25th September 2020

Keep the Dream Alive – Don’t Let it Die*

“Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more.”
Genesis 37:5 (ESV)

Every time Joseph was involved in a dream, trouble was not far away. It included imprisonment, famine after bumper harvests, and death for a fellow inmate. But as we look back over the events of his life we also see that God had a plan and was actively involved, because “God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20 NIV).

We can extract many life lessons from Joseph, but one I will highlight is that our decisions affect others and there maybe unexpected consequences because of what we think, say and do. Joseph shared a dream which led to a plot to kill him. Potipher’s wife’s salacious thoughts and actions led to a young man’s imprisonment. Pharaoh’s baffling dream resulted in Joseph’s appointment as Prime Minister which led to a family reunion and forgiveness.

In sharing our dreams and making decisions, we will make mistakes, do the wrong thing or lack wisdom on occasion. However, thank God that we also, because of God’s Spirit, can demonstrate good judgment, exercise forgiveness and help others to flourish. When Joseph’s brothers were in a state of fear after their father’s death, Joseph was able to remind them of his humanity and God’s sovereignty. He said, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?…So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones” (Genesis 50:19, 21) Thus he comforted them, spoke kindly to his siblings, and outlined a better future.

Previously, they resented the words of the dreamer, but in the end they welcomed the grace-filled words of their beloved brother. He didn’t have to boast that his dreams had come to pass but instead gave glory to God who makes all things possible. God declares “the end from the beginning…saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:10).

Stay faithful, trust God and make God-inspired decisions like Joseph, and together let’s see what God can accomplish. What dreams has God placed in our hearts?

Prayer
Loving God, thank you for the reminder that you are in control and that you care. Please continue to inspire our dreams to reflect your good and perfect will. We pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by David Gibbs

*Title from Never Give Up by Yolanda Adams

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About the Author:
David Gibbs in an Elder and Pastoral Worker for Grace Communion International in Northern England, the Midlands and 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

24th September 2020

‘Manners Maketh the Man’ 

“Show proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.”
I Peter 2:17 (NIV)

I recently read an article on modern etiquette which claimed that “Class was OUT, and Crass was IN”! This seemed to indicate that good manners can change with the times: a little bit like the changes in fashion. (I have kept all my bell bottom trousers just in case they make a comeback). But seriously – can good manners ever go out of date? And what does the Bible say on this subject ?

In 1 Peter 2:17 (quoted above) Peter states, “Show proper respect to EVERYONE: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the Emperor.” There certainly appears to be no room in this instruction for rudeness and coarse behaviour in the Christian lifestyle.

Good manners are admirable and self evident on so many occasions—in conversation, in our children’s behaviour, and in driving on the roads, to name but a few. Regarding the matter of driving, we even have invented a recent addition to our vocabulary called ‘road rage.’ And an onset of this understandable condition – which seems to be extant throughout the motoring community – can be brought on by being ‘cut up’ by a fellow road user! This might be amusing were it not for the fact that serious injuries and deaths have ensued as a result of road rage. Mannerly behaviour and road rage do not appear compatible. In the expression ‘Common Courtesy’, there seems to be nothing ‘common’ about courtesy. “Please”, “Thank you”, and “ May I help you” are timeless examples of decency and courtesy.

Let Peter have the last word: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8). Rather than being seen as ‘cool.’ why not take my old schoolmaster’s advice—“wash your hands Beggs, and mind your manners”!

Closing Prayer
Heavenly Father, please help us to maintain and display courtesy and consideration to everyone. And especially to those whom You have called into the family of Believers.
Amen

Study by Bob Beggs

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About the Author:
Bob Beggs is an Elder and member of the Pastoral Council at Grace Communion Lisburn, in Northern Ireland.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Lisburn
(www.grace-ni.org)
Ballymacbrennan School House
129A Saintfield Road
LISBURN
BT27 5PG

Meeting time:
Sunday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
Bob Beggs
Phone:  Mobile 07836 613 686
Email: bobbeggs@hotmail.com

23rd September 2020

What a Way to Start a Book

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Matthew 1:1 (ESV)

If you start reading Matthew from the beginning, what do you find? Seventeen verses of genealogy before you even get into the story. Unless you are a follower of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ or into search engines to trace your ancestors, it probably doesn’t strike you as a best-selling way to start an account.

I suppose nowadays lineage only matters to the Royal Family, but in those days it was important, and Matthew is establishing Jesus’ background, proving that he was both Abraham and David’s descendant.

