Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Imagine if someone knew all your thoughts?



Valantin Saljah - Unsplash 



Kevin Turcios - Unsplash 

We all have times in our lives when we feel that we are just cannot get it right. We all know the feeling of failure and not knowing quite what to do next. Maybe we even know what it is like to take the blame for something that we meant to do for good. Life is often frustrating. It is possible that we wish that people knew the truth about certain things or that they would understand the motives that we had for doing them.
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Sunday, October 18, 2020

I’ve only just a minute!


Photograph - Jon Tyson - Unsplash 

Photograph - Malvestida Magazine - Unsplash



Photograph - Maks Styazhkin - Unsplash 

A lot can change in a minute. We all know the cliches about a week being a long time (in politics) and a lot can happen in a day but the truth is that life can change completely in less than a minute. 

For instance if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time something could happen that you never envisaged and it changes everything. I’ll never forget when eleven year old Rhys Jones from Liverpool was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He lived in a respectable home in a decent area of the city. His mum worked in our local Tesco Store and he was just an ordinary boy enjoying life, loving his football and playing out, as boys do. But on that sad day he died in the crossfire between two rival gangs. But on the 22nd of August 2007 everything changed in a moment. His life was ended, his parents and family were devastated and his blood was on the hands of the young man who pulled the trigger and those who were involved in providing the weapon. 
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Friday, October 16, 2020

Here today, and gone tomorrow!


    Photo by Ethan McArthur on Unsplash


    Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash


    Photo by Emiel Molenaar on Unsplash

With the speed and facility of modern travel it is possible to have breakfast in the UK and tea in the USA. In travel terms the world has shrunk and this has opened up a whole new vista on holiday destinations with many companies specialising in long haul flights to exotic and distant locations. Travellers are less restricted in their choice and even the most remote places have become accessible, so you can be here today and almost anywhere on earth tomorrow. Maybe, even now as you read this article, you have read the brochures, planned your summer holiday and then wondered if it would ever happen in a COVID infested world.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Lessons in managing your income!





Picture courtesy of Unsplash - Damir Spanic



Picture courtesy of Unsplash - Nathan Dumlao 



Picture courtesy of Unsplash - Aron Visuals 

Imagine that there is a bank which credits your account with £86,400 every morning, every day. It carries no credit over from day to day. At the end of the day anything you fail to use in the day is wiped out and the following day you receive another £86,400.

What would you do?

It goes without saying that you would draw out every penny and use it. Only a fool would throw away such a resource. Surprisingly, every one of us has such a bank. Its name is ‘time’.
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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Who would you like to spend a day with?



Think about the things we do everyday—go to work, spend time with our family, eat, or maybe watch TV. Whether it’s helping others or getting rest, we find value in all of these things. But do we see value in spending time with our Creator? God created us to spend time with Him. By doing so, we are honouring Him, helping others, and getting spiritual rest and peace.

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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Loneliness - a side effect of the COVID crisis




Provided courtesy of Unsplash - Keegan Houser

Provided courtesy of Unsplash - Lucrezia Carnelos 

Provided courtesy of Unsplash - Ann Humphries 


I read this comment in the ‘The Guardian’ newspaper a while ago - ‘The  dilemma, I’m 22 years old and going into my fourth year in medical school. I have been using  study to escape loneliness, insecurity and anxiety that arose from the stress of the course and my failure to establish friends’.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2020

World War 2 Artefacts







All pictures courtesy of Unsplash 

As a young boy, I was always fascinated by a few artefacts from World War II that were dotted around my grandparents’ house. These included large brass shells that had been polished and transformed into umbrella stands, some wooden boxes, an old army belt and an actual incendiary bomb that had been made safe.

I was always fascinated by history and would ask my grandfather to tell me stories from his experiences during the war. Even as a young boy I recognised that he had told me stories reluctantly and that these stories had been somewhat sanitised for my hearing.

My grandfather believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. As a Christian, at the outbreak of World War II, he didn’t want to fight and possibly be taking the lives of enemy soldiers and in effect ushering them into eternity, which they may not have been prepared for. He believed, as the Bible teaches that there are two eternal destinations, Heaven for those that accept God’s forgiveness and Hell for those who refuse the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

To avoid being put into this position, he decided to join up early so that he would have a choice where he served. He chose to join the Medical Corp, so that he wouldn’t have to carry arms. 

