31st August 2018

A Positive Outlook 

“But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.’”
Numbers 14:6-7 (NKJV)

In response to the Lord’s command Moses sent out twelve spies to spy on Canaan and to report back on what they saw. One man was selected from each of the tribes, probably to ensure a fair representation of the people.

When the spies returned they brought with them a mixed review. Each of them had seen the same things but their interpretation was different. Ten of them were negative and “they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land” (Numbers 13:32). It was true that it was a land that flowed with milk and honey, but, nevertheless, they claimed, the Canaanites were hostile and stronger than the Israelites and, what’s more, there were giants in the land, and “we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (verse 33). When the people heard this, they wanted to abandon the progress they had made and to return to Egypt, and they sought to replace the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

Only two of them were positive, as noted in the leading verse above. To them, God was in it all despite the giants and the fierce, powerful Canaanites — “Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9). The people wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb in response and preferred the “bad news” interpretation. Moses then preaches a powerful, corrective sermon to the Israelites. The story ends well for Joshua and Caleb, but not for the other ten spies, who die of the plague. Read the whole account in Numbers 13 through 14.

There are so many lessons in this story, and one that jumps out is about how we interpret what we see around us. Given the same information, the spies came to different conclusions. One was a conclusion of sight alone, the other of faith and promise. In Romans 8 the apostle Paul describes how terrible events may surround and affect believers, and he states that, despite them, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (verse 28). Joshua and Caleb’s positive slant on things fits in well with this verse.

Prayer
Thank you, Father, for the stories we read in the Bible, and for how they instruct us about a life of faith. Help me, please, through your Holy Spirit, to be more positive than I am negative. 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

30th August 2018

Don’t Stay Home Alone 

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NRSV)

In his book, Church, Ministry and Sacraments, C.K. Barrett makes this perceptive observation: “in the New Testament the church is at the same time central and peripheral” (p.9). It is peripheral because the heart of New Testament Christianity is Christ, the gospel message and the salvation that his vicarious life, death, resurrection and ascension has achieved for humankind. At the same time, it is also central in that there is no such thing as a conversion which does not lead to belonging to the church.

Yes, Christians are a part of the mystical body of Christ, the universal church, but the idea of belonging to the visible church in one of its local manifestations can often be absent in people’s thinking. It’s the idea that, ‘I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian’, and so belonging to a local church becomes an optional extra for many people.

This is not the New Testament approach; rather it is a product of modern individualism and anti-intuitionalism; attitudes that have not just affected the church, but also political parties, and other voluntary organisations. Being a Christian is a corporate matter, not purely an individual, private matter. God’s aim is not to save us as isolated individuals, but to bring us into his family. To become a child of God inevitably implies that the other children of God become one’s brothers and sisters, that one has become part of God’s family. This family is composed of those who love one another; it is not to be like a dysfunctional family that never meets. So why come to a local church, especially when you don’t feel like getting out of bed and making the effort to mix with others? Here are a few more reasons to consider:
Worship: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor” (Psalm. 29:2).
Fellowship: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Ministry: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1 Peter 4:10).
Discipleship: “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Prayer: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians. 4:6). 

All of these corporate activities build the body of Christ and give glory to God – I look forward to seeing you in church. 

Prayer
Father, thank you for your church in which we can grow, serve and worship you. Cultivate in us a love to join together in your presence.
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: barry_robinson@wcg.org.uk

29th August 2018

Is it Black and White?

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.”
1 Corinthians 4:3 (NIV)

How often have we felt frustrated upon hearing of a sentence given by the courts which does not, according to our thoughts, fit the crime? We are left with the thought that perhaps crime does pay! Alleged felons walk free while victims suffer. The media cry out where is justice? The facts of the case appear to be black and white. So why was justice lacking?

We use black and white as a term of argument definition, where we see clarity of outline in our reasoning. As a young person, I recall being passionate about issues—there was no middle ground, my mind was set, I had the answers. It is a truism however that the older one becomes, the greyer issues appear, the less certain one becomes of the veracity of one’s reasoning. Life’s experiences teach us that matters are not always ‘black and white.’ Robert Frank, the Swiss-American photographer and documentary filmmaker said, “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”

What does Jesus Christ say? In Matthew 7:1 Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” That statement is clear enough, but why should we follow its instruction? The answer is in John 8:7: “When they continued to question Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.’”

