Living for God’s glory

So …whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

A simple question: What are you living for?

When you put your feet on the floor by your bed in the morning, what motivates you? Is it mainly a sense of duty and responsibility? The need to make money? The desire to enjoy yourself? A commitment to your work? None of these things, of course, are bad. But should they be our top priority?

According to the Bible as a whole, and spelt out here by Paul, we are called to live first and foremost “for the glory of God”. Note that word “whatever” – which means “anything and everything”.

Glory: it’s a hard word to pin down. It conjures up the idea of God’s majesty and power made known on earth, the outshining of his being – as when Moses saw him on Mount Sinai, or when the disciples saw the glorified Christ at the transfiguration.

In the Old Testament glory has a root meaning of “weight”, “heaviness”. Heavy things often tend to be worth more than light things. Nina and I have a set of dinner plates given us as a wedding present – and they are heavy. You only have to pick one up to sense its quality. So the glory of God is to do with his worth, his value, his sheer importance.

In the New Testament glory can have the sense of “reputation”. I find this a helpful way to understand what Paul is talking about in our verse.

It may seem strange, but he is referring here to the most ordinary thing you could imagine – eating and drinking. (I said that word “whatever” is important!)

He says that Christians may have differing views on, say, being or not being vegetarian. “But don’t worry about it!” he says. “Just make sure that whatever you eat and drink you do it to the glory of God.” In other words, in your attitude to this most ordinary thing, remember that God’s reputation is at stake.

What we need to get into our heads is that in all the everyday things of life we have the duty and responsibility to ensure that God’s reputation – his name – is unsullied. This means we need to ask ourselves a few questions…

Do I do my supermarket shopping to the glory of God? Am I polite to other customers? Do I exchange a friendly word with the person at the check-out? Do I drive my car to the glory of God? Am I courteous to other road users (not least pedestrians!)? Do I let the bus out first? Do I jump the lights? Do I keep to the speed limit? Do I do the house-hold chores to the glory of God? Cheerfully or grumblingly? Whole-heartedly or shoddily? And what about my day-time job, assuming I have one? Do I do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay? Do I try and get away with the bare minimum required, or really give of my best?

And in life’s bigger things… How do I conduct my relationships? Patiently? Kindly? Sensitively? Is my way of speaking good? Is my humour wholesome? Am I strictly honest? Do I look out for the stranger, the person the rest of the world passes by?

I could go on. The seventeenth century poet George Herbert put it like this: “Teach me, my God and King,/ In all things Thee to see,/ And what I do in anything/ To do it as for Thee… A servant with this clause/ Makes drudgery divine:/ Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws/ Makes that and the action fine”. Yes, we can even “make drudgery divine” if we have a truly God-glorifying attitude.

In fact (here’s a thought) there’s only one thing in our lives which we can’t do to the glory of God. What is it? Sin. A person who aims to do everything to the glory of God will make every effort to get rid of every trace of sin from his or her life. God is sinless, so we should be too. No compromises!

If only we could adopt this attitude consistently day by day – it would make new people of us. And it would make a real impact on the people who know us. Let’s go out this week and do all things – yes, literally all things – for the glory of God.

Father, forgive me that my life tends to be so me-centred. Through the power of your Holy Spirit please teach me to live for your glory, and your glory alone. Amen.

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When life seems cruel

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she said. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Ruth 1:20

In Hebrew naomi means “pleasant”, mara means “bitter”. So there is a world of sadness in Naomi’s words here.

What has happened? Something like this…

Naomi and her husband Elimelech seem to have been an ordinary couple living in Bethlehem about 1000 years before Jesus was born there. They had two boys, Mahlon and Kilion. Famine came to Bethlehem, and they decided to make a new life for themselves in Moab, a land on the other side of the Dead Sea. They were, in effect, economic migrants, like so many millions of people today.

I imagine life was hard for them – it can’t be easy to uproot from your home country and go and live in a foreign land. This, of course, is something to remember if ever we are tempted to get angry about unfortunate people who make their way to Britain looking for a better life – not to mention the tragic asylum-seekers willing to risk the waters of the Mediterranean in order to get to Europe. But at least Elimelech and Naomi had one another.