One of the first jobs he was given to do was just outside Bristol on the Downs. As the bombers flew over from Germany to bomb Bristol, they would send the first wave to drop incendiary devices to light the way, pointing out the targets to the second wave of bombers. He along with a few others were asked to light fires on the Downs to deflect the bombers away from the city, thus saving lives. Obviously, he with his comrades were in great danger. They had to dive into a bunker pulling sandbags over the door while bombs dropped around them.

My grandfather served as part of the Medical Corp in many areas, such as North Africa and Italy, he received many medals for bravery. He did this not carrying guns, but stretchers, pulling many soldiers from the battlefield. His faith in Jesus Christ had taught him to show love to those who had not shown love to him. In fact, he knew that our sin had made us enemies of God. God was not our enemy, we were His!

How did God react to our hostility? Did He treat us as an enemy?  No not at all, the Bible says that while we were still sinners, doing the very thing that God hates… Christ died for us.

Another Christian relative of mine found himself guarding a German war hero, this man had been awarded an Iron Cross by his country for bravery. Some of the other guards treated him badly, but my relative showed him kindness. As a result, he reacted with gratitude and cut a part of the ribbon from his Iron Cross and gave it to him.

God’s love is immense! Jesus Christ died taking the punishment that we deserved.  He expects us to react with gratitude, trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and allowing Him to lead in our lives.

In the box among my grandfather’s medals is the piece of ribbon that was given, it obviously had great significance to those involved.

When we read the Bible and think of how much God has loved us, how do we react? Do we reject Him or do we worship Him and trust in Him for what Jesus Christ has done on the cross for us?

Messages with Meaning written by Stuart Scammell for 542day and published with permission
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Friday, October 02, 2020

Forgiveness - how far does it reach?








All photos courtesy of Unsplash

One day Jesus told a story comparing the kingdom of heaven to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants by calling in all his debts.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10,000 talents was brought to Him. In those days that was a considerable chunk of money, the equivalent of about £20 million. We’re not sure exactly how he ran up this kind of debt but it’s clear that he would never be able to repay the king.  So since he couldn’t pay the debt, the king ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had, had to be sold to repay the debt.” The king knew he could never recoup all his losses - he just wanted to get back whatever he could.

At this point, the servant did what most of us would have done. He fell on his knees and said, “Be patient with me, and I will pay back everything.” Even though he could never pay it back, he is now desperate. He cannot stand the thought of his family being sold because of the debt he ran up.  The king was moved. The Bible says that he was filled with compassion. And, he does something the man does not even ask for. The king not only releases him, he also forgives the debt. This is at great personal cost to the king. By assuming the debt, he allowed it to go unpaid and thus impoverished his treasury. He wiped the slate clean, erased the books, and cancelled the debt. Now the man owed him nothing.   

This is exactly what forgiveness is all about. To forgive is to cancel the debt. When we’ve wronged someone, and they choose to forgive us, they are in essence saying, “I cancel the debt. The slate has been wiped clean. You do not owe me anything - I release you from ever having to pay me back.” Now it is quite clear that the servant did not deserve this forgiveness; it was purely an act of grace and mercy on the part of the king. 

We are a lot like the man in the story that Jesus told. We stand before a holy God with our sins piled up higher than Mount Everest.  Our sins are like a £20 million debt that we can never repay. And yet, out of compassion for our moral predicament, and motivated by His love and grace, God sent His Son Jesus to pay off our spiritual debts.

We all need Divine forgiveness today.  We need to come face to face with God, own our sin, and then asked Him for release? We need to do it, if we have not already done so - forgiveness is our deepest need and God’s highest achievement. Admitting our sins to a holy God is the way to receive His forgiveness? If we have not done so, now is the right time. The cost of our sins is more than we can pay, but the gift of our God is more than we can imagine. 

Repentance is the key to being forgiven.  In the Bible book of Proverbs we learn that “he that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy." If we can confess it, we  can be forgiven of it! It does not matter what we have done, if we turn to God and confess our sins, He will forgive us of ALL unrighteousness... that includes anything we have done, that we are willing to bring before Him! So remember today, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."

