Thought for the Month


The war to end all wars

This month marks 100 years since the end of the first world war. We shall be reminded of the peace accord that was agreed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 and there is a special poignancy to Remembrance Sunday this year for it falls on Sunday 11th November.

Over 37 million people died in total and it was declared to be the war to end all wars by the president of the United States. The whole world agreed that such horrendous slaughter must never happen again.

Yet just 21 years later world war broke out again, over 60 million people lost their lives and a horrified group of nations met in America in October 1945 to form the United Nations in another attempt to stop a further catastrophic war. We should not be surprised to learn that this also has failed for every year over fifty state sponsored wars are recorded in the world.

History shows us that it is impossible for humankind to eradicate wars and the Bible explains why. The Letter of James tells us that wars and fighting come from within us. Nations, like individuals desire to have more and will go to any lengths to achieve their goals. Jesus himself warned of wars continuing after his ascension to heaven leading up to a time when nations will be so distressed that people’s hearts will fail for fear and there will apparently be no solution to the problem.

But God will provide one for at that time He will send Jesus back to earth to reign as king over the whole earth and bring world-wide peace. How will he do this? The Bible calls Jesus ‘king of righteousness and king of peace’ and the order of these words is important. Righteousness describes a process of being made right with God. Through Jesus our sins can be forgiven and, in that sense, we are made righteous now. But when Jesus returns, his disciples will  be changed to be like him and help bring the world into subjection to God. Only then will wars cease and everlasting peace fill the world.


Autumn and Harvest

October brings the autumn in full. Leaves in the trees are changing, and so is the weather. Days continue to get shorter and at the end of the month the clocks will change. October is also a time of harvest. Throughout the country the fruits of the summer have been collected and fields ploughed ready for next planting.

Harvest time is traditionally a celebration of the produce – a time to thank God for the growth of crops over the seasons.

The Bible includes many references to harvest and planting. Marking the harvest can be seen as early as in Exodus 23, the Feast of the Harvest and the Feast of Ingathering, after the crop has been gathered in. In addition to the harvest of crops and the fruitfulness of the ground, the Bible also talks about spiritual fruit. The natural processes were created to show and teach us about spiritual ideas.

 

For us to be ‘fruitful’ harvest we must learn and grow in God’s truth. How can we tell fruitfulness? At harvest time the yields are obvious – a quantity and quality of fruit is produced and can be measured. Galatians 5 tells us about the fruits of the spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.

How can we have such a fruitful harvest? Galatians 5 continues:

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires”.

Much like farming this requires hard and ongoing work; if we do nothing, nothing will grow!

 

1 Corinthians 3 tells us that it is not the planter or the one who waters a plant who give the increase; it is God who gives the increase. This applies to both the physical produce from the ground, and the spiritual fruits we can bear. With this in mind, as we see the turn of the seasons and think of the harvest we thank God for the fruit of the harvest and we work to be fruitful ourselves.


Addiction

Recently I suffered with a trapped nerve in my back. The pain was intense and visits to the doctor brought nothing but increasingly strong pain relief tablets. I very quickly realised that one type turned me into a zombie, unable to think or function in a normal way and a little bit of research showed me that this was quite common. Indeed there were people who took the same drug daily to help them get through life and, as an opiate, it can be addictive.

More recently we had a talk at church from a doctor who specialises in treating drug users, helping them to kick the habit. We realised that this was a life’s work and that it took an incredible amount of expertise, compassion and patience dealing with people who were often extremely unattractive because of their drug fuelled lifestyles. And, by a strange coincidence, in the previous week the news had been full of drug related problems – cocaine as the recreational drug of choice at middle class dinner parties, the spice epidemic in Manchester, turning people into zombies, drugs now available for ordering by mobile phone and then delivered to your door. Drug addiction is a terrible, life destroying thing.

But when we turn to the Bible we find an addiction problem far worse than anything any known drug can produce. It is a 100% killer, once taken you are completely hooked and can never give it up. It has infected everyone in the whole world except for one man.

It is of course sin and the Bible talks about it in this way, as something highly addictive with terrible consequences for the wages of sin is death and everyone dies because we have all sinned.

