Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

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

Ciao from Italia!

So we’re back visiting family in Italia for a few more days.

Last time we visited was all centred around our daughter’s 1st birthday party and was therefore rather hectic.

This time has been much more chilled out. My wife is holding fort at my mother in law’s hair salon while I look after our kid.

This evening we’ve been out for a meal with some of Joy’s friends, that’s where the photo’s from.

Have you got any holidays/time with family booked for this year? What are you hoping to get up to?

Times of rest and refreshment are essential for us all- that’s why God gave us a day a week plus in the Jewish tradition a load of holy days (holidays) as well. We we certainly ready for this time of renewal, I hope you get to enjoy some such times this year as well!

How Well Do You Know Your Hymns Quiz

Here’s a “How Well Do You Know Your Hymns” quiz from Tim Challies, the king of Christian blogging:

https://www.challies.com/resources/how-well-do-you-know-your-hymns-a-quiz/

I got 18/22- 81% 😀

If you take the quiz, let me know how you do in the comments! 🙂

Sower

“Hear then the parable of the sower:

Matthew 13:18 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.13.18.ESV

Some seed fell on the path. That’s like the word of God falling on deaf ears. The birds of the air/satan, snatches the seed of the word away before it can take root.

Some seed fell on rocky ground. These heard the word enthusiastically enough, but when tough times came, they withered and died. The heat of the sun stands for adversity which scares people off from receiving the word of God.

Some seed fell among weeds. It grew up sure enough, but the weeds choked up the plants and made them unfruitful. This is like people who hear the word but are distracted by the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world.

Finally, some seed fell on good soil and bore fruit of up to a hundredfold. I don’t think this fruit is necessarily winning up to a hundred other souls for Jesus but is rather the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy and peace etc. We can’t just horde God’s word for ourselves- it needs to bear fruit in our lives that blesses others.

“Lord of the word, may we bear fruit in keeping with the hearing of Your word and the repentance it commands. For Your honour and glory, amen”

“Megxit” and “Chrexit”

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1pe.2.9.ESV

One of the top news stories in the UK yesterday was that Harry and Meghan from the British royal family are stepping down from frontline royal duties (dubbed as “Megxit” by some!).

I’m not going to debate the perceived rights and wrongs of their decision, but simply to use it as an illustration of the Christian. After all, we’re described as a “royal” priesthood.

It seems that with Harry and Meghan, the media attention has got too much for them. In 1 Peter, persecution was getting too much for some believers in Jesus.

So what’s the answer for the Christian who’s tempted to “Chrexit” the faith? I think the verse I quoted at the start is helpful- to remember all our privileges as adopted children of the Most High God.

Meghan might have married into royalty, but we don’t get the full fruition of our spiritually royal status until eternity. We might have done nothing to deserve our spiritually royal status, but having been called into it we have to live up to our calling and live holy and godly lives.

If people mock us because of our unearned status, that’s one thing. But if people persecute us because of our standing as righteous people, then Jesus has promised us a reward in heaven.

If you came to faith under false pretences, that you thought you were going to be healthy, wealthy and happy, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

If on the other hand you cling to Christ despite illness, poverty and grief, then you are proving the genuineness of your faith, so rejoice that your name is written in heaven where you will one day be called home!

Psalm 75: Equity

Follow the link for my latest Psalm post:

https://bloggingpsalms.wordpress.com/2020/01/10/psalm-75-equity/

Fear

Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

Genesis 20:11 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/gen.20.11.ESV

Ironically, although Abraham judged Abimelech and his men to have no fear of God, he himself feared them rather than God. So he lied about Sarah his wife, thinking that if he didn’t, they would kill him for her. Abraham had too low a view of unbelievers. There is such a thing as common grace.

Abraham should have feared the Lord and trusted Him with the consequences of his honesty. If we fear the Lord, we’ll have nothing left to fear, because God is for those who fear Him, and reveals Himself to them not as fearful but as gracious. The fear of the Lord may be the beginning of wisdom, but the love of God is the end of wisdom.

Just because someone doesn’t have the fear of the Lord, doesn’t mean to say that they are necessarily immoral. Abimelech may have been a godless pagan, but he knew not to take another man’s wife. God gives restraining grace and consciences to everyone, regardless of whether we believe in Him.

There is only one legitimate kind of spiritual fear: the fear of the Lord. Obviously fear of things such as fire and inclement weather is rational. But ultimately, whatever may destroy our bodies, only God can and will cast our souls and bodies into hell if we don’t fear Him.

“Fearful God, may we fear You as we ought. Forgive us for often fearing people more than You. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Psalm 74: Anger

Follow the link for my latest Psalm post:

https://bloggingpsalms.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/psalm-74-anger/

Psalm 73: Envy

Follow the link for my latest Psalm post:

https://bloggingpsalms.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/psalm-73-envy/

Theophany (=”A Close Encounter of the God Kind”)

And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

Genesis 18:33 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/gen.18.33.ESV

This would be an unremarkable verse if it was simply referring to two people parting ways. But amazingly, this verse refers to the Lord God Almighty Himself going His way having spoken to Abraham of his promised son. This wasn’t the first time that God had walked with mankind.

God used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He walked with Enoch until He called him home. And now He walked with Abraham and warned him of the destruction coming upon his nephew Lot’s city.

How awesome to come face to face with Almighty God, and to have Him promise a child to them, barren as Abraham and Sarah were! It might seem to the sceptic like a fairy tale. But as the Lord Himself said to Abraham, “Is anything to hard for the Lord?” (No!)

Abraham had the boldness to ask the Lord not to destroy Sodom. We too can have boldness to ask the Lord to delay His destruction of this world until He has gathered all His children safely in. And like Abraham, we can be confident that the Lord knows who are truly His.

“Almighty Lord, we long to see You face to face but know that we need to be transformed into Your likeness before that day. Please do so, in Jesus’ holy name, amen”

Diversity

Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Matthew 10:3‭-‬4 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.10.3-4.ESV

I chose these verses because they illustrate that people of every political persuasion are welcome in the Kingdom of God. Matthew was a tax collector. He worked for the occupying Roman Empire when Jesus called him.

Simon the Zealot on the other hand was from the opposite end of the political spectrum. He wanted the Roman’s to be kicked out of what they called Palestine. And yet Jesus called Matthew and Simon alike, and although there was no doubt banter, the Bible doesn’t tell us they didn’t get on.

Matthew serves to remind us who we were when Jesus called us. Matthew had been a tax collector; I was a proud, arrogant, self righteous little Pharisee in the making. “But God”, because of His great mercy, adopted me as His child.

Simon the Zealot reminds us to acknowledge who we are. Every time he’s mentioned, even in Acts, he’s described as a Zealot. He didn’t give that up when he followed Jesus. So it’s okay to have political opinions even as a follower of Jesus, but we mustn’t let that get in the way of our relationships with other Christians.

“Dear Lord, thank You for uniting people of all backgrounds into Your Kingdom. Please help us to put our identity in You above all other identities. For Your glory, amen”