Tag Archive | Christianity

Called to Be God’s Woman: A Titus 2 Woman – A Bible study, Lesson 2


Lesson 2:  The Elders and the Offenders, Titus 1:5-16

We all live ‘someplace’! Where do you live?

Some live in the city, some live in the country, some live in Maine, to where we retired twelve years ago, and some live outside of Maine; some live in the Northeastern United States and some live in another country; another continent.

Perhaps we live where we live because we were born there, or perhaps moved here, as we did. Wherever it is that God places us as Christians, we are where we are, by His design–placed there to be a witness for Him.

Our minds paint pictures of different places in the world. If we were to mention New York, Chicago, Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, California…certainly many different impressions would crowd your thinking. Maine is our Jerusalem. It could be that the town in which you live has a reputation which may, upon hearing of it, cause other familiar with your locale to form a particular impression.

Today’s lesson takes place in Crete. Titus was in Crete when he received Paul’s letter. Where is Crete? What was Crete’s reputation?

LOCATION – Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, southeast of Greece. It doesn’t look very big on the map, but when you compare it to the other islands it is considered large.

The CIVILIZATION – The Minoan civilization flourished there before the time of Christ. Crete is extremely bold and mountainous, surrounded on all sides by the sea. It has very fruitful valleys, highly prosperous and was full of people in very ancient times. A Jewish colony existed on the island.

ACTS 2:11 tells us that on the Day of Pentecost, Jews from Crete were in Jerusalem and witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit. During Paul’s voyage to Rome, the ship on which Paul sailed skimmed the coast of Crete before being caught by the storm and was driven to Malta, Acts 27:7-21.

“Today Crete is called Candia. The Cretans of the present day are precisely what they were in the days of the apostle Paul. They are notoriously, whether Turks or Greeks, the worst character to the Levant.” – Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock & Strong, Vol. II C-D, Publisher: Baker.

It is important for us to understand what Crete was like, considering this is where Titus was and also to better understand the task before him in Crete.

No doubt you have heard it said, and maybe of yourself, if you want something done, give the job to a busy person. They will probably get it done. By and large, I think this to be true. Perhaps the reason for accomplishing the task is because that person has a heart to get the work done. They do more than ‘say’ they will do it, they agree and believe in something; they put their mind and shoulder to the task and accomplish it.

In today’s study, I chose to proceed in a Q & A format. Opening your Bibles, let us begin by reading Titus 1:5-16. Read the Scripture and try finding the answers to the questions for yourself, first.

As we have already established, the letter to Titus was sent him while he was in Crete. Titus was left on the island of Crete to complete the work Paul was not able to complete on an earlier missionary voyage to Crete.

Question 1 – Why was Titus left in Crete?

In verse 5, Paul makes it clear that there are some very needed things to be done in Crete; things Titus needed to accomplish; things he needed to establish; things that were necessary and needed. In particular, Titus was to establish a church in Crete and also to ordain elders in every city.

Evidently, from Paul’s previous visit to Crete, there were some convers; disciples were gathered, meeting places were arranged, but they were in need of spiritual leaders; no official organization had taken place. The work was unfinished.

Ryrie notes that “a church is defective unless it has constituted leaders.” These leaders were to be appointed or ordained by Titus.

Paul was dedicated to seeing whatever work he’d begun, be completed. If he couldn’t be the one to complete the job, he left worthy men, like Timothy and Titus to complete the work. (I Timothy 1:3; I Thessalonians 3:10). By way of information, Titus was written about the same time as I Timothy was written.

Contemplation Application:

Too often, in our zeal to serve, we jump right in with two feet, without going to the LORD first and asking Him if what we are contemplating to do, is something He wants us to do. Our zeal may sometimes run amuck, because of pressure from others. A task needs to be done and no one is rising to the front to do the job, or perhaps, we are so zealous in the LORD that we want to be involved and will do anything and everything we are asked to do…and then some! Zeal is wondering! However, we have to run our zeal by the LORD FIRST! Not everything we’re presented with or asked to do by others is the LORD’S plan for us. On the other hand, we must not sit back and remain idle, either. Knowing where the LORD would have us to serve and how He would have us to serve, takes much prayer. And, then, it takes action. Once we accept a ministry or serve for the LORD, a good principal for us to follow is to finish that which we begin, in the LORD and for the LORD. Paul’s pattern is one that mimics God, for God does not “leave His work of grace unfinished.” Philippians 1:6 says this: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

The question I would ask you is this: What has the LORD required of us individually? What would He have us to do? Not, what we would like to do, but what would HE have us to do? Are we willing to do whatever He asks…and then, to do it?! Are we willing to not grow weary in well-doing and see the task to the end?

