“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.


Totally Convinced (3)

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 NLT

Paul goes on to write, “not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love”. Why should that be a problem to pilgrims like us today? Are we afraid of hell? Do we think that the prospect of hell will really get in the way of our experience of God’s love? Some declare that hell hasn’t yet been prepared so what is there to fear. Others minimise the concept of hell, declaring it as being an archaic hangover from the Middle Ages and not appropriate, or without any relevance, in today’s sophisticated societies.  

But the Bible is clear that hell is a place being established for the ultimate incarceration of the devil and his angels. God created them as immortal beings, so they can never die. But they can be consigned to a place where they will do no more damage to God’s creation. In Matthew 25:4 we read, “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons’”. Although primarily prepared as a place for the devil and his cohorts, there will also be room for the devil’s earthly followers. And the scary thought is that the default place for mankind at the end of time is hell. We have to make a choice about wanting to go to Heaven. If we put off making a decision for Christ then the danger is that we will end up in hell.

But, as Paul indicated, the thought of hell seemed to have then potential for power over him and the early Christians. By definition, God’s love will be totally absent in hell, of course. In Paul’s day, hell was a place much to be feared. The worry of ending up there because of some misdemeanour, unrepented of, was perceived as a real threat in Paul’s day. And perhaps should be for us as well. In the process of warning His disciples about the coming dangers being threatened against Christians, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). There are other warnings Jesus gave about hell; He considered it a real place with real consequences, and one from which there is no escape.

Thankfully, there is a way that we can choose, to avoid spending eternity in hell, and that is through believing in Jesus. Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved”. Note though that this not a magic incantation; the assurance of salvation from an eternity spent in hell comes from “believing in your heart”. There is no other way.

Paul was convinced that hell had no power over him, and therefore would never be able to block him or distract him from God’s love. And for us pilgrims, the answer is the same. We have chosen the narrow way that leads to life, not the broad way that leads to destruction.

Dear God. We agree with Paul that there is nothing, not even hell itself, that can get in the way of Your love for us. We are so grateful. Amen.


“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”
Romans 5:18-19 NLT

What does “condemnation” feel like? We looked yesterday at the analogy of a prisoner in the dock about to be condemned to an eternal life sentence, but suddenly declared not guilty when Someone stepped forward to take the punishment in our place. But without that gracious act, we would have been condemned. Rightfully of course. The Judge is fair and incorruptible. The evidence of our guilt indisputable. There is only one possible verdict. There is no miscarriage of justice possible. An appeal to a higher court disallowed, because there isn’t one. Without Jesus we have no hope.

The condemned will spend eternity in a place called Hell. It will be a place of eternal torment. A place of fire and heat. The devil will be there, hardly an attractive thought. And God won’t be there of course. And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. All glimpses of a terrible place that we can find in the Bible. Most of what we know about hell came from Jesus. But most unbelievers today don’t believe in a place called hell. There is whole raft of expectations, ranging from obscurity and nothing after we die, through to everyone will end up in a place called Heaven. All with little evidence to support their views. Death and what happens afterwards is not a popular topic for conversation down the pub, or on the bus.

But we won’t dwell on such a place. Rather, we focus on what Jesus did for us. “Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone”. The contrast between Adam and Jesus is stark. One brought sin into the world. The Other dealt with it in “one act of righteousness”. The condemned are released into a new life with God. A life we can start to experience here in the time we have left in our natural lives. And after that we have an assurance that we will find a new existence in God’s presence, along with all our brothers and sisters who also put their faith in our amazing Saviour.

Dear Lord Jesus. What You did for us at Calvary surpasses any other event that has ever taken place on this planet. We are so grateful. 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.

The Fiery Lake

“Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
‭Revelation‬ ‭20:14-15‬ ‭NLT

In John’s vision, the fiery lake seemed to have become a dumping ground for sin, evil and their consequences. There was no way to escape from it. And in some way, what ended up there wasn’t consumed. There was just a constant state of fire and torment. Again we may have mental images of what this lake was or will be like – if not just type “fiery lake images” into Google. 

Revelation chapter twenty ends with the sober fact that anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was going to join the devil and his minions in the lake of burning sulphur, for eternal torment. There would be no appeal. No mitigating factors. The “devil made me do it” excuse invalid. No parole. No new evidence available. A final end to those who chose to reject a relationship with Jesus, dismissing His offer of eternal life. It would have been bad enough to end up in eternal torment, but sharing that fate with the devil would have added to the distress.

The evangelists of previous years used to engage in the practice of dangling their hearers over the fires of hell through their preaching. Pointing out to their listeners the horrors of what hell would be like. We don’t hear many sermons on hell today. Not political correct any more? But many today, even Christians, have rejected the view of hell being a fiery lake, as being archaic and not applicable in our more sophisticated modern times. As I have said before, a man I know in the village where I live has publicly rejected all thoughts of salvation. Instead, he wants, as he put it, “to join the party downstairs”. The fiery lake, hell, will be no party. I told him so.

