Posted on: 15th October 2018
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The gospel writer records a wonderful account of an encounter with Jesus and the impact that can have.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. To the Jews, there were sinners and below sinners there were tax collectors. Tax collectors raised funds for the enemy, Rome. They also took a tidy sum themselves as their cut. Zacchaeus was rich and that must have upset everyone around.
But Jesus defies the expectation of the crowd. They would have expected Jesus to chastise the corruption and greed that he lived by. But Jesus invited himself to his house for tea. Oh to be a fly on the wall at that tea party, for whatever was said brought transformation. Jesus changed the whole situation by meeting Zacchaeus where he was. This brought life and health, not only to him but to everyone he had ever cheated.
What chances will you have this week to respond in a way to someone else that would defy the expectation? This might be an opportunity for you to speak life. I pray that you will have courage and patience to make a Jesus style response to someone who has wronged you. Could this be a new way to show respect, in difficult situations?
Posted on: 24th September 2018
“And [Joseph’s] master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favour in his eyes and served him.”
Do you have a favourite Bible story? Is there a character that you admire the most? Are there mistakes a character has made that you feel like screaming at them or taking them one side to have a quiet talk about how they could have gone about it differently?
Joseph’s life can be viewed from a number of perspectives. We have the end of the story so are able to reassure ourselves that everything he went through would eventually be worth it. If you do not know the story, please spend some time reading the following few chapters in Genesis.
But imagine now taking a young lad, with a bright coat, and describing the trial he would face. Imagine telling him he will start in a pit, then a slave line, then in prison for a good part of 20 years. Considering these events, do they support the verse that was used to describe Joseph? Is this the favour he would have hoped for?
Contrast another Bible character. In Luke 2:52 we hear of a young boy, aged twelve, developing in four different areas. The writer of the gospel mentions growth in wisdom, stature, favour with God and favour with others. Little is known of this character’s life until the age of thirty. At this point we begin to see the effects of this favour. Again, our perspective allows us to see that ‘all’s well that ends well’, but this favour with others led Jesus to the cross.
In the lives of both these characters, favour does not go hand-in-hand with ease and comfort.
As we consider respect, whether it is earned or deserved, let us consider how we can show favour to others. The promise in God’s word is that his favour is with you today. What does that mean to you? What would it look like if you were favoured by God? I hope you take time to consider this, even if you find yourself at the moment in situations outside of your control. Consider the promise in 1 John 3:1:
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”
Posted on: 4th September 2018
“And he [Jesus] was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he opened the book, He found the place where it was written…”
Posted on: 4th June 2018
“‘Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant’”
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Malvolio has the line,
“In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.”
Let us embrace our opportunities as part of the Saint Wilfrid’s community to take those opportunities we have to be great. We have recently celebrated the Sports Award’s where many students were recognised for their achievements. We look forward to Sports Day too where students have the chance to show their talents and achieve greatness. With seven school records broken last year, we are excited to see if these students have stepped up to the next level and can emulate last year’s achievements.
However, chasing fame has its warning signs. We can enter into competition with a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. How easy is it to elevate yourself by lowering others with our words and actions? We must remember the challenge in Philippians 2:3 to ‘consider others better than ourselves.’ Is this a challenge for you today?
In Matthew 20, Jesus is confronted by a parent who wanted greatness for her children. Her request was simply for her children to be given the seats of ultimate honour in the kingdom of heaven! Jesus told her that what she was asking was for God alone to grant.
Jesus then went on to talk about how to be great in God’s kingdom. His answer was culture changing then and the challenge still cuts against the flow now. How can lowering yourself to serve others, result in elevation to greatness?
At the start of a new half term, I pray that you will find your opportunities this week to serve. I also pray that your service brings a confidence that you are great in God’s eyes.
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.
Posted on: 19th Feb 2018
“Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?””
Sometimes we can look like we have it all together on the outside but inside we are a complete mess and feel totally out of control. Many circumstances and expectations of others can lead us to feel and act like this on a daily basis.
Expectations of others can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and control us to quickly grasp onto any way of keeping our ‘all together’ outside appearance. However, that is when life can spiral out of our control, when others’ expectations and in turn our own expectations, can consume us.
How we respond to these circumstances or influences around us can either make us, or break us. We cannot control what tries to influence us but we can control how we respond.
