Tag Archive | Christian living

The Music of “LIFE” Series ~ When He Shall Come/ Will Jesus Find Us Watching?


Ephesians 5:19 – “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

The Music of “LIFE” Series:

When He Shall Come/ Will Jesus Find Us Watching?

or

“Here Comes the Bride”

We who name the name of Jesus as Savior, Jesus as The Christ, have this hope, this expectation, this promise, that Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church. 

2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 says this:

“When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.  Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power.  That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It gives us comfort and a settled peace in knowing that one day we will be with Him forever.  As He has promised “all tears shall be wiped away” and all the cares and issues of this present life will be of little consequence, ‘When He Shall Come’.

      Verse 1 :           When He shall come, resplendent in His glory,

                                   To take His own from out this vale of night,

                                   O may I know the joy at His appearing—

                                   Only at morn to walk with Him in white! 

      Verse 3:             When He shall call, from earth’s remotest corners,

                                    All who have stood triumphant in His might,

                                    O to be worthy… then to stand beside them,

                                    And in that morn to walk with Him in white!

 We have this promise and desire to be with Him when He calls, to see Him as He is!

To rejoice with others who make up the Bride of Christ, and await all that  Christ has said and promised, will come to pass.  But, the question is ‘Will Jesus Find Us Watching?

      Verse 1:              When Jesus comes to reward His servants,

                                    Whether it be noon or night,

                                    Faithful to Him will He find us watching,

                                    With our lamps all trimmed and bright?

      Verse 2:              If, at the dawn of the early morning,

                                    He shall call us one by one,

                                    When to the Lord we restore our talents,

                                    Will He answer you—“Well done”?

  Matthew 25:1-13  gives us an account of The Parable of the Ten Virgins:

1  Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their   lamps, and  went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3  They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them.

4  But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7  Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8  And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him in the marriage: and the door was shut. 

11  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13  Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

From verse 1 we see that there are ten virgins who go to meet the Bridegroom. 

Ryrie notes that “the virgins represent the professing Jewish remnant on earth at His return.”

In this Parable of the Ten Virgins, the setting is the time of the Lord’s return to reward His faithful servants and to take vengeance against those who are not faithful.

Those of you who are familiar with the story know that this parable teaches we must be prepared for the Lord’s coming; we must be “watchful”, as it says in verse 13.  Not everyone that names the name of Christ is part of His Bride.  Only those who have received Jesus as their Savior; those who have acknowledged and confessed they are sinners and have repented of their sin and have turned the control of their lives over to trusting their lives to Jesus because they believed and accepted His shed blood at Calvary was for their sin.  Jesus Christ’s finished work paid for our sin in full.  Having made this declaration, we are born-again and have received the Spirit of Christ.  Our lives as newborns is one where we live as unto Christ and await His return.

At this juncture, let me just inject this:  what are YOU trusting in to go to Heaven; to be with the Lord Eternally; to be with the Lord forever and ever?  Are you trusting in your religion?  Are you trusting in your good deeds?  Are you trusting that you ‘do the best that you can’?  Are you trusting in that you are ‘not as bad as’ someone else?  If this sounds to you, like what you are thinking and what you are trusting in…I am sad to tell you that this is not what God’s Word says is ‘good enough’.  It is not what God’s Word says He wants of you and me.  He has told us in no uncertain terms in His Word, the Bible, that the only acceptable way to be with Him in Heaven Eternally is through Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross.  It is a matter of faith and trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  A matter of turning over your will to His will and living for the Lord Jesus Christ.  And, THAT is the good news!  It is something that as you are reading this, right now, you can change.  Stop trusting in what you think you can do and trust in Christ and what He has already done!

In our walk of faith, our attitude is to be one of expectation and vigilance; one of watchfulness; one where we focus on Eternal things until He does returns.

What then?  Can we reap in Eternal benefits and enjoy a life of God’s blessing without accountability or responsibility thereafter?  This is not what Jesus had in mind when He told us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” – Philippians 2:12b.

