[ESV] 1 Samuel 12:23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.
[ESV] 2 Corinthians 1:11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
[ESV] Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
[ESV] Romans 15:30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
[NLT] Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
[NLT] Philippians 1:19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.
[NLT] Philemon 1:22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.
[NIV] Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
[NLT] Revelation 5:8 And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
[ESV] Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
[ESV] Matthew 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Notice that it not only focusses on the narrow gate(believing in Jesus Christ; Romans 10:9-11, which is key) but also the narrow way. It further affirms that the narrow way that leads to life is hard and only ‘a few’ find it!
Many assume and also teach that as long as one enters the gate they are fine. Many times entering the gate is understood to mean saying a prayer(“sinners prayer”). It doesn’t matter if the conversion was genuine or false. The ‘sinners prayer’ is responsible for millions of unconverted people all over the world who think they are born again but are not, sadly! This is a deception brethren!As much as God can actually save some through the above method since He sees their heart is sincerely repentant, it should not be yardstick for salvation.
Salvation is a work of God, through The Holy Spirit(Titus 3:5-6) that transforms an individual to be like Christ. God gives them a new heart and Spirit to know Christ and be like Him(Ezekiel 36:26-27). One becomes a new creation(2 Cor 5:17). There is a change from within. God gives us new passions, desires, interests that are in line with His will day by day. When one enters the gate, the journey of endurance begins. The journey of knowing Christ as Lord and becoming like Him.
Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, the prophets and apostles talked a lot about what the walk of salvation really entails! Check this out(emphasis on the way)
[ESV] Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
[NLT] Proverbs 4:18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
[ESV] Proverbs 4:19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
[ESV] Isaiah 35:8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
The way of Christ is marked with denying of self, suffering and affliction!
[NLT] Isaiah 30:20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
[ESV] Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
[ESV] Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
[ESV] John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
[ESV] Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Brethren, let us be encouraged. The reason the narrow way is difficult is to enable us focus on Christ and become like Him(2 Corinthians 3:17-18), daily relying on Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Jesus Christ is The Way, the Truth and the Life(John 14:6). May we endure to the end as we grow in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 1:3-11, 2 Peter 3:17-18). Let us always remember:
[ESV] Psalms 18:30 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Phil 3:8 reminds me of Jer 2:11-13.
The essence of evil is when we treasure anything even good things above Christ. As Jer 2:11-13 affirms when we desire refreshment and satisfaction from anything else above Christ. It is a broken cistern. Only Jesus Christ can satisfy us and quench us. The reason Adam and Eve fell is because they treasured the fruit and what it could apparently give, above obedience to God. All sin is driven by love for other things/people above God. Hence the words of Christ in Matthew 10:34-39. Either Christ or nothing! God is enough!
One of the most beautiful truths about the coming of Christ(New Covenant) is that He made each believer equal in His eyes(Galatians 3:28-29), in spite of their roles in God’s kingdom/family. We are a family under Him. We address each other as brothers. He only is our Father!
[NLT] Matthew 23:8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.
[NLT] Matthew 23:9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.
[NLT] Matthew 23:10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.
[NLT] Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you must be a servant.
[NLT] Matthew 23:12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
We should not be so engrossed with titles as many are in christiandom in this day. We forget the roles(offices); Apostle, Pastor, teacher, Evangelist, prophet, though important and have their place in God’s family(Ephesians 4:11-14) don’t really define who we are. We are ultimately all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus(John 1:12). Only in Christ do we live, move and have our being(Acts 17:28).
We have gone further in our day and taken up titles that only belong to God and given them to men, sadly. For example Reverend(Psalm 111:9KJV). In other cases we add Most Reverend to refer to mere flesh and blood. We also have other names like Holy father(John 17:11) that we give to a man. Etc. It clearly shows we are more focussed on ourselves and our position, like the Pharisees and teachers of the law that Christ was rebuking in Matthew 23. We have forgotten than our greatest role is being servants. Some even get offended if you don’t address them with their man- given titles. Jesus Christ clearly affirmed the highest title is servant in the passage above. Christ is categorical in the last day each of us will either be commended or condemned for being a faithful servant(Matthew 25:21) or a slothful/unfaithful servant(Matthew 25:26-27).
Interestingly The early church/ Apostles referred to each other as brothers or by their names rather than their titles(office)(Galatians 2, 2 Peter 3:15 )and many other places. They were not obsessed with their titles and God used them all the same. Finally, Paul nails it!
[NLT] 1 Corinthians 3:5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.
[NLT] 1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.
[NLT] 1 Corinthians 3:7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
[NLT] 1 Corinthians 4:1 So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.
[ESV] 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
Friends, we are largely a generation of extremes. Whenever we choose not to abide to the counsel of the Bible we run amok in all areas. Like The Israelites in Judges, everyone does what is pleasing in their eyes, rather than what is pleasing in God’s eyes(1 Cor 10:31).
Sadly, on the issue of submission we also have extremes based on the wrong understanding of biblical submission in marriage. Many women(single and married) have believed the lie that submission is about serving the man. The man is King, woman is the slave. I know there are cultures and religions that believe and practice the above, but biblically this is not the case. So when they come into marriage, many come armed and ready to fight this notion with their all. The man may not even subscribe to this false mindset, but sadly one party is already armed for war. This is truly a recipe for disaster, unless the right understanding is reached by both parties, by God’s grace.
