Tag Archive | Eternity

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

 

 

 

 

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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.”

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.

Please feel free to leave your comments, sign up for future alerts to new posts

Passion Week: Is It Nothing to YOU? – Part 2, He Took My Place, And Yours, Too!


“Who His own Self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,…that we,…should live unto righteousness by Whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray;…”
I Peter 2:24-25a KJV

Today, commonly known as Good Friday on the Christian calendar may, for some, mark the nearing of the end of a period of sacrificial abstinence. For others, it may be a day off from school or perhaps a half day of work and the beginning of a weekend filled with Easter egg hunts, family gatherings with sumptuous meals to celebrate…Uh, WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY CELEBRATING? Do they know? And, for others, it is the reminder of the tremendous sacrifice of God, who provided a way for sinners to be brought into oneness with Him through the Cross of Jesus, the Christ.

February, the month of “LOVE”, cannot compare with the Greatest Love story given to us by God the Father, when He sent His Beloved Son to die on the cross in OUR PLACE! And, astoundingly, Isaiah 53:10 says, “…it pleased the LORD to bruise Him…” (that is, His Son, Jesus) to “make His soul an offering for sin…” Take that in for a minute! It PLEASED GOD, the Father, to bruise, Jesus, God the Son!!

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13

Jesus Christ, God the Son, gave us THE HIGHEST expression of love when He lay down His life for you and for me…ON PURPOSE!! He took OUR PLACE! He died on the cross in OUR PLACE!! Has it sunk in yet!? Jesus Christ, is the “Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world”, Rev. 13:8

Was the cross, the shedding of blood, the sacrifice really necessary? Why did Jesus willingly lay down His life for us? Was there another way…something else that could have been done to accomplish our attaining Heaven?

Let’s try to remove and peel apart the layers of all we have ever heard, ever been taught, ever imagined, ever surmised and discover for ourselves from God’s Word, the Holy Bible, to know God’s perspective concerning these questions.

We have already established from this post and previous archived posts that man is a sinner because of Adam’s sin. We are of Adam’s race and inherently, sinners. There’s nothing we can do to remove our sins: good deeds cannot make us righteous in the sight of a Holy God. He cannot look at sin and because of our sinful nature, we cannot enter into Heaven when it is our appointed time to die. We know from Old Testament Scriptures that men made sacrifices to God annually to be cleansed of their sins and sacrificed spotless, unblemished lambs. This they did year after year in hopes of pleasing a Holy God. God, made us for Himself but without a means of our being acceptable in His sight, we cannot abide with God in Eternity…our sin separates us from Him.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity (sin) of us all.” ~ Isaiah 55:6 KJV

God had HIS “PLAN” for us but only ONE, The Begotten of God: Jesus Christ, His Son, the unblemished Lamb of God could fulfill God’s purpose in bridging the path from our sinful state to His holy place. The Cross is that bridge. The Cross is that pathway to Heaven to be with God in Eternity, and Jesus, His Son, was the ONLY ONE that could fulfill His purpose for us. WE should have been crucified, but He died in our place. He Who had no sin…died for our sin. He took upon Himself, OUR SIN and hung them on the cross; the Cross, a shameful place to die! Yet, He loved us so much, that He willingly died in our place to give us a way, a means of being with God forever in Eternity…if we accept His way and His finished work on the Cross, by faith.

Why did God do it? Because of His Mercy! “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life.” ~ Titus 3:5-7 God, in His Mercy, gave us what we didn’t deserve.

Because Jesus’ dying on the Cross for us is a “finished” work, meaning nothing else need be added to it, to make it complete. We do not need to add to it by doing good deeds to achieve Heaven, we need just believe in Him and His finished work as being the means of Eternity with God forever when we die. We need to confess with our mouths and hearts by a faith that believes the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross redeems us from our sin, and we will receive His gift of righteousness, because now we are in Him and He in us; all of our sins have been forgiven because the death of Christ paid for these sins fully by Jesus’ finished work.

