Watching Daily At My Gates

November 16 Read Proverbs 15:14-20

In this age of materialism we would do well to ponder the truths presented in verses 16 and 17. We live in a world where more is better and if you do not have more of this world’s goods you have nothing. Over against this philosophy is the philosophy that if the fear of Jehovah does not characterize our lives we have nothing. Out of a desire for more worldly pleasures comes a strife that breaks out even within a family. Family peace is found in having peace with God. Having godly contentment will give to us the peace that passeth understanding. Seek this peace and shun the world’s pleasures and goods. Sing Psalter 246.

November 17 Read Proverbs 15:21-27

Back to the tongue we go in verse 23. Do you have joy with the answers of your mouths, young people and children? You will not have it if your speech is full of putdowns and sarcastic words to those around you. Oh, you may get a laugh at first, and some may think you clever, but those words will soon turn bitter and become hard to swallow. Rather than this course, seek to speak words of comfort and love to those whom God places on your paths. Those words may not make you popular with the “in” crowd, but they will be approved by God who hears all things. Speak the good words of wisdom and you will speak words which taste sweet for ever! Sing Psalter 25.

November 18 Read Proverbs 15:28-33

Children and young people, you might have in your head that every adult in the world loves to “yell at you”. They seem to correct you for every little thing. You wish that they would leave you alone and quit picking on you. If this is your feeling, go and read verse 32 again. Do you hate your souls? Is your opinion that you want to go to hell and be left alone? Then refuse your parents’ good correction and you will find yourself being absent from God’s good favor. But if you listen to the correction of those whom God has placed over you, you will get understanding, and, as we have seen before, this is a good thing. Seek correction, people of God, for in doing so you will be seeking wisdom. Sing Psalter 334.

November 19 Read Proverbs 16:1-7

There is both a wonderful and a sobering truth in verse 4. First of all we find that God has made all things for himself. What does that mean? First of all, we see that all things must serve his glory. Whether it is the bright blue sunny day which radiates with glory or the gloomy gray day which seems to be suffocating, both are for God’s glory alone. Secondly, this truth should make us very humble as we see that all things are for God and not for us. It is a sobering thought that even the wicked are made for the day of destruction. This day is coming. We will be judged for our sins. This should cause us to think about how we are living our lives. Let us give God all glory and all thanks. Glory for the wonders that he has created, and thanks for his work of salvation in our hearts and lives. Sing Psalter 15.

November 20 Read Proverbs 16:8-13

We are a planning people. Look at the date books, computer reminders, and other types of organizers that we own. Some of us have each day and hour planned for the next six months. We think we know what we are going to do far in advance. Is this so wrong? Not necessarily. It depends how we look at what we have planned. Is it because we want to be in control of our destiny? Is it because we think that we shape the course of our own lives? Nothing can be farther from the truth. It is the testimony of verse nine and James 4:13-15 that it is God who controls our destiny and the shape of our lives. We must properly say if the Lord wills as we write down each date. We must bow before the will and good counsel of him who knows best. Let us be conscious of the fact that it is God who controls our steps, and let us bow before his will as we live our daily lives. Sing Psalter 29

November 21 Read Proverbs 16:14-20

If there is ever a verse that bears repeating each day of our lives, it is verse 18. Along with the thought of yesterday’s verse, this one should bring us to our senses and help to shape our attitude about life. If we become proud of who we are and what we accomplish, rest assured, people of God, He will haul us up short and bring about a fall. If we think that we are some great one or have done some great things, we must prepare for the crash that will soon come upon us. Sometimes the crash will be just a bump to remind us of who we are, and sometimes it will be a huge crash that reduces us to a mass of shivering pulp. Pray for the grace not to walk in pride, and pray for this daily. Sing Psalter 136.

November 22 Read Proverbs 16:21-27

We have seen the thought of verse 25 before. Repetition should cause us to stop and give a long look to that which is written by God in his Word. Man thinks a lot about his way. Man plans his way. Some, and we must include ourselves in this, even work to make our way go around God if that were at all possible. The way of a man is to get for himself as much honor and glory as he can. Whether this is done by amassing huge amounts of some physical properties or wealth, or if it is done by making oneself famous in the world; man wants to make his own way in this world. By doing this we are putting ourselves on the paths of destruction. This is not God’s way. God’s way rests in humble obedience to his will. God’s way means that we do all things for his glory even as he has created all things. Let us stop and consider our way and ask God to help us not to make our way the path to destruction. Sing Psalter 354.