I Thessalonians 5:6 tells us to not “sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober”.  We need to be alert and watching for the enemies of our salvation; we need to be edifying one another.  If we will get up and dust off our spiritually sluggish ways we will find, as it says in Ephesians 5:14, “Christ shall give thee light.”  We are not left as orphans, alone, to ‘figure it out’…Christ’s light will illumine us, if we will get up!  Get going! Redeem the time!  “Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.” as it says in Mark 13:36.

Will Jesus Find Us Watching?

      Verse 3:              Have we been true to the trust He left us?

                                    Do we seek to do our best?

                                    If in our hearts there is naught condemns us,

                                    We shall have a glorious rest.

 

      Verse 4:             Blessed are those whom the Lord finds watching,

                                    In His glory they shall share;

                                    If He shall come at the dawn or midnight,

                                    Will He find us watching there?

 

The world sings:  “Here Comes the Bride, all dressed in white…”

Our hope and expectation as believers and the Bride of Christ as we await His return as we read in verse 3 of ‘When He Shall Come’:

                                    When He shall call, from earth’s remotest corners,

                                    All who have stood triumphant in His might,

                                    O to be worthy… then to stand beside them,

                                    And in that morn to walk with Him in white!

Thank you for stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate today.  I hope that this short post was a blessing to you and if it was, it would be most encouraging to hear how God is working by you leaving a comment.    If you would like to be alerted to the next post, and have not yet done so, please subscribe in the column to the right where it says: SUBSCRIBE.  You will be alerted by email of the latest post.  Feel free to share and invite your friends who might be interested in a spiritual blog also. 

Blessings,

Mercedes

 

 

 

 

Music of Life: Three On Love


Welcome to Beyond the Strait Gate. Perhaps this is the first time you are visiting or perhaps you have come this way before. In either case, I hope you will know you are welcomed here and find, having come through ‘the gate’ something to encourage you this day; something to challenge your heart this day; something to meditate or as some say, “chew on” as the Lord allows it to open up your heart and mind to what He may have for you.

The following devotional is one that I prepared some years ago for ladies meeting at my church. February, being the month of the year that celebrates “LOVE”, I thought I would share it here with you also.

The “Music of Life”, as depicted in the title today, for me, is the music that speaks of God and Who He is. I’ve chosen three hymns to tell the story of God’s love for me, for you; another to tell the story of my love for Jesus; and another of the love that is due my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thus, ‘Three On Love’.

I. O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go (by George Matheson)
The beginning lines of each of the stanzas from this hymn are these:
“O Love that wilt not let me go”…
“O Light that foll’west all my way”…
“O Joy that seekest me thru pain,”…
“O Cross that liftest up my head”…

What kind of LOVE is it God has for us? Can we possibly comprehend this kind of love? A love that takes hold on us, a love that is with us wherever He directs our path: lighting or showing us where it is He would have us to go; a love that is our companion and solace in joy as we pass through the difficult and sorrowful waters of life; the kind of love that died in my place for my sin…that I might be with Him in Eternity!

Jeremiah 31:3b says, “…Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”

EVERLASTING LOVE! – What IS that??
According to the dictionary, Everlasting is enduring forever; eternal; timeless, infinite, permanent.

God’s promise then to us who are His Bride, His Beloved, His Own: God loves us with an infinite love that will endure forever, throughout eternity. His Everlasting Love will never die, wither, change its mind about us or forsake us.

God’s Love draws us, Jeremiah says, with “Loving-kindness”, that is, with a tender regard; with His mercy; with His favor.

To paraphrase Jeremiah 31:3b, Jeremiah is saying that God loves us with a love that is forever, that is eternal and timeless; a love that is permanent and infinite and with His tender mercy He draws us to Himself.

The very familiar John 3:16 tells us how God did this: God sent His Son, Jesus, to leave the Throne room of Heaven, to come down to earth as a baby born of a virgin, for one express purpose. Jesus, God the Son, came to die on a wooden cross, shedding His blood for your sin and mine. In God’s loving-kindness, in His Mercy, He draws us to Himself. As we accept His finished work at Calvary, we have His Everlasting Love and also, Everlasting Life. The last verse of this hymn says this:

“O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.”

God’s Love is a Love that will not let us go!

Having seen the Love of God, having been drawn to Him, having accepted Jesus as our Savior, we then respond to the Savior in kind: with all that we are, with all that we have been blessed with from Him, and daily, with all that is honoring to a Holy God. How do we love God?

