Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: Apr, 2020

Sober Judgement

A photo from the archives of me looking with sober judgement across the green and pleasant land of Yorkshire πŸ™‚

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3 ESV

Thinking of the character of Gideon as I march through the book of Judges has encouraged me to do some introspection.

I find it curious that God describes him as a “mighty man of valour” when he comes across as a bit of a cynical coward really.

With me I suspect I come across like Paul described himself at one point- impressive in his letters but rather underwhelming in person.

I don’t think Gideon was a writer but I get the impression that in the ancient Israelite equivalent of the pub he was full of bravado, but deep down he was full of insecurities.

To be honest, when I reflect on my evangelistic endeavours, I feel like my current feeble efforts are nothing compared to past victories, and even those were no doubt tarnished by the kind of prayerlessness of another of the judges, Samson.

If people looking on at my writing and my church persona think I’m an exemplary Christian, then they couldn’t be more wrong! Of course, the standard is Christ and His perfection, but by most standards I fall woefully short. Thankfully, my justification is in Christ and not in my works, otherwise I’d be hopeless!

It’s interesting that Paul calls us not just to sober judgement, but also to do so in accordance with the measure of faith we have. This isn’t about character assassination, inverted pride or false humility. Yes, we’re to be serious about our flaws, brokenness and indeed sinfulness.

But with faith we’re then to look to Christ who’s saved us, and say that with Him, nothing is impossible.

God can take our brokenness and make something beautiful. If He can mould a lump of clay into a man, and make a women out of a rib, He can work with our unpromising material to produce something for His pleasure and glory. Even so, may it be, Lord Jesus!

Psalm 109: Evil

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So Gideon said, “Well then, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will flail your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”
Judges 8:7 ESV

Imagine going on a mission trip and trying to raise support for it. Then imagine that one church refuses to support you unless you convert people. How would you react?

It was a comparable situation for Gideon. He was fighting Israel’s oppressors but hadn’t yet defeated them. One Israelite city refused to supply Gideon’s army. This verse was his response.

Gideon’s response shows how far he’d come from the shy and retiring lad of a previous chapter, and not necessarily for the better. The uncharitable city may have had retribution coming, but surely mercy would have been a better response to their stingyness. These were brutal days however.

Gideon’s story arc is the inverse of Christ’s. Gideon went from humble beginnings to success which went to his head and led to a negative end. Jesus humbled Himself to show us mercy and is now exalted. God does discipline His children though, we don’t want to grieve His Spirit!

“God Almighty, we’re grateful that You’re not like the world’s leaders. Thank You for Your divine mercy. But we pray that we wouldn’t grieve Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Psalm 108: Help!

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And Gideon said to him, “Please, my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Judges 6:13 ESV

We’d like to think that if the angel of the Lord came to us and told us God was with us, we’d be encouraged. Gideon was a tough audience though, and cast doubt on the fact that the Lord was with him. I love the fact God calls him a “mighty man of valour” in the previous verse with prophetic insight, because Gideon was unpromising material!

Gideon’s faith in God at this stage was pretty shaky, and was dependant upon his circumstances. Because things weren’t going well, he assumed God had forsaken His people. But the reason things weren’t going well was because when things were going well, the people had forsaken God.

Gideon’s faith in God seemed dependant upon signs and wonders. Because he didn’t see any, he presumed that God had abandoned His people. He’d heard of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, and wondered why he wasn’t seeing that kind of thing in his day.

Graciously, God would give Gideon signs to confirm that He was going to use him to deliver Israel from Midian. But just as the parting of the Red Sea should have given Gideon confidence that the Lord was with him, so the resurrection of Jesus should give us confidence that He is with us. God wants to use us to proclaim His good news to the world- are we willing to go for Him?

“God, thank You for the good news of salvation in the Lord Jesus. May we be faithful to declare it to the world, until You call us home, amen”

Jesus: Conqueror of hearts

I read today from Nicky Gumbel’s Bible plan on the Bible app that Napoleon Bonaparte said, β€˜I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison.’

The great French conqueror claimed that Jesus is incomparable. But the apostle Paul prayed that his readers would know His immeasurable love, so I’m going to attempt to compare Jesus to the likes of Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and Mohammed, worldly conquerors.

Worldly conquerors might be able to subjugate whole peoples as they rape, pillage and slaughter their way around the world. But only Jesus is able to win the battle for hearts and minds. The battle for hearts and minds isn’t won by the barrel of a gun or the end of a sword. By His Holy Spirit, Jesus can humble the proudest heart: He’s humbled mine!

Conquering some great commander might seem more impressive than conquering a shop worker, or a fisherman. But it doesn’t take that much, apart from bloodthirstiness, to take someone’s life. It takes charisma to win someone’s heart.

Some people take interest in the exploits of great warriors, me, not so much. But it amazes me that Jesus can take a very ordinary, genuine, doubtful man like Thomas, and cause him to proclaim Him as “My Lord and my God”.

Jesus took a bunch of fishermen, tax collectors and a tent maker, and used them to turn many in the world to Him. There’s nothing special about us Jesus’ followers particularly. But Jesus Himself is awesome! He didn’t lay down other people’s lives- He lay down His own life for us. And unlike all the greats of human history, He’s not dead, He’s defeated death and is risen forever!

Guest Post: Making The Most Of Every Opportunity

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because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 ESV

Many people think salvation is difficult to attain. Maybe they believe they need to follow an eight fold path, five pillars, or ten commandments. But thanks to Jesus, salvation is really simple.

If we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we’re on the right track. There’s no secret believers in the kingdom of God. We have to go public with our faith, whatever the cost.

But it’s not enough to just say the right things. We need to believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead. Our mouths and minds need to agree that because Jesus defeated death, we can too.

Salvation might be easy for us, but it’s important to remember what it cost the Lord. “‘Tis mystery all, the Immortal dies, who can explore His strange design”. Before Jesus defeated death, He went through it for our sakes. Glory to His mighty name!

“We confess that Jesus is Lord, to Your glory, Father God. We believe in our hearts that You raised Him from the dead, to the praise of Your glory, amen”