Strive to enter the narrow gate

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Introduction Bruno Hlongwane

The love of God is so deep that it cannot be compared to anything. He understands the need of every heart which He can reach and meet. We are happy for each one who is visiting us this morning.

Michael Ngubane

It is wonderful to sense in your heart that God loves you. The love of God was mentioned in the introduction and the choir sang about this love too.

When a person repents and surrenders their life to Jesus, many changes occur in the heart with things that were not in accordance with God’s word. Everyone who has experienced God in his life will testify to this. Some testify that that which was precious to you has become as dung and there is an amazing love for that One in your heart. You forsook and denied many things, many joys, family, friends – everything in order to please God and receive His love. A great burden was cast off because Jesus came and made you a new creation. You did not want to keep your experience to yourself but you wanted to share it with others. The Son of God came into the world to save people and He walked into your life, overturned the tables, changed everything and made it new. It was wonderful and sweet. The critical question: Is this love still new and fresh, the way you originally experienced it? This goes along with obeying and trusting God. You cannot trust without obedience and you cannot obey without trusting. You will experience a blessing when you obey God in everything and trust Him even when things go against your will.

God sent Jonah to Nineveh to deliver a message. There was an important reason why God had sent him. Jonah did not think he was the person to deliver the message but he was sent – nobody else. “No, no, Lord, I cannot go to those people!” was Jonah’s reaction. He was at loggerheads with God’s will. He was reminded of all that those people had done to his nation. There is a danger that although I have been selected as a messenger and sent to spread the Gospel, I refuse to do so. Jonah was the anointed of the Lord but he refused to the extent that he chose death rather than take the message. He resisted obedience to God. He boarded a ship headed in another direction, far away from where he was supposed to go because he would not carry God’s message. Jonah, where did things go wrong? Where did you lose the love of God? Where did you lose the desire to obey God? I ask myself this question and you should ask it of yourself – is the love for God still the same as it was? Do I still experience what I did originally or has it grown cold? Do you still obey God or have you reached the place where even if God sends you, your response is “No Lord, sorry, I would rather go to this place than to where you are sending me.” Many resist God when He sends them because they have lost the goal and the love of God. Friend, you are on dangerous ground. Jonah was saved by a fish which spat him out. My fear is that the fish might spit us out into the lake of fire where there is no end to suffering but it will be too late.

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. Luke 13:24 – 28

Jesus preached in many places so that the kingdom of God would not pass people by. Some of the listeners felt that the message of Jesus was impossible to follow and reaching heaven would be very difficult. They said, “Lord, if it is like that only a few will enter heaven.” After this He replied in the words we read in verse 24.

The way to heaven and heaven itself is not something that can be treated with familiarity. It is not a road which I can follow if and when I like. The way to heaven requires denial of everything. If we want to walk the way that the heroes of the faith used to walk, we have to distance ourselves from the things of the world.

This person asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He did not receive a vague answer from the Lord, Jesus did not sympathise with him and say, “Yes, it is hard.” He answered, ““Make every effort to enter through the narrow door…” Strive to enter. Friend, this is the way. Our way, our desire should come to an end and we should make a decision to go this way.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27.

Those who run this race must discipline and chastise their bodies daily. They cannot decide that for one day  they do not feel like it. We need to train ourselves daily. Athletes go to extremes for temporal prizes, continually punishing themselves. How much more shouldn’t we do it for the heavenly prize? How determined are we to reach the heavenly goal we are aiming and disciplining and punishing ourselves for? If athletes refrain from enjoying certain things because of earthly competitions, how much more shouldn’t we deny ourselves things for the sake of the heavenly race? Strive to enter through the narrow door. Many want to enter but they fail.

Let us consider Esau,  a man who became hungry. His need had to be met. There are different types of hunger: A hunger for the things of God. Jesus said that those who hunger after the things of heaven are blessed. A hunger for things which hold people up and prevent them from progressing in the heavenly race. Esau saw that his brother had food which would satisfy his hunger. He wanted it and his brother said that he would give him the food under certain conditions. Your flesh may develop a hunger for a cigarette. You crave a cigarette to such an extent that you think you will die. That is a lie, you will not die. Some people are governed by lies and they believe that they must satisfy the desires of the flesh. This could lead to your death in the end. Blessed is the one who hungers after God’s word, who obeys God and asks God what He wants of you each day. People confuse the hunger of the flesh, the carnal hunger, with the hunger of the soul and they obey their carnal hunger. This confusion will lead to your death. People cry out – I am hungry, I need to satisfy this hunger! You are not hungry, you are spiritually dead and that is why you sit here hungering after the things of the world. There are those who are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm. They will be spat out of the Lord’s mouth.