This next hymn reads this way:

II. My Jesus, I Love Thee (by William R. Featherston)

“My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

This first stanza speaks of our loving God with the assurance that we are called by His name; that He is our Redeemer, our Savior and because we love Him, we are deliberately willing to leave, to forsake: the recklessness and foolhardiness of the life we once lived before coming face to face with our Savior.

Forsaking has the sense of deserting and never intending to return (in this case, to our sinful lifestyle again).

Continuing with this hymn we see why the hymn writer loves Jesus.

“I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

There are no roses, no hearts and lace, no candy and flowers, depicted in this love for God. This is not a picture of an earthly love. This is a love that understands the tremendous love of the Savior for us: those for whom Jesus died. It is a love that understands what it cost the Savior to pardon us from sin’s penalty…to keep us from that everlasting fire awaiting those who have rejected The Savior. This is a love that not only understands the cost of shame, mockery, beatings borne by Jesus, but also doesn’t forget what it cost Jesus to give us Eternity with Him.

We need to guard our spiritual walk with Jesus. We need to examine our love to the Lord daily, lest we be like the churches rendered in Revelation. Let us not hear from God, as:
The church of Ephesus – “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” – Revelation 2:4

Or like the church of Thyatira, let us not allow idols and false teachings to creep into our lives. – Revelation 2:20.

What do our eyes read and see? our ears hear? where do our feet frequent? well…you get the idea. Worldly diversions can intrinsically divert our attention, our love, our fore-frontal thinking away from Jesus and subtly, what seems to be without warning, we are down the wrong path. Our end could be like the church of Sardis.

The church of Sardis was a dead church. They bore the name of Christ, yet by their very works, they were dead. – Revelation 3:10.

In this hymn, each of the four verses ends by saying, “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”

NOW: this moment, immediately, and since we live moment by moment, as the Lord gives us breath, ‘now’ is ongoing and ever present. We are to love the Lord our God every moment of every day all the time. We are to occupy our hearts and minds with only Him and His ways. Perhaps we may think this humanly impossible.

Ephesians 5:18b says, “…be filled with the Spirit;” HOW?

Verse 19-21 says, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the God.”

And, allowing the Holy Spirit to have access to our lives, and our being obedient to His leading, the music of our walk with the Lord continues to perpetuate itself for His glory. There is just no end to this unfathomable love for Christ. Our desire is to know how we can love Him more.

III. More Love To Thee, O Christ

Elizabeth Prentiss penned the words to this hymn. Some of you may recognize her name as the author of ‘Stepping Heavenward’ written in 1869. It is a story of a young woman’s spiritual growth, and I cannot help but wonder if Elizabeth may have been writing the story of her own life. Sharon James authored a biography about Elizabeth Prentiss telling of the difficulties Elizabeth experienced; things she later learned were furnishing her with the things she needed to serve the Lord as she interacted in the lives of others.

The following was taken found in the writings of the Christian History Institute, 1999-2006.

“Elizabeth was a frail woman who suffered intensely from chronic insomnia all her life. Few knew it. Despite her misery, and a “morbidly-sensitive, melancholy temperament,” the face the world saw was usually a radiant one for she strove hard to overcome the irritableness her illness engendered. She was described as a bright-eyed woman with a keen sense of humor.

For several months in her early twenties, she was in agony because of her conviction of her sinfulness and lack of concern for the things of Christ. She considered herself a hypocrite, although all of the evidence indicates otherwise. At that time she was a teacher, deeply concerned for the salvation of her pupils, many of whom she led to Christ. When this crisis was over, she moved into a deeper joy than she had previously experienced. Not long after this she wrote, “Sometimes my heart feels ready to break for the longing it has for a nearer approach to the Lord Jesus than I can obtain without these of words, and there is not a corner of the house which I can have to myself.”

In 1856 Elizabeth went through a time of serious illness. It was at this time she penned the hymn, “More Love to Thee, O Christ”. Her concern was not her own state nor wellbeing, but thoughts of her Savior.

“More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea, more love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest
Now Thee alone I seek, Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be, more love O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!”

