Tag Archive | strait gate

Self-Diagnosis: Are We Teachable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The KING of my ‘heart’~ A servant’s heart

February, being the month where hearts are given special recognition on the calendar, having completed James 1, I am breaking away for a few posts to give several vignettes on the various kinds of “hearts” we experience in our lives and briefly exploring what Scripture has to say concerning the ones depicted. In each vignette, despite the condition of the heart, He is to be King of my/our heart. We begin with ‘a servant’s heart’. We will resume in James 2 shortly.

A Servant’s Heart! What IS a servant? One who is hired to perform household duties; one who is to serve as an assist or aide and be used for another; one who is to ‘supply something’ in some way, for someone else.

These thoughts and ideas, these pictures and imaginations are the things that come to mind perhaps as we conger up and consider ‘What is a servant’s heart?’ I would think, for the most part that would go against our grain; WHAT? ME be a servant?!!

Yet, Beyond the Strait Gate, our considerations are not with what mankind thinks, but more importantly, with what God thinks and what God says concerning a “servant’s heart”.

In I Samuel 13:13-14 we find Samuel speaking to King Saul:
“Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which He commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought Him a man after His own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over His people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.” – KJV

We learn from these few words, God is displeased with Saul…and why? Saul was disobedient to what God commanded him to do. We further learn from these verses, God is going to seek to replace King Saul with “a man after His own heart.” Saul disqualified himself from being used further in God’s plan, having chosen to follow his “own heart”, rather than “God’s Heart”.

A servant’s heart is one that wants what God wants and then obeys God. He doesn’t just assent with his own intellect; his own mind. He goes beyond this: he puts God’s Word into action.

Turning to Acts 13:22, “And when He had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” – KJV

We find, once again, confirmation in God’s Word of this Old Testament passage, where His Word refers to that “man after God’s own heart” as being David. Why did David qualify to succeeed Saul? In God’s Omniscience, He knows David will fulfill all His will, as attested to in the Acts 13:22 passage.

Simple message, is it not? From where God sits on His Heavenly Throne, He looks into our hearts and either sees a servant’s heart, that is, one seeking to only do what He wants us to do, or He sees it cluttered and overflowing with our own willful and selfish desires to do as we please.

What do we treasure above God? Above His Word? Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” KJV Can we possibly escape the searching eye of the Lord? I know we cannot. Psalm 139 makes this ever so clear! I hope you will take the time to read this psalm prayerfully and meditate on the all encompassing knowledge and scrutiny of God’s presence concerning each one of us. He knows every step we take, every word on our tongue, every thought in our hearts and our minds. We cannot escape His presence wherever we may go. We also have the assurance that if we would but take His Hand, He will lead us and hold us securely (verse 10) and protect us (verse 11). God’s searchlight into our being need not be a fearful experience, but one which turns to praising Him.

Our response then, depends on our hearts. To have a servant’s heart, one that wants what God wants and then puts those desires into action by obeying Him, is what God deems having a “servant’s heart”.

A servant’s heart will have this response before God, as the Psalmist did in His seeking God’s will for his life:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Verses 23-24 – KJV.

Until, once again you step through Beyond the Strait Gate and we meet, consider your position before God. If He is not King of your heart and you have not a servant’s heart, bend your heart and knees, speak with Him and ask Him to give you the strength to be all He would want you to be for His Name’s sake.

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Gleanings from James: God’s Word, My Response

     I think words to be a marvelous thing!  Mere sounds of speech; letters put together resulting in a brief remark, if they be few; in a promise of love when used in a marriage ceremony; a promise to ‘pledge allegiance’ to your country as a citizen, a soldier; words can encourage, uplift the down-trodden, comfort the brokenhearted.  All these, just some of the positive ways to use words.  And, on the other hand, words can do the complete opposite when the words are quarrelsome words; slanderous words; deceitful and insincere words, sarcastic and crude words.

