Tag Archive | Jesus Christ

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.”

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, A Few More Thoughts on Faith and Works


I cannot help but to return to this same portion of Scripture from the last post, in that, I feel there’s still more to glean from these verses. I’ll not rehash what has already been said, since it has been just a few days since the last post, except to revist verse 14, the basis for this post: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

We already know to have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough. Just as a newborn babe has life, it is not enough just to have life. The newborn cannot continue to exist healthily without proper nutrition and the environmental protection and care necessary to maintain good health and growth…to become a healthy man. On a spiritual level, it is the same. To have responded to God’s invitation to Eternity, “life” with Him forever and ever, this spiritual life must be nurtured as well in order for it to come to a healthy, mature and vital existence as part of the Bride of Christ.

How does this spiritual maturity develop? This newborn faith must “feed” on the Word of God daily, and in the consistent feeding upon God’s Word, the Holy Bible, we begin to come to know God, Who He is, what His promises are, what it is He requires for our intimate walk with Him, that we may, as we grow, manifest His works of Righteousness. Our works of His Righteousness in us is what will be seen of others. Others could come to know the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “as” we manifest Him in our lives. And, what if we don’t? Well, it is simple. Just as the body will die of malnutrition, so will our faith die spiritually and God’s purpose for us will not be accomplished. We are, for all intents and purposes, a ‘dead branch’ on His Vine. We cannot “fake” good works. John 15:1-17 is a dissertation by Jesus, Himself, where He speaks of Himself as being the True Vine and we are “the branches”. In verse 5 of John 15, Jesus says, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Perhaps we need to take some personal inventory and see how our faith is doing?

James gives us two different examples of “faith and works” in action! In verse 21, James reminds us of Abraham’s faith from Genesis 22:9,12 where we read of Abraham offering to God, Isaac, his son, his long awaited ONLY son, upon an altar of sacrifice. The test was to see if Abraham loved God more than he loved his son. Abraham was responding in obedience to God’s command, to sacrifice Isaac. Putting ourselves in Abraham’s place, how would we have responded to do this very same thing with one of our own children? When first we began this study in James, we read these verses, “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; know this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 Could WE count it all joy to be put to such a testing of faith? I don’t know, if I could or not. I do know this: the Lord has told me that He would not test me beyond that which I was able to be tested. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape; that ye may be able to bear it.” – I Corinthians 10:13.

God is faithful!! This is His nature! He is faithful to His Word, also. Look at what happens next in James 2:23 concerning Abraham and God. “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness and he was called the Friend of God.”

Abraham’s “faith” was on the line. It was being tested to see of what metal his faith was made. Would he obey God or would his faith waver; falter? As we read the Genesis account of Abraham’s faith, we see that God, Who is faithful, provided His own sacrifice for Abraham, after Abraham proved his faith. He had passed the test! He believed God’s promise to him of a son, and of a nation that would come through him. Thus, he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, knowing God. This is key, you see. Our faith is as strong as our knowing God, what He is like: merciful, loving and also just and how He works. This act of faith on Abraham’s part was his “works”. He put his faith into action. His faith was not dead.

James 2:24 gives us his “P.S.” on this illustration of faith and works when he says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only.”

The other illustration James gives is that of Rahab, the harlot. The harlot?! Can a harlot be useful to God’s purpose? Can a harlot enter the kingdom of God?

Rahab’s faith tank was perhaps of a lesser degree than Abraham’s. Yet her meager faith does not go without works. We cannot give the excuse that we need to grow more in God’s Word in order to have good works. James 2:25 says that Rahab was justified by her works when she received the messengers and had sent them out another way. You can read this Old Testament account for yourself in Joshua 2:1-24. Another example of how her “works” proved her faith…and not only proved her faith but it saved her life. Matthew Henry said this of Rahab: Rahab preferred God’s honor to “the preservation of her own country.”

Such faith, like that of Abraham and Rahab’s takes a decreasing of our own self-interests and an increasing of God’s interests. Are we willing to lay aside our will for His will; are we willing to deny our self-interests for His interests? John’s Gospel 3:30 says it plainly and clearly, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is one of the ways God works in our lives that our faith might increase.

James 2:26 is the summary of this portion of Scripture on Faith and Works. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The works of our faith are the evidence and the spiritual life’s sustenance, which keeps faith alive and growing.

Thank you for once again stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate. I hope you will continue to visit and leave your thoughts, comments or questions. I will do my best to respond. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, I encourage you to do so, that you may know of the publishing of the next post.