31st January 2020

A Tale of Two Pities

“He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’”
“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”
Mark 5:23, 25-26 (NIVUK)

The scriptures above, taken from a passage in Mark 5:21-43 contain not one harrowing story, but two. Two tales of two women, one younger, one older, each in a poignant predicament. The first a dying daughter, whose age is 12 short years. The second a victim of chronic menstruation for 12 long years. The prognosis for each is dire; the life ebbing from one, the life blood flowing from the other. Both without hope; one running out of time, the other out of money.

Without healing, neither will ever experience the joy of childbirth. Without courage, neither would have a chance. Without faith, neither would have encountered her Saviour. Without Jesus, both would have been lost. One touched Him with her hand and received healing. He touched the other with His hand and restored her life. Both received back everything they lost, through belief that the One who created all things, holds all things together (Colossians 1:16-17 NLV).

Prayer
Thank you, Father, for your amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Peter Mill
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About the Author:
Peter Mill is an Elder and the Missions Developer of the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He and his wife, Jackie, are Pastoral Workers for Grace Communion International in Scotland and Ireland.

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

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

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

30th January 2020

Don’t Do It!

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:9 (NIV)

Why oh why do we do it? We don’t have to, but we all do – to differing degrees. Worry, that is. Why do we worry? Why do we spend so much effort on it?

We tell ourselves that “I won’t.” But will power is often weak and we still do it. You may have read a book that tells us not to do it. Perhaps people around you, including close friends, also tell you not to worry. But we do.

Worry causes stress, which is costing us, as a nation, an astronomical sum to deal with. Stress! We see its effects everywhere: individually, nationally and even internationally. The irony is that half of what we worry about never happens.

Now here is a true, but difficult saying from Jesus himself: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27). Worry adds nothing to our situation or our lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. But how do we stop?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Going to our Father in heaven, and looking for his peace is the answer as verse 7 goes on to say:. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Worrying gets us lost in our own world; lost in problems. So don’t worry! We can then be free to dwell on other things. Indeed, we are encouraged to do so in the next verse: “Whatever is true…whatever is is pure, whatever is lovely…think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Our Father, through the Holy Spirit, will break the vicious cycle – if only we ask. He wants us to cast all our cares on him. So, let’s turn to him today and ask for the help he is so willing to give.

Prayer
Eternal Father, please help us not to worry, even in times of difficulty. Help us to cast all our cares on you. We ask this in your precious Son’s name, Jesus Christ.
Amen

Study by John Merchant
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About the Author:
John Merchant attends the Nottingham Grace Communion.

Local Congregation:
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane
Beeston
NOTTINGHAM
NG9 5HZ

Meeting time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Richard White
Email: nottingham@gracecom.church

29 January 2020

Lessons from Joseph

“Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: ‘I remember my faults this day.’”
Genesis 41:9 (NKJV)

Some of us might remember a certain fascination of mine with the story of Joseph, the eleventh and favourite son of Jacob. In the first escapade of Joseph we covered his wrongful imprisonment and pondered whether his hope faded as he realised that his release was not actually imminent. We also learned that sometimes the answer to prayer is ‘wait’.

We left Joseph in prison still awaiting Pharaoh’s Butler to remember him and bring his cause to Pharaoh. We can pick the story up in chapter 41 of the book of Genesis. Verse 1 says “Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream;” In his dream he was down by the river and saw seven fat cows come out, followed by seven thin cows which, after eating the fat cows, still remain meagre-looking! (Verses 2-6). Not surprisingly, Pharaoh awoke from his dream. On returning to sleep, Pharaoh had another dream this time about ears of corn: seven big and juicy, followed by seven thin and blighted. The thin ears of corn devoured the plump, juicy ears. Pharaoh once again awoke (verses 5-7). The dreams disturbed Pharaoh so much that he was still troubled in the morning.

Now we come to the header verse. As none could interpret the dreams, the Butler remembered the Hebrew in prison. Long story short, Joseph, after giving God the glory, told Pharaoh “all those things you saw in your pyjamas, are a long-range forecast for your farmers!”* Joseph went on to advise that a wise steward be used to prepare for the famine to come (verses 25-38).

A lesson we can learn here is that God places us exactly where we need to be when we are needed and our job is to be ready. Imagine if Joseph had taken his eyes off God and allowed himself to wallow in self pity or worse, allowed a root of bitterness to develop? How can we know that this did not happen? Let’s read for ourselves, breaking into verse 15 Pharaoh says “’But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’ So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.’”

When we keep our focus on God, we too can speak with such assurance. And Pharaoh, recognising a good man when he sees one, makes Joseph his number two—but that’s a whole other story!

