Posted on: 4th February 2019
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”
Before our current students and many staff were born, there was a film released called ‘Brewster’s Millions’, starring Richard Pryor and John Candy. The storyline is that Brewster’s long lost relative (who he had never met) died and left him all his money, amounting to over $300,000,000. The condition was that he had to lose $30,000,000 in 30 days to be able to claim the rest. There were rules – he could not give it away or tell anyone about it. In order to gain the full inheritance he had to lose. Brewster loved to lose.
Jesus’ teaching often sounded contradictory too. He taught, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Matthew 20:16). He said, “If anyone wants to be great in the kingdom he must become the servant of all” (Matthew 20:26). He also taught, “If anyone loses their life for my sake, will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Jesus was the ultimate example, giving his life so that we can live.
In Luke 14, Jesus was at a Pharisees house. The Pharisees were a religious group that really struggled with the way Jesus seemed to contradict their teachings and rules. The Pharisees kept the Sabbath day holy; Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees kept away from tax collectors and sinners; Jesus came to heal the sick and the lost.
Jesus talked in parables. There was once a wedding feast. When the guest sat down for the meal, the host asked one of the guests who had sat in the seat of honour to move for another guest. Imagine having to take the walk of shame from a position of honour to a lower place. Alternatively, imagine the feeling if the host took you from a low position and gave you a seat of honour.
We all face situations which can challenge our thinking. This week, as we think about loving to lose, we can have a fresh realisation that, as Paul says in Romans 8:28, “…that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Posted on: 19th March 2018
“He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
Life is like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. Some people seem to be able to go with it. Taking each dip as it comes yet other people fall apart the very moment something does not go the way they intended it to.
In the Old Testament, we read of a man named Moses, one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. Moses was born during the hard times where the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt and as the population of the Israelites was growing so rapidly the Egyptian king ordered that all new born Israelite boys to be drowned in the Nile River. Moses’ mother saves her son’s life by placing him in the Nile in a reed basket, where he is discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, who ironically raises Moses in the Royal Palace. As he grows, Moses realises his is part of God’s family and one of the Israelites, he makes a choice and kills an Egyptian who was beating and Israelite slave, therefore must flee Egypt. He does it alone but God shows up in the burning bush and tells him that he must return to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from their slavery. With God’s help, Moses succeeds in his mission, bringing the Israelites to Mount Sinai, where God then appears to Moses to deliver the law and the Ten Commandments. Moses, eventually leads the people of Israel to the edge of their Promised Land ready for the next generation to lead them in.
Moses’ life by far was not smooth, he often had adversities and had to navigate his way around circumstances no one would like to be in. Yet, he persevered. He stayed on track, he didn’t sway his cart to the left or right, he committed to the journey and what a legacy he left. In the new testament it recalls his faith: He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11 v 26-27).
What a guy!
Are you ready for the next bit of your ride? Do you know what your convictions are that are going to keep you on track?
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: 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?
Posted on: 19th June 2017
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Luke 17 v 6
(Story of a Mustard Seed)
Have you ever gone to watch a football game and not really believed your team can win? Alternatively, have you ever started out doing something (maybe late homework or a mountain of housework) and looked at the amount to think, “I’m never going to get this done?” Maybe you have questioned why you cannot believe more, why you have not been better at believing or why you cannot see things happening the way that would be ideal. The apostles quizzed Jesus regularly or they challenged him. On this occasion, they wanted more faith.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
This week we are talking about trust; the firm belief in what we know to be reliable. The bible verses above share that the capability of our faith is not equal to the size of our faith; it flips what we know as logic to for our minds. From a young age, we are taught that as we learn more knowledge the better we will do in life, but the size of our faith does not necessarily equal the actions that can take place because of it.
So why faith the size of a mustard seed? When a mustard seed is planted, it is one of the smallest seeds, yet when it grows and flourishes; it will be one of the largest trees around. This journey from the smallest to the biggest is how Jesus explains our trust and our faith. See trust starts with a step, just one. The tiniest of steps to say I believe, I trust.
So what are you trusting in this week? What are you trusting for? As we may waiver and wobble from time to time let’s remember that even the faith and trust of a mustard seed has the potential to move the largest mulberry tree from the land to the sea.