Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: March, 2015

Meditations on Lamentations

Day 4. Read Lamentations 2:12-22.

Children were starving in their mother’s arms.

Jeremiah was almost left speechless: all he could say was “your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?”

The prophets’ visions were falsely optimistic and failed to warn of captivity for sinfulness.

Passers by mocked Jerusalem, once the most beautiful city in the world.

Enemies rejoiced in what they saw as their victory.

But this was the LORD’s will and plan: he is sovereign over the tumult of the world.

The hearts of the people cried out to the Lord, and Jeremiah urged them on.

He called for night vigils for the lives of the children.

He cried out to the LORD to consider what He was allowing to happen: cannibalism and massacres.

Young, old, great, good and insignificant lay slaughtered in the streets.

He summons celebration and  terror alike: no-one can withstand the wrath of the LORD.

Reflection: Have you ever come to an end of yourself as you consider the terrors of the world around you? Have you come to know the One who can heal you: who another prophet foretold was “pierced for our iniquities, and crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”?

Jesus paid the price for all our wrongdoing on the Roman cross outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago. That we should get what we deserve goes without saying. But that God should punish His own eternal Son so that all our wrongdoing can be forgiven is astounding. The worst of sins: from the pride of self-righteousness to the cruelty of murder can be forgiven by faith in Christ alone. Are you forgiven, healed, transformed and renewed by the blood of Jesus?

 

 

Meditations on Lamentations

Day 2. Read Lamentations 1:12-22

Passers by seem totally unmoved by the suffering inflicted on the LORD’s servant, who had His fierce anger excruciatingly brought down upon him.

He feels like he’s being burnt up, having been ensnared and drained of strength by the LORD.

His sins are like shackles of slavery, so much heavier and crueller than those of the Lord.

Anyone to support him have been crushed by an enemy army, and Judah has been trampled in the wine press of the Lord’s wrath.

So he weeps inconsolably and despairingly at the destitution of his children at the hands of  the enemy.

God’s people long for comfort, but find none: neighbours become adversaries and Jerusalem is unclean to them.

In the midst of it all the LORD is righteous, and yet he rebelled and his people are exiled

His allies betrayed him, all the great and good of the city perished in search of food to survive.

He is in torment at the pain and devastation that he shares responsibility for.

Enemies know how he feels but they mock rather than comfort, causing him to cry out for the Day of Judgement to hasten.

He wants others to receive the justice of God that is being meted out upon him for his sinfulness.

Reflection:

God’s personal, “I AM” name becomes the formal Lord later in the passage. Have you ever known God personally, and if so, have there been times when he’s seemed distant and hostile?

Do we accept responsibility for the wrath of God upon us, or do we blame him for the consequences of our own sins? Do we long for his justice, or do we deny our wrongdoing?

Meditations on Lamentations

Day 1. Read Lamentations 1:1-11

Jerusalem had been besieged for two years by the world superpower Babylon. Finally she had fallen, and was now a desolate wasteland. The glorious city at the centre of the earth had been laid waste by the enemy.

Her sorrow and anguish were unceasing, she was comfortless in her sadness. All whom she had trusted in abandoned her in her hour of need.

After the attrition of the war, Judah was now exiled throughout the Babylonian Empire and found no rest among the nations.

The remnant in Jerusalem despaired because no-one came up to the festivals anymore.

Her enemies exalted ove rher and brought her to grief, taking her children into captivity.

Her spendour was gone and her princes were like deer fleeing before the pursuer.

She remembered how rich she had been as she was afflicted and wandering. Her people fell into enemy hands and mocked her devastation.

In her great sinfulness she was made unclean and despised and rejected by those who once honoured her.

She was filthy and had no thought for the future. Her fall was astounding. All Jeremiah could plead was “Look, oh LORD, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed”.

Forbidden enemies trampled her courts and stole her treasures.

All her people could do was barter for food to survive and all Jeremiah could do was pray, “Look oh LORD and consider, for I am despised”.

Reflection: Sometimes all we can do in the face of horrific circumstances is to simply ask God to see and to have regard for our sorrow.

When life is filled with horror,  is our reaction to curse God and seek death, or is it to call on him to look and consider our affliction in spite of the triumphant enemy?

Cultivating Biblical Delight: Meditations on Psalm 1:2

“his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on his Law he meditates day and night”

What we delight in reveals much about us. Psalm 1 describes the perfect man, and His delight is in God’s law. Along with Psalm 2 and the rest of Scripture, it’s Messianic (Luke 24:27). Psalm 2 goes on to emphasise the importance of trusting in the Messiah, who we discover is Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1)

But a common misconception of religious people is that they are incapable of delight. Yes, they can pontificate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and bask in the shade of a tree on a hot day, but to wholeheartedly delight? Most see religious people as those who believe that anything that inspires wholehearted delight is wrong, and that anything religious is boring and uninspiring.

In reality though, God is love. Passionate delight defines him. The Father loves the Son who loves the Spirit who loves the Father etc. God didn’t need to create us to find fulfilment, he was already perfectly satisfied in himself. The fact he did create us, and has “laid down the law” of how we should live, is a mark of his love for us, like a loving father teaches his son the right way to go.

The famous Ten Commandments are not a dry, legal document, but an outline of how God wants his people to live. They were written in a historical context: God had brought his people out of slavery, and he was jealous for them. We often assume jealousy is a bad thing, that we should accept things as they are. But because God passionately desires a people for himself, he is jealous for them and angry when they transgress the law, or they suffer other’s disdain for it. God wants his people to take time to rest, such is his gentle care for our welfare. He wants all things in their right place in society: parents, children, masters, slaves, husbands, wives, peers.

And the summary is “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might, and love your neighbour as yourself. God doesn’t ask burdensome things of us, only what is good, and inspires wholesome delight in the hearts of the godly.

