Strive to enter…

“Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:23, 24. 

We often wonder about the salvation of others. But in His reply, Jesus points back to the only person’s salvation we can really know and asks, “are you yourself saved?”  The rabbis of that day used to love to debate the question of whether many or few would be saved. Jesus did not take that bait, His only question is, “are you saved?”

The Greek word for strive is agōnizomai, where we get the word agonize from. The concordance list the following meanings of the word agōnizomai.

1) to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games

2) to contend with adversaries, fight

3) metaph. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers

4) to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something

The Christian walk is not a walk in the park. Jesus paid a heavy price for us. We can’t bring our self-centeredness, pride, lusts, hate or especially our own righteousness. Therefore, we must strive or agonize in order to lay aside these things.

We read about His love and compassion for others and the forgiveness that can only come through Him. His humbleness and gentleness, His healing power and the absolute truth and authority of His word.

Jesus said many comforting and encouraging words to those who believe in Him. Forgiveness and eternal life for example. He also said some things that should make all of us who believe in Him and call Him Lord, think and examine ourselves.

Jesus throughout gospels said some pretty tough things. Many that followed Him left Him because it was either too hard for them to understand, or they were no willing to pick up their cross and follow Him any longer.

Are we truly willing to pick up our own cross and follow Him, no matter what may come? There are many obstacles in the way. The world is an obstacle. The devil is an obstacle. But the worst obstacle is your own flesh. Are we willing to murder our flesh?

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Rom 8: 5, 6 ,13. 

We as believers are in a spiritual battle every day. We can either give in or agonize and fight the good fight. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mat 26:41. Jesus said this to the disciple when He prayed 3 times in the garden of Gethsemane. He was agonizing and sweating drops of blood. This is very rare and the medical term today is: Hematidrosis. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress for example, facing his or her own death. Jesus prayed that this cup i.e. the crucifixion may pass Him. I believe that this was the last attempt of Satan to prevent Christ from going to the cross to die for the sin of the world and ultimately defeat him.

“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”Mat 26:39.

Jesus did not give in to the flesh, He did the will of the Father. Jesus came willingly to the earth, He left His glory in heaven to fulfill the plan of God’s salvation for mankind. He willingly bore the cross and He laid down His life for us. He picked up His cross. Are we willing to do the same? Jesus needs to be our example. Life is not easy and comes with many distractions and cares of this world. Temptations are all around us and many blame it on Satan, but I do believe it is our flesh that causes us to stumble and give into various temptations. We need to strive/agonize to overcome and pick up our cross.

We may not have to suffer as Jesus did, severally beaten to a bloody pulp, unrecognizable and nailed to the cross. There are many followers of Christ that do suffer for their faith. They are persecuted, beaten and killed because of their faith in Jesus. Those are the once that strive to enter the kingdom of heave. They truly live out their faith.

I hope and pray that we as believers don’t have to go to such heavy persecutions or facing death, but if it comes, are we willing to stand strong and strive and enter through the narrow gate?

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Mat 7:13, 14.

Let us be of the few who find the gate which is Jesus.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.John 3:16

Thankfulness to God

I think that we as believers in Christ worry too much about what God thinks of us or how He looks at us. We read and study the Bible, we fellowship at Church, we are witnessing, helping others who are in need and whatever else we might do for the furthering of His kingdom. All these things are not bad in itself, we as believers should do them. However, so many Christians are thinking and wondering each and every day how they can please God.

The Bible clearly teaches that we cannot please God on our own by our good works or deeds. Our own righteousness won’t get us very far. Unfortunately  many believers are not resting in the finished work of Christ on their behalf, they labor to either please God or to appease Him. The good news is that God has done for us what we were not able to do ourselves. By His grace He has forgiven us of our sins through faith in His Son who died for us on the cross at Calvary.

Jesus Christ the Son was the only One that was pleasing to God the Father. Through Jesus we have received the reconciliation, and we are at peace with God, we are not appointed unto the wrath. God has imputed the righteousness of Christ onto all of those who believe in Him by faith. As believers in Jesus we have nothing to worry about, God does not remember any of our sins. They are forgotten as far as the East is from the West. The blood of Jesus has washed and cleansed us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself so that we do not have to face judgment on the day when God will judge the world. So, how can we please God in our daily lives, if we cannot do it through works or good deeds?  I think God would be very pleased if we as believers thank Him for everything that He has done for us, He has provided a substitute for us and He has promised us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Eternal life is definitely something to be greatly thankful for.

Everyday God blesses us and He is so good, that He even blesses those who reject Him. Everyday the sun rises,  giving light and warmth to all. He sends the rain upon the land. He gives the air that we breathe, He provides food, He clothes and cares for us. There are so many blessings that we receive everyday that probably most of them go unrecognized. Let us be thankful to God as His children everyday, thanking Him for His goodness, His love and His grace. Giving thanks is pleasing to God. Giving thanks shows gratitude.

A thankful heart is a right heart in the eyes of God. I thank You Father for everything, I am truly blessed and I am so thankful that You have transformed my life. I am what I am, but I am not what I used to be. Thank You for your mercy and Your grace, thank You Father for giving us your Son, Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.


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