Peter Horrobin

International Director of Ellel Ministries

October 14, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Money, Sex and Power (3)

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases in strength”

Proverbs 24:3-5

This is the third of a series of Seeds of the Kingdom devotionals about the three most dangerous temptations, money, sex and now power.

Power and authority are not the same thing. A person in authority uses power to carry out what whatever it is he has to do. A boxer has power in his muscles but he only has authority to use it in the boxing ring against an opponent. It’s the boxing ring that gives him his authority – and it is only here that he can use his power.

Power has the capacity to be a huge blessing or a terrible curse. The power of a railway engine can transport people across the land in comfort. But if that same engine, at the height of its power, leaves the track at speed, there would be a terrible disaster. The power of a wise ruler with a good government can be a huge blessing to the people of a nation. But a despotic ruler who has no other objective than to use his power to control other people and satisfy his own objectives, is a curse upon the nations.

Now, the privilege of being the ruler of a nation is reserved for only a very few people, but these principles can apply to each and every one of us. For we are all capable of acting with love and generosity towards those who are under our authority or treating them with harshness and cruelty.

I will never forget the lady who almost spat at me, when I encouraged her to trust God as her Father. Eventually, through her pain and anger, she told me how her father would beat her and her brothers and sisters every night when he came home from the pub, drunk. “I know what fathers are like and if that’s what God’s like, I don’t want to know him!” she said.

Her father’s wrong use of power in the family had caused her terrible pain and a lifelong of suffering. Some people use the power they have to inflict suffering on the people they control, so as to make them do what they want out of fear. A harsh boss at work can keep people under control through his temper and bad language. And tragically we have had to pray with many people who were abused at home, physically or sexually, by people who abused the authority that they had in the family over their children.
Our Scripture for today paints a very different picture, however. It’s a picture of a person who has gained knowledge and wisdom in life and as a result of what he knows is able to make wise and profitable decisions and uses his power for good. I will never cease to be thankful to God for wise parents who used their authority firmly and with much love. They taught me so much and I will be eternally grateful to them.

The good news for those who have suffered under a harsh authority, wherever that may have been, is that Jesus came to show us what the Father is really like. His arms of love are always open for the hurting and the broken, for those who have suffered the cruelty of abuse of power. And there is forgiveness for those who know they have used their powers abusively and cruelly.

Prayer. Help me, Lord, to forgive those who have abused their power and hurt me at different times of my life. Then help me, Lord, to always use the power that you have given me in every sphere of life with love and wisdom. Help me never to take advantage of those who are under my authority. And thank You, Jesus, that even though all authority has been give into Your hands that You are still the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for Your sheep – even me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

September 30, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Money, Sex and Power (2)

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast”

Proverbs 5:21-22, NIV

This is the second of a series of Seeds of the Kingdom about the three most dangerous temptations, money, sex and power – temptations which remain a constant threat, even to believers, no matter how far they have run in their personal race of life. For Paul reminded believers (in 1 Corinthians 10:12), “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

The book of Proverbs is full of amazing wisdom to help guide the believer along the road of life. But almost three whole chapters of Proverbs are devoted to the consequences of sexual sin. It must, therefore, be a very serious issue for God to think that warnings against adultery should have such prominence. And this isn’t the only place in the Bible where the warnings are so specific. In his letter to the Galatians (5:19-21) for example, Paul lists sexual immorality amongst the sins that people do which could disinherit them from the Kingdom of God. To the Ephesians he said (5:3) “among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.” And of course Jesus himself said (Matthew 5:28) that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” He knew that lust of the eyes precedes the lustful fulfilment of a physical relationship.

So why is sexual sin so dangerous that it merits so many scriptural warnings, in addition to the seventh commandment not to commit adultery? The heart of the answer lies in our Scripture for today which comes at the end of Proverbs Chapter 5, which is headed in my Bible, Warning Against Adultery. And in 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul warns believers to “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his own body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” In these two verses we have an important answer to the question and enormous wisdom which, if followed, can be truly life-saving.

When a man and a woman enter into marriage and, thereby, into a godly sexual relationship, they enter into a covenantal, God-ordained, union by which the man and the woman become one with and part of each other. A similar, but ungodly, union also takes place when a sexual relationship takes place outside of marriage. But this time, instead of it being a union which is blessed by God, it is sinful bondage. For, as our Scripture says, the cords of such sin hold a man fast. He is now joined with someone in a union which God did not intend and which He cannot bless. Not only, therefore, is the sin against God, it is, as Paul said, a sin against your own body, because you have now joined your body, indeed your whole being, to someone else who now has spiritual access to and, even, influence over who you are – a privilege that God had reserved for a husband-wife relationship.