Produced by Messages with Meaning and published by 542day - with permission
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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Rushing about - a busy life!









Sometimes there is just not enough time to do everything. Sometimes we spend time, trying to use our timesaving gadgets to create time, if they don’t work we have wasted our time and had a frustrating time and we end up losing time. We take a very long time trying to get everything done in time. Then we hope to be back in time for a relaxing or good time with the family (family time.  Time impacts on nearly every aspect of our lives. Why is it so precious?
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Sunday, September 27, 2020

The story of the Faithful Hound








Today, I’d like to make all dog lovers happy by sharing the story of Gelert the Dog with you. It’s a classic Welsh tale of one man and his dog but the man involved is Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, no less.

So, Gelert is a legendary dog closely associated with the village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. Beddgelert literally translates as Gelert’s Grave and Gelert’s story is a variation on the “Faithful Hound” folk-tale motif. If you like, Gelert is Wales’ answer to Lassie.
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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Running away from God



Photo courtesy of Unsplash - Nicolas Picard

Photo courtesy of Unsplash - Simone Nespolo

Photo courtesy of Unsplash - Richard Loader

Have you ever felt that somehow God is speaking to you?

Maybe you have look around at the at the wonder of His creation. Maybe you were looking out over a panoramic view over mountains and lakes, saw the way a spider spins its web, a caterpillar moves or even the intricate insides of a delicate flower. Different things impress different people. For David the psalmist it was the magnificence of looking up into the heavens and gazing at the stars, it caused him to declare in Psalm 19, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God!’

God’s creation tells us of His very existence, God shouts out to us through His ‘handiwork’. In fact, Romans chapter one tells us that we can’t just remain undecided as to whether there is a God. We lie to ourselves if we say there is no God and God Himself says that this would be foolish.  It states that, ‘since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.’ So, God speaks to us through what He has made, He tells us that He is there. He speaks to us in different ways too. The Bible is often called God’s word. It is the very words of God, His messages, His instructions for us. Stop and think for a minute, if the Bible is what it says it is, God speaks to us every time we read the Bible.
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Friday, September 25, 2020

Digital Storage - will it survive?















In a day when many people carry at least two cameras with them wherever they go in the form of a forward and a rearward facing camera on their smartphone, we might hardly know that first digital camera was only invented in 1975. The first camera phone went on sale as recently as the year 2000 but that was only capable of photographs with a resolution of just over a 10th of a megapixel. 

Some people have concerns that due to the pace of advancement in technology, information stored digitally could be lost altogether resulting in a digital black hole. Who knows where we might be in terms of data storage in just 100 years time. I’m about old enough to remember CD’s overtaking cassette tapes in the 90’s but I’m sure that some will be able to go further back than that.

For hundreds of years, British law has been written and stored on a special kind of paper called vellum which is made from calf or goat skin. The preparation of this parchment is a laborious task involving a number of steps. Carefully selected skins are first soaked in lime and then salted for storage purposes. This allows the hair to be removed before stretching the skin in a wooden frame to be scraped with knives that clean and smooth the surface. Finally the skin is dried before being cut out and ready to write on.

Although the finished parchment is more expensive than ordinary archive paper, one of the reasons that vellum is used is simply that it lasts for such a long time. Even if it were stored in an ordinary cupboard it still doesn’t deteriorate. A good example of this are the original copies of the Magna Carta, signed in 1215 and the even older Domesday book of 1086, which are still in existence. A big question remains as to whether digital storage will stand the same test of time despite digital archives now be considered more suitable and convenient for use,.

God’s law, the 10 commandments, were written originally on two tablets of stone. We might have thought that they would have kept well, but the first two tables lasted only a little longer than the keeping of the commandments which were written on them. Having heard the words of God that were written in a book, the people said that they would do all that the Lord had commanded them. Moses then went up Mount Sinai where God gave to him the two tables of stone but before Moses had even returned to the bottom of of the mountain, he could see that the people had already broken the law, Moses threw down the tables, breaking them into pieces at the foot of the mountain and two more had to be prepared.

