Posted on: 9th July 2018
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”
For those of you who are involved in social media, you will know what a ‘Profile Pic’ is. From my experience the profile pic is the best representation a person can give, something that represents the image they wish to portray. For some it is of a great sporting achievement. For others it is of a time with family or friends. Very few profile pictures capture the nitty-gritty, day to day you.
When we read that we are ‘created in the image of God’, let us consider two responses. The first response is denial. If the imperfect me that I see in the mirror is a representation of God’s image then God cannot be God. The apostle Paul realised this too in Romans 6 when he wrote:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Paul came to the conclusion that there is part of him that wants to live a life that is the image of God, but there is part of him that is at war with that desire. Have you ever struggled like Paul with a decision or action that you want to do that you have not done?
King David too came to the realisation that he was not a great representation of the image of God. This is what he wrote in Psalms 139:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
The second response to imperfections is meditation. King David spent time with God, searching his heart, thoughts and actions. When was the last time you took a moment to search yourself? Maybe today is your moment.
However you respond this week, be cheered by Paul’s conclusion to the dilemma he described above:
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Through Jesus we begin to reflect the image of God.
Posted on: 18th June 2018
“‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’”
Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One could sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking together, the skyline in the distance.
His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind, and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’
Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’ There’s great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal. One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars.
Posted on: 11th June 2018
“ ‘…will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope’ ”
When we’re facing a tough situation, or a hard time in our lives that doesn’t seem to be ending, we can sometimes start to lose hope.
We feel like things will always be this way and that there’s no possibility of anything changing. We may have been praying for years and not seen any change. It can be discouraging.
When we lose our hope, we lose our ability to see beyond our circumstances. We can become consumed by fear, disappointment and resentment that our situation isn’t changing. But God says He ‘will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope’ (Hosea 2 v 15). Achor means trouble. So here God is saying that He’ll turn trouble into hope. And the Bible says that ‘those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40 v 31).
We have spoken about the Israelites before on their journey to the Promised Land. When the Israelites were in exile, there must have been days when many of them doubted whether they would ever be allowed to return to the Promised Land. They may have even thought that God had abandoned and forgotten about them. But Jeremiah the prophet (one who God talks to about the future) says, ‘They shall come back from the land of the enemy.’ The word ‘shall’ is a definite; that was what was going to happen – and it did. And we can have that same expectancy.
When God promises us something, He’ll always come through. He is faithful and always keeps His promises. He has the power to completely change our situations and turn our trouble into hope.
Posted on: 4th June 2018
“‘Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant’”
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Malvolio has the line,
“In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.”
Let us embrace our opportunities as part of the Saint Wilfrid’s community to take those opportunities we have to be great. We have recently celebrated the Sports Award’s where many students were recognised for their achievements. We look forward to Sports Day too where students have the chance to show their talents and achieve greatness. With seven school records broken last year, we are excited to see if these students have stepped up to the next level and can emulate last year’s achievements.
However, chasing fame has its warning signs. We can enter into competition with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. How easy is it to elevate yourself by lowering others with our words and actions? We must remember the challenge in Philippians 2:3 to ‘consider others better than ourselves.’ Is this a challenge for you today?
In Matthew 20, Jesus is confronted by a parent who wanted greatness for her children. Her request was simply for her children to be given the seats of ultimate honour in the kingdom of heaven! Jesus told her that what she was asking was for God alone to grant.
Jesus then went on to talk about how to be great in God’s kingdom. His answer was culture changing then and the challenge still cuts against the flow now. How can lowering yourself to serve others, result in elevation to greatness?
At the start of a new half term, I pray that you will find your opportunities this week to serve. I also pray that your service brings a confidence that you are great in God’s eyes.
Posted on: 21st May 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Discontentment. It’s something that can stop us from feeling joy and living life to the full.
The Bible says we must learn to be content ‘whatever the circumstances.’ That can be hard.
We see what other people have and we want the same. We see what other people have achieved, and we want to do that too. Once we start comparing our lives to other people’s, discontentment can find its way in and we begin to forget all the blessings and gifts that God has given us.
Discontentment clouds all the good and makes us think our lives are not alright as they are. Instead, contentment recognises all the good in our lives and doesn’t want what other people have. There’ll always be people who have more than us, but there’ll also be people who have less. What you choose to focus on will determine how contented you feel.
Our security and self-worth should be based on who we are in Christ, not what we have. Our possessions, achievements and relationships shouldn’t define who we are. Paul wrote: ‘I’ve learned…to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’ (Philippians 4 v 11-13).
When we’re focused on our identity in Christ, rather than what we do or don’t have, we leave no room for discontentment in our lives.
Posted on: 14th May 2018
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… I set you apart…I ordained you a prophet to the nations”
Did you know you have a purpose? Are you ready to discover it?
In the book of Jeremiah, we read, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… I set you apart…I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’
We read 3 key things in this scripture:
1) God knew you. The word knew means ‘to have intimate knowledge of’. When your delicate fingers were just a web, before your heartbeat registered on the monitor or the doctor could predict your gender, God knew all about you. ‘You…scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe’ (Psalm 139 v 16). God knew what you were born to be you and provided you everything you’d need to fulfil your life’s purpose.