Four years earlier, in 1852, her five year old son, Eddy, died. Dark days for Elizabeth, as it would be for any mother who loses a child. Her pain, ever present, Elizabeth turned her pain around toward the Savior, recognizing that her grief and heartbreak was her son’s joy. Eddy was with the Savior!

In the third stanza of this hymn, Elizabeth penned this:

“Let sorrow do its work, send grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me,
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!”

Elizabeth was dedicated to Christ and sought to live a life of joy. She is quoted as having said, “Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls.”

Elizabeth saw Jesus only in every circumstance. She knew the secret of abiding in Christ and saw the things the Lord allowed to be placed on her ‘plate’ as from Him, accepting them with joy. She knew His Mercy allowed these circumstances and they drew her to love and serve the Lord the more.

Scripture tells us: “His Mercy endureth for ever.” I Chronicles 16:34; 41

“All the paths of the Lord are Mercy…” Psalm 25:10a

“…His Mercy is everlasting” Ps. 100:5a

The Lord’s “Mercy is on them that fear Him…” Luke 1:50a

Our response to our Merciful God is to love Him with all our strength, (Psalm 18:1).
Psalm 18:3a says, “the LORD…is worthy to be praised.”

His Love will not let us go…let us consider More Love to Him.

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“…I Have Walked in Mine Integrity…”, Psalm 26, A Psalm of David


WELCOME! It is good to have you visit with me today, BEYOND THE STRAIT GATE. I hope you will take your time and spend a little time here to meditate on what God’s Spirit might have for you today. What follows is what He has given me from Psalm 26…to share with those who will come this way. Please leave your thoughts and comments at the end of the devotional and if you would like to be alerted of future posts, please do sign up in the appropriate place. Thank you so very much!

What strikes me, particularly, is the assurance David has with and before his LORD. He doesn’t deny nor ignore the fact that he is a son of Adam, a sinner. He knows full well his estate; from whence he comes. Yet he begins this psalm with an assurance before a Holy God, Who is also his Judge (and is Just), with a welcome to have God judge who he, David, is:

“Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.” verse 1, KJV

David presents his case: “I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD:”, and with what seems to me, tremendous confidence, declares, “I will not slide.” David’s anchor is solidly placed in Jehovah God. His faith, his trust, his “single-hearted devotion and sincerity of purpose” (as Ryrie puts it) is so solidly placed in God, David is not going to be moved, nor slip.

APPLICATION: How is my devotion; my single-heartedness; my sincerity of purpose? Can I confidently ask God to search me and judge my heart and have no fear of God’s verdict? Something to meditate and consider for myself. (How about you?) And, if I cannot be as confident as David, what is it that I must do to reach this holy standard?

David is so sure of his relationship with God that he welcomes, and invites God to test and try his faith, (verse 2): “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me, try my reins and my heart.” David has the expectation that God will be pleased and look on him favorably…WHY?? Because he has “walked in thy (God’s) truth.” (verse 3): “For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.”

Some references to “truth” in God’s Word:

God’s WORD is TRUTH: John 17:17 –“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

God’s COMMANDMENTS are TRUTH: Psalm 119:151 – “Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.”

God’s LAW is TRUTH: Psalm 119:142 –“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness and thy law is the truth.”

JESUS CHRIST is The TRUTH: John 14:6 –
“Jesus said unto him, ‘I AM the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
In this verse, Jesus declares Himself to be the only means of securing Eternity with Him forever. HE is THE WAY of salvation…the only way. We cannot climb into Heaven through the side-door of good works. They count for naught in God’s eyes. Good works is man’s ‘idea’ of pleasing a Holy God, but we see clearly from His Word that it is vain; it is worthless. Accepting Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross as our Redeemer, Savior, King and Lord of our lives is what is worthy and of value to Him. Please consider this TRUTH seriously, if you have not made that transaction with Him. We must confess we are sinners to a Holy God, and then, repent, that is, turn around 360 degrees from ‘our’ way of living and living unto Him and His TRUTH. Today is the day of Salvation. Do not delay. We do not know if we have the next moment of breath.

The HOLY SPIRIT is TRUTH: John 16:13 – “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself: but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.”

From these few verses, out of many, many that you might research for yourself, I conclude that David’s walk of faith is one that is in concordance to God and His Word.