Others have decided, without any evidence to back their assumptions, that hell will be a benign state of sleep, or somewhere where their disembodied spirits can roam around, unbothered by human restraints. Still others have decided that hell doesn’t exist at all, rejecting the Biblical accounts, instead sincerely believing that our God of love would never consign anyone to such a place. But do we view the fiery lake images as being symbolic or a reality to be avoided at all costs? Is this place just a fairy tale conjured up in the Apostle John’s imagination? Unfortunately no one has returned to earth to let us know. But Jesus was horrified about hell, and most of the teaching about this place came from His lips. He likened it to Gehenna, the rubbish pit in a gorge located below Jerusalem, and where garbage and the bodies of dead criminals were piled up. It was constantly smouldering and was full of worms. The smell was appalling. Jesus also told the story of the rich man and the beggar called Lazarus. We can read what Jesus said in Luke 16:19-31, but one verse supports the fiery lake scenario. Luke 16:24 reads, “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames“.

But we pilgrims have made our choice. We are God-followers, accepting His love and grace and looking forward to the day when we will join Him in Heaven. And while we still have time, we must, like the Apostle Paul, do our best to convince others of the dangers of the fiery lake. We read in Acts 19:8, “Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.” Our synagogues will be our workplaces, our community centres, our churches, all places where we try and persuade others to embrace God and His love and grace, before it is too late. We must never distort the Gospel by omitting the finality of the Great White Throne judgement. Yes God is a God of love. He yearns to pour out His love and grace on His creation. But because of that love He has allowed mankind to make choices, and responding to His love is a choice we can make. But we also must never forget that one day there will be a Great White Throne. Where all of mankind who have rejected God will be judged for their deeds. As one evangelist succinctly put it, “Heaven is real, hell is hot, and Jesus saves”. Hmmm…

Dear God. We don’t know what the fiery lake will really be like, and I thank You that those who are assured of their salvation through Jesus will never find out. We continue to pray for our loved ones, that they too will find the true way to an eternal life with You. Amen.

The Fallen Star

“Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen to earth from the sky, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. When he opened it, smoke poured out as though from a huge furnace, and the sunlight and air turned dark from the smoke.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭9:1-2‬ ‭NLT

After the eagle’s proclamation of more terrors to come, another angel appears. I wonder what he was thinking? He had observed what had happened when his colleagues, his fellow angels, had blown their trumpets, and now it was his turn. Did the angels know in advance what would happen in response to their trumpet blasts? We don’t know, but the fifth angel would have had a good idea that something terrible was about to happen. But he didn’t shirk from his responsibilities; instead he took a deep breath and blew his trumpet. 

John immediately, in his vision, saw a “star that had fallen to earth from the sky”. What else could that have been other than a glimpse of satan? Isaiah prophesied, ”How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭14:12‬). Jesus also referred to satan’s eviction from Heaven in Luke 17:18, ““Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!”” But whoever it was, “he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit”. 

Notice that satan was given the key to the abyss, the bottomless pit. He didn’t have the key on his own key ring. This is perhaps an indication that satan’s power is limited to only what God permits. But he was allowed to unlock the door to the abyss. And “smoke poured out as though from a huge furnace, and the sunlight and air turned dark from the smoke”. 

John saw in his vision what was most likely the door and shaft leading to hell. And it appears that there was a fire there – John referred to a “huge furnace”. So much smoke came up from the abyss that there was darkness from the smoke, and even the sun was blotted out. I wonder what was burning down there to cause so much smoke? Jesus used the picture of Jerusalem’s rubbish dump, referred to as Gehenna, where fire constantly burned. Some people claim that hell didn’t exist at this point in the end times judgement. Others say hell was created when satan and his fellow rebellious angels were kicked out of Heaven. But whichever it is I believe John received a glimpse of hell in his vision.

Hell is reality. Heaven is reality. We pilgrims have to be diligent in getting across the message about Heaven and hell to our families, our friends, our communities – remember the strap line “Hell is hot, Heaven is real, and Jesus saves”? That must be our message. Sadly these days (in my opinion) nothing much is preached from the pulpit about hell and God’s judgement. Perhaps our ministers and pastor are afraid of putting too much emphasis on hell because they might upset someone. But Jesus Himself spoke a lot about hell; in fact most of what we know about that place came from His lips. In Mark 9:48, Jesus quoted a verse from Isaiah 66 about hell being a place, “where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out“. In Matthew 13:49-50 we read, “That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth“. A graphic description of hell. To today’s sophisticated and cynical cultures, the concept of hell seems a bit medieval, so getting across the danger of going to hell to such people is a challenge. We pray for wisdom and the leading and support of the Holy Spirit before we engage in speaking about what many refer to as the “place downstairs”. The man in my village will find out, too late, that there will be no party in hell – just eternal maggots and fire, with the sound of weeping, wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

Father God. Thank You for the opportunities we get to share about Your love and righteous, but also about what will happen at the end of the age. Please help us in our conversations we pray. Amen.

