31st March 2019

Mama Bear

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;wait for the Lord!”
Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV)

Have you ever been warned, “Don’t mess with a mama bear?” If so, I hope you listened. That’s a mum’s way of saying she will personally deal with any threat that comes to her. It’s an apt analogy to the fury of a mother’s love. Just like a mama bear with her cubs, a mother becomes a menacing foe against any who would come between her and her children. My heart warms towards mothers who exhibit this bear-like quality. Mama bears communicate clearly that their children are worth fighting for. They also create an atmosphere of safety and comfort where children can live in freedom rather than fear.

These mothers can also serve as a reminder that God the Father loves us with a mama bear passion. Jesus said as much about the Father’s heart by using a maternal metaphor of a mother hen in Matthew 23:37—a mother hen stretches out her wings to gather, comfort and protect her chicks. Whether facing foxes or fires, a mother hen will die before giving up her little ones.

Jesus uses this metaphor while travelling to Jerusalem, some might see here an indication that he would stretch out his arms on the cross. But nothing could stop Jesus from carrying out the Father’s bear-like passion for his children. Anything that came between the Father and his children had to face the fury of the Father’s love. It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, Satan and sin were defeated and death was destroyed.

In light of the cross, we can face our fears with the freedom of faith. Gathered under Jesus’ outstretched wings, we find comfort and protection from all our enemies. Listen to how the psalmist expressed this fearless freedom in the Lord: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall” (Psalm 27:1-3).

We can take courage in facing our enemies of sin and death. They are defeated and destroyed in Jesus. We can turn from all that is against us, because we have a Father who is all for us.

Gracious Father, we all have doubts and fears. Strengthen our belief by deepening our understanding that you are on our side and at our side. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Presented by Anthony Mullins

About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Anthony Mullins is a GCI Elder and the Leader Development Programme Coordinator for Grace Communion International.

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.

Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

30th March 2019

The Prayer of Serenity

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.”
Proverbs 2:6-7 (NKJV)

One of the most popular prayers today is the prayer known as the “The Prayer of Serenity.” I’d like to look at three Biblical principles we can learn from this prayer.

The first is to do with serenity. When life feels out of control, it’s easy to try to work harder at controlling everything and everyone around us! Some of us do the opposite and just throw our hands up and give up on the situation or person. Whichever extreme we go to, peace and serenity continues to move further from our lives. Accepting and submitting to God’s control and plan for our lives is the only way to find peace in situations we cannot control or change. We may not always know God’s plan but we can let go and let God work through us. “Moses told the people, fear not; stand still (firm, confident calm, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest [calm]” (Exodus 14:13-14 AMP). In Philippians 4:7 (NIV) we read, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God promised a supernatural peace when we bring our worries and concerns to Him in prayer.

Principle two can be found in the line, “The courage to change the things I can.” God’s Holy Spirit is able to supply us with the courage to follow and act upon God’s plan for our lives. We can all call upon the power of God for courage to move forward into the full life He has planned for us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Lastly, let’s consider wisdom. The Serenity Prayer asks for wisdom to know when we need peaceful contentment or to be courageous. Wisdom is a gift that God promised to give to those who ask for it! God will tell us, through his word or in answers to prayer, when to acccept things and when to take courage to change them. James 1:5 (NIV) says, “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

As we go through life there are things that we cannot change, but this is where we learn contentment and grow in courage as we seek the wisdom that comes from above through prayer and Bible study.

God, I pray this prayer sincerely: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus’ name.

Study by Dennis Payne

About the Author:
Dennis Payne attends the North London Congregation of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: london@gracecom.church

29th March 2019

You are all Invited!

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25:1-5 (NIV UK)

In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the bridegroom represents Jesus Christ, and the virgins, those awaiting his return. The parable does not provide a clear interpretation of what the lamps or the oil symbolise. Some say the lamps remind us of Jesus’ invitation for Christians to be lights of the world. Many say the oil stands for the Holy Spirit, while others, for example, Martin Luther, interpret the oil as representing faith.

Yet in some ways, the oil is a bit of a red herring. Lack of oil in itself wasn’t the reason the bridesmaids were shut out. As Linda Rex argues in her sermon, Join the Party!1, “All ten virgins have all they need to take part in the forthcoming wedding – all have been invited and thus included. All that remains is for all of them to go out to meet the bridegroom.”

