Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: January, 2017

Peace

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34

This is one of Jesus’ most provocative statements. Isn’t He the Prince of Peace fortold by Isaiah? Did the angels not proclaim “peace on earth” at His birth? Did He not peacefully give Himself up to trial, torture and crucifixion by the Jews and Romans?

Jesus knew that He was divisive. The angels declared “peace on earth… to those on whom His favour rests”. Those on whom God’s favour doesn’t rest often react with violent jealousy to those on whom it does. Jesus brings peace on earth to those on whom His favour rests, but peace for the rest of the world isn’t promised. In fact the rest of the world respond to Christ’s offer of peace with violence.

So has Christ failed? Surely He wants to bring peace on earth, and He admittedly and evidently did not. But for those who trust in Him there is eternal, unassailable peace with God. And when He returns, peace will be enforced, by calling His people home and sending His enemies to their just condemnation.

The division that Christ brings is felt most keenly and seen most clearly in the nuclear family. God brings peace to us on an individual basis. This means that families are often divided between those on whom His favour rests, and those it doesn’t. Most evidently in the Muslim world, this can result in violence towards the believer.

“Lord God, be near your persecuted children. Enable them to stand in the day of trial, and to escape to safety where possible. And may I count the cost of following you, denying myself and taking up my cross. Until you call me home, amen”

Justice

Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
Genesis 18:25

You have to be a theist to have a real sense of justice. For if God is dead and mankind is highest, then good and evil are decided by majority votes. And who knows but that the electorate have been deceived or the vote been rigged? How do we know we haven’t just got tyranny of the majority? How can something wrong 50 years ago be right today?

In reality there is objective truth: right and wrong. God is the one who defines it. And although we might be wickedly corrupt, the Judge of all the earth will do what is right. We won’t all be judged the same. Righteous Lot won’t be destroyed with wicked Sodom.

There is no one righteous, not one- naturally. But those who have faith in the Lord for salvation, like Abraham and Lot, have their belief credited to them as righteousness. We all deserve God’s wrath, but by trusting in Christ we can know deliverance.

The Judge of all the earth is both just and the justifier of the ungodly. He does this by sending His just Son Jesus to be treated as unjust for our sake. He is the substitute of all who rely on Him.

“Judge of all the earth, I trust that You will do what is just. I know I deserve Your punishment for my wickedness, but I trust in Christ to be my righteousness. Please forgive me and change me by Your Spirit, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Jesus was speaking to a religious audience who were trying to earn their place in heaven. They were trusing in their own works-righteousness to put themselves in God’s good books. He had previously spoken harsh words to them: that their judgement would be harsher than Sodom and Gomorrah, but now He came with words of comfort.

God doesn’t want our tithes, our holy days, our law keeping- He wants us! And He wants us to be honest with Him. This involves being repentant about our stinginess, our restlessness and our legalism. He wants us to leave all that behind and come to Him as we are, broken sinners ready to be restored.

He doesn’t take us as cracked individuals and break us up some more before He’s satisfied, like some kind of sadist. He takes us as cracked and broken vessels and He patches us up and restores us. I heard of some (personally forgotten) place in time and history where broken vessels are stuck back together again using molten gold. Humble clay pots become more precious in their restoration than ever before they needed to be.

It’s not that Jesus calls us to a perpetual weekend when we come to Him. But He gets rid of the burden of our sin, nailing it to the cross. And His yoke and burden- His calling on our lives, is relatively easy. Yes, we are to take up our crosses, but we are only to die to whatever would kill us anyway, the sin that so easily entangled, and to live for Him eternally.

“Heavenly Father, thank you that I can give up all my religious striving and be honest with you about my sinfulness. Thank you that I can leave it all at the cross and follow your Son to the glory in which He is enthroned. Please forgive my sin and take me home to be with you, in Jesus’ name, amen”

The Return

After a long break I return with my devotionals again…

O Lord , you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
Psalms 10:17

The apparent “Silence” of God is the subject of a film that’s out as I write (I haven’t seen it). It’s the subject of this Psalm too. The Psalmist starts off by complaining that God isn’t responding in troubled times. Enemies are running riot oppressing the people. But by this verse we come to something of a happier conclusion.

The Psalmist consoles themself that God is listening to his prayer. If there’s one thing worse than someone not listening, it’s someone pretending to listen and responding in the wrong way. But the Psalmist is sure that God’s not like that, he is confident that God hears the desire of the afflicted.

How can we be so sure? Experience can help, not just our own, but those of godly believers down the ages, not just in church history but in Biblical history. But the surest indicator is that God Himself sent His Son who was afflicted but was heard by the Father.

How can we know that God will strengthen our hearts and incline His ear? Because He did so to His Son, and by faith in Him we are adopted as sons too. What about Christ on the cross, forsaken by His Father? That was for the sake of you and me, to reconcile us back to God, something we’ll never have to go through.

“Heavenly Father, I’m humbled that You would forsake Your Son in order to accept me. I know I don’t deserve a hearing at Your throne of grace but I thank You that I have one in Christ. Please forgive me my sins, and deliver me from my enemies, in Jesus’ name, amen”