30th November 2018

A Matter of Faith

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)

In the King James Authorized version of the Bible there are only two references to the word “faith” in the Old Testament. One is in Deuteronomy 32:20, where it is said that the people have no faith; and the other reference is in Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith”.

By contrast there are some 250 references to faith in the New Testament. In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.” So, we understand that it is not our human faith alone but, rather, it is the faith and righteousness of Jesus Christ that is at work in a Christian. It is not that we neglect our own weak human faith or trust in God, but that we rest in Jesus’ righteousness and the faith given to us, and not on our own faith alone.

Our weak hand is in His hand, and we know who has the stronger grip when we stumble! Therefore, we are encouraged, and we don’t need to worry whenever our faith may ebb and flow (as it does) because our salvation does not depend on us, but on the faith of Christ in us. It is not a matter of ‘Our part and God’s part’ – it is all of God and all of us!

Prayer
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, with You everything is ‘Yes Yes’! (2 Corinthians 1:19-20). Through faith, we thank you in Jesus’ name,
Amen

Study by Tony Goudie
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About the Author:
Tony Goudie is the Pastor of the Great Baddow Congregation of GCI/WCG (near Chelmsford).

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Great Baddow
United Reformed church
High Street
Great Baddow
CHELMSFORD
CM2 7HH

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 07584-193441
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

29th November 2018

Waiting for the Arrival

“It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.’”
Isaiah 25:9 (ESVUK)

By the time of Jesus’ birth, Israel had been waiting a long time for their Messiah. There seemed to have been a pause in God’s relationship with them as for four hundred years there had been no prophets – no voice from God. It’s true they were waiting for their idea of the Messiah, but hoping and waiting is what they were doing. How often through those years of religious and political oppression, they would echo the Psalmists’ cry: ‘How long, O Lord?’

After Jesus came, died, was resurrected and ascended, there was another pause in the acts of God in our world. The disciples were instructed to wait in Jerusalem. As they huddled together for forty days in the upper room they were waiting for something they didn’t fully understand. Then Pentecost came and with it the arrival of the Spirit, bringing the life of Jesus to them.

We live after these events: we don’t wait, we look back. Of course there is another arrival yet to come that all of us wait for: the restitution of all things, when Christ returns again with the fullness of the kingdom of God. But right now in the church year we are approaching Advent, which focuses our minds on that first coming of Christ into our world. Through these days we are waiting to celebrate a birth that has taken place, but each year we can come to realise more deeply the depth of the need we all have for that second coming. So we look forward to Christ’s anticipated coming in the future, with thanks to his coming into our lives now, and look back with joy and celebration to his birth into our world.

Prayer
Father, through your guidance over these Advent weeks may we realise how much we need you so that we can celebrate with joy and thanksgiving the coming of Jesus into our world to rescue and restore us to you.
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

28th November 2018

A Reality Check?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
John 5:24 (NKJV UK)

God created human beings; he knows us through and through. And yet, one of the Bible stories, I believe, lends insight for us. In the story of Lazarus (John 11) we learn that after Jesus knew that his friend was ill, he deliberately delayed going to see him. As Martha said, perhaps reproachfully, when finally he made the short journey to Bethany, “If you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died.” But Jesus had said all along that Lazarus wasn’t going to remain dead, he said, “I am going to wake him up.”

Still, it would appear, focused as he was on the power of God and the miraculous sign he was to give here, as I read the story, he was pretty much oblivious to any other effect all of this was having on those involved and those around him. It isn’t until we reach verse 33 when Jesus seems finally to grasp the weeping and wailing that follow human death. It says that he became “troubled.” And then that “Jesus wept.” And those keeping vigil with Martha and Mary then noted how much he had loved Lazarus by observing that he too now mourned.

Many commentators have difficulty with all of this. After all, Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus, so why groan and shed tears? Not for Lazarus, I suggest, but for the misery he was now witnessing, and perhaps understanding for the first time what death means to human beings. Yes, he knew what he was about to do, and yes, he saw the power of God at work here; but the ladies and their friends only experienced utter despair. They didn’t see any way back for Lazarus, only the normal progression of human life and death. And I suspect that Jesus, focused as he was on the power of God that he was about to demonstrate, hadn’t really cottoned on. He was elated and buoyed up, but now he saw, really saw, the reality of death and what it wreaked on the human psyche.

This mighty sign is only recorded by John. Why not in the other gospels? Could it be, as Jesus had told the disciples of John the Baptist (Luke 7:22) to tell about what Jesus was doing, including the raising of the dead. All the gospels mention that Jesus raisied people from the dead, but none, other than John, mention this one. And John does, not because of the miracle, but because of the sign.

And so Jesus learned that death, a temporary state as far as God is concerned, has much more acute ramifications for mortal human beings, or more so for those who survive the death of a loved one, and they grieve. We may not mourn like others in this world, because we know of the certainty of the resurrection, but still we grieve the passing of a loved one. And that’s how it should be.

