Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: June, 2019

Clothe

it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Revelation 19:8 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.19.8.ESV

This verse is about the church of Christ, illustrated in Revelation as the bride of the Lamb. She wears a homemade wedding dress of fine linen, bright and pure. This is a picture of the righteous deeds of the saints.

Saints aren’t just the famous Christians with halos round their heads! Every believer in the Lamb of God has their sins taken away. Every believer is a saint!

But how can our righteous deeds be like fine linen? After all, doesn’t Isaiah say that all our righteousness is like filthy rags? True, but when God cleans us up by faith in Him, He also prepares good stuff for us to do, in the power of His Spirit.

It’s as though the Lamb of God provides the materials and the “how to book”, and helps us to make our own metaphorical wedding dress. We have two truths in this verse- “it was granted her”- it’s all of God; and “the righteous deeds of the saints”- just because it’s all of God doesn’t mean to say we can live unrighteously.

“Heavenly Father, we praise You for clothing us in the righteousness of Christ. Please help us to live righteously, as You have called us, by Your Spirit, and in the name of Your Son, amen”

Heart

Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

2 Kings 23:25 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/2ki.23.25.ESV

Who do you think this verse is about? David, the man after God’s own heart? Solomon, the wisest man ever after the Son of God Himself? Well in both cases you’d be wrong, because this verse is about Josiah.

He had his work cut out: idolatry was the norm and the true worship of God had been forgotten. Only by the rediscovery of God’s law in His disrepaired and desecrated temple kick started the reformation and revival that Josiah oversaw. The other verses in this chapter detail his reforms to destroy pagan practices and to restore the worship of the one true God.

What was the secret of Josiah’s success? Despite being born into a backslidden nation, when He heard God’s Word, he turned to it wholeheartedly. David may have been after God’s own heart, but famously messed up big time. But Josiah was wholehearted, with all his soul and might as well.

This verse isn’t saying that Josiah was perfect. He still had to turn to the Lord from unbelief, once he heard His Word. But once he did, he was almost unwavering in his obedience to God’s Word. He was unsurpassed even by the likes of David and Solomon, and certainly by his sons, apart from of course the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Himself.

“Almighty Lord, we find our nation in a similar state to Judah in Josiah’s day. Please raise up godly leadership for us, and may Your Word define us as a nation. May reformation and revival sweep through the land by Your powerful Spirit, in the name of Jesus, amen”

Greatness

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.

Psalms 147:5‭-‬6 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.147.5-6.ESV

It almost doesn’t need Scripture to inform us that God is great. We only need to look to the skies on a starry night to realise the greatness of their Creator. All He needed to do was to speak, and the stars came into being.

God is abundant in power, and His understanding is beyond measure. He speaks, and it happens. He knows the workings of the universe before they even come to pass.

The Lord lifts up the humble. The amazing truth of the gospel is that He humbled Himself and gave His life for us, and is now exalted to the throne room of heaven. So if we humble ourselves before Him, we too can be with Him where He is.

God casts the wicked to the ground. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We will all return to dust, if Christ doesn’t return first. But the amazing truth is that if we humble ourselves, we will rise again.

“God, You are great, and greatly to be praised. We worship You for Your power and understanding. Please deliver us from our wickedness and humble us, so that we might be with You forevermore, amen”

Man

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

Psalms 146:3‭-‬4 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.146.3-4.ESV

I once heard an old metrical Psalm setting version of these verses, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since: “Put no confidence in princes/nor for help on man depend/they shall die, to dust returning/and their purposes will end”.

At the time of writing, there’s a Conservative leadership contest which will also produce the next UK Prime Minister. But while many are looking to “princes” and “men” to give them hope in life, they will only disappoint. We aren’t to put our trust in them.

Of course, by all means we should pray for our authorities. But we shouldn’t be looking to them for salvation. Only God saves, and He knows that that’s what we need.

Politicians might have plans to make poverty history, or maybe less altruistic plans. But human plans often fail, or even if they succeed, they only last a generation. Only God’s plans are eternal.

“Sovereign Lord, thank You that Your plan of salvation works for eternity, and not just for a generation. Please help us to trust You and not people, who will only let us down. In Christ’s name, amen”

Power

saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Revelation 7:12 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.7.12.ESV

The apostle John had an awesome vision of every living thing surrounding God’s throne and saying this verse. We often think of blessing in terms of what God can do for us. But that’s a rather selfish preoccupation when we consider that we can bless the Lord as well.

Our whole purpose in life is to glorify God. He is worthy to receive all glory, because He has bought us for Himself with the precious blood of Jesus. And so we shall glorify Him forever.

God is superfluous in His wisdom. He does all things well. We would do well to glorify Him for His wise dealings with us in our lives. We have everything to be thankful for to Him. He is worthy of all honour in our lives.

Our God is all powerful. There’s nothing that He cannot do. He is the Almighty Lord of glory, and none can stand in His way. And we shall praise Him forevermore.

“Our great God, we echo the praise of this verse and ask that You would be glorified in our lives. To the praise of Your glory, amen”

Identifying “Red Flags” Of Mental Illness: My History

Apologies for the silly photo! This is actually a really serious post, but thankfully I can look back on past traumas with gratitude that I’m not what I once was.

I hope if you will (God forbid) suffer mental illness, if you are at the moment, or if you have in the past, or even if you’re supporting a mentally ill person, that you’ll find this post helpful.

It’s very personal and subjective, but I hope you can draw helpful lessons from it.

