Genesis 28 v10-19 & John 10 v1-10
The same word is used in Scripture for door, gate and entrance. It is used many times in the Bible - for example, God closed the door to the ark after Noah entered; the doors of the Israelites' houses had their lintels painted with lamb's blood so that the angel of death passed over them; once inside the gates of a city of refuge, a fugitive was safe; the door to the new Jerusalem will never be shut (Revelation 21v25); Jesus stands and knocks at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to invite Him in (Revelation 3 v20). At the door of anything, it is but a single step to cross the threshold.
In Genesis 28, Jacob dreamt of a stairway leading to heaven, and when he awoke, he said of the place where he was - "This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." God said that He would give the land on which Jacob was lying to him and his descendants, so Jacob built an altar there and worshipped God.
Jesus calls Himself the Gate for the sheep, and also the Good Shepherd that cares for His sheep. The sheep know the shepherd's voice and follow him. Jesus said that anyone who enters through Him will be saved. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. If we want to find God we must do it through faith in Jesus who is the doorway to God. We see God in the face of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Jesus says that anyone who enters through any way other than the gate is a thief and a robber. In this He was referring to the Pharisees, who tried to keep people out by making rules that were impossible to keep. Jesus has already gone to heaven to prepare a place for us. There is no name other than Jesus through which people can be saved. Through faith in Jesus, will you open the door of your heart to Him and let Him come into your life? In this way you can have life and live it to the full, so take that single step now.
When Jesus spoke with Peter on the beach after His resurrection, He told him to "Feed my sheep." Peter did this by writing to the Christians to encourage them. He told them that although they were going through trials (v6) they should rejoice in the fact that they had been chosen by God (v2) and had received the result of their faith - the salvation of their souls (v9). Peter encouraged them, and us, to "live as strangers here in reverent fear" (v17). We can call on the name of the Lord, and as we call Him Father, that makes us children of God who can claim kinship with Him, in the spiritual sense.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray saying "Our Father....." and the word used for father here is "Abba" - used in the way that a child calls their father Daddy. The religious leaders of the time would have considered this to be blasphemous. However, although we can approach God in this familiar way and talk to Him about our needs, we must think of Him not only as a loving father in a sort of cuddly sense, but also as a holy God, whom we should approach with reverence and fear. This "fear" is used in the sense of "respect", so we should not approach God with a casual attitude.
We need to remember that God judges us, but He is an impartial judge, and always fair. He takes no account of our worldly status in regard to background, wealth, family etc, so we are all equal in front of Him. It seems to us that some people escape judgement in this world and get away with their bad deeds, but we must remember that every one of us will one day appear before God's judgement seat. God disciplines at times, because He loves us and wants us to become like Him. The way that we conduct our lives in all respects is important. We should live before God with a sense of reverence for His majesty and always worship Him. It is said that "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." Ecclesiastes 12 v13 & 14 tells us to "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." We also need to remember that Jesus bore the punishment for our sins when He died for us on the cross, so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life with Him.
Luke 24v36-49 & 2Timothy 1v1-14
Paul reminds Timothy that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted (2Timothy 3v12). As Christians we are all called upon to speak up for Jesus - "you are my witnesses" (Luke 24v48). The difficulties that we face in speaking up for Christ may come from many different places, even from within our own families. Jesus said that we should be prepared to live for Him and, if necessary, die for Him. There are countries where Christians are called upon to die for their faith. If we were in that position, would we be prepared to die for our faith? We, along with the disciples and all Christians, have the power of the Holy Spirit helping us to speak out for Jesus; we are enabled to speak the message of the saving power of the Gospel - the good news of forgiveness of sins, that those who are far off from God can be restored.
We are commissioned to do more than believe the gospel; we must serve our Saviour by proclaiming Him. The Bible tells us that no one who believes in Him will be put to shame. "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." (Romans 10 v9) We must always be prepared to give people an answer as to why we have such hope in our hearts, but we must do it with gentleness and respect. Paul encourages Timothy to remember the faith of other members of his family - his mother and grandmother, and to build on the firm foundation of faith that he had been brought up with. Those of us who have had the benefit of a Christian upbringing should be thankful for it.
The Holy Spirit gives us power to speak out, love and self-discipline, helping us to live as His witnesses, and not to be ashamed of the gospel, or afraid or embarrassed about being a Christian. With the Bible as our guide, we should have the courage of our convictions. Along with Paul, we can say "I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2Timothy 1v12) Our loyalty to Jesus will receive its reward as we look forward to our place in the heavenly kingdom of our Lord. Do you desire to do God's will and make Him known in and through your life?