Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Month: Aug, 2020

Like a yoyo!

Like a yoyo!

I know I’ve become an occasional blogger, who binges when I do. But I’m a consistent writer, if not a consistent blogger. If you want to get my regular writings as I go on another break, contact me and I’ll try and work something out. But goodbye and God bless for now!

P.S. Check out Tim Farley’s blog Shaped by the Word for my Psalm Saturdays πŸ™‚

Honourable

And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord , my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.

Ruth 3:10 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rut.3.10.ESV

Boaz woke up to find a lovely lady at his feet. A lesser man might have taken advantage of her, but not Boaz. I don’t know what Naomi was thinking sending Ruth to lie at Boaz’s feet, but thankfully Boaz was better than to selfishly exploit the situation.

Instead, this verse gives us Boaz’s response. He blessed Ruth. Even if following Naomi’s questionable advice may have been reckless, Boaz didn’t judge Ruth.

Boaz got the gist that Ruth wanted to marry him. It seems that he had thought she would rather marry a young man, even if he himself was rich. But Naomi’s plan worked- Boaz finally twigged that there was a chance for him and Ruth.

On a spiritual level, godly Boaz is like a picture of Jesus. Ruth is a picture of us, if we want to be united to Jesus by faith. Even if we might have mixed motives, and have nothing much to offer Christ, He happily welcomes us with open arms.

“Lord, we chose You over all the passing pleasures that this world has to offer. Thank You for accepting us as we are, but not leaving us as we were, and for making us be transformed into Your likeness, to Your praise, amen”

History

They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
Nehemiah 9:17 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/neh.9.17.ESV

At a time when people are trying to whitewash history and airbrush out anyone who doesn’t meet today’s standards, the honesty of this historically comprehensive prayer that this verse is part of is refreshing. Who would readily admit that their ancestors were a bunch of rebels who preferred a life of slavery to a pilgrimage to the promised land? They were, admittedly, a stubborn and forgetful people.

Before we get judgemental of them, do we really have such historical, spiritual amnesia to think that we’re any better than the ancient Israelites? If we’re honest, disobedience, forgetfulness, and stubbornness often characterise us too. Every time we choose sin over God, we betray the fact we would rather be slaves of sin than children of God.

Thankfully, God is ready to forgive, not because we’re worthy, but because He doesn’t treat us as we deserve. Instead He treats us how we don’t deserve. God doesn’t lose His temper. He might get angry, but He’s slow to do so.

God is abounding in lovingkindness. When we deserve to be forsaken by Him, He refuses to do so. Instead, He welcomes us with open arms.

“Loving God, thank You for who You are, despite who we are. Please forgive us and help us to be obedient to You. In Christ’s name we pray, amen”

Stand

and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’

Acts 27:24 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/act.27.24.ESV

Paul was on a ship in the midst of a ferocious storm. But in the night, a messenger of God, an angel, appeared to him. Paul recounts what the angel said in this verse.

Firstly, Paul, and us, needn’t be afraid, even if we’re in the midst of a pandemic storm. Why? Because our days our numbered by God. We will not die before our time.

For Paul, he had to stand before Caesar. It was guaranteed. God had decided it beforehand. Not even the mother of all storms could stop that.

Wonderfully, none of the people with Paul on the ship were lost. I think of the slightly trite children’s chorus: “with Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm”. We might not feel happy about the storm, but we are blessed with God’s presence in the midst.

“Almighty Lord, thank You that we don’t need to be afraid. Thank You for Your perfect plan for our lives, in Christ’s name we pray, amen”

Justice

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Mark 15:15 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.15.15.ESV

On one level, this was the worst miscarriage of justice ever. Barabbas, the murdering terrorist, was set free. Jesus, the only sinless One ever, was executed.

The crucifixion of Christ seems like a tragic mistake. It seems like He was crucified by Pilate to avoid a riotous rebellion stirred up by the Jewish leaders. But there was more to it than that.

The release of Barabbas is a picture of what happens to us, if we trust in the crucifixion of Christ for our sins. We deserve death, Jesus deserves freedom. But in a great exchange, Jesus died so that we might be free.

This verse taken in isolation makes Jesus’ death seem to be the culmination of a series of unfortunate events, a conspiracy of the Jewish leaders and Pilate the Roman governor. But Scripture in context, as a whole, makes clear that the passion of the Christ was according to God’s plan. And so through Jesus, God brings many children to glory.

“Dear Father God, thank You that Your Son gave His life so that guilty sinners like us might go free, to Your honour and praise, amen”

Submission

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Mark 14:36 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.14.36.ESV

Jesus here provides the ultimate example of submission, or yielding to someone else’s will. As Paul put it, “even though He was in very nature God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross”. Humanly speaking, Jesus didn’t want to be crucified. But He submitted to the Father’s will.

