Tag : follow

Narrow Gate of 2023 by Mayada Naami

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!

(2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Every new year we make resolutions to break free from old habits that do not serve us well. For many, the start of a new calendar year promotes a “can do” feeling of optimism. We look back on our prior year and reflect on what changes we can make in the upcoming year that will improve our lives. Some try to exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking, or simply get organized. Typically. by mid-February, New Year’s resolutions become faint memories as we continue to live our day-to-day lives. We fall into old habits and year-after-year fail to achieve our goals because we forget, get distracted, or just give up out of frustration. Let’s put an end to a tiresome tradition and find a new way. Follow only Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and you will achieve things that you thought were impossible.

“Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”

‭‭(John‬ ‭10‬:‭7‬-‭9,‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

After I posted last week’s blog, I asked friends if they were a believer or a follower. Some confessed they were believers, but find it difficult to give up worldly things to follow Jesus. They were attached to people and things that they knew were not of God. They could not break free from old habits in their own strength. The only “way” to break free from any stronghold is making a commitment not to be of this world, and instead choose the narrow gate no matter how tough and lonely it seems at first.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

(Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)

In Matthew 7, the Bible tells us to enter through the narrow gate and choose the narrow road which leads to life. Scripture tells us that only a few find it. In our fallen world, many of us choose the wider, easier road which often leads to destruction. Fasting and praying is the best way to start the year. Ask for strength and wisdom for all areas of your life. Surround yourself with friends and family that will encourage you when you are faced with difficult choices. Do not dwell on the past, focus on the promise that He makes all things new. Give thanks for all the blessings in your life and praise Him for all the blessings that are yet to come. Leave the regrets and difficult situations behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. In 2023, commit to spending more time with the Lord. Ask Him to lead you through the narrow gate and to empower you to live your life as He intended.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

(Isaiah 43: 18-19, NIV)

Categories: Blog

Believer or Follower? by Mayada Naami

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

(John 10:27-30, NIV)

In the above-mentioned verse Jesus clearly states that if His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him, He will give them eternal life. I have often wondered if all believers are “saved” and recently have turned to the Bible for the answer. In Romans 10:9, the Bible tells us: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Emphasize added). Again the word “and” is declared in this verse which tells me believing in Jesus is not in of itself sufficient to be saved. Believing is an action of faith. It is much more than believing a statement that “Jesus is Lord.”  It requires boldly declaring with your mouth that He is your Lord and Savior and to surrender and submit your will to His will. Many people saw Him and walked with Him, only to turn away when He said, ”follow Me.” The Bible tells us even demons believe and tremble.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

(James 2:14-19, NIV)

Salvation is described as much more than just believing a statement about God. It reveals a life of full reliance upon Him. In Mathew 19, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him, “What good must I do to get eternal life?” (Mathew 19:16, NIV). Jesus responded, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” This man could not and went away sad.

Nothing must come between us and following our Savior—not money, friends, family, or even a spouse. As followers of Jesus, we should be willing to give up all we have if He asks us to-as He sometimes does. He will never force us. Following Jesus is a personal choice which involves humbly submitting our entire self to Him. We are then transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and slowly transform into His likeness. We undertake a radical change in lifestyle because we can no longer conform to the world and do things that go against the Word of God. We leave old things behind and do not look back. We do not long for things of the past, things that kept us in bondage. We are set free when we choose to follow Him through the narrow gate. Our lifelong hope is that our lives will mirror the character of Jesus and show others His love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, we are told following Jesus gives us the mind of Christ and with this assurance we are empowered by His Spirit and given His understanding and insights. As His sheep we are to listen for His voice and follow Him. We are to be followers of Christ and not just believers. The early believers were so loyal to His teachings that other people knew they were followers of Christ by the way they spoke, acted, and lived. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Mathew 7:20, NIV).

Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.‘”

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Categories: Blog