17th July 2019

Victory in Christ Jesus

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

“Cricket’s coming home, it’s coming home.” After over 40 years of hurt England’s men have won the cricket world cup for the first time as they defeated New Zealand. Sunday 14 July 2019 will go down in cricket history as the closest, most tense final ever. With scores tied after both innings and tied after the deciding ‘super over,’ England won on a count back of the most boundaries scored in the match. After seven weeks of pulsating cricket, victory came with the last ball bowled; it could not have been more dramatic. In the darkest hour of the match for England they needed a hero to step up and lead them to victory. Cometh the hour, cometh Ben Stokes! His undefeated 84 earned him the man of the match award, paving the way for England’s success and for jubilant celebrations from English fans.

In the darkest hour for humanity we needed somebody to come and give us victory over those things that held us captive and which we couldn’t defeat. Cometh the hour, cometh Jesus Christ! He defeated Satan by disarming him and making a public spectacle of him at the cross (Colossians 2:15); and has defeated sin and death, setting us free (Romans 8:2). The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus will go down in human history as the greatest victory of all time and will lead to all humanity joyfully lifting high the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:9-11).

Watching the closing stages of the Cricket World Cup Final was torturous. It was edge of the seat stuff, going through every emotion and mental agony in the space of a few minutes. Would England win or would they lose? One moment we were up, the next we were down. There was no rest or peace, just agonising tension not knowing how the game was going to end. How different with Jesus. No doubt, no wondering whether or not he would defeat our enemies—in him our victory was certain and secure. When we realise what Jesus has done for all humanity and come to him, the result is both rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and peace (John 14:27). Now that’s worthy of jubilant celebration.

Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to free us from the bondage of Satan, sin and death, so that we could live in the victory he has achieved for us. May we experience, and show to others, your peace and the rest that comes from you. May we never neglect rejoicing in his victory.

Study by Barry Robinson

About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and part of the National Ministry Team directing Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He is also a pastoral worker in the South of England, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

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

16th July 2019

I Am The Vine

“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser…I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:1, 5 (NKJV)

To us today this is a simple truth. We must be planted firmly in Jesus to bear the fruit He requires of us. Often we may not feel like we are bearing much fruit but only God knows how fruitful we are. The simple point that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches is a powerful lesson. Any gardener will tell you a branch cut off from the tree simply dies.

To the disciples that night, just a few hours before He was crucified, it was a powerful reminder that they too needed to be founded on and linked to Jesus.

To His educated Jewish audience, especially the Priests and Pharisees, it was an insult! They knew the Old Testament references to Israel as God’s vine such as those in Psalm 80:8, Isaiah 5:1-7 and; Ezekiel 15. In this statement Jesus was saying that in terms of what it was called to do, Israel was an unfruitful vine. In the Old testament God had chosen Israel to be his nation and demonstrate the benefits of His way of life, but they had failed miserably.

Christians today, and down through the past of roughly 2000 years, now have this simple instruction: Follow Christ, serve Christ, focus on Christ and we allow his life to flow in us and through us. That is what will make us fruitful and productive servants. Once again Jesus is establishing his identity as God, as the source and foundation of real life. Being a Christian is not always easy, because as verse 2 tells us, if we bear fruit we can be pruned to produce more fruit! But whatever trials we face today, faithfully following Jesus guarantees success. Philippians 1.6 says “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Loving, Gracious Father, help us to remain close to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, in every area of our life, that we may bear fruit for you. Whatever talents, abilities and skills you have given us, help us to develop them and use them to your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Keith Hartrick

About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
Pendas Way
LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

15th July 2019

Things Change, But We Don’t

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”
Romans 8:12-14 (NKJV UK)

Have you noticed that pretty well all the amber street lights have been replaced by new white LED ones? It was the same some years ago when newspaper pictures moved from black and white to colour.

It’s interesting to note how society moves on seamlessly and we hardly notice such changes. When mobile phones were introduced, who would have thought that these days the greatest hazard walking up the High Street would be bumping into youngsters with heads buried in their mobile devices?

And yet, delve into history and the lesson of history is that actually people and societies don’t really change at all. Given the same motivation as back then, modern man and woman act pretty much as they ever did. So the 14th century revolt over the poll tax by Watt Tyler may be equated pretty much on a par with the poll tax revolt under Mrs Thatcher when she wanted to introduce one. Understand the one by examining the other.