Prayer
O Lord God, thank You for the encouragement we can find in Your word. These stories in the Bible are meant for our encouragement and to embolden us. Let us walk with our eyes fixed on You. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Jackee Brown
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*Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Song: Pharaoh’s Dream Explained can be found here: https://youtu.be/jZDqg2pvg_c

About the Author:
Jackee Brown is a member in the Worldwide Church of God UK Congregation in London, a part of Grace Communion International .

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God London
Indian YMCA Student Hostel
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
LONDON
W1T 6AQ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

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

28th January 2020

Go for Gold!

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)

The 2020 Winter Youth Olympics were held last week in Lausanne, Switzerland. I’m sure that we all have an inspiring story that we have treasured over the years; an account of someone’s life or perhaps some aspect of their life that excites, encourages and leaves us wide-eyed and amazed. Today I’d like to share mine with you in the hope that it will also inspire you.

Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children in Clarksville Tennessee, USA. As a child she had double pneumonia and scarlet fever and as if this wasn’t enough, after a bout of polio she was left with a crooked leg and foot. From then on, Wilma wore a leg brace and spent six years attending a hospital in Nashville for treatment.

This could have left any young girl drowning in an ocean of self-pity, but she refused to go there! Her mother often told her, “Honey, the most important thing in life is to believe that you can do something—just keep on trying!” And try she did, with deep determination, sheer will power and an indomitable spirit she taught herself to walk without the brace. Aged 12 she approached a running track coach with the request; “If you will give me ten minutes of your time every day—and only ten minutes—I will give you a world class athlete.” Over the next few years she beat every girl in the state of Tennessee, and several years later she qualified and ran in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne Australia, where she won bronze in the 400-meter relay.

Four years later she trained relentlessly day after day and was now ready for the Rome Olympics. As she walked on to the track in Rome, this sleek, trim, young black lady, only 20 years old was ready for anything; she was going for gold! And she won gold three times, and all in record times! This little crippled girl from Clarksville Tennessee was now indeed a world class athlete.

God desires us to win, to gain the victory, and because of this he comes into our lives and brings all the power we need, all the confidence and all the hope to claim that prize. Jesus is the Ultimate Victor—he smiles and applauds our decision as we draw upon his sufficiency each day. He urges us to run and finish the race that He has set before us! And you know why? Because, the victory is already ours and the prize is waiting to be collected! It’s a special gift from our Father. Thanks Dad!

Prayer
Thanks, Father, for the courage and strength to run this race and that victory is already ours in Jesus Christ your Son.
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill
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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: luton@gracecom.church

27th January 2020

The Way to True Happiness

“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”
Luke 12:15 (NKJV)

The whole world is in pursuit of happiness. Every one desires to be happy. Nothing wrong. But most people think great possession of things brings happiness, which is true to some extent but that happiness is temporary. In this world there are people who are very rich and every thing they want is there for them. But this elite group of people are full of disappointments as well.

Am I a happy person? Yes! My happiness does not depend on who I am or what I think, but it comes as a result of following the principles of happiness and contentment revealed by the Apostle Paul nearly 2000 years ago. In Philippians 4:11-12 he wrote, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

Happiness comes in many forms. For some it is a happy marriage, for some a steady job, good health, a loving relationship with family and friends, and for some success in business, while others find it in sports and entertainments. Whatever it may be and whoever it is, this happiness is elusive, like chasing the shadows. The Bible reveals that happy is he who trusts in the Lord, whose sins are forgiven, whose iniquities are covered by the precious blood of Christ, who came to save us and give abundant life (Proverbs 26:20). Any person who is generous, forgiving, kind, loving and caring experiences inner joy and happiness, which no one can take away from him or her. For me there is that extra dimension of knowing God. Who He is and what He has done for me enhances the happiness that is enduring and very real to me. Happiness is a state of mind—of well-being with deep and intense joy of living.

It hurts when I see the world going further away from the way of permanent happiness prescribed in the Bible. For example, when young people throng to concerts to seek happiness in dancing and singing, and some end up resorting to taking drugs for solace afterwards. I must add there is nothing wrong in dancing and singing in a proper decorum, and I look forward to a time when the young shall rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old together in the future, spoken of in Jeremiah 31:13.

In Christ we find lasting happiness. For He is the fountain from whom flows true happiness in whose presence is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Prayer
Our loving Father, I thank You for showing us the way to lasting happiness. In Jesus name I praise, adore and love You with all my being. In His worthy name I ask for help to obey You.
Amen

Study by Natu Moti
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About the Author:
Natu Moti is a Deacon in the Birmingham Congregation of Grace Communion International.

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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 07777-667635
Email: birmingham@gracecom.church

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