Serving Others

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”
Romans 12:6-7 NLT

We continue to look at the list of motivational gifts listed in Romans 12. The next one Paul listed was “serving others”. Service is not a fashionable word today, and perhaps one still carrying negative connotations because it exposed a class distinction between those who “have” and those who “haven’t”. Servants were people who found employment as a butler, maid, or cook, serving an aristocratic or wealthy family in a big house somewhere. The class distinction can be seen in period dramas and television series such as “Downton Abbey”. 

Back in the 1930’s, my father found employment as an under butler, serving several families such as the Youngers, of Scottish brewery fame, who owned the large house at Mount Melville near St. Andrews in Fife. Before him, his father was a chauffeur/gardener, latterly working at Huntingtower near Perth. Today, the same jobs exist, but have different names. But in the end, every act of employment is a form of service, because we serve an employer.

However, was Paul referring to employment when he wrote that God has given us a gift of “serving others”? I think not, because he was bringing in the notion that “serving others” is both an essential part of Christian fellowship, and is underpinned by a heart attitude that is enhanced by a gift from God. Note three things here – “serving others” is something that God wants us to do, that He wants us to do well, and something that He has enhanced and helped us with a gift. In God’s Kingdom, the question – “What’s in it for me”? – is replaced by an attitude of heart that says – “What can I do for them”? In Philippians 2:3-4 Paul wrote, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too“. Jesus taught His disciples about “serving others”. We read in Mark 10:42-44, “So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world Lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else“.

So, what does all this mean for us pilgrims? Well, first of all, we are called to serve God, as we read in 1 Samuel 12:24, “But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you“. Also, serving others is not an option in our Christian lives. We Christians all need to be in fellowship, and, once there, we need to look for opportunities to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And some of us will find that our willingness to serve is enhanced by a gift from God. How wonderful is that?

Dear God. Thank You that You saved us for a life of service. We thank You for the encouragement that You have provided. Amen.


“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”
Romans 12:6-7 NLT

Paul starts to expand his thoughts about the gifts God gives us. We need to note that God has commissioned us to do something in our service to Him, and, through His kindness and grace, He has given us gifts to do what He wants us to do, so that we are effective. But what is the context within which we are to exercise these gifts? Is it in our church fellowships or in the communities in which we live? There is a clue in who the letter of Romans is addressed to. It is thought that Paul wrote this letter in AD57, while in Corinth, and it was addressed to the Roman Christians, who were experiencing a bit of strife between the Jewish and Gentile converts. So, primarily, the gifts that God supplied were to be used in a Christian fellowship setting. However, that said, our Christian lives, enhanced by the gifts God has given us, will shine like beacons on a dark world, and, who knows, there may well be opportunities to use our God-given gifts to help our fellow citizens in our schools, workplaces, and communities.

Paul starts with the gift of prophesy. Prophesy is, quite simply, a message from God. It can be about something that hasn’t yet happened, or it could be something that is related to a particular Biblical message. Foretelling or forth-telling. But in either case its roots must be in God. There are many examples of prophesy in the Old Testament, and the practice continued in the New. As an example of New Testament prophesy, there was the occasion when a prophet graphically brought a message about what would happen to Paul when he returned to Jerusalem. We read the account in Acts 21:10-12, “Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem”. The prophet’s message, unwelcome to the believers as it was, turned out much as he told it, as Paul was indeed arrested and bound, as we read in Acts 21:33, “Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done”.

An example of forth-telling occurs when a preacher brings a message from the Bible. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he or she preaches from a certain verse or passage of Scripture, that is helpful to the fellowship at that particular time in their journey together. So the message might be about the Gospel and salvation, or about giving and stewardship. Such a message could fall under the category of prophecy, particular if the message needs to be heard, and the preacher doesn’t know the local situation. 

