12th July 2017

July 12, 2017

Made to Look an Ass

“…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.”
1 Corinthians 1: 27 NLT

God’s got a way of bringing us down to size, sometimes in the most surprising and funny ways. Just take a look at this incident recorded in Numbers 22: The Israelites have finished their time-out in the wilderness and are entering the Promised Land, having disposed of armed opposition from the Amorites. The Moabites and the Midianites are terrified and in desperation, Balak, the king of the Moabites, seeing that neither the armies nor their national gods could stand up against the God of Israel, decides that what they need is a first class expert in divination. He sends a delegation four hundred miles to Balaam the soothsayer to ask him to come and curse Israel. There’d be a nice fee of course. God tells Balaam he cannot go because God has blessed Israel.

The delegation goes home and a new higher-powered one is sent back to Balaam with a much juicier offer of riches. God tells him he can go if does only what God tells him he can do. Balaam has saddled his donkey and is on his way to Moab, at heart it seems, wanting to be able to curse Israel rather than bless them so that he receives his reward. At some point along the way we see the anger of God against this devious and avaricious man. Three times an angel of the Lord with a drawn sword stands in the road in front of Balaam. Twice his donkey dodges out of the way, first into a field, and then it tries to squeeze by, in the process crushing Balaam’s leg against a wall and gets beaten for its loyalty. The third time the road is too narrow for evasion and the donkey just sits down on the ground. Balaam now lays into the animal again and beats it, at which point God gives the donkey a voice: “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouts back. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answers. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” and Balaam is forced to admit that the donkey was right.

Hallo! This man’s just had a conversation with a donkey. And then suddenly he sees what the animal could see all along—the angel with a sword threatening to kill him. This ‘seer’ was completely blind to what his unappreciated, normally dumb, beast of burden could plainly see. Balaam falls on his face before the angel: “I have sinned,” he confesses. It took a lowly donkey to stop him in his tracks.

Prayer
Creator God and loving Father, in your power and wisdom you deal with us in the most unexpected and surprising ways, even by giving a voice to a donkey. You know just how to bring us to our senses and expose our hearts. You destroy the wisdom of the wise. As we live in you, may we reflect nothing but the wisdom of Christ.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes. Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road
LEWES BN7 2XN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

27th December 2015

December 27, 2015

No Room For Jesus 

“And [Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manager, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:7 (NKJ) 

As I was standing in a queue at Disneyland, looking around at all the people having fun, the thought struck me—There doesn’t seem to be any room here for Jesus! He didn’t seem to be anywhere I looked—in the snaking lines, on the noisy rides, in the bustling restaurants. Lots of people and a few non-people such as Mickey Mouse and Sleeping Beauty, but no Jesus.

In the days before the birth of Jesus because of a census, Joseph and Mary travelled to Jerusalem on hot, dusty roads. Those roads must have been filled with others, joyous and happy, going in the same direction. At Disneyland there’s always a seat for us on the rides, but when Joseph tried to find a place to stay in Nazareth, he was told every space was taken. There was no room for them (Luke 2:7).

No room! No room for the Saviour of the world. No room for the one who was to redeem every human being from his or her sins. So he was born in a stable, a place for animals. The one who would be called a king was squeezed in between the donkeys and the sheep. They squeezed him out of the inn, and then, later, they crucified him, squeezing him clear out of this physical world. The whole world has been squeezing him out ever since. He’s been squeezed out of churches, and replaced by ritual and legalism. He’s been pushed out of schools and replaced by evolution and humanism. He’s been shoved out of Christmas and replaced by Santa and consumerism.

Sometimes we Christians do that to Jesus, too. Our lives are full of so much busyness we squeeze him out of our lives. Then we try to squeeze him back in—between the shopping and the internet, or the bills and the dishes. Sometimes there just isn’t any room for him at all.

Is there a way to prevent this from happening? There’s no formula. It’s not easy. It won’t happen in one day or just because you pray about it once or twice. Spiritual transformation takes a lifetime, through practising the disciplines of prayer, study, meditation and fasting. By interacting with God on a daily basis, we can, as Dallas Willard* says, “bring our personality and total being into effective co-operation with the divine order.

Making room for Jesus in our lives is a matter of our hearts. What is closest to your heart? Or as Matthew says, where is your treasure (Matthew 6:21)? If Jesus is your treasure, he will have your heart and you won’t have to make room for him. There won’t be room for anything else.

Prayer
Holy Father, when we consider how you allowed your Son, our Saviour, to become one of us, very God and very man, we stand in awe that he was willing to go through anything and everything that man threw at him in order to make it possible for us to saved. Since he had such a big heart for us, help us to have a major place in our hearts for him.
Amen
 

Study by Tammy Tkach

*Former professor of philosophy and writer on Christian spiritual formation at USC.

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tammytkachAbout the Author:
Tammy Tkach is the wife of Grace Communion President, Joseph Tkach, and resides in California, USA.  Tammy is GCI Women’s Ministry Support Co-Ordinator and editor of Connections, an ezine for women in ministry.

