Posted on: 24th February 2020
“His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”
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.
Posted on: 7th October 2019
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Whenever I watch a programme that I have recorded on a Sunday evening, my first few minutes of watching is the tail end of a previous show. I see a person with a family heirloom, listening to a professional describing the period of history their item is from. I can see past their fake interest. Just like me, all they want to know is, “What’s it worth?”
During this week we are considering the value we place on others. In 1 John 3:1, we read that God has called us his children. Children and heirs. That is valuable. This implies that we are richly blessed. In Ephesians 1, Paul writes to the church, telling them that they have already received, “Every spiritual blessing through Christ Jesus.” We too are heirs of those spiritual blessings as God’s children.
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 13:44. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
My challenge for us all this week is to consider that there is treasure in everyone we meet. When we spend time talking to others we realise this treasure and are able to help others find their worth. But this process takes time and may cost us. Are you prepared to pay the price to help someone else know what they are worth?
Posted on: 8th October 2018
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”
Verses like this in Matthew deserve making into fridge magnets, bumper stickers and t-shirts. What a fantastic encouragement to all who need encouragement. But we do not present the gospel fully if we just cherry pick the best bits. The whole verse reads, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
When we look into the life of Saint Wilfrid, we see a saint who lived to establish the church in the north of England against many oppositions. His determination and strong confidence in his beliefs led him to face lots of opposition from all sides. But he showed resilience and character and stood strong for what he felt was right. Through our assemblies and form worships this week we will be looking more into the life and achievements of Saint Wilfrid.
James, the writer in the New Testament offers a gift money cannot buy. In James 1:4 it says, “…so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
What an offer! Who wouldn’t want some of that maturity, completeness and a life without lack? James precedes this offer with what it takes to achieve such rewards by saying,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Are you facing a trial at the moment? Whatever you are up against, my prayer is that you will see the fruit of your determination as you grow perseverance that leads to completion. If it is persecution from others because of your determination to do what is right, then take heart, rejoice and be glad, because God has reserved a reward for you.