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Matthew 7:13-14 - Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life

NIV 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.
KJV Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

It's easy to look at this verse and be fearful of not finding the small gate. But friends, He didn't speak this so that we would be afraid, He spoke this so we would know the truth.

Jesus is saying that to follow Him through the narrow gate would require faith, discipline, and endurance. This difficult life is the only life worth living.

On the other hand, to enter the wide gate is to live a life of self indulgence. If you choose the easy way, you will have an abundance of company, but you will miss God's plan for your life.

Do not stand in a cross roads, one foot in each direction. You have been given this day as a gift, choose to take it and walk through the narrow gate so that you might have life in abundance, both in this one and thereafter.

Matthew 6:27 - Who of you by worrying...

NIV Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
KJV Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Jesus asks this in the form of a question, allowing us to grow as we struggle with the answer, knowing that worrying adds not even a single second to our lives.

When we worry, we become divided between the worry and trusting God with our lives. This makes us weak in our faith and vulnerable to attack.

Our lives are not lengthy, so make each moment count, abandoning worry and clinging to the One who knows all the answers.

Matthew 6:22 - The eye is the lamp of the body

NIV The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.
KJV The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

In the middle of His teaching about the dangers of serving two masters and storing up treasures on Earth, Jesus used this analogy to help explain the importance of what to focus your eyes and your life on.

It is through the eye that the body can see. If the eye is good, the whole body is flooded with light. But if the eye is bad, then vision is impaired and filled with darkness.

He went on to say that if we fill our life with His teachings, light will flood our lives. We will serve Him and not money, and we will store up treasures in Heaven alone.

Jesus knows that our true security is in Him. In knowing that, he urges us to flood our lives with His light, pushing out all crevasses of darkness.

1 Corinthians 13:3 - If I have not love, I gain nothing...

NIV If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
KJV And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Jesus tells us that love is the key to life. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself" - Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV).

The Bible tells us that God is love. He loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us so we can have a relationship with Him.

Giving is important. Sacrifice is significant. But loving God and others needs to be the focus of our lives. And when we truly grasp this concept - everything else falls into place.

Compassion -Sponsor a Child - Ways to Give

James 1:27 - Look after orphans and widows in their distress

NIV Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
KJV Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

This verse offers simple instructions on how we can please God by simply helping widows and orphans.

Is there a widow in your church or neighborhood who needs someone to listen? Or maybe she needs some help around the house or a ride to the store.

Is there an orphan who needs love or a home-cooked meal?

God has such a heart for the vulnerable and lonely. Pray that He will give you a heart for those in need, too.

Submitted by Compassion International team of writers and editors

Galatians 1:10 - Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?

NIV Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
KJV For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Paul's loyalty to Christ and his sufferings for Christ were evidences that he was not seeking man's approval, but his Lord's "well done."

His example to us is not about watering down any unwelcomed messages of truth to men. In everything you do, ask yourself whose approval you are seeking.

Choose today to serve Him today before men.

Romans 8:15 - You received the Spirit of sonship

NIV For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
KJV For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Every day brings new blessings, challenges, and fears. It's easy to be a slave to fear instead of resting in the peace of our Heavenly Father.

You see, believers are sons of God through adoption. He chose us to be His. And because we belong to Him, we should act as though we are heirs to the King of Kings, casting out fear and worry

Choose today to throw off the chains of fear in your life. Know fully that you are the sons and daughters of the Almighty Father. Believe it. Live it.

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this...

NIV Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends
KJV Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Today we recognize the brave soldiers who've died defending our country. They have given us the gift of freedom with their lives, and for that, we are deeply indebted to them and their families.

The ultimate sacrifice for our eternal freedom was made by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While we were still sinners, he laid down his life for us so that we might live. (Romans 5:8)

Proverbs 12:16 - A prudent man overlooks an insult

NIV A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
KJV A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Self-control is a characteristic of wisdom. When we react too quickly and with annoyance, it makes us look foolish.

