Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: December, 2018

Filthy

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Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
Revelation 22:11 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.22.11.ESV

I remember singing a spiritual song in a university choir that echoed this verse at one point. My gay friend commented on what a logical statement it is. Instead of wringing His hands over the evil in the world, God says He’ll let the evildoer still do evil. But there’ll still be a reckoning.

They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but “filthiness” here isn’t talking about the physical but the spiritual. We sometimes talk about people’s filthy language. But thoughts and actions can be filthy too.

There’s a logic about evildoers and the filthy carrying on as they are. But righteousness means going against the tide. God calls the righteous to remain so. We are to remain in the righteousness of Christ, doing the good that He’s prepared in advance for us to do.

If God has set us apart to be His own precious possession, so we are to be. We were like diamonds in the rough that God dug out and cleaned up. So we’re not to go back to the muck and mire of wrongdoing having been set apart for righteousness.

“Mighty Lord, may we be true, not necessarily to ourselves, evil as we are by nature, but to what You have called us to. Thank You that in Christ we can be righteous and holy, to the praise of Your glory, amen”

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Good?

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You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord , and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
Malachi 2:17 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mal.2.17.ESV

May this not be our testimony for 2018! We don’t want it said of us that we’ve wearied the Lord with our words. Are we speaking as representatives of the Lord, or of the politically correct establishment?

Malachi’s hearers were indignant and ignorant as to how they had wearied the Lord with their words. Malachi was happy to enlighten them. They said that everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord. In the context this could be shoddy worshippers and worship leaders or divorcees.

Far from delighting in evil, God detests it. In the 21st century, the LGBTetc lobby would have us to believe that they’re all good, but according to God’s word they’re evil. This doesn’t mean to say they’re unforgivable or irredeemable, just that God doesn’t justify what they do.

People ask even today, “where is the God of justice?” People assume that God owes us health, wealth and happiness, not famine, plague, pestilence and war. The reality is that we all deserve hell; anything better than that is a bonus! In Christ God’s love and justice meet and sinners like us can be justified.

“Lord and King over all, we ask Your forgiveness for our wrong attitudes and wearisome words. Please bring us back into Your good, pleasing and perfect will, for Your honour and praise, amen”

Books

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And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.20.12.ESV

It doesn’t matter who we are, whether we’re great or small. Ultimately we’re all going to stand before God’s throne of judgement. The rich can’t bribe Him and the strong can’t fight Him. This is a fate we all face.

If we were judged according to our deeds, we would be hopeless, condemned to the lake of fire. And our bad deeds as well as good are recorded in books, if we’re not in the Lamb’s book of life. One bad deed is enough to banish us from the life of the spotlessly Holy One for all eternity.

But there’s another book, the book of life. It’s the book of the Lamb who was slain so that all who trust in Him might lice forevermore. We might still face physical death, but through faith in Christ we can have eternal spiritual life in a resurrected, embodied existence.

There are two kinds of judgement- one that leads to condemnation for all the bad things we have done. And one of rewards for all the good things we have done. These are prepared for us in advance by the God who works in us to will and to act according to His good pleasure.

“Almighty God, You are just in Your judgements and we acknowledge our deservedness of condemnation. But we thank You that through faith in the Lamb of God we can recieve eternal life in His name, for Your honour and praise, amen”

Blogging Proverbs

 

 

 

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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

Reflections on 2018

20180919_135923On January 1st 2018 I’d been married for less than a month! I was soon to find out my wife was pregnant, so she spent much of 2018 like that!

We had a belated honeymoon (or should I say babymoon!) in LA which was great fun.

The biggest adventure was driving through a reservation at night and getting stuck behind a beat up old ambulance. We sped past it with the jitters, and when it caught up with us at a junction we noticed it said “Soldiers of the Great Power” on the side. Scary but exciting times!

I later told my wife- they were soldiers of the great power; the US army are soldiers of the greater power; and we as Christians are soldiers of the Greatest Power!

But of course the highlight was the birth of our darling daughter Grace on September 18th.

Why “Grace”? The answer is illustrated in a conversation I had with a work colleague recently. He said, “I’m a great believer in karma”. I said there’s some truth to that (you reap what you sow after all), but I believe in a more powerful thing that I named my daughter after. Grace is like CS Lewis’ “deeper magic” in the Chronicles of Narnia- it has the power to override “karma”.

Karma would condemn us all as deserving of hell, grace would lavish the gift of eternal life upon us. I know which I prefer, and what I’ve named my daughter after!

Joy

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Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/zec.9.9.ESV

Zion had had a tough time of it. The returning exiles were coming back to a ruin of a city. But the time of mourning was over. Zechariah called upon them to rejoice greatly.

Shouting for happiness is perhaps a devalued thing nowadays, seeing as some people happily shout at football matches every week. But Zechariah was calling upon Jerusalem to shout for joy because they were going to have a King again.

