Gold 17.png

Under New Management © Image created with Blender and Paint.net by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:24-26 – WHAT DO I GIVE UP TO FOLLOW CHRIST?

Jesus tells the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT). 

All his possessions? Is Jesus trying to say that the idea of treasure in heaven rather than riches on earth gives me a greater perspective concerning my money? How do I define rich?

The reward of following Him is invaluable so I don’t want to get this wrong.

In Matthew 19:24 (NLT) Jesus makes an outrageous statement. He says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  

So, it is impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! The rich young ruler was not willing to choose between riches and following Christ. He was a good living man but eternal riches weren’t as appealing as the earthly kind.

So, no-one who follows Christ can be rich, according to Jesus? 

In Matthew 19:25, 26 (NLT) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 

Why are the disciples astounded? Apparently, they presume that riches equate with the blessings of God and therefore it would be easier, in their way of thinking, for a rich man to be saved. A good living person like the rich young ruler seems like the perfect candidate for salvation.

Jesus looks at them intently and says, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).

Finally, there’s hope for you who are rich! Jesus says it’s impossible for a rich man to be saved, but adds that with God, everything is possible. He deals with human impossibilities. It doesn’t depend on us but upon Him.

Riches should speak of possibility but they are often a liability, depending on whether you submit your life to Christ or not. Those who are in the Kingdom of God ie those who have come under the authority of Christ as King of kings, see the possibility for using riches for the purposes of God for every aspect of life. Those who are not in the Kingdom of God ie who have not come under the authority of Christ, can be consumed by the love of money for more selfish pursuits and sometimes damaging purposes, devoid of the wisdom and direction of God.

Do I have to give away everything to the poor in order to follow Christ? 

No. But when I submit everything I have to His rulership, I am willing to do all He desires with whatever there is in my life for His purposes. What He asks of me may be quite different to what He asks of you.

Coming to Christ means recognising that you have nothing to offer God. You come to him without merit. Despite outward riches and even a good life, our sin has left us destitute. We come to God with empty hands to be saved by grace.

So, the invitation of Matthew 19:24-26 is to do with the Kingdom of God, i.e. It is an invitation to come under the authority of Christ as King of kings and obey His commands concerning your riches, status, abilities and talents, gifting, experience, heart motivations, personality etc. That’s the point! That’s the invitation.  Everything I possess and all that I am is Under New Management.

Submission of everything in our lives to Christ (coming under His Kingdom authority) leaves us in a place where we can receive the grace of God and be saved. Boasting in any way that somehow we had something to do with it is not an option. It comes from Christ alone. It is based on what He has done on the Cross, not on what we bring to the table. 

What do I give up to follow Christ? Everything. It is in giving up our trust in ourselves and instead, submitting ourselves to Christ that we find the truest riches and live life to the full. 

Pastor Ross

Advertisements

 

Camel and eye of the needle2.png

Eye of the Needle © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:23-26 – KHALID, THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE, AND THE CAMELEER

“What if I am too late and the Cameleer will not see me?” Khalij the camel said absently to himself as he increased his pace. Sweat was beginning to seep through his hairy white hide but he still looked splendidly dressed for the journey and he knew he would be presentable for entrance into the city.

Was this the city and the Cameleer he was searching for? “Perhaps I am close”. Surely soon he would find rest. He felt the heavy load of the grain and valuable wares in his saddlebags as he ascended towards the city and Khalij knew he must arrive before sunset or the gates would be closed. Time was running out.

Passing many poor souls along the way who were also on a quest for entrance into the city, Khalij noticed they had scarce resources of food or water to continue their journey. A shabby, dirty looking donkey and lama approached him and begged him for food and water but he ignored their noisy requests. There was always someone who wanted his wares and although he had more than enough, he needed to hurry on. Not today. Best not to get involved.

On reaching the final approach to the gate, tired from the pace he had been keeping, Khalij saw another camel coming his way. His backpacks also were full and the colorful, intricately designed mat on his back laced with gold and indigo indicated he was of high station.

