Matthew 17:3 – YOU ARE INVITED? 

You are invited! Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Filter Forge.org

You are invited! Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Filter Forge.org

Abraham: “Alright everyone. I have just been in conference with the Father. Jesus has already told His disciples that He is the Messiah.” A cheer goes up. “Yes, this is a high point in His life and so it’s not surprising that He has chosen a mountain to pray about how all this will unfold in the future when He goes to Jerusalem. As you can see, He has taken Peter, James and John with Him.” They look at Jesus climbing the mountain with His disciples and there is silence as they reflect on what Jesus must face soon in Jerusalem. “This is going to be a miraculous night and the exciting thing is that some of us are going to be included on the guest list.” There is a collective intake of breath that makes the mountain air even thinner for a moment. 

“Yes, two of us can go as representatives. We have been asked to make suggestions as to who can be included and who will not. It’s not going to be easy, but doing the right thing is important as you can all appreciate. There’s no room for bruised feelings here. Everyone of us hopes it will be us, but there’s just not enough room on that mountain to accommodate us all.” 

“So who would you invite?” 

Noah: “I think it should be Adam and Eve. After all Jesus is the last Adam. The Scriptures will testify that “just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NLT). They would have to go clothed of course. 

Abraham: “A good choice. Any other suggestions?” 

The Prophet Joel: “We need someone who will shine in the radiance of Jesus. Maybe some angels. Angels carry His light. After the resurrection there is going to be a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord will come down from heaven and roll aside the stone, and sit on it. His face will shine like lightning, and his clothing will be as white as snow. The guards will shake with fear when they see him, and they will fall into a dead faint” (Matthew 28:2-4 NLT). 

Abraham: “Great suggestion but no. The Father specifically wants two of us this time, not the angels. Love the idea of connecting this with the theme of light, though.” 

The prophet Amos: “Well, if we want someone to reflect the radiance of Jesus what about Stephen. Stephen’s face shone before he was martyred. Everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s” (Acts 6:15 NLT). He literally reflected the light of Christ, the colours of grace.” 

Abraham: “Another great choice. But you forget. Stephen hasn’t even become a Christian yet. What you are seeing is in the future. We will need someone from the past; the Old Testament saints must be the ones to represent us. 

All sorts of suggestions come. “What about you, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation?” Some say Isaac and Jacob? Others say David, whose throne Jesus inherits forever? What about Noah, Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel? So many others were suggested but all of a sudden they are quiet again. They all know the guest list is limited to two. 

Abraham: “We don’t seem to be getting very far, here. Perhaps we ought to be asking ‘Who would Jesus choose? This is His day, not ours. Not the disciples. Not what the people want. Bottom line, who would He want to be there?” All are quiet for a moment. 

Elisha: “Well, Jesus has already told His disciples about prophecies about His death being fulfilled and even after His resurrection He will tell them again …everything written about Me in the law of MOSES AND THE PROPHETS …must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44 NLT). So maybe Moses and one of the prophets could go? Moses face shone when he came down from the mountain with the tablets of the law of God so that fits. He wrote the Pentateuch.” 

Joshua: “That makes sense. “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10 NLT). He could hand to Jesus the Old Covenant and Jesus could usher in the New Covenant by handing it on to the disciples.” Everybody is keen about Moses being one of their representatives. 

Abraham: “OK, that’s one. Moses the giver of the law and leader in the exodus. That also relates well to the exodus Jesus must face. Who else?” 

Malachi speaks up: “I don’t think we have to look any further. I think I know who it is. God told me once “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.” (Malachi 4:5 NLT). Who better than Elijah, guardian of the law. He has been in the mountain and heard the whisper of God. Elijah came to us in a whirlwind without tasting death. He connects us to the resurrection in the future.” 

Suddenly a light as bright as the sun appears on the mountain. Their attention is drawn immediately to Jesus. The Father has made His choice and “then two men, Moses and Elijah, appear and begin talking with Jesus. They are glorious to see. And they are speaking about His exodus from this world, which is about to be FULFILLED in Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:30-31 NLT).