I believe the foolish virgins couldn’t join the party because they couldn’t accept they were already included, just as they were. Like many people today, they were confounded by the simplicity of grace. They felt they weren’t good enough on their own, so instead of trusting that the Bridegroom was everything they needed, they went off to find what else they had to do to join the party. They said no to Jesus’ yes.

Linda Rex again, “Scripture declares that because of who Jesus is…and what he has done on our behalf, all people are included in God’s love and life – all are loved, forgiven and accepted, and all are invited to respond to God’s invitation to participate in an intimate relationship with him through the ministry of the Spirit, who leads us to respond, but never forces us to do so. We can choose to turn away.”

The parable of the virgins exhorts us to trust Jesus, rest in him and participate with him in what he is doing now. Let’s not fall asleep waiting for his coming and lose faith in what he has already done for us.

Almighty Father, strengthen our faith and help us to believe that Jesus has already done everything necessary for us to enter ‘the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ In the meantime, help us to wholeheartedly participate with him in his ministry to the world. Thank you, in Jesus’ name.

Study by Peter Mill

1 https://equipper.gci.org/2017/10/sermon-for-november-12-2017

About the Author:
Peter Mill is part of the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International, UK and pastors the Edinburgh congregation.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

28th March 2019

Praying for the Government

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)

Where do you stand on Brexit? Are you a remoaner who wants a people’s vote to try and reverse the decision? Are you a hard Brexiteer who would just be happy to leave the EU whether there is a deal or not? The referendum in 2016 left the country divided and there is little indication that some 2 ½ years later we are less divided. How should a Christian view all of this?

No doubt Christians reflect the views present in the general population with some being for exiting the EU whilst others wish to remain. Whatever our personal views on Brexit, let me suggest that there is one thing all Christians can be united on and join together in, and that is praying for the government of the day in dealing with the issues that confront it. There is a daily prayer that is said in the House of Commons which is a rich and a very powerful prayer. It says:
Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.

Sadly, some have sought to stop this prayer being said in Parliament. They may or may not be successful in that endeavour, but it doesn’t stop Christians joining together to pray this prayer for our nation. Maybe the view Christians should take on Brexit and on any issue that is debated in Parliament is to prayerfully bring it before the throne of grace.

I’ve decided to commit to praying this prayer for our country, why not join me?

Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed.

Study by Barry Robinson

About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and part of the National Ministry Team directing Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He is also a pastoral worker in the South of England, 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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: camberwell@gracecom.church

27th March 2019

Two Helpful Parables

“Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’”
Matthew 13:10-11 (RSV)

Jesus said that he spoke in parables for the benefit of the disciples. We as disciples of Jesus can learn important lessons from the parables. I was recently thinking about two parables, the parable of the workers in the vineyard, and the parable of the talents, as I considered how many churches, including ours, are finding that their congregations are getting smaller and aging. Most of us are praying for it to be different, and for young families, seekers and wounded souls to join us, to share with us the spiritual growth the Holy Spirit has taught us. When these prayers are answered, the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 might just be a warning to us. Matthew 20:12 says, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” Many Church members have attended their congregations for thirty, forty, fifty and more years. Any new members could be looked on as not having endured as we have, but personally, I would not like to swap with any newcomer who has had to live in this world in their own strength, and not knowing Grace and the love of God.

I was also saddened to hear of smaller congregations closing down recently, and can understand the discouragement that this causes. But the Master in the parable of the talents (Luke 19:12-26), delayed for a much longer time than was expected, which actually gave his servants more time to perfect the newly acquired skills that enabled them to increase the Master’s wealth and to eradicate mistakes that, at first, probably led to losses, and maybe even deficits. Instead of feeling superior to newcomers to the faith, let’s use our God-given talents to make our congregations places where everyone feels welcome and nurtured in discipleship. Then our Lord will be able to say, “Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17). May I encourage long-time Christians to still be working in the small spheres He has given us now, ready to be used by Him when His time is right, and grateful to have been entrusted with such a long time working in His service. We cannot begin to imagine the delight on our Lord’s face as He rewards us!

Beloved Father, thank You for choosing us to be the vessels of clay that will enable You to build Your Church into a beautiful Temple before Your soon-coming return. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Merry Matti


About the Author:
Merry Matti attends Nottingham Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Richard White

Email: nottingham@gracecom.church

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