Jesus is Compassionate


Jesus is compassionate

Posted on: 18th March 2019

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were hurting and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

A phrase used to challenge us to improve our lives and our work is, “If you always do what you’ve always done…” I will leave you to fill the rest in for yourself.

As we consider Jesus again this week, let us consider what he always did, wherever he went. In Matthew 4:23 we read that, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” In Matthew 9:35, we read that, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”

There seems to be a pattern in Jesus’ behaviour. I would like to suggest that Jesus always did what he always did, and he always got the same reaction. Crowds followed him. The religious leaders hated him even more. I love the quote that Mother Teresa had on her wall. Part of it reads, “Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway.”

This week, my challenge for you is to consider all the good that you do, that strengthens your soul or makes a positive difference to others, and keep doing it.

My prayer for us all is that we will have the strength and motivation to meet the needs of those we can, just as Jesus did to the hurting and helpless. You may not have a gift of healing, but whatever gifts you have, consider how you can use them to be compassionate.

Jesus is Empowering


Devotional Blog - Jesus is Empowering

Posted on: 11th March 2019

“Come, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mark 1:17

Have you ever met someone who is so full of life and energy that they seem to fill their lives to the full? After speaking to them you realise that there is so much you could achieve by adopting some of their habits. I was inspired recently by a colleague who fits in twenty squats whilst brushing their teeth and fifty press ups while the morning kettle boils! As well as giving up TV, sweets and games on my phone, I’m trying to do more reading over lent. One book is called ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. It is an inspiring read and very practical. But reading the book is not revolutionising my life. For that to happen I am going to have to put it into practice.

At the start of Jesus’ ministry, he began by choosing, empowering and equipping twelve disciples. His words to Simon and Andrew as they were doing their normal working routine changed their future. “Come, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17).

Today is another day when you get to respond to the same call that those disciples did. Some opportunities you are presented with today will be ‘too good to say no to’. Others will require will power and determination. You will pay the cost of effort or investment today, but receive the rewards in the future. Some choices will give you instant rewards but they will cost you in the long term.

The response of those first disciples to Jesus shaped their future forever. It wasn’t an easy life but it was full of purpose and adventure. “At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1:18).

My prayer this week is that you find time to reflect on the call of Jesus to follow him. I hope that you feel empowered, like the early disciples, to “Live life to the full.” (John 10:10).

Jesus is Forgiveness


Jesus is Forgiveness

Posted on: 4th March 2019

“Bear with each other, forgive each other, as the Lord has forgiven you.”
Colossians 3:13

During this half term we are considering how we can ‘Love like Jesus’. From reading the gospels, I think it is really clear what Jesus was about. Jesus was love. Sometimes this love was an obvious demonstration. In Matthew 4:23, after Jesus had returned from his testing in the wilderness and called the first disciples, he went throughout Galilee and preached, proclaimed good news and healed all who were sick. And people followed him.

This week we are considering how Jesus is forgiveness. The ultimate display of this is his sacrifice on the cross, for the forgiveness of all. In Colossians 3:13 it says we are to “bear with each other, forgive each other, as the Lord has forgiven you.”

It is a sacrifice to forgive. Forgiveness requires us offering something to someone who has wronged us, that they don’t deserve. So why does Jesus call us to forgive? We find the answer in Matthew 6:14.

In his book ‘Everybody always’, Bob Goff describes a person who he meets who is, “pure evil.” Bob gets the opportunity to meet with this man after his arrest for all the vile things he had done. During this encounter, the prisoner asked Bob to forgive him. Bob describes this as one of the hardest decisions he had ever made. This man had hurt someone Bob loved. If you are looking for an inspirational and motivational book to read, I cannot recommend this book highly enough, along with Bob Goff’s first book, ‘Love does’.

This week starts the period of lent. What are you going to sacrifice over the next 40 days? What is the reason behind your sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was for the forgiveness of sins.

My prayer is that lent is a season of reflection, sacrifice and forgiveness in your life.

Jesus is Love


Devotional Rwanda

Posted on: 25th Feb 2019

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10

I asked a student today, “What will the temperature in Rwanda be next week?” They knew the forecast and answered in detail. I asked them about Tanzania, but they didn’t know. I already knew about Rwanda, but only for the week to come. Why? Love.

I love that a group from Oswaldtwistle, including member of St Wilfrid’s, are going to Rwanda this week to visit projects with Compassion and meet Jeanette, Olivier, Romeo, Guadence and Joseph. I love it so much that I am interested in the details of the journey, the weather and the things they will be doing. My challenge to you is to ask them about how the trip went. Interest shows love.

