All phone companies do deals where you pay a certain amount of money each month, this allows you to access data, free calls and free texts. They call it ‘free’ because you’re already paying a certain amount a month for them. You are then charged if you go over your limit. My parents have my phone ‘capped’ so I can never go over my limit! There are so many things in this world that are advertised as free but they almost always have a catch.
There is one thing we can be sure of that is free and that is our connection with God. When we believe in Jesus, we get free access all the time, anywhere. We are not required to pay anything to get free calls and access to God, as Jesus paid it for us on the cross.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Are there times when we get so carried away by what is going on around us that we don’t even acknowledge Jesus with us in it?
Do we ever get so distracted by connecting with people around us when we need to make time for Jesus instead?
When we looked at Luke 24, Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus with his disciples and they didn’t even recognise that it was him. They were so engrossed in their own chats. We can get so engrossed in our phones and social media. We have free access to Jesus, but we still miss it. We take it for granted. We don’t use those free calls to Jesus because we are so distracted by looking down that we don’t look up.
What is your biggest distraction?
As broad as it is, life is my biggest distraction. I try and fit God around my life instead of fitting my life around God.
Imagine you got your best friend the best gift of all time. They had been talking about it for weeks, so you bought it for them! But they didn’t bother using it, you would see them as being ungrateful, you’d be upset that they just tossed it to the side. Sometimes our attitudes towards gifts can be ungrateful or we can take things for granted.
Ephesians 2:17-19 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
What do these verses say God has done for us?
What do we do now because of God has done?
What do those verses mean to you?
God has given us a gift in Jesus and because of this gift, we receive several things; peace, unlimited, free access to God the Father and an identity as people in Gods family.
The gift of Jesus means access to the Father directly which I think is utterly incredible.
How do we respond to this gift though?
What are we going to do with the free gift that God has given us?
How can we tell others about the gift of Jesus.?
Set yourself a challenge for tomorrow or the next week to be intentional with your time and set aside space to spend with Jesus. Decide now when it will be and try and stick to it
Lord, thank you that we get to connect with you for free, we thank you for the fact that you’re always there. I pray that we recognise you more.
Unlimited Data 2: Signal Strength
When you go on a flight you have to put your phone on airplane mode so your phone signal doesn’t disrupt the aeroplane’s communication systems. Phones, when they have a signal, have a strong power for communication but without signal they are useless for communication.
Where do you think your signal strength is at right now?
How strong is your signal and connection with God? Or are you on airplane mode?
When was the last time you spoke with God or heard from him? He always speaks but we have to be ready to listen.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
This passage outlines that there is a time for everything, it goes on to say there is a time to mourn and laugh, to love and hate and a time to tear down and build up. What season do you feel you are in? A time of hardship? A time of growth? A time of sewing? A time of joy and laughter? Whatever season you are in God has a purpose for that. You may feel like He is being silent or you may even feel like you are really close to God and have a great relationship with Him. You will go through all the seasons, as the passage explains, there is a time for them all. You can’t grow without being planted in the first place. Think of a tree that is planted and then grows, in the winter the leaves are stripped off the tree and the tree makes room for new sprouts to grow in the spring. You can’t have spring without winter. Think about your life… if you are going through a particularly hard time, remember God is using it to prune you and grow you so you can bloom in spring, just you wait until your summer season! Be patient in all the seasons, they are all beautiful in their own time.
For me at the moment, I am going through a hard season or seasons! So if you are then you aren’t on your own. Learning to be patient in these seasons is hard because you just want them to be over, but God is moulding you into the young adult he wants you to be to then bring that into the rest of your life. It is easy for me to sit and type this but you are planted where you are for a reason. You might not see it yet but when you enter the next season of your life you will see why God had you there.
How do you stay connected to God in those times?
How do you connect with God? Alone at home, at church with others, doing something eg: art, or singing/during times of sun worship?
We all connect with God in different ways. Everyone has a different personality and may find some ways of engaging easier than others. Often when we go to Christian festivals for example: Soul Survivor we can look around us during the times of response and worry that we are doing something wrong or what we are doing isn’t ‘working’ if we aren’t sensing God doing anything in us. God created each and every one of us individually and speaks to us in His own way. When you start to compare the way you connect with someone else, your connection with God may seem weaker as you are focussing more on how you connect than the One you want to connect with. God is the same, He ever changes regardless of how strong or weak we feel our connection is with Him. You don’t have to hype up how you connect with God. It can be as simple as talking either aloud or in your head to God as you walk to school or when you walk the dog, when you’re in the shower or even at the gym. There is no formula to follow. The thing that God loves the most is your desire to connect with Him. He will bless your honest and eager approach to spend time with Him.
Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We all carry things that can really weigh us down and they can prevent us from moving on with our lives and growing with Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross He took our burdens so we don’t have to carry them anymore. The more burdens we take on and try and carry the weaker our connection with God will be, we won’t be able to keep running fast after God if we are carrying bags and bags or heavy burdens. This can then affect our signal strength with God.
‘Jesus, I place this rock at the cross as a sign of letting go of what weighs me down and stresses me out. I give them to you, please help me move on from them so I can wholeheartedly run after you.’
In Psalm 42, David says ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?’ As David writes this Psalm, He is so eager to connect and talk with God. Some of you may feel like David, so eager to connect with God. I usually have worship on, I sing it for a bit then I have it on just in the background while I get my Bible out and just sit and listen. Sometimes God puts a verse on my heart or whispers in my ear. There might even be a verse in the worship song I am listening to that God highlights. Most of the time how I connect with God is through pictures that he gives me.
Whether it be a friendship or a romantic relationship, for them both to work and succeed and for you both to stay connected id to make sure you both put the effort in. You can’t expect your friend or boyfriend/ girlfriend to put all the effort in and you do nothing? Our relationship with God is exactly the same. We need to put effort into God, don’t expect him to do everything while you don’t do anything.
The strength of our signal and relationship with God depends on a few things- the time we give to God to talk with Him and also who we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. Who you hang around with can have a huge influence on your relationship with God. If you are surrounded by people who encourage you in your faith that will motivate you to continue your walk with Jesus but if you hang out with friends who tease you for being a Christian, talking with God or who go out drinking and sleeping around how do you think that will help you in your relationship with God? Yes, we are called to be witnesses to these people but we have to surround ourselves with good Christian influences before we can go into the darker places of the world. The more often we connect with God, the deeper our relationship with Him will become and the stronger our signal strength. Then we will be able to witness to friends and not be influenced by them.
Prayer: Father God, as we go from here, help us to put into practise some of the things we have done today. If there are things that are getting in the way of our connection with you, give us wisdom to change them. Help us to hear from you and build a strong connection to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Unlimited data – Battery Life
Last week we talked about how easy it was for us to get our questions answered. We have seen how easy and effective Google is at answering our questions and giving us the information we need straight away. Now we are going to go look at what the Bible says about God.
John 10:14 – He is our Shepherd
Philippians 4:7 – He is the one who gives us deep peace
Deuteronomy 31: 6-8 – He is the one who is ALWAYS there. He will never leave us.
Leviticus 20:8 – He is the one who makes us clean and helps us to become Holy.
Exodus 15:26 – He is the one who heals.
Philippians 4:9 – He is the one who gives us all we need.
Matthew 6:31-33 – He is the one who helps is not to worry.
Knowing who God is, is so important when it comes to connecting with him. And the more we connect with him, the more we get to know him as our Shepherd, healer, and the one who will never leave us. Connecting with God is crucial to our walk with him – if we only rely on what other people say about God, we may end up getting a distorted way of looking at him. If we truly believe that the God of the Universe, who made stars and space and the earth that spins on an axis that is so accurate – that were it move a few inches, we couldn’t survive, the God who put together our human bodies so intricately and who has even made each snowflake individually different – could give us manual to understand who he is and how we can know him closer than any other being… Wouldn’t we want to know that manual inside out and back to front – not just second hand from others?
Many people think that because God is who is his and his ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), we can’t know anything about him. This is actually not true. We can know things about who God is because he has we can’t know anything about him. This is actually not true. We can know things about who God is because he has revealed himself to us consistently throughout history, in Jesus and still does today by his Holy Spirit. One of the most important ways that we can learn more of who He is through the Bible. The Bible has loads of things to say about the nature and character of God.
