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

14th May 2018

May 14, 2018

Private Thoughts 

“He said to himself…”
Luke 7:39 (NRSV)

Another title for this Day by Day could be: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV). The heart is where private thoughts are stored. They can be good or bad.

In the header scripture we break into a Pharisee’s private thoughts. Simon, the Pharisee, was having a dinner party and Jesus was one of the guests. Also there was a woman of rather dubious reputation. Simon “said to himself…” That probably means that he thought it. Maybe he muttered under his breath, but he certainly did not expect anyone to know what he was thinking.

Don’t we do that all the time? We form opinions about people that we keep to ourselves. Probably some of you are doing just that while you are reading this article. Anyway Simon had his thoughts about two people there and neither thought was very nice. The first was of the woman. He despised her because of her reputation. The second was of Jesus. He had a reputation for being a holy man, but He didn’t seem to be behaving much like one if He allowed her to treat Him in the way she did.

Simon misjudged Jesus. Jesus could perceive what other people were thinking. He felt his host needed a bit of correction but He didn’t want to show him up before all his guests. So He told him a parable.

Simon did not realise that the parable was intended for him so he gave Jesus just the answer He was expecting. Jesus was drawing Simon’s attention to his shortcomings. He explained the parable quite simply (Luke 7:40-48): how she showed Jesus the depth of love that was in her heart, whereas Simon didn’t think of showing Jesus even the basic courtesies normally offered to a guest, possibly because he had so many other guests to welcome.

There is so much here that God wants to teach us. He wants us to learn that we should try and avoid the temptation of thinking thoughts that put other people down. If we don’t, Jesus will probably want to draw our attention to this failing. He might do it by quietly bringing to our awareness someone whose own behaviour shows us the better way. Or it might be from something we read in the Bible or from what we hear in a sermon. But if we still don’t get the message we might hear someone who really knows us saying to us ‘this not the sort of thing that someone in your position ought to be thinking.’

Our private thoughts are not really private, not to God anyway. Let’s please Him by exercising more control over them.

Prayer
Lord, I am so grateful that You have given me a precious gift – a mind to think with. May I listen to Your correction whenever I misuse it. In Jesus’ name
Amen
 

Study by Cristopher Reeve

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About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK, where his wife, Hilary accompanies him.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane
Blean
CANTERBURY
CT2 9JA

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

8th March 2018

March 8, 2018

GROWT_ 

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Today we look at the fifth letter in our study on the word GROWTH, which is T, standing for Temptation. Part of Christian growth is becoming more resistant to temptation, though we will never fully succeed in resisting it. Remember the Bible talks of the passing pleasures of sin in Hebrews 11:24-26.

Our minds are like gardens, and need to be carefully tended and looked after. Just as weeds grow in a garden with no effort, so can wrong thoughts and values take root in our minds. We are told to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). That’s a big challenge!

Now, you may be thinking, well I’m not giving in to the temptation to rob a bank, to murder someone or fall into sexual temptation, and if your conscience is clear in those areas, that’s good. But temptation is very subtle sometimes. Do you ever find yourself thinking wrong thoughts about a person or a situation? How many times have you watched a programme on TV, enjoyed it but then just sat there watching whatever is on next? There is nothing wrong with watching TV, but it promotes so many wrong attitudes and values in some programmes. Are we alert for that? How many times in the last couple of months have we pressed the off button?

How do we deal with the temptation to waste time by putting off things we know we should do? How often do we say ‘if only I had not done this or that’?

Temptation is a huge subject and will affect us in different ways and give us different challenges. So in whatever form our temptations come, it’s good to remember the heading scripture above. It tells us God is in control and will always be with us in fighting our individual battles whatever they may be.

Lets not spend our lives on a guilt trip about our sins, but remembering that Jesus Christ has dealt with them. Let’s be aware of our need to be alert to the ways in which we can be tempted and resist them in God’s strength, not our own.

Prayer
Gracious, loving Father, help us to stay close to you, so we can recognise and resist temptations in whatever form they come. 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, 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: malcolm701@googlemail.com

24th February 2018

February 24, 2018

Gilt and Guilt

“Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.”
Proverbs 9:17-18 (NIV)

‘Not before your dinner’ my mother warned. In my childish eyes the gold wrapped sweets glowed on the plate, the compelling urge to swipe one grew – risking the wrath of my parent, I succumbed to temptation and sneakily retrieved a sweet from the plate. It was delicious! Then the consequences, ‘did you take one of those sweets?’ Oh no! Now I would have to lie to someone who knew the truth perfectly well! The British politician Dennis Healey was known to have said ‘when you are in a hole – stop digging!’   Unfortunately, my misdemeanour preceded these words of wisdom by many years. By the end of the day I was ashamed and had completely forgotten the taste of the forbidden sweet, however, I still remembered how attractive the gold wrapper was. The writer of Proverbs described how ‘sweet’ ‘stolen waters’ can be but then he/she goes on to explain the dire results.

What is gilt gold? An example is to be found in coinage. Essentially it means that a coin has a thin layer of gold, or something resembling gold, on it. Beneath the meagre gold layer of the coin is almost certainly some base metal. The example is apt, under the thin veneer of temptation are base results.

Sin is often like that, there it is in location, tempting and beckoning – metaphorically gold wrapped. We lie to ourselves about the consequences, but we are caught in the heat of the moment. It doesn’t have to be an item that we covet, perhaps it is something we have heard – a tasty piece of gossip – something we can add to that maybe no-one else knows. The apostle Paul quantified sin in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’”

Thankfully we have been ‘rescued’ from our sins by Jesus Christ, as we read in Galatians 1:4 “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Jesus has paid for our sins, and washed away the guilt.

Each of us have sinful natures, giving in to temptation and sin, and as a result bear the ensuing guilt or shame. Guilt is often associated with depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health related problems. Sin is bad for us in so many ways! We need to recognise the ‘gilt’ of temptation and seek the power of the Holy Spirit to resist and repent—by doing we are released from guilt.

Prayer
Father God, we come before you, sorry for our sins, and through the sacrifice of Jesus, we ask for your forgiveness and thank you from our hearts for the release from the burden of guilt.
Amen
 

Study by Irene Wilson

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About the Author:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, part of Grace Communion International, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.

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

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