Posted on: 16th March 2020
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
What should you do when you are not worrying?
Do things happen for a reason; even the bad things? Is there a definitive answer to that question? This is said to be, “The worst public health crisis of a generation”. “Many will lose loved ones because of the virus.” Can anything good come from this season that we face?
Three months ago, we discussed the themes for the assemblies and devotionals for this half term. For some, this week’s title would be coincidental. For others, it will be a perfectly timed reminder of the perspective that we are called to have when we face situations out of our control.
In John 13, Jesus tells his disciples about the death he is going to face. John 14:1-4 details Jesus’ response to their anxiety:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Whatever situation you face today or over this season, I challenge you to take charge of your hearts response. Don’t let your heart be troubled.
But how can we control our hearts response? Jesus asks his disciples to trust him through it all. Jesus has already healed the sick, calmed the storm, brought dead to life. They had seen his greatness and now they were being encouraged to believe.
Take time this week to remember all the good things God has done for you. Ask yourself how you can “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”, and believe that no matter what you face, your father in heaven has an eternal future prepared for you already.
Posted on: 10th February 2020
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
How can we produce good fruit?
How much fruit do you eat? The 5-a-day campaign came from the advice given by the World Health Organisation, that eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables each day reduces risks. That seems like really good advice with potentially life altering benefits. But like we considered last week, good advice only becomes wisdom when it is put into practice. Challenge yourself this week to record your fruit intake. I talked to a student this week who was experiencing a cherry for the first time. Maybe this could be your chance to try something new. ‘Morinda citrifolia’ is the fruit they tried on ‘I’m a celebrity’. It translates as ‘Vomit fruit’…sound nice?
When we consider the words of Jesus, we have to remember that he spoke into a specific time and culture as well as sharing eternal truths. Those hearing his words would have a strong idea of the ‘bad fruit’ that was evident in the religious orders. Jesus openly challenged the religious teachers and used such terms to make clear his opposition to them.
A few weeks ago, we considered Jesus’s instruction of ‘Do not judge’. This week, take time to reflect on your own words, actions and thoughts. Are you bearing good fruit? If there is someone you trust, ask them what they think. If there are areas that you feel are producing bad fruit, take time to confess them to God and ask him to work with you, so that you can produce good fruit in that area.
Posted on: 9th September 2019
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
What can we trust? What can we learn that will help us in our future? What does it mean to submit to God?
Trust me, I’m a … . What can we use to fill that sentence? Trust requires there to be a truth that you put your faith in. Trust requires faith. Speaking to a colleague recently about faith and facts, we discussed the possibility that something being fact now could possibly not be fact in the future. The changing nature of facts requires us to put a time limit on the fact, or for us to put our faith in the facts.
Gone are the days that I get my AA Roadmap out, or spend hours prior to a trip writing out the directions for my journey. Out comes the mobile phone, google maps (other map services are available) and off we go. I heard of a group of youth workers, heading to help at a school camp in Newtown, Wales. They confidently typed the postcode of the venue into their device and followed the directions. Having never been to Wales by car before, the devices directions as ‘gospel truth’. As they passed signs for Lockerbie (having set off from Oswaldtwistle), they received a call from the camp, asking when they expected to arrive. Unfortunately, the postcode they used was KY16 4AJ not SY16 4AJ. 1 digit changed the course of their journey.
Our school vision, ‘Lord direct us’, is a statement of faith. To trust God to direct us requires us to elevate his word above our own view of our situation. It requires us to self-reflect and admit that our own understanding may be flawed or incomplete. This requires an attitude of humility and submission.
The challenge this week is to consider the direction that God has for us, compare it to our own desires and trust that his way is best for us. We have the choice to go our own way, or ask that God will give us a desire to follow his way.
Posted on: 4th February 2019
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”
Before our current students and many staff were born, there was a film released called ‘Brewster’s Millions’, starring Richard Pryor and John Candy. The storyline is that Brewster’s long lost relative (who he had never met) died and left him all his money, amounting to over $300,000,000. The condition was that he had to lose $30,000,000 in 30 days to be able to claim the rest. There were rules – he could not give it away or tell anyone about it. In order to gain the full inheritance he had to lose. Brewster loved to lose.
Jesus’ teaching often sounded contradictory too. He taught, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Matthew 20:16). He said, “If anyone wants to be great in the kingdom he must become the servant of all” (Matthew 20:26). He also taught, “If anyone loses their life for my sake, will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Jesus was the ultimate example, giving his life so that we can live.
In Luke 14, Jesus was at a Pharisees house. The Pharisees were a religious group that really struggled with the way Jesus seemed to contradict their teachings and rules. The Pharisees kept the Sabbath day holy; Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees kept away from tax collectors and sinners; Jesus came to heal the sick and the lost.
Jesus talked in parables. There was once a wedding feast. When the guest sat down for the meal, the host asked one of the guests who had sat in the seat of honour to move for another guest. Imagine having to take the walk of shame from a position of honour to a lower place. Alternatively, imagine the feeling if the host took you from a low position and gave you a seat of honour.
We all face situations which can challenge our thinking. This week, as we think about loving to lose, we can have a fresh realisation that, as Paul says in Romans 8:28, “…that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Posted on: 16th October 2017
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18
Not being able to see one step ahead of us can be a hard thing to comprehend, both in the physical and metaphorical sense. For our eyes may work but there may be obstructions in the way, it may be dark or foggy, we may have to turn a corner or avoid a blockage on our path. Sometimes we have to learn to navigate situations without having all the information in front of us.
Take the titanic for example. A ginormous ship that had the capacity to make it from England to America with 2208 people on it, the most extravagant of its time. Yet, the choices that the captain made where purely based on what he could see and not what he couldn’t. He could see the tip of the iceberg but not the extent of it below the surface of the water.
The bible helps us understand and appreciate the ‘behind the scenes’ of our lives, it unpacks why we can see some things now and why other things we cannot. In 1 Corinthians 13 v 12 (MSG) it says:
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
For Christians that passage is helpful knowing that one day we will understand fully what God is doing our lives but for many it poses the question well what am I supposed to be doing now while I’m stood in the fog? The passage goes on to say:
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.” (1 Corinthians 13 v 13 MSG).
What can we continue to do while we are in the invisible?
We can trust steadily.
This week, you may not be able to see what’s ahead but don’t let it stop you from trusting, hoping and loving with all your might.
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.