Posted on: 11th December 2017
“‘rooted and built up in Him….. and overflowing with thankfulness”
Consider thankfulness the bookends of your day that hold it all together. Thankfulness can be overseen as just a response to an action but actually thankfulness is a mind-set, a value, which when it is embedded in our lives we will see it continue to breed generosity.
Saying thank you for what is ahead or giving gratitude for what has been makes for a healthy heart. Gratitude leads to generous thoughts and thankfulness causes you to value things well. Gratefulness is a key to finding consistent happiness that is not based on how others act or what happened but how you choose to respond. So in this moment, choose to be grateful and let the power of thankfulness reveal to you the depths of God’s goodness and faithfulness afresh.
From the verse in Colossians you will notice where the thankfulness comes from, that rooted down place, in the depths no one can see. It’s a heart thing, something only you can deal with, however in contrast, we are built up in Him causing the overflowing of thankfulness, of gratitude, of praise. That expression can then be witnessed far beyond where we could imagine.
Think: Thankful eyes, thankful words, thankful actions.
Thankfulness can be in the things you see, the words you speak of the things you do. Take the time to think about what these things in your life look like. Thankfulness becomes contagious, when we see others being thankful we begin to mimic it. Imagine the impact your thankfulness therefore has on those around you, those you influence and those you communicate regularly with. How does what you say or what you do demonstrate a thankful heart?
Posted on: 4th December 2017
“Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labour bears a son, and the rest of his brothers rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.”
Did you know that Christmas is coming? – Of course, what a silly question, we can’t miss it!
Twinkling Lights, advent calendars, shopping mayhem! Maybe this weekend you have decorated your tree? Maybe you have bought a wreath for your door? Many things happen at this time of year that remind us it’s nearly Christmas.
But, are you ready for CHRISTmas?
Christmas isn’t just about the lights, the chocolates, the trees. Christmas all began because of a baby, a baby we know as Jesus Christ and Christ is right at the centre of Christmas – it’s called CHRISTmas. At the end of the Old Testament in Micah, the news of a promised ruler from Bethlehem is spoken, they call him His Majesty. And there are many names for Christ, many that we will consider over this Christmas time. But the one we will come back to again and again is Christ and the ADVENTure we can have in getting to know more about who He is.
Posted on: 6th November 2017
“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
Over the next few weeks we are going to be thinking about our identity and where our worth comes from.
If we were to be scanned through a machine that only saw our worth, what would the machine show? Would is show our make up and fancy jewellery? Would it show our designer clothes and latest gadgets? Or would it show our hearts?
When it comes to thinking about our identity it’s worth remembering our heart, our passion, our love. It’s worth remembering where our identity comes from, not the things on the outside but the things within. It’s also worth remembering that it’s no mistake we are made and built the way we are. In James 1 v 18 it says:
“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
That’s right, God chose us! He saw us before we were in our parents minds and He still wanted us here (Jeremiah 5 v 1). He conquered death for us to be here (John 3 v 16) and He gave you a plan and a purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29 v 11).
Our identity, if we choose it to be, is in Him, the one who saw all our imperfections and still called us perfect.
This week, start to consider your identity, what you would look like if you were scanned through a machine, what worth would be found in you and your identity?
Posted on: 23rd October 2017
“‘Come, follow me,” Jesus said.”
Our faith can be like a fairground ride. Sometimes it goes forwards and back, others it will be full steam ahead. Every now and again it stops and jolts back or maybe goes a loop-the-loop. Whatever it feels like, we are all on a spiritual journey. That’s just part of life.
For some of us we may be paying for our ticket to enter the grounds of the amusement park, others of us will be hopping over the fence trying to get away without paying. Some of us will be holding bags for our friends while they take on the waltzes but wherever we are on that journey, wherever we consider ourselves to be in life, we are all spiritual in some capacity.
Even the disciples of Jesus were on a journey much like us. In Mark 1 v 16-20 it tells us about Jesus calling his first disciples:
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus didn’t say, “Wait there, I will help.” Nor did he go and sit with them. He said “Come, follow me,” – And they did.
They started their adventure with Jesus, they started moving. They left behind what they were doing and begun their spiritual adventure.
Where are you at on your spiritual journey?
