Short Thoughts

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

“…it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps…” (Jeremiah 10:23, NKJV) So wrote the prophet Jeremiah in a prayer of anxiety to God. Expressed in a time of national disaster, it is an acknowledgment of people’s failure to choose and walk the right way in life. In the past few weeks we have all felt shock, outrage, despair, horror at the awful situation that has unfolded in Afghanistan. The scale of the fear and desperation experienced by so many has been terrible to witness. Howsoever these events have come about, one thing is clear: humans find it extremely difficult, even if and when they have the best of intentions, to govern. Afghanistan has been a particularly stark and potent reminder of how bad things can become. The truth is, though, that no country in the world can claim to have founded the perfect society where all its citizens are happy, healthy and fulfilled. Why is this?

The recent UN Climate Change report has been widely publicised as a “Code Red” for our planet. “The door is still ajar”, we are told, to avert catastrophe, but will soon shut irreversibly. The rate at which we, the human population, are causing irreparable damage has risen exponentially. We are already seeing and feeling the results of this: everywhere on Earth, people are experiencing messed-up, unpredictable weather patterns. Some have been hit with disastrous flooding from excessive rain and others with devastating wildfires from excessive heat. What, if anything, does the Bible have to say about our environment? Right back in the Garden of Eden, man and woman were given responsibility for looking after the earth, along with obeying God’s commands. It’s a responsibility which we have failed to live up to, developing societies based on greed, selfishness and convenience instead.

When the sun is shining, we may be tempted to dust off the barbecue and enjoy a little al fresco dining. This might involve a few burgers or sausages, but some of us get a little more adventurous by grilling fish. Whether wrapped in foil or cooked directly over the coals, grilled fish is rather wonderful! Cooking fish in this way has been done for thousands of years. Jesus prepared a hearty barbecued breakfast of fish and bread on the beach, to refresh his disciples after a frustrating night’s fishing. After miraculously filling their nets with fish, he then filled their bellies, before preparing them spiritually for the work ahead of them. (See John 21) During this breakfast, the disciples may have recalled another miracle Jesus performed earlier in his ministry which also included bread and fish. Jesus used a boy’s picnic of five small loaves and two small fish to feed around 5000 men, besides women and children! You can imagine the impact that had on the crowd – a free supper!

The five senses - TASTE "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). Although the observant of you will notice that this verse actually includes two senses, I want to focus on taste. It’s not difficult to see that the Lord is good, but taste? We know that the Lord is good because he offers us salvation through baptism into Jesus even though we don't deserve it. But what does that have to do with taste? Before Jesus died he shared a final meal with his disciples, and commanded them to have bread and wine as a symbol of his death and resurrection. Every week as Christadelphians we follow this commandment by sharing bread and wine together. As we taste these seemingly ordinary things, we think of the extraordinary meaning behind them for our salvation.

Did you realise that nature builds its own rotary motor with an in-built power source? Molecular biologist Dr Philip Mallinder looks at how ATP synthase works, and marvels at how a collection of enzymes and proteins work together to function as a motor. In this short video, Dr Mallinder explains why wonders in nature like ATP synthase convince him they were designed by a creator God rather than occurring accidently by evolution. pershore-christadelphians.

The five senses - TOUCH Jesus had the power from his Father to heal people just by touching them. For example, a leprous man in Mark 1:40-45 was cured of this terrible disease as soon as Jesus touched him. This is just one of many amazing miracles that shows the power of God through His son Jesus Christ. If Jesus has the power to heal people just by touching them, how much more can he save us through his perfect life and sacrifice? Jesus died to save us from sin and ultimately death, which is much more than just a disease. Through him we can have eternal life in the future kingdom when he returns if we choose to be baptised and follow the example he showed. God is inviting you to feel touched by the power of Christ's sacrifice today. pershore-christadelphians.

The five senses - SMELL Our sense of smell is so powerful.

