Tag Archive | God

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

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Gleanings from James: Testing vs. Temptation


    From a previous post, we noted in James 1:2 and 1:12 regarding ‘temptations’, that it was a good thing…we were to ‘count it all joy when we fell into… temptations’.  Temptations brought forth a good and right result, patience, being one result.  And, from verse 12, if we endured temptations or testings, we would ‘receive the crown of life’, a promise to all those that loved the Lord.    Testings as used in  these verses were used to prove us, designed to strengthen and manifest one’s character.  If we failed the test or trial, we are aware of our short-coming and our need to go through this testing again, until we come to that place where our character is what God would have us to become.   Certainly, these are of God’s choosing for us.

Today’s verses, James 1:13-15, use the word ‘temptation’ in quite a different manner:

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then, when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” ~ KJV

    Let’s briefly examine today, the difference in the use of the word, “temptation” and derivitives of this word.  

In verses 2 and 12, the same Greek word is used: ‘peirazo’.    

Strong’s Concordance – 3985 – a putting of proof by experiment (of good); to prove; to test; to try.   Let us note at this juncture, all good things come from God.  

     A few verses to acknowledge God’s goodness to mankind and by no means a comprehensive example of God, and His goodness.  I encourage you to take out your concordance and do a self-study throughout the Bible seeking out God’s goodness.  It is a humbling and rewarding exercise in getting to know God as He is and Who He is.

     Psalm 8:12a, “Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good;…”            

     In Genesis 50:20, “…but God meant it unto good, …to save much people alive.”  An example from Joseph’s life in bringing about ‘good’ to benefit many, through the trial in Joseph’s life.  [I encourage you to read the full account of Joseph’s life from Genesis to get the full impact of this verse.]

     Psalm 86:5, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

     Psalm 86:15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” 

Psalm 119:67-68, “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.  Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statues.”   

    In verses 13-14 we have some key words to consider.  Once again, using our Strong’s Concordance:

verse 13 –  “tempted” – 551 – apeirastos – Not temptable;

verse 14 –  “tempted” – 3986 – peirasmos – experience of evil solicitation, discipline or provocation;

– “lust” – 1939 – longing; desire.   

–  “enticed” – 1185 – allured; beguiled.

verse 15 –  “sin” – 266 – offence

–  “finished” – 658 – consumated

–  “tempted” – 3985 – (man) proven

–  “death” – 2288 – thanatos – death (be…)

      Taking our findings, let us try and understand what these verses are saying, having already established that God is good and His very nature is holy; no evil ‘thing’ comes from God and when He has allowed trials and testings in our life (“temptations”, verse 2), they are for the proving of our character and for our perfecting or maturing us to a completeness in becoming a more Christ-like nature.

 We find in verses 13-15 of James, that when we are tempted to do evil, to do that which transgresses against God and His Word, (see Psalm 51:4), that we are tempted, that is, provoked, because of our own fleshly and evil desire to fulfill our own longings and desires.

 Perhaps, we should stop a moment to think about what it is that might easily provoke us to sin.  What are the ‘traps’, the “weaknesses”  in the areas our lives where we might be easily beguiled and cause us to offend/to sin against God.   If we might have an awareness of not only what they are but when it is that we are most vulnerable to them occuring, perhaps we could be prepared with God’s Word to battle against the allurements to our flesh, that we might “not sin against God.”

     Verse 15, goes on to say, that when we DO give in to this ‘lust’ to satisfy our own longings, it can only lead and culminate in sin.  There are no degrees of sin; one sin is not more evil than another.  To God, sin is sin.  It is separation from Him, because He is holy.

     No one else is at fault…just ourselves.  (No, the devil did NOT make you do it!  We DID IT, because WE wanted to do it.)  

And, sin, Scripture says, when it is finished, when it is  “consummated”, results in “death”.  

Well, you might be thinking, that is the way it is…everything eventually dies.  Yes, that is true.  Why is that?  Perhaps you, who have come through, Beyond the Strait Gate, are new to these concepts from God’s Word and have never considered why it is that all things eventually, DIE!?  

