Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: July, 2018

Eat

But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:23
David had sinned against the Lord. He had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah murdered. He was confronted by Nathan the prophet about this and repented. But as judgement, he and Bathsheba lost their first child.
David’s response to the child’s illness and death was unusual, and confused his servants. While the child was ill he was depressed and cried out to the Lord. But once the child died, instead of getting worse, David recovered immediately.
This verse is part of his explanation to his servants about his behaviour. While the child was ill and there was hope of recovery he beseeched the Lord to have mercy. But once the child died David knew there was no point mourning.
David had assurance that he would go to the child, although the child could not go to him. He had assurance that they would be united together in death. This doesn’t mean to say every parent of infants that die can, because even in the womb God chose Jacob and rejected Esau.
“Loving heavenly Father, please give me assurance that those I love will go to be with You. Help me to be a witness where I can so that if possible they can respond to the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. If not, please be gracious to them regardless. For Your glory, amen”

Clothe

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Colossians 3:12
When we are chosen of God, it is as though we take off the filthy rags of our own self righteousness, are washed in the blood of the Lamb, and then are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Even having been loved and set apart by God, we need to continue taking off old sinful characteristics and put on new godly characteristics.
God has chosen us because He loves us, and because He wants us to be set apart from the world. He wants us to put off our old selves of sinfulness and to put on the righteousness of Christ. This would firstly mean having compassionate hearts, as He did for us when He gave His life for us.
We are to also be kind and humble. These are different but complementary qualities. To be kind is to do good to others. To be humble is to think of others more highly than ourselves. They go hand in hand. Proud people are not kind, but humble people tend to be.
We are to be meek and patient. If we’re meek we’re not always insisting on our rights. If we’re patient it’s because although we know we have no right to heaven, we will go there eventually through faith in Christ.
“Dear Lord, help me to put off all the bad stuff I’m tempted to do and to put on the righteousness of Christ. In His name I pray, amen”

Image

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Colossians 1:15
Maybe we think of mirrors when it comes to images. But that isn’t the image here. Jesus isn’t just a reflection of God, He is the very likeness of God. A better illustration would be that of a son who we might say is the image of his father.
God is invisible. No one can see God and live. But if you see Jesus, it is as though you have seen God. He is none other than the second person of the trinity: one God, three persons. If you want to know what God is like, look no further than Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the firstborn over all creation. This doesn’t mean to say He had a beginning, any more than Him being a mirror image. He is begotten of God, but not created. He was born, but He didn’t have a beginning.
Far from casting doubt on Jesus’ divinity, Paul is describing His superiority over all creation. As the firstborn inherits his father’s property, so the Son of God inherits all that is the Father God’s. They are equally and fully God.
“Lord God, thank You that we’re not in the dark as to what You’re like. Thank You for revealing Yourself in the person of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I praise You for Him and that as God, He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to Him. Amen”

Son

And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord .
2 Samuel 11:27
The first and only mention of God in this chapter is right here at the end. David had done everything in this chapter without a thought of God, but now we get the Lord’s verdict on what he had done.
Firstly, David had failed to go out to war like a good king should. And as the truism goes, “the devil makes work for idle hands”. So when David saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof, he gave in to the temptation to have her.
Things progressed from laziness to adultery to murder, as David had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed in battle. Hypocritically, David and Bathsheba went through official mourning rituals until they could officially get married.
It doesn’t matter if we live life without reference to God. It doesn’t even matter if we deny His existence. If we sin, we displease Him. And David had piled sin upon sin so displeasure is doubtless an understatement.
“Lord, forgive me for the many times I displease You. Help me not to grieve Your Spirit, but to bring joy to Your heart as I seek to become more holy. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Humility

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?

2 Samuel 7:18
Even when God promised David’s lineage an everlasting kingdom, he never acquired a sense of entitlement. He always remembered where he had come from. God might have granted a permanent legacy to David, but he didn’t forget how he started out.
David had been a humble shepherd boy when God had him anointed king. It took him years to finally realise his destiny until the incumbent king died. But even when he had made it, David never forgot that God had brought him from the sheep pens.
Some people have a richer start in life. Donald Trump famously got started in business with a “small loan of a million dollars” from his dad. But whoever we are, we all came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing. We would do well to be philisophical about our lives.
David had a sense of wonderment at all God had done for him. He knew he deserved nothing good from God’s hand, so everything he received was a bonus. Do we have a similar awestruck wonder at all God has done for us?
“Who am I oh Lord, and what is my house, that You should bring me so far? I have gone from an enemy of God to a member of your kingdom of priests and I praise You for the priviledge. In Christ’s name, amen”

Alongside

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

Philippians 1:27
The gospel of Christ is not just good news of salvation for sinners. It’s also the good news of transformation by the Holy Spirit. Having been saved from the penalty of sin, we are empowered to live pure and holy lives. Having been saved, we live as citizens of heaven, with all the expectations that come with that.
A citizen of the Roman Empire was expected to contribute to the “Pax Romana”- the peace and welfare of the polity- to pay taxes and to be a law abiding citizen. So it is with the subjects of any nation or state. Similarly, as Christians, we are expected to live by the law of Christ to love one another.
Think of who you look up to in the faith. Maybe they lead you to faith- a parent, youth leader, pastor or friend. Think how much you want to please them, and encourage them with your progress in the gospel. So it was with Paul and the Philippian church.
Let’s encourage our spiritual mentors by our unity in the gospel. Let us strive to make this good news known to all who will hear it, because the days are evil. And let’s not be discouraged by persecution, for we are blessed when it comes our way, because great is our reward in heaven.
“Dear Father God, help me to be a good citizen of Your heaven. May I become more pure and holy to please You. And may we Your people be united in love and in purpose to go and make You known to the world. For Your glory, amen”

