Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Prayer

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed.
Mark 1 : 35

This was Jesus’ regular practice. He got up earlier than he would have otherwise, went to a private place, and prayed, probably aloud. His close relationship with the Father was his secret of why his ministry was so successful.

Note that he didn’t just read scripture or meditate on it. This wasn’t just an intellectual pursuit for Jesus, this was fellowship with his heavenly Father. Neither did he always pray with others, this was a highly personal and intimate relationship he had with God.

What about us? Do we get up early, especially to spend time with God? Do we find a private place where we can commune with him? If God means anything to us this will be the case.

And prayer is not just about us as individuals and God. Jesus will have been praying for his public ministry and his followers. When we pray we can commit our lives and loved ones to him.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for this priviledge to come to you in prayer. Help me to prioritise my relationship with you in my life, and forgive me for the times that I don’t”

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Treasure

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6 : 20

How do we lay up treasures in heaven? The rest of this chapter suggests some ways. Firstly we can give to the needy. If we do so privately, without broadcasting what we’ve done, our Father will reward us.

Secondly we can pray, in private rather than in public. Then our Father will reward us. If we forgive others their trespasses against us, our Father will forgive our trespasses against him.

Thirdly we can fast. But if everyone knows we’re fasting, we’ve received our reward by impressing others. If we fast in secret however we receive our reward from our Father in heaven.

Finally, we don’t need to worry about what we will eat, drink or wear because our Father knows what we need before we ask him. If we prioritise his Kingdom and his righteousness, all those other things will be added as well.

What’s the point laying up treasure on earth where entropy takes everything- where everything decays or is ruined before its time? The things of this earth will only disappoint. Much better to store up treasure in heaven.

“Father, help me to prioritise your kingdom and your righteousness. Help me be generous, prayerful, to fast, and not to worry. May your name be glorified though me, amen”.

Kingdom

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.18.36.ESV

Pilate was interrogating Jesus, on behalf of the Jewish leaders, who wanted Him dead. He asked Him if He was the King of the Jews, enough to condemn Him for treason against Caesar. Jesus answered in this verse, but in the previous verse, He showed that He knew that Pilate was asking under duress from the Jewish leaders.

Jesus is the King of the Jews. In fact, He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. But His kingdom is not of this world. America isn’t the promised land, or the West in general. Even Israel, promised for the Jews, isn’t the new Jerusalem where peoples from every land will worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

If Jesus’ kingdom was earthly, it would be defendable by human weapons of war. But as His kingdom is of heaven, we the people are all say long considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things, we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Jesus’ kingdom is of heaven. Therefore our battle is not against flesh and blood but against satan and his hordes. We are to stand firm in the full spiritual armour of God so that we may be able to take a stand when the day of evil comes.

“Lord and King, we praise You for the priviledge of being part of Your kingdom. Please help us to walk as worthy citizens of the kingdom of heaven You have called us to, for the honour of Your name, amen”

Sorrow

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:18 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/ecc.1.18.ESV

In English we have a saying that is the flip side of the coin to this saying; we say that “ignorance is bliss”. If you live in denial that you’re going to die, and simply eat, drink and are merry; you’ll generally have a happy life, as long as you’ve got enough to eat, drink and make you merry. But you’re blind to your fate.

Solomon may say that wisdom is vexatious and sorrowful, but at least it gives you eyes to see your end fate. Better to go into death with your eyes opened than closed. Still, it’s a sad destiny that awaits us all, unless Christ returns first.

The thing is, however much more advantageous wisdom is to folly, Solomon realised that it wasn’t a good raison d’etre, because it tends towards misery and headaches. The meaning of life may not be happiness, but joy is a side product of it. “The chief end of man is to worship God and to enjoy Him forever”.

In other words, our purpose isn’t to accumulate wisdom, wine, or for that matter, women, work or wealth. Our purpose is to worship, praise, and adore our great God and Saviour. To love God (and to love others as we love ourselves) is the chief duty of mankind.

“Lord God, wisdom may not be bad in and of itself, but please don’t let us idolise it. Help us to watch daily for You and Your Word, and to love and serve You for all of our days, both now and forevermore, amen”

Advocacy

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Proverbs 31:8 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/pro.31.8.ESV

This verse was an important proof text for the German Christians who stood against the Nazis, and often gave their lived for it. One who was martyred was Martin Niemoller who famously said something I paraphrase: “first they came for political opponents, and I kept quiet. Then they came for the disabled, and I kept quiet. Then they came for the Jews, and I kept quiet. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me”.

The moral of the quote is that we shouldn’t keep quiet when we know we should speak for the voiceless. They might be literally voiceless, like the unborn or the disabled, or they might be “destitute”, in Hebrew, “sons of passing away” or people wasting away as it were, those on death row.

The destitute may be people suffering famine, plague, disease and war. But we cannot simply say “Go, I wish you well, keep warm and well fed” and no nothing about their physical needs. We have to practically help those in need.

Everyone has rights. We have the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble etc. It’s when people start claiming people aren’t people that rights start getting eroded. Unborn children, the less evolved non master race/culture, the disabled are all in danger of being trampled upon, and believers in God must speak out for them and their rights.

“Heavenly Father, please help us to speak out for the unborn child, the refugee, and the disabled for example: those who are voiceless and destitute. May Christ be our example in His compassion and His love, in His name, amen”

Attachment parenting

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
Luke 11:5‭-‬8 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/luk.11.5-8.ESV

“Attachment parenting” is a trendy concept of parenting which encourages parents and children to be very attached to one another. It includes things like sharing your bed with your kids.