Silence in Heaven

“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.
Revelation‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NLT

We now come to the seventh seal in John’s vision. That number seven again, in this case denoting a complete set of judgements as written on the scroll. The seventh seal allows the final section of the scroll to be unrolled, and the last judgement read out. And silence followed. Two days ago we considered how noisy it will be in Heaven, with all the shouting and singing going on. But now there’s silence. Why?

Perhaps the writing on the scroll behind the seventh seal describes a judgement so severe that all of Heaven draws in breath, feeling tension in the air. And if we read on, we see that the seven trumpet judgements are about to be released. Or perhaps, the silence allows a time of reflection in Heaven, as the enormity of what is happening down on Planet Earth becomes known. But whatever the reason, there now follows the scene in John’s vision of seven angels collecting seven trumpets. 

This is the Time of the End, as far as the earth is concerned. The sin of mankind has finally come to the point where John was shown in his vision that it has to be judged and dealt with. This is a sobering time, even for blood-bought Christians. Jesus spoke much about judgement and hell when He was out and about in Palestine. He warned the people of His day what was to come. For example, we read what He said in John 12:47-48, “I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken“. One day there will be a day of reckoning.

What should we pilgrims do, knowing what we know? One thing for sure, we cannot just stand back and let our loved ones and neighbours face the terrible consequences of God’s judgement. Especially when God sent His Son Jesus to tell us what was to come and how we can be spared from such devastating consequences. Jesus also spoke much about hell, which he compared with a familiar place known to His people, the Jews. It was the valley of Hinnom, also referred to as Gehenna. It was here that the dead bodies, usually of criminals, and rubbish were continually burned on smouldering fires, that never went out. That was what He said hell would be like.

We cannot frighten people these days with a description of hell. I find that there can be a cynicism and flippancy permeating anything to do with Christianity amongst those who are not Christians. I can remember sharing about the judgement to come with a man who lives in my community. His response was that he would prefer to join, what he called, “the big party downstairs”, than to spend eternity with God. He has sadly heard about God’s love and grace and has rejected it. And unless he has a change of heart, he will find out what the “big party downstairs” will really be like. But we must still share all that God has done for us with those around us, in the prayerful hope that salvation will knock at the doors of their hearts.

Father God. We thank You that You sent Jesus to this world to save us. And in these difficult times I pray that You lead us to just the right people who You know are just waiting to be told about Your love and grace. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Obedient Faith

“And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5:9-10‬ ‭NLT

We continue to spend another day looking at this wonderful new song. The lyrics, directed at Jesus, who was standing in the middle of the twenty four elders and four living beings, before the throne of God, included the line, “Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”. A few thoughts about this new song. 

Firstly, do these words indicate that Jesus died for everyone, implying that there will be no exclusions and everyone will get to Heaven? Of course not, but many would like to think so. Jesus paid the ultimate penalty when He died that day at Calvary, spilling His blood so that His sacrifice would redeem everyone who believes in Him from the consequences of their sins. By doing so He paid the ransom for our sin. But to be a “ransomed people“, we have to respond personally, accepting that His sacrifice was for each one of us individually. Universalism, a belief that everyone will be saved and end up in Heaven regardless, cannot be found in the Bible. We have to make a choice – we can either choose to accept God’s saving grace through His Son, Jesus, and in the process assure our future with God in Heaven, or we can choose to reject Him and instead be assured of a life in Hell. Jesus said in John 14:6, ” … I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”. There is no other way.

Secondly, all human beings, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, hair colour and everything else, is eligible to be ransomed by Jesus’ sacrifice. If they want to be. The only exclusions are for people who make the wrong choice, or don’t make a choice at all.

Thirdly, once we have accepted in obedient faith, that Jesus died in exchange for our sins, we adopt a new role. We become fully paid up members of God’s Kingdom of priests. We read in 1 Peter 2:9, “… you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” When we adopt our new priestly roles, we can show others the way to become priests too. Being a priest conjures up images of old men dressed in a funny gown, perhaps wearing an odd-looking hat, officiating at church services. But to us pilgrim priests, our priestly duties are to show others the way to God, by sharing the Gospel with them. By being “salt and light” in our families and communities.

The verse today ends with the line, “And they will reign on the earth“. According to John’s vision recorded in the Book of Revelation, there will come a time when the Kingdom priests will reign on earth. Of course, this isn’t happening in 21st Century society. Western or otherwise. And as fas as I am aware, it hasn’t happened in history either. So there must be coming a time when we pilgrim priests will reign on earth. I’m sure we will find out more as we dig deeper into this fascinating and amazing Book.

