Posted on: 11th November 2019
“Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.”
In 2018, as a school, we began to sponsor five children in Rwanda. The name of the charity that we work with is called Compassion, and Proverbs 31:8 is a key verse in their vision for the world they wish to impact.
When we considered the gift of freedom last week, we spent some time considering the chains that we were released from, and those chains that still hold us back. This week I would like us to think about the next step: what should we do with our freedom?
The book of Acts of the Apostle is a great read. It tells the story of the early disciples, after Jesus has been taken into heaven. It is full of trials and problems for those apostles, but the overwhelming theme is that the good news that they had to share was far more important than their freedom or comfort.
One such incident happened in a jail in Philippi (Acts 16:25-40). Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown in jail for setting a girl free from a demon that was in her. You would have thought that would have been something to celebrate. Instead, there freeing a girl led to their imprisonment. Now, if I were them, I would probably be grumbling and complaining. But they were in jail at midnight, “Praying and singing hymns to God.” Their freedom had not been taken, even though they were in prison. They were free on the inside. “Suddenly, there was a great earthquake, so the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were open.” At this point, the prisoners really were free, but Paul and the others chose to stay there. This was an act that led to the saving of the jailer and all of his family.
This week, I ask you to consider your position. Are you free? If you are, what can you do with your freedom to show compassion to others. You may decide that you would like to personally sponsor a child through compassion, or give to your local food-bank, or give your time to help others. The challenge for us all is this, “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.”
Posted on: 4th November 2019
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
What things hold us back from living life to the full?
What an amazing verse that we read in Galatians 5:1. The whole story of God and his people is one of slavery, bondage, freedom, repeat. Slavery, bondage, freedom, repeat. We read again and again in the old testament of the people, “Doing evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (Judges 2:11, Judges 3:12, 1 Kings 15:26 and many more).
In the new testament we read Paul’s struggle between his desire to follow God’s will and his desire to serve his feelings and flesh (Romans 6-7). Paul talks about us being free from slavery to sin. But he also talks about becoming, “A slave to God.”
I heard a story of a boy who was visiting the circus, who marvelled at the mighty elephants parading around the ring. “Dad”, he said, “Why doesn’t the elephants just pull out the pegs that are holding them and escape? He’s strong enough.” His dad answered, “Once, they were held by unbreakable chains until they learned they couldn’t get free. Then weaker ropes were substituted for the chains, but the elephants had already given up on breaking free. Now, just a thin cord tied loosely to one foot and connected to a small stake in the ground is all it takes to “trap” the elephant into believing he’s still being held tight with chains that no longer exist.”
At this time of year, we consider the brave lives of those who sacrificed their freedom for us to be free. My challenge is that, whatever you have let tie you down from living life to the full, will be released as you consider the gift of freedom you have been given.
The promise in Romans 6:22 is that when you become a slave to God, “The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” My prayer is that you consider how you could choose to serve God with all he has given you.
Posted on: 5th November 2018
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
This half term our theme is being thankful and content. We will look at the challenge of always being thankful and learning what it means to be content in every situation.
I write this devotional at 2:30am after an amazing time at the annual swim gala. Watching the swimmers give their all, I am so thankful for their efforts and content with the result. Your house may not have won every race; no one can. But one swimmer in particular stood out for me as a true hero in every sense of the word. Due to illness, he was the only representative in his age group. He swam two individual races and a relay. He picked up four points to help the team to secure second place overall. Two years ago, this student couldn’t swim and learned because he wanted to take part in the swim gala. What has someone done recently that you are thankful for? Take time today to reflect and share it with them.
The children of Israel journey is recorded in the first five books of the bible. In Exodus, their journey from slavery to wandering in the wilderness, to eventual freedom is detailed. There is also recounts of their grumblings and discontentment that their new found freedom cost them. Their freedom involved facing and fighting new problems. When they looked back to their old way of life they remembered the ease of being a slave, but they forgot how they were desperate to change. Have you ever wished for your old life, when things were less busy, complicated or challenging? Take time to remember the discontentment you felt back then and the desire you had to chase what you have now.
As we remember the 100th year since the end of World War I, let us take time to be thankful for the battles that others faced and fought for our freedom. May we find new ways to be thankful for what we have and pray for strength to face our own battle with hope.
Posted on: 22nd October 2018
“Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”
Remember. That was the word that Moses shared with the people of Israel after he came down from the mountain. He had been in God’s presence and was sharing with them the standard that God had set.
What do you think of when someone talks about rules? I love listening to my children playing games. Some games are easier to play than others, because they have less rules. Hide and seek is easy – everyone hides, somebody seeks. The only issue arises when you have to decide what you have to count to before you can begin to search. But it is the made up games that cause the trouble, because no one knows the rules and therefore anyone is free to suggest an improvement to the game. We started car journeys looking for yellow cars. We now count cheese on wheels, minis and soft tops! The rules continue to grow.
Re-reading the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy 5, I am reminded again at the sense and purpose of the law. I was brought up ‘having’ to rest on a Sunday. This felt like I was restricted from doing what I normally do. But the law was set to bring freedom. There was a period in the history of the children of Israel that ‘choosing’ to rest was never an option. Imagine the luxury for a slave to be able to have a day off every week! Maybe this week is a chance for you to take a rule that has been set and see the freedom it brings.
We have been considering respect this half term. My prayer is that, as you reflect on the devotions and scriptures we have looked at, that you challenge yourself to respond positively. Respect is not a list of rules that we expect everyone to keep. It is an attitude that we pray that all will choose. Respect can result in different responses to different people. Will you listen to something that has been said and obey?
Posted on: 26th March 2018
What do you think of when you think of Easter? Eggs? Holidays? Jesus? The Cross?
For some it is these four things: Forgiven. Family. Freedom. Future.
Well it’s simple really, each time we read the Bible we have new revelation of who God is, what he has done and why. When we read the Bible bearing in mind we know the Easter story and Jesus, we can’t miss these four things.
Firstly, at Easter time, we remember that Jesus’ agonising death on the cross means that He paid the price for our sinfulness and selfishness. Easter reminds us that we can be FORGIVEN by God – ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1 v 9).
And through this loving, sacrificial act, we can become adopted into God’s FAMILY – ‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household.’ (Ephesians 2 v 19). God is our Father, Jesus our ever-present older-brother, the Holy Spirit our constant helper, and the Church is our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then, the fact that Jesus defeated death through His resurrection, reminds us that nothing is impossible for God and we can experience FREEDOM from our struggles and suffering. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5 v 1).
In this resurrection is our hope for the FUTURE, that we will one day be with God forever in His perfect new heaven and earth – “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21 v 4-6 NIV)
Be encouraged this Easter that when Jesus died on the cross and the plan to rescue eternity was set into motion, God had YOU in mind.