Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Ramblings of an Overexcited Mind

I’ve started yet another blog! To be honest, I could just have one blog with subcategories, but for some reason I like to keep all my writing projects separate.

This next one is found at http://www.youthfulramblings.home.blog

Before blogging, I used to write in little green books (and a few big yellow exercise books as well).

This new blog is an attempt to digitally archive what I named The Ramblings of an Overexcited Mind.

Enjoy!

God bless,

Robert

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New blog!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hi folks, hope y’all well.

I know I’ve got a few blogs on the go atm (including a few dormant ones!), but there’s a new blog on the block!

This is a much more personal, more classic kind of blog about my experience as a house husband.

Check it out at http://www.househusband.home.blog

Hope you like it! πŸ™‚

Blogging Proverbs

 

 

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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 πŸ™‚

God bless,

Robert

Accomplished

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.19.30.ESV

Jesus was dehydrated on the cross so that our spiritual thirst could be quenched. He drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath so that we could drink the sweet cup of God’s new covenant in His blood. He was fulfilling the will of God to redeem for Himself a people for His own possession.

When Jesus said “it is finished” in the English translation, we can assume He was talking about His life, which was about to end. But the original word has the sense of accomplishment, like you might say “it’s finished” when you complete a job. Our salvation was accomplished when Jesus gave His life for us.

Jesus wasn’t finished when He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit. He rose again, victorious over death, on the third day. But the door to heaven was flung open, and all who trust in Him can confidently enter. Our salvation is 100% of Christ and 0% of our own effort.

Note that Jesus gave up His Spirit. Anyone else who ever died had no authority to give up their spirits- God demanded them of them. But Jesus had authority as God’s eternal Son to lay down His life for us, only to take it up again.

“Our Father in heaven, we exalt Your holy name for giving to us Your beloved Son, so that we could be called sons and daughters of the Most High God. We’re so grateful for all He went through for us. Help us to devote our lives to You, in Christ’s name, amen

Poison

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 18:11 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.18.11.ESV

Peter had just chopped the ear off of one of the mob who came to arrest Jesus. But Jesus healed the man and rebuked Peter. In one fell swoop Jesus ruled out holy war as an option for Christians. The kingdom of heaven isn’t established by earthly tactics.

Elsewhere, Jesus recommended His followers to carry swords, but if you read in the context of this verse, you can conclude that the purpose was to be a deterrent rather than an aggressor. Jesus’ kingdom is a heavenly kingdom. So it is established in people’s hearts, not at the point of a sword.

In the old testament, God’s wrath is illustrated as a poisonous cup. That’s what Jesus is referring to here. He drank the cup of God’s wrath so that we don’t have to. In fact, because He bore God’s anger, we can know the smile of God’s favour.

So we are entrusted with this ministry of reconciliation, to tell people how they can know God as their loving heavenly Father. Jesus did say He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. But He was talking about the persecution that Christians face, and the divisiveness of our message to those who reject it.

“Loving heavenly Father, we’re so grateful for the peace we have with You because Your Son took Your wrath at us upon the cross. Please help us to share Your message of peace to a hostile world, and may many come to know You as Saviour and Lord in our day, for Your glory, amen”

Humiliation

but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

Psalms 75:7

According to a poll, 90% of Brits think Brexit has been a national humiliation. People variously blame Parliament, the UK government, and to a lesser extent, the EU. I would argue that whatever God’s ultimate purpose in Brexit is, at the moment He’s humbling a proud, self declared “United” Kingdom of “Great” Britain and Northern Ireland.

No poll would return these results, but I believe God is judging the UK for rejecting Him. He’s “putting us down a peg or two” as it were. So how are we going to get uplifted from our humiliation?

Well it’s certainly not by politics. Politics is divisive. No one can agree on the way forward on Brexit- deal or no deal, hard or soft, or not at all! There are good Christians on either side of the debate, so how do we avoid division among ourselves, and how can we help our nation?

It’s God who humbles and uplifts nations, not us. So we’re not to berate our country, or on the other extreme to flatter it. Instead we are to preach the gospel, which is both humbling (because we’re sinners before a holy God) and uplifting (because God has come to restore us to Himself).

