December 8, 2014
I was discussing the Scripture Matthew 7:13-14
Here is the long translation I created using the Greek meanings of the words.
Matthew 7:13 & 14
13) Enter through the folding entrance with obstacles standing close about applying pressure because the folding entrance that is spread out and spacious is the journey that leads away to physical, spiritual and eternal destruction where many agree to go in through.
14) For the folding entrance is narrow with obstacles standing close about applying pressure and on that journey they will suffer tribulation that leads into life and a puny number are those who perceive it.
Today I want to look a little closer at these verses.
In the first part of verse 13 it describes the gate that Jesus directs us to go into as a gate that has obstacles standing close about us which apply pressure. Oh wow that sounds like fun!
But isn’t this exactly what life is? Aren’t there obstacles at every turn? And don’t those obstacles apply pressure on us?
When I read this I am reminded of a show I caught once on tv where there was a very difficult and challenging obstacle course that people signed up and were eager to do. They wanted to beat this thing. It was a huge challenge to them and the sheer thought of it energized them and excited them!
This was no ordinary obstacle course. It had huge walls with very little, if any places to hang on or grasp. There were huge wheels that turned and things moving back and forth that had to be navigated with great thought and precise movement.
The one I happened to catch was one with a young, incredibly fit, woman who looked to be barely over 5 feet tall and probably only about 115 pounds. She was amazing! I had to watch to the end and sure enough she made it! She handled every single obstacle with skill, precision and forethought. And she beat it!
It kind of made me want to try, but I knew without a doubt that the first challenge would leave me huffing and puffing and flat on my back. Why? I’m not physically fit for that type of challenge.
So if we see that Jesus is saying He wants us to enter into this gateway that is made up of obstacles that apply pressure, what are we to do? We have a heart to follow Christ. We have chosen Him as our Lord and savior. Do we back away now or do we trust Him to get us through even though it may not be comfortable?
So once we choose to take this path, how do we do it? How do we get through?
Let’s look in the natural at this great female athlete and her obstacle course as a parallel. She was physically fit. In fact I doubt I have ever seen a more perfect specimen of physical fitness. All her muscles were perfectly honed and strong. But that wasn’t the only thing. She had a mind to think through and to problem solve which allowed her to navigate the course with skill.
So if we are to go through our course we must get fit. If this is a spiritual course we must arm ourselves with the word of God. In order to make sure that we understand the word, we must make sure that we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit which brings all revelation.
He is the revealer. He is the one who causes us to perceive truth. Without Him it is just a book with words that we will struggle on a daily basis to read without understanding. It is as Jesus when He spoke in parables and then He took the disciples aside to explain the meaning to them.
The Holy Spirit will take us aside as we read and give us the true revelation of the word.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
I John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him.
Without reading, studying and allow the Holy Spirit to educate and build us up spiritually, we will never be able to navigate this course. This is our fitness training.
Just as the lady worked out tirelessly to hone her body and build strength, we much also work tirelessly to build our spiritual strength in the word.
No doubt she did basic exercises and cardio training, but I would guess she also did simulated obstacle courses. Of course in the show she didn’t know the course she would be challenged with until she was on the show, but she knew it would be hard and had seen others on similar ones, so she could attempt similar courses.
Now she did that willingly. She took on those courses and I am sure she failed many times while building herself to accept the ultimate challenge, as we should accept the challenges and obstacles, which apply pressure in our lives.
But our human nature usually causes us to run the other direction when we are confronted with life’s challenges. It hurts to go through them. It takes time, money and diligence. But it is these very challenges or obstacles that will develop us and build in us the fortitude to handle even greater challenges.
Why did this lady put herself through such a strenuous regime? You know she had to have been focused for a long time on training her body and mind to beat the ultimate course on that show. She did it because she wanted the prize. The bragging rights, the fame and I think most of all the personal satisfaction of knowing that she did it. That she completed the course.
Paul understood this entire concept as we see when he writes his dear son in the faith, Timothy.
II Timothy 4 6-8
6) For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
We all know the trials and tribulations that Paul and the other apostles faced, but we have decided that because God loves us and because of grace that we ourselves should not have to face these things.
But we have missed the point. It is not about shielding us from the pain of these trials, but about helping us go through them not only unharmed, but better.
Let’s read this.
2) Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or all into various temptations.
3) Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4) But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
I used to hate reading this when I was young. I would cringe. But let’s look back at our female example. She joyfully ran headlong into the obstacle course she set up to train her. Yes I am sure she got tired and she hurt, but she kept on because she wanted the reward at the end. She did not focus on the immediate discomfort, but the goal.
So let’s look beyond verse 2 and see what our goal or reward is here.
In verse 3 it says that if we don’t quit, the trials will bring about endurance, from there we will gain steadfastness and from there patience. In verse 4 it goes on to say that if we allow those three attributes, endurance, steadfastness and patience have full and thorough work then we will be perfectly and fully developed AND with no defect, lacking in NOTHING.
Wow, what a goal! I dare say there is not a person out there whose goal is to lack nothing at all. But let me ask, who is willing to run the course to get there? Are you to the point where it just seems easier to give up and go with the flow rather than ever achieve the goal?
What if I told you that the goodness and the gracious love of Father God is such that yes, He asks us to train and run this course, but He has also given us the cheat to navigate the course accurately with the least pain and suffering?
I learned that word cheat from my grandchildren. They have played video games since they could hold the controls. But sometimes the challenge becomes too much and they seek to find a cheat to get them to the next level or around the next obstacle.
Well God has given us a cheat. All praise and glory be to God. His love and mercy is so deep that even though He has asked us to run this course, He has also given us the way to navigate it regardless of who we are and what our individual circumstances and challenges might me.
How about you? Are you ready to take on the course, the narrow road? Want to know the cheat?