God’s Grace

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”
Romans 3:23-26 NLT

Paul made a profound statement, unequivocally through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when he said, “God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight”. Just a few words, easy to say but rooted in the God-experience Paul enjoyed. What is this grace? Why is it so powerful? And how can we take advantage of it?

Grace, and in particular God’s grace, is a very fundamental truth for the Christian life. Without God’s grace we are a deluded people, wasting our lives on something pointless. But here’s the thing, because of His love for mankind, God chose to allow His Son, Jesus, to take on board our sins so that we could become righteous before Him. That’s grace. The acronym, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense is so true. Grace isn’t something tangible. We can’t measure it, or prove that it exists through some scientific analysis. It’s not built into our education system. It doesn’t appear on our statute book. It is only available to us through another unmeasurable word – faith. The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Grace and faith walk hand in hand. But together they form an eternal combination. Our salvation depends on the grace of God, and our faith assures us that He means what He says, and what He did, through Jesus.

God’s grace is freely given, gifted to us, and is more valuable than anything man can devise. We have done nothing at all to deserve it. In fact, we deserve God’s judgement, not His grace. Earlier in Romans 3 we found just how depraved and wicked humanity is. And we think of the Apostle Paul, who was guilty of murdering the early Christians through his mistaken belief that they were a deviant sect that had to be eliminated. Yet even though he deserved the punishment meted out to murderers, through God’s grace he had an encounter with Jesus. An encounter so profound that it totally transformed his life. Saul the Pharisee became Paul the evangelist and writer of letters that have touched and helped millions of people over the time since he wrote them, and will continue to do so far into the future.

The saddest thing, though, is that most people have rejected this gift of grace. Imagine someone, perhaps a total stranger, offering you a package, all nicely wrapped up and one that you know contains something valuable. And yet, you turn away, rejecting it. Well, that is what most people do, and have done. The one thing that can assure us a future with God in an amazing place called Heaven, is despised and rejected. It doesn’t make sense somehow.

Most people feel uncomfortable in accepting a gift. They feel obliged to do something in return. But with God’s gift of grace, there is no response required. His gift is freely given without any expectation of repayment. His gift is not a loan either, requiring to be repaid one day. Through the gift, something of God is transferred to us, enriching our lives. And by accepting what He gives us, we also accept so much more, as He works in our lives, aiding our transformation into the people He wants us to be. 

Truly, the song “Amazing Grace” is just that, God’s amazing grace. “How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see“. Words to dwell and meditate on; words penned by a man who really came to experience God’s grace. We have our own stories of amazing grace to tell as well. Let us not hold back as we walk this world, telling others about this free gift from God.

Dear Father God. Once again we thank You for Your free gift of salvation through Jesus. We worship You today. 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

Reward or Penalty?

“He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honour and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.”
Romans‬ ‭2‬:‭6‬-‭8‬ ‭NLT

Paul said that God will judge everyone “according to what they have done”. But when will this happen? There is an argument that says God’s courtroom is active continually, justice administered through our courts. But that was not what Paul was referring to. We must look to a passage of Scripture in Revelation to find out the background to his thinking. We read in Revelation 20:11-12, “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books”. There are four things we learn from these verses. Firstly, the act of God’s judgement won’t take place until after we have died. Secondly, there is a reward for those who have done well when they were alive. Thirdly, He will be very angry with those “who live for themselves”, and, fourthly, and perhaps most worryingly, everything we have ever done will have been written down. 

Paul said that God will give “eternal life to those who keep on doing good”. This could be rather contentious for some Christians, because they imply that if we once were doing good, but then stopped, God’s offer of eternal life might be jeopardised. The phrase, “keep on” is in the same tense as in 1 Corinthians 1:19, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God”. We are “being saved” – present continuous tense. Salvation didn’t happen once and then all was ok for evermore. Salvation is a continuous process, and it won’t be completed until the day we are welcomed into Heaven. In Philippians 2:12b, Paul wrote, “… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. 

Jesus told the story of the sheep and the goats, which we can read in Matthew 25. The parable starts off with a picture of the “Son of Man”, who we know is Jesus, sitting on a throne. The story continues,, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”. (Matthew 25:32-33). This event happens after the Second Coming of Jesus, so it must have taken place at the start of the Millennium, as described in Revelation 20. But who are the sheep and the goats? We read that those who, because of their relationship with Jesus, went about their lives helping others, particularly those disadvantaged in life, were designated as “sheep”, and those who claimed to have a relationship with Jesus, or no relationship at all, but lived a selfish, unhelpful life, were called the “goats”. 