November 23 Read Proverbs 16:28-33

In the words of verse 31 we find two admonitions. First of all, we find the admonition to honor those to whom God has given great age. Those who have attained the age of three score years and ten have attained a measure of glory on this earth. That glory is found in the wisdom with which God has given that elderly saint. The second admonition is that all elderly people are not covered with glory if they did not attain their age walking in the fear of Jehovah. As those of us who reside in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day today, let us give thanks for elderly saints who walk with us and show us the way of righteousness. They are part of the cloud of witnesses who line the course as we run the race set before us. Thank you parents and grandparents who show to us the way of a godly life. Sing Psalter 360.

November 24 Read Proverbs 17:1-7

Yesterday we saw that Solomon acknowledged the wisdom that God gives to those aged saints among the church. Today in verse 6 we see the beauty of the covenant as shown in the children and grandchildren of the church. It is a joy to grandparents to see their children walk in the same faith that they themselves do. They love to see them make confession of faith in front of the congregation. And they love to hold their great-grandchildren after baptism. The covenant which God has established with us is a most precious thing. Let us give thanks to God for the covenant blessings that he has given to us. Sing Psalter 359.

November 25 Read Proverbs 17:8-14

Today we gain a respite from the world and its activities. We have the privilege of going to his house and receiving rest for our weary souls. We need this rest as we take up our labors again tomorrow. In verse thirteen we have instruction given to us about our life in the world. We must never look to bring evil upon someone. We have many opportunities to do this in our business dealings, in our school relationships, and even with our next door neighbors. Let us not do evil to those whom God has placed in our paths. In the first place, this is not a neighborly thing to do. Secondly, it brings despite upon the name of Christ and his church. Finally, it is no way to show thanksgiving for God’s love toward us. Let us do good to all men even those who treat us evilly. Sing Psalter 13:1, 2, and 5.

November 26 Read Proverbs 17:15-21

People of God, do you act as true friends and brothers to those who are in the family of faith? Young people, are you friends with those whom God has called to be your spiritual brothers and sisters? Children, how do you act toward all of your classmates? Verse seventeen tells us that a friend loveth at all times. True friends are not friends only when it is convenient and profitable. True friends are friends in good times and bad times. True friends do not ignore each other when “certain” other people are around. A true brother and sister stand by his or her family members when the world is ridiculing them for the faith. Do you consider yourself a friend? Do you act as Christ acted toward us? Think about these things, children and young people, and apply them in your lives as Christ wants you to. Sing Psalter 369.

November 27 Read Proverbs 17:22-28

In verses 27-28 Solomon comes back to the theme of the tongue. We have spent much time on this idea as does Solomon. We might be inclined to think that another meditation on this topic is overdoing it. The Holy Spirit does not. He inspired Solomon to pen these words because they are needed by the church. Think back over today’s conversations, people of God. Did you hold your tongues when your words were not needed. Did you consciously refrain from breaking the third and ninth commandments today? Notice that the world understands that holding the tongue is wise. How much more should not we who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb keep our tongues from all evil? Let us be wise and let us apply wisdom as we speak. Sing Psalter 105.

November 28 Read Proverbs 18:1-8

Verse one may appear a hard one to understand. But if we see that one of the ideas found in this verse is selfishness, we can understand it better. One way that we can understand the word “desire” is that which we want for ourselves no matter what the cost. We may be so selfish that we separate ourselves from our friends and scorn their wise counsel. In doing this we scorn the wisdom of God in many areas of life. We are told to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Yes, we are to love ourselves, but we are not to love ourselves at the expense of our neighbors. Let us watch out for our selfish desires that they not cause us to stray from the paths of wisdom. Sing Psalter 96.

