31st December 2019

20/20 Vision

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”
Proverbs 29:18 (The Message)

As I struggle to find my glasses in order to read a simple label, it occurs to me not for the first time what a blessing it would be to have 20/20 vision. The website ‘All About Vision’ gives a definition of 20/20 vision: ‘This is a broader term than visual acuity or eyesight. In addition to sharpness of sight or simply a description of the ability to see, the term “vision” usually includes a wider range of visual abilities and skills. These include contrast sensitivity, the ability to track moving objects with smooth and accurate eye movements, colour vision, depth perception, focusing speed and accuracy, and more. If this more inclusive (and accurate) definition of “vision” is used, what most people call “20/20 vision” should really be called “20/20 visual acuity.’’

As the year 2020 approaches, I am wondering if my spiritual vision will live up to the year’s name. Will I see what God is doing clearly? Will I be able to perceive accurately how God wants me to live? Will I have the vision enough to declare Him to others? How can I improve my spiritual vision? Christians know the answer to the last point – by staying close to God, by letting Christ live in us.

Psalm 16:11 (NIV) says “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” God will show us the path toward Him if we ask Him. On our own we are blind and stumble along in our headstrong way, but if we surrender to Jesus Christ, He will guide us. We will have 20/20 spiritual vision in this year of the Lord 2020.

Father, God who sees all, thank you for showing us and leading us into the paths of your righteousness – always.

Study by Irene Wilson

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: watford@gracecom.church

30th December 2019

How Are You Waiting?

“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

One of the universal experiences common to human beings is that of waiting. Students take exams and then have to wait for the results. Expectant mothers have to wait for their baby’s arrival. The greater part of our lives seems to be taken up with waiting for the next thing to happen: For the bus that never comes, the mortgage to come through, or that elusive job opening to materialise. And of course we can either wait impatiently, like a child on a long car journey continually asking ‘are we there yet?’ Or we can wait creatively making use of the time available to do something positive.

As a follower of Jesus I have found that waiting plays a big part in my Christian life. Spiritual growth and maturity take time. Answers to prayer don’t always come immediately. And then there’s the waiting for Jesus’ second coming to usher in a world where there will be no more death, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). I too, can either wait impatiently or creatively.

Interestingly, the Bible speaks a great deal about waiting. In the Old Testament there are a number of Hebrew words that are translated as ‘wait,’ each of which has a slightly different nuance. Three such words are: chakah, meaning to long for (Psalm 33:20); sabar, meaning to watch with a hopeful expectation (Psalm 145:15 NKJV); and qavah, conveying the imagery of rope being twisted together slowly in order to strengthen (Isaiah 40:31). For me, an understanding of these words provides a wider perspective and greater depth to the waiting I inevitably have to go through. I can wait with a longing for God to act in my life. Waiting requires trust. Godly waiting is not a hopeless resignation, but a hopeful expectation; a firm belief that God is sovereign and that his timing is perfect. As I long for the sovereign God to act in hopeful expectation, my faith and trust in him is strengthened.

A farmer knows that waiting for the right time to harvest a crop is essential, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7). This type of waiting is not passive but an active choice to use the time and space God gives us in order to produce fruit in due season.

What is it you are waiting for? And how are you waiting? Being strengthened by longing with hope in God will produce precious fruit. Why not give it a try?

Father, teach me to prayerfully and patiently wait on you and be still before you, as you work in my life.

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 Grace Communion International.

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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

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

29th December 2019

Under Construction

“You own the day, you own the night; you put the stars and sun in place. You laid out the four corners of earth, shaped the seasons of summer and winter.”
Psalm 74:16-17 (MSG)

Have you ever had your home remodelled? Excitedly you start with a vision of what will be, but once construction begins, you wonder if you should ever have started. The project disrupts your normal routine, makes the house messy, and usually takes far longer than anticipated.

Sound familiar? Well, only if you have gone through a home remodelling project…or…if you have experienced being ‘remodelled’ by Jesus, the master carpenter. C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, describes Jesus’ remodelling like this: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” This quote is a good reminder of what the Father is doing in Jesus by the Spirit in our lives. His remodelling project may not be easy in the present, but our hope in that the finished work moves us forward in joy.

The prophet Isaiah directed the people of Israel with similar words written with a cosmic scope: “Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish” (Isaiah 65:17-19 MSG).

If you want to improve your house a little, a local handyman will probably do. But if you want to be a home where every square inch is overflowing in delight and joy…well, you will need a craftsman for that. His name is Jesus and he always finishes what he starts. The project he starts will be a lot bigger than you can imagine. But it will be well worth it.

