Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: February, 2019

Stranger

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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

Sadly, this verse is not how strangers are treated in the UK. As far as God is concerned, immigrants shouldn’t be treated any differently to the native population. But asylum seekers to the UK aren’t even allowed to work but are forced to survive on a handout a fraction of the unemployment benefit for UK citizens.

For ancient Israel, they had even less excuse than the UK to treat strangers badly. After all, they had been strangers in the land of Egypt. It had started off well in the days of Joseph. But by Moses’ day they were slaves.

Maybe we feel like we don’t have the same motivation as Israel to treat strangers well. But as believers in Christ, we too are exiles and strangers in the world. Our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even Jesus Himself was a refugee in Egypt from the homicidal Herod. And if we’re Christians, we used to be slaves to sin but have been set free by the blood of Christ. So we should love strangers as we love ourselves, after all, we ourselves are spiritual strangers in this world!

“Lord our God, help us to remember who we are spiritually- slaves set free to serve You; strangers and exiles in the world. May we love strangers as we love ourselves, for the glory of Your name, amen”

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Exaltation

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I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:14 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/luk.18.14.ESV

This verse is the conclusion of Jesus’ famous parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. They went to the temple to pray. The pharisee prayed about how great he was compared to sinners like the tax collector.

The tax collector on the other hand beat his chest and wouldn’t even look up to heaven. He prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. And Jesus said he went home justified before God rather than the religious man.

God’s economy is the total opposite to the world’s. In the world, if you exalt yourself, you get exalted. Think of all the people who are celebrities nowadays without necessarily being good at anything worth celebrating!

But Jesus says that whoever exalts themself will be humbled. There’s no room in the kingdom of God for self promotion. Quite the opposite! The one who humbles themself before God will be exalted to His presence in glory.

“God, have mercy on sinners like us! Please humble us, so that in Your good time we may be exalted to glory. For Your honour and praise, amen”

In defence of open air preaching

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Just recently, an elderly Nigerian street preacher was arrested by two London policemen who snatched his Bible off them. His message? Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. He was arrested for a “breach of the peace” even as he told people how to get peace with God.

Most people, including many Christians, are in favour of the ghettoisation of Christianity. Faith is a private matter, they argue, it shouldn’t impinge upon the public sphere. Open air preaching is like a dirty phrase, not just in the world, but among many professing Christians too.

Instead of obeying the Great Commission, we make excuses as to why going to people and telling them the gospel isn’t a good strategy. Instead we invite people to events where they may or may not hear the gospel.

Instead of labouring the point and  bemoan the state of the church in the West, let me go back to basics and ask WWJD? In fact, what did Jesus do? For that matter, why did He come?

Yes, Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins, but He lived for thirty three years before that. Why did He bother? Why didn’t He just go straight from heaven to the cross and back?

Was it simply to do a few signs and wonders? Not primarily. In His own words,

And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”
Mark 1:38 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.1.38.ESV

What did Jesus preach? Well it wasn’t Islamophobia or homophobia…

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:15 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.1.15.ESV

Jesus didn’t emphasise what we need to repent from (like manmade religion or sexual immorality) as much as the good news that we need to leave our sin for.

Granted, street preachers need to be as wise as snakes and innocent as doves. Christ didn’t call us to condemn Muslims or homosexuals, but to preach good news to them. If people asked Jesus questions to try and trap Him, He knew He wasn’t obliged to answer, and often fired a question back.

What do I think about Muslims? They need to repent and believe the good news. What do I think about homosexuals? They need to repent and believe the good news.

Our great commission as Christians is to preach the good news. For most, that doesn’t involve street preaching. For all, it involves “gossiping the gospel” to all and sundry that we come across in our lives.

Are we going to be conformed to the pattern of the politically correct world that would silence us into oblivion, or are we going to be transformed into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and obey His call to go and make Him known?

Apparently nearly 50% of American professing Christian millennials don’t believe in evangelism. Let me respond in conclusion with some words of Paul, that evangelist par excellence:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:13‭-‬15 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/rom.10.13-15.ESV

We’ve all been sent to preach the gospel. We may not be conventional church preachers; our gender may disqualify us! But no one’s disqualified for evangelism!

How has God’s kingdom ever advanced? Through the preaching of the gospel, not just behind closed doors, but out in the streets (and of course through friendship evangelism).  That’s how revival came to the UK back in the day, in the face of great persecution. History may well repeat itself!

Not everyone has the priviledge of a Christian acquaintance to share the good news of salvation in Christ with them. That’s why we have to take the gospel to the streets, and to YouTube etc!

Terror

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The free photo thing isn’t working, so you’ll have to make to with a photo of me pretending to be terrified!

There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
Psalms 53:5 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.53.5.ESV

As we move into an increasingly secular, post-Christianised society in the UK, we see the truth of this verse more and more. Just recently, an elderly Nigerian street preacher was arrested by two policemen for a “breach of the peace”. I don’t know the full story but telling people Jesus is the way, the truth and the life sounds like telling people how to get peace with God, not breaching the peace.

There is something peaceful about a skeleton. It’s quiet and still. But unless the Spirit gives life, we’re all just walking, enfleshed skeletons! We need to be born again by the Holy Spirit of God.

