Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Holy Holy Holy"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 24:35 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (ESV)
Presently, I have the children on holiday with me. I ask their help to enable me not to become snowed under with mess and noise. "Good luck!" I hear in the distance! As a retired teacher and old parent, I know that redirection, motivation, and engagement are often the keys to compliance, but I reserve the right to be "The Dad": hopefully firm but fair, if stern, when ignored.
When I was young, where I was at school, if we were not compliant with instruction, then there were serious consequences: imposed physical discipline. Consequently, I was a regular visitor to my house master, who dealt out impositions, pain, and suffering to me, and for five years, used various objects as weapons of mass instruction.
Times have changed since then, and education has learnt a healthier way to teach rather than using intimidation. Children have more grace and mercy at school than I received then. Likewise, I endeavour to coach my own children with a little more grace than I received then, in a manner that is compliant with my training and the society in which we find ourselves. Nonetheless, my words are effective when they need to be. So naturally, I have been thinking about my words and God's words.
For the people of Israel, God's words through the prophets were disdained. Despite being His chosen people, they ignored God and did terrible things. Without a heart for God's commandments, or an expectation that His Word could accomplish what it set out to do, they disregarded Him. In doing this, they strayed too far from God's commands and justice to go unpunished. As a consequence, He brought sword, famine, and plague — not a pleasant time to be a member of God's chosen people.
Whilst God in the Old Testament valued compliance to His commandments, I believe that Jesus was always looking for more: a loving devotion, faith, and trust, in reciprocation for His loving-kindness. I believe that God is looking for us to live in His Word today, too. He does not want to beat us into submission or acquiescence, like my old schoolmaster. He speaks powerfully through His Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit, Who may bring a word of enlightenment to our minds, both for us and for others. It may be to bring comfort and peace, to show the way forward for those who are lost in darkness, or proactively, to speak out, or up, for people to listen. In Jesus, our words in God's hands are powerful and effective.
Prayer: Lord, what a time we live in, beyond all our natural ability to have foretold! It seems that we are making all the same old mistakes again, as new generations find out what it is to shrug You off and think that they know better. So, Lord, in Jesus' name, redeem Your people once more as we lift to You our nations and our world with all its suffering, blindness, and disobedience. Please break the spiritual bonds of evil over the places where it is a crime to be a Christian, and continue to shine in, and heal our nations. Grant us leaders with a godly vision, reverence, and authority. Amen.