Then… Elimelech died. This was a terrible blow to Naomi – but at least she still had her two boys with her. Eventually they married Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. Can you picture the weddings? I’m sure there was great rejoicing, the only shadow being “If only Elimelech was here!”

Naomi got on well with her new daughters-in-law, and they were a happy family group.

But then there was a double blow – Mahlon and Kilion died. We don’t know why. Perhaps there was a plague. Or did some enemy attack, and lots of the young men get killed?

Whatever, Naomi suddenly finds herself alone in this foreign land with just her two newly-widowed daughters-in-law. She decides to head back to Bethlehem, and Ruth, though a Moabite, insists on going with her. Orpah prefers to look for a new husband in Moab (and we needn’t blame her for that).

And so the day comes when two travel-weary women, one old, one young, walk into Bethlehem. People look up from whatever they are doing as they approach. At first they assume they are total strangers come to town. But then someone, looking very hard, whispers in disbelief “Is that… Naomi…? Surely not!” And we know what Naomi said in reply: as if an Englishwoman might say “Yes, my name indeed is Joy – but you might as well call me Sorrow”.

Sad, sad, sad!

No doubt there are millions of people all over the world who could echo Naomi’s words: “God has made life very bitter for me”. Pain and tears are part of our human destiny. No-one, ultimately, escapes.

There is a lot one could say. But perhaps the most important thing is this: Naomi’s story has a happy ending. I won’t tell you what it is: the little Book of Ruth is only four chapters long, so you can read it for yourself! But God cleansed away the bitterness and tears, and there was joy once more. You may remember stories from when you were a child, and how they ended “And they all lived happily ever after.” Well, it really is a bit like that.

Yes, life can be desperately painful and hard. But it is no exaggeration to say that for the child of God every story has a happy ending. A day will come when God will “wipe every tear from our eyes” (Revelation 21). Do you believe that?

It’s worth noticing too that not only does Naomi’s personal story end happily, but God even weaves it into his larger purposes: Ruth’s future son, Obed, becomes the great King David’s grandfather and thus, amazingly, takes his place in the family-tree of Jesus.

And so, too, even our little lives can have a big place in the working out of God’s plans.

I heard recently from a friend I had had no contact with for over 30 years. Life has dealt cruelly with him. He did a job that required excellent eye-sight. Then, in mid-life, his sight failed and he was registered blind. Mara, bitter!

But a remarkable thing happened. He has always been a gifted pianist, playing purely by ear. And this beautiful gift suddenly took a leap forward, and he has been playing in major venues round the country. No compensation for losing his sight, I know. But a reminder that God has this remarkable way of bringing good out of bad.

May God help us to believe it!

Lord, in the bitterness of hurt, disappointment, pain and grief, help me to cling to you by faith. And so bring me to that glorious day when all tears will be for ever wiped away. Give me also a heart of compassion for those whose tears still flow. Amen.

Time for decision?

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied “Repent, and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins…” Acts 2:37-38

“Don’t just stand there – do something!” Has anyone ever shouted that at you?

It’s a totally normal day, and then some sudden emergency arises – a fire, someone taken ill, a child running into the road – and you are paralysed with indecision. You know something needs to be done, but you just can’t think what the best course of action is. Result? You dither, perhaps hoping that somebody else will come along and take charge.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the crowd who listened to Simon Peter on the Day of Pentecost were in exactly that position. The sheer power of his words had “cut them to the heart” and convinced them that they were in a hopeless situation – rebels against God, and actually guilty of putting his Son to death.

Like someone who has at last faced up to a fatal disease, or a driver who suddenly realises his brakes have failed, they see their situation in a totally new light: putting it plainly, heading for destruction.

So they cry out those words of despair and helplessness, “What shall we do?” As if to say, we know we must do something, but… what?

How does Peter reply? Well, he gives them two commands, and then offers them two promises.

The first command is to “repent”.

