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Fruit Picking

One weekday evening a few weeks ago over tea my wife came up with a suggestion - “I think we should go strawberry picking on Saturday, Squid would love it”. For those that don’t know Squid is the nickname we give our almost 4 year old. And for those that don’t know me, the thought of fruit picking hasn’t ever really appealed. Rather ignorantly I’ve never seen the benefit of picking your own half squashed, half rotten piece of fruit when there’s punnets of the things in the supermarket 10 minutes away.
So naturally my response during tea was “Yeah sounds like a good idea” and sure enough Saturday came and I was driving into Bells Farm with the 3 of us plus my brother in law. As I occupied myself in the Farm shop (I love a Farm Shop) and the boys went for a pre-picking wee, the wife found someone to point us in the right direction & provide baskets for all the fruit we’d be collecting. Apparently we’d arrived too late in the year for strawberry picking as most of them had gone...not a great start! But there was plenty more varieties of fruit to forage for so off we went.
The boys (the nearly 4 year old and 25 year old) were excited and ran ahead to compete against each other to see who could find the biggest juiciest raspberry.
Half a basketful of raspberries later we encouraged them to head onto something else and to see if what we’d been told earlier about the strawberries was actually right. Truth be told we took it as a bit of a challenge to find as many strawberries as we could. We were on hands and knees rummaging for anything we could find, and sure enough there was actually quite a few! The smell of the strawberry plants was amazing, and you know what, I admit it, it was a really fun couple of hours in that field!

I came away from that farm that morning thinking about parts of the Bible that speak about fruit, 2 passages especially. The first was the parable of the sower, and how seed was sown in various types of ground, some wholly inappropriate for growing plants (like a pathway or amongst rocks) and others in deep fertile soil that over time did cause life to spring forth. And the parable, which is really telling us that we as Individuals are the ground (some of us allow the words of the Bible to land take root in our hearts and minds and to cause something wonderful to grow) and that we can produce fruit too.

“...the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)

Some of those strawberry plants in that field must have had hundreds of pieces of fruit on it at one point. And I guess as we think of ourselves we need to ask, how can we produce fruit? Well the 2nd passage I was thinking about that day gives us an insight I think. 
The Apostle Paul, when writing to a group of believers that had begun having petty disagreements, reminds them about the need for love in their lives, especially love for each other and he uses a lovely image for us

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5: 22-23)

Here’s the fruit we can all produce, it’s Gods fruit and it can be displayed from us just like those juicy ripe strawberries. We do it by having those qualities mentioned above in our lives, in our character, in the way we conduct ourselves with others. Added to this is the thought that this fruit of the spirit is actually the love and all the other aspects part of that one (think of it like an orange, that’s the whole fruit but it it is then made up of many smaller segments).

So after a day fruit picking and admitting to myself I really rather enjoyed it, I also drove away thinking I needed to be one of those plants in that field and to produce as much fruit as possible in my life. I don’t want God to have to rummage to find it, I want there to be so much it’s evident for all to see.

Andy

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Understanding suffering - the Bible view

My relationship ended at the same time as I started a new job, leaving me with unfinished renovations, a clunky old car, an overdraft to pay off and household bills to manage on a single wage.

Keeping my income was my top priority, but there were times I couldn’t afford the petrol to drive to work so I booked leave to make it to the end of the month. I regularly checked my coat pockets and handbags for spare change.

I questioned why I was being made to suffer such financial hardship when I had always worked so hard?

I knew that I couldn’t achieve everything at once. I made a list of what needed doing first and what I could live without or put up with. Bills had to be paid, I needed to eat, but new clothes and holidays could wait.

A week later my energy provider said I had been overpaying and I got a cheque for £185. In that moment I realised that I was being watched over and I decided to trust that I would be provided for.

Philippians 4 v 19 "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches"

Psalm 34 v 4 "I sought the LORD and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears".

Open your eyes to the gifts God provides: it may be a book of coupons for the local supermarket, discovering cash back websites or free samples online, special offers from service providers, or realising you have spare books and clothes to sell.

Isaiah 41 v 10 "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".

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Are you spiritually fit?

I try to keep physically fit, with varying degrees of success and enthusiasm.

I have run marathons in the past (think tortoise, not hare), and in March I was due to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Then Covid-19 arrived. The half marathon was cancelled, and all my training felt like it was in vain.

I've run very little since March, but have switched to fitness DVDs and, like many households in the country, have been challenged by Joe Wicks PE sessions.


While my physical fitness matters to me, and helps me to manage my asthma, my spiritual health is even more important.

Like many Christadelphians I try to read daily from the bible, and I use what I learn to shape the principles that I live by.

The bible tells us that "while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come".

Even the fittest, healthiest people will die one day, but if we live a life that is pleasing to God we may be rewarded with eternal life and a place in God's kingdom when Jesus returns to the earth. If you would like to improve your spiritual fitness, why not start by reading a few verses of the Bible every day. Books like Psalms and Proverbs are filled with practical lessons on how to live a more fulfilling life.

So over the next few days and weeks, while you're keeping physically fit, don't forget to get spiritually fit, too.

Janine

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New Life

My youngest daughter is due to give birth to my 3rd grandchild any day now. As a family we’ve watched the bump getting bigger and bigger over the months, and have “ooooo”’d and “ahhhhh”d over each of the scan photos. It’s amazing to watch a new life grow.

For the past few months (during lockdown) I’ve also been watching lots of other new lives grow. I’ve kept a gaggle of tadpoles and watched as they have first sprouted tails and legs and finally become fully developed frogs. 


