Short Thoughts

Start your morning mediation with inspirational quotes & Bible thoughts for the day. Rise and shine with our Bible-based words of encouragement.

I won’t be going to Heaven… The vicar did his best to answer my question, but in the end he said: "You’ll just have to wait and see when you get there." I appreciated his honesty, but it still left me wondering what would happen to me when I died. I’d asked how I could possibly appreciate ‘heaven’ if I did not have a body with eyes, a functioning mind, arms, legs and so on, to appreciate it with. The idea of some disembodied part of me floating off at death to a place beyond the skies had never struck me as a particularly thrilling prospect. What would I do there, in the clouds, for eternity, along with all the other ‘souls’ who had expired before me? Would we watch with interest what was going on ‘below’? Would we get on with one another? Perhaps I could have a bit of fun by haunting some ancient castle or scaring the life out of folk who’d given me grief in the past, like Miss Hull in Year 8 Chemistry?

Lockdown in the UK – all three of them!

– has, for most of us, brought about some new things to be thankful for. In the quest for activities to keep occupied whilst stuck at home, many of us turned to gardening – whether it be in a vegetable patch, a flower bed, or herbs in a window-box. There is a profound sense of wonder in seeing the total transformation from a tiny, dull looking seed, to a fully formed vegetable, fruit or flower. However enormous that transformation is, though, we fully expect to dig up a bunch of carrots if we have sown carrot seeds. A carrot seed won’t ever produce a potato. If we plant sunflower seeds, they will never produce lupins. Isn’t this really obvious, we might ask? But the point is that in our own lives we are all like gardeners. The Bible teaches us that the way that we invest our time and energy is like sowing seeds. Galatians 6:7 says: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

We are so familiar with the multicoloured arcs, made by light striking water droplets. A rainbow is actually an optical illusion. It does not exist in a particular spot in the sky even though it feels as if we could reach out and touch it! A rainbow shows up a magnificent spectrum of light and colour. This was first discovered in 1665 by Isaac Newton when he identified the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The idea of the rainbow has its origins in the Hebrew Scriptures. In Genesis 6 verses 5 and 6 we read: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (KJV) God decided to destroy all flesh by sending a worldwide flood. However Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD as he was not corrupt. The record of Noah and how he, seven other people and the animals were saved in the ark, is well known to us.

Lockdown in the UK – all three of them!

– has, for most of us, brought about some new things to be thankful for. One of those is de-cluttering. With time on our hands at home, many of us have gone about this with gusto, to the point where lots of charity shops, overwhelmed with so much of our unwanted stuff, are now begging us to stop! Having a clear-out is really refreshing both physically and mentally. We somehow feel more on top of our lives, more organised, more focussed and more able to take on new challenges when we have sorted through the physical clutter in our homes and stripped it back to the things that we have good reason to hold on to. In the process, we sometimes find some long-lost treasure which brings great joy. A king in the Bible once ordered an enormous de-clutter. He was called Josiah. You can read about his remarkable life in 2 Kings 22&23 and 2 Chronicles 34&35. He reigned at a time when the nation of Judah had hit an all-time spiritual low.

It’s easy to get the impression that the world is doomed.

What with climate change, global pandemics, the prospect of world war III, financial collapse and the effects of extreme poverty, is there a way out? BBC Radio 4 recently abridged Bill Gates’ book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”. In it he sets out ways to produce energy without greenhouse gas emissions. He argues that alongside current technologies, we need new inventions to fully solve the problem and that governments are best placed to fund that research. The late Hans Rosling developed an action plan that would end world extreme poverty in 15 years. I remember watching his talk on BBC2 in 2015 in which he explained how it could be done. If that’s the case why haven’t we fixed things? Simply, human nature. Personal and national interests, greed and selfishness get in the way. Change is possible if a lot of powerful people come together and agree to make it happen. To me, the chances of that happening seem unlikely.

Lockdown in the UK – all three of them!

– has, for most of us, brought about some new things to be thankful for. One of those is walking. Most people I know say that in being obliged to stay local, they have discovered many new routes and paths within walking distance of their own homes and have ventured further afield on foot than they ever had before. We read a lot about walking in Scripture, particularly as a metaphor for our lives. The Bible encourages us to think about our life not just as a random number of years in a timeline, but as a journey – undertaken on foot. It’s not difficult to grasp the concept of taking small “steps” in a particular direction; of choosing a particular “path” or “way”; of language of “stumbling” when things go wrong, or we make mistakes. We read of characters like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, of whom it is said that they “walked with God”.

