30th October 2018

October 30, 2018

Love and Power

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,”
Mark 10:42-43 (NIVUK)

There is possibly no starker contrast between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God than in their diametrically opposed views on the exercise of power. The former is often characterised by the love of power, the latter by the power of love. In the world there are different kinds of power, military, political, religious, demonic and economic, that can be exercised in a number of often interconnecting ways. All these powers were utilised by those involved in the death of Jesus; the civil, military, and religious authorities (in the arrest, trial and crucifixion) and Satan (when he entered into Judas). Economics also played a role when Jesus was betrayed for money—30 pieces of silver: the price of a slave. By contrast the power of love was also demonstrated at the crucifixion when God willingly allowed it to happen for the greater good of humanity and to overcome the power of death and sin.

As the opening scripture states, the love of power leads rulers to lord it over others. In his actions and teachings Jesus revealed the chasm that exists between the world’s view of lordship and the Godly form of leadership. Human nature loves lordship, which makes people feel good and important, to be able to lord it over others, and use their power and prestige for personal advantage. Religious leaders are not immune to the temptations associated with power as Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the market-places, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely” (Mark 12:38-40). The attraction of power and prestige to human beings was not lost on Satan when he tempted Jesus with rulership over all the earthly kingdoms of this world.

God is even willing to experience disgrace in order to draw men and women into communion with himself and with others, as he seeks to bring humanity into a relationship. The cross is a scene of suffering, dereliction and death, which is foolishness to this world, but reveals God’s unconditional love for humanity. God does not ride roughshod over humanity; his unconditional love means that human beings can freely learn to love God out of a response to his love. It also means that they are free to reject that love and also to reject communion with him.

Prayer
Father, we pray for the wisdom to present your message of love to an unbelieving world.
Amen

Study by Eddie Marsh

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About the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends Grace Communion International in Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion, Sheffield
Please email for Meeting Place

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.org.uk

19th October 2018

October 19, 2018

Where E’re You Walk

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)

We often see Closed Circuit TV images of “wanted” men and women on our television news. We know video surveillance CCTV relies on strategic placement of cameras with observation of the input sent to monitors somewhere else. Perhaps, do we also wonder whether cameras pick up our moves as well? And yes, of course they do! Google Earth, which some call a ‘spy in the sky’, has been observing every part of our planet since 2001!

Three thousand years ago King David, in a time of peace and plenty, got up one fine late afternoon and, whilst it was still light, took a stroll on the flat roof where he had been resting in his palace on Mount Zion. In doing so he was no doubt following his usual habits. David looked down because some movement had caught his eye from his high vantage point. What he saw overwhelmed him: temptation quickly came, and as so often is the case, unexpectedly. But he fatally lingered at what he saw: a young and very beautiful woman bathing. The rest, as they say, is history—he committed adultery with Bathsheba and plotted for her husband to die in battle. Read the story in 2 Samuel 11.

Surprisingly, it was at least a year before David’s sins of adultery and murder caught up with him. He was unprepared for the verbal missile from the prophet Nathan. It’s a brilliant parable found in 2 Samuel 12:1-10 and it caught David totally off guard. The story of the rich man taking the pet lamb from the poor man outraged him. He was angry, but Nathan’s rapier-like reply told him “YOU are the man” (verse 5). Ouch. David never saw that coming, but verse 13 shows he was overwhelmed by the emotion of the moment, and he repented like never before. We have that recorded in Psalm 51.

God is always watching over us for our own good. We may not welcome CCTV but we surely welcome God’s grace, love, and concern for all we do.

Prayer
Father, we thank you so much for the inspiring histories of the Bible which teach us so much about both your love and your justice to all in your beloved Creation, whether King or commoner.
Amen

Study by Tony Goudie
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About the Author:
Tony Goudie is the Pastor of the Great Baddow Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK (near Chelmsford).

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Great Baddow
United Reformed church
High Street
Great Baddow
CHELMSFORD
CM2 7HH

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

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

21st September 2018

September 21, 2018

Joseph; Prison, Pain and Palace

“And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison.”
Genesis 39:20 (NRSV)

Bad things happen to good people. The story of Joseph in the Old Testament highlights that fact. Yes, we know the end of the story and that God had a plan, but let’s not rush to the conclusion, instead let’s languish with the prisoner in gaol for a while. No matter whether he shared his dreams, helped others, served faithfully or resisted temptation, it always seemed to end badly for him. He refused to have sexual relations with his master’s wife and ended up in prison for his high moral and ethical stance. Even promises that were made to him were soon forgotten. That’s not fair or right!

The author repeats in Genesis 39, “the Lord was with him” (verse 2) and “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love” (verse 21). The context for the first is with him in slavery and the second, with him in prison. He had years in which to allow that seed of bitterness to grow and protest his innocence, but we are not told he did. We see a more recent example with Nelson Mandela. Over far less significant matters many have been known to sulk, complain and take matters into their own hands. While in undesirable settings totally beyond his control Joseph was being blessed, and those who enslaved and imprisoned him also reaped the benefit of his obedience, attitude and skills. We are left with an image that, even in his frustration, he was calm and hopeful.

