance, are you sure that you want to be possessed by a spirit other than your own? even though that spirit be the pure Spirit of God? even though He be the very gentle essence of the gentle Jesus? even though He be sane and pure and free? even though He be wisdom personified, wisdom Himself, even though He have a healing, precious ointment
to distill? even though He be loving as the heart of God? That Spirit, if He ever possesses you, will be the Lord of your Life!

Even so come, Holy Spirit! Amen.

Test Your Conduct: What Are Your Motives?

But ye denied the Holy One… And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead;… Acts 3:14, 15

The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive.

As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it. For this reason, no act that arises from an evil motive can be good, even though some good may appear to come out of it.

Every deed done out of anger or spite, for instance, will be found at last to have been done for the enemy and against the Kingdom of God!

In this matter of motive, as in so many other things, the Pharisees afford us clear examples.

They remain the world’s most dismal religious failures, not because of doctrinal error nor because they were careless or lukewarm, nor because they were outwardly persons of dissolute life.

Their whole trouble lay in the quality of their religious motives. They prayed, but they prayed to be heard of men. They gave generously to the service of the temple, but they sometimes did it to escape their duty toward their parents, and this was an evil. They judged sin and stood against it when found in others, but this they did from self-righteousness and hardness of heart.

That this is not a small matter may be gathered from the fact that those orthodox and proper religionists went on in their blindness until at last they crucified the Lord of glory with no inkling of the gravity of their crime!

The End of the Age

All these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be? 2 PETER 3:11

Everywhere around us we are experiencing a great new wave of humanity’s interest in spiritism and devil worship. I must take this as one of the signs that God’s age of grace and mercy is approaching the end point. It tells us that the time may be near when God proclaims: “I have seen enough of mankind’s sin and rebellion. It is time for the trumpets of judgment to sound!”

If we are willing to add the appeals from the book of Revelation to the weight of the other Scriptures, we discover God saying to us that the earth on which we live is not self-explanatory and certainly not self-sufficient.

Although the earth on which we spin is largely populated by a rebel race, it had a divine origin. Now God is about to enforce His claim upon it and judge those who are usurpers. He is saying that there is another and better world, another kingdom, that is always keeping an eye on the world we inhabit!

Lord, help me to be sensitive to the spiritual realm that coexists with the physical world. Thank You that You are still on the throne of this universe and that You are the One who holds all things together.