This King would be righteous- king David’s greater Son- the sinless Son of God. Being righteous He will never fail His people. How blessed are the people who know the Lord as their King!

This King would be humble. He wouldn’t ride out to war on a white steed, but into the city that would execute Him on a donkey, the colt of a donkey. Execution may seem like failure, but it’s by His death that the Lord Jesus Christ saves His people.

“Dear Lord our God, it’s because of Your love that we’re forgiven and reconciled to You, with great cause for rejoicing. May we shout for joy in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, amen”

Was Jesus a refugee?

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The Bible may not say so with the exact word, but He and His parents fled Judea which was Herod’s jurisdiction for Egypt. There’s been a lot going around the Internet saying that Egypt was also a Roman province so He technically wasn’t a refugee. But the Biblical facts are clear: Jesus had to flee for His life from the Judean jurisdiction of Herod for another region.

It’s like someone having to move from one European state to another- technically both in the European Union but under different jurisdictions.

What are the implications of Jesus being a refugee or otherwise? The implication of those who question whether Jesus was a refugee is that therefore we don’t need to care for refugees. I’m sorry but that is a Biblically indefensible claim.

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:34 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/lev.19.34.ESV

Ah, but that’s Leviticus, you may protest. Can’t we cherry pick Levitical rules? After all, most men shave even if Leviticus says not to! The summary of Leviticus is that we are to love our neighbour. Ah, that doesn’t include foreigners, you may claim- I can hate them and be racist and discriminatory against them!

Jesus defined neighbourliness with the parable of the good Samaritan- anyone we come across. Furthermore, He calls us to love our enemies, so we have no excuses.

It may not say it in quite the same phrase, but I’m sure it’s in keeping with the spirit of God’s law to say, “thou shalt not hate foreigners”!

Spirit

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Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
Zechariah 4:6 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/zec.4.6.ESV

Zerubbabel was the grandson of the last king of Judah, and the leader of the first exiles back their from Babylon. His task was to rebuild the ruin of Jerusalem, especially the temple of the Lord. This verse is God’s message to him through Zechariah the prophet.

Firstly, Zerubbabel wasn’t going to achieve great things by might. The first returnees from exile weren’t mighty. We as mortal humans aren’t particularly mighty. We’re not going to achieve great things by our own might, because we are just a breath and then we are gone.

Secondly, we won’t achieve great things by power. It’s not physical strength or political clout that ultimately achieves greatness for us. These truths may be counterintuitive when we consider the world’s assumptions, but the truth is true even if the world believes a lie.

Instead, we attain to greatness by the might and power not of ourselves but of the Holy Spirit of God. The Lord is the God of the angel armies. What is impossible for us is possible for Him.

“Lord of the angel armies, may we trust, not in might or power but Your Holy Spirit. Then we shall attain to true greatness, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen”

Humility

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Seek the Lord , all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord .
Zephaniah 2:3 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/zep.2.3.ESV

Zephaniah prophesied of the day of the anger of the Lord, when all would be destroyed. But in this verse he offers a glimmer of hope, calling the humble of the land to seek the Lord. As Job said, “though He kills me, still I will trust Him”.

Although Zephaniah starts off on a very dark and forbidding note of impending judgement, he offers some assurance here at least of the potential for a better fate than destruction. He calls on those who do God’s just commands to seek righteousness. Even morally upstanding people need to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, and not to trust in their own.

The humble of the land are called to seek humility. We can’t get complacent and proud of our apparent humility. We need to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He might raise us up at the right time. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

There’s no guarantee of salvation here- only “perhaps”. We can have assurance but we mustn’t have presumption. We should test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. The new testament offers more certain assurances of safety on the day of judgement through seeking refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Almighty Lord, we don’t presume to be saved, but Christ assures us that we are His by His Spirit. Please help us to strive to live holy for You, and hide us on that last day, of judgement. For the honour of Your name, amen”

Reward

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The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
Revelation 11:18 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.11.18.ESV

The nations rage. God’s people are mocked, insulted, reviled, despised, persecuted. We’re thrown into prison and martyred throughout much of the world. The temptation is to despair at such adversity.

But God’s wrath is coming which will sweep away the raging nations and establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Revelation paints a very binary picture of the world between God and His people and satan and his. And there’s no ambiguity as to who wins.

All will be judged- the living and dead, sinners and saints, prophets, wise men and fools. There are two different kinds of judgement however. The first judgement is rewards for prophets, saints and God fearers, though we don’t deserve anything good from His hands.

The second judgement is one of punishment. This is where God destroys the destroyers of the earth. I don’t think this is just an ecowarrior of a divine judgement, but of those who are complicit in the persecution of Christians throughout the earth.

“Oh God Almighty, we fear the judgement to come, but we know we can look forward to undeserved rewards by Your grace. Please convict our persecutors of their wrongdoing, and establish Your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, for Jesus’ sake, amen”