Every time a person enters into an ungodly sexual relationship, they lose something of their own identity to that sexual partner, and gain something of the identity of the person they have slept with. No wonder Proverbs describes sexual sin as cords which hold us fast. And in Proverbs 6:32 it says “A man who commits adultery lacks judgement, whoever does so destroys himself.” The pleasure may be for a moment but it is like pressing a self-destruct button to our own identity.

Praise God that there is a way out of the mess. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul lists many of the sexual sins people can commit, but in verse 11 he states the unequivocal good news that, “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” He was simply stating the wonderful Gospel truth that where there is true repentance there can be forgiveness and healing.

Prayer. Thank You, Lord, that Your Word warns us of the dangers of sexual sin. I ask You, Lord, to forgive me and cleanse me from every bit of sexual uncleanness in my life. And where there have been wrong relationships, I ask you to break the cords of bondage, so that I might be free to serve you, unimpeded by the consequences of my sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

September 15, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Money, Sex and Power (1)

“Whoever trusts in his riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf”

Proverbs 11:28, NIV

This is the first of a series of Seeds of the Kingdom about the three most dangerous temptations, money sex and power – temptations which remain a constant threat, even to believers, no matter how far they have run in their personal race of life. For Paul reminded believers (in 1 Corinthians 10:12), “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

Money is one of life’s essentials. Without it we cannot buy the necessities of life. With it everything we could ever want or dream of becomes possible. Whenever there is a great natural disaster our television screens are full of appeals – what for? For money. For with money the charitable agencies can buy the food, the clothing and the housing that suffering people need. Money has the potential to do a massive amount of good. And Scripture encourages us as believers to consider that everything we have belongs to God – and to be generous with our giving to those in need, on top of our giving to God for His Kingdom purposes – our tithes and offerings.

But because money can buy anything, wanting more can be a dangerous temptation. For money cannot only buy good things, it can also be used for purposes that will take our eyes off God and consume our soul. The desire for more can very quickly turn from meeting the essential needs of life into desiring things that God definitely didn’t intend. There is nothing that can so quickly grow a spiritual cataract over our eyes as greed for money. It can have the effect of blinding our eyes so that we cannot see the deceptive traps we are falling into.

And then, when we have acquired a lot of money, fear takes hold. For when you have started to put your trust in money, as the means of doing whatever you want, instead of trusting in God as your provided (Jehovah Jireh), you are trusting in what has become an idol in your heart – and idolatry is driven by fear rather than love. The fear of not having enough can mean that people become desperate to protect what they have. And the fear of losing it can turn the rich from being generous givers into the meanest of people, as portrayed by Chares Dickens in his amazing novel ‘A Christmas Carol’. The name of Dickens’ character, Ebenezer Scrooge, gave birth to a new word in the English language – a ‘scrooge’, meaning a mean, miserly and unhappy person.

Those who depend on their riches are very short-sighted people. For, as our Scripture for today tells us, those who “trust in riches will fail” and Proverbs 27:24 adds to this by saying, “riches do not endure forever.” And when the Scriptures talk about not lasting for ever, they are looking at the perspective of time and eternity, not just within the limitations of our time on earth. We may die rich people, but where is the treasure of our heart located? If it is in the wealth we are leaving behind, we have problems, as Jesus illustrated in the parable of the rich farmer in Matthew 12:13-21. The man wanted to build bigger barns in which he could store all his grain and all his goods, so that he could then “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

But God’s assessment of this man’s objectives was very different. The man had been blinded by his riches to eternal truths and in the story God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then, who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”

Money can be a means of huge provision and blessing. But it can also be a self-destructive trap. I pray that as you think about these things you will take your eyes off what you have in time and focus on what you can take with you from time into eternity. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:21. When we are living righteous lives and our heart’s focus is right we will, as our Scripture encourages us, thrive – without the need to be trusting in riches – for they will fail.

Prayer. Help me, Lord, to value Your provision and to trust You for all I need. Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I have taken my eyes off you and trusted in my possessions instead of You. Give me Your wisdom to have a right balance in my life, to be generous with what You have given me, and to keep my focus on You – the treasure of my heart. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

August 29, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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What You See Is What You Get!