2) God set you apart. He fixed it so you wouldn’t fit in, and designed you so you couldn’t rest in any place He didn’t want you to be in. He intended you to discover, to find your purpose. That’s why you’re uncomfortable in certain places and around certain people. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you won’t fit in because God has set you apart.
3) God ordained you. Stop worrying about who does or doesn’t recognise you or your gifts. John Mason says, ‘Each person has been custom-made by God the Creator. Each of us has a unique and personal call on our lives…to be our own selves and not copies of other people.’
This week, remember your life has purpose worth discovering because God knows you, He set you apart and he has ordained you!
Posted on: 30th April 2018
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
1 John 3:1
The Bible tells us that God is love. So, when we’re in God’s presence, we’re in the presence of love. His love for us is unchanging, never failing, unconditional. We’re told that God lavishes His love on us. ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1). And His love shapes who we are, and how we act. It helps us to love others, just as we’re called to do. ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love’ (1 John 4:8).
In 1 Corinthians 13, we’re called to ‘love extravagantly’, and that can seem like a big challenge. Some people seem to be hard to love at all, let alone extravagantly. We can feel like we don’t want to go above and beyond in our love for others. We don’t want to make sacrifices and put others first. We struggle to forgive, and we struggle to be patient. We lack grace and gentleness in our relationships. But we’re called to love everyone. And when we experience and begin to understand God’s incredible, unchanging love for us, we can’t help but share that love with others.
When we think about it, God’s love is extravagant. It doesn’t change, no matter what we do. It’s always there. But it goes beyond that. God’s shown us the ultimate act of extravagant love.
This week consider, how do you demonstrate love? Have you ever been impacted by God’s love? What did/does it feel like?
Posted on: 23rd April 2018
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
One of the fruits of our spirit as the bible states is love, we read about it in Galatians 5:22-23. Now the fruits of the Spirit are not for ‘show’, they are for sharing with others; otherwise, they’re no better than fruit that was never grown in the first place. Suppose you visit the market with your heart set on buying fresh vegetables. You see home-grown tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and several varieties of peppers – everything you need and more. Just as you start to select your items, the farmer who owns the stand says, ‘Sorry, this produce isn’t for sale. I just like to grow it and enjoy looking at it until it rots. Then I throw it away.’ Can you imagine your reaction? Now you likely haven’t encountered such a bizarre situation, and probably never will. That’s because farmers and customers know that produce is for eating. Sure, when all the colours are on display it’s beautiful to look at, but its God-ordained purpose is to bring nutrition and health to people.
If all we do is go to worship and speak about fruit, analyse fruit, and examine each other’s fruit, we are failing miserably. It’s not enough to have fruit, to have love, we must share that fruit and love with others, so they can be blessed and impacted by the kingdom of God.
In Ephesians 2:10 Paul writes, ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’
This week, don’t only bear fruit in your spirit but let it come to life, so others can see it too.
Posted on: 16th April 2018
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.”
When we’re at a crossroads in life, when we’re not sure which way to go or what to do, we’ve got a God who delights in giving us wisdom.
When we’re experiencing a conflict or a problem in our lives, He’s got the answers. He knows what’s best for us. But we can so often find ourselves looking to other things for direction or trying to sort everything out ourselves. The Bible says: ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.’ God may use other people to give us His wisdom, but we should still ask God before anyone else. He should be the One we turn to first, whatever we’re facing and whatever we need.
God loves it when we desire His wisdom. We can see this in the story of Solomon. When God asked Solomon what he wanted, Solomon replied that he wanted wisdom and discernment, so he could rule the people effectively. The Bible tells us that ‘the Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this’ (1 Kings 3 v 10). And when we seek God’s wisdom, we not only please Him, but we’re blessed too. ‘Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding’ (Proverbs 3 v 13 NIV).
We can ask God directly for His wisdom through prayer. But we can also find His guidance and wisdom in the Bible. Here we find how God wants us to live, and it’s full of advice and stories of people who’ve experienced things just like we face today. When we take the time to read it every day, we become immersed in His wisdom. So instead of doing things that don’t work, let’s turn to God, and His Word, for wisdom.
Posted on: 26th March 2018
What do you think of when you think of Easter? Eggs? Holidays? Jesus? The Cross?
For some it is these four things: Forgiven. Family. Freedom. Future.
Well it’s simple really, each time we read the Bible we have new revelation of who God is, what he has done and why. When we read the Bible bearing in mind we know the Easter story and Jesus, we can’t miss these four things.
Firstly, at Easter time, we remember that Jesus’ agonising death on the cross means that He paid the price for our sinfulness and selfishness. Easter reminds us that we can be FORGIVEN by God – ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1 v 9).
And through this loving, sacrificial act, we can become adopted into God’s FAMILY – ‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household.’ (Ephesians 2 v 19). God is our Father, Jesus our ever-present older-brother, the Holy Spirit our constant helper, and the Church is our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then, the fact that Jesus defeated death through His resurrection, reminds us that nothing is impossible for God and we can experience FREEDOM from our struggles and suffering. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5 v 1).
In this resurrection is our hope for the FUTURE, that we will one day be with God forever in His perfect new heaven and earth – “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21 v 4-6 NIV)
Be encouraged this Easter that when Jesus died on the cross and the plan to rescue eternity was set into motion, God had YOU in mind.