The Apostle Paul, one of the greatest disciples of Jesus who ever lived, was distraught about its effect on his own life. He wrote ‘I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Because of sin that dwells within me’.

The Bible also tells us why it is so addictive as it describes it as ‘the pleasures of sin’. We can understand this, we all enjoy doing what we want, what pleases our egos and satisfies our desires.

Fortunately the Bible offers a solution involving the greatest doctor who ever lived. The Lord Jesus Christ, the only sinless man who ever lived died on the cross that our sins might be forgiven and our addiction cured. His promise is that, through God’s grace, our mortal, dying lives might be changed miraculously into immortal perfect and sin free ones when he returns to set up his kingdom If we believe in him, when he comes we shall be changed to be like him.

Here is a doctor worth visiting, one who has a complete understanding of our addiction and can cure it through his healing touch. Why not book a consultation?


Holidays

August is the time of year when many people anticipate taking a holiday. It’s the time when school children have their extended summer break and families are free to travel away from home and spend some time enjoying new places and fresh experiences.

 

The origin of the word ‘holiday’ comes from the time when breaks from the daily routine were tied to the church calendar, so Easter, Pentecost and Christmas were particular times when most people had one or two days off to have a rest and remember events in the past that were fundamental to their Christian beliefs. So ‘holiday’ in this context comes from the idea of a ‘Holy Day’.

 

The idea of ‘Holy Days’ has a long history. In the Bible, the nation of Israel were instructed by God to hold a number of ‘Feast Days’ at special times in their yearly calendar. While these ‘days off’ would have been welcome breaks for the working people, they also had a special significance in teaching the people about the way of salvation being offered to them by God.

 

A few examples illustrate this:

 

  • The first ‘Feast’ of the year was ‘Passover’, held on the 14th day of the 1st month of the Jewish calendar (the Christian ‘Easter’ is synchronised with this, which is why it moves about each year). This feast commemorates the rescue of the nation from slavery in Egypt and the start of their journey to the ‘Promised Land’. A lamb died as a sacrifice to deliver them from slavery, and in the New Testament, Jesus died at Passover to release us from slavery to sin.
  • The sixth ‘Feast’ was the ‘Day of Atonement’ (Yom Kippur in Hebrew). This was a day when special rituals were performed to symbolise the release of the nation and the people from their past sins. But it also looks forward, in the Christian context, to the day when Jesus will return to finally remove all sin.
  • And the seventh ‘Feast’ was that of ‘Tabernacles’, when the Jews built little shelters outside their homes to lived outside together, worshipping God. This looks forward to the time when God’s Kingdom will be established on the earth and all will live together in harmony and worship God their creator.

 

Thus, each year, as they celebrated their feasts, the Jews were reminded that God has a plan for mankind and that there is a great hope to look forward to for those who are faithful to Him, when the troubles of this life will be replaced with the peace and harmony of life in God’s Kingdom.

 

For more information about the Jewish feasts and their Christian context, see a video on the subject at:


Unusual Weather!

Yorkshire is having the best summer for many years, hot sunny days follow one after another. But gardeners and farmers are looking anxiously at the sky looking for signs of rain which flowers, vegetable and grains desperately need. Rain is essential for plant growth upon which our food supply depends.

We can admire the dramatic graphics of the weather forecasters but do they really explain why the weather is as it is?

The Bible teaches that God is in control of all things including the weather.  Eliphaz in the book of Job says “He (God performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted ….He bestows rain on the earth,. He sends water upon the countryside” (Job 5:9-10) Elihu also in Job describes the rain cycle which results in “abundant showers that fall on mankind”

Of course sometimes we see the consequences of too much rain, floods, houseswashed away and crops ruined.  So we may wonder what is God up to.

The Bible is quite clear that God manages all things so we have to accept with grace what God sends. Job says “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the Lord be praised” (Job 1) so whatever the weather we can have total confidence that God is in control. Putting our total trust in God can change our attitude to life, we don’t need to worry God will send rain and sunshine in sufficient balanced quantities.

But God’s control is not limited to the present.  He has promised to create a new heaven and a new earth.. the sound of weeping will be heard no more (Isaiah 55) This will be when Jesus will  rule in righteousness and at that time the weather will be perfect every day!