12th May 2014

May 12, 2014

Like a Mother’s Comforting Arms 

“I picked them up and held them to my cheek…”
Hosea 11:4 (GNB)
 

Cuddling our children and our grandchildren is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it is also vitally important for the little ones. Apparently babies can die through the lack of such expressions of warmth and love. From this we can glimpse something of the care and concern God has for us as his sons and daughters. 

Although God is neither male nor female he sometimes refers to himself as if he were; sometimes he tells us that he is a warrior and other times he acts like a mother. For example, in Isaiah 42:13 (NKJV) it says, “The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up his zeal like a man of war.” Now notice the next verse—he says, “I have held my peace a long time, I have been still and restrained myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labour, I will pant and gasp at once.” (Verse 14). Does this make God male or female? Of course not, even though he is expressing himself in differing human emotions! Notice also Hosea 11:1, 3-4, “When Israel was a child, I loved him and called him out of Egypt as my son…Yet I was the one who taught Israel to walk. I took my people up in my arms, but they did not acknowledge that I took care of them. I drew them to me with affection and love. I picked them up and held them to my cheek; I bent down and fed them.” These scriptures open up a window into the very heart of God and reveal a love that never gives up, a love that never fails or grows cold; this is a fiercely burning love that surrounds God’s children. 

This picture is full of contrasts. When the loving Father teaches his son to walk, he has to let go of him, so that he can take his first precarious steps and risk falling over. But his presence is always there and he is ever vigilant, ready to catch his son if he stumbles.  God allows us to be free but still holds us in his tender care. Then we see the Father lifting his little one up in his arms and drawing him affectionately to his cheek—what a beautiful picture! 

But there is a mixture of joy and pain here in God himself.  Joy as he delights in his son, but also anguish as his son does not respond to his love. (Verse 3). It seems like God enjoys cuddling his children, but we too must learn to express our joy and delight as we experience his presence in our lives each time he draws close to cuddle us! 

Prayer
Our tender Father, thank you so very much for your amazing love, a love that continually watches over us, and for your eager hands that are always there to catch us if we fall. Hold us close today and fill us with your joy.
Amen
 

Study by Cliff Neill

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cliffneillAbout 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: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

12th May 2015

May 12, 2015

Against All Odds

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37 (NIV)

Many of you may have seen the ‘Invictus’ games in 2014. They involved many athletes from around the world.  These athletes were competing with each other in nine multi-sport events, each giving 100% in order to obtain a gold medal in their particular event.

What made this venture so different from any previous competitive occasion? The participants were injured, wounded and sick service men and women; people who with the love, help. support and encouragement from others overcame their mental and physical limitations.  They focused on what they could do, and this served as a powerful example of love and commitment to all.

We have much in common with these athletes: we too were without hope, but now through Jesus we have a living hope.  John 6:44 says that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” The Father will call all through His Son to participate and overcome.  He in turn will enable us by giving us a personal trainer—the Holy Spirit.  As we ask in faith we will be given that which we need in order to commit 100%.  Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” We do not compete against one another, for although we have our own course to run, we all have the same goal; indeed we are called to encourage and support one another in love.

The driving and motivating force of athletes is to adopt a winning mindset, and so it is with us—to have the mind of Jesus.  We need to focus on He who has already won the victory.  Jesus has given everything for us. He is with us always and will be there to the end to welcome us home. (Matthew 28:20)

Prayer
Jesus, thank you for your love.  May our focus always be upon you in everything we do, think and say, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us according to the perfect will and purpose of the Father. To you be the glory.
Amen

Study by Reg Newton

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Reg NewtonAbout the Author:
Reg Newton attends the Watford Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.  He and his wife, Pat, provide a prayer table for the community outside the Church each Saturday.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God 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-sue.henderson@tesco.net

12th August 2014

August 12, 2014

Sow, Water, Weed, and Feed!

“You are God’s garden.”
1 Corinthians 3:9 (William Barclay)

I noticed the sign above in the gardening section of a large store today, which is interesting because a week or so ago I sprinkled my lawn with a solution of “Weed and Feed” which is designed—or so it says on the box—to diminish moss, weeds and nourish the grass thus promoting healthy growth. If we take these thoughts to a spiritual level we will come to understand that Christians also need to be sown, watered, weeded and fed too, because as Paul tells us—we are God’s garden!

We all understand that no garden grows well by being left alone, it needs to be tended, it requires the gardener—in our case God (John 15:1 NLT)—to be diligently working to bring about whatever he plans for his garden. Where the lawn should be, where the borders should be situated in order to make the most of the sunshine and what about flowers, shrubs, trees and hedges.

Here in this section of his letter; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NLT), Paul tells us that he planted the seed, Apollos watered it “but it was God…who made it grow” (verse 6). So if it is God’s servants who sow and water; who weeds and feeds? God of course! He plucks out the weeds (sins) from our lives by the precious sacrifice of his Son and replaces them with good things. Then he feeds us spiritually through his Son so that the Church, his beautiful garden, is healthy, colourful, perfumed and peaceful; something to be admired and appreciated by others, a place where others might find a peaceful atmosphere in which to rest and receive succour.

