26th January 2019

The Treasures of the Snow

“Have you entered the treasury of the snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble…?”
Job 38:22-23 (NKJV UK)

Snow is not that common in my part of the world, so when it comes I am always struck by its simple beauty and captivated by how it falls so evenly and relentlessly. Snow can hide so many of the imperfections beneath.

But quite quickly we wish it gone. It’s like questions about wasps. What value are they? And slushy, dirty snow is no use to anyone. And yet snow is a kindness from our God. It actually brings a blanket which warms the land and protects delicate plants and animals, especially insects, from the cold. Spring bulbs are actually encouraged to grow, where we would expect them to stop. But no, as ice covers rivers and ponds it too protects fish and invertebrates. Ice, although a solid of water, is actually lighter, and so floats. Who designed that, we might ask our agnostic nature-watchers.

Ice and snow lock away the liquid water that otherwise, if precipitated too quickly, might wash away and strip the winter landscape of cover, but instead releases it slowly to be absorbed profitably. The sun, when it breaks through the clouds, doesn’t melt the top of the snow. The rays penetrate and melt the lowest level by warming the soil beneath. It can also be helpful to birds and small mammals who by now can no longer reach berries on bushes. The snow lifts them up to a new shelf level, as it were, and they can tuck in.

In the Bible, God tells us that though our sins be scarlet, yet they will be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). At first reading this can be seen as merely changing red to white; but there’s more to it than that. God, too, hides away our imperfections with his grace and mercy. We too are protected from the unbridled ravages of sin, as we surrender and follow his commands. We are lifted up to see and experience the new life with him. And then again, the benefits to us are often trickled down bit by bit as we can comprehend them best. It’s all an analogy, but then our God, recognising our limitations, so often uses analogies (parables) to teach us what otherwise we struggle to comprehend.

Prayer
Righteous Father, thank you for the little things in life—things we so often pass over and ignore. And yet they often contain important lessons we need to learn. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by John Stettaford
___________________________________________

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

25th January 2019

Not One Iota…

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”
Mathew 5:18 (NRSV)

There is a certain catchphrase I like on TV and think it is quite clever. It says, “we cross the T’s, dot the I’s and put U in the middle.” It highlights the importance of catchy little phrases and bite sized expressions that say a lot, aid our memory and capture our imagination. It reminds me of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that gives us the surety that God’s word will be done and completed to the finest detail.

The Beatitudes are a state of being and a new mindset—a calling to a different standard in our relationships with God, neighbour and the world at large. Thankfully, God is in the detail of our new life thorough the Spirit. This life of blessings is a gift from God which includes a heavenly kingdom, comfort, a rich inheritance, Godly nourishment, mercy, Divine relationships, peace, and much more. This new vision does not ignore suffering but affirms that, in the midst of pain, injustice and frustration, Jesus is present with us. He walked life’s road, setting us an example, and continues to teach us, his disciples, how we are blessed both now and for the future.

As we live and teach these Godly virtues, Jesus says we “will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (verse 19). We are blessed, called, empowered and commissioned by God to shine and “to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth” (verse 13 MSG). These are some of the glorious realities of who we are in Christ, and of our labour of love in him.

God has crossed every T, dotted every I, and has placed us with Jesus through the Spirit firmly right in the centre of what He is doing. WOW!

Prayer
Our Father in heaven, thank you for transforming our lives, renewing our minds and giving us vision. Thanks for the gifts and the power of the Spirit in your Church. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by David Gibbs

___________________________________________________________

About the Author:
David Gibbs in an Elder and Pastoral Worker for Grace Communion International in Central England and South Wales.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Birmingham
All Saints Church
George Road
BIRMINGHAM
B23 7QB

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1:00pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 0777-7667635
Email: david.gibbs@gracecom.church

24th January 2019

Just Give Me One Moment In Time

“Listen, and I will tell you a secret. We shall not all die, but suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, every one of us will be changed as the last trumpet sounds!”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (Phillips)

Do you remember the song by Whitney Houston, One Moment In Time? I don’t know if you are aware of it, but Christians long for and live for, just one moment in time! Perhaps you have Christian friends who talk about it from time to time, so you’ll know what I’m on about. It’s a longing that actually, this whole creation yearns and longs for that same moment in time!