November 29 Read Proverbs 18:9-16

In verse 9 we find two admonitions to which all of God’s people do well to take heed. Especially students need these admonitions of a wise father. First of all, we are told not to be lazy in our work. How do you carry out the assignments or chores given to you by your parents, teachers, or bosses? Do you do them to the best of your ability? Do you carry them out completely or just enough to get by? Do you let things slide for your own desires? Secondly, we are told not to be wasters. We can waste many things. Our time, money, abilities are just a few of these. One of the worst ways to waste something is to waste the opportunity to serve God in whatever way we are called. Students are called to be students. To waste anything in that calling is foolish. Heed Solomon, young people, and be wise in your calling to be a student. Sing Psalter 70.

November 30 Read Proverbs 18:17-24

Are you looking for a wife, young men? Verse 22 assumes that you are looking because you will not find anything with out looking for it. A young man has three areas to fulfill along the path God has laid out for him. One of these is confession of faith. Another is finding the occupation by which he will serve God in his life. And then there is this business of finding a wife. Now it is true that God does not give to every man a wife. This is the exception not the rule. Even though the verse uses “a” wife, we must heed all of Scripture and know that that means a godly wife. This should go with out saying. Finding the godly wife meant for you is to gain favor with the Lord. Why, we might ask? To find a wife is to carry out the calling of picturing the marriage of Christ and his church and also to carry out the calling to bring forth covenant seed. Find the wife God has chosen for you and know that this will bring favor from Jehovah. Sing Psalter 360.

by Cornelius Jonker

December 1 Read John 15:16-19

James 1:1 We begin this series of meditations on the general epistle of James, with the prayer that we may better understand what the Spirit is saying to the church of Jesus Christ, of which we are living members, and how we are to behave accordingly. The author is James, most likely the brother of Christ, who apparently did not believe in Christ until Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection. He refers to himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ” meaning “slave;” not a forced servitude, but a willing one. The recipients of this epistle are the twelve tribes of the dispersion, namely, the church. They are pilgrims and strangers, spiritually separated from the world and persecuted for righteousness sake. Does this description fit you? Or do you feel completely at home in this evil world? If so, self examination is in order, for Jesus states in John 15:19, “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Walk then today as children of the light and ask God to keep you unspotted from the world. Sing Psalter 201:5, 6.

December 2 Read II Corinthians 6:1-10

James 1:2 The author immediately begins with an admonition that sounds almost impossible to understand. He says, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers (or a variety of) temptations.” He makes it very emphatic by describing it as all joy. How do you and I react when events happen to us that we consider unpleasant or even very grievous to bear? Must we succumb to despair or bitterness? Not at all. Must we really rejoice? Difficult as it may seem, the answer is yes because God’s Word tells us so. We can’t escape temptations because they surround us. Some may allure us, such as worldly pleasures or riches, but most are the opposite such as financial problems, depression, illness, or even death. Even in these situations we must realize that this is under God’s sovereign control and he will use it to our advantage. Pray for grace to be always submissive to God’s will. Sing Psalter 34:1, 2.

December 3 Read II Peter 1:1-8

James 1:3 We learned yesterday to count it all joy when temptations befall us, and our verse today gives the reason. The reason is that the trying of our faith works patience. From our point of view these events appear as temptations, but actually they are trials from the hand of God. They serve a very good purpose, namely, that our faith is tried. When true faith is tried, it emerges stronger and produces patience. Patience means to persevere, to bear up under severe trials and is really faith in action. We can’t possibly accomplish this by ourselves. It is the work of the Spirit within us, a gift of God’s grace. As you are privileged to worship and hear the Word of God today, may the Holy Spirit use this means of grace to strengthen your faith to the end that patience may be much in evidence. Sing Psalter 100:1, 2.

December 4 Read Philippians 2:12-16

James 1:4 How do you behave under pressure? Do you flinch and retreat when troubles come your way, or do you stand firm? A new soldier or untrained recruit may turn and run when a powerful enemy appears, but the proven soldier stands firm. So it is in the battle of faith. The believer, who has patience made perfect by faith, strengthened in trials and fed by the Word ol God, can face any situation, and so we are exhorted to let patience work. How do we do that? By means of prayer, by feeding on and studying God’s Word. By God working in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. May you truly experience that godly patience. Sing Psalter 100:3, 4.