Titus was such a man. He was always willing to do the LORD’S will and to finish it.

Question 2 – Setting things in order affected who?

Men who qualified, verses 6-9, and were chosen for the office of elder; his wife and his children, verses 6-7, other people, verse 8, “good men” and those who contradict sound doctrine, that is the “gainsayers”, verse 9. (The ‘gainsayers’, according to Ryrie study Bible notes, are those who contradict sound doctrine.)

*a.) Note that this Epistle served not only as Titus’ credentials but also as a rule for Titus’ guidance. And, for today, it is also a code of rules for all time, as to the qualifications of elders and the mode of enforcing doctrine and duty.

*b.) Martin Luther, in speaking of the Epistle to Titus, said, “This is a short Epistle, but yet such a quintessence of Christian doctrine”, that this, the purest essence of the most typical example of Christian doctrine, “and composed in such a masterly manner, that it contains all that is needful for Christian knowledge and life.”

*Bibliography:
(a.) George Smeaton, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement, pg. 326
(b.) The Unfolding Drama of Redemption, W. Graham Scroggle, pg. 239.

In verses 5-9 we will see the nature of the government in the church and then in verses 10-16, we will discover ‘the why’ it is necessary.

The principal office in the Church is that of bishop or elder.

Question 3 – From verses 6-9, what are the qualifications of a bishop?

I. His general qualifications: A bishop must be blameless, verse 6.

He must be a man of exemplary character and behavior in his private life. One who is not called in question or called to account.

In the Pastoral Epistles by Homer Kent, (page 213), we read that “the gender of the terms in this passage is masculine, showing that the overseer must be a male who cannot be successfully accused on any of these important matters.” Homer also says, “the reasons for such a high standard is the fact that overseers are stewards of God’s property.”

The Bible calls such a man as this: “blameless”.

II. His family qualifications: These are two-fold: the husband of one wife, and have faithful children, verse 6.

(a.) One wife – There was to be no polygamous unions.

Contemplation Application:

We can see a picture of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the church, the bride. There’s only ‘one’.

(b.) Faithful children – That is, children who were believers; children who were not unruly; children who would not bring shame to their parents.

Children who were pagans would be a great handicap to an elder. And, also, having children who were believers, but were not respectful or well-behaved, ‘unruly’, as the Bible puts it, would also prove to be a source of embarrassment to their father. If he could not rule over his own family, how was he to be a good steward of God’s people? How could God trust such a man with this precious responsibility?

III. His personal qualifications:

He is to be a good steward of the things of God, not self-willed, a man that controls his temper, a man that is not a drinker, nor one that uses physical force, one not greedy of gain, hospitable, one who loves goodness, verses 7b-8a.

Let’s take these individually. He must be a good steward or caretaker of things that pertain or belong to God. What follows will help the elder be a good steward.

WHY should the elder not be one that is self-willed?

(a.) The elder is not to be a man that is interested in pleasing himself, that is, interested or to take pleasure in things for himself. He’s not a ME!, ME!, ME! person. This qualification involves not just ‘things’ that give pleasure, but also his behavior and his temperament. He is not to be a person who is self-willed and arrogant. These are not qualities that would make for good leadership and the good of the body of Christ. Such a man would be rivaling what God would have him to be and to do for the body, with what he wants to do either for himself, or in his own way. This type of man doesn’t lead and follow the LORD; this type of man dictates according to his own will.

Contemplation Application:

When we see such a person as this, one that doesn’t meet these personal qualifications as a Pastor, it should send up a ‘red flag’ to the body of Christ as one who should not be in authority as their pastor.

Continuing with the qualifications, why do you think the elder must be someone who is not soon angry? Not given to wine? Not a striker? Not given to filthy lucre?

(b.) Not soon angry – In the Greek, ‘orgilon’, this speaks of one who is “irascible, prone to anger.” – Pastoral Epistles by Homer Kent, page 214. He must be a man who has self-control.

(c.) Not given to wine – We can see how being a drinker could certainly trigger the anger; how he could become quarrelsome; how his judgments concerning that over which he is a steward, could be flawed; how drink could lead to ‘being a striker’.

(d.) Not a striker – This refers to one who is pugnacious. One who is ready to use his fists to resolve a problem.

(e.) Filthy lucre – One that is not shamefully greedy of gain.

