30th September 2017

Pride Versus Humility

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Proverbs 16:18-19 (NKJV)

Pride versus humility—two extremes. The first, pride: God hates pride but He loves humility. God has repeated the warning to the proud in His word. “But He gives more grace, therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:6, 10). Again we read, “’God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6). Even the worldly wisdom declares that pride goes before the fall. There are many examples in the Bible where the proud have fallen and the humble have been exalted. A prime example of this fall is Lucifer. He was created perfect in wisdom and beauty, but through his pride and vanity, he lost his position of ‘Light Bringer’. Lucifer wanted to exalt himself above God Almighty, but his pride brought him to the lower depth of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Now let us look at the perfect example of humility. Jesus Christ, by whom all things were created, humbled Himself and took the form of a servant, as a mere human being. He gave up all the power and insignia of Royalty and left the eternal Glory behind. He finished the work of a Saviour by giving His life on the cross, going through the most excruciatingly painful death and humiliation, crowned with the crown of thorns and spat upon, enduring it all to secure redemption for all mankind (Philippians 2:5-8). Verses 9-11 go on to say, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The lesson for us all is to humble ourselves before God, to be meek and lowly as His Son, so that He will also exalt us to sit with His Son in His Kingdom. I must confess, there is lot of pride lurking in my heart and God knows what is in my heart, for He searches the heart, as it says in Jeremiah 17:9-10. That is why I must take up the yoke of our Saviour to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with meekness and a trembling heart. There are vital lessons for us all to learn from the Example of Lucifer who lost his position of a Light Bringer through his pride; and from the humility our Saviour who is exalted to sit on His Father’s throne.

Prayer
Our loving Father, I thank You for Your love for mankind in sending Jesus to save us from our fallen state. You are worthy to be worshipped. I thank and praise You in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Natu Moti

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About the Author:
Natu Moti is a Deacon in the Birmingham Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Birmingham
All Saints Church
George Road
BIRMINGHAM B23 7QB

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 01213420609 (answer phone)
Mobile: 07974440580
Email: david_gibbs@wcg.org.uk

29th September 2017

The Bright Morning Star 

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.
Revelation 22:16 (NIVUK)
 

Re-focus on Jesus is the message that the apostle John gave to Christians who lived in an age of uncertainty.

God inspired John to stress the supremacy of Jesus Christ, not just in our lives, but also in everything. It is Jesus whose shed blood has saved us and whose Spirit brings stability into our lives. What John had to say was against a background of confusing religious practices and beliefs. The prevailing pagan culture interpreted both personal destiny and world events through the activity of their gods, whereas the Jews saw them in terms of mysticism and angelology, speculating about the activity of angels and of Satan. John explained that Jesus must be the centre of the Christian’s spirituality — not myths or demons or angels or some concept of fate.

John’s naming of Jesus as the bright Morning Star is significant. In pagan thought the heavens were sometimes regarded as the battleground of the gods who were like stars in the sky, and in the Hebrew tradition angels were called “the morning stars” (Job 38:7). Jesus, in comparison, is not just a star like all the others, rather he is the one and only bright Morning Star whose glorious light chases away the darkness of ignorance. Jesus fulfils the stellar messianic prophecies (Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 60:1, Malachi 4:2), and he is the Morning Star that rises in Christian hearts (2 Peter 1:19). In good times and in bad we look to him.

Nowadays believers might seek re-assurance in different ways just as they did when the book of Revelation was written. Perhaps if we knew which days to observe and how, had a framework of prophecy in mind so that we might understand world news, followed how Satan works so that we might avoid his traps, really knew what plan God had in store for us personally, if only we worshipped the right way, then we could find more peace of mind. These may seem like bright ideas to us, but are they?

I think the apostle John would tell us to re-focus our thoughts. The Christian identity is not in any of those things: look rather to Jesus who is, and was, and is to come the bright Morning Star. 

Prayer
Eternal Father, thank you for the glory that is your son, Jesus, who is the bright Morning Star. I pray that the Spirit will guide me always to turn to the Jesus, that his light may comfort me and be my hope and assurance. 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

28th September 2017

Come Dine With Me

“…as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus…When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Mark 2:15-16 (NRSV)

Food plays an important role in our human interactions. In fact, it would be very hard to organise our lives without food on special occasions: The 5 year-old’s birthday party, our first date, a wedding anniversary, are all occasions where food is often involved. I suppose we could get by without food at those events, but life would be rather dull—food seems to bring a depth and colour to these experiences.

It’s not only in our day and age that food adds to an occasion or enhances the time we spend with other people; in the Jewish society of Jesus’ day, table fellowship was a significant cultural issue. An issue that went way beyond just getting together to have a good time. According to Geza Vermes, table fellowship was an important marker of relationship in first century Jewish society. It was a marker of unity and oneness and had eschatological (Study of the end-time events) symbolism of the anticipated banquet in the kingdom of God at the end of the age. For many this symbolism meant the exclusion of non-compliant people from table fellowship.[1] So when the Pharisees were angry with Jesus for eating with ‘tax collectors and sinners’ it wasn’t simply mere snobbery on their part—they knew what he was doing was a prophetic act that directly challenged their view of the coming kingdom.