How open are we pilgrims to prophetic messages? Sometimes God will bring us a prophecy in answer to our prayers. We might have been praying about moving to another city and, seemingly out of the blue, a prophecy would be given to us that answers our prayer and provides the direction, or otherwise, that we need. At other times a message might be preached that helps us get back on track in our Christian journey, or provides us with a new information to clarify the season ahead. But however delivered we need to wisely evaluate the messages to ensure that they came from God. A prophetic message will never contradict with the Word of God, as written in the Holy Scriptures. And we need to follow the wisdom of the Berean Christians. Acts 17:11, “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth“.

We pilgrims are in a privileged place. We worship a God who wants to helps us and interact with us. Prophesy is just one gift, out of many, that He provides.

Father God. We thank You for this wonderful gift of prophesy, so rich and fulfilling. Amen.

Certain Things

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophecy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.”
Romans 12:6 NLT

So God has given us “different gifts for doing certain things well”.  We listed in a previous blog the seven ministry or service gifts – leading, faith, encouragement, teaching, hospitality, prophecy and giving. These are all practical gifts, graciously given by our loving Heavenly Father. And with them we can do “certain things well”. What things? 

As we review the gifts that Paul lists in Romans 12, we find that they are there mostly to help us in our life experiences with other people. In particular, the gifts of encouragement and hospitality help us to help others, who find themselves in negative territory. The other gifts are there also, providing invaluable resources for living in the way Jesus has requested for His church. 

So how do we get these gifts from God? His grace, being so available, means that the door to His gift cupboard is wide open. Imagine a room full of precious jewels or banknotes, riches that are there just for the taking, and we find that it is unlocked. All we have to do is to ask God for the gifts we need. Obviously, there are some prerequisites that need to be in place before the gifts can be dispensed. We must have a loving and obedient relationship with God, but from that we love those around us. 1 John 5:1-2, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments”.  It is that love, agape love, that underpins the motivational gifts we need.

We pilgrims live in a land of “certain things”. In the 17th Century, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, a man called John Donne, included the following quotation in a sermon. ”No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” We are in constant contact with our neighbours and friends, in our communities, in our workplaces, in our schools and colleges. As John Donne said, we are involved in mankind, and we need all the gifts in God’s goodies cupboard to enable us to do what God has asked us to do. We may not see Kingdom fruit in our lifetimes, but we do what God has asked us to do anyway, with the gifts we need to do them.

Dear Father God. You have been so generous to us. But the biggest gift by far was, and is, Jesus. Thank You Lord. Amen.

Self Honesty

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us”. 
Romans 12:3 NLT

This is a difficult one. What do we think of ourselves and our abilities? And how do we know? There are some empirical ways of assessing our abilities, and academic exams are one of them. We might, for example, think we are good at arithmetic, and we can prove it by passing some sort of test. The same would apply to a driving test, where we can demonstrate to an external examiner our ability, or not, as the case may be. Similarly, we might think we are good at speaking a foreign language, something that is easily confirmed by a visit to that country. But these are all specifics. The problem comes when, for example, we say we are good at a subject like art just because we can pass an arithmetic test.

I used to work for someone who was an expert in his vocational field. He wrote for scientific and technical journals, and people consulted him about their theories and projects. So he started a company to market his products, thinking that he would have the same expertise and abilities when it came to business matters. Sadly he didn’t, and the company collapsed. Now here’s the reason – he didn’t have an honest evaluation of himself. He should have read the verse we are looking at today. The problem in much of today’s employment, particularly in white collar environments, is that those who climb the promotion ladder have to make claims about how good they are, by talking up their abilities. I was once in a project meeting with a very confident manager, who impressed the project sponsor by his apparent knowledge of the subject in hand. Afterwards I complemented him on his knowledge, to which he replied, “in a land of blind men, a one-eyed man is king”. The reality was that he had a good grasp of all the buzz words, but little else. But life isn’t like that for most of us.

At the other end of the scale, I have known people who are really good at something, but they lack the confidence to leverage their abilities, failing to make them a useful addition to their lives and the lives of others. But the emphasis in Paul’s message would indicate that this is less of a problem then being overconfident, by thinking that “you are better than you really are”.

