1st April 2020

A Christian Response in a Current Distress

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)

Mark Carney, the outgoing Governor of the Bank England in a recent emergency statement said the Bank’s role is to “help prevent a temporary disruption from causing longer-lasting economic harm.”*

While I agree with him, at this time my mind was focused more on our work of living and sharing the Gospel during times of crisis. As Christians we are all involved in a mission to bring liberation, flourishing and hope, not harm and confusion. The self-isolation, hoarding and hysteria must not take our collective focus, energy and power from proclaiming good news, through God working in us, having empathy and showing compassion. Carney went on to say that to be effective and maximise impact we must synchronise efforts, acting together in what is said, and more importantly, done to bring stability. Our temporary focus on the immediate needs and crisis must not weaken our resolve to transform the communities through the love of God, in which we live, breath and have our being.

The response to COVID-19 has once again identified the best and worst in human nature. It reveals our fear, selfishness and short-sightedness. It also provides brilliant opportunities to think about we, our and us, in community. We see and hear of wonderful examples of service and dedication. The current crisis has encouraged, maybe even forced, people to think differently, gaining new insights about how we use our voice, space, resources and technology.

Yes, the times are very serious, unprecedented and interesting, but we can learn from the words of the Governor. This is not a season for fear, despair, panic, false prophecies and conspiracy theories. It is the perfect time to serve, support, comfort and encourage, while praising God. Lets look to Jesus and follow His lead so we are not distracted from being good neighbours and citizens—people who bring hope and peace.

Prayer
Loving Father, thank you for the example of your Son and the power of the Holy Spirit. Help us at this time to stay focused and be of service. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by David Gibbs

* https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/news/2020/march/opening-remarks-march11-2020.pdf 15/03/2020
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About the Author:
David Gibbs in an Elder and Pastoral Worker for Grace Communion International in Northern England, the Midlands and Wales.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Birmingham
All Saints Church
George Road
BIRMINGHAM
B23 7QB

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1:00pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 07777-667635
Email: birmingham@gracecom.church

31st March 2020

An Unpayable Debt!

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

How amazing that at March 31st, 2019, the UK’s debt stood at £1.821.3 Billion as published by the Office for National Statistics. It makes you wonder if we can ever repay such a huge debt, especially as we are still adding to it. The national debt is the amount overspent by the government over a number of years and it increases each year by the deficit, which is the government’s overspending in a single year. Now you may be shocked and alarmed by that number. The numbers are too large for us to relate to, but if we ran our personal finances like that we would soon have to evaluate how we spend our money! Many do overspend and struggle with debt. And what about a personal debt that we have that can never be repaid? Perhaps your initial thought is ‘what debt’—my finances are all handled responsibility and I would never run up a debt I could not pay! But we all have such a debt.

The Bible makes clear that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But God, who created humans, knew our weakness and the fact that we would sin in thought and deed. This creates a huge and unpayable debt as we accrue multiple death sentences in an ongoing life of inevitable slips and sins. So, in love, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to Earth over 2000 years ago, lived a perfect, sinless life then voluntarily allowed Himself to be crucified and killed in our place (Romans 5:8). Christ, in dying in our place, for each of us individually, paid our debt that we could never repay.

The good news is that God knew we could not pay our debt and He gave His life for us while we were still sinners. How awesome is that? We cannot repay Him—it is a gift. Our header scripture says that nothing can remove us from the love of God. We should come to appreciate the removal of this massive unpayable debt more and more. That God, himself, would die for us to pay our penalty because He loves us so much, does need a response. For us that response is surrendering our life and will to God to the best of our ability. That does not repay our debt, but it does acknowledge that we owe him our lives and it sustains our relationship with God, which is why He lived and died and now lives again—to be with us on our journey through life, and for eternity.

Prayer
Loving, merciful Father, thank you for the life and sacrificial death of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, paying the penalty for our sins, that debt that we could never repay. How awesome is your love for us! In Jesus’ name we pray and give you thanks.
Amen

Study by Keith Hartrick
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About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds.

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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: leeds@gracecom.church

30th March 2020

Passing the Buck

“Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
Genesis 3:12-13 (NKJV)

No one can imagine a better world, where there was no sin, no ‘neighbours from hell,’ but peace and tranquillity, a beautiful garden with a gentle river flowing through, with exotic flowers, a variety of trees and all kinds of friendly creatures. This unique environment was where God walked and talked with Adam and Eve, the first humans, on the face of this earth. The Bible does not say how long the serenity lasted but that they disobeyed their Creator and were cast out of the garden. They incurred the penalty of sin and this passed death upon all humanity.

The consequence of their rebellion brought misery and self-centredness, which all humans have inherited as well as the proclivity like Adam and Eve in the header scripture to pass the buck as we witness in our own human nature. I am guilty of it. But by grace of God I am a child of God and I delight to do the will of my Father in heaven, even though there is a battle going on between the flesh and the Spirit in me.