 How we choose our words, how we use our words, how we deliver them, also all are evidences of our heart, revealing whether or not they emanate from a heart motivated by God and His Word or from our own sinful inherent nature.  Without speaking, God, Who is Omniscient, does know our hearts and sees it all, Psalm 139 tells us as much,  but once those words come out of our hearts to the ears of others, then, they too know.

 It will be my goal today to close out chapter one of James, beginning with verses 19-27.   Perhaps before you leave today, you will take with you some thoughts from God’s Word to consider, to meditate on, that will bring you to a newer place in your journey Beyond the Strait Gate.  

Assuming you have visited here before and have already been studying James with me (and if not, please read the previous blogs beginning with the first one, Gleanings from James, to catch yourself up), I begin with verse 19-21 of James 1:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 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.”  – KJV

Strong’s Concordance:

Wherefore” – 5620 – (insomuch) as, so that (then); therefore; to

     “swift” – 5036 – prompt; ready’

     “hear” – 191 – give audience to;

     “slow” – 1021 – dull

     “speak” – 2980 – tell; say; utter

     “wrath” – 3709 – violet passion; indignation; vengeance

   “worketh” 2716 – accomplish; perform

     “righteousness” – 1343 – justification

   “filthiness” – 4507 – filthiness (same)

    “superfluity” – 4050 – abundance

    “naughtiness” – 2549 – depravity, amlignity or trouble, evil; malice

    “meekness” – 4240 – mildness; humility

    “save” – 4982 – to deliver or protect; heal, preserve, be whole

    “engrafted” – 1721 – implanted

     “word”  – 3056 – utterance

     A long list, today, of Greek definitions, some being obvious, yet, I am one who needs to make sure just what it is that God’s Word is saying.  For instance, as we look at the word, ‘naughtiness’, we might think of a child who has stuck his hand in the cookie jar in disobedience to his mother’s warning to not have a cookie before having his dinner.  Yet, in the context of this verse, it is more than disobedience; it is ‘depravity’, evil, malice’.  Would we have attributed so strong a word to the child’s disobedience to his mother’s word?  Yet, it is not my opinion, but God’s Word that says this.  With these definitions before us, let us review the verses 19-21.

 Remembering that James is speaking to believers, those who are called by His Name, those who revere God and His word; His Word that supercedes all other words spoken, He says this:

    “Be swift to hear”…Listen up!  Pay attention!!  Be ready to respond (properly and in accordance with God’s Word).

               A believer’s speech, his every utterance in his interacting with others, should be “slow to wrath”, that is, ‘dull’, ‘without any violent passion, indignation or vengeance’.  

The fact that we are saved believers doesn’t make us super-human, nor sinless.  No.  And, we are not able to comply with God’s Word to us by our own volition, sheer self-will, determination, or any other human means.  No.  To be able to obey God’s Word, takes a surrender of our own will to His will, and then, arming ourselves with His Word, burying it in our hearts and minds so that if or when provoked to respond in a manner that contradicts how it is God says we should behave as His child, we may in His power, respond properly.  Oh yes, we have all sorts of excuses, reasonings, responses, why we cannot.  Well, we can!  God said we could!  His Word says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13.  He prefaces this verse with “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (vss.11-12)

 “OUCH”!  Did that sting?  Well, sometimes God’s Word, does sting us, but it is a good thing that it does.  It stings us when we understand, we recognize where we are in relationship to God’s “engrafted”, implanted, Word, or where we are not.  We see ourselves from His Word, as God sees us, and perhaps, it is not always a pretty picture, but the good news, is that this is not the end.  We can get it right.  We can clean up our act, so to speak.   This is where we get instruction from God’s Word in verse 21.  

God tells us to have a heart “transplant”,  have a meekness of spirit and heart, a humility, if you will; give up your own sinful nature, our own self-will response and obey Him.  Key, is that heart attitude: “meekness”.  Our goal is to please God; not ourselves; not others.  God’s Word tells us in verse 21 that when we respond properly and in accordance with God’s Word, it is then that we are able to “save our souls”; that is, heal our souls, preserve our souls, deliver our souls from sinning against God, and be whole.   

