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The Christadelphian | September 2013

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial His healing touch
  • CMPA Consultative Group
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning Doors | Ian White
  • The Lord & the nations 03 – The nations round about | Andrew E. Walker
  • Healing every sickness & disease | Jonathan Davies
  • Israel’s Geography 09 – A cold night in Jerusalem | Nathan Kitchen
  • For better, for worse … 09 – David & Michal | Mark Vincent
  • Marriage: God’s definition or man’s? | Mark Allfree
  • Faith Alive! UKYC | UKYC Committee
  • Readers’ Q&A
  • 100 years ago
  • Signs of the times Russian pressure
  • Israel and their Land A chaotic region
  • Epilogue “Time & change are busy ever” | Julie Linke
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

Sunday Morning

Doors

THE book of Joshua records how the armies of Israel fled before the men of Ai, due to the greed of one man Achan and the collusion of his family. They were taken to a valley with all their possessions, were stoned, and an enormous cairn built over them. The place became known as the “Valley of Trouble”, and like many a graveyard, would acquire a sinister reputation and be avoided.

In a way, this is symbolic of our fallen state, with its constant reminder of sin and the consequences. However, in the future age the character of that valley will be completely changed, the extent of which is a measure of the change which will take place in our “Valley of Trouble”, for the prophet Isaiah says that the Valley of Achor will be a place for flocks to lie down in, and Hosea foretells that the Valley of Achor will become a “door of hope” (Isaiah 65:10; Hosea 2:15).That phrase is a lovely illustration of the hope that illuminates our lives and gives purpose to them, for our “door of hope” is open and we can see beyond it to a wonderful land:

“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

Noah and the Ark

The door in the side of the Ark was a door of hope. While it was open, it offered hope of life to any who would enter. But apart from Noah and his immediate family, no one did. For there was a price to pay – one must brave the crowds who stood around and jeered. One must also have faith that Noah’s message was true, and that one would not have to walk out again to even more jeers.

There could even be no sitting on the doorstep waiting to see what the weather would do, for destruction would come without warning:

“They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:27)

One had to declare oneself beforehand. In other words, one either had faith, and went in, or disbelieved, and stayed out.

When Noah walked into the Ark, scripture does not record his feelings. He had several younger brothers and sisters – but they didn’t join him either. No doubt Noah reasoned with them often, but when he entered the Ark, it was without them. He knew they were about to die and he would never see them again, so we can only guess at his feelings. Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother [and presumably brother or sister] more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Noah put God first – so must we.

Finally, we know that God closed the door, and with that closure, hope and opportunity to those outside, ceased. It became a door of hopelessness. When the floods came, many would bang on that door for admittance, but it was too late.

The ten virgins

Another door is that in the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus warns us, “Be ye always ready”. Of those ten virgins, when the cry came, five lamps were burning brightly, but five were burning low – their owners had left their first love.

While the five foolish went to buy oil, the bridegroom came: “And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” Whatever the temptation to wait for one’s five foolish friends, the call of the Master is paramount. The foolish ones began to knock and asked to be let in – but the door of hope had been closed, and they had lost all hope.

The door to the past

Both of those events illustrate our hope, that open door to a wonderful future. There is another big door in our lives, the door to the past. That is one door we have to keep closed – and for some it is very difficult. Have you ever sat in a room, facing a crooked picture, and kept mentally straightening it?

We sometimes try to do the same with the past. Some event we are not happy about keeps coming to mind. We try putting a different slant, or try excusing ourselves, but it is fruitless wasting time on something that cannot be altered. Omar Khayyam wrote:

“The moving finger writes, and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

We cannot alter the past, but we do not despair, for we have a great blessing: forgiveness with God.

We even have more than that. There is a wonderful passage in the book of Ezekiel:

“But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.” (Ezekiel 18:21,22)

And so we can safely follow the counsel of Paul:

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14)

The past may safely be put behind us, for while it cannot be changed, if forgiven, it is as if it never existed.

Daily opportunities

The parables of Jesus about the talents and pounds teach us that the judgement will not be a long, drawn-out affair, going over our misdeeds: the question that our Lord will ask is: ‘What have you done with your time?’ Looking back on our lives, we want to be able to say, ‘Lord, your talent has gained ten talents’. The question, and its answer, cover a lifetime. However, we only live one day at a time, and the answer to ‘What have you done with your life?’ will be determined by another question, ‘How have we lived each day?’ Each day has its own door. Every morning that God gives us, a door opens to new hope and opportunities. So in our morning prayer we thank Him for the blessings of a new day, and ask Him for help and guidance. In the evening, as the day draws to its close, when we retire to bed, then the door of opportunity is closing for that day.

We think over the day’s activities: the successes, and the failures. And we ask, ‘What have I done today with my time?’ Then we rehearse everything over with God in prayer. We thank Him for the good things, and ask forgiveness for our trespasses:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Afterwards, we can allow the door of the day to close in peace, secure in God’s forgiveness, and His continued care:

“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

Salvation in Christ

And so we come to consider the work of our Lord and Saviour. His death opened that wonderful door of salvation, for when he died the veil of the temple was rent, opening the way by which we can approach with confidence to the throne of God, to find “grace to help in time of need”.

Joseph of Arimathaea anointed the body of Jesus, laid it in the tomb, “rolled a great stone to the door, and departed” (Matthew 27:60).

It seemed that a door had been closed. But then, the angel rolled back the stone to reveal the empty tomb, and hope blossomed as never before! And that door of hope and opportunity is still open for us today.

Paul writes: “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”. That word “now” is all important. Before we take the emblems, we ask ourselves, ‘Am I on the doorstep trying to keep a foot in both worlds?’ Jesus said: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. Am I ready to meet my Saviour, my light shining brightly, or is my love waning? How am I using my time? One day, our door of hope too will close – for ever. Let us make sure that we are on the right side when it does!

Ian White

 

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