Posted on: 9th January 2019
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.”
What would you do if praying made a difference?
We have been meeting weekly in the Chapel to pray, every Tuesday. During this time, we have prayed for the school, for events, for those connected to the school, that there would be a sense of the presence of God in everything we do. Some of our prayers have been for loved ones who are sick. Many of these prayers have been answered. We continue to pray for people and situations that bring discomfort and pain and you are always welcome to come along.
Paul prayed. When you read the letters, he wrote to the churches that were growing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Ephesians 3, Paul is writing to the group of believers in Ephesus. Paul had visited this city on his travels and lots of people had believed in Jesus and were choosing to live differently. The difference made by the message of Jesus had caused some to riot and oppose Paul and his companions. The message of Jesus had been accepted by some but was opposed to the way of life of others.
Jesus prayed. Throughout the gospels, Jesus went to be alone with God to pray. He taught his disciples how to pray. In Matthew 18, Jesus promises that when we gather in his name, he will be with us. He also promised that whatever we agree on in his name, will be given. What an amazing promise.
What would you do if praying made a difference? Prayer and meditation is a strong part of all major faiths. It is an opportunity to deepen our beliefs and faith. It can strengthen our inner beings and can make differences in our lives. Whatever your resolutions for the New Year, consider prayer. What if this was the year that you began to ‘Love to Pray’.
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?
Posted on: 10th December 2018
“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
When I read in the gospels the story of the birth of Jesus, I read a verse like “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem”, without stopping to consider the implication. Have you ever stopped to question how far that was, what the route was like or how long it would have taken? Let’s just say, it wasn’t close, easy or quick! Factor in the pregnancy and you must come to the conclusion that Mary knew what it was like to face adversity.
Compare this to the opening verses in the book of James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” I wonder if that is the sort of encouragement that spurred Mary on to the stable in Bethlehem. Interestingly, the book of James was written by Jesus’ brother, another son of Mary. I wonder if the story of Jesus’ birth as well as his death were in his mind as he wrote those words.
I heard a story once about a lump of rock that made me consider the meaning of James 1:2. In a busy museum there was a beautiful marble statue that people in their thousands would come and admire. The statue was magnificently crafted and showed the expertise of the sculptor. A marble tile from the floor looked up and grumbled at the statue, “It’s alright for you, everyone loves you and admires you. All I get is walked all over and trodden on each day.” The statue looked down at the tile and replied, “My friend, we were once the same but when the sculptor came at me with his tools, I allowed him to break me and shape me in the way he saw best. There were times when I wanted to crack and give in, but I trusted his workmanship.”
Maybe the reason Mary was able to face her adversity was because she clung to the promise in Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” During this season as advent, let us consider how we can be thankful for adversity, clinging to the promises we have been given.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Posted on: 26th November 2018
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”
When was the last time you received a blessing? When did you last give a blessing? Would you know a blessing if it was given? Would you know if you had blessed someone else?
Jesus was a blessing. In Matthew 4 we read that everywhere he went he preached Good News about the Kingdom of Heaven and healed all the people who were brought to him. I love our mission statement that calls us to prepare our students to be citizens of this life and the next. Sometimes I have such an earthly perspective that I want everything to be sorted in this life. Jesus brought Good News of a heavenly future and comfort for those who were suffering now.
Does it surprise you that a great crowd followed Jesus? In Matthew 5 he begins teaching. The gospel writer takes three chapters to recall what was told. If you have time this week, please look it up and see how the Kingdom of Heaven challenges some of the ways we live as citizens of this world.
If you were going to write an entry requirement for ’seeing God’, what would be on it? Would it be a level of success? Would it be based on acts of service? Would it be status?
Jesus asks the crowds to consider their heart. I wonder how many of those who were following Jesus were doing it from a motive of what they could get from Jesus. I have to question my own motives when I pray, asking if it is “Your will be done”, or “My will be done”. When you consider your blessings this week, check your heart and identify ways you can be a blessing to others.
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?