31st July 3017

Don’t Give Up On Yourself

“Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:11 (NIV)

Have you ever had a bad school report? Here are some famous people who clearly could have done better according to their school reports:
This boy will never get anywhere in life.” said of Eric Morecambe
He must devote less of his time to sport if he wants to be a success…You can’t make a living out of football.” said of Gary Lineker
Certainly on the road to failure…hopeless…rather a clown in class…wasting other pupils’ time.” said of John Lennon
Judi would be a very good pupil if she lived in this world.” said of Dame Judi Dench
He has glaring faults and they have certainly glared at us this term.” said of Stephen Fry
He has no ambition. If he were to exert himself he might yet be first at the end of term. Very truthful, but a regular ‘pickle’ in many ways at present…Is a constant trouble to everybody and is always in some scrape or other. He cannot be trusted to behave himself anywhere.” said of Winston Churchill
He will never amount to anything.” said of Albert Einstein 

After receiving these comments on their school reports it would have been easy for these people to have given up on themselves and not gone on to excel in their particular field.

Another person who was given a bad report was John Mark in the Bible. He was given the opportunity to travel with Paul and Barnabas on their very first missionary journey. Yet he didn’t last long; running back home to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Reading on in Acts, as Paul and Barnabas began their second missionary journey, John Mark became a source of sharp contention between the two. Barnabas was determined to give John Mark another chance, but Paul didn’t want to waste time on someone who had proven himself a deserter (Acts 15:36-40).

That’s a pretty damning judgment to have on your ‘school report’. Was that the end for John Mark? Had he given up on himself? Apparently not! Later John Mark becomes part of Paul’s ministry team. Paul mentions him by name as being present with him (Colossians 4:10), and he was regarded as a ‘son’ in the faith by Peter (1 Peter 5:13). When Paul wrote his final letter from prison before being executed, he called for John Mark who he said was very useful to him for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).

John Mark was indeed a profitable servant, going on to write one of the four gospels about the life of Jesus Christ. An important lesson from Mark’s life is that if you’ve failed before and you are given a bad report, don’t give up on yourself. God uses imperfect people like John Mark, and like you and me. Don’t quit because of past failures, thinking you will never amount to anything. Be encouraged, with God’s help you too can be profitable in ministry.

Prayer
Father, thank you that you never give up on us and that you use us despite our failures. Help us never to give up on ourselves as we seek to be profitable servants in your service.
Amen

Study by Barry Robinson

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About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Camberwell
LONDON SE5 7HN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: barry_robinson@wcg.org.uk

 Summer Educational Programme Today is the first day of activities at S.E.P., which is a two-week summer activity camp that takes place on the bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It is sponsored and run by the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International. The camp is Christian in ethos but accepts campers from all denominations and faiths. For more information about S.E.P. visit www.sepuk.org

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.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

30th July 2017

Out on the Edge 

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Hebrews 13:16 (NIV UK)
 

The other day I saw an interview with the lead guitarist for U2—the Edge. He was at his studio doing some guitar tests. While he was tuning up, he talked about the difference between a ‘showboating’ guitarist who tries to steal the spotlight from everyone else and a guy who’s just trying to be part of the team. He said he likes to approach his role in the band by taking the latter approach, trying to find places where he can serve best. That got me thinking…

As a culture we can sometimes reward dynamic leaders who enjoy being the centre of attention. I know from experience that these types of ‘lead guitarists’ can be difficult to share the stage with. They have a tendency to hold the spotlight squarely on themselves. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. As Christians, we’re called to have a servant’s heart. See how Paul put it when writing to the church in Philippi: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mind-set as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:3–7).

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus would embody Paul’s advice, serving his disciples. On more than one occasion, Christ made an extra effort to direct the attention away from himself and instead placed it on his heavenly Father or the Holy Spirit. In preaching he told his audience that he was seeking to bring worshippers to the Father and that his Father loves and desired a relationship with them. Even in teaching his disciples to pray, he turned the spotlight on our heavenly Father, revealing to them that the very source and substance of his life was to complete his Father’s will and not his own. He was certain of his role and identity as Son of God, and that’s why he could serve those around him with joy.

If we can follow his cue and seek to receive from the Father through him, and then turn to serve one another with humility and love, we’ll really begin making some great music together!

Prayer
Gracious Father, help us, please, to follow the example set for us by your Son, in that he did everything for our welfare at the expense of his own. We pray this in Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, 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.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

Summer Educational Programme
Today is the day campers arrive from all over the UK and the world to attend S.E.P., which is a two-week summer activity camp that takes place on the bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It is sponsored and run by the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International. The camp is Christian in ethos but accepts campers from all denominations and faiths. For more information about S.E.P. visit www.sepuk.org

29th July 2017

Shouldn’t We Act Our Age?

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
1 Corinthians 14:20 (ESVUK)

There are times at the Pilate’s class I go to once a week, when a collective groan goes up as our teacher announces that we are going to do a particularly hard exercise that we don’t much care for. She may encourage us by telling us that she is only thirty, so it may be easier for her. Actually she must be in her mid- fifties, but somehow the proclamation of a false age makes us smile in the midst of our grimaces.