The basic meaning of this quite theological-sounding word is actually very simple: turn around. Peter tells them that like a driver driving the wrong way on a motorway they are heading – disastrously – in the wrong direction. And if you are heading in the wrong direction, well, the obvious thing to do is to turn round.

The people Peter is talking to have, in effect, rejected God, his truth and his light. This seemed fine while it lasted, but the day of reckoning is now upon them and it’s time for action.

And that’s how it is for us. Living without God may seem a pretty good idea for a while, but it can only be for so long. So Peter’s words are for everyone: stop! turn around! start again! now! before it’s too late!

Are you ready for a u-turn in your life?

The second command is to “be baptised”.

Baptism, being dunked in water, was, so to speak, the badge of membership of the people of God. It was the way you identified yourself with the infant church. Like a person taking a bath you were symbolically washed clean of your sins. Like a person laid to rest in the tomb and then raised up again, you were “born again” to a whole new life of purity, power and holiness.

Is it time you were born again?

Peter, then, is talking about the biggest turnaround you will ever experience in your lifetime. That, and nothing less.

But then he goes on to the two promises which, after this massive crisis of conversion, will mark you out for the rest of your life.

First, you will receive “the forgiveness of your sins”.

God is holy and will not compromise with sin; ultimately it must come under his judgment. But the good news is that God loves to forgive our sins; he is merciful and loving. And because we have humbled ourselves and put our trust in Jesus he treats our sins as if they were never committed. The cross has dealt with them.

Can you say with confidence today, Yes! My sins are forgiven?

Second, you will receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

You might say, “All this sounds absolutely wonderful, but I’m sorry, I just don’t have what it takes to enable me to live this new God-centred life.” Well, no. And neither do I. And neither does anyone else.

But the good news, again, is that you don’t need it – it is provided by God himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit.

You can describe the Holy Spirit in various ways, but a favourite way of mine is to say that he is the energy, the breath, the very life of God himself, breathed into our souls. It is the Spirit alone who enables us to be the new people God intends us to be.

Put it like this: if baptism gets you going, the Spirit keeps you going.

All this is why the gospel is essentially “good news”, the best in fact that you will ever hear. But remember, the great change Peter is talking about starts with action, with a decision. The question those people asked on the Day of Pentecost is one we must ask too: What shall I do?

Time to stop dithering?

Lord God, right here and now I turn my back on my life of sin and disobedience. I humbly and gladly accept the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross, and I claim the promise of sins forgiven and the power of the Holy Spirit. So help me to live this beautiful new life until the day I see Jesus face to face. Amen.

Buildings – blessing or curse?

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left upon another; every one of them will be thrown down”. Luke 21:5-6

Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again”. John 2:19

I know someone who loves old buildings, especially churches. His idea of a good holiday is not so much a pub-crawl as a cathedral-crawl. He will plan a trip around the various cathedrals he would like to visit.

Well, I have to admit that that wouldn’t suit me!

Of course I can admire the splendour and magnificence of great buildings, including non-Christian ones. I am not greatly travelled, but I have stood in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Christian church which is now a museum, not to mention the marvellous Blue Mosque. I have visited St Paul’s Cathedral in London and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I have wandered in the Parthenon in Athens. I have removed my shoes to enter the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and likewise the massive Hindu temple just a mile or two from where I live in north-west London.

All these have been moving experiences. But I don’t think I could summon up the kind of enthusiasm my friend has.

If ever I feel a bit guilty about this I take comfort from the seeming indifference of Jesus towards the coming destruction of the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

It’s easy to picture the scene. Jesus’ disciples, country boys up from Galilee, are dazzled by the sight of the Temple: “Wow, isn’t it incredible! Look at those decorations! What a fantastic building!”

To which Jesus replies “Yes, marvellous, isn’t it? – and very soon it will all be knocked down.” Talk about pouring cold water on someone’s enthusiasm! And what he predicted did in fact come true some forty years later, when the no-nonsense Romans marched in and razed everything to the ground.

I’m sure Jesus, in fact, wasn’t indifferent. In common with his fellow Jews he would have believed that the Temple was the most important building in the world. It was the earthly dwelling-place of God, the place where heaven and earth came together.