“Lord God Almighty, please have mercy upon the UK! Even as You humble us, cause us to cry out to You for our greatest need, which is revival. Only by an outpouring of Your Spirit can we be uplifted again, for Your honour and praise, amen”

Ask

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

John 16:23 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.16.23.ESV

Jesus gives us a pattern for prayer here. We ask the Father, so we address Him, and we do so in the name of Jesus. But Jesus’ name isn’t some kind of magical mantra to chant in order to get anything we might covet!

That’s what it seems Jesus is saying: whatever you ask for in His name, God will give you. So if you ask for a round the world cruise in Jesus’ name, is He obliged to give it to you? Or a private jet and a mansion?

Elsewhere, we’re told we’ve got to pray with faith to recieve, so some people claim that’s why we’re not all millionaires (apart from the ones fleecing the flock with such claims). In still another place, we’re told we must pray according to God’s will. God’s will is that we dwell in His mansion for eternity, not that we have our own mansions for a little while.

In the context, Jesus is talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit. God isn’t so much interested in making us healthy, wealthy and happy as in bearing spiritual fruit. God wants to see love, joy and peace in our hearts, not necessarily designer clothes on our backs!

“Heavenly Father, please help us to align with Your will for our lives. We ask for provision of our needs, not necessarily of our wants. Most importantly, may we bear spiritual fruit for You, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Vine

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.15.5.ESV

The vineyard was used by old testament prophets as an illustration of Israel. Here Jesus develops the illustration. He is the vine itself. There’s no fruit without Him.

The branch of a vine would wither if it’s not connected to the rest of the vine. In a similar way it wouldn’t be good for us if we weren’t connected to Jesus, we’d just wither and die. We need to abide in Him just as He abides in us by His Holy Spirit.

We bear much fruit by living for Christ. If we live for money we might make lots of money, but we can’t take it with us. If we live for Christ, we bear much fruit of the Spirit that lasts for eternity.

Apart from Christ we can do nothing. In Him we live and move and have our being. Anything good we do is thanks to His grace at work in our lives, so we can’t boast: all the glory goes to Him.

“All glory to You Lord God for being our everything. Please help us to bear much fruit for You, by Your Spirit, and to Your honour and praise, amen”

Watch “Coope, Boyes & Simpson – Now Is The Cool Of The Day” on YouTube

I love this folky song. It came to mind because I’ve been attempting some gardening today.

Biblically the garden is an illustration of us as people. I’m thinking especially of the Song of Songs. I’m not the greatest at caring for myself or my garden.

Ivy and pampas grass has taken over much of my garden, along with moss in the lawn. I didn’t bother much with the ivy last year because birds were nesting. But as I started to prune/hack at it, I discovered underneath a little conifer tree which has pretty much died I think, smothered by the ivy.

I try not to be too anti ivy or pampas grass. There’s nothing wrong with them in theory. But what could in theory be nice garden plants can easily become giant, ugly weeds.

It’s like that in our lives. Money, sex, power, hobbies and relationships for example are all good things in moderation. But if they’re idolised, they take over the gardens of our lives and we become swallowed up by them.

Jesus used the illustration of a vine and branches for Him and us as His people. Any branch that doesn’t bear fruit, God the master gardener cuts away and burns up. I don’t think He’s saying we can lose our salvation, just that if we don’t bear fruit in keeping with repentance, we don’t belong to Jesus.

And even if we belong to Jesus, God needs to cut away the deadness so that we can be even more fruitful. Being metaphorically pruned is like suffering. But God has a purpose in our suffering. Maybe He’s just cutting away idols of money, sex and power or whatever, so that we worship Him alone and enjoy Him forever.

I’m glad God’s a good gardener, and I’m priviledged to be part of His vine. May I bear much fruit for His glory, amen.

Blessing

Blessed be the Lord , the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

Psalms 72:18 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.72.18.ESV

We’re often preoccupied with getting blessed by God, after all, God is the source of all blessing. But that’s selfish really if we think about it. It is possible and important that we ourselves bless God Himself.

To bless someone is to make them happy. If God is the source of all happiness, why should we have to return happiness to Him? Well to not seek to make God happy by our lives is pretty self absorbed by us.

God is the God of Israel, His people. God’s people aren’t an ethnicity, or a political entity. They are a spiritual group of people who are looking for the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Even Gentiles can be grafted into spiritual Israel, and so all Israel will be saved.

