How can the Bible help us overcome life’s problems?

We often become discouraged and bogged down with life’s cares. The fact that both the Old and New Testaments address this problem the same way indicates that God knows problems and worries are inevitable in this life. Thankfully, He has given us the same solution in both the Old and New Testaments:

“Cast your burden on the LORD and He Shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

“Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Contained within these two verses are some amazing truths:

· God will sustain us

· He will never let us fall

· He cares for us

Taken one at a time, we see first that God declares both His ability and His willingness to be our strength and support—mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He is able (and best of all, willing!) to take everything that threatens to overwhelm us and use it for our benefit. He has promised to “work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. Even at times when we doubt Him, He is still working for our good and His glory. And He has also promised that He will allow no trial to be so great we cannot bear it and that He will provide a means of escape “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it” 1 Corinthians 10:1). By this, He means that He will not let us fall, as He promised (Psalm 55:22).

The third statement—“He cares for you”—gives us the motivation behind His other promises. Our God is not cold or unfeeling. Rather, He is our loving Heavenly Father whose heart is tender toward His children. Jesus reminds us that just as an earthly father would not deny his children bread, so God has promised to give us good gifts when we ask Him, (Matthew 7:7-11).

God reveals to us through His Word, the Bible that we can be of good “cheer,” that we can rejoice in our problems because God will use them to our benefit. “Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” Romans 5:3-4. We can see our “worries” as an opportunity to practice. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

So, each day, taking one step at a time, we should pray for God’s Word to guide us, read or listen to God’s Word, and meditate on God’s Word when the problems, worries, and anxieties of life come along. The secret to giving things over to God is really no secret at all—it’s simply asking Him and Jesus to take our burdens “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. Matthew 11:28

God loves us so much that He sent His son “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16

God is bigger than any of our problems.

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Can we save the planet?

At the moment there are over 100 world leaders attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow discussing climate change, they hope to agree on a plan of action that could save the planet from the effects of global warming. If nothing is done, some scientists predict that there will be an average rise in world temperature of between 2 and 5 degrees over the next 60 years. Why is this so significant? 

The world used to be finely balanced, rather like a greenhouse, which has a controlled temperature, and its atmosphere is regulated by the amount of water its plants receives. But the atmosphere around our planet (which is there to protect us) is now letting in certain types of harmful rays. The oil-based products (fossil fuels), which we have been burning for about 200 years, have created a sort of additional shield which has the effect of reflecting heat back down upon us. De-forestation is also having an effect upon our planet. All of this has changed, and is changing the natural cycle of our rainfall and our seasons, the sea and wind currents. Hot weather in some instances recently, has been very extreme and has caused massive damage and loss of life. The extra heat, is also causing the melting of polar ice, sending a deluge of fresh water into the sea which is changing salt concentrations, which in turn affects all sea life. 

Some have speculated that by 2050 many parts of the planet may not be able to sustain life. Fresh water supply is the critical element. Water has no substitutes. There is no industrial process, to make water or desalination of sea water fast enough, to satisfy demands. Water is going to be scarce. People in Africa and Asia already know all about this. So, what’s to be done? Is there a solution? 

Humanly speaking the outlook is bleak, but when God created the world, He said in Genesis chapter 1 that everything was “very good”. He designed our planet to be capable of sustaining life in perfect balance, and has promised a restoration to this state again when His Kingdom is established on the earth.

“For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other” Isaiah chapter 45 verse 18. 

“For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 14, “… You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those that fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” Revelation chapter 11 verse 18. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew chapter 5 verse 5.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will burn up …

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” 2 Peter chapter 3 verses 10, 13. 

God is going to create new heavens and a new earth, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” Isaiah chapter 65 verse 17”.

These promises were written over 2000 years ago and they predict a future which gives us hope for a complete reversal of today’s scientific predictions. God intends the earth to be an everlasting habitation for mankind and has a plan for its restoration and recovery, both physically and morally. 

God’s plan for the earth should fill us with hope instead of doom and gloom. He wants us to have a part in His Kingdom and He tells us how we can do so and how we are to prepare ourselves for it, in His Word, The Bible.  

Quotations taken from the New King James Bible  

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The Chicken or the Egg?

We are grateful to scientist who are able to teach us so many amazing facts about our wondrous planet and natural world.

Right at the beginning of The Bible we are told all about Creation.

