Live Worry Free


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Live Worry Free

Posted on: 16th March 2020

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

What should you do when you are not worrying?

Do things happen for a reason; even the bad things? Is there a definitive answer to that question? This is said to be, “The worst public health crisis of a generation”. “Many will lose loved ones because of the virus.” Can anything good come from this season that we face?

Three months ago, we discussed the themes for the assemblies and devotionals for this half term. For some, this week’s title would be coincidental. For others, it will be a perfectly timed reminder of the perspective that we are called to have when we face situations out of our control.

In John 13, Jesus tells his disciples about the death he is going to face. John 14:1-4 details Jesus’ response to their anxiety:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Whatever situation you face today or over this season, I challenge you to take charge of your hearts response. Don’t let your heart be troubled.

But how can we control our hearts response? Jesus asks his disciples to trust him through it all. Jesus has already healed the sick, calmed the storm, brought dead to life. They had seen his greatness and now they were being encouraged to believe.

Take time this week to remember all the good things God has done for you. Ask yourself how you can “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”, and believe that no matter what you face, your father in heaven has an eternal future prepared for you already.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Be Salt and Light


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Be Blessed

Posted on: 2nd March 2020

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16

What is your light? How can you let it shine?

A man went to the police station and said, “I’d like to report a crime.” The police officer said, “What crime has taken place?” The man replied, “Sodium Chloride.” The police officer looked puzzled, saying, “That’s not a crime.” “No” the man replied, “But it is a salt.”

When you consider the chemistry behind salt you notice an amazing transformation from the elements that it is made from to the properties of the compound. Sodium, a reactive metal; Chlorine, a poisonous gas. Sodium Chloride, used to flavour and preserve food. Even this speaks of the difference an encounter with God can have. Jesus’ challenge to the disciples was for them to realise their mission; to add flavour and bring the good news of salvation and to maintain their ‘saltiness’.

How can we apply the words of Jesus today? In what areas of your life do you carry a message of hope, of salvation, of preservation? In your words and thoughts about others, do you speak life and truth? When you consider your own opportunities and future, do you speak life over yourself or are you self-critical and negative?

This week, consider the challenge of Jesus, to be salt and light. Salt and light both impact those around them. They are used to make a difference. How are you making a positive difference to others? Have you lost your saltiness? Were there great things you used to do that you have stopped? Ask God to give you fresh opportunities to add salt and light to others this week.

Devotional Prayer – S Gornall

Dear Lord,

We remember your words: ‘let your light shine before others’. We ask that you may help us use Jesus’ example of being the light of the world to enable us to think of others before ourselves. We also ask that you may spread light on situations that we may be finding difficult at this time – help us find the right path. As we look forward and prepare for Easter Sunday during lent, we remember Jesus’s good deed by dying for us on the cross. We give thanks for Jesus’ love and we pray that we may be able to set Jesus’ example by helping others in our local community.

Amen

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Be Blessed


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Be Blessed

Posted on: 24th February 2020

His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
Matthew 5:1-12

How did Jesus flip what it means to be blessed?

Games, they say, are good for us to develop social skills as well as teaching us to understand rules and boundaries. For some, being the banker in Monopoly guarantees them a greater chance of winning as they may not always follow all the rules! My children have worked out that in Cluedo, you can tell which card someone has by where they put a mark on their answer sheet.

Mario Party 9 on the Wii console turns the rules of the games on their head. Where a character would normally have to avoid being hit, the reverse mini-game means the character that is hit first wins! How confusing is that?

In Matthew 5:17, Jesus makes it clear, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”

The religious leaders of the time had made rule-following the standard. They had excelled at it. They had judged harshly those for whom had broken the Law. Some had profited handsomely by selling sacrifice offerings in the temple. Jesus’s words in Matthew 5 began the beginning of him turning the understanding of connections with God around, just like the reverse mini-game. Those Jesus called blessed were those who the system and society would have called cursed. Jesus flipped what it meant to be blessed.

Our challenge this week is to think of those tough times we have faced in our lives and ask God how he could bring blessing form these. If you would like prayer or support during a difficult season, please let someone you trust know. If you have received a blessing through a difficult time, ask God how you may be a blessing to others who are facing similar situations.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Be Fruitful


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Be Fruitful

Posted on: 10th February 2020

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Matthew 7:18

How can we produce good fruit?

How much fruit do you eat? The 5-a-day campaign came from the advice given by the World Health Organisation, that eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables each day reduces risks. That seems like really good advice with potentially life altering benefits. But like we considered last week, good advice only becomes wisdom when it is put into practice. Challenge yourself this week to record your fruit intake. I talked to a student this week who was experiencing a cherry for the first time. Maybe this could be your chance to try something new. ‘Morinda citrifolia’ is the fruit they tried on ‘I’m a celebrity’. It translates as ‘Vomit fruit’…sound nice?