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.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

12th November 2015

November 12, 2015

Our Identity

“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”
Luke 6:35-36 (MSG)

Most people today like to identify with some thing or some organization. It might be a political party or soccer team, or it might be the latest fashion in some favourite magazine. Whatever it is, people like to belong.

Back in Bible times, the nation Israel was no different. Instead of identifying with their God who had blessed them so richly, they backslid into the worship of pagan gods.  The true God, through the prophet Isaiah in chapter one writes, “I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s feeding trough, but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.” Matthew 5:48 says, “You’re kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  Live out your God-created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

You need not experience an identity problem in your life. Your identity is firmly fixed in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and he will never forsake you!

Prayer
Thank you for our identity in Jesus Christ.  Help us to live in it daily.
Amen

Study by John Magowan

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johnmagowanAbout the Author:
John Magowan is a member of the Pastoral Council at Grace Community Church, Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

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

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
lisburngracecom@gmail.com
Phone: 07764336760
Email:  bobbeggs@hotmail.com

14th September 2015

September 14, 2015

Why a Donkey?

“Rejoice greatly O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—even on a donkey’s colt.”
Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
 

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on the final week of his life, he did so riding on the back of a colt, a young donkey (Matthew 21:1-6)—why? This very important ride was taken to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah quoted above about peace in Jerusalem.

In the West, these days, we don’t think much of donkeys—oh sure, they’re okay for children to ride on a beach during the holidays as I’m sure a lot us have done as youngsters. Donkeys, in this day and age, are also looked upon by us as mere beasts of burden and also as empty-headed animals, but in the East in the time of Jesus and before that, they were regarded as noble beasts. During the rule of Jair, a judge in Israel, Judges 10: 4 tells us, “His thirty sons rode around on thirty donkeys, and they owned thirty towns in the land of Gilead, which are still called the Towns of Jair.” These very important and wealthy people rode donkeys.

The donkey was an animal that Kings rode on when they came in peace—only in war did they ride upon horses. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was his claim to be King and not just any old King but the King of peace! It was upon the donkey of peace that he came, not on the horse of war. He was deliberately refusing the role of a warrior Messiah, which was of course what the Jewish people were looking for—a warrior to overcome the Romans and set up his kingdom here on earth. Notice in Matthew 21:8 how the crowds received him that day—“Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. He was the centre of the procession and the crowds all around him were shouting. ‘Praise God for the Son of David! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!’”

What an amazing welcome; a welcome as the Son of David and the one who comes in the name of the Lord! He came with an offer of love and peace; which was refused and instead, he was crucified for every one of us in order to make that peace available to the whole world

Prayer
Father, your plan is awesome, thank you for your courageous Son who rode bravely to his death in Jerusalem for all mankind, reaching out in love and peace.
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

17th June 2015

June 17, 2015

The Woman Who Forgot What She Came For

“Jesus: You don’t know the gift of God or who is asking you for a drink of this water from Jacob’s well. Because if you did, you would have asked Him for something greater; and He would have given you the living water.”
John 4:10 (VOICE)

‘I want…’ requests of God have a long history and we have all probably added to the volume of incense that has risen over millennia when we natter on to our heavenly Father about the necessity of us having this or that and would he provide it please, um, soon.  We are concerned about things of the Spirit, but right now it’s a sort of Father Christmas god we are hoping for, who we think will give us the physical goodies we want or the stuff we think we need.

Nothing new—remember the Samaritan woman who came out to draw water from the town well where Jesus was sitting on his own while his disciples went into town to buy food? He asked her for water, drawing the astonished woman into a conversation which led on to him offering her living water. The woman was puzzled: it’s a deep well and Jesus hasn’t got a bucket.  “‘Those who drink this water will get thirsty again,’ Jesus replies, ‘but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.’  ‘Sir,’ the woman says, ‘give me that water!’”, or more likely: ‘SIR, GIVE ME THAT WATER!’ (John 4:5-15 GNT)

Her day had come: the daily grind of hauling water would be over. She thought she was being offered a ‘must have’ that nobody had even dreamt about;  something like a donkey, or an ox, or a new cart or just a new wheel for the old cart – that’s what would be on most people’s wish list.

But by the end of the conversation the woman had forgotten why she’d come to the well and, overwhelmed by the knowledge that Jesus seemed to know all about her, had abandoned her water pot and had run back to town to tell everyone. The result was that two days later when Jesus departed, he left behind a group of townsfolk who believed that they had met the Saviour of the world. (John 4:28-41)

Jesus didn’t come to solve our water supply problems. That’s what God gave us minds with intelligence for. He came to restore us to God, who happily uses these preoccupations we have with our personal desires to bring us closer to him so that he can give us the truly great and lasting things he has to offer. He’s a master at it – and although he doesn’t need it, he gets a lot of practice.

Prayer
Our grateful thanks fly up to you, Father of love, as your mercy is renewed each morning and you draw us to you through whatever is on our minds.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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hilarybuck1About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road
LEWES
BN7 2XN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am L

ocal Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email:  hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

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