If we reject God’s offer of peace, rebels that we are, we face a fate worse than death- condemnation to hell at the final judgement. That’s why we preach: to warn people and to tell them how to get eternal life.

It’s all very well preaching the gospel to family, friends and neighbours as we get opportunity. But most people don’t have that priviledge of a Christian acquaintance. That’s why we need to take the gospel to where the people are- whether the streets or also YouTube etc!

“God, we don’t wish Your judgement upon anyone. That’s why Your love compels us to share the good news of peace with You to all and sundry, not just our acquaintances. Please give us boldness and fruit for our labours we pray, amen”

Writing isn’t necessarily next to godliness!

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There’s a saying that isn’t really (literally!) true – “cleanliness is next to godliness”. Cleanliness, like writing, is a good thing, but it can’t be equated with godliness.

I was thinking about writing, as I often do. I remembered my recent article about writing to aid devotion to God.

But then I realised that I can’t equate my writing with godliness. Even if my writing seems heavenly (which I’m sure is a gross exaggeration!), my heart might be hellish! Even the devil can appear as an angel of light

I guess my thoughts were a warning to myself and my fellow Christian bloggers not to be hypocritical in our writing. We need to practice what we… write!

Resurrection

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He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”
Luke 16:31 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/luk.16.31.ESV

This verse is the conclusion of the story of the rich man and Lazarus. We’re not actually specifically told this is a parable, one of Jesus’ fictional stories with a moral to them. So this might even be a true story.

It’s a story only Jesus could tell, because it tells of two men who go to hell and heaven respectively. Christ is the judge of where we end up. Understandably, the rich man in hell wanted his living brothers to be warned how to avoid the same fate.

But then we come to this verse. Abraham told the rich man that the old testament scriptures are sufficient to tell us how to avoid hell. It’s interesting he should say that because hell is a very shadowy place in the old testament, known as “sheol” or the place of the dead.

What the old testament does emphasise is that the righteous will live by faith. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. In those days people looked forward to Christ, now we look back with thankfulness on His life, death and resurrection. He came back from the dead, and that’s still not enough for most people!

“Oh Lord God, thank You for this warning to take Your word seriously. Thank You so much that Christ has defeated the grave and that in Him we too can have the victory. In His name, amen”

Celebration

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For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:24 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/luk.15.24.ESV

The prodigal son had demanded his inheritance off his dad. In other words, he’d wished him dead. He’d only been interested in him for his money.

But it was the son who was as good as dead, having run off to a far away country and squandered his wealth in wild living. Nowadays it would have been Las Vegas that he ran off to. Having lost all his money, he ended up working on a pig farm.

But the prodigal came home and the one good as dead was alive after all. The one who was lost was found. He was missing presumed dead, but now at last he’d been found alive.

I think we often have a similar attitude to God as the sons in the story, we don’t pay Him much regard. If and when we come to our senses, we think He’ll have us as His slaves, but He welcomes us as beloved children and throws a party for us- heaven is one big celebration!

“Heavenly Father, how we thank You for welcoming us into Your presence, without fault, and with great joy, all because of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, amen”

My top played song of 2018

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There’s a pattern emerging with my top yearly songs on spotify: they’re both the first tracks on their respective albums.

I’m sure this is because I usually listen to albums rather than just random songs.

Anyhow, the song for 2018 is very apt: “All Glory” from Matt Redman’s latest album. I give God all glory for everything good in my life: my marriage, my baby, my work, my blogging.

Check out the song if you like: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SO–FPRremM

 

Thanksgiving

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The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
Psalms 50:23 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.50.23.ESV

When you read this verse you may be tempted to wonder what the point was of the old testament sacrificial system. But that was just a shadow of the good things to come. It was an expression of faith in God to provide the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation.

Having faith, hope and love of God for His sacrifice on our behalf means we are to be thankful people. Living on this side of the cross, we can have thankfulness to God. By our thanksgiving, we glorify God.

We don’t just order our way rightly in order to see the salvation of God. We order our way rightly because it’s the right thing to do. Neither do we order our way rightly in order to earn God’s salvation, as if that was possible.

God’s salvation isn’t just for “good” people (as if any of us naturally are good). It’s for (repentant) bad people. We need to turn away from evil and trust in God to save us because of the cross of Christ.

“Father God, we’re thankful for Your salvation. We renounce evil and trust in Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, so that we have might be reconciled to You. For the honour of Your name, amen”

Throwback to my most played song of 2017

 

 

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I’ve been inspired by the “Tales from the mind of Kristian” blog to revisit some of my top plays from Spotify…

2017 was a year in which mental illness was largely behind me. In 2016 I got a steady job and met my now wife.

But thinking of those six or seven years of not very good mental health, it’s quite appropriate that my top song on Spotify for 2017 (if the playlist’s in any kind of order!) is called “Forget And Not Slow Down” by a band called Relient K.

It reminds me of that quote of the apostle Paul…

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13‭-‬14 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/php.3.13-14.ESV

Yes, sometimes it’s good to stop, be still, and remember. But at other times it’s best to “Forget And Not Slow Down”!

Here’s the song in case you want to hear it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nTlw_ZV2fIU