“So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird after its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Then God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind; cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth each according to its kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, and cattle according to its kind. And God saw that it was good”. Genesis ch 1 v 21-25

Sadly some scientists have dismissed God’s Word and have replaced it with a theory, a story of gradual development over long periods of time. The idea of evolution is the product of human imagination and designed to “do away with God”

Every creature that God created has been endowed with amazing characteristics. Both the educated and uneducated marvel at the perfection of bodily shape, at their ability to survive in their particular environment. The way creatures function, has been perfectly designed to allow the creature to live and reproduce after its own kind.

Reproduction is, in itself amazing! When we consider the numerous and variety of ways that creatures reproduce it is truly amazing. Some creatures lay eggs, some bear live young, some are produced inside a special sac, to mention just a few examples.

Consider the egg of a domestic hen. It is made up of three parts, the outside shell, the yolk and the white which surrounds the yolk. The yolk in the middle is the food for the chick that forms from the white of the egg.

A brooding hen has to gently sit on its eggs to keep warm them. It rises from time to time to roll the eggs over to ensure that the eggs are evenly warmed for the period of incubation. Which is about twenty one days.

When the time comes for the chick to emerge from its shell the hatching process begins. The chick taps the shell using its egg tooth which has developed on the top of its beak to pip (chip or break) the shell, it continues to pip the shell until it has gone all the way around the shell. This process can take between twelve and eighteen hours. When it is ready the chick kicks off the egg shell and flops out wet and tired.

All this has been designed by God, the all wise Creator.

So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is, of course, the chicken.

Did you know that not all bird eggs are the same shape? There is a distinct difference in shape of the eggs of ground nesting birds from those that nest in hollow trees or on top of trees.

Take for example the Canada Goose its eggs are elongated so that they do not blow away in windy conditions. If they move slightly their pointed end acts as a pivot.

When we consider the information and precision required in these examples of design, special, instantaneous, pre-programmed creation is the only satisfying answer to the amazing phenomena outlined.

What is the alternative? What are the chances that something of such precision could have happened at random? Who created the circumstances? Can we be absolutely certain that it was not created by a power that is infinitely more superior to anyone who has ever lived?

God’s Word, the Bible, tells us that God is the Creator of the universe and everything in it.

In the book of Isaiah we are asked to consider the Creator of heaven and earth, His wisdom and power which can be seen in the wonders of the world around us.

“Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and measured heaven with the span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counsellor hath taught him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? To whom then will ye liken Me? or to Whom shall I be equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these things, Who brings out the host by number: He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing”. Isaiah 40:12-14, 25-26

*Quotes are taken from the New King James Bible


To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk or our Facebook page.

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DRIVEN BY PRESSURE

“No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined” Henry Emerson Fosdick. (an American pastor)

This quote teaches us a valuable lesson that is supported by Scripture. We may not like pressure but we have to admit that pressure focusses us to get things done.

The great apostle and preacher of the Gospel, Paul, was fully focussed on God and yet he writes: “for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself, indeed we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” (2 Corinthians 1:8)

Later, in the same letter, he says “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.”(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

Of Jesus it is recorded: “although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)

Surely God is teaching us that life has its troubles and that we should accept the trials, the troubles and the chastening that come to everyone whom he loves. We all agree “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

While Paul, having been blinded by the light from heaven when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18) , wondered what was going to happen to him next , Jesus told Ananias, a disciple, when he was sent to find Paul, “For I will show him (Paul) how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:16)

Paul did indeed suffer. Later in life he reflected upon the sufferings he endured for the Lord.

“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one……with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings and often near death.” (2 Corinthians 11:23)

He was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times and survived many other dangers. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)

Paul surrendered his own will to God, just as the Lord Jesus Christ did.

Paul exclaims, “…. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

As followers of God and of Jesus Christ we must try to adopt Paul’s attitude when we confront our personal problems and sufferings, knowing that God knows every pressure and hardship we will face. Rom 5:3 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings owing that sufferings produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces nope (Romans 5:3)

We are being prepared for our eternal salvation. For this wonderful hope set before us let us endure the pressures and problems that come our way and look forward to the “crown of righteousness” that is laid up for us if we will put God and Jesus first in our minds and in our actions.

The words of this hymn are a prayer encouraging us to trust in God wherever our path may lead.

Give to the winds thy fears;

Hope and be undismayed;

God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears:

God shall lift up thy head.

