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The Law

“Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”
Romans 3:19-20 NLT

Paul’s references to the Law in these two verses seems to be in error, if taken on their own. The Law included far more than Paul would seem to indicate. But in the context of this chapter in Romans, a different picture emerges. The Law was given by God to the Israelite nation, and it had several purposes, ranging from how they should worship God through to rules for daily living. And in the process, it provided the Israelites with a “yardstick”. Something which they could use to determine their spiritual states, and, worse, show them how far short they were of keeping the Law in the way God intended. 

Jesus pointed out the problems associated with trying to obey the Law. In His “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the Law. Matthew 5:17, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose“. And then in Matthew 5:19-20, He said, “So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven“. And that’s the issue. To achieve the standard of righteousness required of God can never be attained. Regarding following the letter of the Law, the Pharisees – don’t forget Paul himself was one of them – were faultless. But they failed to follow the Law in the way that God intended. Jesus provided some illustrations in the remaining verses in Matthew 5. For example, His teaching about adultery, “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus pointed out that behind the letter of the Law was a whole raft of heart attitudes, together forming the spirit of the Law.

Paul suggested to his readers that just going through a box-ticking exercise will not make them right with God. Christians can also fall into the same trap, even though they don’t follow the Jewish Law. Imagine trying to list all the things that we think we must do, to conform to a modern equivalent of the Law. Things such as following the laws of the land in which we live. Going to church on a Sunday, and the prayer meeting on a Wednesday. Having a daily “Quiet Time” with prayer and Bible reading. Taking our turns on the toilet-cleaning rota. Paying our tithe each month. And so on. Before we know it, we have developed our own version of a Law, which we think will stand us in good stead before God. None of these things are wrong in themselves. But they become pointless if they replace the relationship and respect we should have with, and for, our Heavenly Father.

So, pilgrims, what is your approach to the Christian life? In asking myself that question, I am conscious of a need to reach out to my Heavenly Father, because only He is my Source. Only He has the love and grace I need to live this life in the way He requires. and I will never achieve that my ticking a few boxes.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your presence in my life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters who are journeying their way through the Scriptures with me. I pray a blessing on them all, Lord, and a transforming touch of Your presence, to make a difference in their daily lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

No Fear

“They have no fear of God at all.”
Romans 3:18 NLT
“Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all.”
Psalms 36:1 NLT

Paul ends his list of Old Testament Scriptural references with a quotation from Psalm 36. He simply points out, as David did so many years before when he wrote this Psalm, that sin and wickedness have a root in a lack of fear of God. 

There are many things to be fearful about with God, not the least that one day all humanity will have to stand before Him to give an account of their lives. That alone should be enough to strike fear into even the most defiant person. The second verse of Psalm 36 is, “In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are”. There is this tendency for human beings to deny that God will cause anything bad to happen, even if they accept that He exists. They rationalise or excuse their behaviour by saying that a God of love will never send anyone to hell. The doctrine of Universalism, which has gained popularity in recent years, maintains that everyone will ultimately be saved. This doctrine is based on verses like Acts 3:21,  “Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets“.  It would perhaps be a nice thought, but the context of Scripture is that salvation and eternal life is only gained through our belief in, and obedience to, Jesus. John 3:36, “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” And so, if there is to be no penalty for wickedness and sin, the Universalists say, how they behave in the end won’t matter. But we pilgrims know that, ultimately, sin has to be judged and dealt with by our righteous God. And for those who are unrepentant, their future will not end well.

But fear doesn’t just mean a negative emotion resulting from an event or situation that will do us harm if carried out. That type of the fear of God only applies to the unbeliever, because one day they will be judged and will experience eternal death somewhere most unpleasant. For a Christian, the fear of God means the respect He is due because of who He is. It is a reverence of Him, supported by such Scriptures as Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”. That reverential fear should also extend into our behaviour as Christians, because, as His children, we have our responsibilities too. As our natural parents disciplined us, so does our Heavenly Father. Hebrews 12:5-6, “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child””‭‭.

I can just imagine the Apostle Paul shaking his head in disbelief with the realisation that there were those in the Roman church who had “no fear of God at all”. And, according to the verse Paul quoted, it’s all down to sin. Thankfully, his detailed letter contained everything needed to get the errant Roman Christians back on track. Paul’s words are timeless, and apply, with the same weight, today.