Was Paul merely applying what he was writing about to spiritual matters or everything that the person, the “each of you”, was involved in? He was probably, in my opinion, referring to life, everything the person was involved in as they went about their everyday lives. Paul also included some guidance in his letter to the Philippians. “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4). He continued, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. …” (Philippians 2:5-7). The world has got it wrong. Society demands that self-promotion is necessary to get on, and be better than anyone else. The Christian way is the opposite, one of humility and preferring one another. A way where we step back and allow God to do the promoting. Because of Jesus’ humility, He was honoured, “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names” (Philippians 2:9).

Paul writes about self-evaluation through the faith that we have. To present this as an example, perhaps someone who claims to have a healing ministry, but doesn’t see the fruit of it, may not have the faith to make their claim. There is a partnership between a person’s spiritual and natural abilities, seasoned with the faith that comes from a lifetime of service to God.

So we pilgrims, humbly in God’s presence, work with Him to maximise our potential for His kingdom. Through our faith in Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit working within us. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13). And, in the end, that is what we really want to do – please our loving Heavenly Father.

Dear Father God. We praise and worship You today, deeply grateful for Your presence in our lives. Please help us, we pray, to serve You with faith and in truth, trusting that it is only through You and Your Son, Jesus, that we can really succeed in all that You have for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thought Programming

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NLT

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”
Romans 12:2 J B Phillips

The implication of Romans 12:2 is that the world thinks and acts in a different way to God. How did that happen? After all, weren’t we made in God’s image? Of course, we know the answer. It’s all down to sin. Even though we know, intuitively sometimes, how God would behave, we act in a different way, because it feels good. Or it’s an easier option. We could very quickly compile a table with three headings – Behaviour, God’s Way, World’s Way. And the results would be shocking. Let’s take some examples:

BehaviourGod’s WayWorld’s Way
Treatment of enemiesLoveHate
Response to accusationsTell the TruthTell Lies
TemptationDon’t give inJust do it
AdulteryRun from itGive in – no one will know
RelationshipsPrefer one anotherLook after ourselves

The list is endless and I’ve left a space for our own additional and personal contributions. Wise old Paul could see the “behaviour and customs of this world” for what they were – riven and influenced by sin.

Paul appealed to his readers to allow the transforming power of God to change them from worldliness to Godliness. And that is never more important than in these dark and Godless days. Days when the society around us is confused and misguided – as an example, just look at the mess the Scottish politicians have made with their legislation to allow a person to change their gender at will. A mess that could have been prevented if they had just opened a Bible. On the same subject, there are people who blatantly and openly behave in homosexual acts, and engage in “Pride” events. Businesses decide that they can sell more of their products if they embrace fashionable ideologies and customs. The societal cauldron in which we live is constantly fuelled by sin, becoming a merry go round of behaviours that compete to be the worst possible. Thankfully, believe it or not, God holds back the worst excesses. One day His restraints will be removed and society will become a forerunner of hell. However, before anyone takes issue with that statement, we need to note that there are many Godly behaviours we can see even in ungodly people. Kindness, love, or other-centredness for example. God’s grace will shine through mankind in many different ways, even in those who don’t know Him, but there will come a time when His grace will be replaced by judgement.

So the question must be – how do we let God change us, in the way we think and behave. Some years ago, youth events would be taught how to obtain God’s perspective of a behaviour by thinking “What Would Jesus Do”. Rubber wrist bands were handed out with the initials WWJD engraved on them. And that is really the way we find out what God’s thoughts are. The teachings of Jesus in the Gospels are fundamental to our every day lives, and as we read them and align ourselves to His principles, we will find that increasingly we become a new person, thinking God thoughts. We must remember what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right“. Reading the Bible, and referring to it for guidance, will expose us to God’s thoughts, with the consequence that we will “learn to know God’s will for [us], which is good and pleasing and perfect”. 

Dear Father God. Thank You for Your grace and mercy, as they guide us day by day through our journey to paradise. We worship You today. Amen.