When we consider the words of Jesus, we have to remember that he spoke into a specific time and culture as well as sharing eternal truths. Those hearing his words would have a strong idea of the ‘bad fruit’ that was evident in the religious orders. Jesus openly challenged the religious teachers and used such terms to make clear his opposition to them.

A few weeks ago, we considered Jesus’s instruction of ‘Do not judge’. This week, take time to reflect on your own words, actions and thoughts. Are you bearing good fruit? If there is someone you trust, ask them what they think. If there are areas that you feel are producing bad fruit, take time to confess them to God and ask him to work with you, so that you can produce good fruit in that area.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Be Wise


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Words

Posted on: 3rd February 2020

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:24-28

There are 171,476 words in current use in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are 47,156 obsolete words. That’s a lot of words. An average woman speaks 20,000 words a day and an average man speaks 7,000. A typical person can speak 125 words-per-minute. That’s a lot of words.

I am loving the audio book app, Audible (other apps are available). This year I’ve listened to ‘Dare to serve’, ‘The dark web’, ‘Leadership pain’, ‘Questions of Faith’, ‘Soar!’ ‘Atomic habits’, ‘Hearing God’, ‘Excellence wins’, ‘FAKE’, ‘The road back to you’, ‘Tower of Basel’, ‘God sleeps in Rwanda’, ‘Aftermath’, ‘Rebel ideas’ and my current download is ‘REVOLution’. Then I had a tip off from a colleague about Borrow-Box, a free service from Lancashire libraries. Here I’ve managed to listen to ‘Finding my virginity by Richard Branson’, ‘Skin in the game’, The Mindful leader’ and ‘P x W x R = Power score’. Maybe spend some time this week sharing some of your recent reads (or listens).

That’s a lot of words! There has been a lot of good advice and challenges contained in those listens. But listening is only the start. It’s action, Jesus says, that builds wisdom.

The words of Jesus are a challenge to us all. The cost of listening to good advice and not putting it into practice is that you may as well have not heard it in the first place. That is why we focus on ‘Challenge and Action’ in our form time worship activities. The blessing of putting good advice into practice is that when troubles come (as they always do), we can withstand them.

My challenge for us all this week is to consider the words we hear and be more deliberate about putting them into practice. This way, we can live life to the full, no matter what comes our way.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Do not Judge


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Do Not Judge

Posted on: 27th January 2020

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
Matthew 7:1-5

How can we take time to personally reflect?

In 2001 we had ‘Pop Idol’, 2004 we had ‘X-Factor’ and 2007 saw the beginning of ‘BGT’. What do these shows have at their heart? Judges. I don’t know which stage of the shows you like the most. For some it is the early auditions in which members of the public have their dreams shattered. Others prefer the final stages where the rough diamonds have been polished, ready for a shot at Christmas number 1. But we cannot hide the fact that part of the entertainment is hearing the judgements of the ‘experts’ on the panel.

Contrast this to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7. Jesus gives a stark warning as to the consequences of judging others. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I do not want to stand in judgement over those celebrities on the panel, so I challenge myself to consider this week how I would like others to judge me, and reflect this in my judgement of others.

Each summer, my children and I go on WEC camp (check out the website, it’s awesome). They spend the week in tents and are part of a team of young people, often from across the world. As part of the ‘team’ element, tent inspections take place every day. Tents are marked very harshly to the highest standards and a winner is announced. My children love this as it is a competition. I decided that when we returned from camp, we would do random bedroom inspections, giving out points to the same high standard. This was fine, until my children decided that all bedrooms should be part of the competition. As you can imagine, the scores for the parent’s room were not the highest!

Jesus came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. He taught about the kingdom and challenged the current thinking and attitudes of the day. Jesus’ words do that to us too. Take time this week to reflect on when you have judged someone else. Ask yourself, “Would I like that same judgement on me?”

Jesus was also full of grace and truth. His words were truth, but they were delivered by grace. This week, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you as you consider the challenge, ‘Do not judge’.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Be Holy


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Be Holy

Posted on: 20th January 2020

Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
Leviticus 19:2

Reading the Old Testament account of the children of Israel leaving Egypt and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, I am fascinated by their actions and attitudes. The book of Leviticus is known to be full of law and full of drastic consequences for their actions.

But why do we need laws? The preacher Andy Stanley describes Law’s as guardrails, protecting us from harm. If you have time this week, have a read of Leviticus 19, or search for some of the most unusual laws that exist. Ask yourself the question, “Why was that law brought in?” Leviticus 19:14 says, “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling-block in front of the blind, but fear the Lord.” Can you imagine needing a law like that!

