We have all had a difficult year with various restrictions in our lives; we haven’t been able to do the things we enjoy, see those we love, go on holiday or even pop in for a cuppa! It has been even tougher for people who have lost jobs, homes and even loved ones.
Did you see the recent David Attenborough five-part TV series, “A Perfect Planet”?
· “Our planet is one in a billion”
· “There is only one planet in the Universe, as far as we know, that has life”
· “Life here is only possible because of a unique balance of natural forces”
It was a fascinating presentation of many factors that contribute to what David Attenborough, and other scientists, refer to as “The Goldilocks Effect”, which makes our planet unique.
It’s a reference to the children’s tale of Goldilocks who found daddy bear’s porridge ‘too hot’, mummy bear’s porridge ‘too cold’, but baby bear’s porridge ‘just right’? David Attenborough made the point that without the light, and heat, from the sun there can be no life.
Another essential for life is water. Surface temperatures of 5000 C have been recorded on Venus - ‘too hot’! Dawn temperatures on Mars are -760 C - ‘too cold’! These are our nearest planetary neighbours.
Planet Earth is at the optimum distance from the sun to be ‘just right’. It has water, a breathable atmosphere and many other features that are vital to sustain life.
These are just a few examples that David Attenborough presented in the series. It should raise the question in our minds – Are all of these ‘just right’ factors a result of ‘cosmic good fortune’, or were they put in place by an intelligent creator?
If you would like to see more examples of scientifically accepted facts that make our planet ‘just right’, search for Gorseinon Christadelphians on YouTube and see the video we prepared on this subject.
Discover more about this and many other Bible topics by applying for a free correspondence course called “Exploring the Bible”
Spring is here and everywhere around us nature is coming back to life after a long, cold winter. It is great to see the flowers again and the blossom on the trees, it reminds us just how resilient these things are that they can survive the winter and start all over again as if for the first time.
Conversely though, they also remind us of the fragility of life. We know that those flowers which look so bright and fresh today will soon start to fade and wither, and in a few weeks’ time will be gone altogether.
In fact, the Psalmist in the Bible picks up on this and uses it as a metaphor for our lives. In Psalm 103 we read
“As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him.” (Psalms 103:15-17, NKJV)
Just like the flowers come and go, so do we. In the big scheme of things our lives are of no more consequence than that of the humblest daisy. In a hundred years from now who will even remember that we were here?
These reflections may seem rather melancholy but notice the contrast that is there in the Psalm. The shortness of our lives is compared with the mercy of God, not on every single person but on those who fear Him. This is best understood in the light of wider Bible teaching that not everyone is saved simply because they exist. Without God life is short and death is final. But for those who do respect God and find forgiveness in His Son the story could not be more different.
He will remember them if they die and will raise them back to life when Jesus returns from heaven. From there they go on to live forever in His kingdom, not in heaven but here on the earth. The Bible has many amazing descriptions of this age to come, particularly in the book of Isaiah. There we read
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. . . For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy . . . The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying. . . They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people.” (Isaiah 65:17-22, NKJV)
In the book of Daniel, chapter 2, a king called Nebuchadnezzar has a dream which God interprets through his prophet. The dream is about an image with a gold head, silver chest and arms, bronze belly and thighs, iron legs and feet of iron mixed with clay. A small stone cut out without human hands strikes the image on the feet, it collapses and is ground to powder. The stone then grows to fill the whole earth. Daniel gives the interpretation from God: the image represents different world empires through the next 2000 years. The head represented Babylon which was the ruling power at the time, the chest and arms represented the Medes and Persians, the belly and thighs Greece, and the legs represented Rome.
Taking a brief look at history, you can see these empires represented by the different metals. The feet represent divided kingdoms, illustrating the different ruling powers we currently see in the world. We can see all parts of the prophecy until the stone, have happened. It’s remarkable, since the book of Daniel was written in approximately 500BC!
The last part of the prophecy (verse 44) represents the return of Jesus, the son of God, to the earth. All ruling powers will be replaced by Jesus, and ultimately God. This will give us a world of complete peace, no hunger, no suffering, no pain, no sadness and no death. We can have confidence in God’s word, He always keeps his promises. We encourage you to read the Bible to find out more.