Living Sacrifice

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
Romans 12:1 NLT

Paul starts this chapter with an “And so”. Other translations use the word “Therefore”. He is referring to all that he has written in the previous verses and chapters, and because of all this, Romans 12:1 is the proper response. Paul “pleads” with his readers to do something, something that perhaps they would find hard or difficult. How can we give our bodies to God? He is Spirit. Our bodies are physical. Flesh and blood. But the Jewish Christians would have known what Paul was getting at. Animal sacrifice was very much a part of the Jewish religion, at least while they had a temple. But is Paul here saying that they, his readers, should be the sacrifices instead?

First of all we should remember that Jesus put an end to the practice of animal sacrifice, by becoming an eternal offering for sin. In Hebrews 10:5 we read, “That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer””. Why did Jesus do that? Hebrews 10:10, “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time”. And then Hebrews 10:18, “And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices”. 

But Paul “pleads” with his readers to “be a living and holy sacrifice”. It can’t be anything to do with forgiveness for sins, because Jesus was the ultimate and eternal sacrifice. There is, perhaps, a clue when Paul adds the reason for giving our bodies – “because of all he has done for [us]”. How can we properly respond to God for what Jesus did for us at Calvary? It is no good offering Him our money, or anything else that we own. And neither will working for God in some religious role, such as a missionary or minister, be good enough. No, God wants us, body, soul and spirit, our entirety. 

It is easier in many ways to go through the religious motions of being a Christian. Going to church. Attending the prayer meetings. Putting a tithe in the offering. Standing on a street corner with a collecting box for the poor. But none of this costs us what God is really looking for – our selves. We must bring our wills to God, and lay them on His altar. 

Paul said that our sacrifice, our bodies, must be “living and holy”. Nothing else is acceptable to God. Our bodily sacrifice has to be alive, because then our wills, our selves, are active and making decisions God’s way. If we were dead there would be no benefit, either to us or to God. And we mustn’t forget that God will only accept what is holy into His presence. Hebrews 12:14, “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord“. We are sanctified – made holy – through Jesus. Colossians 1:22, “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault“. 

Through our willingness to present every facet of our lives to God, for His service and worship, and because of the blood of Jesus, we are an acceptable sacrifice to God. Of course, we become stained and soiled by our sin and the sins of others, but by confessing our sins to God we are forgiven, becoming a living and holy sacrifice.

Dear Father God. We respond to Your servant Paul’s pleadings today. We reach out to You in praise and worship. Amen.

The Lord’s Thoughts

“For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?”
Romans 11:34-35 NLT

Again Paul dives into his memories and quotes two Old Testament Scriptures, one from Isaiah and one from Job. He was surely well versed and even “steeped” in the Jewish Scriptures, making it all the more remarkable that he was able to embrace the Christian faith. But then he had a life changing encounter with Jesus back on the Damascus Road. 

The first Scripture he quoted from was from Isaiah 40:13, in a section labelled “The Lord Has No Equal” in my Bible translation. Isaiah wrote, “Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?” (Isaiah 40:12-14). These questions seem so obvious that it is a wonder that they were asked in the first place. But in Isaiah’s day perhaps the wonder of the world around him caused mankind to question how it all happened. Our specialists in earth sciences today issue the results of their investigations and research, puffed up with their “factual” explanations of how it all happened. But we have to go to the Creator of the Universe for the answers because there is so much that neither we, nor the so-called experts, know anything about.

There is much going on around us that seems inexplicable. The mother who has lost a child to war, or a businessman whose company has collapsed, or a footballer struck down with motor neurone disease. A nation suffers from famine, or earthquakes. And people and national leaders come up with advice of how God should run the world, and how they would do it so much better. They perhaps question if God knows what he is doing. They try and offer advice – “If it was up to me, I would …”.

We pilgrims know that there is a God in Heaven. And we acknowledge that we could never know His thoughts. But Isaiah 40 famously ends with these much-quoted verses, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31). 

