Memorising Scripture

I follow Nathan Kitchen’s excellent blog, Bible Snippets. A little while ago he posted about the value of memorising parts of the Bible and shared a YouTube video of Ryan Ferguson reciting a section from Hebrews. I had learnt whole chapters before – Isaiah 35, Isaiah 53 and a couple of Psalms – but couldn’t remember them very well now. Nathan’s post rekindled my interest in attempting to learn some more.

The following Sunday we were reading from 1 Corinthians 15. It is a very powerful chapter about the importance of resurrection from the dead. Without it, what hope do we have? (v12-19) If, however, Christ was raised from the dead, we can be too (v20-24).

It is a reasonably long chapter, 58 verses in all, but I decided I would try to learn it. I cannot recommend it highly enough:

  • I noticed things about the chapter that I had never seen before. This deepens my appreciation both of the chapter and the Bible in general.
  • I have always loved the logical flow of the chapter, but I came to feel the emotion of it as well. Without any resurrection our faith is vain…embrace the resurrection and “thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • Parts of the chapter spring to mind when reading other parts of the Bible, helping me to see the Bible explaining itself.
  • I can read through the chapter without having a Bible to hand e.g. driving to and from work.

A few practical points. I’m no memory expert, but this has worked for me so far:

  • I found it much easier than I was expecting to. It looked like a mighty lot of text to learn to begin with, but I think it is easy to underestimate our own memories.
  • Split the chapter into manageable chunks. Read each section and try to understand what those verses are telling you and put them into their context in the chapter. This is a valuable exercise in itself, but learning the overall structure of the chapter helped me to remember each individual section.
  • Say it like you mean it. I pace around the living room waving my arms. Putting expression and emotion into what you are saying helps you to remember it.
  • Learn a little at a time. Repeat often.

Now I would remind you, brother and sisters, of the gospel which I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved…

Noah

“Noah” came out in the cinema on Friday. How true to life it is, we don’t know but what we do know about Noah is what God tells us in the Bible.ark

Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations and he walked with God. He lived in a time when the earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence. God looked upon the earth and saw that mankind had broken the commandments of God. God wanted to save those who followed His way and destroy the violence and wickedness. Noah was told to make an ark to His specifications in order to fit both people and animals. God told Noah to come into the ark with his household because he was righteous before God of all in his generation. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights and all living things that He had made were destroyed from off the face of the earth. At this stage, they had never seen rain in this form as a mist went up from the ground in order to water the earth. God’s desire was not to destroy the earth but for it to be fruitful and multiply. Noah and his family went out of the ark and re-populated the earth. God has promised that He will never flood the earth again and gave the rainbow as the sign of his promise. Noah had to build the ark in order to demonstrate his faith. God also calls us to demonstrate our faith through baptism and He will do the rest.

In the New Testament of the Bible, God tells us that the ancient world (in the time of Noah) was judged by water (see 2 Peter 2:5). However, we are also told that God patiently waited in the days of Noah and that the water which destroyed the wicked also brought salvation to the God-fearing. The saving of Noah and his household in the ark prefigures baptism, which now saves YOU – “not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

Water was used as a judgment on the earth, but water will also save us if we believe and are baptised. Do we see resemblance between the world Noah lived in and the world we live in?

“But as the days of Noah were so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39

The world today is in the same state of corruption as it was in the days of Noah, which tells us that Jesus will be coming soon. Turn away from walking in the darkness, seek after righteousness and come into the ark!

How I Came to Know God: Julie

I grew up without a faith in God but can remember times when I felt desperate and, not even sure if He was there, praying to God for help. After finding that He would answer my prayers without fail, I decided that if God was really there, it was up to me to find out more about Him and that’s when I first began going to the Christadelphian church.

I came to realise that in every detail of my life, God had been gently guiding me towards Juliedeveloping a relationship with Him. Every low point, every time I felt like a failure, He was giving me the strength I needed, and showing me that nothing in this life can compare to the love he gives in His Son.

And so I have found that I can have joy even when life is rough, I can have freedom from the sin that damages me and I can have hope in the future when all tears will be wiped away and peace will rule in our hearts.