But what really broke his heart wasn’t the destruction of a beautiful building – no, it was the judgment of God that that destruction represented on a stubborn and disobedient people. The loss of the building was a terrible calamity – but nothing like as bad as the failure of God’s people to share his glory with the rest of humankind.

This little conversation between Jesus and his disciples triggers in my mind questions about two big topics: buildings, and beauty.

First, buildings.

The early church, of course, had no buildings. The first Christians met for worship and fellowship in hired halls or in people’s homes. Only later did they start to erect special buildings.

And the question arises, Was this a good development? Did Jesus ever want his followers to put up special buildings, whether splendid cathedrals or modest little mission halls? When it comes to the church’s mission, worship and evangelism, are special buildings a blessing or a curse?

My answer would be: they can be a blessing, but too often become a curse. They consume large amounts of money and energy in upkeep and maintenance. And, especially in the case of the very beautiful ones, they can become a distraction from God rather than a pointer to him. Worse, they can give to the outsider, the non-Christian, a very wrong impression of what Christianity is all about.

And so I find myself torn in two. I can stand in St Paul’s, for example, and hear myself talking with two contradictory voices: First, “Isn’t this glorious!” And second “Why oh why did they ever build this place!” (Can anybody help me, please, to harmonise those two voices?)

Second, beauty.

All that is beautiful is to be valued and appreciated. After all, where does beauty come from if not from God? In Revelation 21:24 we are told that “the kings of the earth will bring their splendour” into the new, the heavenly, Jerusalem. (Something to think about, that!)

Beauty matters. Art matters. Human creativity matters. And this is a truth that we as Christians should affirm, especially perhaps in our western world where there is so much cheapness and vulgarity, shallowness and triviality.

But what matters most is the beauty of character which the Holy Spirit produces within us. The reason Jesus didn’t lament the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple was because he believed that he had come to replace it. Isn’t this what John 2:19-22 means?

And isn’t it significant that Paul speaks of both the universal church and the individual Christian as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (put together 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 6:16)?

Yes, we Christians, both corporately and individually, are meant to be the reflection of God’s supreme beauty, a “place” where people can meet with him.

Is that how you see yourself? A living, breathing, walking temple?

Enable me, Lord God, to value and appreciate all that is beautiful and fine in this world. But enable me still more to be, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a beautiful, Christlike person, a true “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Amen.

How’s your heart?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Jesus said, It is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly… Mark 7:21

I read in the paper the other day that a top chess player – a “grand master”, no less – had been booted out of a tournament for cheating. Apparently he had been visiting the bathroom suspiciously often during a match, and when they went to investigate they found some kind of computer app which helped him make his next move hidden in one of the cubicles.

I am myself a keen if decidedly rubbishy chess player, so naturally my eye was drawn to the story. It created in me a sense of head-shaking unbelief. How could anybody be so stupid! What did he think he was doing? Couldn’t he see that he was almost certain to be found out at some point?

Not to mention the little matter of cheating. How could anybody be so deliberately, cynically dishonest?

When people do wrong things – whether serious crime or supposedly trivial cheating – most of us probably shake our heads with surprise and puzzlement.

But why?

If we had taken any serious notice of these words from the Bible – from Jeremiah in the Old Testament and from Jesus in the New – then nothing would ever surprise us. The problem, it seems, is the heart – that is, the real you and me, the inner, unseen you and me. It has become deeply corrupted, like a once-wholesome well polluted with sewage.

This doesn’t mean – thank God! – that human beings are totally incapable of good and kind deeds. Not at all. Every day of our lives we benefit from acts of consideration from others, both friends and strangers. (It was touching, watching Liverpool against Newcastle United the other evening, to see the Liverpool fans stand to clap Jonas Gutierrez, a Newcastle player, onto the field. They knew he has been very ill with cancer, and wanted to express their sympathy and admiration.)This kind of human fellow-feeling is far from rare.

But it doesn’t alter the fact that something is seriously wrong with us at the very core of our being. Something which the Bible calls sin.

