Jesus Was the Bigger Person

grow-bigger-001-001To be salt and light is to be like Jesus. Look at his dealings with people and you will see what I mean. Jesus was always the bigger person.

In Luke 19 Jesus is passing through Jericho. Crowds come to see him. So much so that every vantage point needed to be taken. For a small guy like Zacchaeus this meant to catch a glimpse of this great teacher, climbing a tree would be the order of the day. Now climbing a tree can be a tough enough job at the best of times but wearing a tunic, surely this just complicates things.

In position and watching Jesus interact with the crowd, the last thing Zacchaeus expects is for Jesus to notice him, speak to him and most definitely not to invite himself round to his house.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector, the despised and rejected of the day. He would be known for taking what was due for the Romans and always a portion for himself. He lived well, but probably had few or no friends.

What a day then when the Rabbi invites himself to visit. Most people wouldn’t have even given him the time of day. Some would just want to punch or spit on him. But not Jesus.

Imagine the situation in John 8 when a woman is thrown in front of Jesus having been caught in the act of adultery. ‘She is guilty’ is the cry from her accusers. Watch Jesus. He is slow to comment, maybe collecting his thoughts before he speaks. He doesn’t condemn, he doesn’t judge, instead he his compassionate, insightful, full of grace and truth.

Being salt and light offered both recipients turn-around moments. Sin is acknowledged and then covered with grace. A new life opportunity with one instruction encouraging them to ‘make things right’ and ‘sin no more’. Salt & light.

To forgive when others would condemn takes a bigger person.

To include when others would exclude takes a bigger person.

To notice when others don’t takes a bigger person.

To be inconvenienced when others prefer ease and comfort, takes a bigger person.

This is a challenge. In a world where we are taught to be concerned about ourselves, to look out for ‘number one’ anything like these things mentioned above can only come from being the bigger person. And a lot of that bigness can only truly come when we invite Jesus in, to make our lives bigger and big enough to act in such a different way.

Let’s take time this Christmas and be ready and willing to grow and become the bigger person Jesus needs us to be.

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The Kingdom View: Connection

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We have been talking about the Kingdom for a few weeks now in church. From the big foundational aspects through to how being a citizen of the Kingdom influences our every day.

In my messages I have been giving the congregation a gentle push, a call to action, to not just be ‘ready, willing and available’ but to actually DO SOMETHING. It doesn’t need to be grand, just something. And I’m not going to ask anyone to do anything that I will not get involved with or do myself.

So last night we had a quiz in one of the local Community Halls and it was great. Simple. Uncomplicated. Meeting people we didn’t know. A good laugh too. Turns our being Kingdom citizens isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be.

Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, baking cakes, having conversations and just being normal people who happen to have Jesus in their lives.

What’s your story of connection? What shall we do next?

God Deals Are the Best Deals

Let’s be honest, there are always good deals to be done. We hunt down the best ones, putting our energies in hope of getting the most in return for the least. The least effort, the least time and definitely the least money.

Yet when it comes to God, there is a different kind of transaction currency. Salvation, it seems, costs me nothing and everything at the same time. Nothing because it wasn’t through anything that I did or could do, yet everything as I lay aside my own life, my arrogance and pride maybe, to take hold of it. The transfer price was paid, all I had to do was accept it had been paid on my behalf.

The deal was done.

I enter into the life God has for me as long as I am willing to surrender. Then through discipleship I understand what it means for me live within this new kingdom, my new home. It takes continued surrender. 

It seems like a tough deal on my part but it’s not really. It’s the very best of deals. God is reminding that if I live for Him, the rewards outweigh the cost, the benefits outstrip the challenge I may feel.

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. [Psalm 50:14-15]

This is a good deal to me. Thanksgiving and a life lived for God, for deliverance and safety in return. The taking of my time to focus on Him, that my cry for help will be heard. In this manner we glorify God and give opportunity for Him to be glorified in our lives as he shows us ‘the salvation of God’ [v23].

Why not take some time this week to focus your attention on Your God. Give Him some praise, thank Him for saving You, keep your word, that when You call upon Him deliverance will be yours, to the glory of His incredible name.

This Kingdom Life [2]

Every day is a kingdom day full of kingdom opportunities. The big question then is whether I am ready and willing to take them.

By entering the kingdom through surrender, I become a part of the kingdom story God has been writing since the moment of creation. I want to contribute something of value. This may not be the best way of putting it, what I mean is, I want my kingdom life to be just that, a life lived for the kingdom and to be a story worthy of being a part of the bigger kingdom story God is always writing.

I’ve just read that previous paragraph and I may be guilty of having made the kingdom about me, which it is not.