Dear Father God. In deep reverence we bow before You today. We worship You, our loving Father. Amen.

Finding Peace

“They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.”
Romans 3:15-17 NLT
“Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.”
Isaiah 59:7-8 NLT

Paul quotes from more Old Testament Scripture, this time from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah seemed to be in a similar situation to Paul. A prophetic voice crying out God’s message to an audience of sinful people. In Isaiah’s day, his message was directed at God’s chosen people, the Jews. In Paul’s day, his message was being delivered to the early Christians, some of whom had Jewish heritage. But there was one problem that united both peoples over the years, and that was sin. Isaiah put his finger on the problem in Isaiah 59:2, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore”.

The word “sin” is not a word that appears very often, if at all, in our secular society. We don’t find it appearing in newspaper reports, or on our Facebook or Twitter feeds. Television dramas don’t generally use the word, unless they have a religious element, such as the portrayal of a priest. Even the religious stalwart programmes, such as the BBC’s “Songs of Praise”, carefully avoid the use of the word, just in case offence is caused. But just because the word “sin” has fallen out of fashion or society’s memory, it doesn’t remove it from God’s vocabulary. 

Society is full of people with a guilty conscience. The problem (for them) is that God has wired us to have a conscience because it will lead and direct us in how to behave in our sinful society. In the event that a conscience is violated by sin, all sorts of knock-on effects can result, not the least being illnesses which are very difficult to diagnose. So the guilt-ridden person, if they can afford it, engages the help of someone in the psychiatric profession to offer all sorts of therapy, in the hope that the problem will be resolved. But their money could be saved, and symptoms relieved, by an act of repentance, with perhaps a change in life choices. Turning to God and taking on board His remedy is the most effective cure for a guilty conscience. Only this will bring inner peace, so elusive otherwise to find.

There is another tendency for people to rationalise sinful behaviour by dealing with it as a treatable illness, or by referring to sinners with a more socially-acceptable term. Just this week a news report emerged in Scotland, with our policing body, “Police Scotland”, referring to paedophiles as “Minor-Attracted People”, or MAP’s, and in the process offering them treatment and other forms of help. However, sin is sin, regardless of what we call it. Renaming a good old-fashioned definition of a sinful act won’t fool God one bit. An unrepentant paedophile standing before God pleading that he’s not sinning because he’s a MAP, won’t wash.

Paul reminded his audience in Rome that there are consequences to sin. We still find the same consequences today. Sinful behaviour is followed by a lack of inner peace. A guilty conscience makes sure of that.

Dear God. We thank You that You built within us a conscience. We pray that through Your Spirit You keep out alive and well, always aware of Your ways and not sinful ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Cursing and Bitterness

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Romans 3:14 NLT

This time Paul quotes from Psalm 10:7, where we read, “Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats. Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues”. The Greek version of this Psalm replaces “lies and threats” with “bitterness”. Psalm 10 is really part of an acrostic prayer or devotion that includes the previous Psalm, Psalm 9. Both were written by David, who filled the Book of Psalms with many comparisons between good and evil, between the God-followers and the God-deniers. 

But what makes mankind so willing to lapse into “cursing, lies, and threats”? The glib answer is sin. But underlying such sinful behaviour is a propensity to behave in a judgemental or critical way, starting with those round us in our families and communities. We take a negative view of anyone who is not behaving in a way that fits in with our own selfish value systems. And before we know it, we have lapsed into a mindset that builds and builds until our thoughts become angry. Our mental intentions include threats, and involve lies about the other person or people, without any foundation. And these thoughts then spill out in our conversations with others. Self-opinionated rants with little factual foundation pollute our speech, drawing others into our delusional behaviour. With the introduction of social media, “cursing, lies, and threats” have become far too common, with the offenders hiding behind anonymity to propagate their poison.

It wasn’t just David who pointed out the bad-mouthing carried out by sinful people. The Apostle James wrote in James 3:6, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself“. Strong words indeed. About our tongues, he continues, “Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10). Paul wrote some wise words in Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them“.

But what about our thoughts? How do we stop ourselves embarking on a negative trail of wrong thoughts? Not an easy question to answer, particularly if we’re tired, or mentally unhealthy. Thankfully, God is gracious and loving, and His Spirit will gently guide us back onto the right paths. Perhaps the Psalmist, David, had the right idea. Back to Psalm 5:1-3, “O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly“.  The King James version of Psalm 5:1 – “Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my meditation“. Perhaps that is the answer. As we meditate on His Words, there will be no room for “cursing, lies, and threats”.