Oh, and you are invited too, retrospectively into His presence then, now and always. But you’ll need to RSVP by responding in faith to Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:6-18 (NLT) says “… The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For HIS FACE SHONE with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. …If the old way, which brings condemnation, and was replaced, was glorious, HOW MUCH MORE GLORIOUS is the new way, WHICH MAKES US RIGHT WITH GOD AND REMAINS FOREVER! … WHENEVER SOMEONE TURNS TO THE LORD, THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY. … SO ALL OF US WHO HAVE HAD THAT VEIL REMOVED CAN SEE AND REFLECT THE GLORY OF THE LORD. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as WE ARE CHANGED INTO HIS GLORIOUS IMAGE.”   

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT?

Supermoon. Photo image by Ross Cochrane.

Supermoon. Photo image by Ross Cochrane.

Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT? 

I struggle to get a number of photographs. Clouds are in the way but the light of the moon is spectacular at this time. A supermoon looks so much bigger and brighter because the moon’s elliptical path brings it closest to Earth. Of course the moon has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun. It gets me thinking about that mountain miracle where Jesus is transformed into a searchlight of the soul and shines like the sun. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and the disciples and they are all bathed in a magnificent array of the visible spectrum, as earth echoes the colours of heaven’s grace. 

The scene is reminiscent of “when Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. He wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord” (Exodus 34:29 NLT). It’s a little disconcerting when the acting prophet, priest and king is glowing like a lightbulb; the people were so afraid he had to cover his face with a veil. 

Now, over 1000 years later Moses once again stands in the presence of the Lord on a mountain. Why is it that Moses suddenly appears? Deuteronomy 34:5-6 (NLT) says Moses is dead and gone! “…Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. The Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place.” 

What is going on here? Is he here in spirit form? An animated hologram? A collective dream of the disciples? Does he have a resurrection body designed just for this occasion and if so where does he go after this conversation with Jesus? How did they know it was Moses? Nametag? Was he introduced. Were the disciples cowering in the cleft of some rock like the historical paintings of this scene or did they get to shake hands and say hello to Moses and Elijah? I have so many questions that the book of Matthew leaves unanswered, or is it that God didn’t think that these questions were the main focus? 

I’ve got a feeling the disciples were meant to be in on this conversation with Jesus, Moses and Elijah, not simply witnesses of this miraculous event. They were there as part of the miracle as so often we are meant to be participants in the miracles God works in our lives. 

In whatever form Moses appears, I can’t help thinking there is unfinished business with which Christ is dealing. Jesus is trying to tie up loose ends before He dies. Over a 1000 years ago, before Moses died God spoke to him “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” (Deuteronomy 34:4 NLT) Was Jesus bringing him in now? Is this meant to be a happy ending for Moses? A postponed blessing, a thousand years hence? 

Elijah also appears. Matthew says “Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear and begin talking with Jesus (Matthew 17:3 NLT). Luke 9:30-31 (NLT) adds “…They are glorious to see. And they are speaking about His exodus from this world, which is about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.”  

In 2 Kings 2:11 (NLT) Elijah makes a dramatic exodus from the earth. “…Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.” It is said that he never experienced death. If so, by the time of the transfiguration Elijah is over 900 years old. Is this meant to be a happy ending for Elijah too? A postponed blessing? Does he finally get to die after this or is he going to turn up again sometime? 

Jesus was gathering up the past with Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, before embracing the future with the Cross. Did the law giving and the prophecies about Israel finally all make sense to Moses and Elijah? Did they finally have closure to the story? Moses, who wrote of creation and led God’s people from Egypt in the Exodus, now hears about the salvation Christ would bring to the world through His exodus. Moses who held the law of God meets the Word of God Himself. Elijah the prophet stands in the presence of Him who fulfils all prophecy. 

Peter had already acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 16:16). The disciples of the New Covenant now see Jesus who ushers in the new covenant in glorious light and He discusses His plans for the future with them all. 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT) says “This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when He told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward.”  

Jesus face shines. This face that shines will soon become bloodied and beaten and eventually plunged into darkness. This sacred head of light will bear a crown of thorns. He will be spit upon and His white garments that ripple with light will soon be stripped off and divided among soldiers who gamble for them. The Word of God that is spoken on this mountain will soon end with the words He cries out on the Cross on Calvary’s mountain, “It is finished!” (John 19:30 NLT). 

