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: 20th May 2019
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Have you ever received a gift from someone when it wasn’t your birthday or a special occasion? How did it make you feel? I find receiving a gift quite awkward. I was talking to a member of staff recently about how we like best to be recognised. According to the author Dr Gary Chapman, there are ‘5 love languages’. These are ways in which we prefer to receive adoration form others. My challenge for you this week – find your love language and the love language of the people closest to you.
My eldest daughter (now 14 years old) used to do ballet. On a Saturday morning I would drop her off at ballet in Accrington and go to Annie’s tea room for a brew and a scone (other tea rooms are available). When I arrived one Saturday morning with a pram and my young son in it, I decided to celebrate by ordering a Full English Breakfast. At the end of the meal I was informed that it was ‘on the house’! A great saving of £4.95. My response was to go to the local florist and buy a bunch of flowers for £5 and a box of chocolates for £2.99. The mathematicians reading this will recognise I paid 160% more for my meal that if I had just bought it myself.
Giving to others is not about the amount, it’s about opening a channel of flow from you to others. Jesus talks about the link between us giving and us receiving. My challenge this week for us all is for us to think about what we are holding on to, that we could be giving away.
In your prayers this week, be generous. Ask for God to bless those around you. Ask God to give you opportunities to be a blessing to others. If we all did that then we may be the recipient of someone else’s blessing.
Posted on: 7th May 2019
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
I love the Bible. I love it when I find a story that seems out of place with the clean, sanitised, serene picture we can sometimes portray the message of the Bible to be.
In Numbers chapter 22, there is an amazing account of Balaam. Israel, God’s people, were defeating their enemies left, right and centre. Balak, king of Moab was rightfully worried. Enter Balaam. Balak spoke to him saying, “I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.” Imagine having that super-power! What would you do with it? What did Balaam do? I challenge you to read the rest of the story and let me know what you think!
In Proverbs 18:21, King Solomon says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
What if we did have the ability to bless and curse with our words like Balaam?
Reflect on the times you have spoken life and hope to someone who is down. Did it bring life? Have you experienced the critical, hurtful words of another that have caused part of you to feel dead and sick inside? Have you ever been critical of yourself, putting yourself down? The words we speak to ourselves are just as crucial to the words spoken by and to others. Do you need to repent of negative self-talk?
My challenge for you this week is to listen carefully to the words you use. Take time teach day to reflect on the effect your words have had on others. If you have spoken death, ask for forgiveness. If anyone has spoken life to you, thank them: they may even do it again!
Posted on: 26th November 2018
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”
When was the last time you received a blessing? When did you last give a blessing? Would you know a blessing if it was given? Would you know if you had blessed someone else?
Jesus was a blessing. In Matthew 4 we read that everywhere he went he preached Good News about the Kingdom of Heaven and healed all the people who were brought to him. I love our mission statement that calls us to prepare our students to be citizens of this life and the next. Sometimes I have such an earthly perspective that I want everything to be sorted in this life. Jesus brought Good News of a heavenly future and comfort for those who were suffering now.
Does it surprise you that a great crowd followed Jesus? In Matthew 5 he begins teaching. The gospel writer takes three chapters to recall what was told. If you have time this week, please look it up and see how the Kingdom of Heaven challenges some of the ways we live as citizens of this world.
If you were going to write an entry requirement for ’seeing God’, what would be on it? Would it be a level of success? Would it be based on acts of service? Would it be status?
Jesus asks the crowds to consider their heart. I wonder how many of those who were following Jesus were doing it from a motive of what they could get from Jesus. I have to question my own motives when I pray, asking if it is “Your will be done”, or “My will be done”. When you consider your blessings this week, check your heart and identify ways you can be a blessing to others.