In our verses from Romans today, we have the same division of people – those who “keep on doing good” and those who “live for themselves”. Paul’s equivalent of the sheep and goats. The outcome is the same as it was in Jesus’ story. We read about the sheep in Matthew 25:34-36, “Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me””. Jesus then continued to describe the goats, those standing to His left. In Matthew 25:41-43 we read, “Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison and you did not look after me””. Jesus finished His story with the warning that the sheep, the righteous ones, will end up enjoying eternal life, but the goats will sadly find themselves eternally punished. 

As an aside, we should note that those who kept on doing good were not saved by their good works, but did them because of their relationship with Jesus. An important distinction because we know we are saved by grace, not by works. We read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast”. 

We have a choice in life. It’s black and white. Heaven or hell. I know what I want, and, through faith in God, I know where I am heading. We Christian pilgrims with the same conviction must tell others around us about the choice they have, and particularly that if they don’t make a choice, the default is hell. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too”. We might not be the most popular down the pub, but one day, those who make the right choice will be eternally grateful. 

Dear Father God. Please lead us to those who are at the point of making the choice between life and death. And we pray for those who we are already reaching out to, that Your Spirit will touch them with Your love, drawing them to Yourself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Punishment

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things.”
Romans‬ ‭2‬:‭1‬-‭2‬ ‭NLT

The word “punishment” is not a popular word or sentiment to bring up in a conversation down the pub. It conjures up thoughts of a child being sent to their room for some misdemeanour, or a criminal being imprisoned as a punishment for their crime. But we live in a moral universe. By that I mean that every misdeed, every sin, every crime, all will one day have to be remedied by a suitable consequential punishment. Every bad deed will be judged, either in this life or the next.

God, through Moses, set down detailed laws that had to be followed by the rag-tag bunch of ex-slaves, as He led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Many of these laws still apply today, because they underpin the very cohesion of our society. But here’s one that illustrates the principle of justice involving punishment. God taught that the punishment must match the crime, so justice is achieved. We read in Exodus 21:23-25, “But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise”. I’m not, of course, suggesting that we should implement physical punishments as in Moses’ day – such a response is considered barbaric in 21st Century society, but many today will suggest that this principle of the punishment fitting the crime no longer applies in society, with apparent punishments being too lenient and favouring the offender rather than the victim. But, never fear, the scales of justice will be balanced on the Day of Judgement, if not before, when all mankind will stand before God.

But what about us pilgrims? When we see behaviour in others that we disagree with how do we respond? Criminal behaviour is of course the responsibility of the civil authorities, and we are told to pray for them. But unfair and offensive behaviour, “legal but harmful” in modern social media parlance, may initiate feelings of anger within us. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 5:22, “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell”. So we learn not to react when something happens to provoke us. Instead, we ask God to intervene and we then move on in the knowledge that our blood pressure and inner peace are unaffected. And the Master Judge will do what is right.

People in general, even many Christians, do not understand how detestable sin is to God. In fact, it is so abhorrent to Him, that one day all those whose sin and wickedness is recorded in their Judgement Day Book (not the Book of Life), will end up in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15). Some will try and claim that our loving God would never do such a thing, but they fail to understand that God is not just a God of love, He is also a God of Righteousness, Holiness and Purity. For a season in these End Times days we have access to His grace. He has given us a remedy to sin and we can today stand righteous and holy before Him, through the sanctifying power of Jesus’ blood. But the door He has opened will not remain open forever. 

Once again, I issue a rallying call to my fellow pilgrims. We have the knowledge of the redeeming Words of God. We must share them to everyone we can while there is still time.

Father God. We thank You for Your inexhaustible supply of grace. We embrace it today, with love and thanks, and pray for more opportunities to share You with those in our families and communities. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Refusing to Understand

“They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭31‬ ‭NLT

Paul’s rant about those who “thought it foolish to acknowledge God” continues with a damning indictment of their deeds. He lists four qualities that define a mindset befitting wicked and sinful people. 

He firstly says they “refuse to understand”. But what is there that they are closing their minds to? How often have we had a response to some comment or other like “but you just don’t understand”? Perhaps the person, who is apparently being misunderstood, is in the process of some action that is not normal behaviour or is responding strangely to some question or action undertaken by another. A problem easily cleared up most of the time, but what Paul is referring to is the action of wicked people in closing their minds to any explanation or idea that does not fit in with their sinful mindset. For example, walk down any High Street and ask a random person what they think about God. A person prepared to stop and discuss would be a rare response. Mostly, the person would just walk away or even come up with an angry retort. “They refuse to understand” fits their position very well.

In Isaiah 6:9-10, God said to the prophet, “And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” Why was Isaiah given an apparently impossible task? To try and evangelise a people whose hearts had been hardened to the extent that they did not understand anything concerning God anymore. Where is the merciful God in all that?