I thank God every day for the changes He has made in me, for the opportunity He gave me all those years ago to become part of His family, for calling me into a bigger story than the one I would have written for myself.

God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21v4

“He did not create it empty, He formed it to be inhabited”

Today saw the start of our new series for Sunday mornings. Between now and the end of May we are going to be looking at God at work through the key events and main characters in the book of Genesis. See Adult Bible Learning for details of the programme.

We’ve started at the beginning. The very beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1v1)

Sun over the Earth

How did God create the earth?

Despite those opening words, the Bible doesn’t actually tell us very much about how God created the earth. Genesis 1 isn’t designed to be a scientific account of the formation of all the breathtaking biodiversity we see around us.

Rather, the creative process is described as being split over six days, two sets of three. Days 4 – 6 correspond with days 1 – 3 and see God populating each separate part of the creation:

  • The light of day 1 is populated by the sun, moon and stars of day 4.
  • The waters either side of the expanse (day 2) are populated by the sea creatures and birds of day 5.
  • The dry land of day 3 is populated with the animals and humans of day 6.

The theme through the chapter culminates with God’s instruction to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over every living thing that moves on earth.” Genesis 1v28 (ESV)

This starts to answer the more important question:

Why did God create the earth?

God loves diversity and beauty and the things that He has made demonstrate His power and glory – “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” (Psalm 19v1 ESV)

The heavens and earth declare God’s glory by performing the purpose for which He designed them. The sun and moon never fail to rise and set, Summer and Winter come and go each year (Genesis 8v22).

We can give glory to God by performing the mission He gave to us: to fill this world with people made in the likeness of God (Genesis 1v26), taking responsibility for the things that God has put in our care.

The Bible commences with a planet that is dark and empty. God wants it to be filled with light and beautiful things that reflect His glory.

Thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other….Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.” Isaiah 45v18, 22 (ESV)

What does it mean to be in the likeness of God? Want to know more about the mission statement?

Want to read through Genesis with us? Great, you know where to find us.

Conclusion of Mark’s Gospel

Yesterday we finished reading through the gospel of Mark in our Adult Bible Reading class. The gospel concludes with the astonishing discovery that Christ’s tomb is empty.

You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Mark 16 v 6-7 (ESV)

The empty tomb and the reality of Christ’s resurrection from the dead revolutionised the lives of his disciples in the 1st Century AD.  It still has the power to do the same for us.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6 v 3-4 (ESV)

What does the Bible mean by being “baptised into Christ Jesus”? What does walking in “newness of life” look like? Drop us a line or pay us a visit on a Sunday morning and learn with us.

Hebrews 11: Something Better for Us

Hebrews 11 is one of the chapters for today in the Bible reading plan that many Christadelphians follow. It is often called “the faith chapter” and is full of examples of men and women of faith from the Old Testament.More than that, it records how their faith motivated to do something.

Wordle.net is a fantastic site for creating a visual representation of text. The more times a word occurs in the text the larger it is in the wordle. This is Hebrews 11 from the English Standard Version.

hebrews 11

The writer of the letter explains that he would love to spend a lot more time writing about the examples of Bible characters but time constrains him. Also, he wants to emphasise that great as these men and women were, they are dead and buried, still waiting for the reward that God is going to give them.

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11v39-40

Want to learn more about the “something better for us”? Me too. Get in touch and come and read the Bible with us.

“One Thousand Gifts”

“How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?”

The first sin committed by Adam and Eve was, in part, one of ingratitude. They had been provided for by God in every way, and yet they still wanted the one thing that had been forbidden. What about us? Do we sometimes get so fixated on the things that we don’t have, that we fail to open our eyes to all the gifts that our Heavenly Father showers upon us every day?

The antidote to ingratitude in “eucharisteo” – to express gratitude. This was something that Jesus did frequently and something that God calls us to do as well.

“…Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5v20

The danger is that slapping a careless brush of thankfulness over everything in our lives can leave us deeply thankful for actually very few things. So, here’s the challenge: can you write a list of “one thousand gifts”? This is how my list starts:

  1. The sound of rain falling on the roof
  2. Thick carpets of autumn leaves
  3. Listening to the birds singing
  4. Bright sunshine on cold morning

It’s a dare to live fully, right where you are!

