Worried about the future?
This year has seen some very worrying developments that affect ordinary people every day. Rising costs of gas, electricity, petrol and food – nobody is exempt.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25 come to mind: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” “Yes, but…” we might say, “We can’t manage without those things, can we?” Jesus went on to speak about the birds, which are not able to produce food for themselves, yet God feeds them, and the wild flowers which God causes to grow and bloom with colours that a king would be proud to wear.
Does this make you feel better about the problems of life? Maybe not, because it’s complicated and often others are depending on us. Jesus was telling his disciples that God knows what we need and if we put our trust in Him, He will care for us. It doesn’t mean life will be easy. But our focus will be different and we will realise that this life is only temporary. There is something much better in God’s plan for us. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:33-34)
The kingdom of God is what Jesus came to tell people about. In fact, he and John the Baptist before him were telling people to repent because the Kingdom of God was at hand. The people they spoke to have been dead for many years and we are still waiting for the Kingdom of God on earth. God does not look at time in the way we do; He can see past, present and future all at once. He has promised eternal life to those who have faith in Him, and death doesn’t hinder that. Jesus will raise those who died in faith when he returns to the earth. He told his disciples what signs to look for and it is clear that it could happen any time. Read the Bible to find out what Jesus said and what God has promised.
To hear a talk on this subject, "Worried about the future? - the Bible can help" come to our hall on Creswell Road on Sunday 31st July at 5pm. All welcome.
For a FREE booklet on a Bible topic or Bible Reading Planner see below
Hope for a World in Trouble
We all know what it feels like to be troubled. Sometimes we might feel anxious about something outside our control, where there is little or nothing we can do to improve the situation.
When we hear news from around the world, some of the terrible things that are happening can be very troubling. Yet Jesus told his disciples not to be troubled. “…when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed…” (Mark 13 v 7). He was telling them of the series of events that must happen before his return to the earth.
The disciples of Jesus had to live through some very upsetting and challenging times. Their beloved teacher was cruelly killed, when they had hoped he would become King and sort out the problems of their troubled nation. Two of them were talking about this as they walked together after Jesus was killed, when someone joined them. This person was able to explain to them how the Old Testament had foretold these events and what they meant. When they arrived at the village they were heading for, they urged their companion to stay with them, and as they began a meal they realized he was actually Jesus, risen from the dead! (Luke 24: 13 -35).
Shortly before his death, Jesus told his disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14 v 1). He knew they would be afraid, confused and sad, but he wanted them to remember what he had said to them. It was something they did not understand immediately.
Sometimes we are so troubled that we can’t see the obvious. Jesus warned his followers not to be like that. There are many signs that he will soon be back on this earth, but it is easy to miss them if we aren’t looking for them. Jesus told his disciples to “watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21 vv34-35).
We have the privilege of being able to read all of those things in the Bible. Like the disciples, we might not be able to understand straight away. The world is in trouble caused by man’s greed and ignorance, but it is God’s world and He is able to put things right. Careful reading will show us that there is hope for the future. Like the disciples, we need to remember what Jesus said and do as he asked.
Life's too short!
Perhaps you say this to remind yourself that some things just aren’t worth worrying about. You are probably right!
The Bible tells us that this life is only a preparation for something a lot better. It doesn’t mean our lives aren’t important – in fact, how we choose to spend them is a key factor in what happens next.
The world is not going to continue as it is today. God has a much better plan, which includes the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign as King. He will raise the dead and there will be a huge clean-up operation to fix the problems we are facing now.
When Jesus ascended to heaven after his death and resurrection, angels told his disciples: “..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 v 11).
We can’t realistically look very far ahead now, because we don’t know what each day might bring. Take the opportunity to find out about God’s plan for us in the Bible. It gives hope for the future and shows us that life doesn’t have to be too short.
Help is available, see the options below or refer to the 'Links' page for other information to help you.
As we emerge out of winter into early spring, signs of new life are everywhere we turn. Buds and shoots are bursting out of trees, flowers and bushes. Lambs are springing around the fields. As the daylight increases, there's more time to do those jobs and projects you'd wanted to start over the winter. A fresh start, a chance to try something new, perhaps?
At Easter time, many remember the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, sometimes commemorating this event with the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, as instructed to by Jesus at The Last Supper.
