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: 14th October 2019
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
What would you do if you had enough time? I recently listened to a podcast by Craig Groeschel, entitles ‘Cut the Slack, Part 2’. He defines slack as, ‘Sluggishness or lack of energy, characterised by slowness, not tight or taught, but blowing or flowing at slow speed’. Another way of looking at it is, ‘Any activity that absorbs resources but creates little or no value’.
The great thing about slack is that it is easy to recognise it… in others!
Craig suggests these four steps to reducing slack in your life. 1) Start with your not-to-do list, 2) Get your to-do list out of your head, 3) Break your to-do list into actionable steps, 4) Prioritise what’s most important, 5) Take the next step. For more information on these steps, check out the podcast!
Out of 400 top business people who were surveyed, they identified that, on average, the following activities stole precious time: 6.8 hours on activities that could be delegated, 3.9 hours on escapist, mental breaks, 3.4 hours on non-essential email, 3.6 hours on low-value, non-essential requests. The average leader wasted 21.8 hours per week.
In John 10:10, Jesus says there is a thief who wants the worst for you. I would like to think I would notice something as dangerous as that in my life, and put safeguards in place to protect myself. But this week I challenge us all to consider the small things we do that are preventing us living life to the full. If you feel like you have a strong enough relationship with someone and you notice areas that they could improve on, pray about whether or not it would be right to have that conversation.
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: 30th September 2019
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man.”
The theme tune for an old film went like this, “If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?”
This week we are considering inspiring to the full. An inspiring person has the ability to draw people to themselves. People are drawn to inspiring people. Being around someone who is inspiring changes you. As we navigate our way through this life we will meet people who have a passion and enthusiasm for their field of expertise. The challenge for all of us is, what is our field?
In the Old Testament, we read of many inspirational characters. One of these is Belteshazzar. He was a young man, taken from his home land because he was smart and strong. He was given the opportunity to become a great leader in his own ability, but at every moment he did something inspiring, he always gave the glory to God. His inspirational ability was to interpret dreams; a skill that helped save both his life and others on a number of occasions.
In Matthew 4, we read about how Jesus inspired those around him. If you were to ask, “What was Jesus’ message?”, you would find it in Matthew 4:23. Everywhere he went from that point on, crowds followed him. He was able to do great signs and inspire many to change their lives.
But there was somewhere where Jesus was not inspiring. A place where he was not recognised for who he was, but who he used to be. That place was his home town, Nazareth. How sad is it that we read in Matthew 13:58, “Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” The people that had seen Jesus while he was developing as a man could not recognise him as who he had become.
This week, I challenge you to find those people in your life who have inspired you, or who continue to inspire you, and tell them. If there are people you know who inspire others, but you just think of them as how they used to be, ask for forgiveness and see the best in them today.
Posted on: 23rd September 2019
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man.”
Where do you go to find wisdom? We have been considering the vision statement for St Wilfrid’s and we will continue to do this in our assemblies and devotionals this half term. We started with considering that acknowledging God and accepting he has a direction for our lives is a great starting place. How can we be sure the direction we follow is from God? There seem to be so many voices out there pulling us in so many different directions.
Luke chapter 2 is a fascinating, brief insight, into the development of Jesus. Very little is recorded of his life from the age of twelve to thirty. But we do read that Jesus’ parents followed the customs and went to Jerusalem every year. I wonder what the response would be now to his parents supervision of him. We read that, “After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.” It goes on to say that, three days later (!!!) they found him sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Jesus knew that if he got around the right people, he listened and asked questions, he would grow in wisdom. The same applies to us. The challenge this week is to consider, who are you spending your time with? Are you listening to the right voices? Are you asking questions to deepen your understanding?
Posted on: 21st May 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Discontentment. It’s something that can stop us from feeling joy and living life to the full.
The Bible says we must learn to be content ‘whatever the circumstances.’ That can be hard.
We see what other people have and we want the same. We see what other people have achieved, and we want to do that too. Once we start comparing our lives to other people’s, discontentment can find its way in and we begin to forget all the blessings and gifts that God has given us.
Discontentment clouds all the good and makes us think our lives are not alright as they are. Instead, contentment recognises all the good in our lives and doesn’t want what other people have. There’ll always be people who have more than us, but there’ll also be people who have less. What you choose to focus on will determine how contented you feel.
Our security and self-worth should be based on who we are in Christ, not what we have. Our possessions, achievements and relationships shouldn’t define who we are. Paul wrote: ‘I’ve learned…to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’ (Philippians 4 v 11-13).
When we’re focused on our identity in Christ, rather than what we do or don’t have, we leave no room for discontentment in our lives.