30th June 2018

Again, Who is my Neighbour? (Part 2) 

“Jesus said, ‘Go and do the same.’”
Luke 10:37 (MSG)
 

I guess that the most asked question during the past few years, both verbally and in print is, “Has anyone miss-sold you PPI?” I know it sounds like a petrol additive to increase the miles per gallon of your car, but of course it isn’t going to increase anything for you and so people are quite rightly claiming back the money they have paid in.

During his earthly ministry Jesus was asked many questions and unfortunately many of them were designed to ‘take him down a peg or two’ or to trap him into saying something that the Pharisees could use against him, or in one case, to justify the questioner. Like the expert in the law who asked him two questions and triggered the parable of the Good Samaritan. The expression, ‘A Good Samaritan’ has come down throughout the centuries as a name for anyone who does a good deed or reaches out to help someone else, just because they can.

Did you ever consider that all the ingredients in the story of the Good Samaritan are often found on the front pages of our daily newspapers? Jesus spoke of violence and we certainly have plenty of that today. He also spoke about crime, racial discrimination and hatred, and that, too, is all around us today. In this parable we see neglect, and unconcern but we also get an eyeful of compassion, love and mercy.

We all know the story, but today I’d like to focus on the questions that triggered this story. His first was, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Actually, this question is flawed, what can anyone do to inherit anything? Inheritance by its very nature is a gift from one family member to another. If you are born into, or adopted into, a family, then you can inherit. Inheritance is not payment for services rendered!

The second was just as wrong and via this story Jesus pointed out that the question “Who is my neighbour?” should actually be, “To whom must I become a neighbour?” The story reveals to this lawyer and indeed to all of us, that our neighbour is anyone in need, regardless of language, religion or ethnicity. His urgent message is “Go, and as you do, reach out to those in need—reach across the divides of race, gender, age, position, education, faith, wealth, lifestyle, and all the other factors that make us feel separate and distant from others. In other words—become a neighbour to them!

Prayer
Father, please grant us your compassion that we might reach out to others as the Samaritan did and make a difference to their lives and ours.
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

29th June 2018

Drawing Near to God 

“But as for me, it is good for me to draw near to God; I have made the Lord God my refuge and placed my trust in Him, That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:28 (AMP)

God, who is Spirit, is everywhere, even when evil persists, and the response on our part is to draw close to him in the certainty of that presence.

This is what the musician and composer, Asaph, notes in Psalm 73. He reflects on the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous, and he is struggling with doubt and thoughts of unbelief. We don’t know the whole setting but we do know that Asaph’s descendants were in a guild of singers connected to the second Temple (see Nehemiah 7:44). Asaph’s conclusion is that the only answer to such perplexing questions lies in the fellowship of God, and, therefore, we seek that fellowship no matter what.

There’s a lesson in this for us today. In the modern world it seems that unbelievers prosper more than believers and that their voice is heard more than ours. What should our response be?

God is always near, right by our side, and yet sometimes in our actions and thoughts it’s as if we move away from him. It’s time to join in the words of Asaph, “But as for me, it is good for me to draw near to God.”

Prayer
Thank you, Father, for the eternal presence of your Spirit, and yet sometimes I drift away from you in my thoughts and in my lifestyle. Help me, please, to have the approach of Asaph, being convicted that it is good to draw close to you. 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 June 2018

Good Publicity 

“Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS…and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.”
John 19:19-20 (NIV)

The President of the United States knows the power of the media. All political leaders like to be in the public eye, but he does so by saying things that are controversial, unorthodox, or unpredictable, using his personal Twitter account to do so. And sometimes he uses a grand moment in history, such as his recent meeting with the leader of North Korea.

Significant as this meeting was, however, it cannot claim to be the most important event in human history. To Christians, that accolade must go to a different event that was also unexpected, amazing, and controversial: the ignominious death by crucifixion of a man who claimed to be not only King of the Jews, but also the very Son of God! At Jesus’ death, he was “despised and rejected by mankind” (Isaiah 53:3), forsaken by his followers, and mocked by the religious establishment. He suffered disgrace and humiliation, but he did not die anonymously, and unnoticed.

