Posted on: 19th Feb 2018
“Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?””
Sometimes we can look like we have it all together on the outside but inside we are a complete mess and feel totally out of control. Many circumstances and expectations of others can lead us to feel and act like this on a daily basis.
Expectations of others can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and control us to quickly grasp onto any way of keeping our ‘all together’ outside appearance. However, that is when life can spiral out of our control, when others’ expectations and in turn our own expectations, can consume us.
How we respond to these circumstances or influences around us can either make us, or break us. We cannot control what tries to influence us but we can control how we respond.
In the Gospels, we read of Peter, one of Jesus disciples, controlled by his jealousy of his fellow disciple John. Peter constantly compared himself to John and all the things John was getting to do until one day Jesus was speaking life into Peter, calling him out to be the leader he was meant to be and he looked around at John and then asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Can you imagine? Jesus, the Son of God who was crucified, died, and then come back from the dead has just given you responsibility, a title, a role for the future you look around and compare yourself to those around you! How often do we do that, always wanting to have one better than the people around us do or at least comparable to those around us, something to brag about.
“What about him?” How many times do we ask, “What about them?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must, just follow me.”
Jesus gently reminds Peter, it does not matter what the others have. This is the unique role God has called Peter to do, he just needs to focus on Jesus and it will all remain in control.
This week, consider whom are you comparing yourself to? Do you let the expectations of others control your life? What can you focus on that means you are not controlled by your surrounding influences?
Posted on: 5th February 2018
Isn’t it ironic that the majority of time we ask for patience is when we want it immediately? Even Christian’s pray for patience… and they want God to give it them now!
Think through the past few weeks. Who or what has tested your patience? A teacher who did not understand you? A friend who annoyed you? A brother or sister in an obnoxious mood? A parent’s expectations that seemed unreasonable? A disappointing grade? A broken-down car? Other drivers on the road? Sickness?
Now consider, which of those situations did you have any control over? Probably not many and whilst it’s good to try to control those things you can control, just to simplify your life, the things that test our patience are often out of our control. We just have to live with them and through them, learn patience.
So, now what?
Paul tells us to be “strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).
Yes, God can give us the power of patience; He can also teach us patience when we ask for it.
Are you patient? Do you need to learn patience? In which areas of your life could you do with a bit more patience?
Posted on: 29th January 2018
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Focusing on the future can be scary, for some thinking about the past can also be a daunting experience. This week’s theme revolves around our focus, like we talked about last week actually framing our world and for some of us it may be easier to think about where our focus is than others but don’t worry, wherever you are at when you are reading this, remember that God has a plan for you, he loves you and wants the best for you (Jeremiah 29v11).
Probably the most famous painting in the world the Mona Lisa (by Leonardo De Vinci) hangs in the Louvre in Paris, France. It is a portrait of a woman called Gherardini and became the topic of conversation due to the women’s expression being indecipherable. Many stories have been suggested as to why her face is painted in such a way, was it her character? Does the image depict how Di Vinci was feeling? Does it show how Di Vinci saw Gherardini?
Whatever the story, Gherardini was the focus of Di Vinci’s painting, ready to be framed.
Your focus frames your world.
If you were to draw an image of what your world looked like now what would you draw? Would it be just as you see it? Would your expression be indecipherable or would you know exactly what you were trying to show? Would you show every unique detail or would your brush stokes make the image fuzzy in some places and blurred in others?
The writer of proverbs reminds us to seek wisdom as our first focus. In fact chapter 4 really goes to town on what we should focus on in verse 25 it says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
It encourages us not to focus on what is behind, not to look to the left or to the right but to look straight ahead and keep our gaze fixed there.
So where is your focus this week? How does it frame your world?
Posted on: 22nd January 2018
Two weeks ago, we talked about each individual being made up of mind, body and spirit. This week we are delving into how we grow in those areas. As many of us already know, studying, reading and learning new things grows our mind. We also know that exercise and healthy eating is good for development in our bodies. However, how do we grow our spirit? How do we remain strong not just in our mind and body but also in our spirit?