And reading the Bible can often be easier to understand by transposing events from then into today’s world. The emotions of the people shine through—Jacob’s timidity; Saul’s truculence; Pilate’s detached political expediency. The crux of the matter is that human nature, good and bad, hasn’t changed. Corruption and opportunism were just as ripe in the past as they are today. And if a politician or business man can ‘get away’ with something today, generally he will, just like they did in history. Only when the eleventh commandment is broken (don’t get caught!) is there a grudging apology.

We as Christians are not free to do anything we like—though we often slip into the same mind-set if we’re not careful. We have standards, we have moral principles which we are to maintain. It becomes, when we manage to do it even in part, a very forceful witness to others, which is just what Jesus wants. And when we fail, how we recover and change also can become a very forceful witness.

Holy Father, help us as we advance in human life, to see its shortcomings, where it falters and fails. Help us to walk each day closer to you. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

About the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School, Room A1 (Main Building)
Honey End Lane
RG30 4EL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone: 01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

14th July 2019

Language of Love

“Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?’”
Acts 2:7-8 (NIV)

We all grew up learning a language. Whether our first—or native—language is Spanish, Tagalog, English, Dutch, Portuguese, ASL or another sign language—we all find ways to communicate. And that is the purpose of language—it is what we use to express ourselves, to share ideas and to learn from each other.

And it’s not just verbal language; we communicate through body language, tone and inflection. We communicate through the written word, through art, music, film and even architecture. There are many diverse and beautiful languages and ways to communicate. God created language for us and he uses language to communicate with us.

One of the best examples is found in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit used language—many different languages as a matter of fact—to tell about God’s deeds of power. People from all over heard the astonishing truth of God in their native language. We read: “He spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:31-33). This was a miraculous moment, with a powerful impact. And it had an impact: the listeners responded by asking, “What shall we do?”

Peter told them to repent—change the way they think about God, to participate in the baptism of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. He concludes by saying this, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (verse 39)

On that day of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit was given, some translations say He was “poured out.” What a gift indeed. He is for us all, and that is a promise. God gave his only begotten Son for us and chooses to communicate his language of love and inclusion to us through the Spirit. No matter what language you speak, our prayer is that you hear His call.

Gracious Father, your ‘native’ language is love and we can only acknowledge that love, and seek to communicate it to others as we have opportunity. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Presented by Greg Williams

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.

Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

13th July 2019

To Thine Own Self Be True

“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?’ Hypocrite! Frst remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:3-5 (NKJV)

Jesus had a keen sense of the absurd. In this case he used humour to underline a profound truth. His point was that we should be careful about being judgmental. It might say a lot more about ourselves than about the person we are criticising!

There is a quirk in human nature that character flaws we suffer from, but don’t acknowledge, tend to be very grievous to us when we see them in someone else. If we often notice something that makes us indignant, that is a red flag that we may be harbouring that exact same thing ourselves and just haven’t recognized and faced up to it.

It reminds me of a sparrow fighting with a mirror. In his bird-brain, the sparrow in the mirror is a mortal enemy. He doesn’t know he is fighting with himself. Likewise someone on a crusade to fight some perceived injustice might be responding to that exact same tendency deep below the surface of their own character. They attack the other people in the delusion that they are addressing flaws which in reality are their own. If we think we are incapable of evil, or our flaws are minor ones, we deceive ourselves. Nobody likes admitting failings, even to ourselves! But being honest to ourselves about ourselves is the first and necessary step to developing mature and good character.

Our natural tendency is to assign the best of motives to ourselves. We are quick to find excuses for our failings. Such ego-salving reflexes don’t seem that serious, but can grow into a habit of dishonesty. If we don’t bring our failings out into the open in the form of honest self-evaluation, they don’t cease to exist. They will manifest in insidious ways. The strain of constant self-deception will become an intolerable burden. It will make us devious or treacherous. It can even make us ill!

You can fool all of the people some of the time, but ultimately you can’t fool yourself. Truth will out. On the other hand, facing up to our less attractive motives will free us from the futile effort of trying to justify them. Awareness of evil within ourselves enables us to avoid acting on it. That is liberating, and essential for inner peace.

Father, help us to open our eyes to the reality of sin. Help us to honestly and humbly see the bad as well as the good in ourselves. Thank you for your salvation from sin.

Study by Joe Casey

About the Author:
Joseph Casey is an Elder in the Limerick Congregation of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International, Limerick
Please phone for venue

Meeting time:
The first and third Saturday of each month at 1:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Joseph Casey
Phone: +353 872592983
Email: joecasey@shannontechnology.ie

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