Records

These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

Numbers 33:1
This whole chapter of the Bible is a list of place names as the people of Israel went from A to B etc. on their way to the promised land. It is, if you like, a travelog or a travel diary. But you may legitimately ask why it’s in the Bible. It’s all very well for the Israelites at the time to remember, but what’s the relevance to us?
I remember thinking the same when I first sat down to properly read this chapter. But God reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13 where it says that love does not keep a record of wrongs. What does this chapter have to do with that, you may ask? Well it’s a flip side of the same coin.
Love might not keep a record of wrongs, but as this chapter illustrates: love keeps a record of rights. From A to B to C, God looks after you and me. For the believer in Christ, God guides us every step of the way into His heavenly presence. Each one of us can and should keep a record of all the times and places God has looked after us.
For me personally, I can look at how God took me from home in Yorkshire to university in Wales, and back. He preserved me through time in hospital for mental ill health, and he is now going before me in a move to be nearer my workplace. I bless and praise His name for all His benefits to me!
“Dear Lord and Father, I bless and praise Your name for all Your benefits to me. I ask that You would help me not to keep a record of wrongs, but instead to keep a record of rights. For the glory of Your name, amen”

Wrestle

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12
It’s possible for Christians to have flesh and blood enemies: people who want to do us harm. But we are to love our enemies. And we’re to pick our fights- not against those who are enslaved to sin, but against the spiritual forces of evil which enslave people.
Satan has cast a veil over the eyes of the unbelievers, and we are to whip it away with the truth, like the Emperor’s New Clothes. People are blinded by their sin, and we are to offer the healing that is only found in Christ. Our warfare isn’t with guns and bombs, but prayer and the Bible.
Our warfare isn’t physical but spiritual. It is a battle for hearts and minds and souls to be released from the grip of satan and set free in Christ. It’s like sinners are in a hostage situation, and we as believers are to break in and save them. Christ has paid the ransom for sinner’s souls, we need to hold satan to it and help release the captives in Jesus’ name.
There’s so much we don’t know about demonic spiritual forces. What we do know is that we fight their hatred with love, fear with hope, lies with truth. The victory has already been won by Christ on the cross and as he rose again. All we need to do is to be faithful to His calling to make His good news known.
“Heavenly Father, in this lost and dying world, may we be a light for You in the darkness. Thank You for shining Your light into our hearts, and may it go from us to the world. We praise You for winning the victory over evil, and we ask for Christ’s speedy return to bring it to a final end. For Your glory, amen”

Meditation

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Psalms 119:97
Last time we had Paul ceaselessly giving thanks. This time we have David meditating all day. We often think in the West of Eastern meditation- emptying your mind and repeating some mantra from an alien tongue. But Biblical meditation is simply reminding yourself of the truth of Scripture, and thinking how it applies to your life.
It seems strange for David to say he loves the law. We maybe have visions of vast textbooks of obscure European law that are enough to bore any but a previous few eccentrics. But God’s law is more akin to a father “laying down the law”- teaching his children the way they should go.
Even in the gospel, when Jesus says “come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”, He’s telling us to obey. God doesn’t give us suggestions, He gives us commandments to love Him and one another, and we must obey and follow in the steps of Christ.
Like Paul with prayer, David no doubt set apart times to study God’s word. But even when he wasn’t reading he was thinking about what he’d read that day. Similarly, Paul didn’t just pray in prayer meetings but had a constant attitude of prayer.
“Father God, help me to love Your law. May I meditate on it all day. And please use it to transform me into Christ’s likeness, for Your glory, amen”

Thankfulness

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers

Ephesians 1:16
Paul was a man of prayer. He was, as he exhorted the Thessalonians to be, a man who prayed continually. But he wasn’t like a child who constantly nags her father for the latest toy. He didn’t just bring God a shopping list, but was ceaselessly thankful to Him for all of His benefits.
Paul wasn’t self congratulatory. He didn’t take credit for himself for the salvation of the Ephesians church. He knew it was a work of God and was thankful for it. Like a father with his children, he was delighted to see every indication of God’s grace at work in their hearts.
If you love someone, pray for them. If someone is your enemy, love them, and pray for them. If you led someone to the faith, love them, and continue to pray that they would grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But don’t just pray asking God for stuff. If you gave a problem with grumbling, bitterness and ungratefulness, don’t just stop it, but be the opposite: thankful, forgiving, and praiseful. The Ephesians church weren’t perfect, but especially in the second half of his letter, Paul gently exhorted them to live lives worthy of the calling Christ had given them.
“Heavenly Father, I thank you for my loved ones, my closest friends in the faith. Be to them all that they need. Where there is sorrow, bring comfort; where there’s bitterness, bring forgiveness; and where the wounds of yesterday remain raw please apply your healing touch. For the praise of Christ, in whose name I pray, amen”