We pilgrims “trust in the Lord” knowing that there is no other way. And through His Spirit we too can “soar high on wings like eagles”, never needing to fret over our lack of understanding of God’s thoughts and ways. We trust that He is a God of righteousness and justice. We know that He is behind our every breath. And freed from the worry of finding answers to seemingly inexplicable world and societal events, we can perhaps have a glimpse of God’s perspective, as we soar high above all that is going on. We read the news reports and feel God’s pain with the sinful practices of men. We experience our own challenges, with health or finances, with family difficulties – the list seems endless sometimes – but we trust that our loving Heavenly Father is there with us, holding our hands and even carrying us through the pain. Perhaps answers will only come when we see Him in Heaven. With David we acknowledge Psalm 18:30-31, “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock?” There is no other way.

Dear Father. You have supplied us with spiritual wings to allow us to rise up above circumstances. Please forgive us for the time we spend worrying about what is happening around us and instead please help us to trust in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


“Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy. For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.”
Romans 11:30-32 NLT

A rebel is someone who opposes an authority, such as the government, or an employer, or even a parent or guardian. The act of rebellion manifests itself in various ways, ranging from being mildly awkward in response to an instruction, through to armed resistance. It could be exposed through written reports via newspapers or social media outlets such as Twitter. During this past weekend there was the celebration of the coronation of King Charles III in the UK. He was installed as the monarch of these islands in a ceremony enjoyed by most of the inhabitants, but there was a vocal minority intent on causing disruption in their rebellion against the new King. Sometimes rebellion can be justified, perhaps if it is against an unjust power, but much of the civil rebellion manifesting in the UK at the moment is by a small number of people promoting their own particular ideologies, which aren’t shared by the majority of the citizens of this land.

But we see rebellion particularly when it comes to people’s relationship God, if they even have one. Most people will deny that He even exists, or that, if He does, He is of no relevance to them. The Old Testament is full of accounts of the rebellion of the Israelites towards God. For example, Psalm 78:7-8, “So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God”. The rest of this Psalm details God’s response to a rebellious generation. Sober reading.

Paul said that because of the rebellion of His people, God instead showed mercy to the Gentiles. Jesus Himself warned His generation about the consequences of refusing God. We read in the Wicked Farmers’ parable Jesus’s conclusion, “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit” (Matthew 21:43). Rebellion is the wrong fruit. God is looking for the fruit of obedience.

But what did Paul mean when he said that God “imprisoned everyone in disobedience”? The Message translates this as, “ … In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.” Perhaps those people who have experienced the depths of sin, revelling in disobedience towards God, are transformed by God’s love when they discover His grace and mercy. I used to know a drug addict, who plumbed the depths of a life style of depravity, but who became a great evangelist after God lifted him out of his pit. In the story of a woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears at the home of a Pharisee called Simon, Jesus made this observation, “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love” (Luke 7:47). 

God will not stop anyone from rebelling against Him. He will still be gracious enough to maintain the systems the rebels depend upon for their existence, such as the basics of life – air to breathe, and so on. But God will withdraw His mercy from them, and He will hand them over to the consequences of their rebellious choices. In that state the rebels can continue, in apparent blissful ignorance of what will happen to them one day. Jesus was horrified about the prospects for those who rejected God and His grace. Perhaps we should be as well, making sure that we ourselves are not counted amongst the rebels, and exposing those around us to God’s grace and mercy.

Dear Father God. Your love and grace knows no limits. We thank You for all You have done, and will do, for us. Amen.



“Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.”
Romans 11:28-29 NLT

The second God-quality that Paul mentioned in Romans 11:29 concerned God’s calling. He said that it “can never be withdrawn”. We are born into a life on this planet that will provide us with many opportunities, and amongst them is something inbuilt into our DNA – the ability to hear and obey God’s calling. Of course, most people, Christians or not, will fail to hear His call, and will live a life driven by their own selfish desires, with a “calling” that is from a demanding and capricious society, drowning out any thoughts or guidance from the One who created us. 

The prophet Isaiah penned a lovely picture of God’s heart, as recorded in Isaiah 55. God’s invitation, His calling, reached out to His people and we can just imagine a loving Father, so desperate to see a positive response from His children. “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David” (Isaiah 55:1-3). How tragic it is, that most people in our Western societies totally reject this call, even if they heard it in the first place. With ears tightly closed to block out out any words from God, they stumble on through life regardless, not realising that His words contain such a wonderful  eternal and life-changing invitation.