Put thou thy trust in God,

In duty’s path go on;

Walk in his strength with faith and hope

So shall thy work be done.

Leave to His sovereign sway

To choose and to command:

With wonder filled, thou then shalt own

How wise, how strong His hand!

Through waves and clouds and storms,

He gently clears thy way;

Wait thou his time, so shall the night

Soon end in joyous day.

(Paulus Gerhardt 1607 -76 tr John Wesley

To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk.

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Have we got the message?

About 3 weeks ago our television stopped working. This sign came up on the screen NO SIGNAL. I checked all the connections and even brought out two other televisions to try as well! Again, NO SIGNAL x 2. Was I getting the message at last? NO SIGNAL meant something other than that there was a fault with three televisions. My friend told me that his television also had this NO SIGNAL message and that he was able to retune his set. Everything was now working properly. I tried this but, sadly, I couldn’t access the screen directions.

As I went to take our car for its MOT I noticed a television company van parked at the roadside. I stopped and asked the driver about our problem. He was really helpful and suggested that it might be because the TV tower had recently had changes to its frequency. A new aerial might be the only answer. He opened the rear door of the van to show me a dozen or so new types of aerial he was now having to fit. I felt that I had found the truth of the matter. This man had clearly explained what I must do. He was an expert!

If we want to know the truth about God and His Son Jesus, we have to open our Bibles to read what they tell us about what is promised for us in the Word of God. God promises resurrection from the grave to live forever when Jesus returns to live on this earth to set up his Father’s Kingdom.

God’s message gives us hope. He is the expert. He is in control. Open your Bible (rather like the van doors) and you will find the “truth of the matter” within its pages.

As soon my helpful nephew retuned our television normal service resumed. We can switch it on to watch a programme at any time of day.

Of course we can all open our Bible at any time of day to access God’s message to us all. God doesn’t want any of us to perish. Our minds need to be tuned to His message. We need to be on God’s frequency to understand how we should live our lives by God’s laws.

John 3: 16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Jesus said “Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30.

Quotes ESV

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It may be too late to save the planet!

The Prince of Wales has always expressed great concern regarding the natural world. He fears that the changes needed to save it could come too late. When he met with President Trump recently he tried to impress him with the urgency of doing something about it.

Sadly, what is forgotten, or not really appreciated, is that God’s Word, the Bible, promises that the Kingdom of God is to be established on this planet. For humankind to have any chance of making a significant difference to the rate of climate change there would be the need for all the nations on earth to work together. Just a superficial look at the present political situation indicates that this will never happen. However, when Jesus returns as supreme ruler over the planet, “… all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve him” (Psalm 72:11). Jesus, with his team of immortal saints, will cure all the ills of the natural world. Consider the following Bible verses, just a few of many.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

“.. And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing …” (Isaiah 35:1 and 2)

“… For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, And the thirsty land springs of water.” (Isaiah 35:6 and 7)

Today nearly one quarter of the earth is desert or semi desert. When Jesus rules “… He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper.” (Psalm 72:12-13) People will not suffer from disabilities and ill health: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Isaiah 35:5-6)

The Bible speaks about the great tree planting work to be done. “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the olive tree; I will set the desert the cypress tree and the pine and the box tree together. That they may see – that the hand of the LORD has done this.” (Isaiah 41:19-20)

Jesus taught his followers to pray: “… Your Kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

Are you ready for the coming of God’s wonderful Kingdom?


To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk.

All quotations from the N.K.J.V.

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How do you know when God is calling YOU?

For those of us who weren’t born into a spiritual family this is a very important question. I was 57 years old when I was finally in a state of mind to listen to God’s call – and I’m so glad I did!

This blog tells how God called me and how I responded. It will be different for everyone but you should be ready to respond and start your journey should the time come. It’s worth noting that God will give you opportunities to walk away from him. It’s always your choice.

As a younger man I recall asking myself important questions such as:

  • Why was this wonderful planet created and when?
  • Why are we here and what’s our purpose?
  • Why are there so many different types of people, good and not so good?
  • If death is really the end, what’s the point of living?
  • Why do some people seem to ‘have it all’ yet others have nothing?

Over the years I’ve met a few people who said that they followed Jesus and they did seem to have a certain ‘relaxed air’ about them. I remember thinking that I would like to feel that way, but I can now see that I was too busy working, paying the bills and providing for my family. In short – I was too busy and materialistic to hear God’s call.