APPLICATION: Am I walking in truth? Could my walk be improved? If I were to invite God, Who is Holy to examine my walk of faith, would He be pleased; glorified; by His invasive search of my life and my heart?

I am reminded of Psalm 139:1-4 of God’s piercing scrutiny into my life…and yours, also:
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thous knowest it altogether.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”, Psalm 111:10a

David continues to reinforce his defense in verses 4-6 of his credibility and innocency: He doesn’t keep company with ‘vain persons’, evil or the wicked nor pretenders (of the faith). Psalm 1:1-2, echoed back to me while reading and meditating on this psalm: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” This man’s delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he “meditates day and night.”

David is CLEAN before God and it is with this confidence and boldness that he is able to approach God in prayer. (verse 6) Here at the Throne of God, his words to God are words of praise, of thanksgiving, of recounting Who God is and all He has done.

Application: And when I approach the Throne of God in prayer, how do I/we come? Are our hands, ‘clean’? innocent? Is our mouth full of praise to our All in ALL for the blessings and manifold workings in our life? And, if not…if we are believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross when He shed His own blood for our sin and the sin of the world, Hebrews 4:16 tells me to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtrain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” I John 1:9 assures us “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

David concludes Psalm 26 with a resolution of heart, mind and purpose as seen in verses 11 and 12. David is resolved and committed to “walk in (his) integrity and to not be a man of “wavering faith” (James 1:8), but a man who stands sure and “evenly” before the Lord. We see this not as a prideful explosion of words, and we know this because we see from verse 11, David understands that before a Holy God, he will still need God’s mercy and His redemption as he lives as a man in this world. David closes Psalm 26 with the conviction of praising and giving testimony to the Lord “in the congregation.”

APPLICATION: Let us walk surely today and every day in the integrity that can be ours and in the measure with which we have applied God’s Word to our hearts, our minds and our lives…that before Him, we may boldly, like David, say we “have walked in our integrity and trusted in the LORD and we will not slide.”

Concerning God’s Elect and the Presidential Election


“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” KJV I Peter 4:10-11

WELCOME! The Strait Gate is the gate we must pass through in order to learn more of how it is we are to live as God’s elect; that is, those who profess to know Jesus Christ as Saviour, Redeemer and Lord of their lives. Those who responded to John 14:6 when Jesus clearly declared that the way to Heaven, the way to the Father, the way to Eternal Life with Him forever, is only through Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Jesus is that Strait Gate. All are welcome, but those who are called by His Name, those who have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work on Calvary when He shed His precious blood for our sin that we might spend Eternity with Him, those whose lives must live up to the standard laid down in the Word of God…it is to you to whom this blog is addressed to today, in particular.

There’s much ado about the coming Presidential election; it floods our news media; the television commercials; the newspapers; the social networks; and eventually it will become so overwhelming, we will feel it to the point of nauseum. ENOUGH! our flesh cries out!

Let me say, right from the beginning of today’s post, I am no pundit concerning political matters, whatsoever; I am not politically minded…and yet, we are “in the world, but we are not to be a part of it.” I am not filled with wisdom about all the different issues and have it all ‘figured out’ as to who is the good guy, the best guy, the only guy that deserves my vote in November. I only say this, I have God’s Word, and it is from this perspective that I base this post today.

I have begun praying about this upcoming election and I hope that you, too, have it as one of the entries in your prayer journal. We need God’s wisdom and direction; God’s guidance and direction; and we need believers to get on their knees and pray, pray, pray…and when God has convicted you of His wisdom, to then, obey. God is not going to heal our land if we don’t. That is what is required of us and if we fear the Lord and the power of His might, we had better heed His word. He says it clearly in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – KJV Can it be any clearer than that, O Christian?

The only wisdom I can impart to you today is something that, no doubt, you already know; something you have heard before. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to state the obvious, lest we have forgotten, overlooked, disregarded, ignored, allowed the flesh to rule us and we have turned from worshiping God to worshiping mammon.
The WORD OF GOD is our standard!

It matters not which political party you identify with. What matters is what the candidates are saying and how what they say matches up to God’s Word.