“For whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

Proverbs 8:35 and 36, NIV

WYSIWYG is a popular computing acronym which simply means ‘What You See Is What You Get’. But it has also assumed a meaning beyond the world of computing to describe a person whose character is transparent and exemplary, with no hidden or unpleasant characteristics. How the person is seen to behave is an exact representation of the true character of the individual. Another way of putting it is that they are the ‘same all the way through’ – which means that they have integrity.

While the acronym WYSIWYG was completely unknown in Solomon’s day, the principle that this acronym stands for was definitely not unknown. In Proverbs Chapter 6:16-19, for example, we read of things that the Lord hates, three of which are a lying tongue, a heart that devises wicked schemes, and a false witness who pours out lies.

A person may want to give the impression that they are pure and truthful. But if in their heart they are devising evil things and lies they can tell, then what people see on the outside is definitely not the same as what they are like on the inside. God hates it when mankind, who was made by God in the image and likeness of their Creator, behaves in a way that is contrary to His character.

But the fact is that every single one of us carries the stain of sin in our hearts which God hates. In reality, none of us can say that we are 100% WYSIWYGs! Our sin can be forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, but this side of Heaven the sin seed, with all its evil potential, is always in our hearts. This is often described as our carnal nature, meaning that we will always fail the WYSIWYG test!

But that’s not true of God. When Jesus walked this earth what people saw on the outside was always a true reflection of the inside. He was without sin and at all times He was a pure, 100% clean representative of His Father, God. And the crucial difference between Jesus and every other human being was that because of sin all of mankind is under the curse of death. But sinless Jesus was the bringer of life – life in all its fulness.

Only Jesus could have said those amazing words from John 14:6,“I am the way, the truth and the life.” For only He is the way to the Father. Only His lips spoke total truth. And only He could be the bringer of life into a world that was under the sentence of death. When people met Jesus, what they saw really was what they got! When they heard Jesus speak, they heard what God the Father would say. And in verse 9 of John 14 Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

So, when we read in our Scripture for today that “whoever finds Me (God), finds life”, we are reading the truth that was vitally important to people of that day, but we are also reading a prophetic truth about Jesus which is relevant to us here and now – whoever finds Him, finds life! He is not a deceiver, His teaching won’t ever disappoint, His words will never turn out to be lies, His promises will never let you down. In Jesus what you see is exactly what you get!

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You faithfully represented Father God to a fallen and broken world. Your Word promises that if we truly seek You we will surely find You. And when we find You, we will find life – resurrection life – life from the dead. Help me, Lord, never to forget who You are, where you came from and that one day I will be together with You in Heaven. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

August 15, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Walking in the Plans and Purposes of God

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21, NIV

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives. We may have lots of ideas about what we would like to do with the years that stretch before us, but our ideas need to be tested and submitted to the great Planner – one of the greatest of the old hymns expresses so powerfully what should be the desire of our heart:

Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer;
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.

It doesn’t matter whether we still have most of our life to live, or are wondering if the year ahead could be our last, God still has a strategy and a plan for us. However many years there may be in store, we have a choice as to how we fill the time. God has given each of us free will. But if our free will is not gladly surrendered in the light of His purposes for our lives, then we will be in danger of missing out on God’s best for us and then be in danger of coming up against the purposes of God which, as our Scripture indicates, will prevail. It’s far better to be flowing in the will and purposes of God gladly, than to eventually discover that you have been going in the opposite direction to God’s plan for your life.

God is Creator – and we are made in His image and likeness – that means that we are creative also. He rejoices to inspire our own creativity and to fill our minds with plans which will be a blessing to us personally and which will also be purposeful in respect of the Kingdom of God. I’ve found on many occasions that when God gives us vision and we walk in fellowship and obedience with Him, that He opens up the way ahead so that His purposes will be fulfilled. This was one of my primary objectives in writing the book Strands of Destiny – to illustrate how God works out His purposes in our lives.

There are many strands to each one of our lives – when God weaves those strands together He creates a beautiful tapestry. We may be going through tough times, because we are living in a fallen world, but no matter how difficult the are, God has assured us that he will be with us every step of the way.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being my Redeemer and for your commitment to being my Guide through life. Forgive me Lord when I have tried to do things that were not your best for me and help me, Lord, to see how precious it is to be Your representative in working out Your purposes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

July 31, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Laziness, Work and Wealth!