The Mount of Transfiguration is the place where the past, present and future are sealed with the presence of God; a beacon on a hill announcing salvation to the world; a lighthouse of testimony and an invitation to us and all generations to place our faith in Christ. 

Pastor Ross

Supermoon. Image by Ross Cochrane using Depthy for 3D

Supermoon. Image by Ross Cochrane using Depthy for 3D

Matthew 17:2 – TECHNICOLOUR YAWN OR POEM OF LIGHT?

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

The mesmerising laser lights transform the city of Sydney into a dazzling spectacle of creativity each year. “Vivid” is a unique demonstration of imaginative possibilities. The world’s largest Art Gallery comes alive, a breathtaking canvas of creative expression, especially when the iconic Sydney Opera House sails become a palette for light artists.

Of course, even the incredible spectacle of Vivid has been accused of “superficiality, of ‘technicolor yawns’ and smartphone-toting happy snappers.” Others, however, describe it as “a poem written in light”. 800,000 visitors from all over the world are attracted like insects to this light, and the festival of Vivid continues to grow each year.

Vivid pales into insignificance when compared to that night when Jesus takes three disciples up on a mountain to pray. Jesus often goes up to a mountain at night to pray (Matthew 14:23-24, Luke 6:12) but this night is bathed in the vivid aura of a miracle.

A week earlier He had tried to tell them that “some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matthew 16:28 NLT). The kingdom authority of God is about to grasp the vibrant promises of the past, embrace the raw immediacy of the present and infuse it all with shocking future intention.

Matthew 17:2 tries to describe what happens “As the men watch, Jesus’ appearance is transformed so that His face shines like the sun, and His clothes become as white as light.”  

There is no superficial lacklustre, no laser lights or money-making festival atmosphere, just a breathtaking spectacle as Jesus is inexplicably altered in His appearance. A bewildering, disconcerting disturbance of penetrating light explodes from within His being. Filled with transcendent significance, a light so vivid and unexpected that it consumes your senses like a purifying fire from heaven; a light that illumines the very recesses of the soul.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) tries to describe it; “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” When Jesus says “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” He is saying that everything about Him is associated with light. More than analogy, this picture of light is based upon the reality of His being. Psalms 104:2 (NLT) says of the Lord, “You are dressed in a robe of light….” The gospel is the message of Jesus; a light shining in the darkness and here on a mountain the analogy is personified.

To witness this miracle changes a person forever. Many years later, John recalls this event: “…we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14 NLT). Belief in Christ transfigures us. We are changed outwardly as the reality of what has happened deep within reveals itself. We are intended to be a palette of light painted on a mountain in the intimacy of relationship with Christ.

Paul contrasts this experience in 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT); “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 

Is the transfiguration about transformation? Much more than that of course, but for now, Jesus is inviting us into His presence to be “the children of light” (Luke 16:8 NLT). Shining the light of Christ has to do with our character and changed values; integrity in Christ personified. When we know Christ, we shine that same light. Jesus says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). 

We are not designed to live life in the colours of “superficiality, and ‘technicolor yawns”. Jesus invites us to be a “a poem written in light”. 

Pastor Ross

 

Coffee. By Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Posted: August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Matthew 17:1 – HOW TO ASCEND THE GREATEST MOUNTAIN OF ALL

How to Climb the Greatest Mountain of All. Image created from Morguefile free photos, Paint.net and ForgeFilter.org

How to Climb the Greatest Mountain of All. Image created from Morguefile free photos, Paint.net and ForgeFilter.org

I was so intrigued by the fact that he had named himself. His father neglected to name him and so in his early teenage years he chose his own name; the name of a mountain. Mt Taraksh means Great One, and in keeping with his name, Taraksh wanted to achieve great things. As well as becoming a great father to his children, Taraksh overcame the stigma of moving away from the caste system of his culture, and became one of an elite group of theoretical scientists during the period of the second world war.