On the one hand, attachment parenting seems a bit like idolatry of children. On the other hand it reminds me of this illustration that Jesus uses, where someone shares their bed with their children. Maybe it was out of the necessity of the relative poverty of 1st century Palestine that families seemed to tend to share their bed, but it’s still shown by Jesus’ illustration to be an okay thing.

Snare

An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices.

Proverbs 29:6 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/pro.29.6.ESV

When I read this verse, I think, “yeah, goes without saying!” But for many in the West today, evil and righteousness are social constructs rather than divinely defined attributes. In reality, good and evil aren’t defined by political correctness, but by the unchanging word of God.

An evil man is ensnared by his transgression. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s evil and ensnared because he transgresses social norms, but because he transgresses the law of God. Right and wrong aren’t defined by a referendum, but by the eternal God.

A righteous man sings and rejoices. Joyful music is second nature to the Christian. Styles may change over the years, and old hymns may sound dated now; but believers in Christ love to make a joyful noise to the Lord.

Yes, football fans may have their chants, Muslims may have the funeral dirge like call to prayer, Jews may have the Psalms. But it is Christians who have made the Psalms, along with hymns and spiritual songs, our own. We are known for our high view of music, and look forward to an eternity singing God’s praises in perfect pitch!

“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask that we would sing as we are moved by Your Holy Spirit, to Your praise and glory. Please don’t let us transgress Your holy law and get ensnared by the evil that so easily besets us. In Jesus’ name, amen”

How does God see you?

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
Psalms 33:13‭-‬15 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.33.13-15.ESV

I was meditating on how the Lord looks upon us, as I looked upon my newborn daughter. If we have been born again by the Holy Spirit of God, we are adopted by God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ve understood the theory of these truths for years, but now, as I look upon my Grace, I get a glimpse of how God looks upon me, a child of the Most High God by His grace alone.

Too often I think that we assume that God maybe looks on us with a frown at our sinfulness; or maybe with an expectation of good deeds, which these verses admittedly suggest.

But I’m sure that when we become part of God’s family, He looks upon us as I do upon my Grace, with a heart overflowing with love, and to be honest, no expectations.

Sufficiency

lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord ?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:9 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/pro.30.9.ESV

In the context, the author asks for his daily bread. In this verse he gives the reason he asks. He doesn’t have any sense of entitlement, as though God owed him something.

He doesn’t want to overdo himself with food, because he’s concerned he may deny the Lord. It’s often the case that when we’re well off we deny the Lord’s existence by living as though He doesn’t exist.

On the other hand, the author doesn’t want to be poor and feel like he has to resort to stealing to get his daily bread. He knows that that would be wrong. Our consciences encourage us to concur with him.

It’s not just that stealing is intrinsically wrong. It’s also that it would profane the name of our God. We are all made in His image and likeness and must live according to His righteous blueprint. But especially if we profess Him to be our God, we must be good witnesses of Him and His goodness.

“Oh our God, we pray that we would not profane Your name by stealing, or deny You by our delusions of self sufficiency. Please give us our daily bread, in Christ’s name, amen”

Childbirth

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

John 16:21 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.16.21.ESV

This is an appropriate verse for my family, as my wife, Joy, has given birth to our daughter Grace. I can testify to her sorrow when her hour of labour came. I was helpless to help her in her anguish apart from to remind her of the joy to come.

Jesus is similar with His followers here. They are in anguish because His hour of passion- His trial, torture and crucifixion- is near. But He reminds them of the joy to come- the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit- giving newness of spiritual life.

We might be in anguish, as we navigate this “vale of tears” with its trials and tribulations. But Jesus would have us to rejoice, because He walks alongside us by His Holy Spirit as a Good Shepherd. Why should we fear when our God is for us? What could be against us?

Not only so, but we are to eagerly anticipate the consummation of our faith, the birth of a new creation where we shall be forever with the Lord. Creation is, as it were, groaning as in the pains of childbirth, but when Christ returns and wraps up history, the recreated universe will rejoice, and we His people with it.

“Dear Lord, we look forward to the consummation of history, the redemption of our souls. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, in whom we can rejoice at the comfort of Your presence. To the honour of Your name, amen”

A short biography

As I was rewriting my bio for the Bible app, I realised how virtuous it sounds, and is, by the goodness of God…

Child of God, husband of Joy, father of Grace

Really though, this is just an excuse to announce the birth of my daughter Grace! Praise the Lord! πŸ˜€

Help

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 15:26 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.15.26.ESV

Here we have another trinitarian verse in some of Jesus’ final words on earth. We have the Helper, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from and is sent from the Father; and the Son, who sends the Spirit to bear witness about Him. The focus is on the Holy Spirit, who normally shies away from the limelight of the Divine.

Firstly, the Holy Spirit is a Helper. If your view of Him is of an impersonal, uncaring force somewhere out there in the universe, you’re wrong. He’s more like a midwife who helps us to be born again spiritually.

Secondly, He’s the Spirit of truth. There’s no falsehood in Him, no shadow of unfaithfulness. He is true to us, helping and delivering us into eternal life.

Thirdly, He bears witness about Christ. He’s not about bigging Himself up. Again, He’s a bit like a midwife who encourages a baby to bond with its parents, rather than to try and steal the show for Himself.

“Heavenly Father, our hearts rejoice at the gift of Your Holy Spirit to help us to worship Your Son. Please give us more of Him, so that we might serve You in spirit and in truth. In Christ’s name, amen”