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We are living through some difficult times which can cause worry and anxiety. Faith in God can provide some help and comfort with this.
HOPE of everlasting life in a world with no tears, sadness or suffering – we can find this promise in Revelation chapter 21 verse 4.
FORGIVENESS of sins – this is an offer extended to everyone, because Christ died for our sins; evidence of this can be found in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 3.
GOD IS IN CONTROL – this gives us peace of mind now, reducing fear and worry. Daniel chapter 4 verse 17 shows how God is even in control, influencing governments of this world.
HAVING A GOAL in life – trying to be more like God and His son, Jesus Christ, gives us something to aim for. Some instructions for us to follow can be found in Galatians chapter 5 verse 22-25.
BEING PART OF GOD’S FAMILY now, where we can share friendship and fellowship with other believers is a great blessing and provides support and encouragement through sad and happy times. God’s children have been meeting together in this way since Jesus was on the earth 2000 years ago – read about it in Acts chapter 2 verse 46.
Another possibility is that it is for individuals to decide right and wrong for ourselves based on our own personal opinions. The difficulty with this approach is that opinion is no guarantee of correctness. Just because I say something is right does not mean that it is. Others may disagree.
The Bible offers up a completely different approach. It teaches that as the creator of heaven and earth and the one who gives us “life and breath and all things” it is God who decides what is right and wrong for all time. As those who are created it is our duty to listen and obey; this is, in fact, the very purpose of our existence. People who do right (as defined by Him) will be rewarded with eternal life in His Kingdom to come.
Ultimately the answer we make depends on our personal faith. If we consider the evidence and conclude that God exists then we will be inclined to believe He is the arbiter of right and wrong and live in hope of the promised reward.
To watch a presentation which explores this question further, go to our channel on YouTube ('Gorseinon Christadelphians'):
We can’t meet at the moment but are happy to chat on the phone, by email, letter or text. You can find help and encouragement on our website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. There you will find a virtual Bible exhibition, Bible verses to print and colour, interesting articles to read, talks to listen to and links to other resources such as a free monthly magazine.
YouTube: Gorseinon Christadelphians
I think back to one such holiday, many years ago, spent on the Spanish Costa del Sol. But, before you begin to wonder if this is to become a ‘travelogue’, perhaps we can take a moment to consider Scripture, to recall the events recorded in Matthew 18 and verses 2, 3 and 4. There we read of the disciples, evidently having a conversation about who would be the greatest in The Kingdom of Heaven, approaching Jesus to ask the question.
Jesus’ response was to “call a little child” and to tell the disciples that, to enter the Kingdom, they needed to humble themselves as that little child.
That has puzzled me a little over the years - yes, I knew the message, I understood the rationale, but somehow, I never really related to it. Something further for me to consider perhaps, but for the moment, let’s go back to that holiday in Spain.
We were taking our twin grandsons - close to 18 months old - and our party consisted of Nan and Gramps, the twins of course - and their Mum and Dad. We had been able to reserve two, virtually adjacent apartments in a private complex some 100 metres from the sea-front. There was a sun-filled garden, partially shaded by trees and flowering shrubs, and a small swimming pool, but neither ever appeared crowded - and, whilst there were no ‘mad dogs’ in sight, there was a smattering of English, French and German tourists in the garden or on balconies, turning an indelicate shade of pink in the midday sun. We remained indoors whilst unpacking and settling in for the week ahead.
It was a pleasant holiday, memorable in many ways. On some days, I’d potter around the apartment, noting yet again that every tourist will bring a novel to read and then leave it on the shelf when departing. I collected some which had become really thumb-marked, to take to the local ‘swap-shop’ - but there is one book which never showed any sign of wear or tear - its pages remaining as white as they had for the 25 years the book had been in the apartment.
The highlight for Nan and Gramps came the last evening, when we generously suggested - without a thought of our own pleasure as you can imagine - that our son and daughter-in-law have an evening meal in one of the marina restaurants whilst we looked after the twins. Mum and Dad were delighted, Nan and Gramps even more so.