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”

Proverbs 10:4,5, NIV

I was recently reading about a man who, at the age of sixty, heard that he might have a terminal condition. Instead of bemoaning his misfortune, he resolved to work harder than ever to do those things which mattered most to him before he died! In the following years he wrote many books and achieved a great deal. At the age of 92 he was still writing, having long since seen off his supposed terminal condition! He was definitely not lazy and he became very wealthy as a result of all the work he did.

There is no doubt that the Scripture for today is true – hard work and diligence do bring reward and wealth, especially when what you do is under the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit, properly applied with wisdom. Laziness is something that is universally condemned throughout the Scriptures. Paul was very blunt in his letter to the Thessalonians when he said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

There are seasons of harvest in all of our lives, when things have built up to a point of fulfilment – and that is definitely not a season to take time off, for then the crop will not be reaped and poverty will result. But it is also true, that if the ground is not properly prepared and the seed is sown, there will not be any harvest at all! So, in every stage of life there is work to do because there is a purpose to fulfil.

And this is just as true in terms of the spiritual work that we do for the Kingdom of God. I was part of the team that worked behind the scenes to prepare for the last major mission that Billy Graham led in the UK. It was called Mission England. There was a great harvest of people who gave their lives to the Lord at the events, which were the spiritual equivalent of a farmer’s harvest crop. But those who worked behind the scenes had been working incredibly hard preparing the ground, for at least three years, making sure that every single detail had been thought through in advance of the time of harvest. Lives were changed and transformed at harvest time because the ‘farmers’ had been doing their work.

There is no shortage of work we can do for the Kingdom of God – let us do it with all our hearts knowing that the size and the quality of the harvest depends on the bit we do!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the warnings of Scripture not be lazy. Forgive me, Lord, for times in my life when I have been deliberately lazy. Help me to be wise at every stage of my life and to learn Your wisdom about the things you want me to do – and then to do them with all my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

July 15, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Murderous Words

“Do not accuse a man for no reason – when he has done you no harm”

Proverbs 3:30, NIV

Telling lies in order to accuse a person falsely is a heinous crime. Damaging the reputation of someone is an act of robbery of far more significance than stealing some of their goods – you are stealing their good name. Goods can be replaced, but when ‘mud’ has been thrown at someone by telling lies about them for some ulterior motive, the sad fact is that some of that ‘mud’ will stick in the minds of those who hear. They will think that there must be at last a grain of truth in what is being said, even if there isn’t!

Jesus suffered greatly from such false accusations. The words of the Pharisees, who concocted false stories about Him, would eventually be used to drive the nails through his hands and his feet when He was crucified. Yes, ruining someone’s reputation by false accusation is a serious sin – it’s like an act of murder.

We need to be very careful, therefore, when talking about others disrespectfully – and we need to be especially careful about pointing the finger at others when we are also guilty of what we are pointing out in others. Jesus hated and condemned such hypocrisy.
When the Pharisees brought the woman who had been caught in an act of adultery (John 8:3-11) to Jesus, to see if He would be true to the law of Moses and say she should be stoned to death, Jesus challenged the hearts of her accusers. He said something like, “OK, but only throw a stone if you are without sin!” Jesus knew what was in their hearts and that they had deliberately brought this woman to Jesus in order to try and trap Him. Their motives were evil.

If you’ve been falsely accused in a public place, you will know the pain that lying words can cause. There is only one remedy for the pain within – forgiveness and God’s inner comfort. Yes, they may not deserve to be forgiven – but Jesus died for our sins and we don’t deserve to be forgiven either! To speak out forgiveness of those who have accused us falsely is like cutting the ropes that have tied those false accusations to our heart.

And if we’ve been guilty of hypocritically speaking negatively about other people – when the things we are saying could just as easily be said of us – then it’s time for personal repentance, asking God for forgiveness and a change of heart.

Prayer: I am sorry, Lord, for the times when I have said wrong things about other people, for whatever reason. Please forgive me. And help me, Lord, to speak out my forgiveness of those who have hurt me with their false words. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

July 8, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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The Words of a Dad

“When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.’”

Proverbs 4:3-4, NIV

I will never cease to be thankful for a Dad (and a Mum) who saw it as their loving duty to teach me the ways of the Lord when I was young – before I reached the impressionable teenage years when it is so easy for young people to go astray and, as they say, ‘do their own thing’. ‘Doing their own thing’ can be extremely risky, for having the developing physique and unbridled will of a young person, without the maturity of an adult can lead to making mistakes of life-long consequence.