God’s standards are perfect. The problem was that the people were not, and couldn’t reach the very high standard his law demanded, and neither can we. Thankfully, God always intended the old order of ceremony and ritual to be replaced. This was made possible by the Son of God who came into the world. The Lord Jesus is the only perfect man ever to have lived, and He came to pay the penalty of death that sin demanded so that we might be delivered from its consequences. Having done so, the old order was surpassed and a new way was made possible for people to please God.

People who recognise their own failure before God can be made anew and enjoy the benefits of the new way He’s made possible by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. To those ‘believers’, God’s law isn’t written with ink on vellum or paper, but it’s lived by the power of the Spirit of God living within us. It’s not a law written on tables of stone, but within the heart which has a true desire to be obedient to God.

As to the record of the names of those who have once trusted the Lord Jesus, the archives are kept eternally secure in the vaults of heaven where neither technological advancement can make it obsolete nor time can decay. Mine’s there, is yours?

Written by Tom Merriman for ‘Messages with Meaning’ and produced by Your542day
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Sunday, September 20, 2020

What does true love look like?









Love is a wonderful aspect of human life. Someone once wrote that ‘love makes the world go round’ and the Beatles insisted that ‘all we need is love’. There are many kinds of love and they reveal the caring side of human nature. The love between spouses is close and intimate, the love between parents and children is very special and the love and care which friends show towards each other is to be treasured. Indeed the Bible says that ‘if I have no love, this does me no good’ and the greatest love was shown by God.

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Common Sense - is it common?















All pictures courtesy of Unsplash

Have you ever noticed today that ‘common sense’ isn't too common? Many people just do not realise that ‘common sense’ is the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions. It is sound, prudent judgment based on simple perception of the facts or situations. Today we can buy a diploma and a great education - but all wisdom begins with God. Proverbs chapter 9 verse 10 tells us that ‘the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.’

Do you remember when cereal boxes had a prize in the bottom of the package? Most mothers would make their children wait until they got to the bottom to get the prize. I didn't want to wait, I would sneak into the pantry and dig to the bottom of the package to get out the prize. My mother would get cross with me and smack my hand. From then on I was not allowed to dig through the food to get the prize. I would have to eat the cereal and when I got to the bottom receive the prize. Proverbs chapter 16 verse 16 tells us, ‘How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.’

A young man had been laying around doing nothing, when an old man came up to him with a strong and very fast horse which was all saddled up and ready to go. The horse was equipped with some very large bags to carry their loads. The old man gave orders to the young man - ‘Ride as fast and as hard as you can and you will find a huge flowing river. When you get to the river dismount and pick up the rocks and place them in the very large bags, but remember you have to be back here before the sun rises.’ So the young man rode the horse and, just as the old man had told him, he came to the river. In the darkness, he jumped down off the horse and grabbed two hands full of the rocks and placed one handful in each of the bags. Then he jumped back on the horse and rode back. The sun was coming up and it was a beautiful day. The old man was waiting on the porch as the young man rode up. The old man said: ‘Did you do as I told you?’  The young man said: ‘Yes, Sir! I found the river, I picked up two hands full of the small rocks and placed them in the very large saddle bags. I have returned and was here before the sun came up.’

In the brightness of the sun the young man was told to empty one of the large saddle bags. Out fell a handful of diamonds, pearls, rubies, jasper and very expensive, rare jewels. The young man could not tell what he was picking up in the darkness of the night. He thought he was picking up common rocks? So why waste his time and effort on junk? The old man looked up at the young man, with tears flowing like a river. The young man had wasted his time, talent and ability - the potential was so great. The young man settled for very little when he could have had millions of pounds of rare jewels.  

We are like that young man. We have rare treasures all around us. We put so little effort into daily life! We tend to be satisfied with two hands full, when God’s plan has so much more in store. Life is valuable and wisdom and understanding are not easily found. Yes, we need to be content, yet we are never satisfied with our lot in life. God has more! If God has more, do we desire more?

Matthew chapter 6 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Isaiah chapter 55 commands us to seek the LORD while He may be found and to call upon Him while He is near, while Romans chapter 10 confirms to us that ‘whoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved’. Now that’s wisdom - isn't it?

Messages with Meaning (17/09/20)
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