Contemplation Application:

The Bible speaks to us of not serving both God and mammon…money. These are the ways of the world…and not how believers should respond concerning money. How much more for the elder to not be guilty of filthy lucre.

(f.) Hospitable – The root of this word: ‘philoxenon’, means loving strangers.

In these Biblical times, there were not many places suitable to accommodate those traveling. Inns were often scenes of brawls and vice. The elder was to be one that would welcome the traveler.

Homer Ken, Jr. adds that hospitality also had other opportunities to be given as concerning widows and orphans. – The Pastoral Epistles, Published by Moody Press.

(g.) Lover of good men – This is an extension of being hospitable. The elder is a lover of goodness: this is, a devotion to all that is good and beneficial; a devotion to everything worthwhile.

TO RECAP:

The elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, faithful children, a man who is a good steward of the things of God, one who is not self-willed, not soon angry, not a drinker or a striker, nor one greedy for money, one who is hospitable and devoted to everything that is good and beneficial.

When we look at these qualifications thus far, we can see how exceptional the elder must be and the great responsibility he bears before God and for the responsibility for God’s people. It is a very straight line to have to walk. Let’s now continue with a look at his mental, spiritual and moral qualifications.

IV. His mental qualifications – The elder is to be sound-minded. Sound-minded is also synonymous with being spiritually sober. Sober in judgment, calm so as to not be turned aside by false teachings. Again, referring back to “not given o wine”, the elder needs to be always controlled by the Spirit and to be without any impairments to his physical or mental capacities. Sound-minded!, verse 8b.

V. Spiritual and Moral Qualifications – Verse 8b, “just, holy, temperate” and verse 9, “holding fast” to God’s Word as he has been taught…so that he may teach others.

Let’s take these one at a time:
(a.) Righteous – (‘dikaion’) refers to being a ‘just’ man. The elder’s conduct must be one that meets with God’s approval.

(b.) Holy – (‘hosion’) refers to the elder being holy “in the sense of his being unpolluted”. The elder must be holy in themoral and religious sense; his walk and his talk should match.

(c.) Temperate – refers to the elder being self-controlled (‘egkrate’). He is a man that keeps himself in check and restrained in every way, and in the Greek, it particularly refers to sensual appetites.

(d.) Holding fast the faithful word of God – That is, the elder is one who must cling to the word which is characterized as faithful, trustworthy, or reliable (‘pistou’). – Homer A. Kent, Jr., The Pastoral Epistles, page 215)

Kent goes on to say “the elder must hold to God’s Word which is in accordance with the recognized body of Christian truth taught by the apostles”, Acts 2:42.
Why? That he might be able to encourage and exhort those whom he oversees, according to the Scriptures; according to God’s truth! It is his responsibility to always “ward off error” and promote truth.

From these qualifications thus far, we see from these very ‘public’ qualifications, the elder must be ‘loyal to the Word of god, able to teach, faithful as God’s steward.

Question 4 – Why did Paul require Titus to find men with these qualifications?

To find men with these qualifications would certainly be a challenge in Crete. They would be exceptional men in any society, but especially, at that time, in Crete. Why, you may ask? We find the answer to this in the answer to Question 5.

Continuing in Titus 1:10-16, we now come to the second portion of this lesson: The Offenders. Before continuing with the questions, take time to reading these verses now.

Question 5 – What is the reputation of the Cretans from (a.) verse 10? (b.) verse 12?

(a.) As we see from verse 10, they are unruly, vain talkers, deceivers; the Cretans are insubordinates; they are disobedient to God’s Word. Their talk is empty (vain), achieving no useful purpose.

(b.) We see in verse 12, God’s Word says, they are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons (slow bellies).

The “prophet of their own” that verse 12 refers to is Cretan poet, Epimenides. (Ryrie notes that he “exaggerated for effect”).

Question 5 – What further instruction does Paul give to Titus?

From verse 11, Paul’s instructions to Titus is to STOP the mouths of these OFFENDERS. The primary mean of “STOP” is to ‘gag, muzzle, bridle’ the mouths of these Cretans.

And in verse 13, Titus is to rebuke them sharply. Why would Paul give these instructions? Deceivers within the congregation of believers were not to be tolerated. They needed to be silenced by Titus and the soon-to-be appointed elders.

In verse 11, we see they are upsetting families by teaching a false doctrine; and their motivation to do this? PROFIT!! They choose to gain money for their own pockets, at the demise of another. Their evil ways would cause families to wander away from the truth. They certainly had no interest in a holy God, nor heeding his Word. Their only interest was themselves.

