31st January 2018

The Faithful Witness in the Sky 

“God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.”
Genesis 1:16 (NIV)

This last year I have had my interest piqued by the names and the blessings that our nearest celestial neighbour brings to us. So far I’ve hunted and observed the Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon and in December I watched to see the Cold Moon. It’s called the Supermom this month – or a Blue Moon, as there are two full moons in January 2018!

Because the moon has an elliptical orbit it sometimes gets quite close to earth, and of course, appears to be much larger than at other times of the year. This quiet but important natural satellite seems to fascinate us humans from its thin smiling crescent phase to the round dazzling full moon on whose surface we can imagine a face, which we call “the man in the moon!” And speaking of a man on the moon, the race is on apparently for tourists to visit the moon in 2018.

This magnificent glowing orb has been used for centuries to establish calendars, set military engagements, and assist in navigation. Its gravity directs the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, which in turn affects many species of animal and plant life. But I guess a lesser known quality of our moon is that it helps stabilize the earth’s axis of rotation—without the moon nearby our planet home would wobble under the gravitational influence of the other planets, causing severe weather conditions and climate changes.

How blessed we are that a loving God designed and put together this beautiful blue home for us, a home that unfortunately we have abused and misused for such a long time and yet it still causes us to stand in awe as we come face to face with a glorious rainbow, a colourful autumn woodland, a mountaintop view or indeed the rising full moon!

Not surprisingly God compares his faithful covenant of love to the ever-present moon! He’s constantly watching over us whether we realise it or not, and his promises are as sure as the continued presence of the moon in the sky. Notice when speaking about his covenant with King David, he declares, “It will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky!” (Psalm 89:37).

Just like the presence of our faithful moon, so too are the faithful words of the one who created it to bless and delight us!

Prayer
Great Creator God, thank you for your continued faithfulness to us. And thank you also for the many blessings that you have placed about us for our wellbeing and our protection.
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill

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About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Farley Hill
LUTON
LU1 5JE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Harry Sullivan
Phone: 01908-582222
Email: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

 

30th January 2018

The Glass Path 

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”
1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

What is hope? In a worldly sense, depending on your age, it could be doing well at school, passing your exams, maybe going on to university. A little older, it could be the hope of a good job, with regular pay rises and promotions. Also the hope of meeting the right person for a long and happy marriage. Then the hope of buying a house and over time a bigger and better one. Then the hope of your children doing better than you, with better opportunities. As we age, the hope of a good pension and a comfortable retirement, and when we are pensioners the hope that we will have good health and remain fit and well.

All these things are fine and normal to hope for in this life. But what about spiritual hope? Do you have the hope of eternal life? (1 John 2:25) Do you have the hope of better world where people are loved, valued and able to use all their talents in a productive way? Do you hope for a world with no pain, no crying and no more death? (Revelation 21:3-4)

Christians have hope for all those things and walk along a glass path that other people cannot see. There are a number of famous Glass paths around the world like the glass walkway over the Grand Canyon in the USA, the Tower Bridge in London which has a glass floor walkway 42 metres above the River Thames, and there is a glass walkway 4,700 feet high in Tianmen Mountain, China. Imagine walking between two high buildings, not on a tightrope, but on a wide glass path that people looking up cannot see. They think you are walking on air. We don’t have to do that, but we do walk along a glass path whose foundation is God’s love for us, personally and individually. A love that underpins Christ’s life here on earth, his suffering, sacrifice, death, resurrection and promise to return. Sometimes we see the path clearly, sometimes it can be obscured by our trials and troubles, but we know it is always there ( Psalm 119:105).

Colossians 1:26 says these things are hidden from the wise but revealed to us. One day everyone will see the clear glass path to salvation. For now, our job as Christians, is to keep on the path, no matter what life throws at us, clearly focused on the hope that path represents.

Prayer
Loving Father, to the world the Christian path seems invisible and therefore ridiculous. While we look forward to the day when all humanity will see it, please make it even clearer for us, day by day. 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

29th January 2018

Should Christians Pay Taxes?

“Tell us, therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness…And He said to them, render therefore to Caesar the things that are his and to God the things that are God’s.”
Matthew 22:17-21 (NKJV)

Although the government tax year begins 6 April, the deadline for paying your taxes is midnight on 31 January 2018. It has been said that taxes and death no one can avoid. The subject of taxes has become a hot potato for internet companies, and a burning issue in the past presidential debate in USA.

But for a moment I would like to digress and look back at the past history of Israel. I am reminded of the time when Israel was under a Theocracy. They asked for a human king . God told Samuel, they are rejecting Me, that I should not reign over them. And a stark warning was given by God as to what the human kings would do to them and their children and their property (read 1 Samuel 8:7-19).

King Solomon was the richest recorded king, but he taxed his people heavily. His son made it even worse for Israel until eventually his kingdom was divided. 1 Kings 12:10-11 records that Rehoboam had said to them: “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!”