God’s word is a revelation of his love for us, and therefore he designed it to inspire great delight in us.

Alive in Christ

Once it was that I was dead in sin-

no joy in life and no peace within,

no memory of love or future hope,

for the truth of God I had no scope.

But then God graciously gave me life

and made me forget my former strife.

He sent Jesus Christ to die for me

Jesus gave his life to set me free.

Once it was I was enslaved to sin;

against my nature I couldn’t win,

the prince of this world had got me fooled,

work was soul destroying when he ruled.

But then God graciously gave me life

and made me forget my former strife.

He sent Jesus Christ to die for me

Jesus gave his life to set me free.

Once it was I was condemned to hell

and that would have served me right as well,

I deserve the punishment of God

for all the wrong paths I have trodden.

But now God graciously gives me life

and makes me forget my former strife.

He sent Jesus Christ to die for me

Jesus gave his life to set me free.

Bible Question and Answer Continued (3/5)

Here’s some questions about stuff with answers referenced from the Bible which you can google.

4. Faith

Q1. Who are the faithful?

a) Those who love God and love others (Mark 12:30)

Q2. How are we to live?

a) We are to live by the Holy Spirit, bearing fruit in our lives (Galatians 5)

Q3. Why did God save us?

a) To glorify Himself by changing us from enemies to friends (Colossians 1:21-23)

Q4. How should we respond to God’s love?

a) By thanking Him, telling our enemies, and reminding our friends. (Ephesians 4:15)

Q5. What does the Christian faith look like?

a) A family adopted by God (Romans 8:15)

The final topic will be the Bible…

The God of our fathers (Acts 3)

Not by power or piety,
Not by silver or gold,
But by the Word and the Spirit
Are God’s people made bold.

The God of our fathers in faith,
Lifted up his Servant,
The Holy and Good One denied,
Who to the cross was sent.

So we killed the Author of life
Whom God raised from the dead
As He foretold through His prophets
And fulfilled what they said.

Though we acted in ignorance,
We still need to repent,
We need our sins to be wiped out,
Revival to be sent.

The Lord has raised a Prophet up,
Listen to what he says,
And all the Lord’s other prophets
Also proclaimed these days.

God came to Jacob’s children first;
Abraham’s promised Child,
He blesses the families of earth,
But He’ll destroy the wild.

Listen to me sons of promise,
By God you have been blessed,
And if you turn from wickedness,
You will enter your rest.

A Prayer

High and lofty One who inhabits eternity,
What a mystery that you came down to mortality!
What wonder that the eternal One should die for me!
How fathomless Your love to set this slave to sin free!

Eternity is too short for me to sing Your praise;
Heaven isn’t high enough Your glorious name to raise;
Hell isn’t low enough Your majesty to erase,
Your true love is strong enough to raise me from the grave.

Who am I, oh God Most High, that for me Christ should die?
Was it for me that in the garden Jesus did cry?
His torture, crucifixion and forsakenness: Why?
So may you, heavenly Father, now forgive and give life!

What can I give to the One who gave me everything?
Surely it is not enough that to You I should sing.
Because of Your great mercy my whole being I bring,
Knowing that Christ has given Himself for my cleansing.

Let Your Holy Spirit refine with fire from above,
And give His character that is gentle as a dove.
Knowing that my own good works can never be enough,
Help me to be defined by Your unfailing love.

And so may my life be characterised by worship,
May my words written and spoken be from Your script.
Righteous Judge, may my name from your book of deeds be ripped,
And according to the Lamb’s book of life my soul lift.

Highest, exalted One, living outside time’s boundaries-
The One who gave heaven up to die on a tree-
Again in heaven exalted for our liberty,
Let us join in Your worship for all eternity!

The Siblings

Apart from the animal themed poems such as The Emu, I have also written an Epic Poem about the twelve tribes of Israel, called The Siblings: Jacob’s Family; Moses’ Nation and John’s Vision

Here’s how it starts:

The Siblings: Jacob’s Family; Moses’ People; and John’s Vision

Jacob’s family

Reuben

I was Jacob’s firstborn,
The firstfruits of his strength:
Mighty and dignified,
Powerful, preeminent

Not preeminent now:
Like water rushing down,
I tripped and was fallen
For one of dad’s women

I went up to his bed
And am no longer head
Of his sons, I defiled
My dad’s couch, I am wild.


But in my defence I
Was also brotherly
And saved my brother’s life,
When with him we had strife.

Later, when he did test,
I admitted our guilt,
Which movingly impressed,
Our sacks with money filled.

When dad feared more lost sons
I offered up my sons
Knowing we needed bread
Which required a hostage

Simeon, and Levi

We heard and were attached
To our ashamed sister ,
Our swords of vengeful hate
Were disproportionate.

Therefore we were exiled,
Our father scattered us:
He couldn’t tolerate
Our fierce, cruel wilfulness.

For his glory’s sake dad
Rebuked us for being mad,
For letting anger rule
When we should have kept cool.


In Egypt Simeon
Was later imprisoned.
I got my comeuppance
Till brothers paid penance.

Then we ate merrily,
When I at last was free,
Brothers were reconciled,
Angry ones were made mild.

By grace we are attached
To the Israelites
We should be disowned
But blood for us atones

Hall of Mirrors continued

In Psalm 72 the prayer is that the king’s name is blessed forever and the whole earth is filled with his glory. It’s a prayer of David for Solomon, and also the prayer of the believer for Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Psalm 73 is a recognition of the fact that the King’s name isn’t currently blessed and glorified universally. But the comfort for His subjects is that for those who despise His name, “like a dream when one awakes, oh Lord, you despise them as mere phantoms”. Seeing things from a spiritual viewpoint really puts things in perspective.