Life’s adventures eventually took me abroad and I was happily enjoying semi-retirement. I thought that I had finally achieved my ambition and was looking forward to a future in the sun, sea and mountains.

To add to my contentment I was building a new camping business, which my grandchildren could choose to become involved in at a later date.

My new business was progressing well and I was integrating into the local and wider community.

However, there was suddenly a family difficulty that meant that I needed to return to the UK urgently and probably for some time.

I spent hours thinking and deciding on the best strategy to return to Wales, finding somewhere to live, yet still keeping the campsite in good order while I was away. To compound the problem I had no means of earning an income in the UK.

During these periods of thought I also reflected on instances in my life where, given the opportunity, I would have done things differently and treated some people with more compassion. I also decided that bearing grudges against others was not a good thing. Age and experience can be a wonderful thing!

Little did I know that God was listening to what I know now was my repentance. For me, it wasn’t anything dramatic. It was simply a quiet conversation with God.

A few days later, rather stressed, I found myself praying, something I hadn’t done since my school days. This time, however, it was different. I really wanted and needed God’s help. I remember promising that if I got back to the UK I would find a church and follow Him. Then, within days everything fell into place and my return to the UK was arranged. Even my friends were astonished as to how suddenly everything happened!

Settling back in Wales was very difficult but I got myself reasonably well organised and started putting my life back into order. However, I never forgot my promise to God, which I definitely wanted to keep. I need to stress that it wasn’t simply a need, but a deep-rooted desire, which drove me to succeed.

In retrospect I can see that my desire to follow God was tested several times, one of these times was when I became ill and was hospitalised. Other difficulties also presented themselves but I just worked through them. I could so easily have concentrated on my own needs and the needs of my family and not even considered God.

As I considered the best way to connect with a ‘church’ I did start to have some doubts (being tested again?) and asked myself questions such as:

  • What will others think of me?
  • Should I worship God on my own and just follow the Evangelical churches on TV?
  • Some ‘friends’ said that ‘church-goers’ are just looking to fill their empty lives with something to do.

Oh, how I laughed! At this point my life was incredibly busy and rather stressed. It was far from empty. I chose to ignore these people.

Once God calls you, the questions above, and much, much more become irrelevant. I can only say that if you follow God you’ll discover many answers for yourselves, as I continue to do each day.

I did a fair amount of research and the only ‘church’ organisation that I felt comfortable with was the Christadelphians and I had never even heard of them!! I would recommend their free and without strings attached one-to-one Bible course to anyone searching for God. I found these sessions incredibly helpful to increase my knowledge of the Bible. Though I’m not good at remembering things I’m improving … slowly. 🙂

I’ve been with them for over three years now and what a wonderful journey it’s been. It’s worth noting that before I opened the Bible for the first time I had not read any kind of book for over forty years. Yet I had no real difficulty reading the Gospel.

Interestingly, since following the Word of God, my life has become far simpler and it now has true meaning and purpose.

Every day I thank God for hearing my prayers and opening my heart and mind to answer his call.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk.

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Lessons from a Silversmith

A group of women were studying the book of the prophet Malachi in the Old Testament. As they were studying Malachi 3 they came across verse 3, which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver …” This verse puzzled the women, and they wondered what this statement told them about the character and purpose of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and report back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week the woman phoned a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest in order to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot. Then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time as the silver was being refined. The man answered, “Yes” and explained that he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be damaged. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy. When I see my image in it.”

God refines and tests all who believe and try to follow the example that Jesus shows them. He wants all his followers to try always to reflect something of His character.

The apostle Peter tells us, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ … as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

Throughout the lives of those who follow Jesus there will be times of trial, frustration and sadness. Believers aren’t promised trouble free lives but they know that God is watching over them at all times and shaping them to be fit for eternal life in the Kingdom that Jesus will establish on earth when he returns. 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their cry …” True believers will “… run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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God’s Action Plan for Climate Change

Are you worried about climate change? By now most people who watch or listen to the news will be aware of the huge climate change demonstration that has taken place in London. The demonstrators are desperately worried about the future of the planet and for the well being of their children and grandchildren. They believe that the only way for them to make governments act is by civil disobedience. Sir David Attenborough tells us that, if humankind doesn’t take immediate action now, life on earth will be desperate for people, plants and animals in the near future.