Many veils have been thrown out there to confuse us and diffuse the clear vision we should be exercising based on God’s Word, especially when it concerns the economy and in particular ‘our’ money and the reported goals of the candidates campaigning.

We need to set our sights on God; God, ALONE! What is it He has promised in His Word to those who are His own? In His dissertation, commonly called, the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is speaking (Matthew 5-7) giving us His Wisdom on how we are to live as Christians. I draw our attention to that portion, therein, where Jesus tells us to not be filled with anxiety:

Matthew 6:25 and following:
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?

And then in verses 32-34
“(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.” “KILL” refers to “murder”. We are upstanding citizens…we wouldn’t think of murdering anyone! Well, good! Why then, would we stand behind a candidate that doesn’t believe in the sanctity of life? One that believes in abortion of a fetus…better said, one that believes in the killing of a baby in the womb? We are guilty, just as guilty, of breaking God’s law from Exodus 20:13, if we stand with one such as any candidate that would be in keeping with transgressing God’s Holy Word. God has told us in Exodus 34:7b, He will by NO MEANS “clear the guilty.”

I hope and pray that these few words will give us all pause to stop, pray, draw near unto God and His Spirit; to listen for His still small voice and heed His bidding as we consider how we will vote in November.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there by that find it.

Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil frit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:13-20, KJV

Self-Diagnosis: Are We Teachable?


Today’s post is born from my quiet time readings this morning in Psalm 119:65-72, KJV, which caused me to contemplate on how teachable I may or may not be. I thought I would share that with you today and perhaps bring to your consideration this same self-introspective query.

65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.

66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

69 The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.

70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes

72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

I will present the self-examination from the first-person’s point of view and hopefully, as you follow along, you will consider yourself, also, in the first-person, as I have.

~IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will HEAR God’s direction for me from His Word, (verse 65)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE and believe God’s Word, I will DO according to His Word. In obeying Him and His Word, I will learn HIS good judgment and HIS knowledge, (verse 66)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE and keep His Word, it will keep me from going astray, (verse 67)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will seek THE HIGHEST GOOD, that is, GOD!! God is good and does good. I want to learn from His good and His high standard His ways (verse 68)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will not be swayed by those who wish me ill. My heart is “set”!! on God. “I will not be moved.” (verse 69)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will have His discernment and “see” those who wish me ill for who they are, but because my focus, my sights, my heart is “set” on God’s Word, my delight in God’s Word will overshadow those malcontents. It will not affect me for evil. (verse 70)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will see the good of having been afflicted. Affliction sends me running to where I can get help; my help is from God’s Word. It is then from His Word that I will learn His statutes (verse 71)

~IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will recognize and acknowledge, receive and accept the value of Eternal things…true treasure, that being, God’s Word. God’s Word is of more value in this life and in the life to come than the treasures of gold and silver, which this world counts as valuable. (verse 72)

Finally, IF I AM TEACHABLE, I will consider this from I Corinthians 9:24-25:
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.”

I am in a race to obtain a prize. Not a gold medal as in the Olympics nor any other earthly medal but running to receive an “incorruptible crown”.

Time to take self-inventory:
How teachable am I? How teachable are you?

In the “race” of life what is my objective; what is your objective?…a medal of recognition where the gain is your 15 minutes of fame or an incorruptible crown…one that will last forever in Eternity?

Thank you for stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate today. I hope you will take time to contemplate these thoughts today and hopefully your meditation of such will bring you to a place where your choice is one that revolutionizes your life and it glorifies God.

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Gleanings from James 3:1-4, If Any Man…Is A Perfect Man


Our text today is the continuing in James, beginning in chapter 3:1-4, but our title is taken from verse 2: “…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” – KJV

I Peter 3:8-12 would suggest that this discipline lies in the measure that we love God and we respond to His Word and His teaching.

8 – “…be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:”

9 – “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”

10 – “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:”

11 – “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

12 -“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”

This morally and spiritually mature man, has learned to control his words, his tongue. This man, is also able to “bridle” his whole body. Circumstances in life certainly place us in vulnerable situations where we might be provoked to react and misuse our tongue and sometimes in these weaker moments, the consequences have a far-reaching grasp on our future integrity and credibility. Our talk and our walk have to match.