We are not qualified to judge anyone—only Jesus Christ has been given this office from His Father. John 5:22 tells us, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” Jesus goes on to tell us in John 8:15-16, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.” To have perfect judgement is to be divine. Our perspective is clouded by the ‘mote’ in our eye—our sin. Man’s law has no mercy written into the scrolls – mercy is a constituent of grace. Jesus, because of His death and resurrection has provided the mercy mankind so desperately needs.

A day is soon coming when the world will be judged with the consummate judgement of Jesus. We have no reason to fear. We trust and place our faith in our most merciful Saviour who will set to rights the injustices of this world once and for all. He will mete out perfect justice wrapped in grace. Meantime “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 21).

Prayer
Holy and righteous Father, thank you for your loving mercy, without which we would be lost. Thank you for Jesus who has saved us from ourselves.
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, part of Grace Communion International, 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.sueann.henderson49@gmail.com

28th August 2018

Explain it to a Child!

“He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more.”
Isaiah 2:4 (NKJV)

How would you explain today’s world to a young child ? Say a five, six or seven year old, the children that will inherit the results of our actions in the world today? How well could you explain the moral decline of the last, say 70 years? How well could you explain why we have allowed our governments to build up staggering debts that those children will have to pay, because neither government nor ourselves will face the truth that we are living beyond our means?

How would you explain to an innocent, trusting child the situation in the middle east, where children their age in Syria are being bombed by their own government? Where ISIS have wreaked havoc in Syria and Iraq on people of all ages, old and young, whether Christians or Muslims, and on irreplaceable ancient monuments?

How do you explain famines in Africa; wars in which people have limbs deliberately hacked off, and possible state-sponsored use of nerve gas right here in the UK?

It’s tough to think about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit and our responsibility for it. But we can explain this world to them. How? By explaining that humanity rejected God, through Adam and Eve, and the world they live in today is suffering as a result. That God is temporarily allowing humanity to go its own way, to follow its desires right or wrong, and the result of that is what they see around them today.

But the good news is that there is a God who loves us and who will return and change the hearts of human beings. Jesus Christ will return in power to rule this world and change the way humanity lives. The future is not dark, but bright, and the day is coming when love really will be the motivating force of our daily lives. Then, as the scripture above says, there will be a real change for the better.

Prayer
Loving Father, children are the future. Speed the return of Jesus Christ so that today’s children, as adults, may live in a world of love and peace.
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

27th August 2018

One Thing Is Needed 

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His words. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

What was wrong with Martha’s hospitality? One could say nothing–it wasn’t so much her hospitality, but her priority. With the task of serving, she missed the greatest of importance of taking time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen as Mary did. When we read the passage carefully, we find that Mary did spend some time assisting Martha, but Mary recognised that listening to what Jesus had to say was more important than preparing a physical meal. We could ask, did Jesus really need an elaborate meal? Jesus had something more important to say to Mary and Martha, but Martha was missing out. Jesus recognised this and said that Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her. Lessons we can learn from this incident, besides examining our priorities, include:

Never forgotten: The physical meal would soon be forgotten, but the words from Jesus lead to eternal life. As it says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Jesus is Lord: When Martha came out of the kitchen, notice what she said: “Lord!” Martha acknowledged that Jesus is Lord. She asked Jesus if He didn’t care that Mary wasn’t helping. Then Martha gave Jesus an order “Tell my sister to help me in the kitchen.”

Sitting at the feet of Jesus: Mary loved to sit at Jesus’ feet (the place of humility). We find Mary at the feet of Jesus in John 11:32 and again in 12:3. Like Martha, we too can be so detracted, not only in the kitchen, but with all the modern day gadgets, work, our own pursuits and what ever else eats away at our time, that we have little time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He want us to hear.

Prayer
Dear Lord, thank you for your wonderful words of life that Your Son, Jesus Christ, wants us to hear and obey. We pray for your blessing in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Dennis Payne

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About the Author:
Dennis Payne attends the North London Congregation of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International 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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