There are five things that God expects his children to strive for. And the definition of strive according to the dictionary, says,
“Make great efforts to achieve or to obtain something.”
“To struggle or to fight vigorously.”
with an effort to get that something.
Many times today, Christians think,
“Oh well, faith is just saying I believe in Jesus.”
“I go to church, then I’m a Christian.”
But you have to understand, today the scriptures I read to you, you have to ask yourself,
“Have I ever read these? Have I actually done them?”
Because God expects you and I to do them in our lives. Let’s look at them.
1. Jesus Expects Us to Strive to Enter Heaven
In Luke 13:24 Jesus says,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Is that a surprise to you? Many people don’t even think, “Oh well, going to church, paying some money to the church,” saying that “I’ve accepted Jesus and some kind of a conference. Then I’m fine.” But you have to understand that Jesus never preached this gospel, and neither did the disciples.
Jesus today does not need our acceptance when we say, “Oh, Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and savior.” That doesn’t do anything. You and I need the acceptance of God in our lives. We need Jesus to accept us.
And how does that happen? We have to strive to enter through the narrow gate. We say, “God, I deny myself, I pick up my cross and follow You.” That means that our faith is genuine. When you actually do what Jesus says you are to do, then “you are truly My disciples.” Those are His words, not mine.
So number one, you have to remember, if you want to go to heaven, you have to strive to enter because Jesus says there’ll be many people who want to enter that will not be able. How’s it even possible when you think about it?
But when you read on later, you find out because Jesus says. On that day, many people will say, “Well, Lord, you ate in our streets, you taught in our corners, we have heard you. How can you say that we don’t know you?” (Luke 13:26) and Jesus will say “Depart from Me because you are workers of iniquity.” (Luke 13:27)
These people keep on living in sin. They do not change their lifestyle. They did not deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Jesus. It’s that simple. But yet many people don’t understand the words of Jesus.
That there’s something you and I have to do today. Deny ourselves and strive to make every effort to enter in. When the world says it’s okay when the world says that’s the good thing to do, and even a lot of people who are in the church doing it, you say “No because I don’t see that this is in the bible. I’m going to obey what Jesus says. I must obey the word of God because I want to strive, I want to make every effort to enter in.”
That’s number one.
2. Strive to Win the Prize and Not be Disqualified
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul says,
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. I fight not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I preach to others, I myself should become disqualified. “
Did you hear what Paul said? We have to run a race such that we’re running for the prize as if we’re the only ones who are going to get it. Of course, we know that Jesus is going to reward every true believer. We have to run it as if we’re the only ones who are going to get that gold medal.
And we have to ask ourselves, for all the efforts and all the time and all the money we put ourselves into in this life, whether you’re trying to get better at your work, your craft, your trade, or things of leisure, how much effort are we putting in those things in comparison to the things of God?
And many times we think about that, we have to say, “God forgive me. I repent because I have focused so much of my time and energy on things that don’t mean anything in 100 years. But yet have totally forgotten that You’ve told me to strive to enter through the narrow gate, to strive to enter heaven, and to run as if I’m the only one winning the prize.”
There’s a possibility that you give money and do all the things of God. And yet in the end, if you don’t persevere, you become disqualified. And that’s why Paul says you have to run as if you can win it. And the only way you’re going to win the prize is if you actually go to the very end.
When was the last time you see an Olympic gold medalist, they were the fastest on the 100 m sprint, and then at the very last second before they cross the line they stopped, and they’re still the gold medalist? You’ve never seen anything like that. Because the only way you get to win is if you cross the finish line.
So many Christians don’t understand this, they believe that “Oh, once you’re saved, everything’s going to be fine. You’re always going to be saved. No matter how you work, how you live your life doesn’t matter.” And yet the bible calls it otherwise.
In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul says “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; But I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” and he says, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, I forget those things which are behind, and I started reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus for me.”
Today, you and I have to do this. We have to forget those things which are behind us. Whether it’s your sin, whether it’s your victory, both are just as bad if we just talk about the things of the past and we always go back to our sin.
“Oh man, I’m nothing.” then you can’t come to experience the grace of God. You got to get rid of that and say today, “If I walk with Jesus, I’m walking in holiness and walking in purity. I’m walking in His grace and forgiveness.”
And at the same time, if you just talk about your past. How oh 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 5 years ago, I experienced God that way. And yet today you have no stories, you have no testimony to tell about God.
You have to ask yourself, am I still walking with God? Because our lives should be a living testimonial a living epistle, as Paul says. And that’s why we have to strive to win the prize and not become disqualified in the end.
