Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: May, 2019

Delight

I long for your salvation, O Lord , and your law is my delight.

Psalms 119:174 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.119.174.ESV

We often might think of salvation and God’s law as enemies, but David doesn’t, so we would do well to consider these things to work out the truth. David goes as far as to say that God’s law is his delight. That’s not something many of us are likely to say. After all, doesn’t the law condemn us as law breakers?

Well yes, but just because we’ve broken God’s law doesn’t mean to say God’s law is bad, that makes us the bad ones! We can’t blame the law for our own law breaking. It’s like when people want to make taking drugs legal to reduce crime: just because something is legal according to the laws of the land doesn’t mean to say it is okay according to God’s Word.

The law is good- summarised as loving God and loving others. But the law shows us to be bad. So the law makes us aware of our need of salvation, of God to be merciful to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

A greater awareness of, and delight in God’s law, will make us long for salvation, because it tells us of our need of God to save us. So the law is like the childminder who gives the child to their parents at the end of the day. The law would lead us to salvation in the end if we followed its logic. After all, the law speaks of the need for sacrifice, which is ultimately that of Christ Jesus Himself.

“Lord, may we delight in Your law and long for Your salvation. Thank You that it is available to us in the Lord Jesus, in His name, amen”

Patience

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.5.14.ESV

The Greek word translated “brothers” here is gender neutral, so might better be translated “brethren/siblings/brothers and sisters”. I think the following commands need urging because they’re hard to do. If someone in the church is lazy or idle, they need telling off. It’s not easy to tell someone off; any more than it is to rebuke someone.

The fainthearted on the other hand don’t need admonishing. They need encouraging. The cowardly won’t enter heaven according to Revelation, but there’s a distinction with faintheartedness, which describes people of a nervous disposition. Such people need us to give them a bit of courage and strength, not a telling off.

Similarly, the weak don’t need telling off, just because they’re of a weak disposition. Paul talks about people of weak faith in Romans 14. Those who are strong in faith need to respect and to help their weaker brethren. After all, in our weaknesses, God is strong and able to give us the strength we need.

Finally, we’re to be patient with everyone. Lazy people may inspire impatience with us; equally fainthearted and weak people. But we need to bear with them because we’re all part of the body of Christ. Most of our bodies have weak spots- we don’t beat them up but are patient with them and try to help them as much as we can.

“Loving heavenly Father, thank You for not condemning Your idle, fainthearted, and weak children because I’m sure we all fit into those categories at some stage. Please help us to be patient and helpful with each other, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Walk

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.2.12.ESV

The apostle Paul described how he and his team were like a father to the Thessalonian church. They exhorted each one of them. In other words, they strongly urged them to live for Jesus.

Paul and his team encouraged the Thessalonian church. In other words them emboldened the church. They helped them to take courage in the calling that God had called them to.

The Thessalonian church were charged by Paul and company to walk in a manner worthy of God. This involves keeping in step with His Spirit and bearing fruit in keeping with repentance. If we’re walking worthily we’re becoming increasingly loving, joyful, and peaceable for example.

God is the one who calls us. We can’t just waltz into His kingdom, He has to call us first. And amazingly He also calls us into His glory, to share with Him in the beauty and majesty of the new creation!

“God Almighty, thank You for calling us into Your kingdom and glory. May we walk in a manner worthy of You, with the help of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Idolatry

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/col.3.5.ESV

We might be alive in Christ, new creations in Him. But we have our old selves still haunting us, our sinful natures still to fight. The “old (wo)man” in us, that “carnal/fleshly” nature might be on death row, but (s)he still rears his/her ugly head at regular intervals.

So every time we’re tempted to sin, we need to put those wrong thoughts to death. The Greek word for “sexual immorality” is porneia, from which we get the word “pornography”. But it’s wider than that, and encompasses any form of sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

Impurity might not be actual sexual expression so much as sexual suggestion in the form of flirting, suggestive language, or watching unhelpful dramas on the TV. Passion in another sense is positive, but here applies to a lack of self control. Evil desire encompasses a wish to do things we shouldn’t.

Covetousness is a desire for something that belongs to someone else. Paul describes it as idolising things- putting them in the place of God in our lives. Most of these things are internal and hidden from others, which is why the battlefield against sin largely takes place in the mind and the spirit. We’re in a battle for our hearts and minds, and we need God’s Holy Spirit to win us.

“Dear heavenly Father, may You give us the victory against all that is wrong in our hearts. Please forgive us, wash us clean in the blood of Christ, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit we pray, for Your glory, amen”

Is nationalism good or bad?

I read an article which described an American pastor as saying that nationalism was the greatest virtue. So someone asked him about nationalism in Nazi Germany… enough said!

But I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. If nationalism was all bad we’d be internationalists instead, and the Biblical empires (and would be empires of today) aren’t all good either.

As Christians, we belong to the kingdom of God; we’re strangers and exiles here. It could however be argued that I have “dual citizenship” – of the UK (/EU unless we ever leave) and of heaven!

As a UK citizen, I can’t help but sympathise with ancient Israel, which at various times was a vassal state to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The UK at the moment is a vassal state of the European Union, and all without having had a shot fired at us.

But to be honest, I’m equally saddened when my recently elected regional Brexit Party representative has made a joke of paedophilia, and expressed Nazi sympathies, as documented by a national newspaper.

