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The Christadelphian | November 2011

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial As in the days of Lot
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning “Not with silver and gold” | Tom Barling
  • “Unto us a child is born …” 1 – The season of the Lord’s birth | John M. Hellawell
  • Thoughts on Hannah | Rachel Madden
  • Gathering daily manna | Nathan Kitchen
  • Questions Jesus asks “Why are ye fearful?” | Paul Aston
  • Micah of Mount Ephraim 1 – “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” | Geoff Henstock
  • A wise and beautiful woman | Trevor A. Pritchard
  • Does my help come from the hills? | D. C.
  • Great joy | Ken Clark
  • Two miracles | Roger Long
  • Signs of the times Russia: “a guard” to Europe | Daniel Stevenson
  • Israel and their land The Chuetas of Mallorca | John Morris
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

Gathering daily manna

IT tasted like honey wafers, and it was the only food for miles. As the sun began to rise over the Sinai desert the people of Israel stumbled wearily from their tents into the warming air. In an hour it would be gone, melting away in the shimmering haze around the camp. It was painstaking work. Each man had to collect about three and a half litres of the tiny seeds, taking care to separate each pod from the dust and sand on which it lay.

The result of their labours was a light, bread-like substance which provided nourishment for their daily exertions. But while it was sweet as honey in their mouths, it embittered their hearts toward God. It was on the long road encompassing Edom that the people finally vented their anger, scorning the provision of angel’s food with the words, “Our soul loatheth this light bread” (Numbers 21:5).

Sustenance from heaven

Our diets today are quite different. Shops are filled with herbs and spices from every corner of the world, prepared in innumerable combinations of flavour and colour. Fruit and vegetables are found fresh on our tables, flown overnight further than many people travel in a lifetime.

Yet our spiritual life and diet is markedly similar to the reality faced by Israel. The world around us is devoid of the water of life – spiritually dead. We too live as strangers and sojourners, passing by the land of the flesh (see Edom, Numbers 21:4) on our pilgrimage to the promised land.

Each day we find that sustenance from heaven has been provided for our nourishment. As the manna lay waiting to be gathered on the desert ground, so our Bibles lie waiting to be read on our bookshelves: waiting for careful consideration of each tiny verse and idiom; waiting to be absorbed and distilled through thoughts and actions.

Shall we neglect this daily provision? Shall we turn instead to the vagaries of Egyptian night? How often do we find ourselves lusting after cucumbers on the television, onions on the internet, or leeks in pages of fiction (see Numbers 11:5)? Do our souls loathe the “light bread” of daily Bible reading?

As we sit down day by day to read the word of God, we can find it hard to hold our thoughts together over the ever-present clamour of the world. In our precious moments of contemplation the cares of life may still be ringing in our ears. The pressing engagements of our busy lives conspire to cut short the proper consideration of God’s ways.

Let us take our example from scripture. As Israel began their conquest of the promised land Joshua took time to read “all that Moses commanded” before the people, despite being surrounded by ten hostile armies (Joshua 8:34; cf. 9:1; 10:5). The prophet Daniel was second only to the King of Medo-Persia, yet he dedicated time to God with such resolve that his adversaries were able to plot his downfall around the strength of his conviction (Daniel 6:2,7,10). Bouncing through the desert in a rigid-axle chariot did not prevent the Ethiopian eunuch from trying to read Isaiah (Acts 8:28).

In these last days let us take care to set aside time to read God’s word, that we may delight and meditate day and night on His law (Psalm 1:2).

A practical suggestion

Though the exhortation of these examples is powerful, daily reading and meditation on God’s word can be exasperatingly hard to put into practice. In this regard the author is wary of the warning delivered by James, declaring “be ye warmed and filled” (albeit with spiritual food) whilst any practical help or service is neglected. Mindful of the spirit of these words, the author has devised a set of Bible Reading Discussion Cards.

My wife and I were recently blessed with the birth of a little boy. As we settled into a family routine we became especially sensitive to how he would perceive our Bible reading as he grew, and began to realise that some of our readings yielded very few points for teaching or discussion.

I had encountered this problem before in the days when I was a student. Every now and again a disappointing silence fell after discussion opened at the Bible Reading Group. We learned to break this by turning to a list of topics to look for in the passage, and these inevitably sparked a healthy and informative discussion.

To this list my wife and I added more topics and questions until our notebook had a full page of discussion ideas. These helped make our reading purposeful, profitable and exciting. Our list of ideas was shared and improved, and eventually we committed ourselves to having it printed.

The result is a set of sixty cards containing forty unique discussion ideas. These are organised into six broad subject areas: practical lessons, Bible links, questions, preaching practice, study skills, and a handful of special activities. Should any brother or sister find them a help in their reading and consideration of God’s word, the author will be amply satisfied with the result of the endeavour.

Nathan kitchen

 

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