Posted on: 15th October 2018
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The gospel writer records a wonderful account of an encounter with Jesus and the impact that can have.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. To the Jews, there were sinners and below sinners there were tax collectors. Tax collectors raised funds for the enemy, Rome. They also took a tidy sum themselves as their cut. Zacchaeus was rich and that must have upset everyone around.
But Jesus defies the expectation of the crowd. They would have expected Jesus to chastise the corruption and greed that he lived by. But Jesus invited himself to his house for tea. Oh to be a fly on the wall at that tea party, for whatever was said brought transformation. Jesus changed the whole situation by meeting Zacchaeus where he was. This brought life and health, not only to him but to everyone he had ever cheated.
What chances will you have this week to respond in a way to someone else that would defy the expectation? This might be an opportunity for you to speak life. I pray that you will have courage and patience to make a Jesus style response to someone who has wronged you. Could this be a new way to show respect, in difficult situations?
Posted on: 24th September 2018
“And [Joseph’s] master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favour in his eyes and served him.”
Do you have a favourite Bible story? Is there a character that you admire the most? Are there mistakes a character has made that you feel like screaming at them or taking them one side to have a quiet talk about how they could have gone about it differently?
Joseph’s life can be viewed from a number of perspectives. We have the end of the story so are able to reassure ourselves that everything he went through would eventually be worth it. If you do not know the story, please spend some time reading the following few chapters in Genesis.
But imagine now taking a young lad, with a bright coat, and describing the trial he would face. Imagine telling him he will start in a pit, then a slave line, then in prison for a good part of 20 years. Considering these events, do they support the verse that was used to describe Joseph? Is this the favour he would have hoped for?
Contrast another Bible character. In Luke 2:52 we hear of a young boy, aged twelve, developing in four different areas. The writer of the gospel mentions growth in wisdom, stature, favour with God and favour with others. Little is known of this character’s life until the age of thirty. At this point we begin to see the effects of this favour. Again, our perspective allows us to see that ‘all’s well that ends well’, but this favour with others led Jesus to the cross.
In the lives of both these characters, favour does not go hand-in-hand with ease and comfort.
As we consider respect, whether it is earned or deserved, let us consider how we can show favour to others. The promise in God’s word is that his favour is with you today. What does that mean to you? What would it look like if you were favoured by God? I hope you take time to consider this, even if you find yourself at the moment in situations outside of your control. Consider the promise in 1 John 3:1:
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”
Posted on: 10th September 2018
“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’””
At the start of a new school year it is a good time to consider the early account of things going wrong for Adam and Eve. It remind me of a story I once heard at Sunday school that went like this…
A gardener was weeding his garden on a hot summer’s day. A church leader walked passed to hear the gardener ranting to himself, “If I were them, I wouldn’t have done it. If I were them I wouldn’t have done it!” The church leader couldn’t help himself, so he enquired as to what the man was referring to. The gardener was citing the account of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, which resulted in the ground being cursed and producing thorn and thistle (Genesis 3 v 17-19).
The church leader listened with interest and at the end invited the gardener to tea. The gardener, never wishing to turn down an invite for food, agreed.
When the gardener arrived, the food was laid out on the table. The spread was lavish and in the centre of the table there was a silver platter, covered with a silver dome. The church leader said that he had to just nip out to prepare something else, but the gardener could begin to eat whatever he chose, apart from the special surprise that lay under on the silver platter.
Question – What would you do in this moment? Would you respect the wish of the host and choose only from the vast array of delicacies that you could see? If you would like to know what happened in the story, please come and ask!
Maybe part of showing respect is sacrificing your desires and submitting to authority. Maybe it is trusting that someone else has a better understanding of a situation than you. Maybe respect comes easier from a humble attitude, like the Apostle Paul mentions in Philippians 2 v 3:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”