Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: January, 2019

Distress

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In my distress I called upon the Lord ; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalms 18:6 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.18.6.ESV

David was distressed. We don’t know the exact circumstances around this Psalm. But we can relate to that feeling of distress because we all go through that in our lives at some point.

He did the right thing with his distress: he called upon the Lord. When we’re distressed we want someone to call upon. We want someone to help us. Well if the Lord is our God, He will assuredly be our Helper.

God isn’t deaf to our cries of distress. David was assured that the Lord heard him from His holy temple. David wasn’t on about the tabernacle, the portable temple of God. Instead he was referring to the heavenly home of the Lord.

Our cries might be feeble and pitiful, but they reach the ears of the Most High Lord. We can be assured that He hears our most uncertain cry for help. And we know that Christ has been through distress Himself, He knows how it feels.

“Dear Lord Most High, thank You for not being indifferent to our cries. Please respond to our pleas for mercy, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, amen”

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Serve

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even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.20.28.ESV

The Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite nickname for Himself. But it wasn’t just some random choice. It harks back to a prophesy of Daniel hundreds of years before of the one to whom the Ancient of Days (Almighty God the Father) would give dominion to. So Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of God.

But unlike your average king, Jesus didn’t come to be served. He was born among the animals rather than among royalty. He lived in humility and poverty rather than opulence and splendour.

Instead of coming to be served, Jesus came to serve us. Where other kings would bring death to their enemies, Jesus came to bring us eternal life. He healed the sick and disabled and delivered the demonically oppressed.

Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher or miracle worker. He came to sacrifice His life, to be a ransom for many people. He payed the death penalty for our sin so that we might have eternal life, not eternal death.

“Almighty Father God, we worship Your Son, our King, for serving us and giving His life as a ransom for us. To Him be the glory, forevermore, amen”

Impossible

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But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.19.26.ESV

Jesus had just met the rich young man, a fine, upstanding member of society who wanted to know how to get to heaven. Jesus told him to sell all he had, give to the poor, and follow Him to heaven, but the man went away sad. Jesus explained to His disciples that it’s very hard for rich people to get to heaven.

The disciples were shocked. If the fine, upstanding members of society weren’t necessarily going to get to heaven, what hope was there for them? “Who then can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus replied with this verse. It’s impossible to buy your way into heaven. In fact, riches are a hindrance because they draw your heart away from God. But what’s impossible for us is possible for God.

God doesn’t favour the rich over the poor. Neither for that matter does He favour the poor over the rich. But it’s the poor in spirit who enter the kingdom of God. We need to acknowledge our spiritual poverty before receiving the spiritual riches of Christ.

“Dear God Almighty, thank You for the priviledge of prayer, and the fact that nothing’s impossible for You. Please give us faith in Christ, and salvation in His name, amen”

Greetings from Modena :)

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Ciao from Modena in northern Italy, where I’m visiting my wife’s family.

It’s slightly off the tourist trail but it’s famous for being the home of Enzo Ferrari, Luciano Pavarotti, and balsamic vinegar. It’s set in the midst of a foodie region within Italy and the food is delicious!

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King

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“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
Matthew 18:23 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.18.23.ESV

Jesus told a story to illustrate forgiveness. A servant owed a king an astronomical sum of money. But the king cancelled the debt. Forgiveness is a cancelling of debts.

But then that forgiven servant had someone who owed him a significant amount. Despite being forgiven himself, he refused to forgive his debtor and had him thrown in prison until he could repay. To be an unforgiving forgiven person is a contradiction that doesn’t work.

When the king found out that the forgiven servant had been unforgiving, he was furious and threw the unforgiving servant into jail. So it will be, said Jesus, with everyone who doesn’t forgive their brother from the heart. If we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us.

The moral of the story is to forgive, not in order to earn forgiveness but because we have been forgiven by God. The king of course symbolises God, and the servant ourselves, if we refuse to forgive. God forbid that we should be unforgiving!

“Almighty King of kings, we beg You to forgive us and to pour out Your Spirit of forgiveness upon us to forgive others. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Inheritance

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Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
Genesis 27:36 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/gen.27.36.ESV

Jealously guard what God has entrusted you with. If you are born again by the Holy Spirit of God, you have the right to inherit eternal life. You can recieve every spiritual blessing from your heavenly Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t despise such priviledges.

Esau despised his birthright and his blessing, and it proved very bitter for him. His brother Jacob was deceitful by name and deceitful by nature, and stole both from him. He got Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew.

