3 Reasons to live for Jesus

I spoke in church about 3 of the reasons that I follow Jesus. Here’s a description of each of them in case you missed it!

Jesus’ perfection
Jesus is the only perfect person in history. No-one else even comes close to achieving the same level of excellence. And what I find truly amazing is that many of His perfect attributes seem almost contradictory. Jesus’ holiness, for instance, means that he is literally ‘set apart’ from everything. Paul goes even further, describing God as one who ‘…lives in unapproachable light, whom no-one has seen or can see.’ At the same time, a study of the gospel accounts shows that Jesus welcomed people throughout his ministry – in fact, he built relationships with people wherever he went. Ultimately, Jesus broke down the wall separating the entire human race from the Father and ‘brought near’ those who were far away by his death on the cross. Another pair of complementary attributes are Jesus’ confidence and his humility. Jesus was always confident (in who he was, where he had come from, where he was going, and in what his purpose was). At the same time, out of a place of total assurance he displayed a humility and submission that we could never attain on our own.

Jesus’ commitment to salvation and restoration
It’s easy to look out at the world and give up on it (maybe because we didn’t make it ourselves!). But God isn’t like that. The Bible says that though Jesus everything was created, and when we look at the complexity of His creation we can see that He didn’t just create, he crafted. Jesus has always cared about the world, and he demonstrated this when he came to earth. He came to ‘seek and save that which is lost.’ This is almost a ‘job description’ for Jesus’ existence, and he continues to save and restore people now. In my own life I am so grateful to Jesus for
saving many of my friends and family, as well
as for impacting my life. When I was 7 years old, my best friend fell headfirst onto some rocks while we were visiting the beach. He was swiftly rushed to hospital, then transferred overnight to a specialist facility. The prognosis was bleak; there was a huge dent in his skull and the doctors couldn’t see any hope of recovery. At best, he would live with severe brain damage for the rest of his life. Overnight, after some intense prayer from many friends, he was healed! The next morning the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him – even the dent in his skull was gone. Praise God! As I’ve given my life over to following Jesus, I’ve often prayed that he would share his incredible compassion and commitment with me.

Where else?
I’ve known time in my life where I’ve wandered off, and tried to live life my own way, on my own terms. But ultimately, I’ve always come back to God and asked for his forgiveness and renewal. Why? Because Jesus is everything to me! I believe that on the day that Jesus saved me He started to live inside me through the Holy Spirit, changing me from the inside and giving me new desires. It’s a struggle of wills at times, and I hold on to things that I should really let go of, but step by step, Jesus is making me like Him.
So when I make foolish mistakes and forget who I am in Christ, my rebellion is only temporary. You see, the desire inside me to please God and be a reflection of his greatness is just too great. It’s like a spoon deciding one day to try and live life as a tin-opener – to do so is meaningless, pointless and fruitless! As Simon Peter put it ‘Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.’


Resting in Christ

A while ago I said that I might blog some details regarding our 'Rest' in Christ. Well here goes...
'Rest' in Christ is a quiet confidence and assurance, a sure and steady confidence in all that the Father is to us in Christ - it is a rest of faith (Heb4:3). It's enjoying His love and acceptance, being satisfied in His fullness poured out for us in Christ Jesus - a basking in His constant favour and goodness towards us.

Here are a few pointers for reflection, this resting place is a place of:
-  Forgiveness, freedom, favour, friendship with God in His love and acceptance out from which we give and serve.
-  Intimacy with Spirit's help to know a true inner witness of ‘Abba, Father’ as His son/daughter - we belong to Him!
-  Strength of faith in overcoming with the Spirit’s help to know the Lordship of Christ – The overcoming power of His resurrection that reigns in us through His gift of grace – overcoming all sin/death/enemy/world in a real and certain way though not in a triumphalist way. That which is born of God overcomes the world (1 John 5:4);
-  Yielding our own strength, ability and wisdom to Him in all situations trusting in (resting, relying on) His power, wisdom and provision that is abundantly pouring out to us through the person of Jesus Christ. Job learnt that the wisdom of God is so far above our own that he acknowledged 'I have declared that which I do not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know' (Job 42:3). He learnt to rest in God's infinite care and yield up his own understanding on things. We must yield up our own perspective of what is going on and trust in His unfailing infinite, all-embracing, all-encompassing love.
-  Being filled, satisfied, refreshed with the abundance of His house which releases the fountain of His goodness in us and overflows to worship and  to serve others.
-  Simple obedience to His word.

As Peter learnt on mount of transfiguration when the Father directed his attention to Jesus saying '...listen to Him', saying effectively wait upon His word of direction and rest, trust in Him for your life. This he did when he called upon Jesus to command him to come to Him on the water. He wouldn't go unless he could rest, trust in His word of command for in that word is all sufficiency to bring him through no matter what he faced. Jesus also commended Mary for waiting at His feet resting in His word of life, that word that satisfies and captivates our hearts in His love. It's the fullness of this love that fills our hearts and overflows into fruitful action.
Beloved let us be diligent in the pursuit of this rest as we take hold of His wonderful promises to us in Christ and reach for the goal of the upward call of God that we might know Him and stand in the presence of his glory with great joy.


Living for Jesus

I was made redundant after working in a company for over 20 years. So, at the age of 56, I faced the prospect of looking for work during an economic downturn. What followed, going to the JobCentre Plus, looking through 1000’s of vacancies, applying for jobs, attending Careers Wales, seeing other agencies, waiting to hear the outcome, hearing that you did not get the job and sometimes not hearing anything at all…

Being unemployed can seem like being excluded as you lose the social contact of the workplace. Whilst going through this experience one of the verses of scripture that was so valuable and powerful to me was Philippians 4v6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. Also what encouraged me each day was the truth of who I am in Christ. A standard greeting when meeting people for the first time is “what do you do?”, as your identity can be in the job that you have. As a Christian our value and identity is who we are in Christ; a person with hope, without fear of the unknown.

Before the redundancy happened I knew very distinctly from God that I was not to contest the redundancy; consequently I left on good terms, explaining to work colleagues that I was looking forward to what God had for me in the future. Also I sensed from God that it would be a longer period than a previous time of unemployment, which was 13 months. In addition the job opening was to come from and unexpected source. All of this happened and I write this from a position of having the best job I have ever had.

What encouraged me during 16 months of unemployment? Having a loving and supportive wife, who never complained regarding my life without a job, my children’s good attitude, being part of a church that gives encouragement and prayer support, listening to UCB radio, and knowing each day as being a gift from God.