Prayer
Merciful Father, even with all faith in your promises of resurrection, death is still a painful, final reality for us. Thank you for your understanding of what death means to us and that you assure us that you have overcome, conquered death. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by John Stettaford
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About the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School, Room A1 (Main Building)
Honey End Lane
READING
RG30 4EL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone: 01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

27th November 2018

Sleep And Rest

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 4:8 (NKJV)

Well, we all sleep, in fact, a third of our lives are taken in sleep. My Bible Dictionary gives four separate stages of sleep. The first one is “the natural state of rest during which human beings and animals remain relatively unaware of their surroundings.” This is normal sleep where we all fall asleep and wake up hours later, refreshed and ready to go. However, a lot of people have trouble sleeping. Believe it or not, there are people who study sleep and are experts on this subject. They tell us that there are a number of things you can do to have a healthy sleep:

1-A regular bedtime routine would be helpful. Whatever it is, it should be stuck to. You should go to sleep at a regular time each night. This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine. Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep per night. By working back from what time you need to get up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.

2-We are advised to avoid certain things like TV’s and other electronic gadgets in your room. It’s interesting to note that if you have to use a computer before bed, it helps to put the night light on (if you have one). This restricts blue light emanating from your display by changing its hue. This light actually tricks our brain into believing that it’s daytime, as the blue light spectrum is actually closer to what the sun produces in the morning (by the evening it has changed to a more gentle, red, hue). Studies have shown that blue light at night suppresses melatonin (a chemical which encourages sleep) production more than other colours, and shifts the body’s circadian timing, thereby disrupting the body’s sleep/wake timing.

3-Light, noise and a bad mattress can also prevent or disturb sleep. Your bedroom needs to be dark, quiet and kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C. It may help to fit some thick curtains, and if you’re disturbed by noise, fit double glazing, or use earplugs.

Worry, guilt and fear are also things that rob us of sleep. Proverbs 3:24 says, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” If we are afraid or worried about something, take it to the Lord in prayer. Jesus says to “Come to Me…and I will give you rest.” He will give you the peace that passes understanding which the Apostle Paul spoke of in Philippians 4:6.

Prayer
Holy Father, help us to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. In Jesus’ name we ask.
Amen

Study by Chris Burmajster
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About the Author:
Chris Burmajster attends the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School,
Room A1 (Main Building)
Honey End Lane
READING
RG30 4EL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone: 01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

26th November 2018

Remembrance Sunday—A Postscript

“Therefore love the truth and peace.”
Zechariah 8:19 (NKJV)

Recently, many people in many nations remembered the end of WW1 with its ghastly carnage, millions of fatalities and consequential widowhood, maimings, PTSD, orphans and heavy reparations. Vast quantities of unexploded munitions still lie under the battlefields posing a lethal hazard 100+ years later. Sadly, “the war to end all wars” did not! WW2 was even more extensive and culminated with the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, yet wars continue in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq-Iran, India-Pakistan, and many other countries. More deaths and misery as this non-exhaustive list of conflicts has left yet more minefields and deadly ordnance waiting to kill and maim the unwary on land and sea.

A question that has troubled many is why would a loving God permit wars with participants on all sides praying to Him for deliverance and victory? The Bible provides some valuable insights. In Jeremiah 25:29-31 the Lord God of Israel promised to send the sword through all nations to punish the wicked. God in righteousness sometimes punishes via the sword. Not surprisingly, when the Lord God of Israel became flesh and tabernacled among us, He said in Matthew 24:6-7 that before the end there would be wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. Isaiah 59:8 tells us that man does not know the way of peace and we see this also in the New Testament, where Romans 3:17-18 says they do not fear God or know the way of peace. James 4 tells us that wars come from lust and that we should submit to God and draw near so that he will draw near to you; to humble yourself and He will lift you up (verses 1-2, 7-10). Mankind will even make war against God, only to be defeated by God the Omnipotent (Revelation 16:12-14 & 19:19).

Now for the good news: Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, our peace, will return in power and glory (Matthew 25:31), establishing the Kingdom of God in its fullness. He will make war to cease globally as prophesied in Psalm 46:8-10, and prevent a deceived humanity from Satan-inspired suicide. He will guide our feet into the way of peace, and in His kingdom military training will cease and weapons be changed into agricultural tools as portrayed in Micah 4:1-4. God’s ways will be taught, the sword of the Spirit will penetrate hearts, and restore mankind to the image of Christ who is God and God’s Son! “Of the increase of His kingdom and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).

Prayer
Abba, when comes the promised time that war shall be no more, and lust, oppression, war and crime will flee before Your face? As Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and in His name we pray.
Amen

Study by John Armstrong

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About the Author:
John Armstrong is on the Pastoral Council of the Exeter Congregation of the Worldwide church of God, UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Exeter
America Hall
De La Rue Way
Pinhoe
EXETER
EX4 8PX
Visitors welcome but please ring first as we do sometimes change our venue.

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Armstrong
Phone: 01392-421066
Email: johnarmstrong318@btinternet.com

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