December 5 Read Proverbs 8:1-11

James 1:5 The author in this verse seems to presuppose that an objection might be raised in light of the previous admonition to let patience have her perfect work. We are so weak and foolish in and of ourselves. Who is wise enough and able to accomplish this? God gives the answer to our impatience—ask for the gift of wisdom. What is wisdom? Good judgment or prudence. We ask for wisdom in the same manner we ask for patience. In the way of communion with God. Solomon asked for a wise and understanding heart, and God not only gave him wisdom, but great riches and honor besides. So pour out your soul to God. Ask for wisdom, children and young people, in your studies and search for your life’s mate. Pray for wisdom, mothers and fathers and elderly persons, in your daily calling. And pray for wisdom, officebearers, as you perform your duties in the midst of the Church. Sing Psalter 336:2.

December 6 Read Philippians 4:4-7

James 1:6 In this verse James instructs us in the manner in which we should pray for wisdom. We must ask in faith. We all know what faith is, don’t we? Faith is a living bond which unites us with Christ. It is a certain knowledge and a hearty confidence. True prayer then proceeds from a heart that is confident that God will hear and answer. Does that characterize your prayers? Do you ask in faith, without doubting? Doubting brings instability like the waves of the sea tossed by the wind. Then if our prayers are not answered we must realize that it is because of us. In humble penitence, turn to Christ, Who said to the father of the son possessed with an evil spirit “all things are possible to him that believeth.” And his response, which must be ours also: “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Sing Psalter 185:1, 3.

December 7 Read Matthew 6:5-8

James 1:7 We learned in our previous verse that only the child of God who prays in faith will be heard of God, for when we pray in faith, we pray according to God’s will. In today’s verse we are told that whoever prays without faith must not even think that he will receive anything of the Lord. The wicked may utter prayers, but they are an abomination to the Lord. A well known columnist recently wrote a newspaper article entitled “Football game prayer is in-your-face faith.” He said that “Public praying at football games is as compatible as playing football inside a church” and it is an in your-face-faith rather than an in-your-heart variety.” He then quoted Jesus’ words, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues (football stadiums?) and on the street corners to be seen of men… But when you pray go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father” (Matt. 6:5-6). May we, led by the Spirit, pray to God with faith unfeigned. Sing Psalter 72:1, 4.

December 8 Read Proverbs 15:1-7

James 1:8 James points out to us today a picture of a man who cannot make up his mind one way or the other. Could this possibly be a picture of you? In your prayers do your lips utter a petition for forgiveness of sins without having a godly sorrow because of them? In your speech do you ever say one thing but mean something else? Do you love the world and its pleasures, but also profess to be a faithful church member? We are reminded of apostate Israel in II Kings 17:33 where we read, “They feared the Lord and served their own gods.” This is an abomination to the Lord. We are exhorted later in this same epistle that our yea must be yea, and our nay must be nay. That principle we must cultivate and ask for grace to be stableminded not only in the context of our prayers as we are reminded in this passage, but in all our words and walk. Sing Psalter 333:3, 4.

December 9 Read Psalm 27:1-6

James 1:9-11 In this passage we have a contrast which James sets up to show how God comforts us in affliction. There is a poor man and a rich man. The poor man is told to rejoice because he will be exalted and the rich man will perish. You may say, “Is that just? Is having riches wrong?” We answer that certainly there are instances of godly rich men in Scripture. But James elaborates further and calls the poor man a brother, obviously a sincere child of God, while implying that the rich man is an unbeliever. Do you possess few worldly goods but have the assurance that you are a child of God? Then you have everything! Don’t envy the rich. Asaph in Psalm 73 faced this problem until he went into the sanctuary of God and understood their end. Young people, don’t set your affections on this world and its riches. Choose a vocation where you can be of service to God and his people. Then you too will experience his blessing. Sing Psalter 204:1, 2.

December 10 Read Ephesians 6:10-17

James 1:12 What temptations have you faced this past week? How did you handle them? Did you succumb to peer pressure perhaps, or other situations that affected your dress, speech, conduct and places you attended that did not befit a Christian? How can we bear up under these temptations? By patient endurance and by loving the Lord as the last part of the verse states, our incentive is the crown of life. Our love is not first, but we love God because he first loved us. I John 4:19. Then we are blessed and happy. Being friends with God, we are enemies of Satan and recognize sin for what it is. As you attend worship services today, thank God for his covenant faithfulness. Listen attentively to the preaching of the Gospel, and by faith put on the whole armor of God so that you can stand firm against the wiles of the devil. Sing Psalter 202:1.