“We are not told how the silencing was to be accomplished. However, in these verses that follow, we have some examples of Paul’s intent.”

I Timothy 1:3, 4 – teaching only the Gospel; 1:20 – a remedial discipline of Hymenaeus and Alexander who had made “shipwreck” their faith. Ryrie says they were to be refused any help or fellowship from the church, and 4:7, “refusing old wives’ fables”.

II Timothy 2:16, 21, 23 – rebuking brings soundness in the faith; and 3:10, reject heretics after they have been warned twice.

“At first the errorist should be tenderly admonished so that he may be won for the truth. If he refuses, he must be sharply reprimanded and told to desist. The person who persists in his evil ways must be shunned by the church and disciplined. The supreme measure, excommunication, may have to be employed in order to safeguard the church and in order to bring the sinner to repentance”. – New Testament Commentary, William Hendriksen, Baker Book House, Publishers, page 351.

Question 7 – What is the character of the Cretans?

We find this answer in verses 14, 15 and 16. They were given to Jewish fables, or myths. They were Gnostics, that is, they had knowledge, of a sort, on Old Testament Scriptures (Adam, Moses, etc.,) or they were legalistic, I Timothy 1:6, and spread their stories, turning men from God’s truth, verse 14.

In verse 15, we read their “minds and consciences are defiled”.

In verse 16, they profess to be believers, but yet their lives deny God. They are reprobates.

We can see from this account the great responsibility given to Titus by Paulo. His appointing of elders to head p the various groups of believers in Crete would not be a trivial meaningless job, nor a responsibility that would be accomplished easily. Still, with great confidence, Paul knows Titus is the man for the job.

Question 8 – Despite the reputation, the character and the false profession in Crete, what is Paul’s direction to Titus?

Titus 2:1 – “Speak the things which become sound doctrine…”

We see that Titus certainly was charged with a humongous task before him in Crete. Finding men to be elders with these qualifications within the Cretan society would not be an easy task. But Titus was up for the challenge and ready to put his hands to the plow. He was a bold and faithful man of God.

Contemplation Application
:

Whenever God gives us something to do that is ‘foreign’ to us, we must realize that we are not alone in the working out of the task. God gives us what He knows we need and what He knows we can accomplish. If we are holding to faith and looking to Him for guidance and the wisdom to accomplish the task.

How do we meet the things the LORD presents to us when a new and unfamiliar challenge is placed before us? Will we trust the LORD knows what He is doing? Will we, by faith, go forward?

In our next lesson we will begin in Titus 2 and study on The Practice of Believers. Thank you for stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate.

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

 

 

 

 

The Music of “LIFE”: Springs of Living Waters


What a delightful picture comes to mind when I envision “springs of water”! Perhaps you can imagine with me clear, cool, refreshing water and can see in your mind’s eye God’s handiwork across His earthly canvas of bright yellows, red, pinks, blues and greens with the wafting scent of delicious aromas perfuming the air…it’s spring! Living in the northeastern part of this country, there are many who are anxiously awaiting these beauteous and delicate visions of delight. The calendar indicates that March 20th is labeled the “first day of spring”, however, it may be a while before we can see that first crocus pop its head up through the ground. In front of my living room window I have about 4′ of snow mounded up; it may take a while for us.

Yet, we can delight in “other things”, things that are far more important; things that are not temporary but things that are eternal. We begin with God’s Word, our first and foremost delight as we await the change of season. God’s Word is a “Spring of Living Water.” Despite our environment or our circumstances in life, God’s Word gives us direction as to how we can rejoice and claim the music of life.

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

Yet, there is another “spring” that refreshes and it is not seasonal, nor is it temporary, but eternal. It is Living Water, and it springs from Jesus Christ, the Giver of Life. In the Gospel of John, we encounter a woman at a well who has come to draw water from a well and while she is there she encounters The One Who can giving her water; everlasting, eternal water. Receiving this “water” she will never thirst again.

John 4:1-15
Verse 7 – “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, “Give me to drink.”

Verse 10 – Jesus …said unto her, ‘If thou knewest the gift of God, and Who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.”

Verse 14 – Jesus…said… “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Gospel song: Springs of Living Water,(Chorus)

“Drinking at the springs of living water,
Happy now am I, My soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,
O wonderful and bountiful supply.”

This living water, we know, speaks of Eternal Life that springs forth, abounding and continually refreshing our souls in our new life in Christ.