Romans 5:17-21 says,

17. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

18. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

19. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I close with this question to you dear reader…WHAT IS IT TO YOU that Jesus died on the Cross for your sin and mine?

WHAT IS IT TO YOU that He took our place on the Cross?

The story doesn’t end here. Resurrection Day, some call it Easter Sunday, is yet to come. It is the day of celebrating Christ’s VICTORY over death and the cross! He lives! Jesus Himself said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

What will you do with Jesus? The way to life everlasting, Eternity with Jesus Christ, is open. Will you choose life or death? We only know we have this moment right now and are not guaranteed the next moment of breath. I encourage you to choose life and to do it now, if you have never considered the choice before. Now is your opportunity for the salvation of Jesus Christ!

Author’s Note:
I am so blessed to report, thus far in the short time of this blog’s publication, Beyond the Strait Gate has been read in 14 countries throughout the world. My prayer is for God’s Word to reach “the outer most parts of the world”. If the Lord would have you to be part of reaching beyond your own Jerusalem, please forward the link to this website to those you know; to those on your salvation prayer list; to those you want to encourage.

Thank you once again for visiting Beyond the Strait Gate. I look forward to your return, if the Lord tarries. And, if you have not yet done so, please do sign up to subscribe to be alerted of the next publication.

Passion Week: Is It NOTHING to You? – Part 1, Jerusalem’s Hosanna


The title of this post is taken from John Stainer’s oratorio, The Crucifixion. The melody has been running through my head all day. Being “haunted by the tune and words, “is it nothing to you?”, I sought to find the words online and use them as the theme basis for this post and its follow-up during this particularly sacred season on the Christian calendar. We begin what is known as the ‘Passion Week’; the week leading into the passion of Christ and ultimately and gloriously culminating with His Resurrection: His victory over death and the grave.

The words that follow are from Stainer’s oratorio: Jesus is speaking. These precede a few thoughts that I will leave with you to consider, to contemplate, to meditate on, and to search out the depths of your heart and ask yourself, “Is It NOTHING to YOU?”

“Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow.
Which is done unto Me,
Wherein the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger.

I laid My eternal power aside, I came from the Home of the Glorified,
A babe in the lowly cave to lie.

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

I wept for the sorrows and pains of men,
I healed them and helped them and loved them,
But then, they shouted against Me,
“ Crucify!”

Is it nothing to you?

Behold Me and see: pierced thro’ and thro’ with countless sorrows,
and all is for you;
For you I suffer, for you I die.

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

Oh men and women your deeds of shame,
Your sins without reason and number and name,
I bear them all on the Cross on high,
Is it nothing to you?

Is it nothing to you that I bow My Head?
And nothing to you that My Blood is shed?
Oh! Perishing souls to you I cry,
Is it nothing to you?

O come unto Me, by the woes I have borne,
By the dreadful scourge, and the crown of thorns,
By these I implore you to hear My cry,
Is it nothing to you?

O come unto Me, this awful price,
Redemption’s tremendous sacrifice,
Is paid for you.
Oh! Why will ye die?

O come unto Me!
For why will ye die?
Come to Me.”

After these words and music, the play continues thus:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished saith,

Jesus said,
I thirst.

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said,

Jesus said,
It is finished.

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

And he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

I hope you have allowed your imaginations to flow freely as you read the words of this song, the pleading of Christ for the souls of man to relinquish their sinful ways and accept His finished work of salvation for mankind.

The week leading up to the crucifixion began quite joyously, as we read in the Gospels. John 12:13-19 gives the account of a great crowd of people who had come together to celebrate the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem. Hearing of Jesus’ coming, they “took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” John 12:13, KJV. In the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9’s prophecy, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Jesus had entered Jerusalem riding on a colt.

The people did not necessarily understand Who Jesus was,that Jesus had come to bring them salvation; that His coming was for a spiritual salvation and that the King that had come was not there to free them from the oppression of their earthly circumstances.