Dear Father God. We thank You again for Your love and grace. You look into our sinful minds and, through Jesus, just see righteousness. We are so grateful. Amen.

Snake Venom

““Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.””
Romans 3:13 NLT

Paul continues his Old Testament quotes with verses from Psalms 5 and 140. The first is “My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery” (Psalm 5:9). This Psalm was written by David, who was mourning the behaviour of those he regarded as his enemies. He wrote it during his morning prayer time – “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3). So, we have the contrast between David, close to God in prayer and presence, and his enemies who are closer to the devil, the father of lies. 

The reference to “snake venom” comes from Psalm 140:3, where David wrote, “Their tongues sting like a snake; the venom of a viper drips from their lips”. We of course will immediately remember the snake in the Garden, with his lies that drew the first man and woman into sin. And David viewed the same behaviour in his society, where people continued to speak the lies of the snake. Sinful and lying talk that hurt and poisoned those around him. 

But in both Psalms, David found solace in the presence of God. Referring to his enemies, the followers of the father of lies, he finished Psalm 140 with, “But I know the Lord will help those they persecute; He will give justice to the poor. Surely righteous people are praising Your name; the godly will live in Your presence”. 

Paul in his letter to the Romans was comparing the behaviour of sinful people in his Roman audience to the same behaviour noted in the Psalms. And he seemed to be saying that some things never change. We pilgrims today can draw the same conclusion, as we look on at the behaviour of our politicians and other leaders. There are even some in our church denominations who would be included within Paul’s accusations. 

So we pilgrims read the Book of Romans, sobered by Paul’s warnings, by his accusations, knowing in our hearts of our propensities to sin, included with those he was railing against in Rome. We are grateful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in allowing these words to be recorded. God, through His Spirit, influenced David to write these verses in the Old Testament, and Paul, to repeat them in the New. A significance that we should not miss. In repentance we bring our own behaviour under God’s spotlight and receive the cleansing through Jesus’ blood, bringing us back on track in our hours of need.

Dear Father. Once again we embrace the entirety of Your Word, omitting nothing, because all Scriptures emanate from You. We are so grateful. Amen.

Regrets

“No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
Romans 3:11-12 NLT

Paul’s grasp and memory retention of Scripture verses from what we call the Old Testament was extraordinary. Google didn’t exist in those days. Not only did Paul remember Bible passages, but he also knew how to use them, or how to interpret them, in connection with his daily life, and the lives of those around him. So here he is continuing to remember and write down Scriptures that apply to what he had been told about the Christians in Rome. He hadn’t been to visit them of course, so the intelligence he had received must have been solid enough for him to write the words he did. And we’re grateful that he did, because his words are just as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.

In the verses we are looking at today, Paul is quoting from Psalms 14 and 53. The implication behind Paul’s thinking is that wisdom is associated with God and all that He demands. Perhaps we can rationalise and say that the societal factors applying in Paul’s day were different to 21st Century Western societies. Two thousand years ago, the pre-Christian pagan society in places like Rome was being influenced by the early Christians, who brought with them the wisdom of God and all His ways. But Paul mourned the apostasy of those early Christians, quoting well-worn scriptures penned in a day when people had largely turned their backs on God. 

It is said that we in the West now live in a post-Christian society, where the reality of the Godly roots that founded our laws and society have been hijacked by ignorant and foolish people, who claim them for their own. And now such people are introducing a new morality not based on God. Just look at recent legislation introduced by the Scottish government. The verses that Paul quoted still apply today, as they always have done. Mankind hasn’t changed, with sin often getting the upper hand in the minds of our leaders and politicians, drawing them into paths that are unwise. Rather than seek God for the right way, they follow their sinful inclinations and choose a wrong way. 

Paul wrote the words that he did in the hope and expectation that something redemptive would happen in the hearts of those who heard them. We often remember that God never changes, and we are so fortunate that his unchanging character and ways are recorded for us in faithfully-translated books we call Bibles. Collections of God’s sayings that are founded on the willingness of faithful people to record what He said to them through His Spirit. Paul’s letter was addressed to God’s people who had lost their way a bit. And it probably brought many of them back on track, as the Holy Spirit brought Paul’s words to life in their day to day lives.

