Short Thoughts

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

Did you know the longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 with 176 verses?

It is an acrostic Psalm – it’s split into 8-verse sections, every verse in each section begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Another key feature of the Psalm is every verse (except verse 122) uses one of ten Hebrew words that describe or relate to God’s Word or His teaching. The Psalm is emphasising repeatedly that God’s Word is key to our lives and without it, life is meaningless. Why does God use ten different words to describe His law? It is not just to make the reading of the Psalm more interesting! Each word shows a different aspect or characteristic of God’s ways, helping the reader understand its importance and relevance, and how to use it and apply it in their own life.

On our wedding day thirty six years ago, my new husband and I were privileged to witness a magnificent and breath-taking starling murmuration. We watched in wonder as thousands of birds all swooped and dived together in perfect harmony and unity for about five minutes. As the incredible spectacle unfolded we were almost lost for words as the birds swirled, twisted and turned together in ever changing shapes above us; a dance taking place in the sky. Ever since that day I have been fascinated by this amazing natural phenomenon. As a Christadelphian I believe that God created the earth and everything in it. In witnessing scenes like this I see God’s power and His greatness. How could this intricate behaviour have evolved? How does each individual bird know when to turn in perfect synchronisation with all the others? How do they all know to funnel towards the ground in one common motion at the end of the murmuration?

Throughout May, the forget-me-nots in the garden have formed a beautiful blue haze over the flowerbeds. As they say, all good things must come to an end, however, and now they are fading it’s time to pull them out to make room for the other plants vying for space in the sun. I suppose they’re called forget-me-nots because, despite the ferocity with which we’re pulling out bucket load after bucket load of the things, they’re sure to be back next year! We’re never going to forget a plant which, whatever we do, keeps on returning. Not that we’re concerned with this: they bring a subtle, gentle colour to the garden, forming a misty background against which other plants shoot forth their green spring growth. As any gardener knows, not only are they lovely from a distance, the closer you get the lovelier they appear. Clusters of blooms form a natural bouquet atop each stem, lush dark green leaves contrasting with the gentle blue.

As recently reported by the BBC, a group of Yemeni fishermen made a life-changing discovery – a huge quantity of ambergris in the belly of the carcase of a whale. It’s a substance produced by the whale’s digestive system that’s used in the manufacture of perfume. And it’s very valuable. The amount found by the fisherman is valued at $1.5 million. It’s actually not the first time something hugely valuable has appeared from the belly of a whale (or something very similar!). The Biblical prophet Jonah attempted to escape God’s command for him to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. He considered the Ninevites not to be worthy of God’s blessing. God was not to be mocked, however, and the Old Testament book that bears Jonah’s name records how a great storm blew up around the ship on which he was trying to escape. Convinced that the storm had been brought as a result of his disobedience, Jonah insisted that the sailors throw him into the raging waters.

As a Christadelphian, I am looking forward to Jesus Christ returning to the earth to set up a kingdom. Angels talked about this time to those who witnessed his departure from earth to heaven, as we read in Acts 1 v11: “this Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” (ESV) “But what will that kingdom be like?” you may ask. Well there are lots of places in the Bible which talk about the kingdom, but one aspect I think worth considering is this as it is something we can relate to now. A sunny day makes us all feel so much better, and in that kingdom we know that God’s glory will light the whole earth. “Night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.” (Rev 22 v5 ESV) How bright and great that will be, even better than the sunniest of days now! Why not dig that old Bible off the bookcase and have a read for yourself to see what is promised to happen very soon?

FOR my lunch a few days ago, I had, amongst other things, a very good helping of healthy cabbage. I am well aware that there is nothing very remarkable in that, for I imagine cabbages or similar green vegetables are eaten almost worldwide. However, there was something very remarkable to me about my cabbage. The story started last spring, when I took a walk into my garden and dropped about twelve "full stops" into the damp, warm soil; well, they were not actually full stops but they were about that size. They were of course cabbage seeds, and I marvelled that within each tiny seed there was the unseen germ of life. Over the next few weeks, with the sun and the rain that God controls, and with me nurturing them and keeping them free from weeds, they put down their roots and produced the food that has helped to sustain my life. All of this is undoubtedly remarkable and is a constant reminder of the power and the love of the Creator, and of His provision for us.

A recent news posting online caught my eye – ‘A canal built by Joseph in Ancient Egypt produces some of the most lush orchards in Africa to this day’. (Israel 365 News) The article explains ‘the Bahr Yussef (waterway of Joseph) is a canal that connects the Nile River with the ancient city of Fayyum in Egypt.’ Quoting from Bill Cooper’s ‘The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis’ the article continues “It is a lush and fertile area, famed for its ‘gardens, oranges, mandarines, peaches, olives, pomegranates and grapes’. It has been like this for well over 3,000 years, and owes its lush fertility to a 200 mile-long canal which still conveys to it the waters of the Nile in a constant year-round flow… The people of Egypt are perfectly happy to tell you that it was built by the Joseph of the Bible who once was Pharaoh’s ‘Grand Vizier’”. It is not clear when Joseph may have built this canal (or if he did) but our thoughts are directed back to scripture and a lovely link that gives us hope.

Lockdown in the UK – all three of them!

– has, for most of us, brought about some new things to be thankful for. Many of us made use of extra time at home to try our hand at baking! People’s social media feeds were awash with pictures of new culinary triumphs and they vied with each other to produce ever more impressive bakes. So popular was this lockdown activity that shops ran right out of flour, baking powder and yeast! Yeast – or raising agent – was particularly tricky to find. And without it, of course, most bakes are impossible and would certainly not be making it onto the pages of social media feeds. Yet it is usually the smallest, lightest ingredient in a cake or loaf of bread. In the Bible, yeast – or leaven, as it is called – is frequently mentioned but interestingly, typically carries a negative connotation, despite its advantages. It is used as a metaphor for a bad influence.

Have you ever read the Bible cover to cover?

Perhaps you have dipped in and out on occasions. Maybe you just know some of the familiar passages read at Christmas or Easter. Have you promised to read that book one day, find out why it’s a bestseller, and see what it teaches? Maybe you have tried to read it but got confused and put it back on the shelf for another day! Anyway, why should we bother? As Christadelphians, we try to read the Bible every day because we believe it is God’s word. It holds the key to understanding why and how we exist, what the purpose of life is, who God is and that He wants a relationship with us. God has chosen to reveal Himself and His purpose to men and women through the Bible and He wants us to find out about it and respond to Him. But that brings us back to the need to read and understand it! Even if you have tried to read the Bible you might need some help to grasp what it is teaching us.

Lockdown in the UK – all three of them!

– has, for most of us, brought about some new things to be thankful for. For many people, one of these was getting fit! Sales of bikes, sports clothing and home fitness equipment rocketed as many of us decided to make the most of the extra time created from no longer commuting to work. For others, a bike ride or run was perhaps just a legitimate excuse to get out of the house for a while. We know that exercise is good for us, both physically and mentally. Physically, we keep in shape and help our heart and muscles to stay strong. Mentally, we set ourselves goals which then brings a sense of well-being in the achievement of them. The Bible encourages us to look after our bodies, too. However, the focus of the Bible message is not so much on physical fitness but spiritual. The apostle Paul wrote: “…exercise yourself rather to godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7, NKJV). Exercise as an analogy for spiritual development is particularly apt.

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.

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