Watching… I look every day but still they haven’t come; the eaves of my neighbour’s house are eerily still. No swallows yet. Each year I enjoy the spectacle of these never-still birds flitting and diving low past my window, catching insects on the wing then swooping back to next-door’s roof. Such a contrast to the bobbing sparrows and hopping tits. An eminent nature writer said in March that the swallows had left their African winter home to return to Europe for the summer. Ever since I’ve eagerly looked for their re-appearance, for swallows return to the same roost year after year. Someone reported that bad weather was holding them up. But still I look each morning, hopefully, at the bare gable end of my neighbours’ home, just as the Bible says, "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young." (Psalm 84:3, NKJV) My watching is for swallows but a different kind of watching appears in the Bible.

Have you ever had that “flashback moment” when you smell a particular scent or taste a certain food or hear a long forgotten sound or song? In a second you are transported back in time to a period or event in your life to which you associate that sound or smell, and, if you’re anything like me, you allow yourself a few moments of nostalgia whilst you revisit those memories. I had one such moment yesterday when I was listening to the radio and a song came on that I had learnt as a child. That song was “The Streets of London” by Ralph McTell. The song paints a heart breaking picture of homelessness and loneliness and I can remember as a twelve year old feeling great sadness when singing it. Yesterday, when the song had finished playing, the radio presenter commented that the song still resonates with us as it is still relevant today. Even in today’s modern advanced society huge inequalities still exist.

This coming weekend we remember the worst thing and the best thing.

A perfect, innocent man was put to death cruelly by the Romans. Three days later he was alive again! Imagine if this had happened in our days of instant news and social media. That's just what "Gospel Online" are doing. They will plot out in social media posts over Easter weekend the timetable of events which played out that weekend 2000 years ago. To get an instant "as-it-happens" (imagined) account into your newsfeed visit and like their Facebook page or follow their Instagram account. Get a new perspective on the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus by following their posts in the Real-time Resurrection project. This was the best thing because it was part of the offer from God of life in a world of peace, plenty and joyful existence in a world filled with people just like Jesus!

On my daily walks, I have had the delight to see some of the new season lambs in a couple of the fields I pass. Their crazy antics as they gambol around, leaping and bleating, brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. I love sheep and lambs, and this time of the year is delightful to see both together. At the same time, my breath is taken away by the vibrancy of the green shoots bursting forth on hedgerows and bushes along the way. The green colour is almost shocking in its vividness when set against the dreary back drop of winter-weary branches and surroundings. As we approach Easter, as a Bible reader, I marvel at God’s amazing design in the natural world to act as a reminder of the most important weekend in history so far. A weekend that changed the world. Jesus was ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29 NIV).

Recently, out of necessity, I unearthed my bicycle and cycled to the fairly local shop. Many may not see anything remarkable in that, but for me it was, for it is not one of my most frequent habits. I managed quite well going downhill and even on the level, but found it very difficult going up. It made me realise that we need constant, not spasmodic, exercise to remain fit. However, while I was in the saddle, it did give me an opportunity to think about the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4: “Exercise thyself unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things ....” (verses 7,8, KJV) I wonder how many of us spend as much time worrying about our spiritual health and fitness as we do about our physical state. We need constant, continuing spiritual exercise and only then will we really notice the difference: “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

In late Winter to early Spring, something magical happens all around us.

In ponds and ditches all across the country, frog spawn can be found just beneath the surface. After about three weeks, the young tadpoles emerge. They use their new gills to breathe underwater. Around April time these tadpoles slowly change into frogs. Legs begin to form. Lungs develop, and the young frog is now able to breathe above the water. Soon they leave the pond and divide their time between land and water. Frogs start life as a jelly-like group of eggs, hatch as aquatic tadpoles and then transform into amphibians! By contrast we don’t undergo such radical changes but we can change from mortal creatures into something much greater. To achieve this God asks us to begin a process of change in our thinking.

Does the census matter?