When you read the gospels, you will see story after story of Jesus showing love. One of my favourite stories can be found in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was not a liked man. He was a tax collector. He was a Jew who worked for Rome. His only comfort was his wealth. There is a sense that he had come to the realisation that wealth was not enough to save him from himself. An encounter with Jesus, however, that brought salvation.

For Zacchaeus, an encounter with Jesus brought salvation. Jesus changed his life. It cost Zacchaeus financially, but he found salvation.

My prayer is that you experience the love of God in your life as you consider Jesus. I pray that the sacrificial love of God that cost Jesus his life, brings salvation to you today.

Because You’re Loved


Because You're Loved

Posted on: 11th February 2019

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

When did you last meet someone who was in love? We have a friend who has recently got a new puppy. They brought it to our house. My cat was banished out of the front room. The dog had a little accident on the carpet. How did the owner react? They thought it was cute. Love overlooked the wrongs that had taken place. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling the love.

Other friends have recently returned from travelling. Talking to them about their experiences, their faces lit up. You could almost see them reliving their journey in front of you. Then the facial expression changes as they realise they are no longer there. The love fades as the gap between now, and the event, widens.

In 1 John 4:7, John challenges us to love one another. This is an ongoing, daily, memory making kind of love, that cannot fade or fail. This is love that comes from God.

Jesus was the example of God’s love on earth. I challenge you to choose a gospel and read through it, especially during the half term up to Easter. By doing this you will experience love in action. You will see love that heals, love that teaches, love that rebukes and love that gets angry. Jesus is love. John had a perspective of Jesus that was first hand. Jesus had called to him in his boat, along with his brother James. Jesus’ challenge to those early disciples was simple – “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

The gospel is simple. God is love; God loves you. Jesus came to live as an example of how God loves. Jesus gave himself up to die on a cross. Jesus paid for all the wrongs you have ever done. Jesus gives you the choice, like he did those early disciples, to follow him.

Why? Because you’re loved.

Love to Lose


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Lose

Posted on: 4th February 2019

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted
Luke 14:11

Before our current students and many staff were born, there was a film released called ‘Brewster’s Millions’, starring Richard Pryor and John Candy. The storyline is that Brewster’s long lost relative (who he had never met) died and left him all his money, amounting to over $300,000,000. The condition was that he had to lose $30,000,000 in 30 days to be able to claim the rest. There were rules – he could not give it away or tell anyone about it. In order to gain the full inheritance he had to lose. Brewster loved to lose.

Jesus’ teaching often sounded contradictory too. He taught, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Matthew 20:16). He said, “If anyone wants to be great in the kingdom he must become the servant of all” (Matthew 20:26).  He also taught, “If anyone loses their life for my sake, will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Jesus was the ultimate example, giving his life so that we can live.

In Luke 14, Jesus was at a Pharisees house. The Pharisees were a religious group that really struggled with the way Jesus seemed to contradict their teachings and rules. The Pharisees kept the Sabbath day holy; Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees kept away from tax collectors and sinners; Jesus came to heal the sick and the lost.

Jesus talked in parables. There was once a wedding feast. When the guest sat down for the meal, the host asked one of the guests who had sat in the seat of honour to move for another guest. Imagine having to take the walk of shame from a position of honour to a lower place. Alternatively, imagine the feeling if the host took you from a low position and gave you a seat of honour.

We all face situations which can challenge our thinking. This week, as we think about loving to lose, we can have a fresh realisation that, as Paul says in Romans 8:28, “…that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Love to Serve


Love to serve

Posted on: 28th Jan 2019

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When my wife and I got married seventeen years ago, Grandad spoke at the ceremony. As a retired Baptist minister, he had officiated at countless numbers of weddings but it was special that he spoke at ours. One of the readings we had was ‘that old chestnut’ from 1 Corinthians 13. I would love to remember everything he said at our wedding, but unfortunately, the part that I remember most vividly was that he had left the tag on his new tie and would be able to return it after the event (which I know he did not do).

1 Corinthians 13 is a poetic piece of scripture that describes what love is. It is often used as an inspiration to newlyweds as to how they can build a strong marriage:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Last week we looked at ‘Love to Challenge’. Maybe there is no greater challenge than being able to replace the word ‘love’ in that passage, with your name. What would my relationships be like if I was patient and kind? What would it look like if you were not easily angered, were not self-seeking or kept no record of wrongs? What would your community be like if those around you always protected, trusted, hoped for the best and persevered to achieve their best?