As a believer in the Genesis 1 record that God created everything in the world in the beginning, I find it amazing to witness before my own eyes, new life being created. The Bible tells us that God’s verdict after assessing everything He’d created was that it was “very good”. The Bible also tells us that we, as humans, are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. We’re all individual, all slightly different in physical appearance, and yet we all breathe the same breath, and fuel our bodies with food and liquid each day. Have you ever stopped to think how amazing it is that we have life? We go to sleep at night and wake up each morning to a fresh new day.

The Bible also describes life as being like a vapour that appears for a moment and is then gone again. So let’s make the most of our lives. And by that I don’t mean let’s write a bucket list and see what we can tick off. Let’s use our lives as God, who has created all things, would want us to, by living in a thankful way, to put Him first in our daily lives so that we please Him. 

The remarkable and wonderful message that the Bible has for us, is that we can decide to stop our current way of life to then be born again and begin a new life for God. See how Romans 6 explains it,

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized 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.”

So, when an individual decides to turn their life to God and believes in Him, they can take the step to be baptised. As the baptism is performed they go fully into the water and are raised up out of it again, like dying and being raised to a new life. 

So, let’s each reflect on how blessed we are to have life, and how we can see Gods amazing creation all round us, and hopefully take time to consider the wonderful message contained in the Bible.

Andy & Pam

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New Beginnings

A recent YouGov (April 2020) survey found that only 9% of Britons want life to ‘return to normal’ following Covid-19. This shows that people are looking for change in our society. Are you looking for a fresh start?

But who can we rely on to deliver change? Politicians have shown they can’t provide the answers; even if the virus calms down, we have economic troubles and political turmoil ahead with a recession looming and Brexit to negotiate.


But all is not lost! The Bible clearly shows that God has a perfect plan for this world. His son, Jesus Christ, will return soon as King to give our world a fresh start. A world without disease or poverty, racism or war.

We are told that this time of perfection will be on earth (1 Thessalonians 1:10 for instance). The prophet Isaiah tells us about this time saying that it will be a time of healing:

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” Isa 35:5-6.

This means that there will ultimately be no need for hospitals because people won’t become ill anymore. In a time when so many people across the world have become ill with the virus, everyone needs to know this wonderful good news. But the only way to be part a perfect future is to read God’s word now and try to live a life which reflects His principles.

What a time to look forward to when: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

With lockdown gradually ending, now’s the time to re-evaluate our lives and get ready for God’s kingdom on Earth.

Ben

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Bread of Life

Hands up if you've made bread during lockdown... If your hand went up you're in good company. People across the world have been using their free time to make bread, with varying degrees of success. As a long time bread maker, I've always been fascinated by the way microscopic yeasts turn a lumpy mass of flour and water into a pillowy dough read to be shaped and baked into a mouthwatering loaf.‚Äč


In the bible, in Luke 13 v 20-21, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God being like leaven:

And He (Jesus) said, "To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened".

We believe that Jesus will return soon to set up God's Kingdom on earth, and just a little yeast spreads through the whole dough, so God's kingdom will grow until it fills the whole earth.

God's Kingdom promises to be a time of great peace, when men 'will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks... and never again will they learn war' (Isaiah 2 v 4) and 'the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child will lead them' (Isaiah 11 v 6).

In a world that is filled with danger and pollution, we very much look forward to this time of peace when all that God created will flourish again.

There's lots more in the Bible that tells us about God's coming Kingdom. If you're interested in knowing more please get in touch (you can DM us on our Facebook or Instagram pages or use our contact form).

Janine

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Anxious Times

2020 has been a year like no other, and it’s only May! We’ve learnt new words such as ‘coronavirus’, ‘furlough’ and ‘social-distancing’. Seeing someone wearing a face mask in public no longer seems unusual. Personally, I’ve never washed my hands as much, and getting the urge to cough in public feels like a crime.

These times will lead many to feel anxious. Questions may come to mind like “can we pay the bills this month?”.
If you or a loved one has underlying health issues you may wonder “is it safe to go out?” and “am I at risk if I do?”
Many will be prevented from pursuing hobbies, or seeing family and close friends.
Others can no longer go on the holiday they so desperately needed.  These can all be reasons to feel uncertain.


Those who have a faith are certainly not immune from these feelings, but they can find a lot of comfort in the Bible.

An anxious thought may be answered with “God is in control of my life”, and Bible passages like Psalm 115 : 11 brought to mind:

“You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield”

Or Psalm 34 : 7:
“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”

The Bible explains that between birth and death we experience all sorts of emotions, from the joys of laughing and rejoicing in dance to the lows of weeping and mourning (Ecclesiastes 3 : 4).
Some may even feel that they’re almost broken, or that the burning flame within them is about to go out; well remarkably the Bible tells that a man called Jesus would be sympathetic to us when we are feeling like this...

“... a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench...”

Jesus was one who saw many in need and helped, healed and strengthened them.

Many anxieties during these “lockdown” times will be about when will my life become normal again? The Bible speaks to us about these feelings; consider this passage in Matthew 6:

“Therefore I tell you, 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Let us then try not to be anxious about the day to day but instead to trust in God and focus upon the wonderful hope for the future that the Bible contains.

The passage in Matthew moves on from anxiety to encourage us to have a new focus in life:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”

Maybe now is a time to pick up your Bible and find the wonders and comforts it contains.

Andy