Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Blogging Proverbs

 

 

 

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I’m embarking upon a new blogging adventure in 2019 God willing: Blogging Proverbs!

I’ll carry on watching daily at wisdom’s gates, but I might be watching over at http://www.bloggingproverbs.wordpress.com instead some days.

It’s already up and running, so feel free to check it out and follow it 🙂

God bless,

Robert

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Door

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3:8 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.3.8.ESV

I wonder, if Jesus wrote a letter to our churches, what would He say? One thing He could say to any church is “I know your works”. Depending on who we are, that could be comforting- that we’ll be vindicated- or scary, that there’ll be a reckoning.

But for the church in Philadelphia, Jesus had words of reassurance. He set before them an open door, which no one can shut. If we’re in the will of God, the doors of heaven are open to us- saint Peter isn’t going to be interrogating us when we go home to God!

The church may not be powerful. We are persecuted. In the UK, our lives may not be in danger, but we are despised for our belief that we’re all sinners in need of a Saviour. But we don’t need power if the doors of heaven are open to us: it’s not about our weakness, but about God’s strength at work in us.

What matters isn’t so much whether we’re powerful, but whether we’ve kept God’s Word and refused to deny His name. We might not be perfect, but we can obey God’s Word to turn from our sins and to trust in Him. We aren’t to be ashamed of our Saviour, or He will be ashamed of us.

“Dear Lord, thank You so much that You’ve set an open door before us to Your heavenly home. Please help us on pilgrimage to You, to keep Your Word and not to deny Your name, for Your glory, amen”

Freedom

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

Revelation 1:5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.1.5.ESV

I don’t often think of Jesus Christ Himself being a faithful witness. I tend to think of His followers as (hopefully) bring faithful witnesses of Him. But the primary witness of all that Jesus said and did, is Jesus Himself!

Jesus is the firstborn of the dead. Yes, other people were raised from death before Him, but they eventually died again. Jesus rose, nevermore to die. Therefore, through faith in Him we can become adopted into His resurrection family.

Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth. The Roman governor Pilate crucified Him for treason, for claiming to be the King of the Jews. But in Revelation He is also revealed as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

What a beautiful truth: He loves us! We often might think of our love for Him, but it’s far better to meditate, to ponder His great love for us. He has freed us from our sins by His blood- He gave His life for our forgiveness and redemption.

“Wonderful Saviour, how grateful we are that You love us, unworthy as we are. We praise You, for You are worthy to call to Yourself a people set apart to be holy, to the praise of Your glory, amen”

House

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,

2 John 1:10 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/2jn.1.10.ESV

John isn’t saying that we can only greet and be hospitable to fellow believers. What he is saying that if someone claims to be a believer but denies Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God- fully God and fully man- we shouldn’t have anything to do with them. Neither is John saying we shouldn’t do door to door, just that when we do it, like Paul did, we should have the right message.

So this verse is helpful in dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. They claim to be Christians, but they don’t follow Christ. JWs think He was an angel, and Mormons are polytheists: thinking that we can all become gods.

It seems a bit harsh to not even welcome the cults in for a cup of tea, or even to not say “God bless”. But God cannot and will not bless their heresies, so why should we? Some Bible teachings are harder to take than others, but we should obey God, not our own feelings.

Having said all that, I still share the gospel with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses on the doorstep. To be honest, once they hear that, they don’t usually want to stick around for much longer! We can still be good witnesses and courteous, without encouraging them in their heretical teachings.

“Yahweh our God, may we take the solemn warning of Your Word not to have anything to do with false teachings. Help us to be good witnesses though to those caught up in them. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, amen”

A Gospel (Good News) Take On The News: The Conservative Leadership Contest

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:20‭-‬28 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.20.20-28.ESV

At the moment, there’s a race to become the next Conservative party leader and Prime Minister of the UK. It’s been whittled down to two: the frontrunner Boris Johnson and the underdog Jeremy Hunt.