But what of the sinner? Can they possibly understand the concept of ‘living water’?

Evidently this Samaritan woman did not really know what Jesus was saying to her about ‘living water’. She only understood physical water; that which she could drink with a cup and satisfy her thirst for the moment. She meets Jesus at a well and hears something totally foreign to her. Living water?! Did this living water mean she would never have to come to this well again? Perhaps, she thought, ‘That would be wonderful.’ We see in verse 15 she asks Jesus for this water, thinking that the water Jesus was offering her would satisfy her physical thirst. She could only respond in this manner because this was the extent of her experience and where she was coming from. She said the same words Jesus was saying, but the intents and meanings of each of them were in complete opposition to each other: physical thirst versus spiritual thirst. She didn’t understand.

The Samaritan woman’s experience is much the same as the words in stanza 1 of this gospel song:

“I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.”

Only Jesus has the Authority to give this gift of living water. The prerequisite for receiving living water was that we believe as stated in John 7:38, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

And, the way to receive the living water? Jesus declares in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” The springs to satisfy our spiritual thirst are available, but we must needs take the action.

The Samaritan woman is interested in Jesus’ offer of living water…but, doesn’t yet understand that she must see her need for this living water. Jesus understood this…He is God, He is Omniscient and His Wisdom is perfect. She was not to receive what God was offering her without first understanding her need.

Many times we come to Jesus in prayer and ask of Him, just seeking to receive something we ‘want’, but not necessarily seeking Him. We, who are believers, should know better than to do this, but sometimes our own sinful flesh gets in the way. This Samaritan woman, because she didn’t yet have this benefit of Eternal Life, needed to see from Jesus’ perspective her need for this living water.

In the verses that follow: John 4:16-18, Jesus sets out to do this and asks her questions. Questions that bring her to full admittance that she is living in an adulterous relationship. She is a sinner. The Samaritans, as do the Jews, believe in a coming Messiah; they believe in The Christ. The Samaritan woman expresses this in verse 25: “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.”

Think for a moment…this woman believed in a coming Messiah and I’d imagine, she considered all the implications of what it would mean for her when He did come. Yet, her lifestyle was not lived in preparation for His coming nor in fear of His coming, but with a wanton self-interested response. We who have God, the Spirit, in us have this same choice. Knowing that Jesus will one day come as Judge, will we live in our old nature and not in the newness of life? We have God’s gift of Eternal Life and it is a ‘spring of living water’. It is an ever abounding spring that never dries up…a spring that refreshes and when we drink from His Well, our days will be filled with His grace and blessing in our lives.

In verses 28 and 29 we see the Samaritan woman’s response to her encounter with Jesus. “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”

She left what she had in her hand, behind, and went to declare or witness to others of her encounter with Jesus. Can you hear her now…excited, declaring God’s glory and spreading the news of ‘living water’?

In the second and third stanzas of John Peterson’s Springs of Living Water he pens these words:

“How sweet the living water from the hills of God
It makes me glad and happy all the way;
Now glory, grace and blessing mark the path I’ve trod,
I’m shouting “Hallelujah” every day.

O sinner, won’t you come today, to Calvary,
A fountain there is flowing deep and wide;
The Savior now invites you to the water free,
Where thirsting spirits can be satisfied.”

These words speak well of this passage in John 4 and of the new life response of the Samaritan woman.

Do they speak well of our response to new life in our daily walk? Are we thirsty? Do we need refreshment to our souls? Are we keeping our souls alive in Him and allowing His living water to permeate every miniscule part of us, thereby having our lives blessed with His grace and. In turn glorifying our God?

Let us purpose to ‘drink’ daily at The Springs of Living Water!

Gospel Song: Springs of Living Waters,
Penned by John W. Peterson, 1950

Thank you for once again stopping by and visiting with me Beyond the Strait Gate. My heart’s prayer and goal is that the believer be encouraged by these posts and by obedience to God and His Word. If this is your first time visiting, thank you for stopping by. If you would like to be alerted to further posts, please subscribe on the right-hand side of this post where it says, “subscribe”. You will then be alerted to the new posts via email.

If this was a blessing to you, please either ‘like’ the post and/or leave a comment. Thank you. 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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Gleanings from James 3 ~ Who Is A Wise Man?


It’s been a while since continuing with my Gleanings from James theme. In all honestly, I found it difficult to continue with James 3 as concerning God’s Word on “the tongue”. I found my thoughts going in so many different directions and just needed to pull away from this for a season, until now. I will be addressing this topic in this post, however, I am going to approach it by jumping over the first twelve verses of James 3 to James 3:13-18, and then referring back to the portion skipped, by applying God’s Word from the latter portion of James 3.