For the answer to this, we would have to go back to the Garden of Eden.   Back to where creation began and God planted the perfect sinless man and woman in His paradise He made for them.  All was provided for man, and in this state of perfection, death was not heard of, until that day came when God’s enemy allured the woman, Eve, to sin against God and His Word to them.  It all comes down to ‘disobedience’.  You know, it is the same for us today.  When we sin against God, it is because of disobedience to His revealed Word in the Bible.  You know the story, and if not, you can read it in     Genesis 3.  As you read, you will find Eve’s human nature, just like ours,  at work.  We don’t like to be blamed for our wrong doings…so it was in the beginning.  Each one, blamed the other for their transgression.  Yet, as Scripture already has taught us from James, we sin, when we are allured by our own lusts…and when we ‘give in’ to these desires, we sin.  

      What about this question of death.   As we continue reading in Genesis 3, we find God’s judgment on Adam and Eve because of disobedience: not only did they receive a condemnation of death, Genesis 3:19, but this ‘death sentence’ affects every living thing .    In being “evicted” from the Garden, out from the reach of the tree of life because of disobedience against God,  Adam and Eve set the standard for all mankind.   Perfect man became a sinner.  We are Adam’s race.  We, too, inherently, are sinners.  Thus, we all die.  

 This was not what God had in mind when He created man.  He made us for Himself, and the plan was for us to live with Him forever.  So, He had a “plan B”, if you will.  He sent His Son, Jesus, who is God come down from Heaven for one purpose: to die on the cross of Calvary, shedding His blood, to pay the penalty for our sins. That is God’s remedy for mankind.   What is our part?

     God hates our sins, but He loves us and does want for us to be with Him in His Eternity, Heaven, with Him.   But, alas, sin doesn’t abide in Heaven.  Heaven is His Home and can be our home also, if we accept the gift of Jesus’ finished work on the cross of Mt. Calvary, when He shed His blood and died for our sin.  However, like any gift, we have to receive it.  We receive His gift by faith, through the grace given us by God.   Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” – KJV

The question that now remains for us…’will we accept the gift of Eternal Life provided for us by God the Son, or will we die…like Adam, in our sin?

Ponder the question today.  Meditate on it.   If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and profess Him as your Savior, then, we continue and endeavor to live according to His Word, embracing the ‘temptations’ He allows in our lives to prove us, that we might be worthy of His gift of Eternal Life.    

     If you are not a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, the challenge today is to consider what you have heard Beyond the Strait Gate, and if you are convicted of your need for His forgiveness and desire a life with Him in His Eternity, thereby living forever, then, you need to do business with Him.    Go to Him in prayer, admitting you are a sinner and do not deserve eternal life.  But, if you believe He died for our sin and rose from the grave to purchase a place in Heaven for you, ask Him to come into your life and take control of your life; to forgive you of your sin and save you.  He asks us to repent, that is to make 180 degree turn around from our way of life to His way of life.  If you are willing to do this and place your trust in Him for your salvation from sin, praise God!    

John 6:47 says this, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

     I would love hearing from you, and in particular, if you have made this decision to believe in Jesus Christ by faith.  Like a newborn babe, we need to know what steps to take to grow and become a strong Christian.  

Gleanings from James:Good Times? Bad Times? Rejoice!


What mental pictures come to mind as you think of the word, “REJOICE!” ?

Do you see children jumping up and down gleefully on an early Christmas morning?

Is it something as simple as a puppy wagging it’s tail?

Is it the quiet smile of a mother or a young wife, with her heart beating rapidly, as she sees her son/husband coming home from the war after a long absence?

Is it the shouting from the rooftop because you were once lost and NOW you see?  You have the secure hope of Eternity in Heaven forever and ever with the Savior!

Noah Webster’s Dictionary-1828 says this about “rejoice”: ~ “To experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations; to exult.   But, the primary sense is to shout, or to be so animated or excited.”

And, Strong’s Concordance – rejoice – #2744 –  kauchaomai – to vaunt (in a good or a bad sense): – (make) boast, glory, joy, rejoice.