Nowadays when people write CVs, they set out to state what their qualifications are for the job and they often leave out what they do not wish anyone to know. In the same way a genealogy was usually constructed to impress. But take a look at those verses and see who’s included: we’ve got Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, names we are familiar with. We know about Judah, Boaz, David and Solomon. But we also have Rehoboam, whose arrogance caused the nation to split, Uzziah who in his pride tried to usurp the priesthood, and Manasseh, an evil man who among other sins ‘shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end’.  Are these the names you would include if you wanted to impress the nation of Israel that this was the great King, the inheritor of the throne, the righteous One that all of Israel longed for?

And if the inclusion of some very dodgy kings of Israel is not enough, now also take a look at another thing. Matthew has started to turn the world upside down: there are five women listed. This was a patriarchal society. They shouldn’t be there. Not only that, but look at who they were – three Gentiles: Tamar, Rahab and Ruth—two Canaanites and one Moabite. Bathsheba is there, simply referred to as the wife of Uriah.

So what is Matthew telling us? Most of the male ancestors of Jesus were moral failures in some way or other, and some were plain evil. Putting it all together we have liars, thieves, murderers, adulterers, incestuous relationships, prostitutes, pagan worshippers, self-promoters, dictators and racial outsiders, God-rejecters and a whole lot more. Yet they are all part of Jesus’ family. What an encouraging opening to a gospel account. Jesus’ goodness is not corrupted by unholy behaviour, or who his ancestors were. His righteousness is there for us, no matter what our past, our race or our gender. The all-embracing love of God for everyone is clearly set out in these 17 verses, like an opening trumpet call to the life and work of the Son of God in our world.

Prayer
Thank you
Father, for sending your Son, who is not ashamed to be part of the human family, no matter who we are or what we have done.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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About the Author:
Hilary Buck is an Elder and pastors Grace Communion 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

22nd September 2020

Dolly and Neil!

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:23-24 (NKJV)

My wife and I have been fortunate to see both Dolly Parton and Neil Diamond in live concert twice. Both are excellent performers, singers and songwriters who have a large catalogue of hit songs. You simply can’t beat the real thing!  But because we like their music we have also seen tribute acts to both stars. As good as they were and as hard as they tried, neither tribute act could capture the magic, that elusive something, that sets a real star apart. They were very good, the music was excellent, but sadly they were a pale imitation of the real star.

Which got me thinking do we know the real God? The scripture above suggests it is possible to be misled and deceived! So how can we know the real God? Well, by spending time in his Word through Bible study and through prayer. As Matthew 11:27 tells us, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” It is in our prayer and study that we get to know Jesus, and it is Jesus who then reveals the Father to us. So we can be confident that if we know and focus on Jesus, we know and are following the real God.

If you want to be sure you know what you are doing and will not be deceived by a counterfeit, whether a £5.00 note, a painting by a famous painter, or a false image of God, you work to become an expert in the genuine article! So in prayer and Bible study let’s remember that we are getting know the real God and maybe this will motivate us on one of those days when it’s hard to study and pray.

You simply can’t beat the real thing!

Prayer
Gracious, loving Father, help us to know Jesus, our elder brother, remembering what He went through because of love for us; and through Jesus to get to know You and to really understand what it means to know the real You. 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.

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: leeds@gracecom.church

21 September 2020

Name Above All Names 

“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things…that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honour and everlasting power. Amen.”
1 Timothy 6:13-16

Growing up in the fifties and sixties, many films of the time were war stories and westerns. A big star of these films was John Wayne. If you saw a film with his name over the title you knew what you were getting—a strong, rugged man of independence and strength. If you had used his real name, Marian Michael Morrison, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

The meaning of a name is important in the Bible. God names people in the Bible to reflect an attribute or action, for example, even changing Abram – meaning noble father, to Abraham – meaning father of many, and Jacob – meaning supplanter, to Israel – meaning God prevails. In the New Testament an angel appeared to Zacharias instructing him to name his son John—John the Baptist’s name means, ‘God has been gracious’, and reflected his miraculous birth to an elderly couple as well as his role in turning many people to God (Luke 1:5-17).

The most important name in the Bible is Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’. Jesus has many other names that apply to Him: King of kings and Lord of lords, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His name is above all names as Creator of all, as He created the heavens and the earth and everything in the Universe. In Matthew 1:21 Mary was told to name him Jesus because he would save people from their sins. Christians are baptised into the name of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” So how important is a name?!

In the future all nations and peoples will worship and glorify this King of kings, the Messiah, Jesus.

Prayer
Father in Heaven, let us be known as the children of God, Christians, named after our Saviour, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray.
Amen

Study by Anthony Shevlane

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About the Author:
Tony Shevlane attends the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International in the UK.

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

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