“Who is a wise man…”, verse 13 begins. A whole book in God’s Word, the Bible, is dedicated to truths given to us by God, that we might have wisdom…God’s wisdom. It is the book of Proverbs. Shortly, we will be referring to some of what Proverbs has to say regarding wisdom and from those verses, perhaps we, each, might be able to better determine an answer for the title of this post, for yourself.

In verse 14 of James 3, we read what wisdom is not! It is not bitter envying and strife in our hearts. Interestingly enough God’s Word goes right to the ‘heart’ of the matter: pun intended. Man may be able to discern bitterness between men when it reaches the obvious outward stages: whether by body language, insinuations, physical interaction, hurtful or slanderous words…but God sees the heart, Scripture tells us, and it is there, in that seedbed, where God’s searchlight first spies those early seedlings of bitterness. It is there, in our hearts, that we first sin against God.

Earlier, in James 1:20-22, we read “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” We deceive OUR OWN SELVES!! So it seems that no one else is deceived…not those that observe us, and in particular and foremost, not God.

Why are we so obvious to everyone? What is it that they see and know about us that we have missed? Are we so overcome with our own pride and passions that we are blind? What is it that we must do to not fall into this worldly response; this ‘trap’ that belies our identification as a follower of Jesus Christ? The Lord considers perversity as an abomination to Himself; Proverbs 3:32, “For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.”

In James 3:17 we find God’s wisdom on the matter: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

Wisdom that is “from above” will reveal and manifest itself with these fruits of righteousness…but it must have a beginning and that beginning is with God Himself. These attributes are Who He is and because He is Holy and has called His own to be holy, also, we must also respond with these same fruits of righteousness; our identification with Him.

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”

That fear, is that awe, that reverence due God because He IS God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, Proverbs 3:19-20.

God embodies knowledge and understanding and if we need His wisdom, Proverbs 2:6 assures us God will give us of His wisdom, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

In our earlier study of James 1:5,6a we recall God’s Word saying, “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing waivering…”

Returning to the thought in James 3:17 concerning the fruits of righteousness which those who are exercising God’s wisdom display: pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, merciful, bearing good fruits without partiality or hypocrisy, let’s return to the beginning of James 3, where James discusses the tongue.

In James 3:5-6 James points out how small a member of the body the tongue is, yet this tiny member is very powerful; powerful enough to to set ‘a fire, a world of iniquity; it defiles the whole body; it sets on fire the course of nature; and the destructive power of the tongue comes from Hell.’ Pretty strong edict on the tongue!

James 3:8 further describes this seemingly insignificant member of the body and reveals the tongue to be ‘untameable; an unruly evil; full of deadly poison’.

This same, tiny member of the body can both bless God and curse his fellow man. James 3:10b tells us “…these things ought not so to be.” Remember how in James 1:8 we read, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” The tongue displays a ‘double mindedness’ in its use.

And then James goes on to say in James 3:2 says “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” “Perfect man” meaning, mature man; a complete man. This man has understood all that we have already said concerning a man of wisdom.

James concludes this chapter saying in verse 18, “…the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

In closing let me share one more verse from Proverbs 1:7, that you might consider the question posed as you consider and meditate on this: Are You A Wise Man?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

The fool is interested in only following his own heart and not interested in seeking after God. His ways, he thinks, are right ways but in truth they are corrupt ways that lead to destruction both physically and spiritually. This man is always running from God and not toward God. The man that is running toward God and seeking God is ready to confess he is a sinner and ready to forsake his own way of thinking, his own way of living and repent; that is to turn from himself and his ways, to God and His ways.

When Jesus, whose birth we recently celebrated, came to earth as a babe, He came for the express purpose of fulfilling His Father’s will: to die on the cross of Calvary. It was in the shedding of His own blood for our sin that we, through His sacrifice, might gain entry into Heaven and have Eternal Life with God forever. This is God’s Mercy: giving us what we don’t deserve. It is God’s gift to us, but like any gift, we must receive it by faith. It is the only way to gain access to Heaven, according to God’s Word; John 14:6.

Will you accept the gift of Eternal Life God is offering you?

Are you a wise man?

Thank you for stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate. Please consider signing up in the right-hand column to be alerted of new posts. Also, if you would like to comment, I look forward to hearing from you.

Blessings,
Mercedes

“…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