Young person, when last did you hear God speaking to your soul? Older person, when last did you sense that I am with God, I walk with God, I am in His will? There are those who are driven by and drawn to God’s Word, day and night. They go to bed with a hunger for God’s Word. They wake up with a hunger for God’s Word. Day by day they make sure that they are walking according to God’s Word. How can you learn and discern God’s Word if you do not spend time with it? You do not go to bed at night without thanking the Lord for the day and you do not wake up in the morning without thanking the Lord for the rest you had.

How does God speak to your heart? Those who were born at the mission and grew up here, when last did you hear and sense God speaking to your soul? Do you know this God of revival? Do you know this God who reveals Himself to a man and reveals his sin to him? Do you know this God? Do you know the revelation of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, lead you into further righteousness, warns you of the coming condemnation? Have you reached that point where you realised that it is just empty inside and you say to God, “Lord I have nothing in me, please create something new in my heart?” The way to heaven is this way. You must follow it even if it is at loggerheads with your mind and ways.

Jesus said that on a specific day the master of the house will close the door and those who are inside will remain inside, those who are outside will remain outside. Are you inside or outside? It is your duty to ask God to show you where you are. You cannot be at a place where God is working but God is not working in your life. God is working around you but you do not see it. Ask God to open your eyes. Do not be spiritually lazy. I once said that some who live here attend church once a week on Sunday but all the other services they miss. How will you grow spiritually? You are seated here but you separate yourself from the children of God. Do you think you will overcome on your own? Never! The devil robs you of everything the Lord gives you in each service. You will continue walking until the door is closed.

Remember Noah. He received an instruction from God: build the ark, destruction is coming, but you and your family will be saved. Noah obeyed. Blessed are the people who obey when God speaks. He built in spite of mockery. Whatever they said had no effect on him. He had to build the ark. The day of the flood arrived. It started raining. The people did not realise that this was the day. Noah went into the ark, the doors were closed and God took the key. The people pleaded for Noah to open but he couldn’t.

In Matthew 25 we read about the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. The foolish did not have sufficient oil. They told themselves they were children of God. They had the appearance of believers. They had their lamps. They looked like they were supposed to look but it was insufficient. They did not have enough oil. Suddenly the time arrived that they had all been waiting for – the bridegroom is coming! They were found without oil. They ran to buy oil and they found it. Listen, child of God. They ran to buy oil and they got it but when they returned the door was closed. Why? The time that they arrived was not the time they were supposed to arrive. You may have oil. You may buy oil. You may be returning with your oil but will it still be in the time of grace? They had to have the oil when it was still possible to enter. There is possibly oil in your lamp but is there sufficient oil to last until the Bridegroom comes? Will you have oil when He comes?

This oil signifies the Holy Spirit of God. What would we be with the Holy Spirit of God? Are you still in the right place, on the Rock? Do you still say, “Lord, I will not move from the place on the Rock where you have placed me.” But in your walk of faith you are wandering aimlessly around, not reaching the place where you can be helped. Where are you spiritually? Young men, where are you at this time? You are not in the right place. You are on the internet where you get filled with all kinds of filth, whoredom and immorality. Are you still on fire for God? You do not know where you are. You do not know where you got lost. You just wander around. Friend, you need to get to the place where you can get help! If you are found amongst the lukewarm it is the most dangerous place.

These people in Matthew said, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ You are still around the children of God and in the work of God but when the Lord asks, “Where are you?” You reply, “I don’t know.” The Lord will say take him and throw him out where there is gnashing of teeth.

You must not be found where you follow your own wisdom or insight but you must be found there with God. If you are not there, the Lord will spit you out. Do not return to your sin like the dog the Bible speaks about.

The gate will be closed and those outside will remain there and those inside will remain there. Jesus said that they will come from the east and the west but the children of God, those for whom it was actually meant, will be cast out. Get rid of bitterness from your heart, about certain things and people. This bitterness will kill you and prevent you from entering on that day. You do your things but you do not do what the Bible teaches. You gossip about others and are busy with their mistakes.

Strive to enter through the narrow door. This is not the way we like to go. The Lord Jesus said strive to enter, you are not there yet. If you do not do that, you will be destroyed with those who are going to be destroyed. Ask the Lord to give you His wisdom so that you will be able to go where He wants you to go.

KwaSizabantu Choir