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: 14th January 2019
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Do you have the gift?
What is your gift? We have just gone through the Christmas season where gifts have been given and received. Did you get what you want? Did you get what you need? Did you get a gift that you thought you needed, but realised that it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be?
My favourite present is still partly unopened on the coffee table in my living room. It is a jar containing 58 pieces of paper. It is the most special gift I have ever received. On each piece of paper there is a statement that begins, “I love you because…” Every time I read one of the statements, I feel like a giant, a hero and a champion. Every word written by my wife and children is an encouragement that I am loved for being me.
In Romans 12:8, Paul describes encouragement as a spiritual gift. This doesn’t mean that only certain people can do it, but it makes it clear that God is into encouragement enough to empower people to do it through his Spirit. As a school, our mission statement acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is inspirer. Do you have the gift of encouragement? Maybe you don’t know the gift that God has entrusted to you. Maybe 2019 is your year of discovery and development.
Proverbs 18:20-21 says, “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
When we meet up in our houses this week, we are challenged to come together as a team, working together towards a goal. I have been part of enough teams to know that encouraging others is a far better team dynamic than criticism.
This week, take time to encourage others. If you feel it comes naturally to you then maybe you have identified a gift. Gifts are for giving, so give the gift of encouragement this week.
Posted on: 17th December 2018
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
What is the greatest gift you have ever received? When you got it, did it fulfil everything you hoped it would? My son really wanted a step counter last year. I found it at the back of the card drawer last week, unused. Frustratingly, he has asked for a step counter again this year.
As I grew up there was one gift I always wanted – Subbuteo. Last year I managed to fulfil my childhood ambition. I didn’t get it directly, I bought it for my son. Having played it only three times this year I can confirm that it wasn’t the life changing gift I had built it up to be.
Scholars and religious leaders had read the books of the prophets and were waiting in expectation for the Messiah to be born. Thirty years after the birth of Jesus, one of those scholars had questions that he was afraid to ask in the open, so he came to Jesus at night. His name was Nicodemus. I love the conversation he had with Jesus. He approaches Jesus and says “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus’ response is exceptional and is definitely worth reading over the festive period. In John chapter 3 verse 16, Jesus announces himself as the greatest gift ever. Imagine a gift that begins today and last for eternity.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
In preparation for Christmas celebrations, please consider the words of Jesus. If believing in him can lead to eternal life, as well as life to the full here, isn’t that the greatest gift ever given. If a gift like that was offered to you, how would you respond?