God alone does wondrous things. Even the good things we may do are works that He has prepared in advance for us to do. Ultimately, anything good we do is down to God’s work in our lives, so He gets all the glory.

“Blessed God, we bless You for being our God, and for all the wondrous things You do, especially in saving us and helping us serve You. To Your glory, amen”

Is there such a thing as Islamophobia?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.10.28.ESV

A phobia is an irrational fear. So is fear of Islam rational? On the face of it, fearing a violent ideology is rational. But Biblically, the only rational fear is the fear of God.

Why fear someone who can kill you in the name of Islam, fascism or anything else, when there’s an eternity to come. As Jesus said, fear the one who can cast soul and body into hell.

So every fear apart from fear of God is a phobia. Therefore there is such a thing as Islamophobia. Most Muslims don’t practice what their founder practiced and preached. Most of the many Muslims I’ve met are nice, law abiding citizens.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Too often we try to sanitise that, claiming it means awe or respect. That’s too weak for what the Bible is communicating.

True, the Bible also says that perfect love casts out fear. But it’s fear that gives us the wisdom to know that the God of love hates unloveliness and will punish it eternally in hell.

Fear of being sent to hell saved me from it. Love of God keeps me on His path to glory, all though His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all the praise, glory and honour, both now and forevermore, amen.

Rescue

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!

Psalms 71:2 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.71.2.ESV

We want God to deliver us in His righteousness. We don’t want God to deliver us in unrighteousness. If that were the case He might give up delivering us half way through, or expect us to pay Him back for our deliverance.

We need rescuing- not from being stuck up a tree or down a cave- but from ourselves. The consequence of our unrighteousness would be condemnation to hell were it not for God’s rescue. Thankfully He’s sent His Son to rescue us, and to bring us back to Himself.

We don’t just pray as some kind of exercise, to make ourselves feel better. We pray because we hope and expect God to hear us. The Psalmist was the same: he asked God to incline His ear towards him.

We need saving! We don’t just need a rescue, in order to go on our merry way and get on with life as it was before. We need a radical turn around in our lives from heading to destruction to being on the path of life. It sounds simple, but if God didn’t save us, we’d never find the way back to Him.

“Righteous God, we’re so grateful that You deliver and rescue us, that You hear our prayers and save us. Please make us righteous and ready for Your holy presence for all eternity, in Christ’s name, amen”

Was Jesus a racist?

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Matthew 15:21‭-‬28 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.15.21-28.ESV

We’ve seen the ugly face of racist violence in New Zealand. So I thought it would be helpful to address this question to demonstrate that God has no place for racism in His kingdom.

Muslim polemicists point to this passage to argue that Jesus was only a prophet to Israel, after all, He told the Canaanite woman that He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.

When people question Scripture, usually contextualisation is all you need to do. So in this case, Jesus may sound at first hearing to be racist, but when you hear Him commend her faith and deliver her daughter, you see that’s not true.

As for being sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, think of what He said in John 10- “I have other sheep who are not of this sheepfold- I must call them too… so there will be one flock and one Shepherd”.

Jesus may have been sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, but He sent His followers out to the world to call other sheep into His flock.

As for the Canaanite woman, she was of the ethnicity that God ordered Joshua to wipe out in Israel’s conquest of Canaan. Wasn’t that racist?

It wasn’t because of the Canaanites’ ethnicity that God ordered their destruction, but because of their sin. The reason Israel was in Egypt for so long was because the sins of the Canaanites hadn’t reached their full measure. They were the kind of people who sacrificed their children, not on the altar of their careers or convenience like Western aborters, but on the altar of one of their many gods. They had cult prostitutes as well, they worshipped sex and death cults. Sounds like the Western and Muslim words to be honest.

But far from calling for mass destruction, Jesus came to bring good news to enemies, as well as His own people. Far from calling down death upon the Canaanite woman, He commended her faith and delivered her daughter. His talk of dogs and tables was most likely Him employing a dose of irony that has got lost in translation.

He was giving the official Jewish line on Canaanite “dogs”, but His actions demonstrated the reality of His love for her and her daughter.

So was Jesus racist? No. If you’re a sinner, or a “dog”, He’s got good news for you. He can deliver you and your family, even from some things as ugly as demonic oppression and racism. Whatever it is that you’re struggling with, Jesus can deliver you. Just repent and turn to Him for mercy and grace.