31st January 2019

Too Close to the Flame!

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)

We all know the story of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and whose wings melted, sending him crashing into the sea and drowning. But there is a danger for Christians in getting too involved in this world’s politics and getting burnt, by events that can stir up passions that set Christians against one another.

Let’s be honest—if your favoured party wins a general election, they won’t solve the problems the UK faces. If you were for or against in the referendum, we must respect the result. As Christians we should beware of getting ourselves entangled in the affairs of this world. We are citizens, indeed ambassadors, of another country, of another Kingdom, which cannot be seen today (2 Corinthians 5:20). We read the warning in Mark 4:19 not to let the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” If we get too close to the flame and fury of today’s big political issues we can be like Peter, who walking on the water took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.

It is not wrong to take an interest in, and have a private opinion about, these important issues. It is not wrong to cast your vote in the way that seems right and best to you. You can make a biblical case for supporting either political party, but that should not be our focus. Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. While we can feel affected and even conflicted by these major issues, getting drawn into them takes our focus off Jesus Christ.

So let us remain clear-headed and balanced, and remember our approach to these issues might best be to pray that God will guide the outcome of elections and referendums in the best way to enable the gospel to be preached, and Christians to be free (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Don’t get burned up about worldly issues when, in the context of eternity, they just don’t matter. Passion for Christ is good, too much passion for politics is not!

Prayer
Loving Father, help us to channel our passion in the right way, to let your light shine through us in every situation. In Jesus’ name we pray.
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

30th January 2019

“I Know How You Feel”

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Hebrews 4:15–16 (NLT)

It’s not easy reaching out to someone who’s recently lost a loved one, is it? Some people are too embarrassed to mention the dead person’s name. So perhaps it helps for the bereaved person to say, “It’s okay; don’t be afraid.” That takes away the fear of saying something out of place.

Some of the most helpful things people have said to me since I lost my husband are, “If you need to talk, give me a call”; “Do you need a hug?”; and “How did you two meet?” Perhaps the most unhelpful cliché is, “I know how you feel” – when you know that they don’t! That reverses the roles; the bereaved person has to reach out to try not to hurt the well-meaning person. The people best placed to help are the ones who’ve “been there, done that” – not only because they have experienced bereavement, but because you know that they know.

At Christmas time, we sing and hear about “Emmanuel” – one of the names for Jesus, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He came to experience life as we know it, to conquer death and to give us the sure hope of sharing in his glorious life – the life he laid aside as Emmanuel, and then resumed after his resurrection. Hebrews 2:14–15, 17–18 tells us: “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying…Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering…he is able to help us…”

We’re told in Hebrews 5:8 that he learned obedience by the things he suffered. I suggest his becoming Emmanuel goes further and helps us relate to this amazing God who saves us. Not only does he know how we feel but it resonates all the more because we know that he knows what it’s like to be one of us.

Prayer
We give praise to you, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel who comforts us. Thank you that you comfort us in all our troubles. Help us to comfort others with the comfort that you have given us.
Amen

Study by Shirley McLean

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About the Author:
Shirley McLean attends Grace Communion International in Luton. Shirley runs a monthly choir workshop, which is also a social occasion where all are welcome–see www.kingsfold.org

Local Congregation:
Gracecom 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 January 2019

Social Media 

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)

I’m still a novice when it comes to (on-line) social media. However I’m tech-savvy enough to see that there are many desirable benefits. Personally I use Facebook to keep in touch with (a few) friends and family members. I also follow (a few) contributors on Twitter who supply uplifting tweets. Blogs and vlogs provide access to shared interest networks. On-line shopping gives easy access to a wide range of products, and consumer reviews can help in our purchases. Due to space and knowledge limitations I won’t try to mention the many more networks that are available but will just give these Day by Day posts as a positive example of on-line media, with posts being moderated before posting to avoid misleading or hurtful material.

This is ‘preaching to the converted,’ but to get back to the headline scripture, common sense should warn us to be careful and consider that our private communications can become public. King Solomon recognized this when he wrote, “Don’t bad-mouth your leaders, not even under your breath, and don’t abuse your betters, even in the privacy of your home. Loose talk has a way of getting picked up and spread around. Little birds drop the crumbs of your gossip far and wide (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Every day seems to bring examples of public figures being damaged by past posts.

The Bible is full of common sense and offers principles that can be applied to speech and letters (remember them?), and now are equally applicable to our on-line messages, photos and videos:
Be considerate – “Do to others as you would have them do to you” Luke 6:31 (NIV)
Avoid hasty reactions – “… be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 (NIV)
Be discreet – “Discretion will protect you…” Proverbs 2:11 (NIV)
Be kind – “Blessed (inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect) are the gentle (the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled), for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 (AMP)

Prayer
Father, you are Love, please remind us to reflect your love in our communications.
Amen

Study by Mike Stratton

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About the Author:
Mike Stratton is a member of the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK and is on the Pastoral Council there.