By this time he could see that the gate had been closed, and so Khalij greeted the camel and asked, “Where you not able to enter the city, brother camel?” The young camel looked down at the ground and continued on his way without a word. It was a little disconcerting to see the sadness in his eyes as he retreated down the road.

Khalij reached the locked gate and bellowed up to the walls but no-one came. Noticing a small hole in the huge gate, he looked through and was surprised to see a Cameleer approaching. Was this the Cameleer he had longed to find? “Cameleer”, he said, “I have come to see You. I have heard so much of Your city. What must I do to enter in?”

“What makes you think you are good enough to gain entrance to this holy city”, said The Cameleer.

“I assure you”, Khalij said confidently, “Since my childhood, I have been recognized as a leader among camels. As an albino camel, in all the lands where camels roam, I am considered rare and highly revered. I am dressed in the finest attire and bring with me valuable trade and items for sale.”

“But I detect that in your voice that there is still something missing from your life that brings you on your quest”, said the Cameleer.

“Yes, I am told that Your city will give me the answers concerning my destiny,” said Khalij, not giving away too much. Was this the Cameleer?

“To gain entrance you will need to come through this small door I have constructed just for you.” said the Cameleer. “You will need to follow my instructions carefully and it will be the most humbling experience of your life, but the choice is yours”.

Khalij looked as the Cameleer opened a small door. He had not noticed that this door was constructed within the larger gate.

“With all respect, I fear I shall not get through such a small door as this”, he said.

“The door was designed just for you, Khalij. I have been waiting for you. Come.”

When the Cameleer called him by name, there was something so compelling in the His voice that tentatively, Khalij began to move towards the doorway. He could see that he would need to bow down and then crawl through on his knees but the space was impossibly small; the eye of a needle. What if he were to get stuck half-way?

Bowing his head and crawling part way, he was prevented from making any further progress by his saddlebags.

Khalij said, “I cannot possibly get through without first setting down my saddlebags and then I fear my wares may be stolen by those behind me.”

“You have no need of saddlebags in My City, Khalij,” said the Cameleer. “Give your wares to the poor and come, follow Me. You will find rest and all the provisions you need for your soul.”

It was then that Khalij understood the sadness in the eyes of the rich young camel he had passed on the way. Such emptiness after so long a journey. He had gone away with riches but not rest for his soul.

Khalij thought for some time, trying to assess what would be the biggest decision of his life. He had come so far and he sensed that his quest was coming to a close. Must he also lose all for which he had worked for?

Within the deepest part of his being, he felt that somehow he could trust the Cameleer. With surprising relief, he threw off his saddlebags and began distributing his wares to the poor and hungry who gathered at the gate.

Then he faced the doorway. Once again he bowed his head and got to his knees, crawling towards the small opening. And then halfway through it happened. Suddenly he was stuck! He began to panic. Bellowing and twisting his neck, he tried to kick but his legs were pinned. In an ungainly stumbling crawl, he tried to back out and found, to his relief, it was easy. He must get out!

Khalij was almost out of the confined space that had trapped him when the Cameleer spoke softly and looked into Khalij’s eyes.“Khalij, come. Follow Me. This doorway was made for you. If you keep your eyes on Me and listen to My voice then you will enter the eternal city. I can open closed doors and make what you consider to be an impossibly small space an entrance. But the choice is yours.”

But this would take a miracle, Khalij thought. Gazing up at the Cameleer, Khalij was infused with what he could only call an irrational confidence and trust in the Cameleer. For some unknown reason, he decided to try once again. He inched his way, carefully listening to each instruction given by the Cameleer.

Inch by inch, he began to realize that it was as if this doorway was made only for him. It also occurred to him that the Cameleer was completely filling the Cameleer-sized place in his heart. It was a strange thought. “I am found in Him and He is alive in me”. Only in submitting himself to the Cameleer could progress be made. It would remind him constantly in the endless days ahead of what it meant to follow the Camelier.