It was a privilege to know Grandad, Tasker Rhydwyn Lewis, who went to be with his Lord just a few weeks before his 94th birthday. Part of the tribute paid by his friends and family who celebrated his life commented that he had lived this challenge to all he met. From the family grieving over a loss to the joy of newlyweds. Grandad was love. To love is to serve. As a relay runner runs their leg of the race, there comes a time to pass on the baton.

My prayer this week is that service becomes a part of your race that you come to love.

Love to Challenge


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Challenge

Posted on: 21st Jan 2019

but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:3

If you could achieve a world record, what would it be? Do you know what Felix Baumgartner did? Or what David Goggins did 4030 times in 24 hours? Compare this to the achievement of Roger Bannister on May 6th, 1954. All of these challenges required great self-belief and determination. They all faced the challenge of something that hadn’t been done before.

What about you? Will you be the person that the history books will be mentioning? Do you love a challenge enough? Your challenge may not become a world record but I hope you are able to find something this year that causes you to grow to overcome it. For me it is the rubix cube. I have managed to solve the 3×3 grid, the mirror cube and the 2×2. My latest challenge is the wonky cube. I am inspired by those who never thought they could run, only to read stories of them having completed 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, then full marathons. For those who think they won’t be able to do anything like that, maybe 2019 is your year to face a challenge.

The apostle Paul sets a list of achievements that would challenge anyone; from the abilities to communicate and interpret all languages, to the ability to understand all mysteries, or be able to overcome all adversities with faith. However, something is above them all. Love.

In all our challenges and achievements this next year, let us remember that without love, they are worthless. The promise is that love is the greatest motivation and reward we can receive. I pray that you will love to be challenge yourself this year, but I also challenge you, above all, to love.

Love to Encourage


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Encourage

Posted on: 14th January 2019

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:25

Do you have the gift?

What is your gift? We have just gone through the Christmas season where gifts have been given and received. Did you get what you want? Did you get what you need? Did you get a gift that you thought you needed, but realised that it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be?

My favourite present is still partly unopened on the coffee table in my living room. It is a jar containing 58 pieces of paper. It is the most special gift I have ever received. On each piece of paper there is a statement that begins, “I love you because…” Every time I read one of the statements, I feel like a giant, a hero and a champion. Every word written by my wife and children is an encouragement that I am loved for being me.

In Romans 12:8, Paul describes encouragement as a spiritual gift. This doesn’t mean that only certain people can do it, but it makes it clear that God is into encouragement enough to empower people to do it through his Spirit. As a school, our mission statement acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is inspirer. Do you have the gift of encouragement? Maybe you don’t know the gift that God has entrusted to you. Maybe 2019 is your year of discovery and development.

Proverbs 18:20-21 says, “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”

When we meet up in our houses this week, we are challenged to come together as a team, working together towards a goal. I have been part of enough teams to know that encouraging others is a far better team dynamic than criticism.

This week, take time to encourage others. If you feel it comes naturally to you then maybe you have identified a gift. Gifts are for giving, so give the gift of encouragement this week.

Love to Pray


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Pray

Posted on: 9th January 2019

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Ephesians 3:16

What would you do if praying made a difference?

We have been meeting weekly in the Chapel to pray, every Tuesday. During this time, we have prayed for the school, for events, for those connected to the school, that there would be a sense of the presence of God in everything we do. Some of our prayers have been for loved ones who are sick. Many of these prayers have been answered. We continue to pray for people and situations that bring discomfort and pain and you are always welcome to come along.

Paul prayed. When you read the letters, he wrote to the churches that were growing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Ephesians 3, Paul is writing to the group of believers in Ephesus. Paul had visited this city on his travels and lots of people had believed in Jesus and were choosing to live differently. The difference made by the message of Jesus had caused some to riot and oppose Paul and his companions. The message of Jesus had been accepted by some but was opposed to the way of life of others.

Jesus prayed. Throughout the gospels, Jesus went to be alone with God to pray. He taught his disciples how to pray. In Matthew 18, Jesus promises that when we gather in his name, he will be with us. He also promised that whatever we agree on in his name, will be given. What an amazing promise.

What would you do if praying made a difference? Prayer and meditation is a strong part of all major faiths. It is an opportunity to deepen our beliefs and faith. It can strengthen our inner beings and can make differences in our lives. Whatever your resolutions for the New Year, consider prayer. What if this was the year that you began to ‘Love to Pray’.