30th September 2018

Never Obsolete

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV UK)

Have you ever noticed that your mobile phone seems to start malfunctioning right around the time a new model rolls out? This is called ‘forced obsolescence’ and it is the policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete after a certain period of time. Of course, this is a devious practice, but it is also very effective. It keeps the whole world clamouring for what is new and next, instead of focused on what works best and longest. And while this is easy to see in everything from cars to technology, the concept has also affected religion as well.

The ‘old fashioned’ religion of previous generations can seem like a bad fit sometimes for today’s throw-away society. And so we see churches introduce up-to-date programmes and hip worship formats to attract members, hoping to stay relevant instead of becoming obsolete. But some worry that catering in this way won’t succeed without serious compromises. I actually think this challenge is a good thing. Why? First, we don’t have to worry. The Christian faith is 2,000+ years old, and it’s been through much worse challenges than changing music styles and attention spans. And second, I think that the fickle and faddish nature of the current culture doesn’t undercut the need for the Christian faith, but actually emphasizes it instead. Jesus promised his disciples that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31).

When Jesus spoke those words in first century Israel, he already knew that 2,000 years later, humanity would need his love, forgiveness, grace and eternal life just as badly as they did then. He knew that the world would change radically when it came to culture and technology. But he also knew that there was one thing that would never become obsolete: humanity’s need for a Saviour.

As long as humanity exists in our fallen state we will always need Christ. Thus, we will always need what Christianity has to offer. Styles of worship, sanctuaries, or different preaching can come and go like new models of technology, but as long as the words of God are taught, they will remain as relevant and fresh as ever. God’s Word, Living and Written, will always bring renewed life as the Spirit speaks in and through it to bring us back into right relationship with our Triune God.

Prayer
Faithful Father, thank you for the eternal persistence and relevance of your message of salvation and redemption. We seek your help in remembering this until it becomes cemented as reality for us. 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

29th September 2018

The Bad Samaritan

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’”
John 4:35 (NIV)

Most Christians are familiar with the story of The Good Samaritan. It is probably the best-known of all Jesus’ parables. In fact the expression ‘good Samaritan’ has become something of a cliche that is used to describe anyone who helps out another person when they need it.

On the other hand, the story of the “Bad Samaritan” is never mentioned. That’s a shame, because she is an interesting character. Did I say ‘she’? Yes indeed, and you would never believe how Jesus responded to her. All is revealed in Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel. Verses 1-2 show Jesus travelling through Samaria on the way to Galilee. It was about midday, and he stopped for a rest at a well. Shortly afterwards, a Samaritan woman came to the well, and Jesus asked if she could give Him some water.

If she had simply said: “Yes, of course, here you are,” the matter might have ended there. Instead, she started questioning Him. One question led to another, and Jesus revealed that he knew her to be a woman of dubious character. She had had no fewer than 5 husbands, and was now living with a man to whom she was not married. Rather than shaming her, however, this only led her to ask even more questions. In the Jewish culture of the time, it was forbidden for a Jew to speak to a Gentile, worse still for a Jewish man to speak to a Gentile woman, and worst of all for a Jewish man to speak to a Gentile woman of ill repute. Not only did Jesus brush all that aside, He did something remarkable by His own standards—he gave her ‘inside information’ that he shared with very few others. He told her about the Holy Spirit (described in verse 10 as living water); he revealed the Father and how he would be worshipped in future (verse 23); and finally, most amazing of all, he stated plainly that He was the expected Messiah (verses 25-26).

This was unprecedented. Why did Jesus share such vital information so openly with this unusual person? He explained his reason to his disciples: “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Jesus saw that the woman and her people were ready to accept his message. So he let her go back to town to spread the good news. As a result, many responded, came to hear him and became believers (verse 40-41).

Jesus reached out to people ready to listen to him, using as a messenger the last person you would expect—a woman who was despised, marginalised, a kind of outcast. But Jesus saw beyond the outward appearance. Perhaps he saw an opportunity to turn a ‘bad Samaritan’ into a ‘good Samaritan’!

But this Samaritan story was no parable, it was a true story—stranger than fiction. And a wonderful example of the amazing grace demonstrated again and again in Jesus’ unconditional love for those who needed Him.

Prayer
Great Father, thank you for this inspiring example of your wonderful grace towards sinners, and especially towards ordinary people. Your love continues to amaze and encourage us, and is great news for all humanity.
Amen

Study by Gordon Brown
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About the Author:
Gordon Brown is an Elder and serves on the Church Council of 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

28th September 2018

Crossing Over

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)

The Exodus story is not simply about what the Israelites get out of, (their bondage to the Egyptians as their slave labour force), but how they get out of it, (crossing over the Red Sea by grace). In Moses’ response to the fearful, complaining, ungrateful Israelites, the principle of grace could not be more clearly stated—Stand still. God is going to fight for you. All you need to do is watch. You can’t part the Red Sea. You can’t defeat the mighty Egyptian army. God is going to do it for you. Don’t look to your own efforts, but receive complete deliverance, based not on your own works, but solely on God’s works.

That’s the principle of grace, but the Exodus story also illustrates how that grace works. It involves a crossing over from their old false masters where they were under condemnation and the sentence of death, to a new master where there is freedom and life. This idea is picked up in the New Testament where Jesus tells us: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

The Christian is one who has crossed over from bondage to freedom, from death to eternal life by standing still and trusting in the grace God offers through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Now that’s a rescue worth telling the world about.