When we learn to respect our elders, we will listen to what they have to say. And the wisdom that comes from their maturity, becomes the wisdom that will help young people negotiate the traps that the enemy never ceases to lay in the paths of young people. We live, however, in a generation when respect for the wisdom of our elders has been replaced by information acquired at the click of a mouse or via a mobile phone. And information, without the maturity and wisdom how to use that, will always be a massive trap for young people.

Such knowledge will never trump the spiritual wisdom the writer of these Proverbs is referring to. For this is the wisdom from the heart of God which God intended to be passed on from generation to generation.

As I thought about this I was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility that parents, grand-parents, great grand-parents, uncles and aunts have to pray for and impart the wisdom of their years to the upcoming generations – giving them a chance to negotiate the pitfalls of life with the wisdom of the older generations to aid them on their journey. In so doing we will be equipping the young to enter into their destiny in God and who knows what blessing there will be down the years as a result!?

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for all those who have imparted the wisdom of God into my life. Help me to exercise my own spiritual responsibility by imparting Your Wisdom to the children and young people who are part of my wider family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

June 30, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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On What are You Leaning?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV

The leaning tower of Pisa, in Italy, is very unstable. When people first see the structure they are amazed that it is still standing! Massive amounts of careful engineering work have been necessary to preserve this iconic structure which attracts tourists from all over the world. It is a massive money earner for Italy. But it is not what the architect intended! It leans because the ground on which it is built was too soft on one side of the structure. It is quite literally leaning according to its own understanding of weight, pressure and gravity!

If the ground on which we build our lives is not firm, then we, too, will lean according to our own understanding and go our own way. It is absolutely vital that we follow the advice of our Scripture for today and ‘Trust in the Lord’. Only He knows everything about us and our circumstances and only He is able to direct our steps according to His plans and purposes for our lives. When we begin to lean according to our own understanding, independently of God, our lives will soon become distorted and no longer be upright. That is why we are seeing such extremes of ungodliness in society. And just like the cost of propping up the leaning tower of Pisa has been massive, so is the societal cost when people ignore God’s Word and do their own thing.

To trust in the Lord means to depend on Him totally and not on our own seemingly good, but ungodly, ideas. Our Scripture for today stresses that we should trust Him with ALL of our heart – not just that ‘religious bit’ which we are happy for him to have, provided we can keep hold of the rest!

God’s promises to those who do trust Him in this way are many and wonderful – including the one we read here that He will help us walk on straight paths – or, as I learned it in the Authorised Version, “He will direct your paths.” Many is the time when I have sensed God bringing correction into my life so that the path I was walking on would remain straight and many are the times, also, when I have sensed Him directing my paths so that I would know His will for the next stage of my life. I am so grateful to God for His wisdom – it is beyond human understanding.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to trust You at all times and to look for Your clear direction in my life. I pray that You will direct my steps so that the paths I walk on will be those You have prepared for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

June 14, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Dead? Or alive?

”In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead . . . As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

James 2:17 and 26

The Bible has a way of cutting through all the spiritual junk which sometimes surrounds our lives and getting to the nub of a situation or problem in a few uncompromising and deeply challenging words. None of us needs to use much imagination to know what a dead human body looks like – totally lifeless, without response and completely incapable of doing anything. And that is exactly the image which James uses to stir his readers, by saying that unless your faith leads to a changed life, as evidenced by the actions which result from your beliefs, then you are just like a dead body – lifeless!

We are definitely not ‘saved’ by our deeds, for our salvation is entirely the gift of God, an act of grace and mercy, as Paul expressed it so clearly in Ephesians Chapter 2:8-10 “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.” But then he went on to say in verse 10, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” So there we have it, salvation is a gift, but once having received such a wonderful gift, God looks for the fruit (the good works) which He prepared in advance for us to do, which will witness into a fallen world about the truth and love of God and help build His Kingdom.

We each have a part to play – and if there is no evidence of the faith we profess, as expressed by the works we do as a result of having faith, then there is only one conclusion – our faith isn’t real and as far as God is concerned we are as lifeless (spiritually) as a dead body is physically!

I pray that today the Lord will speak into your heart about both the faith you possess and the works that God has called you to do. I was impacted as a child by the song “there’s a work for Jesus none but you can do” As a ‘not-so young’ child of God I still remember and believe those words and am still impacted and challenged by the call to action that our faith demands.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the extraordinary gift of salvation that, in Your mercy, You gave to all those who believe. Help me, Lord, today, to rise to the challenge of walking in obedience to Your call upon my life to do the works that You have prepared in advance for me to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.