I’m writing this blog the day after the coronation of the British king, Charles III. Imagine if, in the weeks before, a card dropped through our letterboxes saying that he would like us to be a guest at this auspicious event. I’m sure most of us here in the UK would have jumped at the chance. What an honour, we would think. And the RSVP at the foot of the card would have prompted an immediate response, a massive “Yes”. God has sent mankind such an invitation, but, sadly, very few respond, even with a “No thanks”. 

Jesus came to this world as a physical manifestation of God’s invitation card. The words recorded by God’s prophets and delivered to His people so often went unheeded. But God wasn’t going to give up, and He sent His most precious Son, who willingly and humbly came to show us the way to the Father and eternal life with Him. Jesus returned to Heaven, mission accomplished, but 200 years later God’s call still hangs in the air. We pilgrims answered Him with a massive “Yes!”, and he left us with the responsibility to extend His calling into the whole world. 

Imagine if King Charles had failed to see a response to his invitation and then sent one of his trusted servants to seek us out just to make sure we received it. We would be so touched, I imagine, but that is what God did. Mankind failed to respond to His prophets so He sent His Son. But instead of responding positively, the people of His day rejected Him and killed Him. Jesus set out this exact scenario in His “Parable of the Evil Farmers” as recorded in Luke 20.

We pilgrims have a mission that Jesus left us with. We all know the Scripture in Matthew 28. Let us not waste any time in reminding people of God’s invitation, before it is too late. Because the next time the Trusted Servant, God’s Son, comes it will be too late. The invitation card is on the table now. We don’t know when the celebration will be, so we must encourage those around us to RSVP while there is still time.

Father God. We know You have issued an invitation to the world to join Your family. Please help us to deliver the message to our friends and families. they will be eternally grateful. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


“Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.”
Romans 11:28-29 NLT

God is unchanging. The promises He has made, and still makes, are always fulfilled. And one promise He made concerned His chosen people. Deuteronomy 10:14-15, “Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God. Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today”. Paul wrote that God’s gifts and calling can never be withdrawn. And he adds that even though many of the Jews rejected Jesus when He came to Planet Earth, that didn’t stop Him loving them. To God, His chosen people were not like a garment, worn one day and discarded into the recycling the next. They were, and are, His forever people.  

We pilgrims should note two things from Romans 11:29 – God gives gifts and He calls us. When we think about gifts, we immediately associate this with a present or something personal. There are gifts of money, or something that is just for us personally. A gadget or trinket. An object, gift wrapped and hidden behind the packaging. The “wise men” from the East brought gifts for Jesus – we know them well from the Christmas story, recorded in Matthew 2. And we know, of course, that Jesus was a gift given for mankind as a whole. Through His willingness to be sacrificed at Calvary, we receive what is the greatest gift of all, as we read in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. Eternal Life is a priceless gift. It costs us nothing, but instead cost Jesus His life. All we have to do is accept Jesus and His message, responding in repentance for our sins. 

Jesus informed His disciples about the Source of gifts. Matthew 7:11, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him”. We read in 1 Corinthians 12 about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. …  A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:4,7). And then we read about the “gifts” God gave His church, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). In fact, as we look through the Bible, the last conclusion we can draw is that God is reluctant to give gifts. He is so generous and kind, giving us the gifts we need for life here on this planet. Not temporal gifts, received one day and discarded the next, but those that will last for eternity. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

We too need to emulate our loving Father by giving good gifts to others. And in the process we will benefit in some way. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38).

We have a loving Heavenly Father who cares for us. Who looks after us. And who will welcome us one day into Heaven. Why does He care for us so much? Because He loves us so much. How else can we respond to Him unless it involves all the gratitude and worship that we can muster.

Dear Father. Thank You for all the gifts You provide for us, through Your grace and love. We worship You today. Amen.