The waltzes, going round and round on the same thought? The rollercoaster, moving forwards with life’s lows and highs of life? Or are you embracing your spiritual adventure?
Posted on: 16th October 2017
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18
Not being able to see one step ahead of us can be a hard thing to comprehend, both in the physical and metaphorical sense. For our eyes may work but there may be obstructions in the way, it may be dark or foggy, we may have to turn a corner or avoid a blockage on our path. Sometimes we have to learn to navigate situations without having all the information in front of us.
Take the titanic for example. A ginormous ship that had the capacity to make it from England to America with 2208 people on it, the most extravagant of its time. Yet, the choices that the captain made where purely based on what he could see and not what he couldn’t. He could see the tip of the iceberg but not the extent of it below the surface of the water.
The bible helps us understand and appreciate the ‘behind the scenes’ of our lives, it unpacks why we can see some things now and why other things we cannot. In 1 Corinthians 13 v 12 (MSG) it says:
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
For Christians that passage is helpful knowing that one day we will understand fully what God is doing our lives but for many it poses the question well what am I supposed to be doing now while I’m stood in the fog? The passage goes on to say:
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.” (1 Corinthians 13 v 13 MSG).
What can we continue to do while we are in the invisible?
We can trust steadily.
This week, you may not be able to see what’s ahead but don’t let it stop you from trusting, hoping and loving with all your might.
Posted on: 9th October 2017
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Honesty is marked as being free from deceit or untruthfulness, being sincere. The Christian life should be one marked with integrity and honesty, yet because we all sin and find it easy to do so, honesty is something we must work hard at! An honest life is important on so many levels from relationships with peers, children, at our workplace, and interacting with our community. Matthew 7:16 tells us that we are known by our fruit. Let us be examples of a God of truth and life by living lives of integrity and truthfulness.
What did Jesus say about our honest faith? Jesus was out with his friends, his disciples and they had just started eating as Jesus was talking to the crowd that was gathering around. The Pharisees were quick to point out that they hadn’t washed their hands before they began to eat, so one raised their voice, “Why don’t your disciples do the traditions and rituals of our elders? Why don’t they wash their hands?” (Mark 7 v 1-5 abbreviated).
Jesus responded to them by calling them hypocrites (sometimes he just said it as it was). But What the Pharisees hadn’t realised that the disciples had been serving the people through their ministry, they had been with Jesus for a few days (or maybe more) working hard and were ready to sit down and eat. The Pharisees were letting the traditions get in the way of their honest faith. No, we shouldn’t forget that some traditions that we may do today are reminders of our faith and help strengthen our faith when we do them. However, we must be careful to not fall into a trap of doing it for traditions sake or just for going through the motions but through our focus on God and in faith.
But what do we do when it comes to our honesty? Do we let our traditions, timetables, to-do lists get in the way of our honesty towards other people? Would we say we would look after someone but when given the responsibility to do so would be prioritise our own traditions?
Posted on: 2nd October 2017
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Somethings are outside of our senses, somethings we can explain, something’s we can’t yet, we know they are there.
For example, when a leaf blows through the air we don’t question what it is that is making it move, and though we can see the leaf moving, the effect of the wind, we know it is just the wind.
We can’t touch the wind on our skin either, we can feel it’s effect, maybe something blows into you and taps against your skin, we don’t question it for we know it’s the wind.
We hear the effect of the wind passing through alleyways and between houses, we sometimes say the wind is howling but it is simple the effect of the wind navigating its route over hills, through trees and houses.
We don’t question that the wind has an impact on us yet our five sense might not always be the first receptor of the wind but the things it makes happen.
The same could be said for our faith and God.
We can’t always see, hear, smell, touch or taste God, but we can see the effect of His works.
For some we might see God when we look at creation, for others, the songs of praise and worship may be how they hear God speak. Some people may consider sitting and eating tasty food with friends and constant reminder of God’s blessing around them or maybe the smell of freshly cut grass in the spring may be the sense that reminds them of God. For some, a gentle hug from a friend or a high five is the reminder God is there.
We may not always be able to sense God but our faith is the explanation, the confidence, the assurance that what we believe, in our God that we cannot see will come into fruition.