When we take the time to listen, answer with patience, and overlook insults, we act wisely.

Instead of closing the door with insults, we are to leave the door wide open for reconciliation through wisdom.

Proverbs 12:25 - An anxious heart weighs a man down

NIV An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up.
KJV Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

If you walk into a dark room and turn on a light, the darkness flees. In the same way, a kind word acts as light to an anxious heart. It fills the heart with hope and joy, forcing out anxiety.

Yet if you are the one who is apprehensive today, fill your own heart and mind with God's Word and peace. Let His words cheer you up.

God tells us to cast all our cares on Him (1 Pet. 5:7) and not to be anxious. (Phil. 4:6)

Ephesians 6:18 - And pray in the Spirit on all occasions

NIV And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
KJV Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Praying on all occasions includes prayers that are: public and private, planned and spontaneous, and prayers of praise and thanksgiving.

Praying with perseverance and focus is a must in our daily battles. Keep on asking, seeking and knocking (Luke 11:9).

And although prayer is not specifically listed as part of the armor of God in Ephesians 6, it is our lifeline to the Great General.

Ephesians 6:17 - Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit

NIV Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
KJV And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Continuing this week with The Armor of God...

In battle the helmet protects the vulnerable head. The "helmet of salvation" is not referring to attaining salvation. Rather, it reminds us that no matter how daunting the current situation is, the ultimate salvation is yours. You are protected. So put it on daily in confidence, with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Most of the pieces of armor are defensive, yet the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the believer's armor. God's Word is your sword. Train with it by staying in the Word so that you may be ready in your days of battle.

Ephesians 6:16 - Take up the shield of faith

NIV In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
KJV Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Faith in this context is the firm confidence in the Lord and in His Word. For, "Every word of God proves true and He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection." (Proverbs 30:5)

Flaming arrows could not penetrate the fireproof shield of the Roman soldiers. Their shields were constructed in such a way to defeat this threat.

Paul tells us to protect ourselves when temptation strikes by using the shield of faith. Sin strikes when we let down our shield.

Ephesians 6:14-15 - Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist

NIV Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
KJV Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

The belt, the breastplate, and the fitted feet (shoes) are all part of the armor of God that we are to put on daily.

The belt represents truth. Just like a belt buckles tightly around a waist, we are to buckle His truth around ourselves.

The breastplate is used for protection, just like righteousness is our defense.

Our shoes defend and support us. In the same way, the gospel is our foundation and guards us as we walk through our blessed lives.

These are three pieces of many that shield us from harm, a gift from the Lord.

Ephesians 6:11 - Put on the full armor of God

NIV Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
KJV Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The Armor of God is an expression used in the Bible to symbolize the combat equipment of a Christian soldier who fights against spiritual wickedness.

When our brave soldiers fight for our country, they wear protective armor. No soldier would go into battle without it.

Paul urges Christians to protect themselves in battle each day with godly attributes of armor such as truth, faith, righteousness, peace, and the Word of God.

Think about this today as you go out into the world. We'll be studying the Armor of God through the remainder of this week.

Psalm 145:18 - The LORD is near to all who call on Him

NIV The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
KJV The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.

Knowing that if you call on the Almighty Lord with integrity and He will come to you, is comforting.

Our Creator watches over all the Earth, the Sea, and the Heavens, yet when the heart of His child cries out to him, He is there.

The Psalm continues on in verses 19-20 sharing that God fulfills our desires, hears our cries, and watches over us.

These are all characteristics of our Almighty Lord, our Heavenly Father. Call on Him with your heart today and He will be near you.

Psalm 100:3 - It is He who made us, and we are His

NIV Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
KJV Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

It's powerful and comforting to contemplate that the Lord your God is your shepherd. He chose you to be in His flock!

Trust the Lord your God. He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and He will lead and protect His flock.

Psalm 23:1-2 - He leads me beside quiet waters

NIV The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
KJV The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

The imagery of God's leadership contains green pastures and quiet waters. Even if those pastures are located in the shadow of the valley of death, true leadership can give peace even in overwhelming circumstances.