Without sight, you could still recognize family members or homes by their smell for example. It can bring back strong memories too. At first, smell might seem a bit of an odd sense when looking for links to the Bible. However, right back in Genesis when Noah makes burnt offerings of thanks to the Lord having been saved from the flood, God smelled a "sweet smelling aroma". Paul picks up on this in one of his letters (2 Corinthians 2:15) and explains that God describes our prayers today using this metaphor. So not only does God hear and see our praise and prayers to him as we might expect, he appreciates them like a lovely smell too! A bombardment of the senses! He is glad to hear us speaking to Him and glorifying His most holy name. Praying to our Father in heaven is very beneficial for us to cast our cares on him and to ask for forgiveness.

How thrilling must it be to win a medal at the Olympic Games?

After years of absolutely single-minded dedication, sacrifice, coaching and sheer hard work, a select few come away from the Games with the ultimate prize. Even sitting at home watching from miles away, we can get a sense of the intensity of joy, relief, and glory to be crowned champion. Yet for all the thrill of the Games, all the fuss and glory of “the greatest show on earth”, the effects of all that effort are only temporary. In the ancient Greek games, the winners were awarded a crown of olive leaves rather than a medal. And, like the crown of leaves, eventually the victors fade away into the history books and are largely forgotten. The Bible tells us of a prize which is far superior to a crown or medal at the Olympic Games. It is available to all those who make the aim of their lives now the pursuit of “the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”.

The five senses - HEARING Paul tells us in Romans 10:17 that "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God". Paul also talks about baptised believers as those who have "been saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8) and Jesus tells us in Matthew 17:20 that with the power of faith "Nothing will be impossible for you". This shows that faith is key - and we can grow in faith by hearing God’s word from the Bible. The power of faith doesn't mean that we will have no difficulties in this life, but it gives us the strength to manage to get through them if we have faith that God is in control and that Jesus knows how we feel. Paul summarises this in Philippians 4:13 where he says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." So hearing God's word in the Bible allows us to build a faith that will help us in times of distress, and ultimately will lead to our salvation by God's grace and baptism. pershore-bible pershore-christadelphians.

The five senses - SIGHT "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14:14) Our lives are so busy and that can mean we forget to stop and see the things that are happening around us. God is always working in your life, even in simple blessings of providing clothes and food. If you take the time to stand still you might notice even more things! One reminder for me is seeing the beauty of God's creation everyday. It can be easy to go out on a walk and be so engaged in my thoughts that I don't notice what's around me. That's why I think this verse from Exodus is so helpful. Standing still and seeing things properly is very powerful. So look out for God's blessings in your life today. You never know what you might spot! pershore-christadelphians.

Nobody likes a rainy day.

Living in England, when the sun is shining, we tend to feel upbeat and relaxed. When it rains, we are more likely to feel cooped up and fed up. If it’s the weekend and we have made plans for summery, outdoor activities, we will probably be thoroughly annoyed! Some years ago, however, I was given a totally different perspective on rain. I was on a visit to California. Suddenly, one evening, during a barbecue with friends, it started to tip it down. My instant reaction was, “Huh! Typical! The evening’s ruined!” But to the Californians, it was thrilling! They ran around in it, getting soaked through and whooping with delight! It hadn’t rained properly there for several years: they were desperate for rain and at last it had come, bringing refreshment and new life to parched ground. In the Bible, rain is used as an image of God’s Word.

Watch BBC Radio 4’s GQT (Gardeners’ Question Time) presenter Matthew Biggs talk about the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). In this fascinating video, he explains how this carnivorous plant has strengthened his religious faith and his belief in creation rather than evolution. pershore-christadelphian.

Mmmm! Honey!!

So sweet and delicious, and one of the healthiest natural sweeteners, yet do you know how much effort goes into producing just one jar? 1,286 bees need to work their entire lives to produce 750g of honey! Or put another way, a single worker bee produces 1/12th teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. My father has been a beekeeper all my life and still has a few hives of bees today. I grew up enjoying the fruit of the bees’ labours on toast, in a cake or even in a main meal. I would often help extract the honey from the honeycombs and watch my mother fill countless jars with the delicious, sweet liquid. What a lot of bees must have been involved in making all that honey!! It is interesting that God chose to promise His people, the children of Israel, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3:8, NIV). Clearly honey was valued right back in the time of Moses as something precious, so God used this metaphor for a place of bounty and blessing.

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.

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