“One Thousand Gifts” is a book by Ann Voskamp

“A New Earth”

You think the world is unfair?  The strong get rich and the weak stay poor?  Everyone is on the make?  Big business will rip you off if it can get away with it?  Government is in the pocket of the fat cats?

Things don’t change. Over 2,500 years ago the prophet Isaiah speaking to his rulers and community says:-

Cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV)

The writings of Isaiah are just one of the treasures found in the Bible. His writings spring from a time of national difficulty and a miraculous deliverance from what seemed like an unstoppable external threat. Isaiah’s teaching bears witness to the failure of his people to seize the opportunity to create a better society after their danger had passed. Sound familiar?!

But Isaiah speaks the words of the one God. And the message is that God himself will transform society:-

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 40:4-5, ESV)

europe_from_spaceOf course it’s not really about valleys and mountains. It’s about the poor and the rich; an equal and fair society that transcends today’s political borders. It’s so different; so much better than man-made society that Isaiah calls it “new heavens and a new earth”. That’s the world God promises. That’s the world we’re praying for.

Good News: Jesus IS King!

Wednesday 7th – Saturday 10th August

We are holding lots of activities to share the good news that Jesus IS King. This is one of the central themes of the Bible and we would love to share it with you. The Bible tells us how Jesus will reign over the whole world when God establishes jesus_is_king_logoHis Kingdom on this earth. This good news isn’t just hope for a future time though.

Let us show you how Jesus is King over his people now, the relevance this has today and how it affects the way we live our everyday lives.

We are going to be in Walsall Arboretum, with puppet shows, introductory Bible talks, nature walks, cakes and drinks, face painting, crafts, live music and more… 10am – 4pm, Wednesday 7th – Friday 9th.

There will be Bible talks, “Introducing Jesus” and “ The Jesus I Never Knew”. These will give opportunity to begin exploring Bible teaching about this intriguing man and getting to know the real Jesus. The talks will be held in the Walsall Campus of Wolverhampton University. 7:30pm Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th.

Meanwhile, we are arranging a Holiday Club for children. 2 fun packed days of painting, sculpting, singing, acting, laughing, running, jumping, creating, listening, talking, reading, learning – in fact, the only thing we’re not doing is sleeping! The club will be held at the Walsall Deaf Centre, Lichfield Road. 10am – 3pm, Thursday 8th and Friday 9th.

The evening of Friday 9th, 6:30 – 7:30pm will see our Jesus IS King concert. We will be sharing the good news that Jesus is King through songs and Bible verses at the Arboretum Bandstand.

The morning after, Saturday 10, 11am – 12pm we will be back in the arboretum for a traditional fete with games and side shows.

We’d love to meet you at any of the events that we have planned.

How I came to Know God: James

I suppose I “knew” God from an early age. I belong to a family where both my parents are Christadelphians, as were all of my grandparents and most of my great grandparents. I went to Sunday School and we regularly read the Bible together at home.

I learnt a lot about Bible characters, their different stories and the teachings of Jesus. Growing up, I think I took it for granted that God exists, that the Bible is God’s Word and that it is literally true – Noah did build an ark, the Red Sea did part, Jesus did rise from the dead.

Through my teens I realised I would have to decide whether I believed these things or not for myself. Believing the Bible just because I’d been taught to do so when I was young wasn’t going to be good enough anymore.

Christadelphians don’t baptise children – that has to be a personal commitment which you make for yourself.

If anything, the thought of joining the church simply because most of my family had before me, made me delay the decision. If I was going to be baptised I wanted it to be for the right reasons and I wanted to be serious about the commitment I was making.

I was finishing my A levels. I’d applied to universities but didn’t really want to go. I’d deferred my entry in order to take a gap year but didn’t know what to do. Life was changing around me and I didn’t know where I was heading.

I realised that one consistent thing had been the Bible. I appreciated the same passages in new ways. I listened to familiar teachings for the first time. I started to get to know God.

I was baptised and I’ve been getting to know God ever since.