On the other extreme we have women who accept this false status quo. They get into marriage ready to slave. Some men, sadly love being king. Anything goes, as long as the man(aka king) desires it. It is all about the man. Friends, this is a ticking time bomb, more so among believers. I remember a christian lady sharing how in order to save her marriage she would ‘submit’ to very strange sexual requests from her husband who was apparently born again to please him. It got to a level where the man didn’t even blush nor ashamed to bring other women to the marital bed and have the wife participate. All In the name of ‘submission’ the wife would oblige, sadly! You can only imagine how miserable this was, more so how dishonourable in God’s eyes. The marriage after all this wouldn’t stand. The foundation from the get go was flawed(1 Cor 3:11). The man still left her to pursue his selfish desires and was left broken. Praying that she finds healing in Christ. He only can heal her pain(Mat 11:28-30). Friends, the above is also not biblical submission.
Biblical submission is; Jesus Christ is King. He sets the standard in the bible. Man and woman submit to the King Jesus Christ. Neither man nor woman should do what Christ hasn’t sanctioned in the scriptures. Both man and woman are equal in God’s eyes(Gal 3:28). As much as man is the head of the home biblically, he must submit first to the Lordship of Christ. He can’t expect the woman to do what His King(Christ) deems sinful. The woman has a right to say NO(Titus 2:11-14) and not submit to what is sinful and doesn’t please God. Marriage and all else is unto Christ(Ephesians 5:21-33). The man ought to love the woman as Christ loves the church(amazing!)
Even in matters sex, the Bible is clear that the marital bed must be pure(Hebrews 13:4). God will judge the adulterer and sexually immoral. Sadly, some believers have translated that all goes when it comes to matters sex as long as they are married. They have embraced pagan ideas of sex and brought them to the marriage bed(Psalm 12:8, Rom 12:1-2). They have lost the sacredness and sanctity of sex. Brethren, don’t embrace every idea by the so called sex therapists(doesn’t matter if they claim to be born again) in our day and bring it to your marriage bed in the name of spicing up your sex life. Philippians 4:8 still applies, even matters of sex in marriage. Always check with scripture(Acts 17:11). Some things may not be in scripture specifically but they are unnatural brethren. Most importantly, may we seek to be sensitive to The Holy Spirit. He convicts us of and leads us to truth(John 16:13-15) in all matters. If your spouse ain’t comfortable with something and thinks it doesn’t honor God, don’t lord it over them or manipulate them to it. That is wrong in God’s eyes. We will each give an account to God(2 Cor 5:10). Sex is not just for one party; both husband and wife should enjoy it and work together towards it (1 Cor 7:2-5)and even in that seek to glorify God. God is the author of marriage. He is the author of sex, may we not be ashamed to seek for His help and most importantly seek His glory in everything even in our sex life! Shalom.
Hey friends, I thank God that there is an angle of the false prosperity gospel that is now evident to many. Where false preachers are literally fleecing the flock and are not hiding that they desire money from the flock. They don’t blush, nor hide. They are forthright. To them Christ is equal to more money(2 Peter 2, Jude). Their folly is clearly evident to many.
I am more concerned about the false prosperity gospel that is so subtle and sophisticated and hides behind some christianese lingo that many have believed and taken as gospel truth in our day. It goes something like and is not limited to;’ I am where I am because I tithe and give faithfully. God protects me because I am a tither/am a giver. So if you want to progress(whatever progress means) in life you must be a tither/giver. Really? Now that is what Col 2:4-8 warns about ‘fine sounding arguments. They may have some truth but are centred on self and propagated by folly. This my friends is not the #gospel. Jesus didn’t die for this!
How can we dare reduce an almighty God to the realm of material things(Luke 12:15, Rom 14:17)? Brethren, it is all by the grace of God(John 1:17) and His mercy(Rom 9:16). All we have is of and from God and for Him(Rom 11:36). What do we have that we haven’t received? Why do we boast as if we haven’t received (1 Cor 4:7).
Friends, God loves you because you are His child through faith in Christ(John 1:12). You have the right to call Him Father by virtue of sonship through Christ(Rom 8:15-17, Gal 4:6-7). Amazing. He is a faithful God and knows what we need(Mat 6:25-34). Hasn’t He also given us the most important gift of all; God The Holy Spirit to guide us in everything(Luke 11:1-13, John 16:13-15, 1 Cor 2:10-16).
Our giving(of material things) then comes from the outflow of our relationship with Him. We now yearn to give 100% of ourselves to Him and give to others as He leads us. We love Him, so we give cheerfully, we will love to share (2 Cor 8:1-15). Not because we must, but because He set the example(1 John 3:16-18). When we love Him, we will then love those He loves and meet their needs as He enables us(2 Cor 9:6-9, James 2). Not because we are forced, coerced or manipulated. We give because Christ is working in us and we know that all is for Him and through Him and for His glory alone(1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:17,23). That my friends is the attitude God desires His children to have. We serve a faithful(1 Cor 1:9) God friends. Let’s not serve a false Christ, believe a false gospel and be led by a false spirit(2 Cor 11). Let’s study the scriptures with understanding and trust the Holy Spirit(1 John 2:27) to teach us and help us discern what is truth(John 17:17), almost true and what is false!