This week consider what does the idea that our five senses might not explain everything mean to you? Why might there be more ways to understand the world than just our five senses? Can you share a personal experience that is not easily explained by just your five senses?
Posted on: 18th September 2017
“He will empower you with inner strength.”
Ephesians 3:16 (NLT)
Have you ever watched a super hero film and been convinced that you have super powers that you haven’t discovered yet? Or looked at a freshly run bath and thought, “It can’t be that hard to walk on water!?”
As much as we can close our eyes and convince ourselves we can teleport from our desk to somewhere lovely and warm especially in this September rain we seem to have, we sometimes feel pretty weak. In fact, for most of us, not having super powers is probably our version or normal. We’ve all had moments of sheer helplessness, where it’s almost impossible to get out of bed because we are physically/emotionally exhausted. Yet in those moments, as hard as it is we can trust God, then if you are willing to, His power goes with you. Isaiah 40v 29 says, “He gives STRENGTH to the weary and increases the POWER of the weak.” That’s a pretty cool encouragement, right?
We may not have teleportation powers, but that verse tells us that even in our weakest moments, we have power that God will build on. That verse means that we don’t have to live in extortion and weakness but that we can live in His power, His strength and His courage.
What does this mean for us?
When we try to do things on our own it can seem hard but have courage. Have the courage to trust in God, in our weakness he is strong. Have the courage to believe with Him you can do more that you can on your own.
This week, have courage, step out and try something new.
Posted on: 4th September 2017
“25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honoured, every part shares in its joy.”
1 Corinthians 12:25-26
It’s September, which means NEW! New academic year; for some a new place of education, new jobs, new friends, there is lots going on here at St Wilfrid’s. However, there are some things that remain the same. The key one in the Academy being our worship.
At the outset of this term, we want to bring the focus back to what it means to be a part of an Academy that shares a Christian Education where all can thrive. Over the next two weeks we will spend time looking at how we come together in worship as a collective group of people and also why we as individuals are a significant part of that group. In the Academy, we are all needed to play our part and there is a passage in the New Testament of the Bible that suggests the same when it comes to our worship. We can read it in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 but here is just a few key sections of it:
12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ…14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. 15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honour…25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honoured, every part shares in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.
It can’t be said much better than that! We are each an essential part of the body that builds the worshipful community of St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy. If we all remember that over this coming year, what a year it’s going to be!
It’s week two of our new year and our new term, how are we finding it? Are we running at a sprint? Are we struggling to keep up? Wherever we are at this week we are going to pause, take a moment and think about our everyday ordinary lives. There may be somethings we do that are second nature to us, eating, drinking, getting dressed. There are many things we do that we don’t really remember doing because in the moment they don’t feel significant or special. Yet, here is what the bible says about these things:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
This letter from Paul (the guy who wrote a lot of the New Testament books and whole lot of letters) was writing to the Christians in Rome, a group of people most likely to have converted from Jewish ways to Christianity though it isn’t certain how the church in Rome began. All Paul is doing here is teaching these people the basics. When we put our lives, every little bit of our everyday ordinary lives, we are transformed and changed from the inside out. It may be a process but our offering can gain reward.
So what does this mean for us? Simply, be open to what God might do in the big and the small. Really give thanks for the things that are insignificant. Raise the level of maturity in our lives and encourage those around us.
It’s week two, let’s consider our worship and how that looks with our everyday ordinary lives.
Posted on: 26th June 2017
““You are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.” People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
Matthew 5:15 (paraphrased)
What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What are you good at? Where do you flourish?
Jesus was sat with his disciples when he encouraged them with this passage. You can find the same story being told in three of the gospels, so here it is from Matthew. Early in chapter 5 He discusses who as a team they are to serve, who they are to love, but then he goes on to encourage them personally.
“You are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.” People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
However, this does not just apply to the disciples and their ministry. In fact, this parable has morale value too:
Did you know you could be a light to the world? Like a city that cannot be hidden?
At the beginning, this devotional asked what your strengths are. However, what else it should say is, how do you share them with others?
Did you know that when you use what you are good at for yourself it is as if you have just put your light underneath a bowl so no one can see it? However, when you use it to teach, encourage, and share it with others, both you and those you are helping shine a little bit lighter?
This week, think about where you are a light, think about the areas of your life where you potentially aren’t sharing your light.