In the next few verses: 22-25, we have God’s commentary on our response to these first several verses: whether we hear and do His Word or respond adversely:

                “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth there, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”  – KJV

Strong’s Concordance:

 “doers” – 4163 – a performer

     “hearers” – 202 – hearer

     “deceiving” – 3884 – deludes; beguiles

     “forgetteth” – 1950- to lose out of mind; neglect

     “manner” – 3697 – what quality

     “looketh” – 3879 – to lean over so as to peer into; stoop down

     “continueth” – 3887 – be permanent; perseveres; abides; tarry

In these verses, God is telling us to not just give Him “ear service”.  Don’t just give Him a nodding assent to what He is saying.  It is not enough.  To agree, and do nothing with what we have heard is to not have heard at all.  Hearing and agreeing without action simply is a deluding of ourselves to ourselves.  Of what profit is that to our souls?  No, having heard what God’s Word is, understanding it, is having received our “marching orders” and requires a calling to action!  When we “practice what we preach”, take action on who we say we are, we do not delude ourselves, verse 22.  We will not progress nor grow in our Christian walk of faith otherwise.  

     To have had a meal prepared for us and have it set before us and we do not eat, is an illustration of what God’s Word is saying here.  The meal, unless eaten, is of no use to us.  Our sensory organs, seeing it, smelling it, do nothing for us, and will not benefit in our nourishment nor strengthening, without taking it, eating it, chewing it and digesting it, that it will benefit us when we need it.

God’s Word gives us the example of the delusion of hearing and not taking action in verses 23 and 24, and reveals the kind of a man the hearer may be.    What kind of a hearer are we?  A careless hearer of God’s Word, who hears and then goes on his way, forgetting God, or an earnest hearer, who looks into the “mirror of God’s Word” and acts upon what he sees?

More evidences that manifest the kind of a hearer we are are found in the concluding verses of James 1:26-27:

“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – KJV

The “earnest hearer” will respond in three ways, according to this portion of Scripture:  

               1.  He will bridle his tongue: control it in every use of it.  Otherwise, this verse says, his “religion” is in in vain.  His religion is empty.  His religion is not pure.  His testimony is without value.  His good works, nothing.  He deceives his own self, if his tongue is not controlled.

2.  He will visit the orphans and widows IN their affliction.  Strong’s definition of  ‘affliction’ – 2347- is “anguish; burden; persecution; tribulation; trouble.”

3.  He will “keep himself unspotted from the world”.  They are to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and not be a part of the world’s system; the world’s ways of doing things, but to live according to His Word.  Christ suffered ridicule from those who rejected God’s ways.  

     This then, is what we are also called to do, if and when necessary.  We cannot live with one foot on Heaven and another on earth.  Remember what we learned in James 1:8:  “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Thank you for visiting Beyond the Strait Gate today.  If you care to leave a comment or have a question, please scroll down to where you can leave a comment.  I try to always respond to every comment.  If you would like to be alerted to my having responded to your comments, please check off the box below your comment saying you would like to be alerted via email, or just return back here, to view the responses.

Gleanings from James: What’s God Have in Mind?

Oh, the creaking of the gate…sounds as if I have visitors.  How good of you to visit once again as we continue delving into the Epistle of James.  

Let’s just briefly refresh our memories of what we have talked about thus far:  James, Jesus’ half brother has written this letter to the Jewish Christians that were scattered abroad throughout the world.  He considers himself a servant of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (v. 1)

 From verses 2-8, James makes it clear that we should not consider nor respond to trials, temptations, testings, negatively, as God has allowed them for our good and they will result in good spiritual fruit.  We will, if we have the proper response come to that place where we will be “entire”, that is, have a mature and complete spiritual walk, (v. 4).   Our response, should we find ourselves not knowing what to do, is to ask God, and if we ask in faith, He is more than delighted to answer us.   Faith, being the key to petitioning God for wisdom.   James concludes this portion on the purpose of trials by telling us that the man that endures this time of trial, this time of testing will ultimately receive the “crown of life”.  This “crown” is His promise to all those who do endure.  Enduring, going through the trial/testing is evidence of our love for God.  