In the Gospels, we read of Peter, one of Jesus disciples, controlled by his jealousy of his fellow disciple John. Peter constantly compared himself to John and all the things John was getting to do until one day Jesus was speaking life into Peter, calling him out to be the leader he was meant to be and he looked around at John and then asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Can you imagine? Jesus, the Son of God who was crucified, died, and then come back from the dead has just given you responsibility, a title, a role for the future you look around and compare yourself to those around you! How often do we do that, always wanting to have one better than the people around us do or at least comparable to those around us, something to brag about.
“What about him?” How many times do we ask, “What about them?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must, just follow me.”
Jesus gently reminds Peter, it does not matter what the others have. This is the unique role God has called Peter to do, he just needs to focus on Jesus and it will all remain in control.
This week, consider whom are you comparing yourself to? Do you let the expectations of others control your life? What can you focus on that means you are not controlled by your surrounding influences?
Posted on: 4th December 2017
“Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labour bears a son, and the rest of his brothers rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.”
Did you know that Christmas is coming? – Of course, what a silly question, we can’t miss it!
Twinkling Lights, advent calendars, shopping mayhem! Maybe this weekend you have decorated your tree? Maybe you have bought a wreath for your door? Many things happen at this time of year that remind us it’s nearly Christmas.
But, are you ready for CHRISTmas?
Christmas isn’t just about the lights, the chocolates, the trees. Christmas all began because of a baby, a baby we know as Jesus Christ and Christ is right at the centre of Christmas – it’s called CHRISTmas. At the end of the Old Testament in Micah, the news of a promised ruler from Bethlehem is spoken, they call him His Majesty. And there are many names for Christ, many that we will consider over this Christmas time. But the one we will come back to again and again is Christ and the ADVENTure we can have in getting to know more about who He is.
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.
Posted on: 22nd May 2017
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Matthew 18 v 35
(The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant)
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he, his wife, his children, and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged, went, and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Have you ever held a grudge? Alternatively, maybe you have had a grudge held against you and more over you have let it affect you and how you communicate with that person? Maybe you have seen a grudge in effect, as someone disagrees with a brilliant idea just because of the person who said it.
Grudges are often held when one person feels like someone else owes them something. Maybe they do owe them something like the story above and yet they keep that thought as a hold over the other person. Yet, the bible tells us to forgive.
Forgiving is giving up your right to hate or hurt the person who hurt you. It is about letting go of the stronghold or grudge over an area of your life, not allowing it to control how you see someone else or how you judge what they do.
This week as we think about forgiveness, remember what this story teaches us, that we are forgiven by our heavenly father, that we should forgive as we hope others will forgive us and that we shouldn’t keep hold of the grudges that control how we see others around us.
Posted on: 15th May 2017
“For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.”
Luke 12 v 23
(Tradition vs Honest Faith)
This week we are looking at the story that Jesus tells to the Pharisees in Luke 12 as they challenge his disciples for their practice of eating without doing a wash ritual first. Let’s remember though why Jesus told stories and parables. One reason was to explain what the kingdom of heaven was like and another was to explain the law of the old scriptures to people who didn’t understand it or who were using it wrongly. This story was told for the second reason, to help people understand what the bible said about rituals and traditions.
So Jesus was out with his friends, his disciples and they had just started eating as Jesus was talking to the crowd that was gathering around. The Pharisees were quick to point out that they hadn’t washed their hands before they began to eat, so one raised their voice, “Why don’t your disciples do the traditions and rituals of our elders? Why don’t they wash their hands?” (Mark 7 v 1-5 abbreviated).
Jesus responded to them by calling them hypocrites (sometimes he just said it as it was). But what the Pharisees hadn’t realised that the disciples had been serving the people through their ministry, they had been with Jesus for a few days (or maybe more) working hard and were ready to sit down and eat. The Pharisees were letting the traditions get in the way of their honest faith. No, we shouldn’t forget that some traditions that we may do today are reminders of our faith and help strengthen our faith when we do them. However, we must be careful to not fall into a trap of doing it for traditions sake or just for going through the motions but through our focus on God and in faith.
But what do we do when it comes to our honesty? Do we let our traditions, timetables, to-do lists get in the way of our honesty towards other people? Would we say we would look after someone but when given the responsibility to do so would be prioritise our own traditions?
This story illustrates a challenge to us all as to how we live out our faith. Do with live it with all honesty and integrity or do we hope our traditions keep us in the ‘good books’ of God?