Praying for Power at Pentecost


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Power

Posted on: 10th June 2019

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8

I love meeting up with people who I have not seen in a long time. Some people hate it, especially if it is a relative who likes to grab your cheeks and squeeze them. The words, “Oh, haven’t you changed!” are regularly used as a recognition that time changes things.

There are other times, when you have been with a certain person or group and it is noticeable by the way you now act or speak. Do you have any of those people in your life who seem to bring out the worst in you? Do others notice it? In 1 Corinthians 15:33, St Paul says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.””

Are there any relationships that you know that are draining you of your good character? If there are, make a wise choice to change your company.

King Solomon, in Proverbs 27:17 said, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

There are relationships and friendships out there for you that will keep you sharp and focused if you take the time to develop them and allow others to develop you. These mutually beneficial relationships are seen throughout the Bible (Joshua and Caleb, David and Jonathan, Paul and Silas, Paul and Timothy etc…).

But the most life changing relationship you can enter into is with God.

We see from the life of the early apostles that their encounter with the Holy Spirit made a radical change to them. They received POWER. The literal translation is DYNAMITE.

Imagine if your relative turned up to see you and recognised you had received the Holy Spirit in your life! That’s what the early church received and the Holy Spirit is the same now as then.

My challenge for you this week is to read in Acts about the impact the Holy Spirit made to those early disciples.

If you believe in God and have accepted that Jesus died for you, then why not pray, like those early disciples did, for the Holy Spirit’s power to fill you.

What impact do you think that would have on St Wilfrid’s, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, and the ends of the earth?

Praying for Blessing


Praying for Blessing

Posted on: 7th May 2019

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

I love the Bible. I love it when I find a story that seems out of place with the clean, sanitised, serene picture we can sometimes portray the message of the Bible to be.

In Numbers chapter 22, there is an amazing account of Balaam. Israel, God’s people, were defeating their enemies left, right and centre. Balak, king of Moab was rightfully worried. Enter Balaam. Balak spoke to him saying, “I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.” Imagine having that super-power! What would you do with it? What did Balaam do? I challenge you to read the rest of the story and let me know what you think!

In Proverbs 18:21, King Solomon says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”

What if we did have the ability to bless and curse with our words like Balaam?

Reflect on the times you have spoken life and hope to someone who is down. Did it bring life? Have you experienced the critical, hurtful words of another that have caused part of you to feel dead and sick inside? Have you ever been critical of yourself, putting yourself down? The words we speak to ourselves are just as crucial to the words spoken by and to others. Do you need to repent of negative self-talk?

My challenge for you this week is to listen carefully to the words you use. Take time teach day to reflect on the effect your words have had on others. If you have spoken death, ask for forgiveness. If anyone has spoken life to you, thank them: they may even do it again!

Praying for Unity


Unity

Posted on: 29th April 2019

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Ephesians 3:16

What would you do if praying made a difference?

Every Tuesday we have been meeting weekly in the Chapel to pray. 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. You can 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 opposite 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 a difference in our lives. During the exam season we will be joining together to pray. We will be praying before exams. We will be praying during exams. We will be asking for prayer requests. We will be sharing praise reports. I invite you to begin a habit and a pattern in your life of inviting God into your world, through prayer.

Love to Challenge


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Challenge

Posted on: 21st Jan 2019

but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:3

If you could achieve a world record, what would it be? Do you know what Felix Baumgartner did? Or what David Goggins did 4030 times in 24 hours? Compare this to the achievement of Roger Bannister on May 6th, 1954. All of these challenges required great self-belief and determination. They all faced the challenge of something that hadn’t been done before.

What about you? Will you be the person that the history books will be mentioning? Do you love a challenge enough? Your challenge may not become a world record but I hope you are able to find something this year that causes you to grow to overcome it. For me it is the rubix cube. I have managed to solve the 3×3 grid, the mirror cube and the 2×2. My latest challenge is the wonky cube. I am inspired by those who never thought they could run, only to read stories of them having completed 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, then full marathons. For those who think they won’t be able to do anything like that, maybe 2019 is your year to face a challenge.

