God’s love letter to the world

Consider these five ‘Valentines’ from God’s Word:

“My love for you is faithful.”

“Know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.”

Deuteronomy 7v 9

“My love for you is forever.”

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, because He is good;

His mercy endures forever.

Oh give thanks to the God of all gods;

His mercy endures forever.

Oh give thanks to the Lord of all lords;

His mercy endures forever.”

Psalm 136 v 1-3

“Nothing can stop us from loving God.”

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come.

Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”

Romans 8 v 38-39

“My love for you is greater than you could ever imagine.”

“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.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

John 3 v 16-17

“I want you to share my love with others.”

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all know that you are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

John 13 v 34-35

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day with those you love, let us take time to reflect on God’s enduring love for all, and ask ourselves how we might give God’s love to others in return.

All quotations from New King James Bible.

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A New Year Reflection

It’s that time of year again where we all start making plans for the coming year, we set ourselves goals and make resolutions. But actually it got me thinking about the year which has just passed. Surely if 2020 is anything to go by, we have all learnt that we can make all the plans we want, but in reality none of us know what will happen next month, next week or even tomorrow.

So, here are the five main lessons we can learn from 2020 and help to focus our minds for the coming year:

  1. God is in control

“Yours, O Lord is the greatness, the power, and the glory, the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.

Both riches and honour come from You and You reign over all; In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all.”

1 Chronicles 29:11-12

  1. If we are with God, he will be with us and will not forsake us

“Fear not; for I am with you: Be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; Yes, I will help you; I will uphold you with the My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw near to you.”

James 4:8

  1. As believers in Christ, we have each other for comfort and support

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,

For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Philippians 1:3-5

  1. Christ is coming back to set up His kingdom on earth

“And there shall be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

Men’s hearts failing them from fear and expectation of those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Luke 21:25-27

  1. We’re nearly there

“Now when these things begin to come to happen, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draws near.”

Luke 21:28

So as 2020 comes to an end and we stand on the precipice of a new year in these uncertain and sometimes frightening times, let us always remember,

“Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

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Learning from Sunflowers

We all love sunflowers. Their flower reminds us of the sun and late summer days. We encourage our children to grow them to compete with each other to see who can grow the tallest! Adults are known to compete too! They make us smile!

Do you know that Sunflowers turn to follow the sun as it moves across the sky?  The French name for sunflower is “tournesol, that means “turn to the sun”. They turn their faces to the light.
Have you ever wondered what they do on cloudy or rainy days when the sun is completely covered?  Do the sunflowers droop, turning their heads towards the ground. No!  This is what happens.  They turn towards each other to share their energy! God’s creation is amazing. 

Now let’s think how we can apply this lesson to our own lives. Many people we meet may be in trouble, sad, low-spirited, lonely or depressed. If we follow Jesus’ teaching and example, we should realise that we must share our energy with those we meet. The words of a verse in one of my favourite hymns come to mind…

“Wherever in the world I am, in whatsoe’r estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate
A work of lowly love to do for Him on whom I wait.”  (Love Maria Willis 1824-1908)

Jesus was compassionate. We know that he healed the sick and provided food for the crowds who gathered round him. He listened to problems and offered advice.

Here is just one example of his compassion. Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Luke 7:11‐15

Jesus tells his followers “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15: 12-14.

Jesus showed his love and compassion towards all humankind when he, the only perfect man, the only begotten Son of his Father, the Almighty God, gave his life willingly to save all who put their trust in God. Jesus has opened for us the path to salvation. All who truly believe in him and in his Heavenly Father and try to follow his example will be granted, by God’s grace, salvation and everlasting life in the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns. 


Quotes English Standard Version Bible.

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THE BIBLE SAID IT FIRST

It is truly amazing that the Bible has had so much influence on our day to day conversations. There are at least 75 commonly used phrases that have their origins in the Bible. Be sure to look up the passages below, just a sample of these sayings, in your Bible. In some of them there are powerful lessons for us all.

All these quotations can be found in the King James Version of the Bible.

Did you know that in 1947 a collection of the oldest manuscripts of the books of the Bible were discovered in a cave in Wadi Qumran, near the Dead Sea? Among them was a 23ft leather scroll containing the complete book of the prophet Isaiah. This copy is a unique proof of the reliability of the Holy Scriptures. The text agrees exactly with what we have in our Bible today. Many more books of the Bible were discovered in 11 caves nearby. A special museum, The Shrine of The Book, was opened in Jerusalem to house many of the scrolls.

Let us not neglect the Bible for its pages contain a message from God, a message of hope and salvation for all who read His word, believe it and try to follow the example of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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Life is a Gift from God

As I write this, around 210,000 people have died worldwide as a result of the coronavirus. Many people find it difficult or impossible to believe that a loving God can exist when something like this happens. Why wouldn’t he do something about it?


