31st March 2018

Old Jerusalem And New Jerusalem

“Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David.”
2 Chronicles 3:1 (NIV)

We have heard a lot about this city of Jerusalem over the last few years and it’s not always good news! It seems a shame that such a place that is held in high regard by Jews, Christians and Muslems should be regarded by others as a tinderbox that ignites conflicts year after year.

Did you know that this was the place where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac his only son (Genesis 22: 2). But, where is this Mount Moriah? According to our masthead scripture it is the same place where Solomon—the son of David—built the Temple of God; in Jerusalem!

The city of Jerusalem was also known as Salem (meaning ‘peace’) long before it had its name change and it seems like Abraham had a part in renaming it. After his son Isaac was spared and then a ram appeared caught in a thicket, he called the place “Yireh” which in Hebrew means ‘The Lord will provide.’ So, if we prefix Yireh to Salem we get Yireh-salem or Jerusalem. Genesis 22:14 continues, “And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it shall be provided.’”

I guess we might wonder why Isaac was spared and a ram took his place on the altar of sacrifice. I think it was because this son of Abraham had a bigger part to play in God’s plan of salvation. If we check Luke chapter 3, we find the genealogy of Jesus and in verse 34 it tells us that he was descended through Isaac!

But during this episode Isaac was foreshadowing the sacrifice of Jesus. Remember Genesis 22:2 tells us that he was Abraham’s only son and Jesus was God’s only son. Isaac carries the wood for the sacrifice because this was supposed to be a burnt offering. Jesus carried the wood of his cross, as it says in John 19:16-17, “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).” Interestingly, there was no substitute here for this sacrifice—no ram caught in a bush. No, and why? Because Jesus’ death was the substitute for us—for mankind—the sacrifice to end all sacrifices! No wonder the people continued to quote this saying, “On the mountain of the Lord it shall be provided!” He did, and he will ultimately, bring to earth a New Jerusalem, a place where Jesus rules and righteousness dwells—isn’t that good news? (2 Peter 3:13 & Revelation 21:1-3).

Prayer
Praise and thanks to you, Father, for the precious gift of sacrificial love in giving up your only Son for us all.
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 March 2018

We Were There 

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
John 19:38-40 NKJV)

This poignant account from John’s gospel of Jesus is beautiful in its simplicity.

Johnny Cash famously sang Were you there when they crucified my Lord? One of the lines is, Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Imagine. Let’s go back to that moment. What if you or I had to take care of the dead body of a loved one? What if it were battered and bloodied? Where would you start? How did Joseph and Nicodemus feel as they took Jesus’ body down? Did the centurion, who had witnessed the crucifixion, help them? Was the cross lowered first, and then, gently, with tears in their eyes, did they extract the nails from the flesh and prise the crown of thorns from his head? What next? Did they take some clean cloth, to wash away the blood and dirt from his body, and, with tenderness, pat it dry in preparation for the first embalming? Was this followed by wrapping the strips of linen, infused with sweet-smelling, preserving spices, around his lifeless body before laying Jesus respectfully in the tomb? How did the women react as they watched on? What emotions gripped them as they followed the men carrying him to the tomb, and watched as the stone closed its entrance? The song continues, Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble…tremble.

In a sense we were there.

The Jesus story goes from sadness to elation, from sorrow to joy, from weeping to singing, because, you remember what happens…three days later the stone is rolled away! Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away? Johnny Cash goes on to sing. We all – each of us, everyone who has ever lived and who will live in the future – participate in all that Jesus is and in the key events of his ministry.

Jesus’s story becomes our story. Jesus is no longer nailed to that cross or dead in the grave. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NIV).

Prayer
Thank you, Father, for your son, Jesus, who died for us and was raised from the dead for us that we might live a new life in him.
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

29th March 2018

The Master Becomes A Servant

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher [ Master ], have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
John 13:14-15 (NKJV)

Every Christian comes to realise and appreciate what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. He set an example of humility, eventually giving up His precious life on the cross.

Spring time is a special time when nature comes alive. Also for us, it is a time of remembering the new covenant in the blood of our Saviour. Jesus Christ, before His crucifixion, introduced a new concept of eating bread and drinking wine, symbolically representing His broken body and shed blood. Many of His followers left Him when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).