For some reason or other it is thought to be on the impolite side to ask someone how old they are. However, unlike some of us who like to claim we are of a certain age whilst withholding our true age, Paul gave the Corinthians three ages in two sentences and asked them to sign up to two of them: to be both infants and grown-ups.

Paul had been berating the Corinthians because of the chaos in their church meetings as, among other things, they vied to speak in tongues. ‘Grow-up,’ he tells them, ‘you’re behaving like children.’ Then he urges them to be both younger and older at the same time. They are to be babies when it comes to evil: no teenage boasting, lying, bullying, vying for prominence or any other sort of evil (not that such behaviour is exclusive to one age). And in the same breath he’s urging them to be mature and grown-up in their thinking.

There may be seven ages of man made famous by Shakespeare, but when we get up and greet the new day, our spiritual challenge is to fit into just two of them: humble infants who are inexperienced to evil and know no sin; and those who are mature in Jesus Christ, with our thoughts and deeds subject to him. Jesus put it another way: he told his disciples to be wise and smart as serpents, and harmless and innocent as doves. Whatever else our day may bring, we’ve got our hands full.

Prayer
Our loving Father, grant us the power to live today as harmlessly as little children with innocent behaviour; but with grown-up-in-Christ thoughts and motivations, reflecting your glory.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes. Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road
LEWES BN7 2XN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

Summer Educational Programme:  Today is the day Staff arrives for SEP, a two-week summer activity camp that takes place on the bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It is sponsored and run by the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International. The camp is Christian in ethos but accepts campers from all denominations and faiths. For more information about S.E.P. visit www.sepuk.org

28th July 2017

Staircase to Heaven 

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves;
Genesis 11: 4 (NIVUK)
 

The Tower of Babel sounds a very fanciful idea. Did it really happen? Is it just part of myth and folklore?

If we were to study the archaeology of the ancient Near East, we’d see that the Tower of Babel fits well into the historical context of the time. Ancient Mesopotamian cities would often have a “ziggurat”, a central, multi-tiered tower which spiralled upwards, getting narrower as it reached towards the heavens where the gods lived. There would typically be a shrine at the tower’s summit, where priests would lead worship and offer sacrifices. A famous example is the ziggurat of Etemenanki, which was dedicated to the god, Marduk. The idea was to build a staircase to heaven, to get closer to the abode of the gods. Later, in the biblical accounts, we read of Jacob, who dreamt of a ladder on which angels descended from, and ascended to, Heaven (Genesis 28:12).

In the story of Babel the desire is to go up to God and thus the people would “make a name” for themselves, but what they did not expect is that God would come down! “Come,” said God, “let us go down and confuse their language” (Genesis11:7). An undercurrent of biblical truth is that God comes to us, and this is realized first and foremost in Jesus Christ.

Of course, the only link between heaven and earth is Jesus Christ. Matthew records the words of Jesus: “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:51).

It is Jesus who is the way to Heaven. 

Prayer
Eternal Father, thank you that you sent Jesus to us and that he provided a way for us to be with you forever. In Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Study by James Henderson

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About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in 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:
james.henderson@gracecom.church
Or email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

27th July 2017

How Can I Find a Gracious God?

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
Romans 1:17 (NIVUK)

This year marks the five-hundredth anniversary that tradition says occurred on the 31 October 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses, against the selling of indulgences, on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg Germany. This date has subsequently been observed by some as marking the beginning of the Reformation.

In his post as professor of biblical studies at Wittenberg University, Luther lectured during the period 1513-18, on various books of the Bible; the Psalms, Romans, Galatians and then Hebrews. At some point during this period (around 1515) Luther radically changed his theological views.

Initially Luther accepted the theology that he had previously been taught that a definite human effort was required to place God under an obligation to reward the sinner with grace. At this time it seemed reasonable to Luther that God would not reward people unless they did something to merit that action. But Luther had a deep sense of personal unworthiness and feared an implication of this theology—what happens if sinners cannot fulfil the basic precondition? (This question arises in all schemes where works are required for salvation or where it is claimed that salvation can be lost through not doing certain works).

Luther wrestled with the opening text quoted above and could not see how the righteousness of God was good news since he had been taught that it was that righteousness by which God himself is righteous and punishes sinners. In effect this view claimed that the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel was nothing other than the revelation of the wrath of God directed against sinners. In view of this theology the profound question Luther asked, and one that is equally relevant today, was-how can I find a gracious God?

Luther had a breakthrough when he came to understand that Paul’s reference to the righteousness of God being revealed in the gospel does not mean that we are told what standards of righteousness we must meet to be saved, but rather that God provides the righteousness required for salvation as a free unmerited gift. Hence God’s acceptance was not conditional upon good works, but rather good works result from divine acceptance.

He had now found the gracious God that is revealed in the Bible and in a relationship with God determined by faith in the faithfulness of God and in the acceptance of the free gift of salvation procured by Christ’s death and resurrection. Luther reported that this discovery made him feel as though he had been born again and as though he had entered through the open gates of paradise.

The posting of the 95 theses was a direct practical consequence of his new understanding and his desire to share it with others.

Prayer
Father, we thank you that you have done all that is required for our salvation.
Amen

Study by Eddie Marsh

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About the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends Grace Communion International in Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion, Sheffield
Please email for Meeting Place

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.org.uk

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