Next, with his mother’s help, Jacob stole his father’s blessing on Esau as the firstborn son. It was only when it was too late that Esau realised he should have valued his birthright and blessing. Don’t make the same mistake spiritually!

If you despise the offer of new birth in Christ, and the blessings that come with it, you will become bitterly disappointed. When Esau realised the severity of his scorn, he was desperate for his father to bless him. But it was too late. May it not be so with us!

“Heavenly Lord and Father, forbid that we should despise the offer of new birth in Christ and the blessings that come along with it. If we have recieved them, let us treasure them as the greatest gifts, for Your honour, amen”

Blind

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Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Matthew 15:14 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.15.14.ESV

Jesus’ advice on how to relate to religious people is to let them alone. The Pharisees were criticising Him for allowing the disciples to disregard tradition. But Jesus in return criticised them for disregarding the commandments of God.

The disciples were warned by Jesus that religious people are blind guides. They magnify manmade traditions and minimise the law of the Lord. The Pharisees were spiritually blind, despite the fact they claimed to be spiritual guides.

People who follow religious leaders in the hope that they’ll recieve spiritual insight are blind people led by the blind. In the UK today for example, most religious leaders simply say what is politically correct. They have little spiritually correct contribution to make.

In Jesus’ illustration, if the blind lead the blind, they all fall into a pit. In the famous illustration, blind people try and guess what an elephant is. It’s leg feels like a tree, it’s trunk like a snake and it’s tail like a rope for example. But all are clueless. What’s needed is for Jesus to heal the blind so they can see clearly.

“Oh Lord God, forbid that we should follow spiritually blind religious guides. May we come to Christ for the healing of our spiritual insight, for the glory of Your name, amen”

Poverty

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“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord ; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
Psalms 12:5 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.12.5.ESV

If you were to believe the political religious right, God favours the rich and it’s the poor’s fault they’re in poverty. But God is not happy when the poor are plundered. It’s not just when thieves break in and steal but when unscrupulous landlords and creditors have no compassion on widows, orphans and the immigrant.

The needy groan and the rich are indifferent. They distance themselves in their gated communities from the cries of the hungry, and change the channel when an advert for a charity comes on the TV. But God isn’t indifferent.

God isn’t like an unjust judge sat deafly on his backside while a widow pleads for justice. God will arise and contend for the marginalised and oppressed. It’s like Jesus is usually pictured sat at the right hand of God, but when Stephen was stoned to death, He stood to welcome him into glory.

God will place the poor and needy into the safety he longs for. This doesn’t mean to say God will make poverty history in this age. There’s a spiritual application: as Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor (in spirit), for theirs is the kingdom of God”.

“Dear Father in heaven, we’re thankful that although we’re poor in spirit, through faith in Your Son we can dwell in the safety of Your presence forevermore. We praise You for rising to defend us, in Christ’s name, amen”

2 Christian Bloggers answer the Question, “Why should I Bother to Have my Quiet Time?” — The Christian Blog Ghana

I didn’t think to share this at the time (maybe I did my own post, I can’t remember!) but thought I would now about a month later…

Having one’s Quiet Time is one of the habits every Christian is encouraged to cultivate but what are the benefits? Two bloggers share their perspective on why it is necessary to have Quiet Time: Firstly, nowhere does the Bible say, “thou shalt have a daily quiet time!” But this doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t. […]

via 2 Christian Bloggers answer the Question, “Why should I Bother to Have my Quiet Time?” — The Christian Blog Ghana

Healing

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For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Matthew 13:15 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.13.15.ESV

Jesus didn’t throw treasures to pigs, or give what is sacred to dogs. He often spoke to His unbelieving hearers in parables. If they’d had spiritual insight they would have understood His illustrations, but their heart had grown dull.

They barely heard what Jesus was saying. Yes, their ears took in the sounds and they even knew what He was saying, but they didn’t know the meaning of the parables. This was explained by Jesus to the disciples later.

The people couldn’t see that when Jesus described the kingdom of heaven, He was talking about spiritual truths. He wasnt talking about a physical kingdom that would overturn the Roman Empire in Judea and Galilee. They were blind to heavenly realities.

Having said all that, if the people did see, hear and understand, they would have been healed. Again, this is a spiritual meaning. It’s not that they were literally deaf and blind with a heart condition. But they needed spiritual insight, listening, and open hearts. If they had have turned, God would have healed them.

“Father in heaven, we’re grateful that You’re not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and faith in You. Please work out Your perfect will in our lives, and heal us of sin sickness we pray. In Your name, amen”