Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: Jun, 2020

Elect

smiling woman with a sign

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness

 

Titus 1:1

 

I love the humility with which probably the greatest Christian ever describes himself: as a slave of God. Even the title of “Apostle”, which false teachers often like to adorn themselves with, simply means messenger. Yes, the Apostles were those who had seen Christ in the flesh, but it wasn’t simply to elevate themselves, but to proclaim Jesus to the world.

 

Why was Paul a slave with a message? Was it in order to emancipate himself? Was it a means to the end of lining his pockets? Was it to earn the adulation of an adoring fanbase? No!

 

Paul was a slave with a message for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. Because we don’t know those whom God has chosen to bring to faith, we should declare the gospel to all and sundry. When some come to faith then, we are to build them up in it.

 

When Paul talks about knowledge of the truth, he doesn’t simply mean to be aware of the good news of Jesus. The knowledge he’s on about isn’t an intellectual knowledge, as in “I know about the Queen”. It’s a relational knowledge along the lines of “I know my wife”. Knowledge of the truth doesn’t simply touch the head and fail to impact our hearts and lives. It accords with godliness. In other words, it makes us better people, like my wife makes me a better person!

 

“Lord, may we see ourselves as we are, slaves of Yours with Your message to proclaim to the world. May Your truth impact our lives, and may our lives impact others, in Christ’s name, amen”

Tears

sad bald man

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Restore our fortunes, O Lord , like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!

 

Psalm 126:4‭-‬5 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.126.4-5.ESV

 

God needs to bring us low before He can raise us up. If we think we’re self sufficient, and trusting in our material wealth, we’re not likely to be blessed spiritually as we like. The church in the West is like the Laodicean church, thinking we have it all together when we’re spiritually bankrupt.

 

We need God to restore our fortunes spiritually. If I understand correctly, streams in the Negeb are desert streams. They are seasonal. In the dry season they dry up, but in the rainy season they turn the wilderness into meadows.

 

I think sowing in tears and reaping with shouts of joy isn’t just beautiful poetry, but also very insightful as to how we are to be revived. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. If we weep for our own spiritual states and the spiritual state of the lost, we will in due time see a harvest.

 

If we don’t weep for the lost, they’re not going to get saved. The reason that we get saved is because God cares for us. If we don’t care for others, we’re not going to tell them how they can get saved. If we do however and God blesses us with fruit for our labours, we will reap with shouts of joy.

 

“Lord, forgive our indifference to the plight of the lost we pray. May we rejoice at salvation and weep until we see it, for the glory of Your name, amen”

House

house of european city in twilight

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)

 

Hebrews 3:4 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.3.4.ESV

 

We might build what good we can in our lives. But ultimately the builder of all things is God. Unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain who build it.

 

The writer to the Hebrews describes Moses as God’s house, but Jesus as the master of the house. He goes on to describe Moses as a servant within God’s house, but Jesus as the Son of God’s house. The Son is the one who inherits the house, the servant simply serves the owners.

 

We are then described as God’s house. Moses serves us by giving us the law of God: to love Him and to love others. But Jesus is the Son, He is our Lord.

 

Not only are we part of God’s house, but we are to build our lives upon the rock of Christ. Unless God helps us however, we build in vain. May God help us to build our lives on Him!

 

“Lord, thank You for building us into Your house, the church of Christ. Please help us to build our lives on Him as directed by You in Your word. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Rest

 

carefree woman resting in hammock in backyard

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

 

Hebrews 4:10 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.4.10.ESV

 

The religious people of Jesus’ day thought that He was lax in Sabbath observance because His followers ate from the fields on the Sabbath, which they classed as harvesting work. But as with the other nine of the ten commandments, Jesus didn’t lower the bar. In fact, He raised the bar higher to be about the spirit of the law and not just the letter.

 

In regards to the Sabbath day, the writer to the Hebrews describes the spiritual meaning of the Sabbath principle as being that we should rest from our religious works to try and earn our salvation. Spiritually, Jesus has done the work of salvation. So we can and must rest from self righteous legalism.

 

As Jesus said, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So if the observation of a day of rest becomes legalistic, prescriptive and restrictive, it defeats the object. Yes, we need regular times of rest physically, but we don’t need to get worked up about how exactly we go about it.

 

Spiritually, we can enjoy one long Sabbath rest, because Jesus has done all the work necessary for salvation. This doesn’t mean to say we can laze around spiritually. We still need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

 

“God Almighty, thank You that we can spiritually rest in You. Please help us also to take the physical rest we need, without being legalistic about it. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Priest

priest holding the bride and groom

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Pexels.com

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,

 

Hebrews 8:1 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.8.1.ESV

 

The whole point of Hebrews is that Jesus is best. He’s better than Moses. He’s better than the temple. He’s better than any animal sacrifice. He’s better than the Levitical priesthood. These might not be things that we’re tempted to idolise, but there will be other things that we’re tempted to put in the place of God.

 

The Jewish believers in Jesus who were originally written to in this letter were tempted to go back to their old time Jewish religion. That’s why the writer was emphasising that Jesus is better than all that. We might not be tempted to convert to Judaism, but there’ll be other temptations.

 

Jesus is our great advocate in heaven. We don’t need some “man of God” to intercede for us because we have the God-man to do that for us. Self declared “men of God” are usually too busy chasing money to care for the likes of us. Jesus however is devoted to our welfare.