Jesus, God’s Son, prophesied about this time, “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars and on the earth distress of nations with perplexity … people fainting with fear and with foreboding on what is coming on the world for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” Luke 21:25-26

In our country and throughout the world distress of nations is obvious. Ours is not the only country where people are realising the perils to the environment. Add to that the wars and natural disasters, hunger and disease. No wonder people are perplexed. They are wondering if there is any way out of the massive problems we all face.

Those who believe that God created our world and cares for it take comfort in what He tells us in His Word, the Bible. Luke 21:27-8, “And then they will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place straighten up and raise your heads for your redemption is drawing near.”

When Jesus rose from the dead he told his disciples that he would return to the earth again. As he was taken up into heaven two angels stood by them and said “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

True followers of Jesus believe this promise. He will come again to set up God’s Kingdom on earth. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

To conclude, this is the picture the prophet Isaiah paints of the time when God’s Kingdom is set upon earth. Here is part of Isaiah 35v1-10:
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; The desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Then shall the lame man leap like the deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion (Jerusalem) with singing; Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy; And sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”

Even so come Lord Jesus!

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No Easter at Notre-Dame

Isn’t it remarkable? In a widely atheistic age, in a secular republic, a fire at a medieval Catholic landmark has brought people and nations together. It has caused them to unite, to pray and to thank God.

I am, of course, talking about Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. I am obviously not a Catholic, so this building holds no religious significance for me.  Matthew 18v20 Jesus tells us, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”. We don’t have to worship God in a vast and ornate cathedral. It is hard, however, to be unmoved by the unfolding of recent events. But, in this largely post-Christian age, how is it that Notre-Dame has outlasted its original reason for existing?

Even if religion is set aside, historically and architecturally this building is of immense significance. Cathedrals such as this are, without doubt, great works of art. They have in their time been centres of community. They have witnessed and hosted both their nations greatest and saddest events. They were built in an age before machines by the hands of the very people who would congregate there to worship.

As an avid tourist of history and literature, it is fair to say that few houses of faith have such a vivid story to tell as Notre-Dame de Paris. Notre-Dame has been, for all of us, an embodiment of Paris and its history, of the city’s medieval Catholic past, its religious wars, its national triumphs and disasters. It was the backdrop for the Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film begins with the song, The Bells of Notre Dame, which poignantly summarises the part this building still plays in the lives of the people of Paris:
Morning in Paris, the city awakes,
To the bells of Notre Dame.
The fisherman fishes, the baker man bakes,
To the bells of Notre Dame.
To the big bells as loud as the thunder,
To the little bells soft as a psalm,
And some say the soul of the city,
The toll of the bells,
The bells of Notre Dame.

My own story with this building began as a little child when I first encountered Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, not just because of the vivid colours and the enchanting music, but because this cathedral is the stage for a story of hope, of acceptance for outsiders and those who see the world a little differently. It is something which the apostle Peter brings out for us in his first epistle, “All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender-hearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” 1Peter 3v8-9.

As I got older my love of this story caused me to read Victor Hugo’s, Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the great works of French literature and the story that inspired Disney. Whilst the book is darker than Disney’s interpretation, it holds a wonderful quote, which I often bring to mind, ‘A one-eyed man is much more incomplete than a blind man, for he knows what it is that’s lacking.’

That’s really the crux of my ponderings here today. Is the modern, confused and agnostic world around us the blind man? Has society travelled so far from ‘The Age of Faith’ that it doesn’t even know what it is lacking? As Jesus asks in Luke 6v39, “Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?”

This has happened at a time of miserable squabbling over the future of Europe. The truth is that, whatever we think about Brexit or a customs union, or any of the esoteric options lying before our politicians, we are all heirs of a great common history. If only the world had one eye that it might recognise what is lacking and seek out the hope set before them in the Bible – to be heirs of a future, not just a past, to be heirs of the promises of God.

In Hebrews 12v2 we are told to, “Look unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Rather fitting really when we remember that this weekend is Easter Weekend, a time when Christians worldwide reflect on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, for the first time in nearly nine centuries there will be no Easter at Notre-Dame.


You are warmly invited to join us this Sunday, April 21st 2019 at 6pm for a Bible talk about ‘Jesus Christ, The Cross and You’. Find out how Jesus’ sacrifice can have a positive effect on your life and what it could mean for your future!

*All quotes are from the King James Version.

 

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