When last we met, we learned that there was a difference between the testings or temptation that God allows for His good for us, and those which emanate from our own lusts; our own desires.  We talked about how our own desires are truly at enmity with God’s desires for us.    Our desires have a negative connotation in that they spring inherently, because we are of Adam’s race.  These temptations, once consummated bring sin and sin, death.  Eternal death.  And, in closing when last we met, we talked about how we might make the transition from Eternal Death to Eternal Life by accepting God’s gift to us by faith, through Jesus Christ, God the Son. (See post dated January 14 if you are joining us for the first time.)

 As we open our Bibles today to James 1:16-18, we will consider God’s purpose in all of this.  You may be asking, “Why is this so important?”  Well, it is important TO GOD!   In verse 18a, it says, “Of His own will begat He us…”    His OWN will…

James 1:16-18:~

“Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” – KJV

Remember, this letter is addressed to “brethren”, v. 1, that is, Jewish believers in the salvation procured for them by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross at Mt. Calvary.  

James starts off this portion with a warning to his “beloved brethren to “not err”.  With further study, you will find  that this literally means that they should ‘not be deceived’; they should not ‘wander, go astray, or be out of the way’  God has for them.  [“Be not deceived” is used elsewhere in the New Testament with the same Greek word, for those of you who might be interested in ‘digging a little more’:   I Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 6:7.]  

 “Every good gift, every perfect gift”, that is both the gift and the act of giving is from God.  It all comes from Him.  It is of His will that we received anything at all, that is good.   Let us be careful to not take the credit for what God does.  Our place is to point to Him, for He is the Provider for all that we have.  

Strong’s Concordance:       

                             “perfect” – 5046 –  complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.);  of full age.

                            “Father of” – 3962 – parent

                             “…lights” – 5457 – To shine  or make manifest , especially by rays; luminous (in the widest application) ; fire; light.

                            “variableness” – 3883 – not fickle

                             “shadow” – 644 – no obscuration

                             “turning – 5157 – revolution; turn

From these Greek definitions of the Scripture words, we have the distinct conclusion that God, is the parent and Giver of every good and complete gift that he gives us  to complete us in every phase of our living, whether it be in our livelihood, our prosperity both physically and spiritually, emotionally, mentally and also, our moral fiber, just to name some of the areas He distributes His goodness to us.    From this verse we also see that Father God is not a fickle God, not one that changes His Mind, but is resolute, unlike mankind.  What a great security to know that our God is immutable, He never changes.          

So now we come to the question for the day, What’s God Have in Mind?  Verse 18, gives us this answer.    

     God had a purpose when we who are called by His Name were born again; saved.  He “begat” us with “truth”.    The Truth is His Word, and it is by His Word, that is 100% without error, that we came to know of His Way of salvation…through Jesus Christ.  

     We have just celebrated Christmas, the celebration of the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.    See the following account from the Gospel of John:

                   “In the beginning was the Word,  and the Word was with God , and the Word was God.”   – John 1:1.  Jesus Christ is the “Word” that is being spoken of here.  

“The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that wasmade.  In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”         John 1:2-4.  

“…as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  John 1:12-13

Here’s Christmas:  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.) full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14.

Begat: Begotten…What is on God’s mind?  Verse 18 of James 1 tells us why:  “that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”  

  The “we” in verse 18 is in reference to the Jewish believers.  They were the guarantee of a fuller harvest.

  And, how then, does that apply to us?  We, who are saved believers of Jesus Christ, are part of the guarantee given to the Jews…part of the fuller harvest.  Today we are to be used, just as the early Jewish believers were used, for a fuller harvest.  In order for us to be useful to God’s purpose for His Name’s sake, we must go through those trials, testings, we learned about in verses 3-4.    As we   grow in our living Beyond the Strait Gate, according to His Word, we are accomplishing His good will for our lives.  