We pilgrims too have an opportunity to dig into the Holy Scriptures, seeking God there for the sake of our societies. Bringing to life the wisdom of God, influencing a godless society largely populated by people who “have turned away”. We look for opportunities to provide alternative Bible-based morality and laws because we know that therein lies the wisdom of God. 

Father God, we thank You again for Your Word, the Bible. So full of wisdom and Your thoughts. Please encourage us to read and re-read it, because it contains the Words of eternal life. Amen.

A Conclusion?

“Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.”
Romans 3:9-10 NLT

Paul is finally reaching a conclusion to his rant about his fellow Jews. We don’t know how it was received in the Roman church, but hopefully there were positive outcomes. He asked the question if Jews were better than Gentiles, and then quite emphatically stated that they weren’t, because all people “are under the power of sin”, regardless of their heritage. And, to support his conclusion, he quotes verses from Psalms 14 and 53.

Psalm 14, a Davidic psalm, starts with a rather depressing theme about those who turn their backs on God, as being foolish. Verses 2 and 3 read, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one”! If David had just stopped there then there would have been no hope for anyone, let alone God’s people. The only logical outcome would have been another flood to enable God to start again, in the hope that the next race of people would behave better. Thankfully, of course, God made a covenant that He would never wipe out sinful humanity again. And David went on in Psalm 14 to record three things about God’s people. David wrote, “… for God is with those who obey him … the Lord will protect his people … the Lord restores his people” (Psalm 14:5-7).

But Paul, in his letter to the Romans, was laying the foundations for what he was about to say in the chapters and verses to come. It all started with sin, he said. The powerful hold that sin has over mankind. If it was just left there then there would be no hope, regardless of who their ancestors were, whether Jew or Gentile. But we pilgrims today have the benefit of a handbook of examples and instructions, to enable us to live a life free of the power of sin. Over it all, and through the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary, we can respond to Paul and say that we stand righteous before God, because Jesus took on board mankind’s sin and unrighteousness. He knew that when he wrote this letter, and in the days and weeks to come we too will follow his very clear and detailed thinking.

Dear God. We thank You for Your servant Paul, and his willingness to record what You were saying to the early church. Please help us too to listen to Paul’s words and act upon them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sinful Logic

““But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.”
Romans 3:5-8 NLT

From Paul’s account, it looks as though there are some in Rome who are mocking God’s grace. They are saying that in order for God’s grace to be covering mankind, we must sin more and more. And the argument continues by pointing out that God will get more glory if His righteousness shines so much brighter than the dark nature of man’s unrighteousness. Warped logic? Perhaps an example of someone taking a truth in isolation, or out of context, and developing it into something far removed from what the original intent was. There have been many such religious examples over the years.

The logic seems to say that if we do something sinful or wicked, then God will make something positive out of it, thus demonstrating His righteousness. I wonder if Judas will try and justify himself before God by claiming that because he betrayed Jesus, salvation of mankind ultimately resulted. But Judas’s problem is that he still did something wicked. What God made of it was nothing to do with Judas but was part of His plan for mankind. If Judas hadn’t stepped into the role of betrayer, then God would have allowed someone else to act as a catalyst for His plan of salvation. Judas will still be held to account for his sin one day.

Although sinfulness may expose God’s righteousness, that is no help to the sinner. Sin will create a barrier between God and us. When we sin we cut ourselves off from the experience of God’s love, not because He loves us any less, but because we reject His love through our sin. And our sin, if not dealt with, will set us off on the slippery path that ends with God’s judgement. But we are so grateful that through God’s grace, we have a means to deal with our sin. The Gospel is clear and unambiguous. Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost included the following verse, “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Such love. Such grace.

How can we go on sinning, and by so doing wave our fists in God’s face, rejecting His love and kindness? How can we deliberately sin when we know how much pain it causes our loving Heavenly Father? But His grace will transform us, through faith, to become righteous before Him. So, we don’t become spiritually disorientated, making up stupid arguments, and becoming distracted by a false logic. We respond to the love of our Heavenly Father with grateful hearts. Always.

Dear Heavenly Father. We thank You for Your grace and love. What else can we do, kneeling before You in worship? Amen

God is Faithful

“True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about Him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.””
Romans 3:3-4 NLT

In the previous verse in Romans 3, we read that “the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God“. And we discovered that with such knowledge there comes a great personal responsibility. Paul conceded in his letter that not all Jews had been faithful to the Covenant God had made with them, but he pointed out that just because some Jews didn’t keep their side of the bargain, didn’t mean that God would keep His. 