Crucifixions were a fairly regular occurrence in Roman times, and I suspect Roman governors took little interest in them, far less taking the trouble to have individual victims publicly named. Yet in this case Pilate had a notice prepared which publicly named Jesus, unashamedly proclaiming his title as King of the Jews, and, most surprising of all, this was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek—all the major languages of the day. If the objective was to make Jesus’ identity and death known to as many people as possible, it seems to have worked because: “Many of the Jews read this sign” (John 19:20). Rather good publicity, wasn’t it? And of course it was reinforced by the supernatural time of darkness that afternoon, the earthquake that followed, and the raising to life of “many holy people” who went into Jerusalem and “appeared to many” (Matthew 27:51-53).

To be in the public eye is something that political leaders of all descriptions try to achieve. But when the most important event in all human history took place, it did not happen anonymously or in secret, nor was it hushed up. It was accompanied by considerably publicity. And we can be very glad that it was!

Prayer
Great Father, thank you so much that the greatest demonstration in all time of your vast love for humanity, Jesus’ death on the cross, was widely witnessed and recorded. That was as it should be, and it helps considerably in spreading the gospel today.
Amen
 

Study by Gordon Brown

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About the Author:
Gordon Brown is an Elder in the London Congregation of Grace Communion International.

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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: london@gracecom.church

27th June 2018

Foot in Mouth

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom….”
Colossian 3:16 (ESVUK)

We’ve probably all seen statistics about what goes on every second around the world. Here are a few samples: every second four babies are born and two people die. The earth travels 18 1/2 miles through space, and 4 thousand stars are born across the universe. Lightning will strike the ground 100 times and somewhere a bee will flap its wings over 270 times. In that same second four hundred and eighteen KitKats are in the process of being consumed!

But there’s a statistic that no amount of online searching will unearth: just how many people every second put their foot in their mouth and upset someone else. I suspect the number would be on the large side. The phrase comes from way back when it started out as just ‘to put one’s foot in it’, meaning when you have said something inappropriate to someone it is as if you had stepped into something rather nasty. Just use your imagination on that one. If we are either teaching or having to say something rather tough to someone else, it can be even more difficult to find the right words that will help and uphold, and not offend.

We can’t get a pill for it, but there is an antidote to foot-in-mouth disease: letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, and so being guided by him who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. He is indeed wisdom incarnate.

Our world is peopled with the people of God, who have the Spirit of Christ in them. So there must also be another statistic we won’t be able to find: how many people open their mouths every second and speak with the wisdom that Christ can bring. That figure is not available on earth, but no doubt it is known in heaven.

Prayer
Father, as we live in Christ and he in us, may his word be deep within us so that all our words are welcomed.
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

26th June 2018

Christ In You 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”
Colossians 3:16 (ESV) 

Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul to combat false teachers that arose in this fledgling congregation who were demoting the importance and significance of Christ. Paul’s emphasis on the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ’s work reminds them that they need not look elsewhere for completion of salvation. Hence his instruction to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

But how can we apply Paul’s words to a 1st century church in the 21st century? The word of Christ can refer to both Christ’s teachings and teachings about him, which we find not only in the gospels but throughout the Bible because all Scripture points to Jesus (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46).

The message of and about Jesus must dwell in us, which means we must be at home with the story of Jesus and he must be at home in us. We must live in the Scripture so that the Scripture lives in us. The home where we live is the place we come back to day after day for refuge, peace and rest; and we must continually come back to the word of Christ for spiritual refuge, peace and rest.

This word is to dwell in us ‘richly’ implying that we need an abundant supply of God’s Word. Scripture is stocked with thought-provoking, encouraging and comforting teaching about Jesus; it’s a place filled with rich treasures, so spend time reading, studying and meditating on the word of Christ. The more spiritually rich food you eat, the healthier you become.

Yet there is more to Paul’s admonition here. When he says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” the ‘you’ is plural. This means that Paul is not simply talking about each of us having personal Bible study, he’s saying that the word of Christ should dwell richly in the church. We are to teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) so that the word of Christ permeates the life of the church. In that way, false teaching about the nature and work of Christ will be negated whether it is in the 1st or 21st century.

When the word of Christ dwells in the church richly there is only one response we can have—worship. And so Paul provides the perfect conclusion for a church centred on Jesus by saying we are to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God.

Prayer
Father, may our worship overflow as Christ’s word is pre-eminent in the church.
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 Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Camberwell
LONDON
SE5 7HN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: camberwell@gracecom.church

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