I CAN’T REMEMBER where Sylvester came from except that it was somewhere in the north of Kenya. This I do know, he’d had a long and arduous journey: setting out very early in the morning, mostly on foot with a stretch on the back of a pickup truck. At last he reached the small village where the Bible School was to be held. As I stood up to teach I noticed Sylvester on the front row—smartly dressed as though he’d just walked out of a dressing room, and keen to listen. We learned later that this was his first visit to a Christadelphian meeting of any kind. His sole previous contact with us was with an English lady who had used correspondence courses and letters to help give him a good understanding of what the Bible teaches. I was talking about the book of Revelation, and he was engrossed. He
IT IS HEART-RENDING when a couple cannot have a baby. And the older couples get, the harder it becomes. Desperate would-be parents go to all sorts of lengths to try to conceive. In some cases worried friends fear that they are trusting in the impossible: hoping against hope. Centuries ago, Abraham and Sarah faced a similar plight. On several occasions God had promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great multitude of people (for example Genesis 13:14–16, 15:5–6, 17:4–6). But Abraham’s wife Sarah was infertile (Genesis 11:30). Worse still, they both grew old—very old. Abraham was 99 years old, and Sarah was 90 and way past child-bearing age. But once again, God promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son: I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son (Genesis 18:10). This defied any ‘natural’ logic, all the
A PROMINENT MEDICAL professor claims that the reason why there is so much unhappiness in the modern world is that we have confused happiness with pleasure.* We have persuaded ourselves that when we buy products and experiences that give us pleasure, they will make us happy. And so most of the world’s economies are based on the promotion of pleasure, from tobacco to fast food to mobile phones and countless other commodities which promise to make us happy. But they do not deliver—it’s a scientifically proven fact. The professor suggests four basic ingredients as a recipe for happiness: Connect—foster real life interpersonal relationships Contribute—give rather than take Cope—adopt a sustainable lifestyle, with adequate sleep and exercise and reduce stress to a manageable level Cook—prepare proper unprocessed food with natural ingredients. Few would argue with this recipe. But here’s another ingredient which the professor overlooked—Faith. Faith is a way of life.
THE PROPHET ELIJAH had a very important role to play in the purpose of God. He was involved in great spiritual victories and possessed many godly qualities which are an example for us. However, he was not perfect, he was just like us: ‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours’ (James 5:17). There was a time when Elijah reached a point of loneliness and despair in his life. He felt that his life was no longer worth living. In order to help him through, God gave him a powerful, hard- hitting lesson. There are no doubt times in our lives when Elijah’s desperate cries of ‘I, even I only, am left’ resonate with how we are feeling. Thankfully, the chastening lesson which God taught Elijah has been left on record for us to learn too. Spiritual Victory The great spiritual victory for which Elijah is famous is the
AN EMINENT PSYCHOLOGIST has promoted the idea that people have a hierarchy of needs. By this he means that some human needs are basic to existence, and take precedence over everything else. Others are less vital, and only begin to be important to a person when they have satisfied the basic ones. One of the most fundamental needs of all, he said, is food. He pointed out that a starving person will steal, fight, and even kill to satisfy his hunger, overcoming all his normal, civilized restraints. Hunger Strikes! Well, the people of Israel began to go hungry, six weeks after leaving Egypt. The euphoria of the escape from slavery had worn off, and many miles of footslogging across a bleached, sterile wilderness had tried their patience. Now a serious threat hung over them. The supplies of grain and dried food they had brought with them from Egypt were dwindling
HAS IT EVER struck you as odd? God has an urgent message for us, and He has infinite power at His disposal. He could have taken over the world’s TV channels, or written in the sky, or sent out angels with loudhailers. But instead He chooses to communicate by means of an old book. The cynic might turn the question round, and suggest that if God really did want to communicate with us He would use some other means. But this would be to miss the point of what the Bible is. It is not just an old book. What God wants from us is faith. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6). History shows that overt displays of God’s power do not produce faith. For Example…
LOTS OF US are kind of broken. We’ve been through things in our lives we’d rather forget. If I was a car, I’d be the one with the scratched and dented bodywork and some trouble starting up. For people like us, there are words of Jesus which will come like music to our ears: “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavour, how shall it be seasoned?” (Luke 14:34). For other people, the ones with pristine bodywork and an engine that starts first time, this might go straight over their heads. If they are paying attention, they may simply think: “If salt has lost its flavour you’d just throw it out, wouldn’t you?” But it was those whose lives had lost their sheen to whom Jesus spoke: “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to him to hear him” (Luke 15:1). It’s obvious, isn’t
WE KNOW VERY LITTLE about his early life, but much about his later life. He is revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians. The Jews trace their ancestry back to Abraham and regard him as their father. We first meet him in Genesis 11:28 as Abram (before his name was changed). He was a rich man living in Ur, a city in modern Iraq. Archaeologists inform us that the inhabitants of Ur were advanced and sophisticated. Abram would be schooled in mathematics and astronomy, and he would have lived in a comfortable brickbuilt house. If he was a merchant he would have possessed his own private army to protect his business interests. His family worshipped the gods of Ur, but Abram and his wife Sarai appear to have been different, worshipping the true God. The Promises In Genesis 12:1 we see God’s call to Abram to leave his life in Ur