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?
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?