26th October 2020

Tomorrow 

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make profit’: whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
James 4:13-15 (NKJV)

The word “tomorrow” has been described as one of the most dangerous words in human speech. Tomorrow should not be boasted about, because who knows what tomorrow will bring? It tells us this in the book of Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what the day may bring forth.” This pandemic has brought home that tomorrow may see man incapable of doing his duties because of sickness or other reasons. Tomorrow may even bring death and will certainly bring the judgment (see Matthew 25:13-32 and Romans 14:10-12).

Our life is fragile and comparatively short compared to God and eternity. Read Job 14: 1-2: “Man who is born of woman is of a few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.” There are some eighteen or more metaphors in the Bible which express the brevity and uncertainty of life, such as: ‘the shadow that fleeth,’ ‘a flower that is cut down,’ ‘the weaver’s shuttle,’ ‘water spilt on the ground,’ ‘the swift ship,’ and ‘a vapour.’

The Christian religion is a daily religion. Hebrews 3:13 says “But exhort one another daily, which is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” The spirit of tomorrow caused the ruin of many, including the foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-12. In the life of Felix (Acts 24:24-27), who heard a soul-stirring message of ‘Tomorrow’ on righteousness when he was unrighteous and on the judgement to come, even though he sat in judgement on others, which caused him to tremble, but he refused to surrender. He waited for the convenient season of tomorrow which did not come. The rich fool had great plans for tomorrow in Luke 12:16-21. He failed to realize that God controls tomorrow. One word tells the tragedy of his life—tomorrow.

In the parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:16-24), there are great lessons on tomorrow for those who pose various excuses for not following Jesus. In Hebrews 3:15 we read “Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” It is wise to plan for tomorrow, but as James says in the header scripture, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.

Prayer
Eternal Father, help us to realise that you hold tomorrow, and to rely on you when we fear the future and to trust and rely on you and not ourselves when making our future plans. In Jesus’ name
Amen
 

Study by Dennis Payne

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About the Author:
Dennis Payne is a Deacon in the North London Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
LONDON
W1T 6AQ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email:   london@gracecom.church

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25th October 2020

Rembrandt’s Question 

“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciple saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I: do not be afraid.’”
Matthew 14:25-27 (NKJV) 

The Bible shares several stories about Jesus and water. In one, we find Jesus calming the storm. At the end the text reads: “When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:32-33 NRSV). In ancient understanding the sea represented chaos, death, and danger. Only God could control the sea.

When he was 29, Rembrandt painted the famous Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee based on Mark’s account. It’s a large painting, four by five feet high. Rembrandt uses his mastery of light and dark to make an emotional impact—every face on the boat bears its own expression and tells its own story. Jesus wakes from sleeping with a look of total peace: God is in charge. There is another figure, almost out of place, and wearing clothes that seem out of the colour scheme slightly. He stares straight at the viewer.

A close count will show 12 disciples and one Lord, making for 13 figures in the painting. But look again and you will see 14! The figure in the foreground, staring compellingly at us as we gaze at the painting is none other than Rembrandt himself! Scholars speculate that Rembrandt was so passionately invested in this story that he pictured himself within it.

It poses the question: Where are we on the boat? Where are we on the night that Jesus walked on the water or when a storm came out of nowhere and tossed the boat so violently? It’s a question worth asking at any point in our lives, and in any of the stormy seas we may face. Are we turning outward to stare at the sea or turning back to the Lord himself?

The really good news is that no matter how violent the seas, nor how distressed you and I become, the Lord is with us. The calm, sure, saving Jesus is ever-present in this boat we call life. We actively participate by looking to him in calm and stormy seas.

Prayer
Gracious Father, help us always to look to you, to trust you and to rest in you. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study presented by Greg Williams

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About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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