Verses 16-18 of John 12 clearly tells us how the crowd had heard of Jesus’ miracles, and “for this cause the people…met Him.” The crowd responded to Jesus’ works but not necessarily to Him, the Redeemer of the world Who had come to save them from their sin; the One Who would tear down the wall between their sinful souls and a Holy God. Jesus, God the Son, the Savior, the Redeemer, was God the Father’s answer to their sin problem and the only way, the only assurance of securing a place in Heaven for Eternity. This is not my opinion but clearly stated in John 14:6 where Jesus, Himself, says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Again, a reiteration from previous posts about “Faith and Works”, works do not get us to Heaven.

How different is the world today? How may cry out to God for reasons that are personal or reasons that are selfish but never cry out to Him for the only reason for why Jesus was born? He came to die that we might live with Him eternally. See John 12:24-26.

Are we seeking Jesus? Why do we seek Him? Does our reason for seeking Him agree with His reason for coming and dying on the cross? Perhaps it is time for some self-examination and some self-evaluation for the motives for which we say, ‘we love Jesus’?

These Hosanna-sayers were not truly seeking Jesus, according to His purpose. His last invitation to accept Him and the salvation He brought them is found in John 12:35-37:

“Yet a little while is the Light with you. Walk while ye have the Light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have Light, believe in the Light, that ye may be the children of Light.” KJV

There is always a percentage of those who having heard God’s word, will believe, but are ashamed to speak up for the Name of Christ. and His Word. Why is that? They fear man, that is, their peers, family traditions, family ties and relationships, and fear, binding them, will turn coat and not take a stand. John 12:42-43 gives us such an example: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

We cannot be “secret admirers” of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “…if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejected Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me so I speak.”
John 12:47-50 KJV

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Gleanings from James 2:14-26, Faith and Works


The Apostle Paul begins this portion of James 2 with a question:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

Having looked up some of the words from this question in Strong’s Concordance, please allow me to reiterate his question with my findings:

“What is the ‘profit’ (gain, advantage) if a man says he has ‘faith’ [Grk.: pistis’] (he is persuaded, and has credence; conviction of truth; reliance upon Christ), and doesn’t have ‘works’ (deeds; toil; effort; doings)? Can ‘faith’ (his credence) ‘save’ (deliver; protect; heal; preserve) him?

The Answer…to have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with our lips, with our mouths, with words, is not enough.

Why is it not enough, you may be asking yourself? “Talk”, the saying goes, “is cheap.” From one of Victor Herbert’s operettas, The Gypsy Fortune Teller, a lilting aire rings out putting the thought behind this old saying to music, “If people said the things they mean, and mean the things they say…no hearts would ache, no hearts would break, and love were love alway…” Words are easily said, thoughtlessly said, emotionally said, and sometimes momentarily said. Words can uplift and encourage but also, without any action or “works” behind our words that our words may bear fruit, words evaporate instantly, as a vapor into the air, disappearing from the speaker, impacting the hearer and possibly doing more damage to the recipient, leaving them in a more devastated circumstance both emotionally and physically than before those words were said.

God hears every word we utter, and in fact, knows our words even before we speak, “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.” – Psalm 139:4 KJV

Verses 15 and 16 gives us an illustration of how when we give well-meaning words to others, it is simply NOT enough!

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; nothwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?”

I think we can all relate…we see someone not as well off as we, ourselves, might be, and we might in the depths of our hearts ‘feel sorry’ for that person or their circumstance; we might tell them we will pray for them, we might express seemingly sympathetic words to “encourage” them…when in fact, perhaps the words only make us feel good about ourselves because we said “the right thing” or perhaps because we think someone will think well of us for having ‘said something nice’, but all those words, empty words, private thoughts about these unfortunates, are not any different than those mentioned in the Gospel of Luke’s account when a “certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way…saw him…passed by…and likewise a Levite…came and looked on him and passed by…”(Luke 10:30-32) These two men not only didn’t say anything, they didn’t do anything. NO WORKS!