3. Strive Against Sin and Pursue Holiness
In Hebrews 12:4, it says
“You have not yet resisted bloodshed, striving against sin.”
Did you know that God expects us to strive against sin? Do you remember the night when Jesus was betrayed? He was in the garden of Gethsemane and he was praying saying, “Father, let this cup pass away from Me, but nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39)
And when He was in that prayer, the bible tells us that Jesus had drops of blood falling off. Why is that? Because doctors say, when people are under extreme stress, their stress becomes these drops of blood falling off. Your sweat becomes blood.
When was the last time we resisted sin to bloodshed? Like Jesus saying, “No, I’m not going to do it. I’m going to follow Jesus.” because in Hebrews 12:14, it says “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. “
May our prayer be that “God, we always want to pursue You, pursue holiness regardless of what the culture and the world tell us because we want to honor You. We want to strive against sin. And we want to pursue holiness.”
That’s number three.
4. Strive for the Unity of the Gospel
Philippians 1:27, Paul says,
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. So that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
You know, it’s so easy to nitpick and say bad things about other people. It’s just as easy for other people to say bad things about you. But you know what’s harder? What’s harder is to give love and to give grace and to give benefit of the doubt to the person and pray for them and release words of life to them than to bicker and gossip.
We don’t want other people to look into our lives and say, “Well, these Christians, they’re always fighting. They don’t have unity and they’re always thinking they’re better than one another.”
What we do want to do is say “God, I humble myself. Lead me, draw me, guide me, to live a life that is pleasing to You. As I do that, bring me with other Christians who love You. Those who are truly walking the narrow path. May we together preach the gospel, set the captives free, cast out demons, heal the sick, and do all the things You told us to do. Because we want to honor You. We want to strive together for the unity of the gospel so we can preach Your gospel with power to the nations. Because that’s what You called us to do.”
5. God Wants Us to Strive for Rewards
1 Timothy 4:10,
“For to this end, we both labor and suffer reproach,”
Paul says, “Because we trusted in the living God who is the savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
Paul says that he labors and suffers reproach and persecution from all men, because what? Because he trusted the living God. He knows that one day, God will wipe away every tear.
And when that happens, He’s also going to reward everyone who truly loved Him, everyone who has followed Him. That’s what He just said. Surely I am coming quickly and my reward is with Me to give to everyone according to his work. Because one day every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.
And on that day, you and I, it would be a great day when our faith is genuine and we say, “Jesus, I long to see you for so long and yet today finally I can meet You.” and on that day, may we not be ashamed to say, “Oh God, I live my life the same way that the world is living and yet today have nothing to offer.”
You couldn’t be on that day that Jesus will say, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity because you love yourself, you love your sin more so than you love Me.” I pray that they will not be you nor myself.
May it be our prayer that on that day when we see Jesus, Jesus will say, “Son, daughter, you love Me. You strive to enter through the narrow gate to heaven and you made it. You strive to win that prize to the upward call of Jesus Christ and here is your prize. Here’s your crown. You strive against sin. You strive to live holy, to be pleasing to Me. Not what the world says, not what the world thinks. And you preach My gospel of unity with others. You strive to look at Me as your only reward. And so here is your reward coming and here the eternal kingdom that I prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Because when I was hungry, you fed Me, when I was naked and you clothed Me, when I was thirsty and you gave Me drink and so many things you’ve done in your life, you did it for Me.”
And on that day, wouldn’t that be so amazing that when we hear Jesus truly say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, come on in.”
But do you know that this phrase, “well done, good and faithful servant” is not one that’s going to be automatically given. Because in that parable, Jesus says there’s one person who had one talent and this person who dug the hole and then nothing that God gave him. (Matthew 25:18) Jesus says he was cast out into outer darkness. That will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)
He didn’t have salvation. This is sobering, isn’t it? Especially when we live in a culture and in the day where Christianity is said to be “Just believe Jesus, just accept him as your Lord and Savior. Ask him into your life.”
But the bible really never talked about and yet today we see the bible, the scriptures in your bible tell us to strive to enter through the narrow gate because that is what God expects of us.
And I pray that you and I, every day will do this not just one day, not just one month, not just one year, but for the rest of our lifetime. If that’s what you want to do, I would encourage you because you will be on that narrow path that leads to a life that God has prepared for you as you continue to follow Him.
Go ahead and share this with other people who need to hear it.
Until next time.
God bless you!