David, in Psalm 39:1understood this necessary discipline so that before his enemies he would not belie His God.

“I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”

In the same Psalm, verse 4, David pleads with God to show him how vain and transcient his life is and in remembering this, David wanted his life, his days to count before the Lord and for the Lord.

How can we practically go about being such a man as David, a man after God’s own heart?

Proverbs 16:1 Tells us we must prepare our hearts. When we do this, our responses and answers that we give are from the Lord, Himself. We have worked in, so to speak, God’s Word in our daily lives, in the moments of our days, that when the vexing occasions of life arise, and our flesh wants to take the reins and ‘react’, the Spirit of God and His Word permeate our being, IF we have prepared ourselves, that is, armed ourselves with His Word, to we will respond as God would have us to respond.

Proverbs 16:6b confirms, “…by the fear of the LORD, men depart from evil.” If when we “fear the Lord”, as the Word says we should, this becomes the great motivater for man to turn away from sin and in this particular instance, sinning with his tongue.

What troubles we could by pass and avoid if we were to do this ‘little thing’…with this ‘little organ’, our tongue, saving ourselves all manner of grief.

Proverbs 16:17 says it this way: “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”

Proverbs 16:23-24 shows us the process of the perfect man James speaks of. This man’s heart, if his heart is after God, will teach his lips and his life, and thus, his soul and health will benefit.

23 – “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 – Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”

Proverbs 18:4 gives us the comparison of two men. One man’s words are hidden, and the other man’s words are a refreshing overflowing spring of wisdom to the hearers.

Proverbs 18:4 – “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” Wisdom always conveys clarity; truth.

And, one more from Proverbs 18:21 to convey the power of the use of the tongue, whether for evil or good. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

I don’t think it could be any clearer: how we use our tongue will either benefit us when used properly and certainly bless the Lord, or it will be as a nail in our own coffin, afflicting our lives and our health and our very being, as it afflicts the receivers of our words. The choice is ours.

This portion of James beginning in verse one is addressed to believers (‘brethren’) and indicates that “masters” or teachers who obviously teach with the use of their tongue, will be judged more strictly by God because they instruct others. They are being warned in the use of their tongue, because by virtue of their sin nature, they will offend someone. Though inherently a sinner, are being advised to not let their sin be the sin concerning their tongue. If they will prepare their hearts and fill it with God’s Word and teaching, as they apply it to their lives, they will come to that place of spiritual maturity (perfect) and be able to discipline themselves when placed in those circumstances where they are tempted to sin.

You may not be a teacher of God’s Word. However, if you are a believer, you may be a parent, an aunt or an uncle, a church member, a friend to someone who looks to you for guidance in their walk with the Lord and this wisdom to discipline the tongue still applies to us.

An earlier post from James’ Gleanings spoke of ‘faith and works’. If we profess to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then our works must prove our faith. If the tongue is a weak area of faith for you, begin again, right now…confessing your sin to the Lord, Himself and with the power of the Spirit and the power of God’s Word, let us commit to obey God in the use of our tongue, that He might be pleased and glorified.

Gleanings from James 2:1-13, What We Do, Tells Who We Are


Today we will be considering our responses to partiality and its consequences and also see what Scripture has to say about partiality: Does God consider it to be sin?

To briefly recap: when last we met we find James giving a command to the “brethren”, those who profess the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. The command: to not show partiality in dealing with any person. To show partiality is to misrepresent their faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. The partiality goes beyond what is described in verses 2 and 3, which distinguishes between wealth and social standing, but reaches into every area of where our heart and mind might distinguish a man ‘different’ from ourselves. The great measurement standard must be only this, …loving our neighbour as ourself, God’s second Great Commandment (Mark 12:30-31). However, the second does rely on our response to the first Great Commandment and that would be to “…love the Lord…with all…”. “All” is inclusive of our hearts, our souls, our minds. If truly we loved God as He has told us we should love Him, the second commandment would not be difficult for us at all. Giving obedience to His first commandment would overflow into the second; it would be covered. Herein is the problem, then, if we cannot obey the second: we have not loved God with our “all”.