One thing about God is that he is constant. He never changes. He provides us with a stable and far-reaching foundation, unshakeable in a world that is constantly changing around us. There are some things which it is impossible for God to do or be. One thing is that it is impossible for God to change. We read in Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed“. Another thing God just cannot do is to tell a lie. Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through“? And one thing of benefit to the Jews, no matter how they behaved, was that God was never going to be unfaithful to His Covenant. 

Paul quotes from Psalm 51:4, that Davidic Psalm of confession and contrition, “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just“. David got it. And he knew that God’s judgement was righteous and just, and was coming one day. He kept short accounts with God and so must we. In John 3:17, John recorded what Jesus said about judgement. “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him“. But in the following verses, Jesus said, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed“. 

We pilgrims are children of God. And as such we too have Godly attributes, increasingly important in our Godless days. We stand in the gap between God and those around us, pleading with Him for their forgiveness, because they indeed fail to realise the consequences of turning their backs on the only One who can give them assurance for their future. To those in our families and communities we exemplify God and His ways, His person, His attributes. We stand on the foundations of His Word, strong and secure, unmoved by anything that the world throws at us.

Dear Father God. To You, the immutable and unchangeable One, we give our praise and worship. Amen.

The Jewish Advantage

“Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God.”
Romans 3:1-2 NLT

Chapter Three of Romans starts with the question, “what’s the advantage of being a Jew? By now, the Jewish Christians must have been feeling totally demoralised, having had their religious rug pulled out from under their feet. They were bruised and battered, trying to develop a new paradigm for their faith, and perhaps feeling that nothing made sense any more. Having decided that they might just as well have never bothered to be circumcised (not that they would remember anything about it because it always happened by the time they were eight days old, and then only to the male child), Paul then told them that there were great benefits. I can hear them thinking that it’s about time he made his mind up. But what are the benefits of circumcision?

God made it clear in the Old Testament that there were two forms of circumcision. We know about the outward form, but, more importantly, there is an internal circumcision. We read in Deuteronomy 30:6, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live”. The New Living Translation replaces “circumcise your hearts” with “change your hearts”, perhaps making the meaning more understandable. Through the “ceremony of circumcision”the Jews were entrusted with something precious, the knowledge about God and what He required of human beings. Deuteronomy 30 sets out the positives of knowing God and following Him in obedience, and the negative result in not doing so. The “Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God” and they knew very clearly what that meant. Great benefits of course. But great responsibilities as well.

That’s the problem with knowledge – it comes with a responsibility. As an example, the discovery of penicillin would have been no good at all on its own. But the inventor shared his research with others and as a consequence, the way bacterial diseases were treated was transformed. God revealed Himself to His chosen people the Jews. Initially, that knowledge was to be applied to them as a nation, and the Old Testament is full of stories of the struggle they had in trying to adhere to what God required. That struggle would still be going on except for one fact – Jesus. God in His mercy sent His Son to establish a new Covenant between God and man. We pilgrims are very aware of that – I’m writing this on Christmas Eve and in my spirit I can feel a sense of excitement building up. Tomorrow we remember that day long ago when Jesus was born. Emmanuel, God with us. 

Just as the Jews “were entrusted with the whole revelation of God”, so too are we New Covenant pilgrims entrusted with the revelation of Jesus. With that knowledge comes the responsibility of sharing it with those around us. And the time could not be more appropriate. The Western society around us has lost its way spiritually. A quote from a newspaper this morning about the increasingly “woke” nature of our society. “In cultures which reject or forget metaphysical belief systems, the desire for belief does not disappear, but becomes ungrounded. You have beliefs, but you no longer know their shape and foundations“. We pilgrims have an opportunity and an obligation to put society’s feet back on the ground, the true “ground” of a belief in the one true God who has all the answers to man’s confusion. We have a mission to reconnect people who have lost their way with our wonderful Heavenly Father. And there is no better way than to introduce them to Jesus.

Dear Lord. Thank You for Your grace and mercy, for the love that has cut across all the world’s sin and wickedness with an offer too good to be true. But true it is. We pray for the opportunities to connect those in our families and communities with the one true God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.