Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: May, 2020


What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
Philippians 1:18 ESV

To be totally honest, if I think people are preaching Christ out of selfishness, envy or vain ambition, it really annoys me. If people see the proclamation of Christ as simply a means to earn money, they don’t earn my respect. But Paul was more magnanimous than me.

Perhaps imprisonment gave Paul some perspective. He wasn’t so concerned about people’s motivations, as long as they preached Christ. Sadly, a lot of what many preach nowadays is indistinguishable from secular motivational speakers, or even fortune cookies!

Paul didn’t preach Christ to build his own kingdom but the kingdom of God. He knew that if people declared that Jesus is Lord, they did so as inspired by the Holy Spirit. So he resolved to rejoice.

I think Paul’s double emphasis in rejoicing in this verse suggests that rejoicing didn’t come naturally to him. He was imprisoned after all! So he had to resolve to rejoice, and so do we oftentimes.

“Father God, please help us to rejoice in You, whatever our circumstances. And help us to rejoice in the preaching of Christ, whatever the motivations of those who do so! In His name, amen”

Psalm 119:121-128… Gold

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and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Ephesians 6:17 ESV

As Paul languished, chained up by Roman guards, his mind evidently wandered to how we as God’s people are as well equipped spiritually as Roman soldiers were militarily. So he calls upon us to take up the full armour of God, so that we might be able to take a stand against the devil and his schemes. We’re in a spiritual war, not with flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil that rage against us as God’s people.

In order to “keep our heads” in all situations, we need to take up the helmet of salvation. Some people think we need to take leave of our minds to trust God, but we who know Him realise with all our minds that we need Him to guard our minds. Salvation isn’t something we make up ourselves, but is provided by God.

The only offensive weapon in the Christian’s armoury is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. If people ever call us “Bible bashers”, it could be seen as a backhanded compliment, because we should be wielding our Bibles in a spiritual sense. Obviously we have to be wise and discerning in our use of it, but we should be making use of God’s word in our witness.

In the words of the modern Christian hymn “O Church Arise”, we the church “with the sword that makes the wounded whole, we will fight with faith and valour.” Our weapons aren’t literal, they’re spiritual, to set people free from slavery to sin. Our enemy is the captor, not the captives.

“God, we thank You for Your word and Your Spirit who brings it to life. Please help us to skillfully wield it against the spiritual forces of evil and to liberate all who need it. In Jesus’ name, amen”


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Psalm 119:113-120… Safety

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Psalm 119:105-112… Torch

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord , according to your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord , and teach me your rules. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

Psalm 119:105‭-‬112 ESV

Life is often dark and dangerous. God’s word shines a light in the darkness to show us the way we should go. We are to keep God’s law of love for Him and of others.

Life can be very tough, we need the life that God can speak into our existence. We want Him to offer our praise, feeble as it is. We want Him to teach us His ways.

In the midst of everything we face in life, we mustn’t forget God’s guidebook. Evildoers may seek to ensnare us, but as long as we stick to God’s path marked out for us, we’ll stay safe. As long as we have God’s word, we have enough to keep us safe and well in this life.

What do we rejoice in? Family, friends, money, hobbies, work? There’s not necessarily anything wrong with those things, but God’s word helps us to put them in proper perspective and to rejoice in Him above all.

Our hearts naturally stray away from God. We need to consciously align our hearts to keep God’s word. It’s not to be kept half heartedly, but in its completeness.

“Lord, we thank You for the light of Your word in this dark world. Please help us to wholeheartedly keep it, to the honour of Your name, amen”


Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Ephesians 4:31 ESV

If Paul has to write to the Ephesian church to tell them to put away this rogue’s gallery of sins, then it means that even as believers, we’re prone to such things. Bitterness can be because we envy unbelievers who seem to have relatively easy lives. Or maybe we feel wronged by some brother or sister, and end up cultivating bitterness.

Wrath and anger aren’t necessarily sinful. But even when we have a right to be angry, we tend to overstep the mark and lose our tempers. In our hopefully righteous anger, we must not sin and give the devil a foothold in our lives.

So often we’re tempted to clamour to get our own way. When someone stands in our way, we’re tempted to slander them and get malicious against them. These things mustn’t be for children of the Most High God.

The very next verse gives us the positive alternative to these things: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” God help us to take off the bad stuff and put on the good!

“Dear Lord, please forgive the bad stuff that so often defines us. Please help us instead to be Christlike, in His name, amen”


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“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Matthew 23:23 ESV

You might remember I had a very short break from publishing my writings the other month. I’m thinking about that time, and whether another publishing sabbatical would be a good thing. But this verse came to mind.

We who know our gospels might think of scribes and Pharisees as the bad guys, and they usually were. But we need to remember that hypocritical as they were, it was the faithfulness of the scribes in scribing (if not in their private lives) that means we have the Bible today! And Paul was happy to self-identify as a Pharisee at times. In Jesus’ day, being a Pharisee was a good thing: it meant you had social and moral capital (although of course Jesus reserved some of His strongest rebukes for the Pharisees).

Jesus didn’t denounce the Pharisees for taking the law seriously, He denounced them for not taking it seriously enough. They were fastidious in keeping the letter of the law but neglected the spirit of it.

Tithing herbs might not really be a thing nowadays (although Jesus commends it!). But I think it’s good to consider what the metaphorical herbs are in our lives! For me it’s the significant time I devote to writing about the Bible. All well and good.

But Jesus is reminding me to not neglect the weightier matters of His law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. Do I act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my God, in the words of Micah? That’s a rhetorical question: one for me and my reader to go and reflect on.

So I’m not going to neglect my metaphorical herb of writing (although I have literally allowed the lavender in my back garden to wilt!), but I trust with renewed purpose I will seek to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God, all the days of my life, and for eternity.