31st October 2018

Peace Be With You

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

After Jesus was crucified, his disciples had a hard time believing he had been resurrected even though Mary told them she had seen him at the tomb. The next evening, however, when they were together in a locked room, Jesus came and stood among them, saying ‘Peace be with you!’ (John 20:18-21). I should think they were scared out of their wits having him appear like that from nowhere. As he calmed the sea with ‘Peace be still,’ he calmed their nerves with a greeting of peace.

A week later, Jesus again appeared to them through locked doors and calmed them with his greeting ‘Peace be with you!” (John 20:26-28). This was the time when Jesus showed his hands, feet and side to Thomas, who then believed. Jesus said in verse 29 “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In fact, the book of John is written and records incidents not in the other three Gospels so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

And because of these things recorded for us, we can believe that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We may not be able to see him but he is there, beside us and within us through his Holy Spirit. A Spirit that is more powerful than any of the spirits that may roam on Halloween, in graveyards or ‘haunted’ houses.

Prayer
Father in Heaven, we trust in your protection and have peace through your Spirit, knowing that you are always with us and will never leave us or forsake us.
Amen

Study by Nancy Silcox
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About the Author:
Nancy Silcox attends the Watford Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, part of Grace Communion International. Nancy prepares and uploads the Day by Day studies submitted by members of the Worldwide Church of God UK/Grace Communion International.

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

30th October 2018

Love and Power

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,”
Mark 10:42-43 (NIVUK)

There is possibly no starker contrast between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God than in their diametrically opposed views on the exercise of power. The former is often characterised by the love of power, the latter by the power of love. In the world there are different kinds of power, military, political, religious, demonic and economic, that can be exercised in a number of often interconnecting ways. All these powers were utilised by those involved in the death of Jesus; the civil, military, and religious authorities (in the arrest, trial and crucifixion) and Satan (when he entered into Judas). Economics also played a role when Jesus was betrayed for money—30 pieces of silver: the price of a slave. By contrast the power of love was also demonstrated at the crucifixion when God willingly allowed it to happen for the greater good of humanity and to overcome the power of death and sin.

As the opening scripture states, the love of power leads rulers to lord it over others. In his actions and teachings Jesus revealed the chasm that exists between the world’s view of lordship and the Godly form of leadership. Human nature loves lordship, which makes people feel good and important, to be able to lord it over others, and use their power and prestige for personal advantage. Religious leaders are not immune to the temptations associated with power as Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the market-places, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely” (Mark 12:38-40). The attraction of power and prestige to human beings was not lost on Satan when he tempted Jesus with rulership over all the earthly kingdoms of this world.

God is even willing to experience disgrace in order to draw men and women into communion with himself and with others, as he seeks to bring humanity into a relationship. The cross is a scene of suffering, dereliction and death, which is foolishness to this world, but reveals God’s unconditional love for humanity. God does not ride roughshod over humanity; his unconditional love means that human beings can freely learn to love God out of a response to his love. It also means that they are free to reject that love and also to reject communion with him.

Prayer
Father, we pray for the wisdom to present your message of love to an unbelieving world.
Amen

Study by Eddie Marsh

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About the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends Grace Communion International in Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion, Sheffield
Please email for Meeting Place

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.org.uk

29th October 2018

Are Atheists Cowards?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

In this, our final article about atheists, we ask the question: Are atheists cowards? To be fair we must accept that we are all cowards in some circumstances whatever our backgrounds or beliefs. But to set this question in context, it is posed because of the difference in the way Christianity and Islam are treated by atheists. The current day prophets of atheistism are prolific writers on the evils of Christianity as they see it, on the assumption there is no God, and that only stupid, unintelligent people believe in God. In most of their public statements they happily condemn Christians and Christianity. Their book titles tell the story, as a little study on Amazon will show. These are big sellers including Richard Dawkins with his book The God Delusion; Christopher Hitchens, who wrote God is not Great; and Sam Harris, with a book entitled The End of Faith, Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason. All three are clear challenges to Christianity.

Yet where are the big selling books by these people which are equally blunt and dismissive of the faith of Islam? Again, to be fair, Sam Harris has challenged Islam and written another book in collaboration with an Islamic scholar, Maajid Hawaz, called Islam, but it is notably more respectful, less strident, and less condemnatory in tone than his anti-Christian books. The truth, however, is that these writers know that Christians, while they may write or speak against them are not likely to turn up outside their door. On the other hand if they write in the same disrespectful and disparaging way about Islam there is the possibility of an angry mob arriving on their doorstep in a very hostile mood.

Dr. Phil Zuckerman, an atheist professor, who writes a popular blog that criticises Christianity and Judaism made a statement that reveals the truth. He said, “I absolutely agree that it is OK for those on the left to critique, mock and deride Christianity. But Islam gets a free pass, which is strange because if you care about women rights, human rights and gay rights, then really Islam is much more problematic and much more devastating. What keeps me from criticising Islam on my blog is just fear. I’ve got three kids…I know I can say anything about Christianity and Mormonism and I’m not living in fear.” Indeed Dr. Zuckerman goes further by stating, “As an atheist, where on earth is the death penalty meted out to atheists? It’s only in twenty four Muslim countries. Where have human rights flourished the most? In Christian nations.” That’s an amazing admission from a well known atheist! But it is also an amazing truth, atheists in all walks of life dislike Islam just as much as Christianity, but Christianity is a much softer and safer target! That’s why the question, Are Atheists cowards? can only be answered with a Yes!