To enter the story is a privilege. To live within a kingdom that I was made for but didn’t know it. I was rescued into it. It’s almost exclusive but there is an open invite to join, you just have to come in through Jesus.

This kingdom life is where my loyalties now lay. As my life writes a story, the evidence will be there for all to see as to whether I kept those loyalties or not. God first, easy to say, harder to do. Yet this is where kingdom starts and ends for me. Jesus really is the answer to the question when it comes to this kingdom life.

This kingdom life is a journey. We don’t get it all worked out on day one. There is a battle between the old and the new. Even though we know the new is better we may still hold on to old habits, behaviours, thinking, attitudes and the like. But the decision has been made. It is the willingness to be a disciple from that moment which enables us to fully occupy the kingdom and experience all the benefits. Until the day when the future kingdom comes and everything is made perfect.

In the meantime I pray, ‘Lord help me to keep seeking You first, so my life may be a good story of how living in Your kingdom makes a difference. Amen’

He Leads Me

“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” [‭‭Psalms‬ ‭43:3-4‬ ESV] 

Knowing God has to be more than just knowing about Him. There has to be a willingness to follow, a desire to learn and to want to grow as a disciple. 

When we place our lives in Gods hands there is some faith involved, after all, we can’t see God. An exchange takes place:

  • We draw near to God and He draws near to us. 
  • We choose to walk with Him, He never leaves us and is always with us. 
  • We give up leading ourselves and instead give permission to God through His Holy Spirit to lead us. 

I make it sound easy but I know it is not. Stuff distracts us and gets in the way. Yet we must remember, in letting Him lead us we are in the best and safest hands. 

His light guides our path. 

His truth speaks to our hearts with direction. 

His presence and our opportunity to praise Him awaits. 

May today be one of those ‘He leads me’ days. May we be aware of His presence and give thanks for knowing Him and for all He has led us through. Amen

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Psalms‬ ‭36:7-9‬ ESV

Read this and just loved the picture of feasts and fountains.

When walking with God we will become aware that everything we need for life is available in Him. Yet we often live life as if we have forgotten this simple truth.

His steadfast love provides a safe place for us, a place of protection. But more than that, we can benefit from all that is ours. 

We can feast on all that God provides.

We can drink from the river of life. 

We can stand under the fountain that brings us life.

It’s so simple – eat, drink and be merry. 

These verses reminded me today that all I need really is found in God, He is more than enough.

The challenge for me is remembering this and choosing at the start of each day to position myself well, within the safety of His precious love, as close to Him as possible. 

Be Willing to Learn

To lead well in life is to be willing to learn. It is to acknowledge that we don’t know everything, that we are not always right and that every day there are opportunities for learning. 

After all, we spend most of our life faced with multiple challenges and situations, things that demand our attention and ability to make decisions. To do this and lead ourselves well through them involves a continuous willingness to learn. 

Learn from our mistakes. Don’t just give up. Instead ask yourself what can I learn from this experience?

Learn from other people. Older and younger. Glean wisdom from all sorts of people. 

Learn deliberately through reading books or listening to podcasts. On all sorts of things but especially in those areas we need some extra wisdom. 

Learn that failure doesn’t have to be fatal. It is a natural part of the journey. We have to learn how to fail forward. 

Learn that just because it’s tough doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just because it’s easier doesn’t make it right either. Not everything in life will go the way we want it to or expect it to. 

Learn to trust God in everything. Often the toughest one of them all but for those of us with faith in God, probably the most important. 

Learn in all aspects of life but especially in regard to handling money, dealing with people, your own emotional intelligence and how to make difficult decisions. 

How well we learn will have an impact on how we can lead well in life. If we struggle to lead ourselves well, then our ability to lead others is going to be limited. 

What learning would you add to this list?

Wedding Vows

At a wedding today. Always great occasions when two people share marriage vows and commit their lives to one another. 

As I listened to the vows they reminded me of Jesus’ commitment to me and in return my commitment to Him. It sounds weird put like that but I have given my life to Jesus and have entered a covenant relationship with Him, so the vows could be deemed applicable. 

With my body I honour you. I choose to not do certain things that could cause me harm, make me unfit or disqualify me from the best that this relationship with Jesus has for me. 

All that I am I give to you. Enough said. All that is me is Gods. With His unmerited favour over my life why would I not be happy to do this?

All that I have I share with you. What I have I willingly give to God. I don’t hold on too tightly to what I thinking important but am always ready to share it on His behalf. 

Within the love of God. I live with God at the centre of it all. I let His love change me from within so that I make a difference to those I meet every day. 

This is where my current thinking is stuck at the moment. To honour my God, to be occupied by Jesus and living the full life He has for me. How about you?