As a Christian I see life as a gift from God.
Today we tend to think that life is a right, something which we are entitled to simply by virtue of being human and which nobody has the right to take away from us.
This can lead us to believe, even if only subconsciously, that God is somehow obliged to preserve our lives and keep pain and death away from us.


As I see it, he isn’t obliged to do any of those things. He gave us life as a gift, one which we do not deserve and which is given on his terms, not ours.
Nowhere in the Bible does God promise that human life will be easy or free from pain and suffering. Not even to Christians does he promise that. In fact, he warns that becoming a Christian may actually lead to life becoming more difficult than it was before.


“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have
become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:12–17)

Here Paul describes the two priorities for a Christian’s life.
First, to receive “training in righteousness” by learning from God’s message and from the example of Jesus and other Christians how we ought to live, so we can be ready for “every good work”.
Second, to accept that happiness and comfort in this life is not our goal. What is? “Salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”.


What does that mean? It means that a Christian’s hope lies in the world to come after Jesus returns from heaven, not this one.
For a Christian, this life is really a time of preparation for the day when they meet Jesus. How we respond to the pain and suffering in our lives, and in the lives of others, will shape our character and determine the person Jesus sees in
us when that day comes.


At a time in his life when it looked likely that he might die, Paul wrote:
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:21–24)


For a Christian, life is an opportunity to prepare oneself to meet Jesus and to help others do the same, and death is simply the last waking moment before we meet him.
Suppose you were to be given a trial or probationary period by an employer with the promise that after a certain period of time your performance would be reviewed to determine if you were to be offered a permanent position within the organisation. While this isn’t a perfect analogy (Christians don’t earn eternal life from Jesus through good performance!) it does illustrate that the life we have now is only a temporary time of testing which will (and should) inevitably come to an end.

God gives us this life as a gift, but that gift comes with certain responsibilities and instructions on how it ought to be lived. It isn’t for us to do whatever we like with and indulge ourselves. God is perfectly entitled to take it away again if we haven’t used it responsibly or if we’ve ignored his instructions.
Moreover, God isn’t being unjust or unkind to take away this life if he has an even better one to offer.


But where do our priorities lie?

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Coronavirus, a message from God – are you ready to listen?

In what feels like the blink of an eye, the world as we know it has changed. It is no longer a place of relative safety, where we luxuriate in comfort, routine and excess, but it has all too quickly become a perilous place, where men’s hearts are failing them for fear.

Mankind has come to recognise that we cannot control world events. Day by day each news report brings another tidal wave of uncertainty. Leaders of countries are changing policies as quickly as they made them. Hospitals, banks, businesses, shops and families are struggling to keep up with events.

In amongst the chaos, we begin to wonder, will we ever find the calm?

Perhaps we ought to use this time of isolation to stop, reflect and search for the answers from a power greater than ourselves.

In the Bible, God tells us “that in the last days perilous times will come.” Are we not certainly living in perilous times? The chapter carries on to tell us, “For men shall be lovers of themselves, lovers of money and boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving unforgiving, slanders, without self control, brutal, dispisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3 v 1-4)
All this is sadly true of the world around us.

God made a promise to King Solomon, that he would always be with him, but only as long as Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send an epidemic among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7 v 13-14)


So we may ask ourselves what is the answer for us today?

The Bible in the book of Ecclesiasties gives us the answer, it is very simple: “Fear God and keep His commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12 v 13) This is all God has ever asked for, it’s quite simple really, but for thousands of years people have turned their back on Him.

We are getting close to the time when He will send His son back to the earth. In the book of Matthew  we are told, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24 v 29-30)

What does that mean for you?

Don’t stress about what tomorrow will bring, as Jesus tells us in Matthew, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Tomorrow is another day, worrying about it will not change things. Rather turn to God and seek his coming kingdom, when goodness and mercy will prevail,”Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? … For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6 v 31-34)

If we do this we have nothing to fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

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Please Wash your Hands!

The threat of catching Coronavirus has made us all aware of the importance of washing our hands. Every time we listen to the news or read a newspaper we are reminded of the importance of making sure we wash them thoroughly.

The washing of hands is not a new idea. In the last century one in four pregnant mothers who entered hospital died from some form of infection. Philip Ignaz Semmelweis , an obstetrician, had a death rate of only eight women in a thousand. That was less than 1% !! What was the secret ? It was very simple. Dr Semmelweis washed his hands! In the 19th century doctors often went from the mortuary or from the dissecting room straight back to their rounds of the hospital wards. They hardly stopped to wipe their hands on their already soiled aprons. Dr Semmelweis had realised that doctors were spreading the disease from the infected patients to the healthy ones.

But the washing of hands and personal hygiene was stressed 3,500 years previously in the Law given by God to Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Here are just two examples.

Preventing the Spread of Infection.

A man or woman who had a bodily discharge was considered unclean until investigation by the Priest.

Their bed and anyone who touched the bed or touched them were considered unclean . Moses writes: “Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening”

Leviticus 15:2-11

This is just one illustration of many cases of treating infection.