The legacy Taraksh leaves is the legacy of the mountain. Mountains are often symbols of our lives. Mountains inspire us and demand respect, test our strength and expose our weaknesses. We are humbled in the shadow of the immensity of a mountain, and it’s stability and strength inspires us to rise beyond the mundane and to achieve our goals and dreams. As we raise our eyes to the peak of a mountain we are reminded that life’s journey requires perseverance and faith. From it’s heady vantage points we are called to reflection and encouraged to look beyond ourselves.

Mountains call us to sacred acts of contemplation and spiritual challenge; a place where we receive perspective for life; a place to be open to spiritual truth. It is not surprising then that “…Jesus takes Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and leads them up a high mountain to be alone” (Matthew 17:1 NLT). He is here to pray in the quiet hours of the night, and as so often is the case, it is on a mountain where His interaction with God causes a magnificent collision of heaven with earth.

Such a collision had once stirred up a demonic squall on a lake. Frightened disciples saw Him walk on water that night and exercise authority over the natural and spiritual elements to bring calm (Matthew 14:22-33). It was on the side of a mountain such as this where Moses received the call of God when God spoke to him from the middle of a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4). It was on that same mountain that he received the Law written by the finger of God in stone (Exodus 24:12). It was on a mountain that Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven to consume the offering on their altar (1 Kings 18:19-40). It was on a mountain where Elijah, fleeing from Jezebel, heard the gentle whisper of God that called him to get back in harm’s way and stand up and be counted (1 Kings 19:12).

Prayer and a mountain are a powerful combination. It is after praying on a mountain that Jesus chose His disciples (Luke 6:12). And now on this mountain where Jesus prays with His disciples; a mountain that looked out over Galilee and out towards Calvary’s distant mountain, a transaction takes place that will bring the past, present and future into perspective; a transaction that would need to be examined with wonder and fear by Jesus’ closest disciples (Mark 5:37, Matthew 26:37). 2 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT) says “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”. There would be no doubt as to what would transpire here.

What happened on this mountain? You’ll have to wait and see. But for now Jesus is inviting you to come with Him to the mountain to pray and receive forgiveness for the past, sustaining grace for the present and a destiny to fulfil in the future. In fact Jesus is our Rock, our Refuge, our Foundation, our Strength and Stability, the One from whom we gain perspective for our lives, the One who overcomes the obstacles of sin and death, the greatest of all mountains. 

As we kneel before the Cross on Calvary’s mountain, where Jesus died for our sins, we are confronted with the vastness of eternity, and tremble with reverent fear in the presence of God. It is in the great expanse of this mountain refuge; this solid Rock on which we stand, that we hear the gentle whispers of God.

Pastor Ross

Gif using Parallax images

Gif using Parallax images

The Starting Point

The Starting Point

 

Centurion In The Rain. by Ross Cochrane. 3rd August 2014. Gouache and Marbling

Centurion In The Rain. by Ross Cochrane. 3rd August 2014. Gouache and Marbling

Wild Horse.  Gouache and Marbling.

Wild Horse.
Gouache and Marbling. By Ross Cochrane. 4 August 2014

Princess of the Ocean. by Ross Cochrane. 4th August 2014. Gouache and Marbling.

Princess of the Ocean. by Ross Cochrane. 4th August 2014. Gouache and Marbling.

Frog Swimming. by Ross Cochrane. 4th August 2014. Gouache and Marbling.

Frog Swimming. by Ross Cochrane. 4th August 2014. Gouache and Marbling.

Genesis 30:35-43 – RICH DAD RICH KIDS

Speckled Bark. Image by Ross Cochrane.

Speckled Bark. Image by Ross Cochrane.

It’s almost as if Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad, has been reading God’s business plan for Jacob. I can almost hear him saying to Jacob, “Sooner or later you will have to learn that the moral lesson of your rat-race work-life demands that you become more an entrepreneur than simply an employee. Putting wealth into Laban’s hands with little or nothing to show isn’t what is intended for you. You are intended for blessing, and to be a blessing. You were not destined for exploitation by a greedy and corrupt uncle.”