We decided to take the boys for an evening stroll along the promenade. It was a beautiful evening, the prom wide and relatively new, a low wall on one side overlooking the beach and sparkling sea - and a small kerb on the other side bordering a lush, grassy lawn running the entire length.
We had chosen a time when most of the tourists would be in their hotels or restaurants, having their evening meal, so the prom was not too busy. At first, the twins disagreed on direction of travel, Nan, Gramps and one lad, heading to the marina, the other heading in the opposite direction. Eventually, with much waltzing with him in my arms, we managed to disconnect his sense of direction and we all headed towards the marina.
The boys, independent as ever, wanted to walk on their own, they were steady on their feet but needed to balance themselves with ‘elbows out’ - and it was a case of ‘look out anyone in their way’. We scuttled along behind to make sure they were always (almost) within arm’s reach. That low wall appealed to one - a low wall is overly appealing when you can’t see over it - whilst the grass, much greener on the other side of the kerb, appealed to the other. Both were ‘no-go’ areas to us - the wall having a drop to the sand below whilst the lush grass was equally appealing to the cats which frequented the area late at night.
The prom began to get busier, walkers moving to one side to let the boys pass without incident - and then I spotted two Spanish ‘Grandees’ - 2 elderly ladies dressed from head to toe in black, heads protected from the evening sun by wide-brimmed hats, veils draped across their faces to protect their eyes. Of course, having the Spanish love for children - the Grandees stopped, bent slightly and spoke to the boys. They were stopped in their tracks - two strangers dressed in black, speaking some unknown language and looking at them through a veil was just too much. The boys turned simultaneously and, with a look of abject fear, ran to cling to our legs - one to Nan, the other to Gramps. We laughed, took them up in our arms and approached the Grandees. With our weak/limited Spanish, we told them “Yes, the boys are brothers” “Yes, they are twins” “No, we don’t dress them alike as each has his own identity” … well, words to that effect. That was followed by some polite chat and with a final “Buenas noches” - we went our separate ways.
The boys were lowered to the prom, and they gripped our hands firmly - for about a minute, maybe two - then broke free and resumed their ‘elbows out’ posture and charged ahead oblivious.
Returning to the apartment, Nan called the boys to get ready for a bath whilst I began putting bits and pieces to one side, ready for our early departure the next morning. Remember that pristine book I mentioned earlier? It was lying on the table. I picked it up to put back on the shelf - but paused for a moment to look at that verse in Matthew. And my thoughts were confirmed - our twin grandsons had shown me that, when faced by a fearful adversary, they knew they could turn instantly to Nan and Gramps, they knew they would then be safe.
Some may fear this current adversary, this Covid-19, they may fear its damage, its possible ultimate victory over those susceptible, but with our hand in God’s hand, we can face the adversary, we can get through it - we have a future beyond. And remember - Nan and Gramps hadn't withdrawn their hands from the twins and let go, just as God won’t let go of our hands - it’s we who may take our hand from God’s hand as we live our lives, with perhaps, a little less caution than we realise.
So, humbled by the power of this virus, humbled by the thought that our strength, our ability and success in life is ultimately totally inadequate, we can turn to take God’s hand, confident that He is there for us as we continue to walk steadfastly along the path towards the Kingdom.
ID 18184503 © Boaz Yunior Wibowo
- It has a message of hope for us all
- Ancient prophecies made have become reality
- The wonders of creation
- Environment on earth designed for life
Here is a direct link to the video presentation about Reasons to Believe in the Bible.
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God has invited everyone to be a part of this kingdom; he wants you and me to be there as Jesus says in Luke chapter 12 verse 32. In order to take up God’s invitation there is a responsibility on our part - we must read, understand and have faith and then express this understanding in repentance and baptism. In Mark chapter 16 verse 16 Jesus tells us that whoever believes and is baptised will be saved. Now would be a good time to read your Bible and get to know your heavenly Father and Jesus, His son, who died for you. If you would like further help or resources to read and understand the Bible yourself you may like to look at the following:
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