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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Keeping on the Straight and Narrow
Matthew 6:33
Matthew 7:13-23

Intro
Jesus tells us that we need to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  How do we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? 
I believe that there will be a day we stand before God and on that day many who thought they were in; really believed that they were Christians but Christ will be asked, “Who are you? I don’t know you!” 

How is your memory?  In 1989 during the World Series Oakland Athletics and the San  Francisco Giants a major earthquake occurred about 8 PM EST.  When the earthquake hit, the third game of the 1989 World Series baseball championship was just beginning. Because of the unusual circumstance that both of the World Series teams (the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics) were based in the affected area, many people had left work early or were staying late to participate in after work group viewings and parties. As a consequence, the usually crowded freeways were experiencing exceptionally light traffic. If traffic had been normal for a Tuesday rush hour, injuries and deaths could have been higher. The initial media reports failed to take into account the game's effect on traffic and initially estimated the death toll at 300, a number that was corrected to 63 in the days after the earthquake.
I was on my way home from a hospital in central PA – where my mother had skin cancer removed from her face.  You might ask what does this all have to do with the scripture that we are about to look at.  I had tuned in my radio to the ball game and was overwhelmed with the news of the earthquake and missed my turn – it was an easy turn to miss.  I noticed after about an hour something was wrong – because I started seeing signs for Philadelphia and I needed to be heading toward Pittsburgh – what should have taken me an hour and half took me two hour out of my way.  In this morning’s scripture Jesus talks about missing the turn. He talks about 2 different roads. Listen as Levada reads from Matthew 7: 13-23. 
Matthew 7:13-23 (NIV)
13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)
13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
According to this passage Jesus is saying that many people take the wrong road and only a few find the narrow gateway.  If that is true wouldn’t make sense that we slow down and make sure that we are on the right road.
Isn’t it possible that we are set on cruise control and the radio is blaring some good Christian music like Mercy Me and we have a Jesus fish bumper sticker on our back yet we are on the wrong road?   How we miss the turn?  Where did we get mixed up?  I thought we were cool with Jesus – so how can He say only a few ever find it? 
It wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus said a few will stand before God on Judgment Day convinced that their mansion was ready but find out that it never got started.  Actually He doesn’t say a few or some He actually says that many will not have a room prepared for them.  That is not what I was expecting.  But that is what the Master tells us.  Check this out - Here is what Jesus says later – it’s the Message’s translation:
21-23"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'
So if you pulled the car over and checked out the GPS to make sure your on the right narrow path -  Let me pose a few questions that I believe this Scripture wants us to ask ourselves; these are questions I ask myself regularly:

 James 2:14-17 (NIV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Conclusion: 
Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Jesus wants us all and there is no “buts” or anything that is half way.  He wants our total commitment – nothing less.  His invitation is an all or nothing invitation. 

Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.