Month: January 2018

God our Rock

Everything seems to have been a bit on the uneven side of late, and I have to admit I’m not quite sure what’s going on or how we’re going to make it through. This is where we are grateful for the characteristic of God that we are looking at this week, and that is that God is our rock.

What does a rock suggest to you? In the book of Isaiah the idea of a rock has numerous ideas attached to it, in clouding creating walls, lasting forever, having the strength to level things to the ground.

A rock is something that can and should be relied on, and that is what we are told we can do with our God, our rock of ages. A rock is something that doesn’t change quickly, therefore we can rest upon it and it can provide a foundation for us, when things seem a bit shaky.

Gandhi was famed for protesting using non-violence and our thought for the week comes from him talking about the role that God the rock plays in us being able to use non-violence. He says “The Spirit of non-violence necessarily leads to humility. Non-violence means reliance on God, the rock of ages. If we would seek his aid, we must approach him with a humble heart.”

Gandhi talks about a reliance upon a rock of ages. I’ve spoken to a few pupils recently who seem to think that asking for help, relying on people is a sign of weakness, and yet actually is it not more a sign of strength, to put reliance upon something else because you are no longer sure that you can do it for yourself, by yourself, but you need something else.

When we looked at the worship that we sing, we looked at the song ‘cornerstone’ which tells us about Jesus being the one that keeps us steady, that is our foundation. In order to do that it is essential that God is likened to a substance that is tough, such as a rock.

Prayer: father God we thank you that you are the rock on which we can stand, that you provide stability for us, that you do not change. Amen

Challenge: look through for biblical promises that provide stability for you

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God the Holy Spirit

Have you ever been so afraid of something that you’ve hidden away? That’s what the disciples were doing after Jesus had returned to the father. They had been directed to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the son and of the spirit. But instead they were hiding away because they knew that their lives were at risk – especially if they were to start saying that Jesus had come back to life.

Jesus had always said that he would send a helper and that’s what happened at Pentecost. The disciples were hiding and the spirit came. Suddenly the disciples couldn’t stop themselves they had to go out, they had to tell people. They were even able to tell people who spoke different languages.

This is what we mean by God the Spirit – the element of God that we are looking at this week. It is God the Spirit that enables us to come out of the hiding and declare the truth about God. Some of the images used for the Holy Spirit are fire and wind – symbols of power. People can be scared of the Holy Spirit, or should we say wary. Pope Francis puts it very well when he says “ The Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us. Makes us walk. Pushes the Church forward”

The Holy Spirit enables us to do things for the kingdom. The first disciples were able to talk to people from all over the world about Jesus, once they had been filled by the spirit. That coming of the spirit read abut in the book of Acts is now celebrated every year as the birthday of the Church. It was at that coming of the Spirit that the Church started to grow, and the Church continues to be moved by the Spirit today.

So… God the Spirit… the power that pushes us out, that drags us out of hiding, that pushes us forward. It is the Spirit that enables us to fulfil the call we were given to make disciples of all nations.

By asking to be filled with the Spirit of God we are asking to stand out from the crowd, to be seen as something different. Is that something you are willing to ask?

Prayer: father God we ask you to fill us with your spirit’ that we may be able to do your will on earth.

Challenge: the spirit enabled the early disciples to tell others about Jesus and to start the Church. Have you told anyone new about Jesus recently?

God the Son

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I’m watching a programme at the moment where the children in the town are a bit lost because many of their father’s were miners, and were unfortunately killed in an accident. They live in a society where you are supposed to follow the profession of your father, so now they have no father’s, and their dad’s were killed by the profession, so they are a little bit lost. The boys will have grown up knowing they were going to be miners, and the girls probably growing up knowing they would be married to miners.

This is a tradition that we seem to have lost now, following in the family business. It just so happens that my mum was a teacher, and I am a teacher – although that was my choice. My dad worked in book-keeping, and my brother… well… I’m not entirely sure what he does but it’s not book-keeping. We tend to be encouraged to follow our dreams, and not automatically follow the family line.

However, this concept of family business, is quite an important one for today’s theme. We are continuing to look at the nature of God, the different characteristics that make up the God that we worship. This week we are looking at God the Son. The part of the trinity that we most commonly know as Jesus. The incarnation, when God became man. Through the incarnation we were able to see the perfect example of how we should live, we continue to read the examples of miracles he performed, stories he told, friendships he formed.

Why did God do this? Why would God choose to leave heaven and become a human? One of my favourite authors puts it beautifully

The son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus calls his disciples, the chosen ones to live most closely to him. James and John were fishermen, they were in their father’s boat, Jesus called them. They left their nets and they followed him.