Prayer
Father, may we be still and realize that our complete and total salvation is found in the grace you freely give us through Jesus Christ, and in our gratitude may we share this good news with all who need rescuing from bondage.
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

27th September 2018

The Godhead Manifested

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 28:19 (NIVUK)

In the tenuous, tender-footed steps of my early Christian walk, I fancied I saw my God. On storm-driven clouds, he rode the raging heavens to my side. His countenance as lightning, his raiment, dazzling bright. Yet, I perceived not my God in the fullness of his being.

In the youthful effervescence of my continuing walk, I believed I beheld the majesty of my Lord. In a body of flesh, he appeared at my side to give me strength, to shelter me and guide me through life’s weary way. He taught me how to live and showed me the narrow path that I must tread; though his acquaintance with sorrow far away outstripped my own. Yet, in my suffering servant-friend, though true Saviour and Emmanuel, I beheld not the plenitude of God’s glory.

In the mellowing mid-life midway, along the Kingdom path, on a by-road falsely taken, I thought I glimpsed my God. Chartered in judicial law, his iron will, decreed by solemn statute, was my refuge and the ground of all my trust. Through the valley of death’s shadow, his glory shone, to quiet waters where king of beasts and lowly lamb repose. Yet, for all the shining brightness, ancient mandate and prophetic dream did yield, the amplitude of God’s glory lay undisclosed.

No more tossed by waves or winds of thought, I tread more carefully the path of faith which leads to maturity of spirit and to Godly stature. Now does my God appear before me in all the fulness of his being, as I reflect on the richness and the splendour of the Christ event. Now do I know him, not in his Oneness only, but in his fulness, that is, in his Threeness—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My great and gracious, condescending God who, through the incarnate Word, has drawn back heavens veil to reveal, in saving grace, the love that from eternity flows endlessly between everlasting Father and ever-loving Son; witnessed, confessed, celebrated and manifested by the Eternal Spirit.

By the incarnation of the Son of God has the Father been made known, in whose bosom the Son resides, whose coming outward into the world is the work of the same Holy Spirit now at work in me. And his saving work continues, subduing, restraining, conquering the sinful nature which, though defeated in Christ, still strives within my flesh to resist the Father’s will; which divine purpose, by grace through faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit shall uphold.

Prayer
Our great God and Heavenly Father, we thank you for the priceless Gift of the Son of your love, which gift is the measure of the grace outpoured for us. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit who manifests Christ to us, revealing your everlasting and unconditional love.
Amen

Study by Richard Dempsey
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About the Author:
Richard Dempsey is an Elder in the Peterborough congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Peterborough
Farcet Village Hall
Main Street
Farcet
PETERBOROUGH
PE7 3AN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2 pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Alan Quinn
Email: quinnsatfarcet@aol.com

26th September 2018

Church—Support Group For Sinners?

“Some people have stopped going regularly to our Christian meetings, but we must not stop going there. Then we can help each other to be strong Christians. You should do this more and more, because the Lord’s great day is coming.”
Hebrews 10:25 (Easy English)

I kid myself that one day I will lose sufficient weight to fit into my favourite clothes and return to the fitness levels of my prior years. Notwithstanding the ravages of getting older, is this possible? It would seem the answer is yes. If an 80-year-old granny can take up fitness training in her 50’s and run marathons in her 80’s, why can’t I? Yet self-discipline can be a moving target without help and support from others around us!

No doubt helpful, but perhaps indicative of today’s society where mobile phones and tablets act as conduits for pseudo-human contact, mobile ‘apps’ and web-based portals are being developed as alternative ‘self-helps’ to manage conditions such as diabetes and depression. And now we have Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. But do these ‘apps’ successfully remove the need for people?

Whether it’s Weightwatchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Homestart, as evidenced by multiple research studies , the principle remains that social relationships formed with people we meet with regularly are key to helping us overcome obstacles we face throughout life.

Perhaps not everyone warms to the term ‘support group’, but the fact is they are proven to help people. Online you will find a support group for just about anything—dealing with bereavement, depression, drug/alcohol addiction, living with cancer, being a carer, suffering from various diseases and disabilities—the list is endless. No wonder the scripture above urges ut that we should not forsake meeting together as some have done.

Church is many things; the body of Christ; a forum for worship, and it is also a support group for sinners. If James wrote ‘confess your sins to each another’ (James 5:16 NIV), is this not so we can help and support one another? All of us have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23 NIV) and each of us can support others to overcome. Regular church attendance is one more tool in our box to help us overcome sin. Lions pick off lone prey, not those who are part of a group.

Cognisant of the grace we are all under, and legitimate reasons some may have stopped attending , let’s support and encourage each other to meet regularly. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11; “tell these things to each other so that you do not feel sad or weak. Help each other to become stronger as believers, as you are doing already”, that is, helping each other overcome sin in our lives in a way that is loving, respectful and sensitive to our spiritual family’s needs.

Prayer
Lord God, we thank you that in supplying our every need, you provide safe havens for us to meet regularly to worship and be with you. Help us to encourage and support each other as we overcome sin in our lives.
Amen

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/meet-80-year-old-bodybuilding-8244187
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Alexa
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/ Social Support and Resilience to Stress
https://www.gci.org/church/assembly
http://www.penstrokes.co.ke/2018/02/why-dont-you-go-to-church/

About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH
NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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