When I began to recover from a severe psychotic (delusional) episode, mental health professionals encouraged me to identify “red flags” or warning signs that I might be relapsing. Sure enough, I did relapse once. Shame I didn’t learn my lesson from the first episode!

Mental illness is a many and varied spectrum, but here’s a brief introduction to my subjective experience.

I did eventually identify three “red flag” indicators to look out for which could result in a relapse.

I conveniently alliterated them with the letter W. I hasten to add that these things aren’t necessarily negative, but they have that potential in the wrong context.

The first W is Whereabouts (yes, this alliteration thing is quite contrived). Basically, if I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s bad for my mental health.

So first time I fell ill, I left the idyll of university life and returned home. Nothing against home but I needed a plan for my life, or at least to discern God’s will, and I didn’t have a clue, and basically panicked.

It’s often the case that after “mountaintop” experiences come deep valleys of depression, and that was the case for me.

When I relapsed I was in a miserable flat in a rough part of town so it was understandable that I got depressed again.

The second W is Work. Work isn’t, as we might assume, a product of the fall of mankind. Having said that, being in unsuitable work can negatively effect our mental health.

My first episode was because I didn’t have a clue what to do with my life after uni.

My relapse was when I was finally in a graduate level job which was too ambitious for me at the time.

I should emphasise that my Whereabouts and Work are good at the moment, and so is my mental health.

The final W which has the potential of being a “red flag” for me is Women. Not that there’s anything wrong with women (any more than men) but more about my infatuation with them in my initial illness and relapse a few years ago. This is only a bad reflection on me, not the women I was infatuated with.

As with all my Ws, this isn’t just a red flag but also a potential for a positive influence. Thankfully I’ve found a wife, and she is an excellent woman. I’ve been well mentally since before I met her, because work and whereabouts were better, but she’s undoubtedly been a stabilising influence for me.

And now I have another woman in my life: my baby daughter, who’s another great blessing, and motivation to stay well.

So there’s my potential “red flags”, warning signs of mental illness- unsuitable whereabouts, work and women.

Do you have any “red flags” in your life?

It might be a helpful exercise for you to consider whether you do!

God bless, and stay well,

Robert

Stronghold

he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

Psalms 144:2 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.144.2.ESV

God is our love. In Hebrew, “steadfast love” is one word, “hesed”, which could also be translated “lovingkindness”. God isn’t just a warm fuzzy feeling. He demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

He is our fortress. In all the conflicts we face in our lives, He keeps our souls and spirits safe and secure in the stronghold of His love. Nothing can separate us from His love for us in Christ.

God delivers us from the world in opposition to us, from satan our adversary, and even from our own sinful natures. He gives us the shield of faith with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. We can’t even be self congratulatory about our faith, because it’s a gift of God.

The Lord subdued people under David. As king of Israel, he needed that, because he had enemies on every side. As Christians, our enemies tend spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Even with people who oppose us, we aren’t to literally fight them, but to love even our enemies, and hopefully win them into the kingdom of heaven, by the grace of God.

“Dear Lord our God, how thankful we are for all that You are to us in our lives. Above all, we praise You for Your unfailing lovingkindness to us in Christ Jesus, in whose name we pray, amen”

Watch “Sheep Without A Shepherd” on YouTube

Enjoy 🙂

Door

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3:8 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.3.8.ESV

I wonder, if Jesus wrote a letter to our churches, what would He say? One thing He could say to any church is “I know your works”. Depending on who we are, that could be comforting- that we’ll be vindicated- or scary, that there’ll be a reckoning.

But for the church in Philadelphia, Jesus had words of reassurance. He set before them an open door, which no one can shut. If we’re in the will of God, the doors of heaven are open to us- saint Peter isn’t going to be interrogating us when we go home to God!

The church may not be powerful. We are persecuted. In the UK, our lives may not be in danger, but we are despised for our belief that we’re all sinners in need of a Saviour. But we don’t need power if the doors of heaven are open to us: it’s not about our weakness, but about God’s strength at work in us.

What matters isn’t so much whether we’re powerful, but whether we’ve kept God’s Word and refused to deny His name. We might not be perfect, but we can obey God’s Word to turn from our sins and to trust in Him. We aren’t to be ashamed of our Saviour, or He will be ashamed of us.

“Dear Lord, thank You so much that You’ve set an open door before us to Your heavenly home. Please help us on pilgrimage to You, to keep Your Word and not to deny Your name, for Your glory, amen”

Freedom

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

Revelation 1:5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.1.5.ESV

I don’t often think of Jesus Christ Himself being a faithful witness. I tend to think of His followers as (hopefully) bring faithful witnesses of Him. But the primary witness of all that Jesus said and did, is Jesus Himself!

Jesus is the firstborn of the dead. Yes, other people were raised from death before Him, but they eventually died again. Jesus rose, nevermore to die. Therefore, through faith in Him we can become adopted into His resurrection family.

Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth. The Roman governor Pilate crucified Him for treason, for claiming to be the King of the Jews. But in Revelation He is also revealed as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

What a beautiful truth: He loves us! We often might think of our love for Him, but it’s far better to meditate, to ponder His great love for us. He has freed us from our sins by His blood- He gave His life for our forgiveness and redemption.

“Wonderful Saviour, how grateful we are that You love us, unworthy as we are. We praise You, for You are worthy to call to Yourself a people set apart to be holy, to the praise of Your glory, amen”