Month: February 2016

Rest

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Over the last few weeks I’ve had to speak about the Genesis story of creation with a variety of classes. There’s a few things that I have been picking out. Firstly every day God looks at everything and says “it’s good” not “it’s alright” or “it’s not too shabby” but “it’s good”. Secondly he didn’t need to create any of it but he wanted to, he chose to. Thirdly, on the final day he rested. Again, he didn’t rest because he was tired, he rested in order to enjoy what he had created.

Last year I made a decision, which has changed my life. That decision was that I was not going to do any school work on Saturdays. Saturday was going to be my day off. Don’t get me wrong, my Saturday’s are still usually very busy, whether that’s catching up with friends, tidying the house, making soup, visiting family, but I didn’t do school work. I take a rest from it. That means in a Sunday afternoon, once I’ve got back from church and had lunch, I have about 4-5 hours when I am focused and I actually get more done. I’ve been remote when I’ve got a lot to do, just to work that one Saturday, but then I stop myself, knowing that if I do it just that once I will do it again.

This has changed my life because it means I am enjoying the rest of my life. I have a day which enables me to rest and relax, to not be focused on the job, to not even think about it, but to cherish the life I have. I have a day off!

Rest is essential in any person’s life. It is what we need to help us to grow as people. If we work constantly we will burn out. We need to have time which is just for us, to do whatever it is we do to relax. That may be meeting up with friends, it may be playing a sport, it may be sitting watching a film, but it is for us.

God sets us the great example by resting on the seventh day, as I said, it wasn’t because he needed to, but it was because he wanted to enjoy his creation. God also knows us a bit too well and that brings us to the promise of this week, spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew

Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke.

God knows that we don’t always rest, and that sometime we feel that we can’t rest, until our bodies have given up on us. So he promises that if we go to him, he will give us rest. We live in a world where expectations are so high, that we often feel we have to be working constantly to meet those expectations. But actually we aren’t  going to be effective if we don’t have rest.

There are so many tests that have been done that I could quote stressing the importance of rest, but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to talk about chocolate! Mars got it right, you need to  Work, Rest, and Play. All three are essential to a healthy, productive, successful life. But remember if you struggle to do any of these, then just make sure that you underpin all of these with pray!

God will provide what we need, and if we need rest then that is what God will provide.

Prayer: Father God we thank you that you chose to create us, and that you give us so many opportunities. We pray that you will give us the strength to recognise when we need to rest, and to see the opportunities that we have to rest, and to use those for your glory. Amen

Challenge: Work out what it is that you do to relax, look through your week ahead and fix in a time of rest. Then the challenge is to stick to it!

What we need

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What is the difference between what we WANT and what we NEED? This is a discussion I have with most year groups at some point throughout the year. Although it seems quite simple, it can actually be quite a difficult concept to get your head around. We often come up with examples to help us. The ones we often use are: I need food, I want chocolate; I need a drink, I want a Coke; I need a phone to be able to keep in touch with my parents; I want an iPhone (other makes are available!); I need a roof over my head, I want a huge house with a swimming pool.

We have probably all used the term need, when actually it is something we want. We may feel we need it because everyone else has one, but is it actually necessary?

Need suggests necessity. There are certain things we, as humans, need to survive. Oxygen, water, food, sleep to name the most important. But we often have so much more than is necessary. Most of us will eat and drink more than we need to in order to survive, that’s just called being healthy, but often we will eat and drink considerably more than we need to, because we want to.

Our promise this week is from Phillipians 4:19 and says

And it is he who will supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.

We are told that God will supply all that we need. God will not supply all that we want, but all that we need. In the film Bruce Almighty when Bruce is given God’s powers he answers all the prayers with ‘yes’! This is mainly out of laziness. But inevitably it leads to problems, one person loses weight on the ‘Krispy kreme’ diet, one person gets taller over night, because lots of people win the lottery, nobody wins very much. Riots take place and Bruce has caused chaos just by saying yes to everything.

A lot of people struggle with the idea that God doesn’t always answer prayers. But what this verse shows us is that we have to trust and hope that God will provide all that we need. But more importantly, we have to trust that God knows what we need. There are many theological explanations for the question of God not answering prayers, which I’m not going to go in to now. BUT maybe actually what we need is to change the way in which we pray. Rather than asking God for specific things that we think we need. Asking God to provide what we need to get through a tough situation that we are going through.

Sometimes we need to take responsibility for ourselves as well. There may be things that we want to achieve in our lives. We can’t just ask God to make that happen! We have to do certain things to get there, whether that is working hard at school, training etc… We can’t ask God to make us good at something, but we can ask God to provide us with the strength and stamina to pursue those dreams.

We will have all asked our parents for something, claiming it was something we needed, and there is a likelihood they will have said no! Why? Because they know best! God is our father and we have to trust that he knows best!

Prayer: Father God we thank you that you love us, and you know us. We thank you that you provide all that we need, and pray that we will be able to put our trust in you. Amen

Challenge: Let’s be practical: think about something you would like to achieve. What do YOU need to be able to do to achieve that?

God gives us strength

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It’s the final week before half term, and I think we are all at that stage where we are ready for half term. The question we are possibly asking ourselves is are we going to make it? It’s at times like this where this week’s promise The promise comes from Isaiah and says

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

There are so many promises within this verse, but the one we are focussing on is that God gives us strength. I don’t think I particularly chose that for this week, but the timing is perfect. This term is a short one but a busy one, and it is at times like this, when we get tired and worn down that it is good to know that God gives us strength.

I was just watching the Voice, and one of the ladies auditioning has competed in the world’s strongest woman events. Her party trick is to pick up two grown men! Now, I know that I don’t have that kind of strength, I tried giving my 6ft7 husband a piggy back once and damaged my back (not surprisingly). But I do know that when I feel I can’t go on any more, that God will give me the strength to do what needs to be done. Whether that is to get through the rest of the term, or whether it is to stand up on stage and take an assembly. I don’t have to do it in my own strength.

We all have a tendency to think that we have to do everything on our own, and that actually it is a weakness to ask for any help. This verse could be seen to encourage that, if people read it to say that God will strengthen ME and help ME. But actually one of the strongest things you can do is to ask for help, yes, ask your loving Father God, but also ask other people. God provides what we need, and sometimes the thing we need is a helping hand. If we are stuck on a piece of work, or unsure what to do in a friendship or family situation, rather than struggling with it God may give us the strength to ask for some support.

We also need to be looking out for people who are burdened by something; whether it is someone carrying a load of books to a classroom who needs some physical help; or whether it is someone who seems to be worrying about something. Maybe God wants to use us, to be that strength for that person.

Prayer: Father God, thank you that even when we think things are unbearably tough, you give us the strength to carry on. May we be able to see when other people need our help, to be the strength they need. Amen

Challenge: If you are stuck on something this week, don’t struggle on your own but ask for help. BUT ALSO look out for people who seem to be struggling, and be the strength they need. Whether that is opening a door, or being a listening ear.