A father and son are equal. A father is not intrinsically better than his son. But sons ought to submit to their fathers. And so Jesus submitted to the Father.

In Christian circles, we often think of submission of a wife to her husband. But just as with a father and son, they aren’t unequal. It’s just that a wife should tend to submit to a husband.

If we’re not a wife or we don’t have an earthly father, that doesn’t mean to say we don’t have to submit. Paul commands us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. Just as He didn’t insist on His own way, so we should only seek Father God’s way.

“God our Father, we’re thankful that Christ yielded to Your will for our salvation. May we yield to Your will too, to Your glory and praise, amen”

Loyalty

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

Ruth 1:16 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rut.1.16.ESV

Ruth’s faithful loyalty to Naomi is exemplary. She had nothing to gain, humanly speaking, by committing to an old, embittered lady. But evidently something about Naomi’s God had impressed this Moabitess.

Ruth had been married to Naomi’s son. But both had been widowed. As far as anyone could tell, there was no future for Ruth with Naomi in the land of Israel. It would have seemed to have made sense to stick around in Moab and hope to remarry and have kids that way.

But Ruth refused to abandon her bereft mother in law. She had the boldness to tell Naomi not to tell her to leave. She committed to life with this bitter old lady.

Ruth was traditionally an enemy of God’s people as a Moabitess. But she committed to be grafted in to the children of Israel through faith in the God of Israel. I as a Gentile was once a stranger to this same God. But by His grace, He grafted me in to His people.

“Lord God of Israel, thank You for the powerful example of Ruth of faithfulness even when there seems to be nothing to be gained by it. Please help us likewise to do the right things, for the honour of Your name, amen”

Listen!

The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me.

Jeremiah 35:14 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/jer.35.14.ESV

The Rechabites were tea-totallers. They were like Methodists traditionally are, with a tradition of abstinence from alcohol. Although the Bible itself doesn’t command tea-totalism, God did commend the Rechabites for obeying the tradition of their patriarch Jonadab.

The point God was making in this chapter through Jeremiah was that it’s all very well observing family traditions, but it’s much more important to obey the commandments of God. If we break family traditions, we dishonour our parents. If we break divine law, we rebel against Almighty God.

There’s nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation. Neither is there anything wrong with tea-totalism. But obedience of God isnt just some lifestyle choice: it’s essential.

We all fail to perfectly obey God. Thankfully, as Jesus said, the work God asks of us is to believe in the One He sent: Jesus Himself. Jesus perfectly kept God’s law so that if we trust in Him, we will be saved.

“Heavenly Father, please help us to obey You, and to believe in Your Son. In His name we pray, amen”

Radiant

I sought the Lord , and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:4‭-‬5 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.34.4-5.ESV

Only a couple of times in my life have strangers observed the truth of verse five in my life. Once at uni, when putting my shopping away, my flat mate’s friend observed how happy I seemed, and wondered what the secret was. I missed an opportunity to witness of my faith and simply claimed to have a sunny disposition!

A few months ago, a customer said to me, “do you just love life?” I half witnessed to him, of having a lot to be thankful for. But really, the secret of verse five is verse four.

Radiant, unashamed faces are the portion of those who seek the Lord. When we do so, He answers us. He delivers us from all our fears.

The Bible often tells us not to be afraid; and also to fear the Lord. That’s not a contradiction. It just means that if we fear the Lord, we’ll have nothing else we need to fear.

“We seek You Lord and thank You for answering us and casting out our fears. Thank You for the joy and honour You bestow upon us, in Christ’s name, amen”

Idolatry

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 John 5:21 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1jn.5.21.ESV

Idols have been described as good things that become god things. There’s nothing good about a stereotypical idol like a Buddha statue or those in a Hindu temple. But idolatry is often more insidious than that.

Money isn’t wrong in and of itself. But although money makes a good servant, it makes a terrible master who is never satisfied however much you work for it. Likewise power isn’t necessarily wrong to have, as long as we acknowledge Who it comes from. But if power corrupts, the illusion of absolute power that some rulers might have over their people corrupts absolutely.

Sex within heterosexual, monogamous marriage is a good gift of God. But even within that context it can be idolised to the neglect of prayer and worship of God. Anything that usurps our affection and allegiance which should be God’s is an idol.

John Calvin famously said that our hearts are idol making factories. We need the Holy Spirit to breeze through our hearts and smash all our idols. When we allow Him to do that, we need to remain vigilant that new idols don’t replace the ones we’ve destroyed.

“Lord, idols are everywhere. Please help us to avoid idolatry, as we seek to navigate lives of faithfulness to You. For the honour of Your name, amen”