The apostle Paul sets a list of achievements that would challenge anyone; from the abilities to communicate and interpret all languages, to the ability to understand all mysteries, or be able to overcome all adversities with faith. However, something is above them all. Love.

In all our challenges and achievements this next year, let us remember that without love, they are worthless. The promise is that love is the greatest motivation and reward we can receive. I pray that you will love to be challenge yourself this year, but I also challenge you, above all, to love.

Love to Encourage


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Encourage

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.”
Hebrews 10:25

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.

Love to Pray


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional Blog 2019 - Pray

Posted on: 9th January 2019

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Ephesians 3:16

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’.

Thankful for Teams


St Wilfrid's Devotional Blog - Team

Posted on: 19th November 2018

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

What is the link between 2004 and 2016?

One link I would like to consider this week is unexpected success. The stage was set for Portugal, in Portugal, to secure the European Championship against an unexpected opponent. But the domination of possession and shots could not overcome the single goal scored in that game. But who were the winners?

5000-1 were the odds given to Leicester City at the start of the season. Reports praise the efforts of the three stars of the team, but I would like to suggest it was everyone connected to the team that brought the victory.

In Judges 7 we read the story of the defeat of Midian. Gideon was called a ‘Mighty Man of Valour’ by God, who found him hiding. The story strikes me as odd that the mighty man was hiding, but God knows how to pick them. Gideon was probably feeling like the odds were in his favour as he had an army of 32,000. God had other plans.

The first stage of fine tuning the army involved asking those who were afraid to leave. The remaining 10,000 faced the second stage, drinking water at the river. 9,700 drank like dogs and were asked to go home. The story ends with 300 men defeating the Midianites with trumpet, empty jars and burning torches. Now that is an underdog story!

As we consider the power of team and the difference supporting each other brings this week, remember the encouragement the Apostle Paul offers in Galatians 6:2. If you are to fulfil the law of Christ, look for opportunities to support and help those in your team. Having people around you who offer support really is a gift from God and a game changer.

House Identity


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Devotional - One Body

Posted on: 17th September 2018

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 12:12

I do not know how you read the Bible, but I love to picture what the writer is describing, or place myself in the narrative as a character or a ‘fly on the wall’. I think both of these are acceptable ways to access scripture and can lead to an interesting perspective. This is definitely true for the passage in 1 Corinthians 12. The writer asks the readers to consider a number of different outrageous scenarios.

Firstly, consider what would happen in the body if the foot ‘says’ to the body, “I am not part of you because I am not a hand.” Or the ear ‘says’, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye.” Does the denial that they are not part of the body mean they are not part of the body? As a body of staff, students, parents and supporters of Saint Wilfrid’s, it may sometimes be easy to devalue or underappreciate the part we play as others seem to take a more prominent role. As we begin to establish our rhythm of the new academic year, maybe we could all take time to reflect on the impact of others and show our appreciation for their part.

Secondly the writer asks us to consider what it would be like if the whole body was an eye or an ear. This encourages me that my contribution to the body is important and I do not need to try and play the part of someone else.

Thirdly, the writer mentions the honour that is shown to the weakest and least important parts. He elevates these parts as the most necessary and therefore the most protected and cared for. As a school body, let us again take time to reflect on how we show care for all our members.

The importance of unity is summed up in verses 26 and 27. As we consider the role the house system plays in the life of Saint Wilfrid’s this week, may we be encouraged by this.

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honoured, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

Selfie – Putting Others First


Devotional Blog - Selfie

Posted on: 18th June 2018

‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’
Romans 12:2

Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One could sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking together, the skyline in the distance.

His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind, and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’

Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’ There’s great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal. One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars.

Contentment


Contentment

Posted on: 21st May 2018

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Philippians 4:11

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.