Ever since I was baptised into the Body of Christ, I have followed His example of washing the feet of the brethren, and partaking of the bread and wine as commanded. Last year, 2017, I had the privilege to share this experience with brethren in Northampton. It was a simple, but moving service conducted by our GCI National Ministry Leader in the UK, James Henderson. It was inspiring and profitable. He explained that the early Corinth Church was fragmented, and there was division. The Apostle Paul sought to bring unity among them through his letter (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). None of us is worthy to eat the Lord’s Supper, but through the worthiness of our Saviour, it is made possible for us who accept Him. Jesus was and is the Bread of life from heaven, and we are united in Him as one loaf together as we eat fragments of bread and drink the wine. That was a special moment for me; thinking how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity, peace and harmony in the Spirit.

My prayer is that every one would come to understand this wonderful teaching of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who took the form of a Servant, giving up His glory and coming in the flesh to die on the cross. He experienced being nailed to the gruesome cross, bleeding for the sins of the world. “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Let us rejoice in Him, for He is alive, and is coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords — no more a Servant, but our Lord and Master in His glory.

Prayer
Abba, Father in heaven, glory, honour, thanks and praise to You for sending Your Son to make our salvation sure. I beseech You in the name of Jesus to give us deeper understanding.
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 March 2018

By My Side

“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’”
Mark 10:35-37 (NIV)

Jesus was making his last journey to Jerusalem with the disciples. James and John were already part of the Twelve, especially selected by Jesus. But that wasn’t enough; they wanted to be the top-dogs next to Jesus. The disciples were never shy about their ambition for position in the coming Kingdom of the Messiah and had continued to jostle for power. As all the Jews did, they looked to the time when the Messiah would throw off the yoke of foreign domination and eliminate all Israel’s enemies. Their aim was to be there in power. Matthew’s account of this incident adds that the pair had inveigled their mother into helping out in the power-grab. She went along with it, and knelt before Jesus, requesting the leading positions for her sons when the time came for Jesus to take his power and be the conquering, liberating Messiah of Israel they all expected.

The ten were furious when they heard they had been out-manoeuvred. Jesus had to patiently explain that A: it was not his to give, and B: that they had woefully misunderstood the way of the Kingdom. The way of greatness was one of humble, loving service, not lording it over others. The full extent of that way was to be seen a few days later as Jesus hung on the cross. And as he did so, apart from John who was with Mary, Jesus’ mother, there wasn’t a disciple in sight: they’d fled.

So who were the first to be on his right and left: two criminals, crucified on either side of him, representatives of the fallen people he had come to rescue. They were the ones by his side as through intense suffering Jesus brought about a glorious victory, conquering sin and death and all the opposing powers of the world.

Prayer
Saviour, may we serve you in grateful humility, wherever you choose to place us.
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

 

27th March 2018

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
John 3:14-15 (NIV)
 

When speaking to Nicodemus Jesus drew an interesting parallel between a snake in the desert and himself. What did he mean?

In Numbers we are told that the Israelites “grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God” (Numbers 21:4-5). They complained that there was no bread and no water; they detested the manna God had provided and felt God had only brought them into the desert to die (verse 5). Venomous snakes came into the camp, resulting in many deaths (verse 6), which led the people to recognise their sin and so they asked Moses to intercede (verse 7). Responding to this intercession God instructed Moses to “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live” (Verse 8), which is what happened (verse 9).The people thought they had the right to judge God. They didn’t like what was going on, and were blind to what God had done for them. They had forgotten he had saved them out of slavery, delivering them through miraculous plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea.

The situation of Nicodemus is not so very different. He felt he could judge Jesus: “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God” (John 3:2). And he too was in spiritual darkness regarding God’s activity (John 3:10).

Humanity stood in judgment of God in the Garden of Eden, desiring to be independent of him, and from that moment on death entered our experience (Genesis 3:1-13). Help for the Israelites, Nicodemus and humanity comes from something God ordained and provides. Our only hope is in the provision God makes, not in something we do—in something else that is lifted up on a pole, or more precisely, in someone who is lifted up on a cross. The term “lifted up” in John’s gospel is an expression for Jesus’ crucifixion and is the only remedy for humanity’s condition.

The snake was just a symbol that provided physical healing to some Israelites, pointing to the ultimate One who provides spiritual healing for all humanity. Our only hope to escape from death depends on looking to this provision God has made. Our only hope is to look to the One who was hoisted on a pole. We must look to, and believe in, the Son of Man who is “lifted up,” if we are to be saved from death and have eternal life. This is the Gospel message prefigured in the history of Israel’s wanderings in the desert, so let’s look to Jesus and live.

Prayer
Father, help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who endured the cross for the joy of our salvation.
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:
Barry Robinson
Email:   london@gracecom.church

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