God invites Jacob, and me, to take the risk of faith rather than be pushed around by life. He always has! We stay where we are unless we make opportunities by taking a risk. But not just any risk. A blatant opportunist who has taken careless risks all his life, Jacob is about to develop a faith literacy and be schooled in honesty rather than take the path that comes so easily to him – deceit and taking advantage of others.

Jacob is working for his uncle to pay off a 14-year-old debt, accumulated by the acquisition of his wives through a shonky business deal. He has no asset base for financial security. Jacob’s assets are not to be found the vague promises from a deceitful man who won’t pay him a wage.

How do you build your asset base? Kiyosaki would say “Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income producing real estate, notes, and royalties from intellectual property.” Jacob chooses stock because it’s all he understands and he’s been in bonds to his uncle for far too long. He’s still taking notes on royalty and intellect as God invites him to come under His authority and wisdom. God will awaken the financial intelligence inside him, although His method is a little unorthodox.

In order for him to secure all that God plans for him he has to have new ideas. He is still teachable, so he takes a course on faith – buys the latest videos and books, attends the seminars on what God is saying – well OK, maybe not videos, books and seminars, but he knows that he will have to own God’s promises rather than simply wait for Laban to pay him.

His assets are his faith and his family, so he starts to develop a plan for investing in the secure promises of God, minimal risk to Laban, but maximum opportunity for Jacob and his menagerie of wives and children. Honest accounting and investing; he hasn’t tried that before. So he makes a new deal with his uncle – “I’ll look after your flock of plain coloured animals but keep any new-born speckled animals to build my own flock.” His uncle agrees. Plain coloured animals normally produce plain coloured animals. How can Laban lose?

But then Jacob gets weird… Although this seems such an odd thing to do I can only suppose that God is in it… Jacob strips away some of the bark of tree branches and exposes the inner wood in stripes and places them in the drinking troughs as if this will make a difference in producing striped and speckled animals? (Genesis 30:37-39). Now I’m tempted to say Jacob has reverted to superstition, but I know, God does some weird things with branches and rods and staffs (Exodus). A branch makes an axe head float in 2 Kings 6. Moses’ staff becomes a snake in Exodus 4:14 and was used in other miraculous events. Aaron’s rod budded and was included in the ark of the Covenant as a reminder for faith (Hebrews 9:4). God used a bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness as a symbol for expressing healing faith (Numbers 21:6-9).

Does God use the chemicals from the stripped branches in the troughs to change the DNA of Jacob’s breeders? I doubt it. If nothing else, these branches serve as a symbol of faith for Jacob and a witness to Laban, even if it doesn’t do anything for the sheep. Could it be whenever Jacob sees them he prays for speckled sheep? When the sheep look at them they ignore them, drink the water and mate and do what sheep do. There’s no magic or superstition here, just an opportunity for the outworking of a miracle.

So Jacob becomes very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, male and female servants, and many camels and donkeys, even if they are a motley bunch. You won’t find “Stripping bark from branches” in a chapter of any of Robert Kiyosaki latest get rich books. In Genesis 31:5 (NLT) Jacob says “… the God of my father has been with me.” (see also Genesis 31:10-13). 

Philippians 4:19 NLT invites us to understand that “… this same God … will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Rich Dad Rich Kids.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:25–35 -PLEASE RELEASE ME, LET ME GO! 

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

I hear the old long-playing (LP) record droning on even today, and my Dad’s voice singing above it, “Please release me, let me go…To waste our lives would be a sin…” I watched my Dad waste his life in work that promised him a management position but kept him waiting on meagre wages until he was too old to care.

Jacob wants out. He says to Laban, “Please release me so I can go home to my own country.” Home to my own country. I have a promise to pursue. Let me explore it’s implications before I am too old to care.

Laban is a wealthy business person but spiritually bankrupt. God and Jacob are his good luck charms. As God unfolds His truth and reveals His character even to Laban, Laban understands it only through the eyes of potential fortune. “Please listen to me,” Laban replies. “I have become wealthy, for the Lord has blessed me because of you. Tell me how much I owe you. Whatever it is, I’ll pay it” (Genesis 30:27-28 NLT). 