Knowing that God knows what He is doing, and that His way is Perfect, let us be glad and thankful that He loves us enough to make us all that He would have us to be.  Let us embrace God’s method of teaching us endurance with JOY; seeing the trial as a good gift; a perfect gift.

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: Patience Perfects and Completes

We continue today, in James’ epistle and his narration on the purposes of our going through trials or testings in our Christian walk.  From God’s Word, we concluded we can and should be “joyful” in any and all trials that our Sovereign God allows us to go through, if we are called by His Name.   James makes it clear…it is a “good thing” because temptations/trials, in our walk of faith will result in patience.

PATIENCE you say??  Oh, I can just hear the resounding of voices crying out at this reading:   ‘How can I have patience?’

‘You don’t know what I have to put up with!’

‘I’m not a patient person and that’s just who I am.      I can’t help it!’

‘You don’t know my… boss/co-worker/ (you fill in the blank)!’

No, I don’t, but I know this:  We, who have gone Beyond the Strait Gate, can have the kind of patience that emulates the Lord’s patience because He has equipped us to be able to accomplish His perfect will.

Paul writes in Philippians 4:11b-13 to this end:

  “…for I have learned, in whatsoever, state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

We are encouraged from Paul’s writing in Philippians to respond as if we were someone looking in through a window from the outside and seeing the circumstances that are going on, having an awareness of the “trial”, but living as one who is unaffected so as not to ‘wimp out’ because in Christ, we have all the strength and ability to overcome the problems at hand.

A Christian’s walk either moves ahead or stands still and in standing still, begins to slowly die.

Let us move ahead!   We ended our last post with James 1:3~

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

Continuing on with verse 4 ~

“But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

James tells us to “let”…  As I read this, I see have a choice to make: either to accept or not accept God’s plan for me.    I am to not fight against the trial, but rather to embrace it…count it all “joy”, as we talked about last time you came to visit.    He is, after all, “…the Author and Finisher of ” my “faith…”, Hebrews 12:2, and all that God does is a comprehensive work; it is a complete work, and in Scripture complete means it reaches maturity.

At this writing, I’ve come to that place where I’m considered a “senior citizen”.  Oh, there are times when seniors are the object of self-poking humor concerning their “moments” and their “memory”…but there really is a beauty in having reached the years that I have become.  Not that trials stop.  No, that would be unrealistic.  There’s always more sculpting to be done  by the Master’s Hand.  Still, by the time we reach the senior years  we can already see the work of His Hands as we have allowed Him to form us, the clay in His Hands.  I’ve said, as we have allowed Him to form us…because sometimes we fight against Him; we go against the grain of what He is doing; we are in His way, if you will.  We have not allowed God to have full reign with us but have insisted on our own way.  When this happens, His work is temporarily halted until such a time as when we turn from our own ‘wisdom’ and relinquish our will to His will.   Patiently waiting on God to accomplish His purposes in the trial/temptation/testing and just surrendering our wills to Him, until He accomplishes His “perfect work” which verse 4 says, will result in being complete or “perfect”; and perfect  is reaching maturity.

Returning to the end of verse 4, once we have “let patience have her perfect work” and we are “perfect and entire“, Scripture says we will want “nothing“.  Nothing = not a whit!  If I skip over the parenthetical clause, “that ye may be perfect and entire” in verse 4, it reads this way: “But let patience have her perfect work…wanting nothing.”  So…if I will just get out of God’s way, allow Him to do His work and will in me…I will learn to endure to the end patiently, wanting “not a whit”.

[Strong’s Concordance:  “wanting” – 3007 – lai’po – Destitute (of want; of lacking)]

Seems hard to imagine us not ‘wanting’, not ‘lacking’ and I suppose as the mere flesh that we are, our first response would be to claim to not know how to go about ‘not wanting’, ‘not lacking’.

In the next verse, James answers this very question.

Thank you for coming by and visiting again Beyond the Strait Gate.  On your next visit, we’ll continue on with James to see what he has to say about “wisdom”, as it concerns “wanting nothing”.