Isolation and Quarantine.

People are being advised to stay at home if there is likelihood that they may have been in contact with anyone who may be able to pass on Coronavirus The Law of Moses states “ When anyone has …. an infectious skin disease , he must be brought to… a priest…. the priest is to put the infected person in isolation for seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine him, and if…. unchanged…… he is to keep him in isolation another seven days”

Leviticus 13:2-8, 46

Once pronounced clean the man had to “wash his clothes, shave off his hair and bathe in water..

Leviticus 14:8-9

How did the people of Israel know about these vital matters? Because God told them and Moses reminded them to obey what God had commanded them. (Deuteronomy 4:5-9).

Do keep washing your hands to help to combat this new virus! Meanwhile we must remember that the God of the Bible knows about the problems we all face. When Jesus returns to establish his Father’s Kingdom those who have made God’s Laws rule in their hearts will be invited by him to share in the perfect and everlasting health of his reign.

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It’s Christmas Countdown!

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Black Friday is already behind us. Ahead lies the anticipation of Christmas, with excitement, and perhaps panic and sheer hard work for those who have to pull it all together. It’s just what we Britons do, spurred on by the media, many people over indulge in food and drink and generally having a good time.

Perhaps this assessment of the festivities is a little cynical. After all, beneath the tinsel and tack there is much charity and goodwill. There is, too, for some, the real reason for Christmas – remembering the Birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago. Nativity plays familiarise us with that Bible message. Seasonal services in church and chapel remind us that Jesus is real, his existence a fact of history.

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Many passages from the Gospels (Good News) of Matthew and Luke ring out clearly with authority and excitement. Hear the Angel Gabriel’s message to Mary “….the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – The Son of God”. Luke 1:35

Nine months later an angel pays a night time visit to Bethlehem’s hill country bathing shepherds and their flocks with the light of God’s glory.

His message “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord”

”… and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God …”Luke 2: 11&13.

Why such rejoicing for a baby? Decades later the apostle Paul writes “… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” 1 Tim 1: 15. Jesus did this by living a sinless life, dying painfully and then being raised to immortal life “Consequently He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him since he always lives to make intercession for them”. Hebrews 7:25.

Have you ever noticed that nowhere in the Bible are believers told to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but they are commanded to remember his death? “Christ… will appear a second time…to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” Hebrews 9:28

Now that is something to celebrate!

(Quotes from English Standard Bible, ESV)

*To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk. Our next public meeting will be held at 6pm on Sunday, in our hall, Foundry Road, Ammanford. All are welcome to attend!

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Has God forgotten me?

Have we ever felt as if God may have forgotten us? It often happens when we go through a time of trouble that seems to lengthen the longer we put up with it. At those times it seems as if prayers are no longer answered, and positive spiritual thoughts seem to evaporate before they have even been spoken.

When God afflicted his people Israel, they thought he had forgotten them. God reassured them with these words (Isaiah 49: 14-16) “But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, the LORD has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget the her nursing child that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you! Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands …” God will never forget his people Israel, and nor will he forget us.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews encouraged the believers “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He (God) has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Take the example of parents of an adopted child who has gone off the rails. Though he is not their flesh and blood, they still think of him, pray for him, visit him in prison and talk about him. As part of their family, they will never forget him. How much more is that with God?

Those who have been baptised into the saving name of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who try to follow God’s Law, even though they fail at times, are God’s sons and daughters by adoption. (Galatians 3:26-29) “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ … And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”

We can never fail to be reminded of important things by marks we see every day on our hands. As children of God, He does not need to be reminded of us. We are written, like the children of Israel, on His hands. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us however hard our lives may be at times.


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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The Third Commandment

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
(Exodus 20:7)

Many people in UK have heard of the Ten Commandments we find in the Bible. Some of these commandments still remain a basis for many of the laws in this country. “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16)

But what about the 3rd Commandment? What does it mean? “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.”
Put very simply it means that God is asking people not to use His Name in a familiar or derogatory way. God tells us plainly that, if we do, we are guilty of causing offence to Him. The LORD wants us to realise that He is our Creator and, because He is, He expects men and women to respect Him.

For those who say that they believe in the God of the Bible and in His Son, Jesus Christ, this command is very important to remember.

We live in a society that has, for the most part, sidelined God and His Son and the laws that they have laid down.

Every day we hear the name of God and His Son used as swear words on our TV and radio programmes. They are misused in books and newspapers. People use them as swear words or as expressions of exasperation and annoyance. It is common to hear very young children misusing God’s name. Celebrities seem to think it makes them look “cool” to swear and blaspheme.

If we profess to follow God and Jesus we must try to show that we do by never ever using their names in this way. We are advised to put away
“… obscene talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). Surely the most obscene talk for believers of God and His Son must be to take their names in vain.

Quotes ESV

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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