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

28th January 2019

Walled Cities

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Phew! To use modern vernacular, it all happens in the book of Joshua—espionage, double-dealing, circumcision, miraculous events, acts of war and incredible acts of faith—and that’s only the first six chapters! Like many pages of the Bible it is easy to read over what is being said. This is a brief summary: The Israelites miraculously cross the Jordan River. Joshua sends two spies to check out the formidable walled city of Jericho. The spies escape with their lives thanks to Rahab, a resident of Jericho, who strikes a deal with them, i.e. she will protect them if they in turn promise to protect her and her family from the death and destruction she firmly believes is going to soon take place. God instructs Joshua on how to proceed and conquer the great city of Jericho. There are precise and strict instructions about what the Israelites should do. Joshua is an accomplished military commander but is obedient to divine guidance, not relying on his own strength. The Israelites march once around the city for seven days as instructed. The walls of Jericho fall. The city and its enemy inhabitants are overcome. The Israelites are victors and they give thanks to God.

Jericho presented a formidable obstacle in this, their Promised Land. Israel needed God to guide them and intervene for them. There are many themes in the book of Joshua but faith is certainly a main one. The fall of Jericho was the miracle of faith. The stakes were high: life or death. Joshua and the people of Israel put their trust and faith in God, as did Rahab. What about us? What can we learn from Joshua’s response to God? We all have our walled cities, that is, formidable obstacles in life. They may be less dramatic, more subtle, sometimes hidden in the recesses of our minds, or imaginations, but real obstacles nevertheless. The obstacles we face come in all shapes and sizes: unemployment, illness, bereavement, family problems, past mistakes, missed opportunities, financial worries, etc. It is easy to fall victim to fear in this life but we’re taught to ‘be strong and courageous’ (Joshua 1:9) and to put our faith in God (Romans 12:3), who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The apostle Paul admonishes us in Hebrews, citing the faith of Rehab and the fall of Jericho, to put our trust and faith in God (Hebrews 11:30-31).

Joshua reminds us of those who have gone before us who acted in faith, who were strong and courageous in the face of many difficulties. Their record serves to encourage us. Whatever our walled cities, let’s be strong and courageous putting our trust and faith in God.

Prayer
Lord God Almighty, we pray that you will give us courage, strength and faith to face the many challenges of this life. We give you grateful thanks for the biblical examples set before us and ask that we be encouraged and look to you whatever the obstacles are.
Amen

Study by Kevin Harris
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About the Author:
Kevin Harris attends the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International in the UK.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom 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

27th January 2019

Jesus Lost Among Us

“And so it was that after three days [his parents] found Him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”
Luke 2:46 (NKJV)

Max Liebermann painted The Twelve-Year Old Jesus In the Temple. It was first displayed in Munich in 1879, and was universally panned. Discussion became so heated that it made it to the floor of the German parliament! Any painting of this story usually shows Jesus as an other-worldly, angelic-type figure who was overwhelming his audience with truth. This painting, of a very normal-looking pre-“t’weenie” talking shop with some curious rabbis, was far too normal, too every day, and therefore went against the sensibilities of critics at the time. But that is the true power of this story.

Advent starts with angels ripping open the sky and ends with a teenager on a family trip wandering off. The utter ordinariness is where this gritty story meets us in our every-day lives. Which is indeed where Jesus meets us most often—in what Richard Foster called the “dishevelled friction” of day-to-day stresses and small joys. This story, within its narrative context, is very much like our journey of faith. It starts with fireworks—a radical turning from sin and addiction, a powerful experience—but then turns to our relationships with our spouse or our church family, to the way we do our jobs or conduct business. Jesus may even seem “lost” to us at times. God takes us through stages as our faith matures, the old ways of knowing him and meeting him make room for new.

Added to this story is the fact that Max Liebermann was Jewish. As history trudged on, Liebermann was eventually persecuted for his faith and heritage. Soon after his death in 1935, his wife was forced to sell the family estate to the Nazi regime. Less than a hundred yards from there was the villa where the infamous Wannsee Conference was held in 1942, where the so-called ‘final solution’ to the Jewish question was discussed. Thus, within plain sight of where this Jewish artist had lived, the concentration camps were first planned.

Woven into the rough fabric of our history and all of human history, Jesus emerged into a world where he would be mistreated, misunderstood. The story of Jesus doesn’t end with the warmth and glow of Christmas, but only just begins and takes him all the way to the cross and beyond. He truly got ‘lost’ among us

Prayer
Merciful Father, our human lives are often so separated from any spiritual content. Fortunately, we don’t have to meet you because you have set yourself to meet us. And so you do. We write the history of human experience, but you continue to augment and support our individual journeys of faith. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Greg Williams
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About the Author:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International 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

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