December 11 Read Psalm 37:7-11

James 1:13 Yesterday we read of the blessedness of the one who endures temptation. Now we see a man who succumbs to it. Temptation implies a wicked motive, and all too often we give in to sin, enticed by our mortal enemies, the devil, the world and our own flesh. Remember what Adam said after he fell into sin by eating the forbidden fruit? “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat,” thereby obliquely placing the blame upon God. We may never say “I am tempted of God.” God is holy, perfectly righteous and pure, and it follows that he cannot sin nor be tempted to sin. What is our calling then today? Pray for patience to endure any temptations that may come our way, and that the Holy Spirit may preserve and strengthen us in our daily walk of faith. Sing Psalter 103:1, 2.

December 12 Read Galatians 5:19-25

James 1:14 This verse really brings home how sinful we are and how deeply it lies within our nature. None of us likes to hear this. We much prefer to listen to the world’s philosophy of how much good there is in every person and how to practice self esteem. God’s Word tells us how sinful and lustful we are. The word lust refers to every sort of covetousness whether that be wicked sexual desires, or material goods, or pleasure or anything that entices us to sin. How do we cope with this? How can we fight this sin? We can begin by saying “Get thee behind me Satan.” We can deliberately suppress evil thoughts instead of taking pleasure in them. We can refuse to attend events which entice us into sin, and turn off the television programs which promote all sorts of evil. We must not walk with the world but choose godly companions. Above all, pray sincerely for God’s grace to resist temptations. Sing Psalter 21:1, 4.

December 13 Read Romans 7:18-25

James 1:15-16 These verses elaborate on yesterday’s passage and use a figure to show the consequences of being drawn into sin. Just as an earthly child is conceived and brought forth and grows to full development, so it is with lust. An evil desire gives place to evil thoughts which conceive sinful deeds. These sinful deeds multiply into more wickedness, and except for the grace of God, the result is death, spiritual, physical, and eternal. Therefore, James warns us in verse 16 not to be deceived, and in I Peter 1:3 we read “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” We have a constant battle to fight, don’t we? But take comfort, people of God, the victory is ours through faith. Cultivate that faith, stand firmly upon God’s Word and fervently pray that the Spirit may guide you in the paths of righteousness. Sing Psalter 99:1, 5.

December 14 Read Titus 2:11-15

James 1:17-18 James turns our attention in these verses to a great comfort. As we look back on some of the preceding verses, we realize how easily and hopelessly we can fall into depths of sin. The question naturally arises, “What is the possibility of escape?” Our text gives the answer. Our God is sovereign and he bestows upon us good and perfect gifts. Oh, we could mention a great many, but our text speaks of one of the greatest gifts of all—that of regeneration. Our natural birth is a marvelous wonder, but our rebirth, where God calls life from the dead, is even more wonderful. Do you experience that new life? Does it show in your desires, actions and words? We are described as firstfruit of his creatures. This is not only interesting, but very comforting. It means we are dedicated to God as his personal possession and a part of his family. What a wonderful comfort! What a calling is ours to be set apart from the wicked world and live for God. Focus anew on this calling today. Sing Psalter 141:1.

December 15 Read Proverbs 10:16-20

James 1:19-20 The first word in our passage today is “Wherefore.” This is meaningful. We are to remember the rich blessings that were spoken of in the previous verses. Since we are born again creatures in Christ, we are now called upon to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. Do these commendable traits describe you? How often in our daily lives the opposite is true, but we believe this admonition refers to our hearing the Word of truth spoken of in the previous verse. We may not question the inerrancy of that Word but rather be silent and listen. The Word is the chief means of grace and is powerful, like a two-edged sword. Sometimes the Word steps on our toes, so to speak, and we become offended and angry. We resent criticism and dislike being told what to do and in sinful wrath we become angry at the preacher and others. This wrath does not work the righteousness of God. Pray for grace to willingly practice these necessary virtues. Sing Psalter 162:1, 2.