Are you one of the millions completing their census form this weekend? Perhaps, like me, you feel a little anonymous as you fill in your form: am I simply a statistic, a dot on a graph, a line on a chart, a single digit among millions? Do I count? Of course, on a practical level, every government must plan for the needs of its population: for instance, what should transport, education and healthcare look like in future years? But one thing the census won’t reveal is who you are as a person. Though it compiles details of your age, your gender, your ethnicity, your religion and so on, it will not discover what your character is like, what you aspire to, your hopes and dreams…nothing of that will show up in the ‘final analysis’. That’s why I’m always glad to turn to the word of God where I learn from Jesus that God focuses on us as individuals. He is concerned about our wellbeing. ‘Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

The recent tragedy of the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard has triggered a national debate about the safety of our streets – particularly for women. There’s a sense in which this is somewhat surprising: there is – depressingly – nothing new about this particular murder. Similar crimes have been committed countless times before. However, it is understandable and right that councils and governments have been made to think a little harder about what they can do to make the world a safer place for all. The focus seems mainly to be on good town planning: making sure that street lighting is adequate and that routes are well-maintained; perhaps more police officers on the beat and plain clothes officers in potential hotspots. Fundamentally, though, as many people are recognising, none of this will avail much as long as there are wicked people around. The problem is really too enormous. Few streets in human history have ever been safe for all.

Have you ever marvelled at how a baby develops and grows in its mother’s womb? Have you ever been amazed at the process of labour and birth? Or wondered at the bonding that occurs between a baby and its parents? These days it is common practice for midwives to place a new-born baby straight on to its mother’s chest immediately after birth. If a baby is placed in direct skin-to-skin contact with mum (or another care-giver) it helps in the bonding process, stimulating mum’s brain to produce hormones involved in the production of milk, feeding and feelings connected to guarding, protecting and love. For the baby it is beneficial for physical, emotional and nutritional reasons. The baby can hear mum’s heartbeat and breathing, see her face, feel her warm skin and soon smell and taste her milk. Skin-to-skin contact helps to de-stress and calm a baby after birth and stabilise their heart rate, breathing, body temperature and other physiological functions such as blood sugar levels.

Mothers' Day Most people nowadays probably don’t know that the origins of this festival are found in the established church: the date is set by the church as the fourth Sunday of Lent, three weeks before Easter Sunday. It was around the beginning of the 20th Century that the “Mothering Sunday Movement” gave it a slant that had less to do with the church and more to do with mums. The fact is that Mother’s Day has nothing to do with the Bible as such. Christadelphians try hard to stick with what the Bible says and not to make too much of anything that does not find its origins there. We try to allow it to guide our thinking and our behaviour. So what does the Bible have to say in relation to this? The Ten Commandments include “Honour your father and your mother” and respect for parents and grandparents is paramount throughout Scripture. So too is the importance of being grateful. Gratitude for all the blessings of our lives is a significant antidote to bitterness and greed.

Do you ever worry that you are missing out?

A short session on Facebook or other social media may convince you that everybody is having a better time than you. But are they really? Let’s face it, no one is going to post a photo of a kitchen accident resulting in a broken plate or a ruined meal. No one’s going to write a blog about a missed bargain on a website or clothes ruined by a muddy puddle. Likewise, photos of amazing parties, holidays, adrenalin filled activities (not so much at the moment obviously!) can make our take away in front of the telly look a bit flat by comparison. So if all we see and hear are other people’s little wins we can think we are missing out. What can we do about this? Well, science research suggests that passive over use of social media can make us feel less positive about life. So for FOMO today, maybe cut down on viewing these kinds of posts. Ignorance could be bliss!

Does archaeology support the Bible?

Archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer has been excavating Jerusalem for years and believes the Bible gives an accurate historical record. Jesus performed miracles at the Pool of Siloam, and you can see the water there today, coming from the Gihon spring through Hezekiah’s tunnel. Or you can stand on the Mount of Olives, where he taught. Around the city walls, you can find evidence of the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem that Jesus had prophesied. And Ritmeyer unearthed arrow heads from hundreds of years before—arrows that the Babylonian armies and Israelite soldiers fired during the battle that saw Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians, and the people taken into captivity. You can touch a stretch of wall that the Bible describes Nehemiah rebuilding when Babylonian exiles returned seventy years later. In this short video, Leen Ritmeyer describes why he believes the Bible.

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