Matthew 26v26-29 reads:
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
The breaking of bread and drinking of wine is time to reflect on what Jesus did for us by giving his life, despite being someone who had never done a single thing wrong.
Christadelphians, just as the first century Christians were thought to have done, (see Acts chapter 20 for an example), believe this is so important that we break bread and drink wine at a memorial service weekly. It's a model for us, the idea of giving up our old lives and starting afresh.
When breaking bread and drinking the wine, it is a chance for quiet meditation. To reflect upon what God did for us, allowing his only son to die a terrible death on the cross, but also the joy of his resurrection as the grave couldn't hold him, giving him a 'new life' and an example that we too could try to follow.
To find out more about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the consequences of this amazing event, have a look at the articles and videos below.
If you want to try something new today, why not try reading the Bible for yourself? Help is available, see the Bible Reading Plan options below or refer to the 'Links' page for other options to help you.
What's special about the Bible
2022 marks 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a copy of the Bible for the swearing of the Coronation Oath. “…to keep Your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and the gospel of God as the Rule of the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords…”
Some do not see the Bible as a valuable book; some have never read it. So why did it play such an important role when the Queen was crowned?
There are so many books in the world today that it is hard to imagine life without them. Yet they used to be the preserve only of the rich. To own a Bible was a great privilege.
“In 1800 a 15-year-old Welsh girl named Mary Jones trekked 26 long miles through the rugged terrain of north Wales to buy a Welsh Bible. Mary was so determined to have a Bible of her own, in her own language, that she saved up for six long years before her walk to Bala”. (source: biblesociety.co.uk)
This came to the attention of William Wilberforce MP and others and in 1804 they formed the British and Foreign Bible Society, now called the Bible Society. Their aim was to make the Bible accessible to ordinary people all over the world.
Now that the Bible is available in more than 250 languages, many people can easily obtain their own copy. It is still a best-selling book. But how many people actually read it regularly?
Reasons for not reading the Bible
Some just don’t see the Bible as relevant in the 21st century. Yet we use expressions from the Bible all the time, as you can see from a previous blog. The situations we read about in the Bible are often recognisable to us. People responded to events in their lives in the same way as we would respond now. Characters are portrayed “warts and all”. Even kings were foolish at times, and in historical records this was often glossed over. But in the Bible the facts are presented without any attempt to whitewash them.
Some think it is just too hard to read, using language that is hard to understand. But more than ever before, there are translations that can make it more accessible for someone who is new to reading the Bible.
Give it a try!
Not only is the Bible a fascinating book – it is life-giving! God caused it to be written so that we can get to know Him and His Son the Lord Jesus. He wants us to be part of His family, with a future in His kingdom on this earth. We can’t lose anything by opening it and beginning to read. Help is at hand if you want it, with distance learning courses, Bible reading planners, Bible talks, or just someone to write to or email with questions when you want to. We hope you will give it a try.
It's better to give than to receive
We've all left some jobs 'until the eleventh hour' to get done, and these jobs, at times, can feel like 'a millstone around your neck'. When you need a bit of help to sort these things out, then you might call on your own 'flesh and blood' to help.
Many friends will 'move mountains' to help you but it can feel like 'the blind leading the blind' sometimes when there is a lot to organise. It is often said that “it’s better to give than to receive”, so helping that friend when they need it can be so important.
It may surprise you to know that the phrases above are taken from the Bible. More importantly, the Bible itself has God's answer to problems you may be facing, big or small. As it states in the Psalms, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37v5)
Bible Quote & Notes
‘it’s better to give than to receive’
Acts 20:35 - In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
‘the eleventh hour’
Matthew 20:9 - And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
Taken from a parable of Jesus. Workers were hired for the same agreed amount at different points of the working day, some at the eleventh hour, the last possible hour that they could work. An interpretation is that it doesn’t matter when we choose to follow God, just that we do. The reward is the same regardless – a place in God’s Kingdom.
'a millstone around your neck'.
Matthew 18:6 - but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Mark 9:42 - “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
Luke 17:2 - It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
Parallel versions from different Gospels in the New Testament. An interpretation is that it is a terrible thing to cause another believer to sin (break God’s law).
'flesh and blood'
Matthew 16:17 - And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:50 - I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Human beings are flesh and blood; we are mortal.