I was reminded of the episode I’ve quoted in Matthew’s gospel.

There’s quite a contrast in leadership in the world and in God’s kingdom. In the world, people fight and stab each other in the back to become top dog. In God’s kingdom however, it’s the servant of all who leads by example.

Zebedee’s family didn’t seem to understand how the kingdom of heaven works. To be honest, neither did the rest of the disciples! They were all about posturing for position in Jesus’ kingdom- maybe chancellor and foreign minister for the sons of Zebedee for example.

The other disciples were outraged at the suggestion- not because it was wrong, but because they each wanted to be Jesus’ right hand man. It wasn’t so much because they loved Jesus, but because they wanted the prestige of powerful positions in God’s kingdom.

Jesus turned the tables however, and righted their topsy-turvy thinking. Jesus hasn’t turned the world upside down- He’s setting it right way up. In His kingdom, the humblest servant is the greatest leader.

True, godly leadership isn’t about bossing people round. It’s about leading by example. You want people to serve you? Then serve them and together reciprocate virtue rather than selfish ambition and vain conceit.

And just in case you think Jesus didn’t practice what He preached, He states that He didn’t come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Jesus is the ultimate example of leadership, giving His life for His followers and calling us to be willing to lay down our lives for Him.

The question is, will we answer the call and lead other into a life of service and self denial?

News

Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”

2 Kings 7:9 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/2ki.7.9.ESV

Samaria, capital of Israel, had been under siege. It got to such a point of desperation that a group of lepers decided to surrender. Better to be captives with food or even slain than to starve to death, they reasoned.

But upon reaching the enemy camp, the lepers realised a great miracle had taken place: the enemy had fled! The Lord had caused them to hear the sound of a mighty army which spooked them enough to cause them to flee. So the lepers tucked in to a great feast and started gathering spoil.

But then we come to this verse, and they had a pang of conscience. They realised they weren’t doing right by keeping the city’s deliverance to themselves. Samaria was slowly starving to death whilst they were stuffing their faces!

They realised it was a day of good news, and they wouldn’t be forgiven if they didn’t share it. Likewise, as Christians, we’ve received the good news of deliverance by the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s no such thing as a secret believer: we can’t keep the gospel to ourselves!

“Dear Lord, having received the good news of our deliverance, help us to share it with all who will hear. Please give us the boldness and love for others that will tell them how they too can be delivered, in Christ Jesus, amen”

Search

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalms 139:23‭-‬24 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.139.23-24.ESV

This is a brave, but honest prayer to pray. Inevitably, there’s going to be grievous things about us. But David doesn’t want to sweep them under the carpet- He wants God to deal with them.

We need God to search us, and to know our hearts. And He does- that’s how the Psalm begins, by stating that God has searched and known David. We need God to sort out what is grievous in us.

God needs to try us and know our thoughts. Our words and deeds might seem okay, but even then, our thoughts probably betray us as sinners before a holy God. Thankfully, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be welcomed wholeheartedly by Him and transformed into His likeness.

We want God to lead us in the way everlasting. And by His grace He does. Christ’s blood washes away all that is grievous in His sight and makes us holy and beloved by God. Our salvation isn’t dependant upon our performance, but upon the perfect record of Jesus.

“Sovereign Lord, how thankful we are that You’re leading us in the way everlasting. Please continue to work in us, that we might think, say and do what is pleasing in Your sight, for Your honour and praise, amen”

Hand

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.

Psalms 138:7 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.138.7.ESV

Some people naively think that when they become Christians, all their troubles will flee away. Sadly this isn’t the case. But as Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart: I have overcome the world”.

David had a similar testimony to new testament Christians- in the midst of his troubles, the Lord preserved his life. Through all our troubles this far, God has preserved our lives. And even if our earthly lives are taken away from us, in Christ, our spiritual lives are indestructible.