All the opening examples above of possible reasons to rejoice have their seedbed in what we would call good reasons to rejoice, wouldn’t you agree?  James presents us with two different men, of two different positions in life, and still he says, “REJOICE!”   Which one of these men are you?  It really matters not.  The message is the same for both men: REJOICE!!

James 1:9-10a says this: “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:  But the rich, in that he is made low:…”

Strong’s Concordance – “low degree” – #5011 – tapeinos – “humiliated in circumstances or disposition): base, cast down, humble, of low degree (estate), lowly.

As each you are reading this today, perhaps you have found that your circumstances have changed either for ‘better or worse’ than they were yesterday, or maybe a year ago, or a lifetime ago.   If we were to be honest with ourselves…transparent…because in truth, to God, that is exactly how we appear…transparent…(see Psalm 139), what is our response to our present circumstance?  As  the world considers our circumstances good or bad, what does it matter? We are to REJOICE!

Verse 11 reminds us that this life is temporal: “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”

What, you say, is there to rejoice about?  WHAT?  As a believer we have everything to rejoice in:

You who are cast down today: “…Rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” ~ I Peter 4:13

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice, Philippians 4:4 reminds us.

Philippians is filled with of all kinds of  REJOICING encouragements.  Here’s another:  v. 3:3b:  “…and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”  Perhaps you might even consider taking the time to read through the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians in one sitting.  Sit down with your heart and mind open to receive a mega dose of God’s plan of  how to REJOICE!  Knowing this:  We “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth” us.

Turn your grief, your sorrow, your downcast countenance upside down, “Holding forth  the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” ~ Philippians 2:16

We have much to look upward and forward to, as we live here in expectation of His return and of having been true to Him and His Word.  REJOICE!

“…REJOICE in the hope  of the glory of God” Romans 5:2b

I’m getting all excited as I’m writing this…and if you are not beginning at least to feel lifted up from your circumstances, or further rejoicing if you were already rejoicing…then all I can direct you to do is to take out your Strong’s Concordance, look up the word, REJOICE, and go through the countless verses waiting there to be discovered by you in God’s Word.  Pray first, and ask the Spirit to guide you through His Truth that you might REJOICE, as He has said.

Returning to James 1:12 – “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”

What a blessed hope!  This alone should cause us to REJOICE!

James tells us “blessed”, that is, ‘happy’ is the man that “endureth“…

Strong’s Concordance – #5278 – hupomeno – the idea of ‘staying under’,            i.e. remains;  i.e. bears (trials), to have fortitude, perseveres: – abides, endures, patiently suffers”…

(the trial, the temptation) because having persevered and patiently endured it, he has the crown of life to look forward to.  God has promised!

How’s our REJOICING today?  Hopefully today, having come Beyond the Strait Gate, you will go on today and tomorrow and the next day, the next month and this year in the light of His Word, REJOICING evermore!

We may not rejoice perfectly every day with the things the Lord has placed before us, but we can, through the precious blood shed for us at Calvary, confess our sin and have the assurance of our sin has been forgiven if this be the case, and we miss the mark.  Continue to persevere and do His good will.   Our persevering, our enduring is a way we show God we love Him.

Thank you for visiting once again, Beyond the Strait Gate.  The next time we meet we will continue with James and examine what my Bible subtitles the ‘Pedigree of Trials’.  Hmm, perhaps you will look ahead and meditate on this before we meet again.

ALL SCRIPTURES are from the KJV of the Bible.

 

 

 

Gleanings from James: Need Wisdom?


From God’s Word, the Old Testament Book of Proverbs is filled with words of wisdom and about wisdom, giving us countless precepts for a good and wise way of life, and in particular, Proverbs 4:1-9.  

Therein,  we are given good advice on acquiring wisdom. From these verses the commands given are to “get wisdom”, verse 5; to “forsake her not”, verse 6;  to “exalt her”, verse 8.   These verses conclude with words telling us of the fruit of having heeded these words, “She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee”, verse 9 – KJV.