 

Not only is Jesus committed to our salvation, but He’s also in the throne room of highest heaven. He isn’t just willing to save us to the uttermost, He’s able to as well. “Before the throne of God above, I have a strong, a perfect plea; a great high priest whose name is Love, who ever lives and pleads for me”

 

“Dear Lord, You truly are the only one worthy of our devotion, and we worship You today. Thank You for being there for us, until You call us home, for Your honour and praise, amen”

Blood

red moon during night time

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

 

Hebrews 9:12 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.9.12.ESV

 

In the old testament system, the holiness of God was emphasised. Even the high priest could only enter the most holy place of the temple once a year, and only when sacrifice had been made. But it was all just a shadow of Jesus, the Great High Priest of the new covenant.

 

Jesus didn’t just enter into the Father’s presence once. He entered in once and for all, forevermore. He didn’t need animal sacrifices in order to enter His Father’s presence.

 

But such is the holiness and yet love of God that even His beloved Son had to shed His own blood in order to bring us to glory. If the old testament was like a temporary fix, the new covenant is the finished article. It’s like our bathroom needs work. But ultimately we need a new bathroom put in.

 

The blood of Jesus, the eternal Son of God, secures an eternal redemption. Animal sacrifices are no longer necessary. Jesus’s blood saves us to the uttermost. 100% of our salvation is the work of God, none of it is of us.

 

“Father God, thank You that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Please help us to wholeheartedly trust You for our salvation, in Christ’s name, amen”

Faith

pexels-photo-4329779

but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

 

Hebrews 10:38 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.10.38.ESV

 

What does it mean to live a life that’s pleasing to God? Trying our hardest and hoping God accepts us for our attempts to be good? Not according to Habakkuk.

 

According to Habakkuk, righteousness comes by faith. As Moses said, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”. Our self righteousness isn’t good enough, but God’s is, which is credited to our bankrupt spiritual accounts by faith.

 

Even the faith we have leaves no room for self congratulatory boasting, because it is a gift of God. Even the good works we do as believers don’t allow for boasts, because they have been prepared in advance by God for us to do. And He gives us the ability to do good.

 

Having been made righteous by faith, we mustn’t shrink back when we find that the life of faith is accompanied by persecution and rejection by the world. It’s not an easy road we are travelling to heaven. But with Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm.

 

“Heavenly Father, thank You that by faith in You we can live righteous lives. Please help us to persevere and not to shrink back. In Jesus’ name, amen”

City

young woman enjoying view of city on stone parapet

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

 

Hebrews 11:16 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.11.16.ESV

 

Why did Abraham and family leave the cosmopolitan, prosperous city of Ur to spend the rest of their lives, for generations, in tents? The answer is that they had set their hearts on pilgrimage, not just to the promised land of Canaan, but also to the promised new creation. They desired a better, heavenly country.

 

Humanly speaking, there was no reason for Abraham to leave his prosperous life in Ur. There was nothing in it for him. Even his descendants didn’t gain the land of Canaan for many generations. Couldn’t they have just waited in Ur, instead of living in tents for generations?

 

But God wanted them to put their trust in Him, and so they did. They weren’t afraid to leave a prosperous life to go “off grid”. So God wasn’t ashamed to be called their God. If we’re conscious of our natural sinfulness, we shouldn’t take it for granted that God’s happy to call us His own, that fact should amaze us.

 

Abraham left a man made city because God had prepared a heavenly city for him. All his long life, he never saw it. But now he dwells in the heavenly city for all eternity, by the grace of God. And we too, by faith, can enter into the new Jerusalem.

 

“Almighty Lord, we join Abraham and family on a spiritual pilgrimage to the new creation. We acknowledge that this world isn’t our home, and trust You to get us safe to the heavenly Jerusalem. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Discipline

anonymous sportive woman doing forward bend on asphalt road

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Hebrews 12:10‭-‬11 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/heb.12.10-11.ESV

 

No one truly enjoys being disciplined. It was unpleasant to be chastised by our parents. But they ideally did the best they could, for what they hopefully hoped was for our good.

 

I’m reminded of an interview I saw with Usain Bolt, who I think still holds the record as the fastest sprinter in the world. If I remember correctly, he said he hated training, and would happily live off fried chicken! But he loved winning, and knew that to do so he would have to have a strict diet and training regime.

 

Physical training is of some value. It’s good to be physically fit, even if the sessions in the gym are painful. But for God to train us spiritually, in right living, is of much greater value even than that.

 

Our bodies will inevitably decay and die (although this doesn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t look after them!). Our souls however are eternal. It’s much more important to be spiritually healthy even than physically healthy.

 

If we do allow God to train us in right living, we’ll reap eternal life. As they say, “no pain, no gain”. What’s true in that respect physically is true spiritually. We need to practice self denial and train our spirits in right living.

 

“Father in heaven, we thank You for earthly fathers for when they seek to do what is best. Thank You that You always do what is best. Please help us to keep in step with Your spiritual discipline regime, for Your honour, amen”

Answer

close up photo of text

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

Answer me, O Lord , answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord , are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

 

1 Kings 18:37 ESV

 

https://bible.com/bible/59/1ki.18.37.ESV

 

Elijah had been in hiding from murderous king Ahab and queen Jezabel. It had been three years that the Lord had withheld rain on the land as judgement for the people’s idolatry. Finally the day of reckoning had come.

 

If baal is God, follow him, Elijah declared, but if the Lord is God, follow Him. He then set a contest with hundreds of prophets of baal. Let’s offer sacrifices to our gods, and the One who answers by fire from heaven is God.

 

Elijah had two reasons in this verse that he wanted God to answer him. Firstly he wanted the people to know that the Lord is God. Secondly, he wanted the Lord to turn the hearts of the people back to Him.

 

We should be like Elijah. It shouldn’t be enough for us that people acknowledge intellectually that the Lord is God. We should want God to turn the hearts of the people back to Him.

 

“O Lord our God, we acknowledge that You alone are God. We long for You to turn the hearts of rebellious and nominal people back to Yourself. For Your honour, amen”