Matthew 17:20 - He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
'the blind leading the blind'
Luke 6:39-40 - He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
If we follow Jesus and his teachings, we should be more like him.
How was your year? Are you hoping the new one will be better?
God has promised to “make all things new” (Revelation 21 v 5). For over 2,000 years, Bible readers have been looking for the return of Jesus Christ to the Earth. Even in the early days after Jesus had ascended to his Father, the apostle Peter wrote, “They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’ “ (2 Peter 3 v4) Peter was right. Many people think that because it hasn’t happened so far, it will never happen.
To make this year an improvement on the last, we can do no better than to start reading the message God has caused to be written for us in the Bible. You can form your own opinion by reading it yourself.
The Bible is a big book but help is available. Take a look at the options below and elsewhere on our website.
Shepherds and Angels
What picture do these words put into your mind? Perhaps a group of children onstage, with tea towels on their heads and cardboard wings.
The reality was quite different. Grown men were cowering away from the brightness that had suddenly transformed the dark night. A voice at the centre of the light said, “Don’t be afraid”. But, of course, they were.
The return of Jesus will be awesome and terrifying, but it will be the start of something wonderful.
We will see things that seem unnatural and frightening, even if we were expecting them to happen. Bible prophecy tells us that the world will be a troubled place before Jesus appears, even worse than it was when the angel told the shepherds the good news of his birth.
But it is good news! Surely it is better to know about it now, so that we can look forward to the changes Jesus will make as King?
What's your five year plan?
Do you know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, next week, next year? We might know what we expect to be doing. But that’s the problem. Things don’t always go as we expect.
Jesus told a story about a man who had his future mapped out. He looked forward to making a lot of money and then enjoying many years of leisure. His plans were to “eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19). That’s where this popular phrase comes from!
Then came the punchline: that man was going to die that night. Jesus wanted people to understand that there is more to life than possessions.
Jesus knew his own future. He would die young in terrible circumstances. He had read Bible prophecies about what would happen to him. You’d think that would make him avoid the events that led up to his death. Instead, he tried to prepare his disciples for what lay ahead. “…we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spat upon. And after flogging him they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise”. (Luke 18:31-33). But they didn’t understand. They blocked it out and behaved as if he would always be there beside them.
We can try and hide from the future by keeping our heads down and occupying ourselves with everyday things. But if we care to look further at what Jesus taught, the rewards are amazing. We don’t need a five-year-plan to look forward to the Kingdom of God on earth.
All quotes from the ESV Bible
I'm sure you've caught yourself saying 'I need more time' or 'time is of the essence'. When the clocks change at the end of October, we 'gain' a whole hour! How do we spend that extra time gained - doing all those jobs we don't normally have time for? An extra hour in bed perhaps? Do you feel you've made the most of the extra hour?
We know from the global pandemic that we don't know what the future holds, not even tomorrow. The Bible agrees with this concept of taking one day at a time also. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
What will happen in the next hour? Day? Week? Month? Or even year? These thoughts can sometimes turn into worries or concerns for us.
But if we turn to the Bible, we are told in Matthew 6:31 - 34, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and our heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
If we put God first, and follow his teachings in the Bible, then we should have confidence that God will provide for us in times of both need and anxiety. It can even give us a 'purpose' for that extra hour in October.
All quotes from the ESV Bible
Don't you see?
Different people learn in different ways. Many of us need something visual to help us understand.
There was once a particular group of people who struggled to get what the teacher was saying, but he was a patient man. He realised that they needed to be shown.
We forgot the bread!
The disciples of Jesus had not taken enough bread with them for their journey. This worried them, but Jesus was teaching them something. “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?”, he asked. (Mark 8:18). Sometimes they forgot the amazing things he had shown them. He had fed 4,000 people from an impossibly limited resource and they had enjoyed a free meal. For many, that was all. They hadn’t really listened to his teaching and now his own disciples were behaving like that too. Jesus simply wanted them to focus on his message.
Do you see anything?
They reached a village and a blind man was brought to Jesus. He led him out of the village, spat on his eyes and laid his hands on him. “Do you see anything?”, he asked. “I can see a bit”, was the response. The figures he could see walking around looked more like trees than people. Jesus laid his hands on him again, and he could see clearly.