2 Samuel 11- David and Goliath.
David’s actions are so contrasting. On the one hand, as he walks closely to God, he sets an inspiring example of how we can overcome fear and enormous situations by faith and trust in God. On the other hand, he demonstrates how when we take our eyes off God and do what we want, there can be disastrous consequences. Hopefully, we won’t do anything quite as drastic as David did with Bathsheba! It is good to be aware though that from our relationship with God flow actions that can either be positive and negative, depending on how connected we are to God. Often we can see how close or far away we are to God in the way we live our lives and make decisions.
What effect does spending time with God have on us?
Have you ever noticed a change in your mood after connecting with God? Maybe after worshiping or praying?
We can carry a lot of emotions around with us, anger, hurt, sadness, jealousy and often we will find that when we spend time with God, it lifts our eyes off those things. It helps us to focus on who he is instead of the struggles.
Have you ever noticed that when you didn’t spend time with God you felt more moody? More sensitive to things around you and maybe less able to forgive?
Spending time with God will help us to know him more closely. A guy called Earl Nightingale said, “We become what we think about”.
The more we spend time with God and think about him the more we will become like him. So if we know that he is loving, he is kind, he is faithful then these attributes will impact the way we live and the way we treat each other.
Romans 12:2 says, ‘do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ When we spend time with God, he helps to renew our minds so that we become more like him instead of the world around us.
We have looked at the connection we can have with God and doing a bit of a check-up to see how we are charged spiritually.
I encourage you to think about one thing that you will put in place to charge your battery and be closer to God.
Ephesians 3:16-19 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Prayer : Lord I thank you for each one of these young people Lord, I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power. I pray that you make him a focus in your life, that you recognise when you need to recharge.
What is your favourite thing about starting a new school year?
Mine has always been the new stationary. The new stationary your mum is reluctant to buy because the stuff you had last year is still in a perfectly good condition. I loved going into paperchase and choosing a new pencil case. I also loved getting a new bag!
Celebrate everything that comes with a new start!
How do you feel about trying something new?
There is always something really exciting about doing something new for the first time; a new experience. We can feel all kinds of emotions as we look forward to it, and experience it, whatever our something new may be. These special moments should be enjoyed and valued.
There is a well-known joke, that goes: There’s a scientist and God. And the scientist challenges God to a contest of who can make the better human being. God tells him that he’s on, at which time the scientist, in great delight, bends over to pick up some dust to make his human being. Then God says, ‘No, no … you go and find your own dust.’ We will never fully understand the “how” of creation, but the Bible tells us that in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. (Read Genesis 1:1). He was there, right at the very beginning, pressing play on the story of humanity. (give everyone a lump of playdough, and invite them to create a shape; anything they like). But God’s newness and creativity doesn’t stop there. He continues to create and make things new. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and invite the young people to squash their playdough shape, before creating something new, and repeating this exercise a few times.) The fantastic news for us is that life isn’t like a race where we start on the starting blocks once and then when we’re off that’s it; course set. We all know that life can go wrong at times. We make wrong choices, waste opportunities, and sometimes it feels like we’re going down the wrong path. When we return to Jesus, He gives us the chance to celebrate a new beginning; now that is something to celebrate!
Each of us has an opportunity offered to us by Jesus. Whether we choose to give up and go home or time life by the horns and start all over again, is completely our own choice.
God has given me an amazing opportunity to work for Jubilee Church Wirral, the first few days I wanted to give up and go home. I wasn’t getting anything right, meetings I had planned were suddenly being cancelled, it was not easy. There are days now where is still isn’t easy, there are days in the future where it is going to be hard.
I want to encourage you, God doesn’t let us do things on our own. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” He also won’t give you something that you can’t handle on your own. But, he means can’t handle with God. You find your strength in God.
I know that this next year is not going to be easy but because I know it is something that God has called me to do I put everything I have in him.
From time to time we plans that WE make can go wrong. We may be heading in the wrong direction, blowing a relationship, striving for goals that aren’t good for us, or failing in an opportunity we are given. The challenge is; are we going to give up or do we press the reset button and start all over again.
Your future does not depend on your past. You have a blank page before you where you can write down or change the story. The same creator God who made the universe, cares about your life and can create in you a brand new start! That really is something to be excited about.
Lord, I praise you and thank you that you give us a new beginning on a daily if not hourly basis. I pray that as these young people go back into school that you are with them, that you make yourself known to them. I pray that these young people learn to put you in their focus, so when they feel things are going a bit pear shaped that you are there God.
An intern at Jubilee Wirral