Jesus Christ was the only human who was not self-centred but totally God-the-Father centred, doing His will as it says in John 5:30, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” Our Lord Jesus did not pass the buck. He squarely faced the Devil and told him to get behind him, when He was severely tempted in the wilderness. And the Devil left Him. Jesus was that second Adam from heaven who came to undo the deed of the first Adam, thus reconciling the world through His death (1 Corinthians 15:45). For the whole world was cut off from God, but now we have access to the throne of the grace of God through our Saviour, Jesus Christ, our Lord (Hebrews 4:14-16).

We need not pass the buck any more. Jesus has said we should deny the self, take up the cross, follow Him and be His disciples. To overcome self-centredness we have to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, our perfect example. This glorifies our Father in heaven who demonstrated His love for mankind by sending His only begotten Son to die a most shameful and excruciatingly painful death on the cross between two criminals. Praise God and give Him thanks for working out His glorious plan of salvation for mankind through His Son.

Prayer
Merciful Father, You are worthy of worship and praise. Thank You for restoring the intimate relationship which our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, had with You in the garden of Eden. Help us never to turn away from You but yield and surrender to You. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Amen

Study by Natu Moti
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About the Author:
Natu Moti is a Deacon in the Birmingham Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Birmingham
All Saints Church
George Road
BIRMINGHAM
B23 7QB

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 07777-667635
Email: birmingham@gracecom.church

29th March 2020

Unity Not Uniformity

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
2 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV UK)

If you have children you have probably said: “I don’t know where she gets that trait; it must be from you.” One child has great athletic ability, and another hates all sport. One child likes to read and avoids crowds, and the other has no interest in books but enjoys a good party. How could these children have the same parents, yet be so different? This diversity within a family is a small example of the diversity we find in the church.

Greeks, Romans, and Asians all lived in Corinth, and this diversity contributed to a ‘factious’ or contentious spirit in the church. The Apostle Paul appeals to them: “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NRSV).

Paul cuts through their disagreements to the bottom line—be united in mind and purpose. And that’s how we handle diversity within my family. My wife and I agree on certain absolutes and show this by making allowances for differences. For example, I love the beach. But when we go on holiday, we try to include activities which are important to each person in our family. We honour our differences; everyone has a good time, and the family is unified.

Likewise, in the church, we hold certain truths as absolute, such as God’s great love for every human being. Yet we can “agree to disagree” about minor matters which are often shaped by experiences and history. We don’t browbeat people into feeling they have to change their opinions to be loved and accepted. We see the church as a family, and we focus on our unity in Christ. Even Jesus did not try to change the opinions of those he encountered. He set the example that being human makes every person valuable and worthy of love. The Corinthian example shows us that unity doesn’t need uniformity.

Prayer
Gracious Father, we all differ as personalities and people. May we be unified through your Spirit yet retain our individuality. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study presented by Heber Ticas

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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. Heber Ticas is an Elder in Grace Communion International and is the Superintend of the Churches in Latin America. He also serves as the National Coordinator for Church Multiplication in the United States.

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

28th March 2020

This Too Will Pass

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
Psalm 57:1 (NIV)

In the midst of this global pandemic it does feel strange, sometimes comforting and even deeply surreal, that the rhythms of our natural world are proceeding along as predictably as ever.

Early on March 20th the sun crossed the sky along the celestial equator, directly above the Earth’s equator. That meant that both of our Earth’s hemispheres were receiving the sun’s rays equally. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days are starting to be longer than the nights, and we are beginning to see and to feel it, especially as we gain the extra hour when the clocks go forward tonight.

As Job mused “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me…But come on, all of you, try again!…My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near” (Job 17:1, 10-12).

I also think it’s very moving as well as very encouraging during this extraordinary time, to be reminded that we all share our one beautiful world and that, in that well-worn phrase: ‘We are all in this together.’ As Christians, now is even more the time to let the light of Christ shine out. 1 John 2:8 tells us “…its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.”

Yes, I did like the symbolism of the equinox around the Earth, with the sun shining equally on both halves of our beautiful Planet. It reminded me of our common dreams, of our vulnerabilities, and our love for our families as we strive to take care of one another until ‘Even this will pass’…

Prayer
May the light of Christ shine out of us to bring hope and peace to a world caught in fear and panic.
Amen

Study by Tony Goudie
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About the Author:
Tony Goudie is the Pastor of the Great Baddow Congregation of Grace Communion International

Local Congregation:
GCI Essex
Great Baddow
United Reformed church
High Street
Great Baddow
CHELMSFORD
CM2 7HH

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 07584-193441
Email: greatbaddow@gracecom.church

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