And something which, as Jeremiah says, is “beyond cure”. (If we don’t believe what the Bible tells us, well, we can always look to another place: the murky depths within our own inner being.)

So why should we be surprised when we hear of politicians using coarse language or fiddling their expenses or outright lying, of teachers cooking the figures to meet targets, of vicars running off with someone else’s wife or husband, of celebrities descending into alcoholism, drug-taking and violence, of police officers accepting bribes, of…? But there is no need to go on…

The fact is (I know this is a cliché, but clichés do have a tendency to be true) that there are no depths to which the human heart will not sink. Which of us hasn’t been guilty of some of those things in Jesus’ ugly list in Mark 7? I know I have!

So… Jeremiah says that the heart is “beyond cure”. But does that mean we must give up in despair? After all, the word “incurable” is never one we like to hear.

No! The heart may be incurable – but there is a wonderful sense in which it can be replaced altogether.

I was in my student years when news broke of the first “heart transplant” in a hospital in South Africa. I can still remember sitting at a table in a cheap cafe and reading about this new and revolutionary procedure. Somebody had actually received a new heart to replace his old diseased one! We almost take it for granted today, but it is truly a medical miracle.

And God’s renewal of the human heart is a miracle of infinitely greater proportions. Later in Jeremiah’s book we read the lovely words of God: “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 24:7). And the psalmist prays that most lovely of prayers: “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). And Jesus tells us that “blessed” – which means something like “deeply happy in God” – are “the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8).

This spiritual heart-transplant is a miracle that takes time, because the Holy Spirit who brings it about works very gradually, day by day.

But it is available, make no mistake! Available for me. Available for you.

Lord God, I don’t always like what I see when I look honestly into my heart. Grant me, I pray, a new, Christlike heart, directed always by your Holy Spirit. Amen.

When God turns things round

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16

Turn-around psalms – that’s how I think of them.

There are quite a few in the Book of Psalms as a whole, but perhaps 18 is the most dramatic. You only have to read the early part of the psalm to see what the writer was going through: “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me” (verse 4). Things could hardly have been worse.

But then there is a turn-around: God intervenes, he acts with power and decision, and suddenly everything is different. It’s as if dark storm clouds have rolled away, and the sun shines again. “The Lord lives!” says the psalmist in verse 46, “Praise be to my rock!”

Are you desperate for a turn-around in your life? Is your situation near to rock-bottom? Well, the message is clear: please don’t give up hope. God is the master of the turn-around, and what he has done for others he can do for you, if you cling to him during the hard times and cry out to him like the psalmist.

This is something I have seen on various occasions over my forty-plus years as a minister. I have seen people in truly “deep waters”, where any kind of change seemed quite impossible. And then I have seen those same people, some time later, at peace and happy, rejoicing in God’s goodness.

Thinking about this, three great Bible turn-arounds come to my mind.

First, the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14).

The people have come out of captivity in Egypt under Moses and Aaron. This was truly a miracle. But the Egyptians come thundering after them in their chariots. The people arrive at the sea. But what are they to do? What possible way of escape is there: the uncrossable sea before them, their ferocious enemies behind them?
But then, just when there seems to be no hope, God acts, the waters divide, and all is well. Some turn-around!

Second, the return of Israel from the captivity in Babylon.

The people have been languishing there for seventy years – “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion (that is, Jerusalem),” they say (Psalm 137). They are under the thumb now of the Persians, the new super-power of the time.

Just when they must have been despairing of ever seeing their homeland again something truly amazing happens: the King of Persia, Cyrus, issues a decree (just listen to this!) giving them his express permission to go home, even commanding them to rebuild their temple (2 Chronicles 36). Cyrus, bear in mind, is a pagan king… Again, some turn-around!

The third example is, of course, the resurrection of Jesus. We can hardly begin to imagine what his disciples felt on that terrible Friday of his crucifixion. And what about the Saturday? Have you ever stopped to think what a long, grey, miserable, dreary, hopeless day that must have been? But then on Easter morning – well, I don’t need to tell you what happened. The turn-around of all turn-arounds!