To say they left their nets doesn’t sound too horrific, but what that means is that they left their livelihood, everything they had ever known, what they had spent their lives training for. They didn’t know what following the call would lead to, but they knew they had to follow it.

People think that God the Son was only with us for 33 years, and yet the Bible tells us that God the Trinity were together from the beginning, and are still together now. Those 33 years are just when God was in physical form, as a human. Going through the same struggles as us. Giving us the guidance of how to pray, how to treat people, how to cope with struggles.

Jesus continues to call us today.

We may not be called away from a family profession, but we may be called away from habits, media, friends, distractions, any thing that may take us away from following the example of Jesus, and worshipping God.

Prayer: We thank you that came as Jesus to be our example. May we listen to your call on our lives, and what you want us to do and where you want us to do it. Amen

Challenge: What things could you step away from that distract you from the call of the son?

 

God the Father

Happy new year. I hope you had a great break over the Christmas holidays and were able to rest and celebrate amongst the madness of catching up with family and friends and other festivities.

Last half term as part of our collective worship we were considering why we worship, especially looking at the words of hymns we use as part of our worship. This term we are going to be looking at who we worship. The God of Christianity. On Thursday I introduced this topic within the full school worship by considering the fact that we all have a name, and yet we have different characteristics. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunty, a teacher, a friend. I am different things to different people, at different times, and yet I am just one person.

It is the same with God. (Don’t worry I’m not comparing myself with God) within Christianity we worship one God and yet that God is known and experienced in many different ways. Over the next term we will be considering different aspects of God, how we may need different characteristics of God at different times and how God reveals himself to us in different ways.

We are going to start with one element of the Trinity of God as father. I’m not sure what your relationship with your father is, it is going to be different for different people. However, the one thing that is in common for us all is that our father gives us life.

When we think of God as father we think of God the creator, the one who made the heavens and the earth. The one who thought the world into being, because he wanted to be in relationship. Once he had made the heavens and the earth he made humans, in his likeness, so that they could be in relationship with him. The whole of creation comes out of love, we are a reflection of that love. In the book of James it says

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

God, who made the heavens and the earth, chose for each and everyone of us to be.

I’ve always had a bit of an odd relationship with my dad. He’s not really an emotional sort, and we tend to communicate through insults and sarcasm. But I KNOW that he loves me and that he has always got my back. There are two events that stick in my mind. Firstly, there was a time when someone had come round to speak to me about a role I had been doing, and I’d said I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was a horrible meeting and I ended up getting very upset. I found out the next day my dad had gone round to that persons house and said something along the lines of ‘don’t you EVER make my daughter cry again or you will regret it’! I was completely overwhelmed that my dad had responded like that in defence of me. The second event was when I was at university and I got a phone call from my dad. He said that he had phoned my secondary school and had offered a prize to be given at the annual speech day, which would be entitled the ‘Helen Bagnall prize for ‘perseverance ‘. I’d not always had an easy time at school with various health and family issues, and yet I had got my qualifications and been able to attend university. This was my dads way of telling me he was proud of me. Again, I was overwhelmed by this act of love from my dad.

When Jesus was asked how to pray he said that we should start by saying ‘our father in heaven’. We know that he often referred to God as Abba Father – the equivalent of daddy. It is often daunting to think of God as the creator the heavens and the earth – how are we, mere humans who make mistakes constantly, meant to even contemplate approaching Him. As though he is our dad, who loves us, cares for us, will sometimes need to point out our mistakes but will always be there with open arms when we need him – as we are shown in the parable of the prodigal son. The father who is proud of us. When Jesus was baptised we are told there was a voice from heaven saying this is my son with whom I am pleased.

As we look through the Bible there are countless examples of God showing himself as a loving father – if you get the opportunity I urge you to look at the fathers love letter – which can be found if you search for it. So how do we respond? Max Lucado says

God has proven himself a loving father, now we must prove ourselves loving Children

As I said my dad didn’t always tell me that he loved me, and we would mainly communicate through insults and sarcasm, and yet there were so many actions that made m now that love was there. My role then, was to try to be a good daughter, to show him that I loved him. Whether that was through entertaining discussions about cricket or speedway, or watching a programme he wanted, or actually just making sure my mum was ok. These actions, were a reflection of that love for him.

Do we know that God loves us as his children? If not, then ask questions, find out more about it.

If we do know that God loves us as his children, how do we reflect that love and show Him our love for Him and be loving children?

Challenge: either think about ways in which you recognise God as father in your life, or find out ways that God has demonstrated this in the Bible.

Prayer: Father God we thank you that you chose to create this world, and that you chose to create us. We thank you that you are not a distant God but that you want to be our dad, and you want us to be your children. He us to recognise that love, and to demonstrate that love back to you. Amen.