30th September 2020

Micromanaging the Gospel

“…if you help, just help, don’t take over…
Romans 12:7b (MSG)

When we look at the context of this scripture, we see Paul writing to a group of Christians in Rome that he had not yet met.  This congregation brought together Jewish Christians and Gentiles (Romans 1:13).  Imagine the friction!  Though tongue in cheek, for an English person, perhaps compare this with trying to work with ‘the French’ – differences in culture, language and other causes for dispute just seem to get in the way, despite a common goal!  The Jews would have been raised with the ‘Law and the Prophets’ and the newly converted Gentiles, well, who knows! but both parties would have passionately believed their way was best.

The same goes for us today.  Christians come from a plethora of backgrounds, and we all have different ideas on how to achieve certain outcomes – and this includes in how we proclaim the message of Jesus.

I’m sure we can all provide examples of where we feel others have meddled, interfered or attempted to micro-manage what we do.  This can be all aspects of life, not just paid employment.  Do you recall how it makes you feel?  Perhaps undermined, stupid, irritated, demoralized, time wasteful?  The adjective list could be rather long.  Question to self … can you identify with having done this to others?

We read in the preceding verses of the above scripture, admittedly translated in the vernacular, that all believers are part of a mission-oriented body of Christ, with God-given gifts, (Romans 12:5).  We can all contribute.  Our mission?  To make Jesus Christ known to others.  So, when the preceding verse says “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t”, it’s implying we recognise this (Romans 12:6).

It’s easy to interfere in how others do things.  It can also be hard to let go of a project we started or think of as ‘our baby’, (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).  Nevertheless, it is God who gives the growth, not us!  A person’s work might not be perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. Consider what’s the worst that could happen.  Christ is our perfecter!

We need to let go of trying to control people and what they do.  Instead, let’s empower and encourage every single Christian to share the gospel (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).  This takes courage and faith – but guess what, it’s the work of Jesus Christ, not our own.

Prayer
Lord God, help each of us as Christians to work together to make Christ known to the ‘unchurched,’ in a climate of mutual respect for everyone’s gifts, even when we think we can do it better.
Amen
 

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
GCI Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH
NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email:  tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

norwich@gracecom.church

 

29th September 2020

“God In Us” 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”
Acts 1:8 (MIV)

By His death and resurrection, Jesus’ work of redemption was fully accomplished and He returned to Heaven whence He came. At that point the crucial “God with us” (Emmanuel) phase of God’s great plan was complete. The next phase—the wonderful “God IN us” phase—was about to begin, as Jesus had promised in John 14:17. And just as Christ’s human birth was marked by a “firework display” of spectacular events, so was the inauguration of this next phase of God’s plan as recorded in Acts 2:1-4. Now redeemed from sin and death, in that sense the work of Christ for us in the flesh is complete, but the work of the Christ through the Holy Spirit in us continues, our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), and it is a great work, with much to be done.

We know there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve salvation. Christ, through His sacrifice, has fully paid the penalty of our sins, but that doesn’t mean we have no part to play in the plan of God. If that were so, then God may as well have converted us immediately into spirit beings as soon as we repented and were baptized.

It surprises some people to learn that Jesus spoke to the masses in parables so that they would NOT understand. He only explained them afterwards to the few He was training and preparing for the work that must be done after His ascension. He told those disciples that there was a huge harvest of people ready to respond, and that there was the potential for exponential growth in the numbers.

John the Baptist had primed a few to respond to Jesus, and more were added as the Father drew disciples to follow Him. But it would require a lot more labourers to be involved in the harvest for exponential growth in numbers to be achieved. And those labourers themselves would need to be nurtured, supported, and fed spiritually, which would require an infrastructure: Church congregations in fact. The work would require dedication, sacrifice and service. It would require a deep sense of humility and meekness in the labourers, and a genuine compassion and love for people, as Jesus had demonstrated during His earthly ministry. At no point is it ever ‘our work.’ It is God’s work which He accomplishes through us, only as we are led by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Every time we allow ego, self-will, pride, vanity, self-interest, personal theories and cop-outs to take hold in us, God’s work is harmed. But as we yield to the Holy Spirit, acknowledging our innate inabilities and seeking God’s power and love to do His work, the fruits of our labours can be rich indeed. Jesus came to do the works of His Father, not His own works. Our responsibility is also to do the work of God as he leads and guides us by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, we know that in love you have poured out your Holy Spirit into those you have called into your service. Please help us to yield to the Holy Spirit and extend your love to others that your great work on earth can be accomplished. In Jesus Christ’s name.
Amen

Study by Richard Whiting

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About the Author:
Richard Whiting is an Elder of Grace communion International now retired and living in Dumfries in South-West Scotland