The Bible reassures me by telling me not to put my trust in “princes”, but in the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Still, it saddens me when we have bad rulers.

In my search for Scriptural consolation, I came across Ezekiel 19. It’s basically a lamentation for the once great Israel.

But however I feel about “Great” Britain, I have a higher allegiance to the Kingdom of heaven, and until my exile from God’s tangible presence is over, I will lament that more than the lamentable shambles of Brexit!

Strengths as weaknesses

I think often that the things we see as our strengths can also be our weaknesses in a funny kind of way. I know that seems like a contradiction in terms, but let me explain myself.

Take for example David, the passionate man after God’s own heart, who passionately committed adultery.

Then there was his wise son Solomon, who “wisely” pursued peace with neighbouring countries by marrying their pagan women, who were the undoing of his faith.

How about Samson, whose strength no doubt made him attractive to women, but they were his weakness too.

Saul/Paul might have been very zealous, but before he was saved that zeal was devoted to destroying Jesus’ church.

In Paul, perhaps we see an encouraging sign- it’s not just that strengths can become weaknesses, but weaknesses can become strengths. The very thing that made him the church’s worst enemy turned him into its most powerful weapon.

I think we can get complacent about our strengths, whereas we may be focused on dealing with our weaknesses. So in a funny kind of way our weaknesses could become strengths and our strengths become weaknesses.

As for me, I think two of my defining characteristics are rather ambiguous as to whether they’re strengths or weaknesses. I’m at once impulsive and yet also stubborn, kind of like a donkey! If my impulses are godly and my stubbornness a refusal to sin, all well and good. But it’s often the opposite of that! :/

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Walk

so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Colossians 1:10 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/col.1.10.ESV

This verse is part of what Paul and company prayed for the Colossians. He wanted them to be spiritually wise, so they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. If we were to climb Mount Everest, we would have to wise up on how to do it safely. So it is with life.

As believers in the Lord, we want to be fully pleasing to Him. In a sense we are, because we are fully accepted by God in Christ. But it is still possible to grieve the Holy Spirit, and we must seek not to do that.

We want to bear fruit in every good work. This isn’t necessarily by doing some impressive job like building a skyscraper! It’s simply bearing the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy and peace for example.

Finally, Paul wanted the Colossians church to increase in the knowledge of God, and we should want to as well. God is so vast and awesome that we’ll never completely know Him, there’ll always be more to discover. But just because He isn’t completely knowable doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t seek to know Him as best we can.

“Dear Lord, please help us to walk worthy of You, to fully please You, to bear fruit in every good work, and to increase in knowledge of You, for the glory of Your name, amen”

Turn

Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.

Psalms 119:132 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.119.132.ESV

What is God like? What a great question! Well how God relates to us is related to how we relate to Him. If we love His name, He turns to us and is gracious to us.

God doesn’t just turn and respond positively to the prayers of everyone. Many people don’t give God a second thought unless they’re in trouble. Then they cry out to Him to get them our of trouble so they don’t have to give Him a second thought again.

The Lord turns to those who love His name, and is gracious to them. Just because we turn to Him, doesn’t mean to say that we’re worthy of His love. The whole point of grace is that it’s undeserved kindness.

What is God’s name? He has many names, but primarily He is known as the Lord/Yahweh/Jehovah, meaning “I am”. In other words, God is the self existent one. We love the fact that He is, that He’s consistent and faithful to us.

“Yahweh our God, may You turn to us and be gracious to us, as is Your way with all who love Your name. In the name of Jesus, amen”

Completion

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/php.1.6.ESV

Some people think that it’s possible for Christians to lose their salvation. This verse however says otherwise. I’ve heard it said that if it was possible for us to lose our salvation, we would, because humanly speaking we’re hopeless!

Thankfully, our salvation isn’t dependant on us. So there is hope for us yet. If salvation in any part depended on us, we wouldn’t be saved, because we fail in everything we think, say and do; and in those things we fail to think, say and do.

Salvation is a good work of God. It’s not about our shoddy work. Even the faith we have in Him is a gift of God, so there’s no room for boasting.

This verse is a wonderful promise, that my brother shared with me when I was struggling with assurance. God will assuredly bring His work in us to completion upon the day of Christ Jesus. He’s not about to give up on us, He’s in it for the long haul, until Christ returns and calls us home.

“Father in heaven, how grateful we are that our salvation doesn’t depend on us, but 100% on You, and You promise to complete it on the day of the Lord. Please help us be assured by this promise. In His name we pray, amen”

Peace

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:23 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/eph.6.23.ESV

The word translated “brothers” here is gender neutral, so it applies to sisters as well! We have peace with God the Father through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. The moment we come to faith in God, we receive peace with Him.

Love and faith go hand in hand. Love without faith means there’s no basis for that love, and it may well be unrequited. We don’t just have a cold, intellectual faith in God, but one that is motivated by the love that He has lavished upon us.

Faith without love is dead faith. If our faith in God doesn’t motivate us to love Him, there’s something seriously wrong. We love because He first loved us. And we can’t love God and hate our siblings, that would betray the fact we don’t love God after all.

God is a loving heavenly Father to those who trust in Him. He disciplines us, yes, but He does so in love. We are accepted by Him in the well-beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and gave Himself for us.

“God our Father, how we praise You for sending Your Son so that we might recieve peace, love and faith in Him. Help us to be defined by these things. We pray in His name and for Your honour, amen”