What a depressing account we have in 2 Kings 15! It lists a succession of godless kings in the northern kingdom of Israel and makes us think of our world. The news today is rarely good so people must bury themselves in other things to avoid the bad news.

Similarly, in Ezekiel 5, we read of the acted parables the prophet performs to indicate how “fire will come out into all the house of Israel” (verse 4) and God’s comment in verse 13, “Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them …”. And we meditate with awe and fear in our minds on the ways the Creator will vent His fury on the godless world of the twenty-first century.

In contrast, it is uplifting to read the 80 verses of Luke 1. The author says “it seemed good to me … having followed all things closely for some time past to write an orderly account … that you may have certainty …” (verses 3,4). Through Luke’s writings we “may have certainty” too!

After compiling his Gospel Luke wrote an orderly account of the Acts of the Apostles after their Lord ascended to heaven. This contained so many historical references that the sceptics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were sure they would uncover flaws in Luke’s records as ancient details came to light through archaeology and other discoveries – but none have come to light! What Luke has recorded includes major planks for the foundations of our faith.

Today’s chapter includes the testimony of Mary before Jesus was born; she was inspired to say how her “spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” and that “his mercy is for those who fear him” (verses 47,50). May we truly rejoice and “fear him” – that is – be in awe of him.

We pray especially that we may experience his mercy and gain strength from him as our world degenerates. We will need to take to heart the words of the Master, “and when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place …” (Luke 21:9). May we all realise and know in our hearts that his mercy is for those who fear him and who learn not to fear the world!