The answer comes in Romans 1:28, “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking …”. If God abandons them they will lose the ability to hear Him and His words of love and grace. And for most no amount of pleading or evangelising will be able to break into a heart that “refuse[s] to understand”. That was the situation in Isaiah’s day, and such behaviour is still with us today, as it was in Paul’s times.

So what is the remedy for our serial refusers? Will they never be able to turn to God and embrace His words of eternal life? Will they never be able to experience His love? To say so would be to adopt the same position as them, refusing to understand the grace of God. God’s grace can melt the hardest heart. It can penetrate into the very inner core of our beings, as we read in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires”. Even for those He has abandoned there is hope.

So what do we pilgrims do, when faced with an apparent brick wall of unbelief and a refusal to respond from those we love in our families and communities? We persevere. We pray. And we believe in faith that God will find a chink in the armour that protects the hardest of hearts. It happened with me, and I’m sure that it has happened to many of my readers today. Through God’s grace, He revealed Himself to me one Saturday night, penetrating a heart hardened by wrong thinking, by a “refusal to understand”. 

Is there someone reading this today who has a heart that fails to understand God’s love and grace? Who thinks it might apply to someone else but not to them? Through Jesus and His sacrifice at Calvary, we have access to a loving God, but only if we open our hearts before Him and repent of our wickedness and sin. And His love, grace and mercy will flood in, opening a door into a new world of hope.

Dear Father God. Please help us to persevere in our prayers for our loved ones. We name them before You today, in faith that the word they need is, right now, on the way to them. Thank You. Amen.

Public Faith

“Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.”
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭8‬-‭9‬ ‭NLT

After the initial greetings, Paul gets into his letter. And straight away he thanks the Christians in Rome for their faith in God. It’s ”being talked about all over the world“, he said. What an accolade! But how could their faith become so public? And what was there about that faith that made other people in the city talk about it?

Here in the UK, faith is often considered to be a very private matter. There is almost an embarrassment with some Christians, if asked a question about their church or what they believe. In the workplace, religion is a no go area for many, and in the lives of some Christians there is no clue that would indicate their faith. Such people behave the same way as everyone else Monday to Saturday, the only difference is that they will disappear into a church building for an hour or so on a Sunday morning, while others head for the golf course or some other activity. Such a faith is hardly what Paul is highlighting here in his message of thanks. And it is also not following what Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” Such Christians may not be denying Jesus “here on earth”, but they aren’t “acknowledging [Him] publicly” either. 

How would we get our faith to become the subject of a public discussion? And to what extent should we? In my daily walks around the West of Fife, I try and take every opportunity to share my faith. Most people in my neighbourhood know what I stand for, regarding the things of God. In the office my fellow workers knew about my faith. But is that enough? A Christianity that is benign and inoffensive is hardly likely to be the subject of discussion. We Christians have a counter-cultural message of salvation that, when superimposed on this devil-controlled world, causes offence. We have a God-sourced opinion about sin and wickedness that those in the world find uncomfortable. Christians everywhere will soon find themselves publicly noticed when they stand up for the Biblical, God-breathed, principles of sexuality, marriage and the sanctity of human life, both before and after birth. And this is just a start. We may not be the sandwich-board evangelists, shouting out an in-your-face message of “turn or burn” or something similar, but there should be something about Christians that publicises the “salt and light” talked about by Jesus in Matthew 5.

Of course, there are positives about Christians that those in the world find attractive and for which people are grateful. For example, most food banks in the UK are run by Christian organisations. Christian charities are extensively glueing together the fabric of society, with benevolent acts, being “good Samaritans” to their friends and neighbours. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-15, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Are we hilltop or basket lights?

We pilgrims have the opportunity to make our marks on the societies in which we live. By nailing our colours to the masts of our communities, we will become ridiculed, avoided, and even abused. But we know the future. The world economic machine, riddled with sin and wickedness, grinds on towards eternal destruction, but, through God’s grace, we have the counter-cultural words of eternal life. We have the message of hope that is denied to so many by their love of the things of the world. We pray for God’s grace to extend to those we meet, that His love will warm their hearts, and that another child of the enemy will be released from their life of sin into a new life as a child of God.

Heavenly Father. We pray for our friends and families, that Your grace and love will work transforming miracles in their lives. We worship You today. Amen.

God’s Grace

“But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”‭‭.
Ephesians‬ ‭2:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬

In the last blog post, we considered the enormity of our perilous status before God. Paul reviewed the sinful state of mankind, and the role of the devil in corrupting and contaminating the world, leaving rebellious and sinful people in the firing line for God’s anger. Thankfully, Paul reminded us that there is a “but” in God’s world. “But God…”. And it is when we read this that the realisation that God has a solution to our sinful state brings us to our knees in deep thankfulness. You see, in our sin pandemic, God’s vaccine comes quietly, effectively and completely, bringing healing and forgiveness for our rebellious and sinful natures. 