Dear Father God. Once again we thank You for the nuggets of revelation contained in these Scriptures. Please help us to understand what You want to reveal to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The God-Deniers

The wicked are windbags,
    the swindlers have foul breath.
The wicked snub God,
    their noses stuck high in the air.
Their graffiti are scrawled on the walls:
    “Catch us if you can!” “God is dead.”

Psalm 10:3-4 The Message

The Psalmist, presumed to be David, was having another rant about the “wicked”. We don’t know what wound him up, but, as the Message translation shows, he wrote very graphically about these unsavoury members of society. He was perplexed that, in spite of their behaviour, they seem to succeed in all that they got involved in. But in this Psalm he called upon God to punish them. No messing about in those days! 

To say that God is dead is first and foremost a challenge to God’s authority, and was very much behind the rationale presented to Eve by the serpent in Genesis 3. Not too many people would have the nerve to speak these three words out loud in a meaningful way – this would normally be the domain of liberal or radical theologians, or trendy philosophers and so called intellectuals. But at least the God-deniers have presumably assessed the implications of the thought that “God is not dead”. They will know that if God is alive, then they have some serious, life-changing, decisions to make, that is, if they don’t want to spend eternity in hell. And because a decision for God would seriously impact their whole lives they adopt an arrogant posture and choose instead to reject Him and deny that He exists, ignoring the evidence to the contrary. Those adopting a God-denying life style are very much behind the Psalmist’s rant in Psalm 10. It is a lifestyle that can be distilled down to selfishness, oppression, particularly of the less fortunate members of society, illegal acts and general wickedness. Sadly, most people choose not to consider what happens after we die, not realising that no choice is the same as the “God is dead” choice. They comfort themselves, if challenged, with the erroneous thought that “I’m a good person – God won’t reject me”, not understanding that God has a totally different expectation of what “Good” means. The Bible calls the God-deniers “foolish” (Psalm 14:1). One day they will find out how foolish they really have been.

But what about us, God’s people? We can’t just stand on the periphery, looking on as the “wicked” perpetrate their mayhem, choosing, as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day did, to keep our hands clean by not getting involved. At the very least we must pray, supporting organisations that stand up for those less fortunate than us. Organisations such as “Open Doors”, for example. And where we can we must volunteer to help in our communities – after all we are the “salt and light” that Jesus taught about in Matthew 5. And we can face down the “wicked” with God standing right there with us. Personally and individually, though, we must guard our hearts from complacency, from erosion of our spiritual lives and from the activities of the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8-9). Jesus presented a radical, counter-cultural Gospel which still resonates around the world today, through His radical, counter-cultural followers. Like you and me?


The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8 NIV

Behind the trees this morning I heard the sound of a helicopter. First in the distance a popping noise and then, as it got closer, a swishing sound . It then appeared through a gap in the trees. So I looked it up on the “Flightradar24” App (if you are interested in flying then this is a great app to get and it’s free!) and was told that it was an “Airbus Helicopters AS355” but no information about where it had come from or where it was going was available. Of course, it must have started somewhere, and there will be a time when it has to land, if only to refuel. But the relevant data about its origin and destination was missing. 

The helicopter could be seen and heard but I couldn’t tell where it had come from or where it was going. In today’s Scripture, Jesus uses the analogy of wind. It can be heard but we don’t know where it came from or where it is going. It’s the same with our natural lives, we don’t plan either our origin or destination. That is, of course, unless we embrace the teaching of Jesus in John 3. But it is “sad but true” (to quote the title of the Metallica song) that most people seem unconcerned about their destination in life. They obviously cannot do much about their origins, but they can take steps to ensure the right destination.

In His discussion with Nicodemus, the Jewish leader who crept into Jesus’ presence after dark, Jesus explained the need for a spiritual birth. He said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5-7). So by being born again, we can determine our spiritual origins, and this starts us on the right journey through life. But how can we be sure that we are on our way to the right destination? We have a choice. We can either spend eternity with the devil and his demons in hell, or we can spend eternity with God and His angels in Heaven. A wrong choice and a right choice. A wrong destination and a right destination. And we can make the right choice by believing in Jesus, God’s only Son, to forgive us for our sins. On a cross at a place called Calvary He took upon Himself all our sins and gave us in exchange His righteousness. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21. And by being righteous in God’s sight we are assured of a future with Him in eternity.

So as Christians, we have an origin and a destination, and the spiritual App equivalent of Flightradar24 will record our journey between them. Not more “N/A” against the points of origin and destination. We have been born again through the Spirit of God, and assured a future in Heaven through our salvation. Our flight plan has been recorded in God’s Book of Life.

If you are unsure of where you are going and want to know more, please message me. It could be the most important decision you have ever made.