We can learn two things from health gurus and apply them to our spiritual growth.
- Work your muscles in a focused way.
You cannot just keep on going the way you always have if you want to change. You have to work on the area you want to change in a focused way. The bible reminds Christians that when they followed Jesus their old self, their old spirit died and they were a new creation (2 Corinthians 5 v 17). So what is the point in doing the same old things if it does not strengthen their new spirit?
- Eat right
Guard what you put into yourself. Instead of letting things around you just happen, take control of what you are exposed to. Again, for a Christian the bible reminds us that all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3 v 16-17). Reading the bible is healthy for us and our spirit, even if all we take from it is moral truths.
This week, consider: where does your focus need to be? What needs to change in your diet for you to be able to grow your spiritual self?
Posted on: 15th January 2018
“Do not be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
We have considered and thought about our pebble Koinonia many times in the past, it comes up so often, that sense of community, fellowship, thinking of one another, praying for one another. Therefore, what else can we consider when we think of Koinonia?
Well in Philippians 2 v 1-4 from the message version Paul says this:
If you have gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Do not push your way to the front; do not sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Do not be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Let us apply that to our Academy:
If you take anything away from hearing about God, sitting in worship, listening to different speakers, if His love that you have felt or heard of from others has made a difference, if being a Wilfridian and living with Christian values and God’s spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do each other a favour: Agree with one another, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Do not push your way to the front; do not sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Do not be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Kononia is something we can all embody if we take what Paul says and apply it to where we are at BUT let us not forget Koinonia to Christians means going beyond just what we do and what we say. One theologian translates it as “praying and living in one accord with each other,” meaning aligning ourselves with those around us but continuously facing Jesus.
What does Koinonia mean to you? What changes do you need to make to demonstrate Koinonia in your day-to-day life?
Posted on: 8th January 2018
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
2 Corinthians 2:11
Each of us look, act and express ourselves in different ways yet we are all made up of similar parts just like different mobile phone makes and models. We all have a shell, our outer appearance. We all have an operating system, our mind that controls what we do. Yet it’s our spirit which is the hardest to explain. Without our spirit we would be like our phone without a sim card, we would be able to function but not be able to fully connect with what takes place around us. It’s who we are beneath our shell and how we act. It’s who we really are.
The bible says it like this:
For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (2 Corinthians 2:11).
This verse is a part of the Apostle Paul trying to explain how we as humans can connect with God as our thoughts from our mind cannot comprehend Him, our bodies cannot encapsulate him but our spirit is the thing that can connect with him. It’s how we communicate with him, through our spirit.
This week consider how you connect with your spirit. Consider how you can use this thought of everyone having a mind a body and a spirit could impact how you relate to others around you.
Posted on: 18th December 2017
“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.””
Have you done your Christmas shopping? Crowds out there are getting intense, aren’t they? So let’s take a sec to step back. What would Jesus think about the absolute shopping madness that floods our towns in December? Well there’s nothing in the bible about spending all our money on gifts or taking advantage of super cheap deals, but there’s plenty in there on the state of our hearts.
In Luke 18 we read the tale of Jesus and the rich official. This man has a lot but the lot isn’t enough. And so he asks Jesus for the secret. He’s told: ‘…sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me’ (Luke 18 v 22).
Christmas isn’t what’s in that huge box under the tree, it’s following Jesus. This story reminds us that Jesus isn’t just after our carols and candles or what we have in our banks to spend on others. He’s after our whole lives, he’s after our hearts (and He won’t give them away, the very next day).
So, we need to assess those hearts. Would we give Him all? Would we be prepared to sell everything? Will we give Him our ambitions? Will we give Him all of our lives, not just our Sunday mornings? Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is…you will most want to be.’ Your ‘treasure’ can be material stuff, relationships, a career, an identity, or even comfort.
Where’s Jesus in your list of priorities this Christmas?
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?