The point is simple and clear: we never know when God is going to act. Or how. We haven’t the remotest idea of the resources he has up his sleeve. True, our turn-arounds don’t tend to be as dramatic as the ones I have mentioned. Often they are gradual and undramatic. But they do happen – and God doesn’t change, so why shouldn’t they happen again?

Psalm 27 isn’t exactly a turn-around psalm, but it has something to say to the person longing for a turn-around – the simple, almost homely advice: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. Easy to say, sometimes hard to do. But good advice nonetheless.

So as I said earlier, don’t lose heart that there will be a turn-around for you also – that the Lord will draw you too “out of the deep waters”.

Dear Father in heaven, I badly need a turn-around in my situation. Sometimes I find it hard to trust you or to see your hand in my life. Please help me to hold on to you, however long it may take. Please, please help me! Amen.

Growing the kingdom

Jesus said, what shall we say the kingdom of God is like…? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when it is planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants… Mark 4:30-31

Mustard isn’t something I get too excited about – to me it’s just that little dollop of yellow stuff on the edge of your plate that tastes really bitter but gives flavour to meat. I sort of like it, as long as it’s just in tiny quantities. (CS Lewis once said that one of the mysteries of life is that anybody could possibly enjoy eating mustard. Oh well…)

But Jesus speaks of it not regarding its taste, but its size. In his world the mustard seed was proverbial for its tininess. But the plant to which it eventually gives birth is, he says, big enough to give a perch to the birds.

And so we are reminded of the sheer miracle of growth – the acorn and the oak-tree, the embryo and the adult, the seed and the flower. Life is very wonderful, isn’t it?

Jesus loved these parables of growth. In this chapter, after the famous parable of the sower, he highlights two particular features of growth.

First, in verses 26-29, his emphasis is on how growth is secret and mysterious.

The man who plants the seed hasn’t a clue how it germinates and develops. All he knows is that it does, and that’s enough for him, thank you very much.

And this is what God’s kingdom is like, Jesus says: growing quietly and often out of sight. So we can be encouraged to keep sowing the seed of the gospel, confident that our sowing is not in vain: the seed will bear fruit, though we will never understand the whole process, and though we may never see in our own life-time the fruit of the seed we have sown.

Second, in verses 30-32, the seed grows massively.

Yes, that Sunday school lesson you taught – perhaps thinking you didn’t do a very good job – may be remembered in thirty years’ time. It may be instrumental in changing a child’s very life. That word of witness you spoke to someone at work – a word you thought they had completely forgotten or even ignored – may figure one day when they stand up to give their testimony before being baptised. That card you sent… that leaflet you dropped… that smile you gave… that sermon you preached… that prayer you offered… that conversation you had… Who knows what they might lead to?

Not long ago I had a hacking session in our garden (I would be embarrassed to dignify it with the word “gardening”). Things were getting really out of hand, so out I marched to do battle, armed with choppers and secateurs and mower and trimmer. Oh well, with luck that should keep the garden out of the house for another week or two. And again I was struck by the miracle of growth, even when it can be rather annoying.

And then I look at the church. And I am encouraged to think of what God is doing secretly in people’s hearts and even in the lives of nations. We are often discouraged by the smallness of the church, the fact that the kingdom of God seems far from dominant on the earth.

But that day will come.

In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, that strange collection of pictures and images, the sowing/reaping theme surfaces again (14:14-16). The person “like a son of man” (guess who that is?) is told: ” ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe’. So he swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.”

That day will come. The question is, Are we preparing for it? Are we sowing the seed of the word of God?

And let’s not forget – we don’t have to wait for the end to share in the reaping. Who knows, God may be calling us to do some reaping even today.

I think that Paul had got hold of Jesus’ message – look at 1 Corinthians 15:58. After nearly sixty verses of marvellous teaching about the resurrection, he comes right back down to earth with these bracing words: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”

A word for you today?

Lord God, thank you for the people who sowed the seed of the gospel in my life, and for the massive change it has made to me. Help me, day by day, to be an eager sower, and always ready also to look for opportunities to reap. Amen.