Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: Jan, 2020

Psalm 77: Meditate

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He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Matthew 21:13 ESV

Once, when visiting a church building in Edinburgh, I cheekily referenced this verse in the visitor book. They had a gift shop in the corner so I thought it was slightly apt. Jesus didn’t simply write in the guest book of the temple though!

They call it the cleansing of the temple which sounds quite tame. But Jesus was upturning tables and driving out animals. It wasn’t just like a marketplace, it was in Jesus’ words, a “den of robbers”.

The temple was meant to be a house of prayer. But it had been turned into a trading post, where people were ripped off of their hard earned incomes. A place where God and men were meant to meet was like a common market place, or worse.

The area of the temple that was turned into this trading post was the court of the Gentiles. The temple was meant to be a house of prayer for all nations. Gentiles were supposed to be welcome to get to know the God of Israel, but the Jews had become insular and nationalistic.

“Lord God of Israel, forgive us when we prioritise commerce over communing with You. May our churches be welcome places for all peoples to meet with You. In Jesus’ name, amen”


Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Saviour of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.

Psalms 17:7 ESV

When this Psalm talks about those who seek refuge, it’s not on about people needing a “safe place” from others who might dare to disagree with them. It’s on about people like David who had very real adversaries who were out to kill them. This is the kind of refuge that a Christian in the likes of northern Nigeria seeks.

God’s right hand as it were is directing the world from the throne of heaven. Not a leaf falls to the ground without God’s say so. He’s the all-powerful, all-knowing God.

But we don’t just want and need God to all knowing and all powerful. If that was all He is He would powerfully and knowingly send us to hell for our rebellion against Him. Thankfully, God is love, and how we long for Him to reveal that wondrous love to us!

God doesn’t just passively “like” us, and fail to lift a finger to help us. He loves us enough to save us. God is the Saviour of all who cry out to Him in spirit and in truth.

“Oh Saviour God, please show Your wondrous love to us. We take refuge in You and long for You to act on our behalf. For Your glory we pray, amen”

Arrivederci Italia!

Enjoying a coffee away from our daughter!

Well, it’s our last evening in Italia. It’s been a much more chilled out and less adventurous visit than last time, but to be honest, that’s fine with us. I think we were ready for a proper rest!

Back to the UK tomorrow. I have mixed feelings. I came into this year with a lot of optimism, but despite a wonderful start to the year, I suspect we’re not going to take up the opportunities I anticipated at the start of the year.

To be honest, we’re very happy and settled, so why rock the boat with a change of scenery and circumstances?

We’re still weighing up options, especially in terms of raising our daughter, and would value your prayers if you’re that way inclined for wisdom for us as parents.

It’s been a great start to the year and I am humbled by the grace of God in our lives, especially for our salvation. May our daughter grow to know Christ as her Lord and Saviour too, in Jesus’ name, amen!


I say to the Lord , “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
Psalms 16:2 ESV

Can we truly own this verse for ourselves? I mean, do we really believe it? Do we recognise that every good thing we enjoy is ultimately from the Lord?

Take family and friends for example. God created us for community. He Himself is Father, Son and Spirit. He is one God yes, but He’s not solitary in His oneness.

We might assume that God would begrudge us a good sex life. But He created sex for marriage as a picture of the union between Christ and the church. God isn’t a cosmic killing.

We might attribute our own moral goodness to ourselves. But ultimately, it’s because of the Lord that there’s anything good in us. If we don’t attribute any goodness in us to Him, that is in itself bad.

“Lord, You are our Lord, and we have no good apart from You. Please help us to remember that truth and give You all the glory for anything good in us, in Jesus’ name, amen”


And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.

Matthew 18:8 ESV

Thankfully Jesus isn’t literally advocating self-mutilation here, otherwise there should be a lot of crippled and lame disciples of His. But His provocative language here is hyperbole: exaggeration to make an important point. We are to be so opposed to the thought of sinning that we are willing to take drastic measures to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Of course, if we chopped one hand off, we’d have the other to sin with. Likewise with the feet. But we are to consider where we’re weak against temptation and to take steps to prevent ourselves giving in to it.