Notice Paul’s thoughts on this moment: “…even nature itself might finally be set free from its bondage to decay, so as to share the glorious freedom of God’s children. Yes, we know that all nature has gone on groaning in agony together till the present moment. Not only that but this too, we ourselves who enjoy the Spirit as a foretaste of the future, even we ourselves, keep up our inner groanings while we wait upon our adoption as God’s sons at the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:21-23 Williams ).

That moment is when Jesus Christ will stand again on the Mount of Olives; not as a human being but as the great King of Kings, with all the power of the universe at his disposal, to put things right here on planet earth! Perhaps this is a yearning for all of us—someone to step in and put this mess right. It’s obvious that we need a great hand from somewhere to take away all our sorrow and heartache because of the state of this beautiful blue planet that we call home—it’s that moment in time that is going to make all the difference! Do you want that too?

Here’s a thumb-nail sketch of how things will be: “’See! The home of God is with men, and he will live among them. They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more, and never again shall there be sorrow or crying or pain. For all those former things are past and gone.’Then he who is seated upon the throne said, ‘See, I am making all thing new!’” (Revelation 21:1-4).

Finally, we will get peace, freedom from all the evils that we can see in this world, all that stuff will be washed away and the reign of God will begin—does that sound like something worth longing for? I hope so.

Prayer
Father, we yearn and long for the return of your Son, that moment in time when we will be released from the horror of war, sickness and death. Please make it soon!
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill
__________________________________________

About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church 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

23rd January 2019

God’s Compassion

“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”
Psalm 86:15 (NKJV)

In 2 Kings 20:1 we’re told that the prophet Isaiah had received a message from God to be delivered to King Hezekiah who was sick and near death. Isaiah arrived at the King’s bedside without a basket of fruit or a Get Well card, but with this blunt message from God: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’”

Reading 2 Kings 18:1-7 we can see that Hezekiah was a dedicated follower of God. He was 25 years old when he became king and he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. Hezekiah removed the high places and destroyed the idols. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him. He held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him and he prospered wherever he went.

Moving forward into Chapter 20 again, King Hezekiah at about 39 years old was told he was going to die. In verses 2 and 3 we can see his reaction to the blunt message from God—“Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in your sight.’” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

His simple prayer and tears touched God deeply because He responded immediately. Verses 4-7 tell us that Isaiah was sent back with another message to the king saying that God had heard his prayer, had seen his tears, and in three days he would be healed and 15 years would be added to his life.

God’s instant response to Hezekiah’s prayer and tears is an example of David’s observation in Psalm 86:15, “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”

Prayer
Merciful God, thank You that You are a compassionate Father and that there are situations when You will change your mind in response to heartfelt prayer and tears. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Diana Hall
_________________________________________________

About the Author:
Diana Hall attends the Southampton Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Southampton
Tauntons College
Hill Lane
SOUTHAMPTON
SO15 5RL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Noon
Email: peter_noon@wcg.org.uk

22nd January 2019

Animals

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)

The Bible offers special insight into the relationship between human and animal life, and the role of animals in the created order. Jesus taught that not even an individual sparrow can fall without God taking note!

When animals were created, Adam was instructed to rule over “every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). Humans rule over the animal kingdom and we learn the heart of God through how we treat our animals as well as each other. Proverbs 12:10 says, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”

2 Peter 2:12 speaks of men who are likened to “unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed” (in other words as animals who are created to be tamed and used for work, as well as killed for food, etc.). We find a clear distinction between human and animal life, in origin, nature, characteristics and destiny—only mankind is offered salvation and eternal life through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I have a Cocker Spaniel called Darley. He is wonderful! But he needs feeding, toileting, walking, taking to a vet (with all that requires in terms of money), washing, drying, dealing with ticks, cutting his fur, socialising, etc. All this and he cannot talk! He can bark, but that’s all. But, I can tell what he wants and his understanding of me and of Anna is sound. He knows what love is and it’s said that a dog has love for its owners that is loyal and deep. The future fate of animals when they die is in God’s hands. We are not told in the Bible that they will live again, but of course God is all powerful and could recreate them if he chose.

Prayer
Holy Father, may all animals be looked after to the highest earthly standards. In Jesus name we pray.
Amen

Study by Chris Burmajster
______________________________________________

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

« Previous PageNext Page »