So you finally admit it. All of a sudden you want to get generous and give me what is owed. No, old man. It won’t work. Not this time. You don’t want me to stay because I am your much-loved Son-in-law, husband to your daughters. All you want is to accumulate more wealth. Watch it uncle, your greed is showing.

Jacob is willing to leave with nothing. The promises of God are more reliable than yours, uncle. All my life I have heard my mother, my father, you and your daughters persuading me to be involved in your plans for my life. I have played the part of a deceiver and been deceived. I have always felt like a sheep in a pack of wolves, but this old lost wether is not willing to be taken by you this time. I have already worked for you for fourteen years, Laban. But I have heard the voice of the Shepherd calling me home, words of destiny in the silence of my heart. If I stay it will be at the request of His voice alone.

“Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them by serving you, and let me be on my way. You certainly know how hard I have worked for you and how your flocks and herds have grown under my care.” This is business language and he still speaks of his wives as the commodity that he has earned by his work for Laban. Not a romantic bone in his body. You’ve had a good deal. I’ve got Rachel even though you tricked me. We are even. Now feel a little pain yourself. Maybe even enough pain to agree to a deal before I go.

“You had little indeed before I came, but your wealth has increased enormously. The Lord has blessed you through everything I’ve done. But now, what about me? When can I start providing for my own family?” (Genesis 30:29-30 NLT).

“What wages do you want?” Laban asks again. (Genesis 30:31 NLT).Finally, old man. I knew you would get to a deal, but this time you’ll have to do things my way even though one day you may wish you had let me go. “Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. Here’s the deal, uncle. Take it or leave it. “Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. …” (Genesis 30:32 NLT) Let them be a part of a different flock and take them away to be looked after by your men.

Let’s start with a clean slate; with a flock that consists of only single coloured animals. Let me look after that flock. Most of the sheep are pure white and most of the goats a dark chocolate-brown. You’ll get a good deal, uncle. You can keep all your existing flocks. But this time there’ll be no room for deception. No cheating! So uncle, here’s the deal. I get all those born from your pure, plain coloured flocks that are spotted and speckled as well as any black sheep that are born from your flock (Genesis 30:32). “Give these to me as my wages. In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.” Take the deal! I’ll trust God and you trust in your greed. 

“All right,” Laban replies. “It will be as you say.” Jacob, you’re a fool. What are you trying to do? You know that plain sheep produce far more plain coloured animals than speckled ones. You’ll only end up with a few animals, if any. You really will need some divine intervention. So Jacob and God go into partnership.

“Please release me, let me go … to waste our lives would be a sin” (Engelbert Humperdink). The story of Jacob invites me to be released from my own deception and the sin that so easily entraps me and to make a fresh start. We are to be released from wasting our lives and from allowing others to govern our lives instead of God. We are to take the risk of faith with nothing but hard work in our hands, and live in the expectation that God “is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT). “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all Your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NLT).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:22-24 – HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

Regret, like an old injury, seeks to restrict your present and to destroy or control your future.

Confronting regret is like doing battle with a street fighter. He wants to dominate and cut you with a switchblade so that you bleed before you even have the chance to pray. He’ll badger you into doing yet another round and you’ll see the faces of those you have disappointed and hurt in the crowd that gathers. There’s no place to go.

You’ve done battle with regret before but this time you know you must think differently in order to overcome him. You may need to refuse to fight, apologise and seek forgiveness. You may need to spend some time admitting the harm that you have caused until the crowd makes room for you to move on. Rachel comes humbly before God with sin in her hand and places it, with her wounded heart, at God’s feet.

Something changed that day. A breakthrough of faith and the response of God’s mercy. God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children (Genesis 30:24 NLT). At long last, Rachel conceives and gives birth to a son; Joseph (and later Benjamin is added to her family). The mandrakes (love apples) she acquired from Leah had nothing to do with this pregnancy (Genesis 30:5); God hears Rachel’s prayer and gives her a son (Genesis 30:23-24).

