There are some who feel itchy in the classroom if they have to spend too long reading or too long listening. I was not one of those pupils; I love reading and I loved lectures. That doesn’t mean I love learning more than those who want to be out and busy though!

 

“When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse…” Joshua 6:5 [NIV]

 

God gave Joshua a command, it was clear and simple, even if it didn’t seem logical. Joshua did not delay while he read the Scriptures for proof or to ask advice of everyone around him. God was clear and he acted immediately. And the walls did come down and through his decisive action he learnt, along with those who were present and everyone who have heard, the great power of God.



- How do you see God in your day to day life?

- How do you act in a way that shows God?

 

We need to be active and doing Christians. It should be clear from our actions that we live our lives for someone else, and that someone else is God. We often hear that we should act to show others that we follow God, and that is important. But more importantly, we should act for God because it leads us towards what we are meant to do and along the way we learn and grow in ourselves and in our faith.

 

- Think of an area of your life that you need God to speak into and develop into something that looks more like God.

- Jot down/set a reminder one or two things you can ‘do’ to start.

 

 

Anna Naish
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald

I have just completed my initial training to become a teacher. After only 6 weeks of training, I have started my teaching career (although there will be much more training along the way). During this time I have thought a lot about the way we learn, not just the teenagers I am about to teach, but everyone, including myself.

To grow as a Christian we need to learn and develop:

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”Colossians 1:9-10 [NIV]

There are many parts to this passage that are vital to that development. Firstly, continually asking for knowledge, to thirst for God to reveal himself and to help us understand. Secondly, that we live a life that will reflect God’s glory to the best of our ability. Thirdly, that our lives are increasingly in line with God’s way as we understand more about what God wants for us.

What is the last thing you learnt about God that affected the way you live?

How do you learn best?

There may be plateaus and dips through our journey, but often the time we are closest to God is during our times of learning. We can learn without growing, but then it is not impacting on our relationship with God. We can grow without learning but then there is little to secure that growth.


Are you in a period of growth or of plateau? How do you know?

What area of your life with God do you feel God wants you to develop?


Anna Naish
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7 [NIV]


One Wednesday morning some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Christians who were suffering for their faith. Two were young lads in their teens. At their baptism they had been disowned, some family members seeking their deaths. They had lost everything and were mostly living in hiding in a strange city. But they glowed. They shone with the joy and love of Jesus. They were seeing others come to faith. Like Peter’s readers they were finding cause to “greatly rejoice”, even in especially trying times.


Peter understands that the experience of suffering does something to our faith. Suffering in the life of a Christian is never pointless, never purposeless, though we may never understand it completely. Suffering tests and proves faith (v.7). If you’re buying a car you take it for a test drive. If you’re a teacher who wants to know what your pupils are capable of you test them. The testing circumstances of Peter’s readers have been grievous, but they have tested and proved their faith. They are shown to be “the real deal”. Jesus teaches something similar in the parable of the sower when he says that the seed on rocky soil has no root, when the sun blazes – or trouble and persecution come – the plant withers because it has no root (Mark 4:5-6, 16-17). Surviving in suffering means that you have roots.


Once more Peter gives his readers an eternal perspective. Their faith that has been tested and proved genuine will result in “praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Heaven will resound with the praise of Jesus. But he will also look to praise those who have been faithful to him. And knowing that truth was maybe why those young lads who had suffered so much were glowing that day. I think they knew the approval of Jesus.


Read the passage again. Slowly. What else is God showing you through these words?


Pray for those suffering for their faith today. Pray for those you know who are suffering in other circumstances. Ask that their faith would be shown to be genuine. And ask that yours would be too.


Olly Mears
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald

In the film City of AngelsMeg Ryan plays a skilled heart surgeon who begins to doubt her ability to save lives. She is observed by an angel, Seth, played by Nicholas Cage. She realises that despite doing her best the deaths which have occurred on her operating table are not within her control. From time to time Seth makes himself visible to her and in spite of the rules angels must adhere to, he finds himself falling in love with her. He learns that he has a choice and he ultimately decides to "fall" and in doing so enters into an earthly relationship with her. He made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

It is a sad love story and when I first wrote this devotional in 2009 I was single and Valentines Day was looming. I found myself sobbing my heart out feeling extremely lonely, I was very aware of how much I missed that close companionship of another human being and after half a box of tissues I had placed myself firmly on my pity pot! That’s when He captivated my heart.

 

Despite the overwhelming feelings of loneliness this film had brought to the surface, I knew I was not alone, in my sadness I felt the strong arms of my father wrapped around me like the plumpest duvet, they enveloped me and I remembered a recent intimate moonlight walk I had taken with him and the peace I had felt, I was not alone!

 

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me”.Psalm 139:1-10

 

My favourite moments in the film are when at Dusk and Dawn, the angels stand on the beach and ‘listen’ to the sun setting and rising, they are so intimate with God they can hear his creation. In the book “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell one line stuck with me, “Knowing the Book of the Lord is not our primary goal, but rather knowing the Lord of the Book”.

 

By the end of the film God had lavished his love upon me; my weeping had turned to joy as I felt comforted and enveloped by his love, as the film finished I thanked him for captivating my heart and at that very moment two words appeared on the screen, just before the credits, they read………“FOR DAWN”. Today, take time to be captivated by his love.

 

Thank you Lord, for loving me, and all Gods people said……….. Amen

 

Dawn Milward
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald

I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14

 

My dad’s hearing was very poor when he became elderly. Partly it was a hereditary issue, partly the result of not wearing ear protectors on the farm. He certainly hadn’t helped his condition with a reluctance to get specialist help. As a result my conversations with him were sometimes difficult and frustrating. The best I could do was listen and try to steer the conversation. There were so many things I’d have liked to talk over with him but he was virtually stone deaf…

 

We can have confidence that our Father in heaven always hears us. In Psalm 62:8 David encourages us to “pour out our hearts to Him”.

 

Jesus said some very odd things about hearing in Mark 4 after telling the story of the sower:

he who has ears to hear let him hear (v9)… hearing they hear not (v12)…

 

We’ve all heard the expression: it goes in one ear and out the other. What Jesus is saying in Mark is that it’s possible to hear but not to listen. We know the expression: “his words fell on deaf ears”. It’s a strange thing to say, but we need to learn how to listen. Some firms, in their staff training, offer a course in “active listening”.

Some points:

<!    Listening requires concentration, focus and effort and time.

        Listening may prompt questions like: “what do you mean…?”

        Listening will be attentive to body language.

        Listening will shut out distractions.

        Listening gives respect to the speaker.

 

We all want to be listened to. Floyd McClung (YWAM) told the story of his journey home one Christmas. He’d had a punishing schedule of teaching, was mentally exhausted and was looking forward to a quiet flight. He took his seat and began to unwind with a book. Very soon a dishevelled man who stank of alcohol took the next seat and began talking at Floyd who resented the intrusion. To cut a long story short, Floyd became an active listener and discovered that this guy’s wife and kids had been killed in a car crash a few Christmases before. The only way he could handle the pain was to get out of town and drink. They wept and prayed together.

 

May God give us ears that actively listen.

 

Finlay Orr – (originally published in 2007)
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald

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