SermonNarrow Heavenly Path: Are We On It?
An all-creatures Bible Message

Narrow Heavenly Path: Are We On It?
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
3 August 2014
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Psalm 17:1Ė15
Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23
Matthew 14:13Ė21

The narrow heavenly path is the one upon which the Lord wants us to travel, for itís the only one that leads to salvation.
Are we on it?
This world is so corrupted and full of violence because most people are traveling along the broad way where the devil says itís okay to live in the ways of the world; however, the Lord says that this is the way to destruction.
In Matthew 7:21-23, we hear the Lordís response to what the people traveling along the broad way say.

21. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but 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 cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
23. "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.' 

With this in mind, letís take a look at Psalm 17.
Psalm 17:1-15 is a psalm or prayer of David, and like most other psalms which were composed as prayers or thoughts of remembrance, it can be applied to other thoughts that we have; so as we read along with this psalm, think about the problems and corruption we have in the world today.

1. Hear a just cause, O LORD, give heed to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.

If we are praying for the Lord to help us end the horrible suffering and death of billions of exploited animals every year, and to end our warring madness, arenít we asking the Lord to hear our just cause and to heed our cry?
At the same time we are asking for the Lord to hear our prayers, just as the psalmist is doing.
Isnít what we are asking the opposite of those who raise and slaughter animals and promote the sales of their byproducts with deceitful lips (lies)?
And, isnít this also the opposite of what the people do who commit acts of terrorism and kill other human beings in the name of God, and as those do who promote war?
Of course it is, for our prayers are those of the peacemaking children of God, for we are seeking to end the corruption of creation with all its pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death.

2. Let my judgment come forth from Thy presence;
Let Thine eyes look with equity.

The example of the prayer we presented above is a way of also asking the Lord to confirm our discernment of the corrupt and evil ways of most of the people in the world.
And, at the same time we are asking the Lord to look upon the suffering animals and humans in this world with equity, and to end the injustice which causes them so much pain, suffering, and death.

3. Thou hast tried my heart;
Thou hast visited me by night;
Thou hast tested me and dost find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.

Then we ask the Lord to confirm that we are praying and acting as God wants us to, and to redirect us when we are mistaken.
And, isnít this also quite similar to the way Jesus taught us to pray (the Lordís Prayer)?

4. As for the deeds of men, by the word of Thy lips I have kept from the paths of the violent.

Think of this in terms of all the warring madness going on in the world today. Surely all the people who participate in, or support, this warring madness are on the paths of violence.
Now letís think about this in terms of all the suffering and death thatís inflicted upon billions of animals every year. Surely all the people who do these horrible things to the animals, and those who buy and sell the byproducts of this suffering, are also on these same paths of violence.
This means that all of these people are working against the heavenly will of God by follow the ways to destruction.
Isnít this like what we are told in Matthew 7:13-14?

13. "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.
14. "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. 

Keep this in mind as we return to our psalm reading.

5. My steps have held fast to Thy paths.
My feet have not slipped.

We hope and pray that we are on the narrow heavenly path of the Lord, and that we have not slipped away.

6. I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me, O God;
Incline Thine ear to me, hear my speech.

Every day we pray for God to help us, and others like us, to end the horrible violence committed upon billions of animals, for we believe itís the root cause of human hardness of heart.
And, we add to our prayer that if the people are not going to listen, for Him to come now and usher in His peaceable kingdom once and for all.

7. Wondrously show Thy lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Thy right hand
From those who rise up against them.

We picture those who seek refuge in the Lord as all the suffering animals and the innocent people who are caught up in the warring madness that is going on around them.
We also pray for the Lord to keep us from stumbling and being a bad witness of Him, and to help us stay focused upon the task He has set before us.

8. Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Thy wings,
9. From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies, who surround me.
10. They have closed their unfeeling heart;
With their mouth they speak proudly.
11. They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.

So often we feel exactly like this, and believe this is the way that all exploited animals feel.

12. He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.

Some people may relate to this example of a lion being violent, but the real violent ones in the world are most of our fellow human beings.

13. Arise, O LORD, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Thy sword,
14. From men with Thy hand, O LORD,
From men of the world, whose portion is in this life;
And whose belly Thou dost fill with Thy treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.
15. As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.

We who truly seek the heavenly will of God and work to free creation from its present corruption are the ones who are traveling upon the narrow heavenly path that leads to life and salvation.
Letís now take a look at what we are told in Matthew 14:13-21Ö

13. Now when Jesus heard it [that John the Baptist had been killed], He withdrew from there in a boat, to a lonely place by Himself; and when the multitudes heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

Jesus is in mourning for John as well as all the others who are suffering from the violence in the world which has continued to this very day, and seems to have no end; but in our hearts and souls we know that Jesus will come again and end all the violence.
And as with Jesus, we feel the constant call to continue in our ministry to help end the corruption of creation, and usher in the Lordís peace.

14. And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.
15. And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying, "The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."
16. But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!" 
17. And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."
18. And He said, "Bring them here to Me." 
19. And ordering the multitudes to recline on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes,
20. and they all ate, and were satisfied. And they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.

We find it interesting that there is no mention of what Jesus did with the two dead and preserved fish; we are only told that He broke the loaves of bread, and after everyone had eaten, there were more pieces of bread left over than when Jesus first blessed the loaves of bread.

21. And there were about five thousand men who ate, aside from women and children.

The Lord does do miraculous things, but He does so peacefully, as He did with feeding this multitude of people, without causing any suffering or death.
He was showing the people the narrow heavenly path that leads to life and salvation.
This is the way we are to be traveling.

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