Almighty Father, you are the master builder, even as your Son was in life a builder and carpenter. Help us to yield to your remodelling. We pray in Jesus’ name.

Presented by Jeff Broadnax

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. Jeff Broadnax is a GCI Elder in Grace Communion International in the USA and serves as National Coordinator of GCI Generation Ministries.

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

28th December 2019

Can You Cook?

“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”
Matthew 1:22-23 (CSB)

Can you cook? I suspect for most ladies and some men the answer is a simple yes and puzzlement that anyone would ask the question. So let’s change it slightly, can you cook a lovely Sunday roast dinner? Again most ladies would probably answer, ‘Yes,’ but perhaps not quite as many men, though I am sure that many can. So to take it a little further, can you cook a lovely traditional Christmas dinner for your family? After all, it is really a scaled up Sunday roast for more people, in the case of our family this year, eleven people. I suspect again many people, both ladies and men would answer ‘Yes’.

But the answer does not really matter because it’s not really the point. The point is that our TV chefs, all put forward their own version of what a traditional Christmas dinner should be. They all try to make it a difficult occasion and all have their own variation of how you cook the different parts of the dinner. If you listen to them or read their articles you are tempted to think that no one has ever cooked a traditional Christmas dinner before, and they would be horrified if you said it is like a traditional Sunday roast but for more people than usual! I mean no offence to our many fine chefs but it is a classic example of majoring in the minors.

Of course it is nice to have a lovely traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, but what does that have to do with the real meaning of Christmas? A little, because hospitality should be part of our Christian approach to life. But many Christians in poorer parts of the world may have had very little for dinner on December 25th. But they will still be celebrating the real meaning of the day.

In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for and celebrating Christmas, however we do so, we need to remember that it is about the pivotal event in human history—the birth of God in human form, not into a palace with an elaborate meal, but into a stable, where he was laid in a manger. That single event is far more important than how we cooked our Christmas dinner! Whether our table was groaning under the weight of food provided or our lunch was as simple as some bread and cheese, let’s not forget this special time is not about what we eat, but what God has done and is doing for us every day of our lives.

God of love, however we celebrate this time of year, even though this world holds so many distractions, never let us forget its importance for us and for all humanity. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Keith Hartrick

About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
Pendas Way
LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: leeds@gracecom.church

27th December 2019

The Gospel of the Kingdom

“The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15 (NIVUK)

The New Testament gospels were written as the original eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life were dying off and were recorded to tell us who Jesus was, and what he said and did. Mark is the earliest of these accounts and almost immediately, the first thing Jesus says are the words recorded in our header scripture. Here he talks about the ‘good news,’ or ‘gospel,’ and ‘the kingdom of God.’

The Greek word for ‘gospel’ is euaggelion. It contains the word aggelos, which means messenger, someone bringing news of an event that happened, and the prefix eu, meaning joyful. So, it is news that brings joy. This word doesn’t refer to routine daily news, rather it relates to some history-making news like victory in a battle. When a battle was won a herald was dispatched who proclaimed the good news of the victory that had occurred. He was the evangelist, the bringer of good news.

Christianity is about the good news of what has been done in history, what has been accomplished in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus so that humanity is saved in him. The good news is that salvation is not based on what we do or how we perform, but on what he has accomplished in history for us.

But what does Jesus mean by ‘The kingdom of God has come near’? The story of humanity in Genesis is that we chose to be our own kings and queens deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong and not wanting God in the picture. When our relationship with God unraveled, all other relationships unraveled, because self-centeredness destroys relationships. The kingdom of God was near because Jesus, the king of the kingdom, had come. Jesus, the true King, came to undo Adam’s disobedience by being totally obedient to his Father in heaven, even to death on a cross.

The kingdom comes near to us today because Jesus has come to be with us through his Spirit. As we stop being the rulers in our kingdom and come under the kingship of Jesus, relationships are healed and restored, both with God and with our neighbour. In this way the kingdom of God advances and grows until Jesus comes back again. Then, what began as a tiny mustard seed will become a mature tree (Matthew 13:31-32). In the new heaven and new earth everything will be restored and healed: fear, suffering, tears, poverty, injustice, hunger, disease and death will be gone.

The gospel of the kingdom of God is that King Jesus came to save us from our sins, is with us now to advance his kingdom in building relationships and will come again to restore all things. Now that’s good news to proclaim with joy.

Father, may Jesus be the true king of our hearts as we join with him in advancing the kingdom.

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 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

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