July 8th 2009

July 8, 2009

In The Waiting Lounge

“So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:44 (NIV)

I find myself in an airport waiting for my flight home with lots of time on my hands, before I can check in. But I’m well prepared-a previous job which involved much travel taught me always to be ready for long delays. I have books to read, notes to make and, of course, an opportunity to check out any bargains in duty free.

A life in Jesus Christ can sometimes be viewed as being in God’s waiting lounge. Christians wait patiently while we yearn for the return of the King of kings, when the fullness of his reign will be received.

But God’s waiting lounge is not a place of boredom with nothing to do. Instead, there is plenty for us to consider.

In the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25), we find that God’s people had been very busy. They had fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, visited the sick and prisoners, and clothed the less fortunate.

Our Christian lives are not to be seen as a time of “keeping our heads down and our noses clean” while we wait for the “big” moment of Jesus second appearing.

In fact, big moments in the work of Christ happen every day, as we get the chance to bring his love, grace and mercy to all in need.

Dear Father, open my eyes to see those who are in need.
Fill me with courage every day to be ready to answer their prayer of help in times of trouble.

Study by Ian Woodley

July 28th 2009

July 28, 2009

Shout With A Whisper

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”
Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

There are three elements needed to start a fire-oxygen, heat and fuel. Take away any one of these elements and there will be no fire.

It could be viewed that there are also three elements needed for an argument, two people as minimum and something to argue about. Take away one of those elements and there will be no argument.

You may not be able to eradicate or avoid the subject of discussion, and the other individual will only cease to argue if they choose to. So you remove the third element, yourself.

This doesn’t have to be physically; that is not always possible, although it can help for a time-but don’t be one of the elements that fans the flames, that keeps the fire burning.

Here in Proverbs we can see that the way to do this is to respond to others with a gentle answer. The Message Bible puts it this way-‘a gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire’.

God wants us to live in peace with one another and to encourage peaceful living in others, which is best achieved by setting the example of a quiet and gentle existence -free from the destructive power of arguments and strife. We will still be able to make a stand, to make our point heard-we can whisper as though we are shouting, hopefully about Our Good and Gracious Eternal Father in Heaven.

Father, help us to have love and compassion in our hearts for all mankind-as you do, and to live peaceably with everyone we know and meet even when they try to stir up strife. Give us the strength and wisdom to lead by your example.
In Christ’s name we pray.

Study by Sinead Templeman

July 18th 2009

July 18, 2009

A Story To Tell

6 of 12 studies taken from Acts 7 to Acts 14

“At once he (Saul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, Isn’t he the man who caused havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?
Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.”
Acts 9:20-25 (NIV UK)

From attacking ‘The Way’,  Saul went on to proclaiming it whenever he could.

The very Jews who had hoped to welcome him as their champion against this new Way were the ones who sought now to kill him. Saul had betrayed their cause. Instead of stamping out belief in Jesus as the Christ, he was promoting it. It is an exciting story in one way, especially when Saul is rescued by fellow believers and lowered in a basket to safety outside the walled city of Damascus. It sounds precarious to me. I wonder how long the potential drop was, and just how flimsy and unsteady was that basket?

Whatever happened, it left an indelible impression on Saul’s mind. He remembers it vividly in II Corinthians 11:32-33. It appears that the Jews had enlisted the help of local authorities. “In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands”.

Life with Jesus can be unpredictable, frightening and exhilarating. Once, when I was in Kenya, I had a narrow escape. A friend and I had been conducting a Bible Study in a local hotel. Little did we know that an angry crowd had gathered just along the street from us. They were upset with government decisions but were ready to turn on anyone who looked out of place. When we left the hotel the crowd saw us and charged toward us. We darted into the car which would not start! The rioters were just a few feet away when an amazing thing happened. There was a clap of thunder and it began to hail, causing the mob to disperse quickly. I turned the ignition again, the car started, and we drove out of harm’s way, our hearts thumping, beaming smiles on our faces. Sometimes it causes me to wonder.

Do you have a story to tell?

Wonderful God, thank you for your involvement in my life and for the ways both big and small in which you intervene to help me!

Study by James Henderson

18th January 2016

January 18, 2016

Treasure in a Field!

“Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like some treasure which has been buried in a field. A man finds it and buries it again, and goes off overjoyed to sell all his possessions to buy himself that field.”
Matthew 13:44 (Phillips)

I watched a TV documentary programme recently about a hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold that was discovered by a young man called Terry Herbert while he was searching a section of a freshly ploughed field with his metal detector in Staffordshire England on the 5th of July 2009. In total, 3,500 items of silver and gold were unearthed and were finally valued at £3.3 million! When Terry initially approached the farmer for permission to search, he was told; “You won’t find anything there, hundreds of people have tried and got nothing!” This hoard has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum and Terry and the farmer have received half of the purchase price each. During his interview on TV, Terry, who was completely blown away by his find, kept asking the questions; “Why was I allowed to find this treasure and not someone else? Had I been specially singled out for this?” Those are great questions, aren’t they?

In the parable Jesus told in the scripture above, the finder reburies the treasure–why? Because in the Middle Eastern culture at that time, the owner of the field would have claimed all of this treasure for himself and the finder would have got nothing. With foresight and wisdom this person reburies the hoard, sells everything and buys the field so now he is the owner of a piece of ground and has the treasure too.

“Or again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he has found a single pearl of great value, he goes and sells all his possessions and buys it.” (Matthew 13:45 Phillips).This parable of the fine pearl makes the same point as the previous one but instead of finding this treasure by accident; this well-off merchant is actively searching for it! So, he has some idea about what he wants and puts forth the effort to find it. (Compare Matthew 6: 33)

In these two parables Jesus is telling his listeners, and us also, that the Kingdom is of supreme value and when we find it—either accidentally or by concerted effort—we need to fully grasp its infinite worth; and joyfully let go of all competing claims on our lives and make it our one  great possession!

Gracious Father, give us the wisdom to treasure the Kingdom of heaven however we find it—by accident or by diligent searching—and realise with great joy that its value is far beyond any earthly price.

Study by Cliff Neill


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

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Harry Sullivan
Phone:  01908-582222
Email: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

July 28th 2010

July 28, 2010

Jesus Is Unique

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14 (NIV)

Is the Jesus story unique or are there others like it?

Some scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries suggest that the accounts of Jesus are a collection of myths borrowed from other cultures and religions.

A well-know example, much publicized via television and the worldwide web, is the idea that the biblical Jesus is founded on the cult of Mithraism. The contention is that, among other suggested parallels, Jesus, just like Mithras, was born of a virgin, was a great teacher, sacrificed himself for the world and was resurrected. Any casual investigation would show that the first recorded texts about Mithras occurred well after the writing of the gospels, and therefore the copycat idea can be dismissed. What’s more Mithras, according to the legends, was born out of a rock, not a woman; was not a teacher who walked among the people; and did not sacrifice himself – in fact, he did not die and therefore there is no resurrection story.

There are also fables about agricultural and fertility gods that die in the winter only to rise again in the spring. Was the Jesus story based loosely on them? Again, the similarities do not stand up to close inspection. Jesus did not die in winter. He does not die and get resurrected every year on some seasonal basis. “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people” (Hebrews 9:28).

A major point to note about Jesus Christ is that he is a historically documented real person, not some mythical fabrication like Mithras or the Egyptian deity Osiris or the Greek Adonis.

And the story of Jesus is unique. Only Christianity discusses how the gracious and compassionate “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Glorious Father, thank you that the one and only Jesus died for me in order that I may live in your fellowship forever.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by SEP Staff