26th May 2019

Betrayal

“Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’”
Matthew 27:3-4 (NKJV)

The English poet and painter, William Blake, once said, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” I imagine most of us would agree with Blake. The wounds of betrayal run deep and are difficult to heal. History doesn’t forget those who played the role of betrayer. To call someone a “Benedict Arnold” or to say “And you, Brutus?” is to draw from this deep well of betrayal etched in our history books. The betrayed have long memories.

We may have our own memories of betrayal. A friend, a lover, or that family member who was labelled ‘the black sheep’. Betrayal only comes by the hands of those we are holding. We are betrayed by those to whom we belong. But there is one betrayal we would like to forget. The one carried out by our own hands.

Maybe this is why we are so quick to vilify those who betray. It keeps hidden the pain and damage we’ve created by our own betrayals. To avoid being seen we point elsewhere. And if you want to point to a betrayer who cast a shadow over our own failures of belonging, Judas Iscariot may be our best target. He plays a significant role in the crucifixion and death of Jesus, God’s own son, by betraying him “with a kiss.” In the end, he is remorseful. Unable to bear the shame of his own betrayal, he hangs himself on a tree.

Many may write Judas off as being beyond forgiveness. But we do well to remember that while Judas was hanging on a tree, so was Jesus. Jesus went to the cross to save us from our deepest betrayal—betraying the Father to whom we belong. Does Jesus remember Judas’ treachery on the cross? Does he remember our betrayals? The author of Hebrews adds a short answer to that question: “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).

Instead of remembering our betrayal, Jesus remembers our belonging. In this way Jesus re-members us. Jesus is putting us back together, healing us and making us whole. He is bringing us back into relationship with him and his Father in the Spirit. Jesus re-members us back to belonging. He walks with us, hand-in-hand, bringing us into the belonging we were always made for—the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Prayer
Gracious Father, such is your love for us that you have unfailingly provided the way back to restoring our relationship with you through the death and resurrection of your Son. Restored, please help us build and deepen that relationship daily as we walk with you. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Presented by Anthony Mullins
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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 pastors the Hickory, North Carolina congregation. He is also the National Coordinator of the Intern, Pastoral Resident and Coaching Programmes for Grace Communion International. Anthony and his wife, Elizabeth live in Hickory, North Carolina.

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

25th May 2019

The Sound of Silence

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day…Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your loving kindnesses. The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures for ever.”
Psalm 119:97, 159-160 (NKJV UK)

There’s scarcely a day passes when I don’t offer silent thanks to whoever it was who invented the zapper. More particularly for including a mute switch. So it is, that when the adverts come on TV, zap—and there’s blessed silence until the programme restarts. The same holds true for trailers, station idents and the like. We normally used to have just one of those before the hour on the BBC, but these days there are two or three. On satellite stations they seem to go on without end. Now, I wouldn’t want you to think that I spend every waking hour watching TV. Even when on, I’m usually busy doing something, only glancing up when something visual is pointed to. But still, there’s no escaping the importance of TV in our world.

Unfortunately, in life, our world has no zapper. You can’t turn the sound off, or fast forward through the nasty bits. We have to experience life in “real time” and in “full time.” That can be uncomfortable, even distressing. It used to be said that TV was the child minder. But Christians are supposed to be looking in a different direction. Sure, we can watch and listen, but we are supposed to be closely observing, not what the inhabitants of Coronation Street are up to, but what our God is up to with us, as we walk beside him. Few of the soaps or dramas on any one of the hundreds of channels available to most people today contain Christian messages. And even a few moments spent among the “God channels” will convince most people that Christianity is quite fragile even among those who profess to be followers of Christ. Some are preoccupied with healing, others with prophecy, others with donations. Few concentrate on God’s message: “Let this mind be in you….”

When you come down to it, just reading the Book is still the best way to immerse oneself in the mind of God. Of course, these days you can have someone read the Bible to you; there’s even a project to dramatise the Bible with different ‘voices’, sound effects and music. We can easily read the Bible in a year. Various programmes have been published to help make that happen. I suggest reading it afresh in a new translation, allowing God to reveal new insight into himself progressively using new words.

Go on, give it a try!

Prayer
Righteous Father, help us get our priorities right, and bless us as we read your word. 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

24th May 2019

Jesus Loves Me

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 (NIV)

This week’s Lectionary reading (Romans 5:1-11) always stops me in my tracks due to the pivotal Christian truths it contains. It speaks of our true condition before God mercifully intervened in our reality. Notice what we have been freed from: we were powerless, ungodly, sinners and God’s enemies. Through grace we are given a new heart and mind that is energised through justification, peace, hope, love and reconciliation. All of which are poured into our hearts because of God’s love through the Holy Spirit. Wow!