She names him Joseph, which means either “to take away” or “to add” (POSB commentary). “God has removed my disgrace …” (Genesis 30:23 NLT). Rachel declares that God has taken away her reproach and added richly to her life. He has turned cursing to blessing. Some read this as referring to the disgrace of not being able to bear children, but no such disgrace exists except in the eyes of her culture. Rachel had much more in her life that was barren. This is a confession of a desolate existence lived without asking for God’s help, not only an account of her neighbours attitudes to her not being able to have children.

What do you do when your life is a trainwreck of regrets; jealousy and abuse and unfulfilled hope.

  • She agreed to marry an old man already married to her older sister.
  • She lived in a bitter jealous power play with her sister
  • She forced her maid servant to be a surrogate mother with Jacob so she could look good in the eyes of others
  • She trusted in superstitious love potions in order to bear children herself 

These choices only served to increase the barrenness between her and God. Our frantic search for happiness without God attracts the dry, famine producing winds that blow ever stronger with the power of regret. But now, as she submits to and is humbled before God, in the midst of her dysfunctional life, God answers her prayer and gives her a child. 

Joseph, her firstborn son, will remind her of the new life that issues like a newbirth as she trusts in God as her Saviour. Joseph will save his family from a terrible famine through the POWER OF FORGIVENESS. He will foreshadow a coming Saviour who will do the same for us. 

I may have to live with the consequences of my choices but I am reminded that there is no twisted dysfunction in my past that is too great for God to forgive, no damaged goods that cannot be redeemed and restored, no distorted perspectives that cannot be cleansed and re-viewed from heaven’s eyes, no regrets that can restrict my present or rule my future. 

Like Rachel “God has removed my disgrace” when Christ bore my sin upon the Cross. I can choose to live a life of grace and beauty as I trust in Him, today. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:19-21 – WHAT TO DO WHEN LOVE HURTS

What to do when love hurts

What to do when love hurts

As I greet him with a smile he looks at me with the confusion of dementia in his eyes and demands that I leave. “I don’t want to talk with you. I don’t know you?” I am a stranger to him, though we have talked as friends many times in the past. In the hall I meet a woman who is walking slowly with the help of a stick. I ask her if she is lost and she tells me that she has never been so insulted in all her life. “I wish all you nosy people would just leave me alone!” she says. I apologise and leave her to sit for a while in the foyer. Through the glass entrance door I see a woman sitting alone and crying. I talk with her about her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. “He doesn’t recognise who I am anymore and pushes me away” she says, deeply hurt.

I meet people in aged care who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked and sometimes they can choose to let grazes fester and become deep wounds; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

The unintentional wounds caused by those with Alzheimer’s disease are felt by those who have known the joys of relationship; those who have loved. It is not really true that love hurts. It is not being loved that hurts. Love is what heals a broken heart.

Leah is not loved by her husband, Jacob, and is vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects her for her younger sister, Rachel.

God in His grace chooses to give Leah another son to Jacob after a time of barrenness (Genesis 30:19-20) and her broken heart finds expression in the name of her son. She names him Zebulun, which means “dwelling” and “honour.” She chooses this name in acknowledgement that God has not forsaken her and honours her with a sixth son. But in the naming of her son, she also declares her desperate hope that her husband will honour her and finally choose to dwell with her exclusively.

She names him with the tears of her hurt that becry the absence of love “…now my husband will DWELL with me, because I have borne him six sons” (Genesis 30:20 NASB). She is the mother of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. He will sleep with her but his affections are reserved for Rachel. In her loneliness God also gives a daughter to Leah (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

Is the desire Rachel and Leah have for children based on the hope of having a share in the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)? It seems that they have disassociated with God’s promises for what has become a race of jealousy; vying for the love of Jacob and the approval of others.

Rachel and Leah invite me to ask myself the difficult questions – “Are my motivations for a fruitful life based on God’s promises; His Word? Or am I involved in a power play for love and acceptance from others?”  

When you experience the absence of love, in whom will you place your trust? Jesus invites you to place your trust in Him, over and above all other relationships, and to find your identity as a person who is loved by God. 

Don’t misunderstand, close relationships with others are important on this journey we make with God, but my identity is shaped essentially by God’s intentions and not the expectations or neglect of others. The healing grace of God’s love gives me a perspective on all my other relationships in life and enables me to live as God intends. 

Pastor Ross