In a garden, one person can sow the seeds and another can water them but neither can claim to have made them germinate and grow. Only God can do that, only he can awaken the hearts of all to new life and growth.

The Gardener—our Father is always eager to provide the nourishment that we need, so that each of us will grow strong and healthy wherever he has planted us in his garden. It’s also interesting that everything in a garden reflects its beauty and glory; not just a few plants, but everything that is growing there together.

Notice Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)—“For the Lord has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”

Prayer
Thank you Father that you are the amazing gardener who weeds and feeds us so that we might become strong in your service. Please add more labourers to your harvest each day and may each of us labour together to bring praise and glory of your great name.
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill

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cliffneillAbout 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: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

12th June 2014

June 12, 2014

Me And My Shadow 

“…they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”
Acts 5:15–16 (NKJV)
 

Last summer, when the sun was shining, my 2 year old granddaughter became fascinated by her shadow. For a few weeks we played little games with my shadow chasing or covering her shadow. We also jumped in and out of shadows caused by buildings or trees. It was silly really but for a few weeks it fascinated her, and that’s what grandparents are for, isn’t it, to play silly games sometimes. 

But it got me thinking about my spiritual shadow. We read in Acts above that Peter’s shadow could even heal people. How amazing that must have been for him and the people alive at that time. 

Our shadow today is not likely to heal people but what impression do we leave as we pass through people’s lives? Is our shadow a positive, uplifting one in the eyes of other people? Do people feel warmth and encouragement in our shadow? Or is our shadow a dark and gloomy one, weighed down by the troubles of this life? As ambassadors for Christ, (2 Corinthians 5.20) we should be reflecting a positive image of God’s kingdom. As lights ( Matthew 5.14 -16) we should be casting a shadow that reflects glory on our God and his kingdom. 

But we live in a pressured world where it can be hard to remember we are ambassadors and lights. As the saying goes, “ When you are up to your backside in crocodiles, it’s difficult to remember your original objective was to drain the swamp.” Yet whatever the pressures and problems we face, there should be something about us that tells people we are different. We are not the light, Jesus Christ is, but in our shadow should be the reflection of that light, even if it is not always a very bright one. As humans we will never be a perfect reflection and our reflected light will sometimes be bright and sometimes dim. But it will always be there for other people to see. 

We will never know, in this life, just how God may use our shadow to reach, encourage and support others. We are to grow in faith, understanding and knowledge so the light is reflected more strongly, and more often, in the way we relate to and interact with other people. 

As part of the witness and growth of the early church the apostles had the ability to heal people in a miraculous way that attracted attention. God still heals today spiritually, emotionally and sometimes physically too. But even without miraculous healings we should be casting an attractive shadow that draws people to Christ. 

Perhaps when Christ returns and all humanity is given the opportunity to know and relate to God, people will remember contact with our shadow and the way we reflected the light that will help them to be open and receptive to God. 

My granddaughter has grown out of being fascinated by shadows now and there are other silly games we play. But her simple joy and amazement at shadows made me think about what kind of shadow I cast in life. How about you? 

Prayer
God, light of this world, help us to reflect you in a positive way as we relate to other people and let our shadow in their lives be an encouraging one which, in time, leads them to focus on the source of the light and not us.
Amen
 

Study by Keith Hartrick

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keithhartrickAbout the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, a Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, 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: malcolm.john.arnold@ntlworld.com

11th May 2014

May 11, 2014

Mother’s Day 

“‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.’”
Matthew 23:37 (NIV UK) 

I have seen many different portrayals of mothers on US family sitcoms over the years. I remember the ‘perfect’ mum played by June Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver. Then there’s Claire Huxtable, the ‘have-it-all’ mom from The Cosby Show. Even today, there’s the everyday mum, Debra Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. Television scriptwriters know that if you want a successful family sitcom, the mum had better play a prominent role. And we can find the same thing in the Bible. 

Mothers almost always have our best interests at heart. They love us and make untold sacrifices for us. The love of a mother for a child is about as close to unconditional love that we human beings can achieve. It is also a beautiful reflection of God’s unconditional love for us. 

In Isaiah 66, verse 13, God says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” And in Luke 13:34 Jesus actually likened himself to a mother hen, as he laments Jerusalem’s rejection of him, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing!” 

One of the last things Jesus did before he died on the cross was ask a friend to look after his mother. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-27).  In spite of his own agony, Jesus was concerned for his mother. Let me encourage you to follow his example. 

Mother’s Day, or something like it is celebrated in many countries around the world. Here in the USA it is next Sunday, May 12th. It isn’t an official Christian celebration, but you’d think it was. Here in the USA LifeWay Research conducted a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors and discovered from them that Mother’s Day was the third most attended church service after Easter and Christmas. 

The role of Mother is one of the greatest gifts God has given to us. Think about how you can show your appreciation—to God—and to your Mum—on Mother’s Day. 

Prayer
Gracious Father, thank you for our mothers who, in their selfless example of love towards us, gave us something of the love felt and expressed by you toward us, your children.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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