We have a fine example of works in the verses that follow in this familiar parable of what is commonly known as The Good Samaritan. The Samaritan, “saw him, he had compassion on him.” Up to this point, only emotions are involved, but get ready…HERE COME THE WORKS! “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, to set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” (Luke 10:33-35) We have a perfect illustration of the second Great commandment we have spoken of before, concerning loving our neighbor as ourselves. Samaritans, remember, were despised of the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood and their different ways of worship (John 4:20-22). Despised or not, it did not prevent this Samaritan to not just have an emotional response to the injured man, but put that compassion into good works.

Faith MUST HAVE works, Paul says in verse 17, because a proclaimed faith that has no substance behind it, no works, is a dead faith.

What do we say we have faith in? A system? Our religion? Our family? Our church? God? The Bible? Our bank accounts? Our job? Our education? Our insurance policies? Something else?

The only kind of faith that counts for Eternity, is a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross of Calvary, when He shed His blood for the sin of the world.

It is not “works”, that is, good deeds, that seals our guarantee of Eternity with God when we leave this earth. No, not according to God’s Word, the Bible, in Ephesians 2:8-9. The Bible says we are saved by grace: His grace, His gift to us, His mercy, His loving us beyond our sinful nature, hating our sin but loving us and wanting us to be with Him in His Heaven where He lives, forever; for Eternity. Can we possibly fathom what Eternity is like?

God, Who is Holy, Who cannot tolerate sin: the barrier that stands between our being with Him, before the foundation of the world was made, had already known what and how He would resolve the sin dilemma. He would provide Himself, a Lamb, without spot or blemish, in the Person of Jesus Christ, God the Son, to bear our sin for us, that when we died, we could have the assurance of Eternity with Him forever. The price that had to be paid for our sin was Jesus bearing our sin and dying and shedding His blood for us on the cross of Calvary.

Jesus died for all men yet not all will spend Eternity with Him. Why not? Are there works that we must do? No, remember I have already said that good works are a response to having faith, not achieving faith by doing good works.

What, then, is the kind of “faith” that is in agreement with saving faith; the faith that God agrees with? Is it a faith that merely agrees or assents to things I “say” I believe in? James 2:19 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Well, this kind of faith is no better than what Satan and his devils believe in…they agree that God is; that he exists. Yet, we know that they are not going to spend Eternity in Heaven with God. So, this cannot be saving faith…a mere intellectual assent.

When the circumstances of life take a downward turn, whether through illness, or economic devastation, or natural calamities, or grief or pain…we may pray in faith, believing God can reverse or relieve our misfortunes, and if it is His will, He can, but these are not eternal matters. It is not a saving faith.

According to Acts 16:31a, Scripture puts it this way: “Believe (that is to trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” This faith is not temporal, nor intellectual, but one that relies solely on Jesus’ finished work on the cross of Calvary, and then means that “I” or “WE” are not trusting in anything we can do (works) to get to Heaven, but only on what Jesus has done. It is His “gift” to us. Like any gift, we have to receive it, or it is not ours. It may have our name on it, but until we take it for ourselves, make it our own, it is not ours.

If this is the first time you have considered this kind of faith, let me say, this is wonderful, because here and now, you have the opportunity to receive God’s gift of Eternal Life. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him….”

If Jesus is “knocking” at the “door of your heart”, asking you to let Him in and let Him take first place in your heart and life, you need to talk to God and tell Him you repent of your sin; you admit to Him, you are a sinner and there are no ‘works’ you can do yourself to make you acceptable to a Holy God; a God who cannot look on sin. Repent simply means to go full circle…and go from your ways of living your life to His way of living your life. If you tell Jesus you are accepting His taking your place on the cross for your sin, and turn from trusting in your own ways and allow Him to live in your heart ‘by faith’, THIS is saving faith. The only kind of faith that counts with God, according to His Word, the Bible.

The verses in James 2 that conclude this portion for today speak of works that that prove our faith. Once we are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we do His good will, the works that we do will be works according to His will.

Our “works” after we are saved, prove our faith: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

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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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