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus sums up the law and the prophets by saying, “In everything [including tripping others up when they can’t see], do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

This week, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the rules and laws that you are striving to follow. If you are like me, I often find it overwhelming. No matter how many things I do right, it is the things I don’t do that I focus on the most. No matter how hard I try, I know I cannot live to the expectations of myself, let alone others.

Let’s follow Jesus’ example. He came to simplify live and give us all the chance to connect with God. When he lived a sinless life and died on the cross, the punishment of sin was taken away. That made it simple for us to live Holy, not because we keep all the laws, but because we accept his forgiveness.

This week, spend some time thinking about how you can simplify your life. Think about what the life and death of Jesus means to you.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

Go the Extra Mile


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Going the Extra Mile

Posted on: 13th Jan 2020

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
Matthew 5:41

How do you respond when you are asked to do something you do not want to?

The most recent craze to sweep social media has been the 10 year challenge. Users have been encouraged to look through their photos and pitch a recent photo next to one from a decade ago. Then friends and followers get to like or comment about the transformation. I fell into this fad and posted a photo of me and my children (the one’s who were born 10 years ago). It is fair to say that there have been significant changes over this period.

I can think of other crazy fads that have taken place during this last 10 years, non more-so than ‘Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen’ which has been seen 301,177,424 times as I write this (once more I will be honest, for research purposes).

I feel the same confusion sometimes when I read the Bible. They had some strange customs and laws that they had to follow. Can you imagine someone coming up to you in the street, interrupting your plans and demanding you go 1 mile out of your way to carry their things? How would you respond? The common responses would have been to do it (to avoid a beating), but moan and argue about the oppression and unfairness of the system. Jesus uses this strange custom to teach about attitude. This is where we get the phrase “going the extra mile” from.

Challenge – Think about a time when you have had a bad attitude to being asked to do something that you think is unfair, or you that didn’t want to do. What do you think would have been the response if you had offered to, ‘go the extra mile’?

Action this week – Go the extra mile. When you feel like you are asked to do something that you do not want to do, challenge your attitude. Do what you have been asked and go the extra mile.

Remember, if you have any prayer requests, please feel free to pass them on either by email, in person, or by using the QR code on the prayer posters around school.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

The Golden Rule


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Golden Rule

Posted on: 7th Jan 2020

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

At the start of a new year, the temptation is to set this year as ‘your best year ever’. My challenge is to think about the key decisions you could make this year, that your 5-year-future-self would thank you for. This gives us a more realistic timeline to make a significant change, as the years seem to fly by so quickly.

Some decisions you make will be small. They may include eating better, sleeping more, reading or exercising. Write them down and place them somewhere that you will see them regularly.

One of the biggest challenges we all face is how we interact with others. We are going to spend some time this term considering the challenges and standards set by Jesus during his sermon on the mount. No bigger challenge is set than this; “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

For me, I will do anything for you if you appreciate what I can do and understand my weaknesses. For you, it might be quality time that you crave from others. There is an excellent book called ‘The five love languages’. This will increase your self-awareness.

This year, I pray that you are empowered to make some great daily choices that prepare you for a blessed future. I also pray that you consider how you love to be treated, and look for opportunities to bless others in these ways.

Lord direct us to live life to the full

The Wasted Gift


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Gift

Posted on: 9th December 2019

When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious.
Matthew 2:16

In 2009, a new tradition began in our household around Christmas. The day we put the tree up (there is still a lengthy and annual discussion around the right time to do this!), we watch ‘The Nativity.’ Partly because my wife was brought up in Coventry and has happy memories of the Cathedral. Partly because the true meaning of Christmas is summed up so beautifully. But mostly because Mr Poppy is hilarious. But it is the character of Gordon Shakespeare that I want to reflect on today.

Each year, the local newspaper prints a review of the nativity productions that take place. Every year, Mr Shakespeare looks for a new angle on the traditional story, a perspective that no one has before considered. In Nativity 1, he looks at Herod. This week our verse to consider is Matthew 2:16. If you were to read the full verse, the response to Herod’s fury was a tragedy to any family that had bore a child during that period. Traditions suggests this number could have been as many as 64,000 but the lower estimate would be between 8 to 20 innocent children murdered.

Herod was the King of the Jews, a title given by the Romans who gave him his power and authority. His desire to remain king led him to this act of brutality. Compare this to the words he spoke to the magi when they first arrived, in verse 8. “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” Herod was given the gift of welcoming the Son of God into the world, but he did not receive this gift well.

My challenge for you this year is to ask how you will respond to the coming of Jesus into the world. For some, Jesus is an unnecessary addition to a time for family, friends and celebration. For others, the message of Jesus challenges our way of living and leads to negative responses. And for others, Christmas is a time to celebrate the saviour of the world. Take time this year to consider your response of Jesus.

Lord direct us to live life to the full