In their theological framework, Roman collaborators and prostitutes didn’t figure in the end time kingdom of God, and would not be present at the messianic banquet, therefore they were excluded from table fellowship now. Jesus, by sitting and eating with these people, was presenting an entirely different picture of the future kingdom; an inclusive picture where all kinds of people would be welcome.

Jesus’ message is the same today: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus makes this call very personal to each one of us; to every individual whether we be a self-righteous Pharisee, a cheat and an extortioner, or a sexually immoral person. The call from Jesus is the same: ‘come dine with me.’

The question is how will we respond? An eternity with Jesus is set before us, he is knocking at our door, can we hear him? (Revelation 3:20-22) If so, why not open it and let him in? You won’t regret it.

Prayer
Father, give us the ears to hear Jesus’ knocking, the desire to open the door of our hearts and the hunger to want to dine with him, now and forever.
Amen

Study by Barry Robinson

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About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Grace Communion International.

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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Martin Ryan
Phone: 07958 386944
Email:   martin_ryan@wcg.org.uk

[1] See Vermes, Jesus in his Jewish Context, 10ff.

27th September 2017

A Blood Brother 

“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”
Hebrews 2:11 (NIV)

A ‘blood brother’ can refer to one of two things: a male related by birth, or two or more men not related by birth who have sworn loyalty to each other. This is in modern times usually done in a ceremony, known as a blood oath, where having each person make a small cut, usually on a finger, hand or the forearm, and then the two cuts are pressed together and bound, the idea being that each person’s blood now flows in the other participant’s veins. The act may carry a risk due to blood-borne diseases. [i] It seems a barbaric practice from ancient times, certainly disapproved by medical practitioners today for obvious reasons. However, the practice demonstrated a sincere motivation, loyalty and closeness between friends.

Jesus Christ became our brother and best friend by the outpouring of His blood for us. He asked for no blood of ours—His blood atoned for our sins. The blood of Christ is the basis of the New Covenant. On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus offered the cup of wine, symbolic of blood, to His disciples and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:30).

Jesus Christ, our elder brother, has redeemed us. We read in Hebrews 9:12, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our blood brother. No need for bizarre ritual, just an open believing heart in our Lord Jesus. He has pledged Himself to us for all times in Hosea 2:19-20, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and in justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness.” 

Let us praise God for His love and mercy, for the blood of His Son Jesus Christ which has saved us from ourselves.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the cross, for bleeding to death for us so that our sins may be forgiven. We who are completely unworthy thank you.
Amen
 

Study by Irene Wilson

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About the Author:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Watford
St. Peter’s Church
61 Westfield Avenue
Watford,
Herts. WD24 7HF

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11AM

Local Congregational Contact:
George Henderson
Phone: 01923-855570
Email: george-sue.henderson@tesco.net

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_brother

 

(ED:tg)

26th September 2017

Guns Kill People 

“’But you,’ He asked them, ‘who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus responded, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’”
Matthew 16:15-18 (CSB)
 

One thing which annoys me is the way guns and killing are shown on TV and in Films. Automatic weapons are lethal, and faced with one we would be lucky to survive. Yet the hero with a handgun somehow dodges a hail of bullets from an automatic weapon, then shoots and kills the baddie with a single shot. In my army days, a GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) could fire 1000 rounds a minute, and gun technology has moved on since the 1960s. The way the entertainment industry treats guns and killing is a disgrace. Media is also incredibly powerful in spreading false ideas about other things. Why do big companies pay thousands for TV adverts if they don’t work? The answer is because they do!

But the entertainment industry is just as guilty of spreading false ideas about Christians. How often is the Christian portrayed as an unbalanced odd ball, a bit of a weirdo, or an arrogant self-righteous prig? How often are derogatory comments made on radio, TV and in Films. When did you last see a positive image of a Christian or Christian Minister? As mature adults we know it’s all phoney, but young people may not.

The entertainment industry certainly does not seem to honour Christians and Christianity. If the same negative message keeps being churned out constantly, is it any wonder that people today are contemptuous of Christians; That church attendance is falling among young people and forecasts have been made that the established church will have died out in the UK by 2050. Our heading scripture tells us that won’t happen, despite the entertainment industry’s best efforts. In fact, the worse it gets the more likely that God will give us another revival as has happened in the past. But the important thing for us as Christians is to stay close to God, not let the negative treatment of Christianity affect us, hold on to the eternal true values we have been taught and to live them to the best of our ability.

The best news of all, of course, is that God wins! (Revelation 21:1-4) 

Prayer
Loving Father, it is incredible that you allow humanity to denigrate and ignore you after what you have done for us through Christ. We pray for a spiritual and moral revival as a blessing for all humanity. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Keith Hartrick

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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
LEEDS LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

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

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