Why did Jesus do it like that? He could easily have healed him with one word or touch. “Having eyes do you not see…?” He was showing his disciples that it can take time to see clearly.
Don’t give up!
Jesus never gave up on his disciples when they were slow to learn, and he won’t give up on us either. Don’t be put off if the Bible seems complex. Like the disciples, we can learn if we persevere. It is the message God wants us to read, so that we can be ready for the things He has planned for the earth. Now that will be worth seeing!
All quotes from the ESV Bible
Can faith make you well?
The man was desperate. His only child lay dying. Hearing that a man who was able to heal all sorts of diseases was in town, he ran out of the house to find him. It wasn’t difficult – he was the one surrounded by crowds of people. Pushing his way to the centre, he begged him to help.
They were heading for his house when Jesus stopped. “Who touched me?”, he asked. His friends were amazed that he would ask that, when so many people were pushing to get close to him! Perhaps the sick child’s father felt even more anxious, “Hurry, hurry!” But Jesus was determined to identify the person who had touched him. Suddenly a woman stumbled out of the crowd, falling down on the ground in front of them. She’d had an embarrassing complaint, loss of blood that had plagued her for twelve years, and now she was explaining how she had been healed by touching the hem of the Jesus’ robe. Maybe the anxious father was desperate to get Jesus to his house, but maybe hearing this woman’s story gave him courage.
Jesus spoke kindly to the woman, “Your faith has made you well!”. Now they could continue on their way.
Luke chapter 8:40 – 56 tells us what happened. The child had actually died when Jesus got there, but he could still heal her. Soon the thankful parents were rejoicing to see their daughter alive and well.
No wonder the man, Jairus, was anxious. We don’t expect anyone to recover from death!
Jesus himself was betrayed and executed as a criminal. It broke the hearts of those who were close to him. They had seen him raise people from the dead, but now he had gone.
Yet he had told them this would happen. They hadn’t wanted to believe it. He had also told them that after 3 days he would rise from the dead – and it happened! Jairus’ daughter didn’t live forever after she was healed, but Jesus would not die again.
Jesus wasn’t just a healer. He taught people how they should live, and he promised that death would not be the end for those who lived by the word he spoke. There were those before the time of Jesus who understood that God was going to send a Saviour to the earth. Some of them are mentioned in the book of Hebrews. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised…” (Hebrews 11:13). The return of Jesus could happen at any time, but it won’t matter if we die first. Dying in faith means that God will remember us and we can be confident that Jesus will raise us from death when he comes. Our faith can make us well!
All quotes from the ESV Bible
Is Life Unfair?
There was a man who seemed to have everything. Then suddenly he lost it all. His wealth was taken from him, his children were killed in a freak accident and finally he was struck by a disfiguring skin disease. As he sat there, stunned and grief-stricken, his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” His reply was surprising: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
The man was called Job and we can find his book in the middle of the Old Testament of the Bible. His suffering continued for most of the book, with three of his friends supposedly coming to comfort him, but instead trying to work out what terrible thing he had done to merit such punishment.
Job knew he wasn’t faultless, but he also knew that he had been doing his best to be upright and blameless before God. His friends tried to guess what terrible things he might have done, and became increasingly frustrated by Job’s insistence that he had never done any of them. To them, bad things only happened to people who deserved it.
In your experience, is this true?
People speak of “karma”, the idea that events in our lives are directly related to our actions. The Bible doesn’t teach this. Our lives have ups and downs and some people seem to have more “downs” than others. We might wonder why some people enjoy life while others suffer.
Jesus explained to his disciples that those who make an outward show of being good people are getting it wrong. If somebody is kind and giving in secret, God sees. Those who are ostentatious about their giving “have received their reward” (Matthew ch 6:2). They need not expect any more, because they have chosen to reward themselves instead of waiting for God to do it.
A greater reward
Jesus taught about a much greater reward than anything we will receive in this life. What happens to us now is temporary. When the Lord Jesus returns and raises the dead, he will reward people according to God’s view of them. Not only can He see what we do, but why we do it.
Job went through a terrible time, but ultimately God rewarded him for his steadfastness, and his friends realised they had been wrong. His story is there to show us that God is “compassionate and merciful” (James ch 5:11).
All quotes from ESV Bible
All Bible quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible unless otherwise stated.