God stretches out His hand against the wrath of our enemies. In fact, Christ stretched out His hands on the cross as He bore God’s wrath at our sins. So now when our enemy satan accuses us, Christ is our advocate on high.

God’s right hand delivers us. If a king was making a pronouncement or ruling, he would stretch out his right hand to make his declaration. And God has ordered our deliverance through Jesus and guaranteed by His Holy Spirit.

“Yahweh, our Lord, how grateful we are that You deliver us from all our troubles, and the wrath of our enemies, in Christ Jesus. In His name we pray, amen”

Gifts

whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:11 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1pe.4.11.ESV

If we belong to Jesus, every single one of us has a gift, however lowly we may feel. The most obvious gifts are probably the speaking gifts. If someone goes round telling unbelievers about Jesus, or encouraging believers to press on for Him, we can see that they’re gifts of God.

The apostle Peter encourages those of us to speak to do so as though we’re speaking the very oracles of God. We should listen out for Him and only communicate what He would have us to say. There is a place for humour when we speak, but when we communicate the gospel, we’re not to be flippant or to trivialise it.

The body might have one mouth, but it has two hands. So most of us are probably gifted in service rather than in speaking. We might put ourselves down if “all we do” is serve refreshments at church, welcome at the door, or are generous with our offerings. But they’re vitally important aspects of the church, the body of Christ.

So, whether we speak or serve, we are to seek the glory of God through Jesus Christ. It might be a widow’s mite or a tax collector’s prayer, but even the seemingly most insignificant offering to God is gladly recieved by Him when it’s done in the right spirit. To Him belongs glory and dominion forever and ever, amen!

“Glorious God, may we glorify You through the gifts You give us, whether they’re of speaking or serving. To You belongs glory and dominion forever and ever, amen”

Gold

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:7 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1pe.1.7.ESV

Why do we face trials in this life? This verse is the answer. We face trials in order to prove our faith, to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Our faith is more precious than gold. If gold needs to be refined by fire, how much more does our faith! Gold eventually perishes. But faith gives way to sight when we meet our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

When Jesus Christ is revealed, our faith, proven by trials, will result in praise of Him. Even our faith is a gift from Him, so that no one can boast. And He’s the one who sends trials and gives us the strength to stand in them.

We will glorify Jesus Christ when He is revealed. We will see in that moment the purpose in the pain that we can only trust now is going to work in us what is pleasing to our Lord and Saviour. All the honour will be His for His work in our lives.

“Our Lord and God, thank You that even if we can’t see it, there is a purpose in the pains of life, to refine us and make us into what You would have us to be. May all praise, glory and honour be Yours, now and evermore, amen”

Depression

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord , take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

1 Kings 19:4 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1ki.19.4.ESV

Great “mountain top” experiences in our lives of faith can be proceeded by “the valley of the shadow of death”. Such was the case with Elijah. He’d just defeated the prophets of baal on mount Carmel, with the Lord sending down fire from heaven on his offering.

But evil queen Jezabel was threatening his life, so Elijah ran away into the wilderness, where he sat exhausted under a broom tree feeling suicidal. After defeating hundreds of false prophets, Elijah needn’t have been afraid of one evil queen. But his fear is understandable.

Even the most faithful of God’s servants might sometimes wish they would die. Perhaps it’s unfair to describe Elijah as suicidal, because he was asking God to take his life away rather than wanting to take it away himself. Suffice to say however that he was seriously depressed.

God’s response to his depressed servant is beautiful. He lets him have a much needed nap, and then sends the Angel of the Lord (most theologians agree, a preincarnate Christ Himself!) to give him a meal and to gently encourage him. If you’re a depressed servant of God, He doesn’t judge but wants to give you the rest and refreshment you need.

“Dear Lord our God, thank You so much for how gentle You are with us when we’re depressed. Help us when we are to get the rest and refreshment we need to keep on serving You in this life and forevermore. In Christ’s name, amen”