Any comments atheists make about Islam are noticeably softer and more cautious than their bold denouncements of Christianity. But as we said in an earlier blog the atheist is not our enemy, we see them as potential children of God whatever their faults or failings today. Their attitude, their outspokenness, their lack of respect for, and belief in, God are a sadness for Christians today. In some way atheists are a blessing to Christians, because they challenge us to examine our beliefs and increase our faith. So let’s close this series with John 3:16-17, the header scripture; I cannot think of anything worse to say to an atheist than not only is there a God, but that God loves you!

Prayer
Loving Father, while we may all be cowards in some areas our lives, let us always have the faith and courage we need, as Christians, and the grace to love those who disagree with us. In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Amen

Study by Keith Hartrick
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Note: Recommended reading on this subject is, “ Inside the Atheists Mind “ by An-thony DeStefano, available from Amazon at £13.80. Google Dr Phil Zuckerman for his background and beliefs.
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

28th October 2018

Embracing God’s Wisdom

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
James 3:13 (NIV UK)

My father, who has been with the Lord for four years now, was always fascinated by my smartphone (boy, do I miss him!). He would save up questions for when I visited him in his care home. He would always state his question, and then ask me to “Gogle it.” I think he was saying it wrong on purpose; I never corrected him.

Accessing information and knowledge is often only a Google search away. The Christian life, however, is much more than merely accessing knowledge. The Bible urges us that in all of our seeking to also seek wisdom.

It takes a bit of experience to understand that wisdom should not be confused with knowledge. We enjoy many benefits because of the knowledge humanity has acquired. Yet, by nature, we human beings lack true wisdom, which has to do with rightly applying knowledge to life. The world, apart from a relationship with God, is oblivious to God’s wisdom, and is referred to in Scripture as “walking in darkness”. As a result, increases in knowledge often tend to magnify the problems we face. James the brother of Jesus points us away from mere human wisdom to look to God’s wisdom: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

As Christians, instead of looking down at our smartphones, we are called to look up, seeking God’s wisdom—the only wisdom which aligns with ultimate truth and which leads to the fruit of abundant life. This wisdom is not something we work up from within—it is a gift from God, whom James calls “the Father of lights the giver of all good gifts.”

What is Godly wisdom? Ultimately it is not a ‘what’, but a ‘who’—it’s our Lord, Jesus Christ, “in whom,” as the apostle Paul says in Colossians 2:3, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The first step toward God’s wisdom is to look up—to see and trust Jesus—who is God’s living Word. As we do, Jesus, through his Spirit, leads us to the written word—the holy Scriptures, which Paul notes “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the personification of wisdom, and the source to whom we look. Living by the Spirit, being reliant on Jesus and his Word, leads to a life lived in accordance with the wisdom that comes only from God.

Prayer
Holy Father, may we look up and humbly seek the wisdom that our Father is gracious to shower down on us through a relationship with his Son. And this we ask in and through Jesus’ holy name.
Amen

Study by Greg Williams
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About the Author:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in North Carolina, 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 October 2018

Making Melody in Your Heart

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:19 (KJV)

After my mother died, I took to answering enquiries as to how I was doing in a certain way. It wasn’t a conscious decision; I just found myself answering “It is well, it is well with my soul.” Try saying that and not having that melody play in your heart and become a sound in your head, if not a song in your mouth!

This is part of what the header scripture means to me. As we speak Psalms, hymns or spiritual songs (depending on our preferences) we should be led to making melodies in our hearts to the Lord. Our conversations should truly lead us to praising and worshipping our Creator and Saviour.

Another way of putting it is that our conversations, by directing us upwards, have the effect of raising our spirits. It follows since God is our Shield and Strength, the One who takes us by the chin when we are downcast and lifts our head (Psalms 3:3), that when we cease looking inward and change our focus to looking upwards, we are given the opportunity to actually notice others and be able to offer support, taking our minds off ourselves.

*“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight…” shows the attitude with which we should approach life.
*Sing “To the hills I lift mine eyes; ah, from whence dost my help come? All my help comes from the Lord” when we need reminders that it should be to God that we turn for help, along with “What a Friend we have in Jesus” reminding us that we suffer needlessly “all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer!”
*“Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit into every troubled breast;” is a prayer we can pray to someone carrying a heavy burden; also “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.”
*“Count your blessings, name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!” As sometimes we do need to be reminded of how blessed we are.

We should take every opportunity to sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, taking time to internalise the words so that we can speak them to ourselves and each other. Then we can raise a melody to the Lord, even if it’s solely in our hearts, and truly sing “whatever my lot You have taught me to say ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”

Prayer
Loving Eternal Father, thank You for leading by example, as always. You “joy over us with singing” and by following your example we can benefit by singing your words back to You in praise. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Jackee Brown
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About the Author:
Jackee Brown is a member in the Worldwide Church of God UK Congregation in London, a part of Grace Communion International .

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God 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

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