So in reading about these Godly gifts bestowed upon us, our hearts should ‘boast in God.’ A spirit of praise, generosity and thanksgiving should burst forth from our lips knowing that the one true God loves us and in his divine care has lifted the burdens that we carried which weighed us down. The author does not ignore the fact that we endure suffering, but is framing this in a bigger picture of God’s providence. We are now free. Free to worship, to serve and to live to the glory of God.

Hopkins tells us that to fully appreciate what God has done we require “both the heart of compassion and the head of education…[so we] know what the right action was for any situation.”* Paul’s inspired discourse should swell our hearts with God’s love, fill our minds with the word of truth and translate into practice which then pours the love of God into the hearts of our families, communities, friends and colleagues. The richness of the gifts of God cannot be contained, but overflows with goodness which knows no end and its passion consumes our actions.

We are truly blessed beyond our ability to describe the love of God. While words are important, let us allow the fellowship we enjoy and inclusion we experience to fuel our imaginations to fully embrace our renewed life in Christ. Let us allow our actions to speak loudly, reinforcing the words that have been lavished on humanity by the God who knows, sees and hears us. As a well-known hymn reminds us “Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”

Prayer
Father in heaven, thank you for the indescribable gifts that you have so extravagantly given to us through your Spirit of truth and generosity. Help us now to enthusiastically carry out our labour of love. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by David Gibbs

* Hopkins, D. (2002) Heart and Head. New York:Palgrave p2
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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: 07777-667635
Email: birmingham@gracecom.church

23rd May 2019

‘You Don’t Send Me Flowers Anymore!’

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.”
Luke 12:27 (NIV)

You don’t send me flowers anymore!’ Barbra Streisand hit the charts with this wistful love song in 1976. Neil Diamond’s lyrics are full of melancholy describing a relationship that was fading. Flowers are often used to express emotion, romance, apology, get well wishes, etc. It is always pleasing to receive flowers – they are an expression of love, respect and affection.

As I walk through the meadow each morning with my little dog, I enjoy strolling through the wild flowers that are so prolific during the spring season. Bluebells carpeting the woods, golden cowslips scattered across the field, snowy white daisies with bright eyes peeping through the lawn and sunny dandelions that appear everywhere. These are the common but far from humble flowers, and there are many more. The jewel-bright colours are renewed every morning, refreshed by the dew. They are often delicate in form and yet can withstand cool winds.

Wild flowers are a gift from God, yet another sign of His love for us. Jesus drew attention to the wild flowers that surrounded Him and His contemporaries, encouraging people to admire and esteem them (Luke 12:27). The irony is that the giver of our wonderful flora is no-one less than the Creator of them! Colossians 1:16 tells us, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” It is important that we do not take this precious gift for granted. We need to pause to consider and appreciate what He gives us. God’s very name is Love. He is our provider and protector. He gave us His all when He died for us. Unlike Streisand’s song, God sends us flowers and His love all the time. There is no melancholy with God, He is unchanging and steadfast (Hebrews 13:8).

As spring flowers burgeon all around us, let’s consider how much love our great God has for us and how He displays it through His creation.

Prayer
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for your glorious creation, it inspires and comforts us.
Amen

Study by Irene Wilson
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About the Author:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.

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

22nd May 2019

CHRCH

“Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. “
Hebrews 10:25 (TLB)

You may find the headline puzzling because it is not a word you will find in any dictionary! It is obvious there is something missing, but what is it? Well the answer is simple, U are! If we add U the word then becomes CHURCH which makes sense. But without it in our CHRCH congregation we are missing U.

As church members we have been very diligent in attending our weekly service in the past and many still are today. But, sadly, while most of our congregations have a core of regular attenders, in recent years some members have drifted away and may come only occasionally! If U have drifted away, the CHRCH is missing U. Life today can be so demanding and busy it’s easy to feel unable to make the commitment to be at church regularly. But just as we need physical food and drink to sustain us, we also need spiritual food and drink to sustain us spiritually.

In part that comes from our own personal Bible study and prayer, but don’t we also drift in those areas if we don’t get a regular boost and encouragement by being at a service? The sermon message is important and helpful, but the spiritual food which nourishes comes from more than that. Singing hymns is good for us too, but so is the encouragement and fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. The church is a community which provides something unique that we cannot get elsewhere.

So if U have drifted away, or not been a church-goer but want to go to church, don’t be nervous about how you will be received. Christianity is a caring faith and God’s arms are open wide for U. That welcome and openness should be reflected in a church congregation. If it is not, find a church that is warm and welcoming. U may feel a bit awkward the first time you go but pastors and churches welcome new people, just as they will be delighted to welcome back a member who has drifted away. We can’t tell you the date of Christ’s return but it is an awful lot closer now than when the scripture above was written. U don’t want to be missing on that day!

Prayer
Loving Father, help us to organise our lives so you are at the centre and we are able to receive the spiritual nourishment and boost that comes from attending church regularly. 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

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