It is the job of the shepherd to encourage - or instill courage - into the sheep to go down paths that seem treacherous.

Unlike the cattle driver, the shepherd leads from the front, going before his flock to assure them that they can make it. This is the type of leadership that inspires people and even empowers them to go places they would not go to on their own.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,
Grace NYC

Luke 6:39-40 - Can a blind man lead a blind man?

NIV He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."
KJV And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

There is a recent trend toward leadership coaching that is healthy. The old concepts of "sink or swim" in leadership has caused many blind people to lead others into pits that could have been avoided if seasoned, wiser voices were involved.

To find someone who has traveled farther down the road of life is not only admirable, but also necessary if one wants to excel in leadership.

The view from the bottom of a pit is a cumbersome and painful way to learn the lessons of life.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,
Grace NYC

Romans 12:6-8 - We have different gifts

NIV We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
KJV Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Notice that when it comes to the gift of leadership, diligence is the measure.

Today we may want to emphasize networking, or the ability to sway people toward a goal, but the Scripture puts value in consistency.

Talent is not enough to lead well. It takes the daily application of leadership to be effective for God's purposes.

It is the daily grind that forms the leader to used by the Master; this is as true today as it was back then.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,
Grace NYC

Isaiah 6:8 - Here am I. Send me!

NIV Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
KJV Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

This is where godly leadership begins
: God calls and we respond.

Like Isaiah, we may feel like unclean people who are not qualified to lead, but God doesn't look for that. He is looking for those who are willing to obey.

This is the same God who took David, a shepherd boy, and made him king.

Jesus chose unlearned fishermen to turn the world upside down, and He will use you and I as we walk forward in faith to His prompting.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,
Grace NYC

Matthew 20:25-28 - Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant

NIV Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
KJV But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

In a stunning reversal of the concept of leadership, Jesus challenges His followers with servanthood over dominance.

Is it any wonder that we study the military genius of Napoleon or Alexander but we follow the life of Jesus?

At the end of this age it will not be displays of power that are valued, but displays of sacrifice for others.

Proverbs 1:8-9 - Do not forsake your mother's teaching

NIV Listen, my son, to your father's instruction
and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
KJV My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

We owe so much to the influence of godly parents, and especially godly mothers!

To those of you blessed with living parents or parental figures in your lives, this verse calls you to heed your parents' advice. Listen to them! Honor them! Now that's a great Mother's Day gift, right mothers?!

When you make the choice to listen to the wisdom of your mother, you are blessing your mother and adding wisdom and joy to your own life.

Happy Mother's Day! We are so grateful for our Mothers! We are grateful for your love, guidance, and teachings. You shape us and mold us, showing us the road to Jesus Christ. This day we honor you and call you blessed.

Proverbs 29:15 - A child left to himself disgraces his mother

NIV The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
KJV The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

The rod (verbal and physical discipline, not abuse) are tools used to make children wise as they grow into adults. A child without discipline can cause problems for a parent, but most importantly, problems for the child once they are grown.

Much prayer, patience, and perseverance is needed to be a parent with the right balance of love and discipline.

But it is worth all the work, parents! Proverbs 29:17 says "Correct your son, and he will give you peace of mind. He will bring delight to your soul."

So thank your mother on Mother's day tomorrow for all the love and discipline!

Proverbs 31:28-29 - Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also

NIV Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
KJV Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

This verse from the book of wisdom, Proverbs, shares how a blessed wife and mother is to be praised. To begin, her children are grateful for their early training in life and how she's shaped them.

Her husband sets her on a pedestal above all women, saying, "there are many good wives in the world, but you surpass them all."

The praise from her family was special because they were the ones who had watched her in every situation and learned her true character.

Every woman thrives with such encouragement! This is something to think about as you talk to the mothers around you this special weekend. Lift them up, call them blessed.