Today people are burdened with heavy taxes still, and it will ever be so until the kingdom of God is established under the King of Peace, who will bring peace and prosperity all over the world. Jesus was born to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords as we read in Luke 1:32-33 “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” This is the refreshing view of the future through the word of God.

In the mean time, we are to obey the law of the land and pay our taxes as the Apostle Paul was inspired to write in Romans 13:6-7, “For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.”

Prayer
Father in heaven, send our Saviour quickly. Lord Jesus, please come quickly.
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, UK, a part of Grace Communion International.

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

 

 

28th January 2018

Good News That Lasts 

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father…encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
2 Thessalonians 2:15-16 (NIV UK) 

Have you ever received one of those “too good to be true” offers in the mail from a credit card company? They arrive in brightly-coloured envelopes proclaiming things like, “Zero per cent interest on new purchases for your first 12 months!” And of course, zero per cent interest is pretty great. But then you read the fine print, and what seemed like good news at first turns out to only last for that introductory period of twelve months. After that? The real interest rate kicks in, and 22.5% isn’t very good news at all!

I was just tossing one of these flyers into the waste basket the other day when it hit me how much offers like that are the exact opposite of the Gospel. Because the good news of the Gospel never expires! There is no ‘introductory rate’ on grace—it’s just that good, forever! Listen to how the apostle Paul puts it: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

I love this verse, because it sums up the permanence of the Gospel so well. It’s not temporary good news, it’s permanent. And here, Paul reminds the Galatians of that truth, and then encourages them to “stand firm” in it, in order to resist being “burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

I think he’s speaking here to the human tendency to view God as a cosmic cop who’s watching our every move. Certainly, he forgave us that one time, for that one sin, but what happens when I sin again? Won’t he count that against me? Won’t the ‘offer’ of grace expire at some point? Won’t he give up on me and say I’m a lost cause?

Do you see how damaging that mindset can be? We shift from the promise of permanent good news, to one of temporary good news—and the problem is, that’s just not the Gospel of Jesus. In Christ, we’re fully forgiven, forever, and that will never, ever change. God will not give up on those he loves. He gives us a new start so we can continue to grow up in him, so we can become conformed to Christ, healed and restored. His love will bring to completion the good work he began in us and among us. His love loves to wholeness and completeness. When we waver in that hope, we slip back into the “temporary good news” mindset, which Paul so rightfully calls a “yoke of slavery.”

So the next time you feel yourself being tempted to believe that the grace of our triune God is some kind of “introductory offer” that expires, do what I did with that flyer, and throw that thought where it belongs: out with the rubbish!

Prayer
Righteous Father, thank you for the encouragement and strength you give us. Help us to realise that your grace is permanent and eternal, and that we are fully forgiven forever. In Jesus’ name we pray.
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.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

27th January 2018

Harmony In God’s Orchestra 

“…that they may become completely one, so the world may know…”
John 17:23 (NRSV)

Last week I wrote about God’s Orchestra and how Christians are all a part of it. God’s spiritual orchestra has people of varying abilities playing different sorts of instruments. Paul lists them in I Corinthians 12. You may not be very good at your instrument, but God does expect us to do our practice. He wants us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).

Have you ever thought, though, what this orchestra must look like and sound like to its audience, the society in which we live? Does the audience hear all the parts as though they were all one, playing in harmony? That, in fact, is what should be happening, but very often isn’t.

As we have seen, the orchestra is made up of many players. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12 NIV). These many members are grouped according to their contribution to the whole. There is a section devoted to 1st violins, another to 2nd violins, to violas, cellos, and so on. They sometimes even play different tunes or solos, but within the overall song. And each section has its section leader. They are the liaisons between the sections and the conductor.

The sections should all harmonise, but what happens if they don’t? If there is a breakdown in communication between the conductor and the sections? I have seen this happen occasionally in human orchestras. But in God’s spiritual orchestra? All too often sections, which can be likened to different Christian Denominations, decide they want to re-interpret the conductor’s directions. The Holy Spirit doesn’t always get listened to. The audience not only sees, but also hears, the results. The One Body of Christ fractures into even more denominations, and these become further divided. Even congregations split. It has been going on ever since Christ founded His church. It gives the audience cause for some humour. “Look at all these different Churches arguing. And they’re supposed to be united!”

Thankfully, the director of the orchestra, the Holy Spirit, has not lost control, and many Churches are losing their discord and overcoming what divides them. They are coming together and that, too, is noticed. In some cases, one church’s building is used by another church for worship and this unity leads to joint activities.

Each year there is an international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is an ecumenical activity in which many churches in an area unite for common worship. Grace Communion International in Watford, for example, is involved in this event through Churches Together. Let’s present Christianity as a harmonious orchestra with every section and instrument playing God’s song together.

Prayer
Loving Lord, may I willingly follow the direction of Your Holy Spirit wherever He leads me.
Amen

Study by Christopher Reeve

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About the Author:
Chris Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK, where his wife, Hilary accompanies him.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane
Blean
CANTERBURY
CT2 9JA

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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