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

28th September 2020

The Unseen Enemy

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

The Coronavirus pandemic is being described as an invisible enemy. Considering the number of people dying from the disease, it certainly is an enemy. Humanity has an unseen enemy that is far more dangerous than Covid-19. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Although the Coronavirus cannot be seen by the general public, and is apparently invisible, it is not invisible to the scientists and researchers seeking to manufacture a vaccine. Using technology such as electron microscopes, they have identified the virus and named it Covid-19. Our scientists cannot put the spiritual forces of darkness under an electron microscope in order to see who they are! These ‘spiritual forces of evil’ are very real, they are more real than you or me, they have been in existence longer than humanity! But we cannot see them with our eyes. They remain unseen, invisible. They are only revealed to us in God’s written word, the holy Bible. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The good news for believers is that we are not required to fight this battle alone. Jesus Christ has defeated the spiritual forces of this dark world. Jesus told his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It says in 1 John 4:4 that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” They are a defeated enemy, whose days of leading mankind astray, are numbered. By believing and putting our trust in him, we too are victors over this unseen enemy.

Prayer
We pray, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).
Amen

Study by Sherwin Scott

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About the Author:
Sherwin Scott is a Deacon in the congregation of Grace Communion Church in Lewes. Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street
LEWES
BN7 2NS

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: lewes@gracecom.church

27th September 2020

Slow-Release Truth 

“Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
Isaiah 28:9-10 (NKJV UK)

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—.”
This is Emily Dickinson’s poem 1263. She commends us sometimes to speak indirectly, especially when sharing deeper truths. Rather than always speaking plainly, our minds seem to remember facts better and get more out of them when they are embedded in a story.

Think of this: If someone is sacrificially kind, you might call them a “Good Samaritan.” If someone’s child is wayward and rebellious, you might call them a “Prodigal son.” A goal or purchase to which you gave a lot of time/energy/money is the “pearl of great price.” Jesus knew our brains work this way. So much so that these mini-stories he shared have gone viral in our language and sometimes we don’t even remember where they came from. He set these stories down like slow-release truth that has been potent and healing through the centuries.

Sometimes realities are so transformative and powerful that they can’t be described directly. Think of the way a scientist looks at the sun or an eclipse, the light is so blinding that it has to be reflected and is only safely seen indirectly. Think back to some of the most meaningful truths you’ve heard. Were they often lyrics to a song? Lines to a poem? Scenes from a favourite movie? Like these mini-stories, We have recorded for us 46 of Jesus’ parables in all, covering everything from forgiveness to his identity as the Son of God.

Yet his greatest narrative was to enter our story. Instead of scrapping humanity and starting over, he entered our story and redeemed it. We are still learning what that means; I don’t believe we will ever understand the full extent in this life—slow-release truth. God could have sent another flood, cleared the table of us or made us into choice-less robots. Instead he entered our story, made himself a character in this epic he is writing. You are part of the slow-release truth.

Prayer
Holy Father, you meet us when we will best respond favourably. And you meet us, in your kindness, how best we will hear you and heed you. Teach us to be able to recognise such encounters, Father. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Presented by Greg Williams

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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. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

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

26th September 2020

There is More Than Water in the Well 

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food).”
John 4:7 (NIV)

We don’t know the name or age of the Samaritan woman in the scripture above, but her conversation with the Lord is his longest one-on-one chat recorded in Scripture, which is reason enough to give our sister from Samaria a fresh look. It was high noon (midday) and the hottest time of the day. Jesus, tired from travelling, chose a sensible place to stop and rest—what better place than Jacob’s well, a place where one who is tired and thirsty would find refreshment. This well is outside the town of Sychar in Samaria. While waiting for his disciples to go into town to buy food, the unnamed women appeared with clay jar in hand. Jesus made a simple request, “Will you give me a drink?” This was quite unusual and made the woman pay close attention. For one thing, Jews weren’t supposed to speak with Samaritans, and then men weren’t permitted to address women without their husbands present. It was also considered that Rabbis had no business speaking to ‘shady ladies’ such as this one.

Jesus had gone through Samaria, while most Jews would go around Samaria in order to avoid the Samaritans where possible. Jesus was willing to toss out the rules, but our woman at the well wasn’t. “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman, she reminded him. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4: 9). Jesus began, “If you knew the gift of God and the one who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (verse 10).

The woman at the well focused on the LAW: Jesus focused on GRACE. Romans 5:15 says “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to many!” The gift of life (living water) came by the GRACE of one man, Jesus Christ.

Prayer
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for that gift of life pictured as living water. Quench our spiritual thirst by your grace through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen

Study by Dennis Payne

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About the Author:
Dennis Payne is a Deacon in the North London Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
LONDON
W1T 6AQ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

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

 

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