But what is this “But”? Paul goes on to mention four key words – “mercy”, “love”, “life” and “grace”. God’s mercy is without dispute. The very fact that we are allowed to complete a pilgrimage through our lives, free to make choices in the way we live, in the way we view God, can only point to a merciful God. And not a God who is stingy and mean, dispensing the bare minimum of mercy. Paul emphasises that God is “rich in mercy”. His mercy is present in copious quantities, providing every opportunity and more for a rebellious world. And Paul explains that God is merciful because He loves us. How can God, rejected by so many, love us? Finding that most people effectively shake their fists in His face declaring that He is unnecessary for their lives, even if He exists? But love us He does, again without limit. God never says, for example, that He will only love us on a Sunday if we go to church. It’s all the time. 24/7. Regardless of where we are and what we are doing. Paul then draws an analogy with a corpse. A dead body. Because that is what sinful people are. That’s what sin does to us. It kills us spiritually. The “but” is completed by God giving us life, the same life that came “when He raised Christ from the dead”.

Finally, in these two verses, Paul points out that we have been saved through God’s grace. The acronym, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense amply describes what this grace is. Unmerited favour. From a God who cares for every human being regardless of race, age, or sex. I recently tried to share the love of God with a man who lives in the village close by. But his sad response was that he had looked into “all this religious stuff”. It wasn’t for him he said – he wanted to join “the party that’s going on downstairs”. There was an opportunity accorded to him to grasp God’s grace and turn towards God, but he rejected it. Sadly, unless the seed planted bears fruit – and there’s always time for that – God is patient, kind and gracious – he will find out that the party he hoped to join might not be quite what he expected.

We have been saved. Well, those of us who have responded to God’s love by embracing the wonderful Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself. Believing in Him. Responding to His love and mercy by declaring His Lordship over our lives. Accepting His Life-giving Spirit. All by His grace. What else can we do other than fall to our knees in deep thankfulness? 

Forgetful People

Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons; stagger them with Your power, and bring them to their knees, O Lord our shield.
‭Psalms‬ ‭59:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Psalm 59 continues the epic journey of David and his thoughts as he focuses on avoiding Saul’s malign attempts to end his life. In this Psalm, David rants before God about the nasty people who are out to get him, waiting for him to return home. They are “criminals”, “murderers”, “vicious dogs”, people with “sinful lips”. David doesn’t have much good to say about them at all. But at the end of the Psalm he again lapses into the comfort of his relationship with God, waiting for Him to rescue him. 

But today’s verse is interesting. David knows what people and their memories and thought processes are like. He knew that if God killed David’s enemies it would be a warning to some at the time but then quickly forgotten. Human nature is still the same today. Take for example someone’s driving behaviour if they see a road traffic accident caused by speeding. Their driving style and speed might moderate for a few miles, but for how long will it stay that way? Sooner or later they will forget or ignore what happened and carry on as they did before. The reoffending rate of people imprisoned for burglary is another example. Many soon forget their period of incarceration and return to their old ways. It is a trait of human nature to forget sinful events committed by others or ourselves, adopting an “it will never happen to me” mentality, or ”I’ll be more careful next time and not get caught”.  

However, David appealed to God to “stagger [such people] with [His] power and bring them to their knees“. He knew that someone repenting of their sins, on their knees before God, would have a far greater impact on the society around them. I know a lovely man in Glasgow, jailed in his teens for a drug offence. He found God in prison and is now the Pastor of a church in the very same community where he committed his drug offences. What an impact he has had! He is a constant reminder to the people in that community of God’s grace being available for all sinners, even him. David knew, and recorded in his Psalm, that a life snuffed out will have no future value, but one redeemed from sin will last forever. If my Pastor friend had continued in a life of drugs and crime, there would have been no lasting legacy, no outpouring of God’s grace, no constant reminder that there is a God in Heaven who cares for all mankind, and particularly those in his community.

So we need to be gracious. We need to pray, and keep praying, for those in our communities, workplaces, families, circle of friends, anyone we know who may be causing us difficulties. These people may not be enemies in the way David describes, but they may be telling lies, or posting unfavourable comments on social media about us. They may be ignoring us in the street. They may even be unpleasant to our faces. But prayer changes things. As we pray God will work on their hearts, and give them the opportunity to kneel before Him, asking for His forgiveness. And as we pray, He will change our hearts too, helping us see these people through His eyes, even loving them as He loves us. I can only say in response to such a gracious God, “What a Saviour!” Do I hear an “Amen”?