This is a familiar story but the important lessons remain applicable for us today, whether at home, in the work place or in the community. We may have, or will receive, harsh, unfair or unjust treatment, but God is with us in the midst of our pain, struggle or confusion. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Whether we know the end result or not, we can have confidence (paraphrasing Genesis 39:23), because the Lord is with us; and whatever is done, the Lord will make it and us to prosper in the end.

So with God’s help always strive to do the right thing no matter the circumstances.

Prayer
Loving Father, thank you that even in our moments of despair or depression you are our constant companion. In Jesus’ name please continue to surround us in your grace with love and mercy.
Amen

Study by David Gibbs
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About the Author:
David Gibbs in an Elder and on the Pastoral Council in the Birmingham Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Birmingham
All Saints Church
George Road
BIRMINGHAM
B23 7QB

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1:00pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 0777-7667635
Email: david_gibbs@wcg.org.uk

18th August 2018

August 18, 2018

How’s Your Esteem? 

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Matthew 4:1 (NRSV)

Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness so that he could face temptation, and it was important that he did so because every human being goes through times in the wilderness. We experience periods when we feel dry and barren and the world seems an inhospitable place to be in. It’s then we are liable to face temptation: The temptation to doubt who we are, and the temptation to doubt who God is.

And these are the two great temptations that Jesus faced. They were temptations about his identity and God’s. Just before Jesus went into the wilderness he was baptised; it was confirmed to him that he is God’s Son, and God is pleased with him. Following this revelation he faced the temptation to doubt whether he really is the Son of God: Satan challenged, If you are the Son of God then turn these stones into bread; if you are the Son of God then prove it – jump off this mountain and God will save you, if he really loves you and you really are his Son. Then Jesus faced the temptation to doubt God’s identity: is God really the giver of good things? The devil offered Jesus all the world has to offer if he would turn away from God and worship him.

These are the temptations Adam and Eve faced: They were tempted to doubt what God said to them and whether his motives were good. Unfortunately they gave in to that temptation. These are the temptations we also face in our wilderness times: To not see ourselves as we really are, and to not see God as he really is. Whatever we experience in our wilderness, we need the reassurance that we are valuable, loved, children of God. In the weakness of our wilderness, our good God meets us and accepts us unconditionally. Adam and Eve lost sight of who God was and who they were. Like them, we can lose sight of these things.

But there was a second Adam—another human being who entered into the wilderness just as we do, was tempted just as we are and was able to overcome that temptation. Jesus offers his help and his understanding to all those who are in the wilderness and are being similarly tempted and are afraid.

So, ask yourself, ‘how is my self-esteem and how is my God-esteem?’ ‘Do I have a self-esteem that knows I am a fully loved, fully accepted, child of God?’ ‘Do I have a God-esteem that knows that God is good, that he loves me and is for me’? There is nothing that all the kingdoms of the world have that could compare to this understanding—don’t let the adversary rob you of it.

Prayer
Father, thank you that you are a good God and that I am your accepted child. Help me to bask in the warmth of our relationship.
Amen

Study by Barry Robinson

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About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Camberwell
LONDON
SE5 7HN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

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

12th August 2018

August 12, 2018

Wearing the Word

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—”
1 John 1:1 (NKJV UK)

If you’ve been a Christian for a long period of time, you’re probably familiar with the Armour of God. If you aren’t, here’s a quick refresher. “Therefore take up the whole armour of God…having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the…gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

The imagery Paul is using here is of a relationship with God’s word and character that is so close and intimate, that we can actually wear it like a garment. Pretty cool, right? And while ‘wearing words’ might seem a strange idea, there is a real historical precedent for it. In the 15th century, the nuns of a convent in Northern Germany actually sewed old leftover parchment manuscripts into their robes. When I heard about that, I couldn’t help but think of the Armour of God, and the close relationship between God’s Word and ourselves that is implied by it.

Throughout Scripture, we see this relationship in the lives of people such as David, who described God’s word as a lamp for my feet, and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105), or the Apostle Paul, who used his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Old Testament to aid in sharing the Gospel with the Jews. Or even Christ himself, who used Scripture to resist temptation from the Devil in the desert. For the giants of our faith, knowing and loving the words of God was as necessary for daily life as their own clothing—a companion they kept close through constant prayer, meditation, and memorisation.

And for good reason, too. When stresses, frustrations, and pain begin to add up, the word of God is a refuge that’s always waiting to provide solace, peace, and direction for us. It can be a compass that gets us through the storms of life, reminding us of the character, love, and will of our Heavenly Father. So the next time life’s storms have you turned around and wondering which way is up, do like those giants of the faith did, and turn to God’s Word!

Prayer
Merciful Father, thank you for your words, recorded in Scripture for us, and lived for us as the Word through the life of Jesus Christ. Human beings like to think that they are self-sufficient, but the reality is that we are dependent on your guidance and inspiration for success in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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About 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.

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

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