The hands speak of things we do. Nowadays, our mobile phones may often be in our hands. But I know of someone who now has an apple watch for calls and texts and doesn’t carry a phone on him, to prevent him falling into temptation with all the bad stuff on the internet.

Our phones may feel like an extension of our bodies, an indispensable part of life in the 21st Century. But are we willing to forego them for the sake of our eternal destinies? May God have mercy upon us all!

“Lord God, we pray that You would help us to do what we need to avoid hell, however drastic it may seem. To the praise of Your glory, amen”


An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

Matthew 16:4 ESV

If Jesus’ own generation was evil and adulterous, how much more our own! If the only sign He gave His own generation was His resurrection, how much more our own! Jesus may have done many miraculous signs in His day, but He never did so as an act or a performance.

Nowadays “faith healers” strut the stage as if they were mini gods. Revelation warns us that in the last days the devil will perform miraculous signs to deceive, if were possible, even the elect. Faith isn’t a work that we drum up inside ourselves, it’s a free gift of God.

We aren’t to come to Jesus for miracles. We are to come to Jesus for Jesus. Jesus isn’t a means to health, wealth and happiness. Jesus is the Lord, the boss, the Master to whom we must submit.

If resurrection isn’t a big enough miracle for us, we’re going to be disappointed. If the new birth isn’t sufficient, we’ll never be satisfied in Jesus. If it’s not enough to be a new creation, then perhaps we’ve never been born again at all!

“Lord, please never depart from us. May we seek You wholeheartedly and not just the things we want to get from You. May You be our all in all, our resurrection power. For Your glory, amen”


For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Matthew 15:19 ESV

Jesus was definitely on the nature side of the nature Vs. nurture debate. We’re not evil because of our upbringing so much as because of our very natures. Evil isn’t something “out there” that we imbibe, it’s something that comes from within.

When we think bad thoughts, we only have our evil hearts to blame. When we wish someone’s death upon them, Jesus says it’s like we’ve committed murder in our hearts. Murder begins in the heart and travels to the mind before it is executed by the hands.

Similarly with adultery. If we fantasise about sleeping with someone who isn’t our heterosexual, monogamous spouse, it’s like we’ve committed adultery in our hearts. Even if we’re innocent of the act, we may well be guilty of the thought. Likewise with any sexual activity outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

Why do people steal? Covetousness and greed incite them to take what isn’t theirs. And again, it all starts in the heart. Why do people lie and slander others? It’s because our hearts are naturally evil. We need a spiritual heart transplant!

“Dear Lord, please remove our evil hearts and replace them with pure hearts that seek after You. Please cut out anything in our lives that isn’t helpful, and let us hunger and thirst for You alone. For Your glory, amen”

Psalm 76: Fear

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And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!”

Genesis 24:60 ESV

At first glance, there’s similar imagery here to the title of my blog (Watching Daily At Wisdom’s *Gates*). But if my title is about guarding the “cities” of our hearts; this one is about storming the gates of hell! The Offspring of Isaac and Rebekah, if you go far enough, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that He would build His church (thousands of ten thousands of us!) and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We might be tempted to think of hell as being on the offensive. But the church is.

We’re all naturally hellbound sinners, so every time someone becomes part of Christ’s church, we’re plucked from the gates of hell. Jesus is on the offensive against satan, and He’s winning. Our persecutors may kill our bodies, but our souls are hid with Christ on high.

The answer to this prayer was probably nearly 2000 years in the making (I haven’t done the maths). Thankfully not all prayers take so long to be answered. Abraham’s servant prayed he’d find a wife for Isaac and the answer was instantaneous. To “watch daily at wisdom’s gates” involves prayer, expectancy, and thankfulness.

“Oh God our Lord, may we do great exploits for Your Kingdom. May we snatch many sinners from the jaws of hell. May Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen”