Category Archives: This Week’s Learning

Warrior Princess…. Abigail

abigail - textWell Abigail wasn’t a warrior princess, but she was certainly a hero saving many lives with her bold, insightful action.  In 1 Sam. 25 we see she could read a situation, act with authority, and take responsibility.
She knew when a situation called for immediate action, but she measured her response. In fact, unlike hot-headed David and arrogant Nabal, she was in command of herself the whole time. That’s partly what made her an able leader.  It’s also what enabled her to offer herself fully to serve the best outcome.  If we feel forced into a corner or submit out of panic, then we are not really serving effectively.  The effective servant chooses to serve.
From this position she confidently guided David through the mess he was about to make and out to safety.
All of us find ourselves in positions of leadership from time to time – whether with our children, our work, with friends or strangers.  Look up 1 Samuel 25 and read the story.  What can you learn from Abigail?

Rivalry or Partnership?

RivalryThinking about King Saul and David. Such a shame they couldn’t join forces! Rivalry or partnership? It’s a choice we need to make too sometimes-do we see our colleagues, family, co-workers as rivals or partners?

The trick is to embrace these three: your own calling, those who have been given to work with you and the Holy Spirit who makes his home in hearts of love.

Roly Howarth

The Least of These

17th May
David seriesThe story of how God chooses David as king over Israel is filled with important insights.  Look at Eliab, David’s eldest brother, with all his attributes: tall, handsome and strong; yet Samuel was led to choose David, the youngest and least regarded among his siblings.
We tend to give precedence to outward appearances, rank, affluence, anything vain or indeed whatever is easy on the eyes.  We turn our nose up at people we deem inferior to us. God, however, looks beyond that. He looks for a good heart, character and attributes that engender the fear of Him, respect, humility, care, peace, love and unity among his people.
Is there a situation that you are considering at the moment?  A judgement you have to make or a decision you have to take?  What factors are influencing you?  Are you also listening, as Samuel was, to the Spirit of God?

Searching for David

10th May
crucifixion-4What kind of Messiah do we really need?  It’s certainly not a re-run of David, Solomon, or any from the past.  Jesus, who they called Son of David”, redefined what that Messiah would look like.

He came from God – he was God’s provision, not man’s idea.  He took on human flesh – raising us up – rather than bringing our hopes down with the inevitability of human corruption.  He was totally secure in who he was, where he came from, why he was here – rather than anxiously clinging onto to a failing power.  He was the perfect servant of humanity and his mission was unsullied by human desire for supremacy.  He came to give of himself rather than take for himself.  He included the marginalised rather than seeking popularity.  He came for you; he came for me.  His Kingdom began before time and would stretch beyond time.
This is the King God has given us – not in response to our braying demands but from the fullness of his undying love.  Here is the Prince of Peace;  here is the Saviour of the World.  He is here now, risen from death, alive!  And today he offers himself:  will you accept me as your King?  Will you trust me?  Will you receive me?  Do it today while there is still time:  Open your heart and say, “Yes Lord, I receive you.  You are the King of my heart and my life.”  Amen.

The Old Testament Story

3rd May
sand-12So is that it?  Just one long sorry tale?  Well not quite.  Because there’s another Old Testament story – which surfaces through the history books and bubbles up through the crowning of kings and taking of land but isn’t really the subject of them.
It’s the story of faith kindled and sustained in the lives of individual people.  It’s the story of moments and responses.  It’s the cry of Hagar the outsider.  It’s the bravery of life-saving midwives named Shiprah and Puah.  It’s the steadiness of an unimportant woman called Ruth.
It’s the perseverance of Samuel in searching for the right person to anoint as king. It’s the wisdom of a humble leader called Abigail.  It’s the courage of Nathan to confront David.  It’s the repentance of David and the prayer of Solomon, even though these were just moments in time, long forgotten, it seems, just a few years later.  It’s the spirit of Elijah, the passion of Amos, the tenderness of Hosea, the tears of Jeremiah, the insight of Isaiah, the vision of Nehemiah.

This is the thin line running through the Hebrew Bible – the story of faith.  And this is the line of which we are inheritors – we who continue to live by faith today.  Numerous as grains of sand on the seashore.

Love and the Hard Man

26th April.
lone sheep-2As we listened to the reading from John 10, I misheard what was being said. I thought it was “the hard man” – not “the hired man” who sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep.  Why would a “hard man” run away? Surely he would be tough enough to send the wolf packing!  Yet he is hard in a different sense.
Jesus is often seen as the “soft man” – meek and mild. Yet he was the one who went all the way for the sheep – laying down his life to die for us; rising from the dead and returning to find us – yet again.
This is how Fred Bruner translates the passage in his commentary on John’s gospel: “The hired hand who is not the shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep in the lurch, and runs for his life.” But love does not leave others in the lurch.  We love because God first loved us; he showed us what love is all about.   

Love lavished

Sunday 19th April
God’s love is a great love, it is unconditional, it is incomparable, it is an unending love. He loves you passionately, he loves you more than you can imagine, he loves you more than you can understand and he loves you  more than anyone can love you in this entire world and more than you can love yourself;  it is a love not based on your performance, your talent, your success but on who God is – and God IS love…

According to 1 John 3:1-3 God has lavished his love on us by becoming our Father. There were so many great old testament saints who walked so closely with God but none of them get to call God ‘our Father’ and it’s a New Testament blessing that we begin to call God ‘our Father’ or even Daddy… God can be the best perfect Father/Dad that you have ever longed for.  Would you run to his wide open arms crying out Daddy?


Hallmark of Christ

Sunday 12th April.
gold-ring-hallmark-21236697If you examine a piece of fine silver or gold you will find on it somewhere some marks placed there by the jeweler or manufacturer. Hallmarks are engraved into every item for two reasons, the first to show that the item is actually what it appears to be – that it is in fact an item made of pure silver or Gold.  The second thing a Hallmark does is tell you where the product comes from.  A Hallmark is a guarantee of quality and purity.
The gospel reading was about the Apostle Thomas DOUBTING THOMAS as he has come to be known. Thomas had not been with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them after the resurrection, and when they told him about it his first reaction was a normal one – he did not believe it. Thomas was looking for a hallmark – and ultimately he found it in the loving personal relationship Jesus offered him, rather than in the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side, which were also there.
Today, people still look for hallmarks before they will believe.  But rather than the marks of Christ’s love being shown in his physical body, they are shown in us, in the people of his church, which is everywhere called the Body of Christ. That we the church bear the Hallmark of Christ Jesus.
Quite simply that Hallmark is a life that resembles his, a life of light, and of truth, and of faith.  But the most notable part of the hallmark of Christ that we bear when we are truly in him and he in us – is our love for each other.  When we have Christ in us, his Hallmark means we are made by him and his purity lives in us.
Don’t let anything hold you back from the Hallmark of Christ.

The Peace of Christ

Sunday April 5th
Christ is risen!  It is a healing wonder to contemplate that all the complex layers of your life, which neither you nor anyone else can understand, are familiar territory to the risen Jesus who said to his terrified disciples ‘Peace be with you.’

Not everybody has this peace.  It is a gift from God.  We receive it. Or we walk away from it. Or better to say: we receive him. Or walk away from him.

He is our peace. If you have the risen, living Christ as your Savior, and Lord, and Treasure, and Friend, you have the peace that he gives — the peace that he is.