The verse that stood out to me years ago, when first learning of wisdom is verse 7: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all they getting get understanding.” – KJV.  So you see, it is not just enough to “GET” wisdom and pack it away like a pack-rat, but I have to understand it as well.  Understanding, to me, means that if I acquire it I must put it to use; I must apply it, or verse 9, will not bear the fruit promised.  So, to answer the title question: Need Wisdom?~ YES! A resounding YES, YES…we need wisdom.

Returning to our text for today, James 1:5-8,  Scripture says: “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 wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” – KJV.

Now the question is not whether we need wisdom, nor if we should seek wisdom, but whether or not we want wisdom.  Hopefully, you are visiting here Beyond the Strait Gate, because you are interested in knowing more…and today’s menu, being wisdom, you ‘want wisdom’.  And, if you’ve missed your turn, and come to visit and were not seeking wisdom, perhaps, you will be challenged before you leave, to follow Scripture’s directive and seek it from here on in.

In seeking wisdom, to Whom should we go?  We go to the One Who is all wisdom…we go to God.  He is all knowledge…and we who know Him, know  that one of His attributes is Omniscience; that is all knowing.  Why go to the shoemaker, if you need food for your table?  Why go to farmer to buy a car?  Ridiculous, is it not?!  Well, then, why do we go to another man or woman, to seek wisdom and not come to God, Himself, FIRST!  HE alone has the answers for which we seek.

Verse 5 assures us that God will not “upbraid” us for seeking His wisdom; that is, He will not reproach us nor revile us (Strong’s Concordance: #3679 – onedizo).  He wants us to ask Him.   So ask Him!!  Really quite simple, isn’t it? God tells us in verse 6 of James, there’s only one condition God requires when we go to Him, asking for wisdom.  We must ask “in faith, nothing wavering“. STRONG’S Concordance on ‘wavering’ – #1252 – diskri’no – “discern, doubt, partiality, staggering.”  To ask in faith, then, means I come asking and believing God 100% for His answer.  I believe God will show and give me what He knows to be good and right and I am to receive it without doubtings of my own, without reservations; without second thoughts about His response.    Can  we do that?  DO we do that?    

Hebrews 11:6 has this to say about faith: “…without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” – KJV

Thus, we must come to God, asking for wisdom… in “faith”, without “waverying” to receive from God “liberally”…bountifully (Strong’s Concordance – #574- haplos’).   So, not only does God give  us an answer, it is a comprehensive answer: an over-flowing answer to the request for wisdom.  And, how could it not be…if we are obedient to His mandate in Proverbs to “get wisdom”?  As, in the children’s song, O-B-E-D-I-A-N-C-E, it “is the key; do it immediately…it is the very best way to show we believe.”

Recapping, we can ask God for His wisdom, knowing all that He will impart to us will not only be for our good, but He will give us much wisdom.  God is approachable.   He is equipping us to be able to face the trials and testings He has allowed for us, and our response is JOY!   The trial brings us into an intimacy with God that we alone can share together.  It is in this intimacy that we get to know Him, Who He is; How He works; His character; His faithfulness and it is in this intimacy that our faith will grow strong IN The One in Whom we have believed.

Verse 8, “double-minded” – Conversely, if we come, asking with doubt, filled with our own spin on what we must do and how we will do it, we will not have God’s blessing.  Why?  Our faith is not wholly based on Him, nor wholly resting IN Him and we have responded as one who is double-minded.   Our mouths say “HELP!”, but our hearts and self-will have interferred and polluted a pure, clean faith that should be based in God alone.  In this case, we can expect turbulence.  No peace.   No clear answers.

If we have no peace, it is time to examine the situation and where it was that we have not accepted God’s will and direction for how to proceed.  Confess it, and then, get it right…OBEY HIM!   God has said in                     I Peter 1:16, “Be holy for I am holy.”

In the September 1 devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Never tolerate…any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God.  Holiness means unsullied walking…unsullied talking…unsullied thinking…every detail under the scrutiny of God.  Holiness is not only what God gives me but what I manifest that God has given me.”  Has God given you the wisdom He promises to give as you seek His Wisdom?  Then, go, follow it, obey Him, that you might be holy as He is holy, “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”