To not obey God’s command concerning showing partiality to others, we actually have seen ourselves as the standard, as seen in James 2:4, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” When we discriminiate, we judge; God calls this “evil”. We have set ourselves as the standard, that is, what WE think is good, right, honorable. What does that say about us? Don’t look now, but our PRIDE is showing!! That great BIG, UGLY “I” in the middle of pride has reared its head, puffed out its chest and postured itself before others. Not only has this monster emerged from the depths of a heart that has not given God his ‘all’ and made Him first place in their heart and life, it has excluded Him altogether. Certainly God is not in this equation; He is not on the throne of our heart…WE ARE! James 2:4 calls this “evil thoughts”.

James points out in verse 5 that “God hath chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him”.

STRONG’S CONCORDANCE:
chosen – 1586 – selected; make choice, choose (out)
poor – 4434 – beggar (as cringing); distressed; pauper
rich – 4145 – wealthy; abounding
love – 25 – (agapao) To love in a social or moral sense – (be)-love(-ed).

What is God’s perspective as He looks at the heart of man? God chooses the man who is rich in faith; the one that loves Him (with all) to be “heir of the kingdom” of God. God has selected/made a choice of those that cringingly beg because of their distressed circumstances (these understand and accept their helplessness) and can only offer to God an abounding (rich) faith in God’s promise and provision of Eternity with Him. These by their very faith is the evidence of how deeply they love God. God loves them with an “agapao” love.

From the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, we find “poor” described in this manner, verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Blessed means “happy”, as it relates to the inner qualities of a follower of Jesus Christ. This man is ‘poor’ because he knows he has not yet attained God’s righteousness, but can rely on God’s promise of future blessings with Him in Eternity. The self-righteous “I” person who judges and sets himself as ‘the’ standard, the one who shows partiality, thinks of himself as having already arrived to a standard of righteousness. Not unlike the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

God’s Word goes on to say in verse 6 that ‘these” self-righteous, respecter of persons, “despise” the “poor”. Certainly, this is not an “agapao” love; it is not how God’s love responds or how we should respond if we claim the name of Christ.

STRONG’S CONCORDANCE
despised – 808 – indecency; (by implication) shame
oppress – 2616 – To exercise dominion against
draw – 1670 – to skin; to drag
judgment (seats) = 2922 – a tribunal (to judge)
blaspheme – 987 – defame; rail on; speak evil

Why do we show partiality to the “poor” and honor “rich of this world” when they oppress us and ready to “have the book thrown at us” if we don’t live up to their self-righteous standards? Do we want to be numbered with them; be like them? Or, do we want to be “numbered” among God’s peculiar people; those who bear His worthy name? Yes, verse 9 says showing partiality; being a respecter of persons as “sin”.

Again, God’s Word reaffirms what our behavior should be: “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well”.

In the verses that follow, vss. 10 and 11, reminds me that if I sin, even in one point of the law, I am guilty of having sinned in all points of the law (God’s Commandments). It doesn’t matter which law I ‘break’…it all points to not having loved the Lord, my God, with “ALL” my heart, soul and mind. That when I sin, as Psalm 51:4 says, I sin against God, Himself. We sometimes tend to think of one sin as being greater than another. Not to God. One sin is the same to Him as another…it is a transgression against Him of His Holy Word. We fall short; we miss His mark of righteousness. To do anything less than obedience to God and His Word is sin. But, on the other hand, to obey God and His Word places us in a a place to “be judged by the law of liberty.”. It is when we obey God and His Word that we have true freedom. When we sin, we entangle ourselves with it’s chains of bondage.

James closes out this portion of chapter 2 concerning partiality by speaking of God’s judgment concerning our responses. We can approach that day of judgment without fear or shame of how we have lived here on earth, if we are a saved believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Scripture.

I John 4:17-18 says this: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love”.

Thank you for stepping Beyond the Strait Gate again today. I hope you will return again when we continue with Gleanings from James and conclude chapter 2, discussing ‘faith and works’. Some are under the misconception that in order to get to Heaven, we need to “work” our way there by doing things that will ‘rack up points’ in reaching a place of favor with God, so that He allows us entry into Heaven, Eternity with Him. Not according to Scripture. However, there is a place where ‘works’ do have a place and we’ll discover together and just what part ‘works’ plays in God’s plan for us.

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