“Your name was Khalij, meaning Gulf,” said the Cameleer, “because your wealth and status created a gulf between you and your relationship with Me. Now you shall be called Khalid, meaning Eternal,” said the Cameleer. “This name was always intended for you for I knew that one day you would come to Me, not without great difficulty, to find the eternal city and the door to eternal life.”

So Matthew 19:24 says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

Pastor Ross

Related Articles

https://sharinginthelord.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/gods-my-best/

Key to the Kingdom.png

Key to the Kingdom domain © by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:23 –TRUST RELATIONSHIPS AND KINGDOM.OF.HEAVEN.COM?

In computer terms entering the Kingdom of Heaven is like creating a one-way, outgoing, external trust relationship with another domain.

This new trust relationship will not function until the Administrator for the reciprocal domain uses His credentials to create the incoming side of the trust. God has the administrative credentials for heaven’s domain and the authority to give us entrance into His domain. He has created an incoming side of the trust relationship. It is up to us to respond.

A one-way, outgoing, external trust relationship will allow resources in God’s domain to be accessed by our domain. For example, if God is the administrator of Kingdom.of.Heaven.com and He has resources in that domain of eternal life that you would like to access as an active user (or in the case of followers of Christ, active givers) then you must come under His authority and directions.

  • On the Direction of Trust page, click One-way Jesus: outgoing, and then click Next.
  • Keep following the Kingdom.of.heaven.com domain commands where God allows access.

What does God require to enter His domain?

Matthew 19:23 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

What is the domain of the Kingdom.of.Heaven.com?

We mistakenly think of the Kingdom of Heaven as exclusively talking about the cyberspace domain of heaven when we crash. But a Kingdom does not only refer to a place. It also refers to the domain of the rulership of the King. The Kingdom of Heaven refers to God’s authority to rule, right now, over our lives. We live righteously and Heaven’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We can “enter into” that kingdom domain now and make use of all its resources by coming under the authority of Christ as King.

Colossians 1:12-14 (NLT) says “For He (Jesus) has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Paul isn’t suggesting that we all die physically in this process. Not straight away. We come under the authority of the King of kings in our lives, His Kingdom reign and rulership, here and now. The kingdom is among us, now.

Romans 14:17-18 (NLT) says, among other things, “For the Kingdom of God is … living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God…”

The invitation of Christ to the rich young ruler is not only talking about the place called Kingdom.of.heaven.com. Heaven’s domain is merely an extension of Christ’s authority of perfect rulership. It is for those who are willing to come under the rule and reign of Christ in their lives. It is an acknowledgment that He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Christ’s rulership will continue on beyond our physical lives. The eternal kingdom is the realm or domain of the rule and reign of God in a perfect universe for all eternity, (cyberspace to the max) and for us, it starts the moment we come under the authority of Christ and give our lives to Him. Not only Jews but Gentiles. In Matthew 8:11 (NLT) Jesus says, “And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will … feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So Matthew 19:24 says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

Why so difficult for a rich person to enter into Kingdom.of.Heaven.com?

In Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Jesus answers that question by saying, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Judas knew the power of riches to sway the wavering heart. It all has to do with the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not willing to come under the authority of Christ.

This imports fresh understanding into what Jesus invites us to do in Matthew 6:33 (NLT), “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He (God) will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).

Pastor Ross

Old Shed

Down to the barn in the old rusty ute

Image © by Ross Cochrane

AN AUSSIE OUTBACK NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 KJV)

G’day! (Hi)

It’s great to have you mob (crowd) here today. Being an Aussie (Australian) I thought you might like to hear my Aussie Outback version of a Night before Christmas.

You’ll hear a bit of Aussie Lingo here this arvo (Australian language here this afternoon).

So let’s get a bushmen’s barbie going here (outback barbecue), with a Billy boiling on the campfire (Can for making tea) 

You’ll hear a bit of Aussie Lingo (Australian language).  

I want to tell you a story around the campfire about the Nativity. Imagine what it would have been like if Jesus was born in outback Australia.  

Jesus, of course, was born in Bethlehem, not in the Never-Never (Outback Australia) 

So our story is a bit of a furphy (a made up story) but only concerning the place, not the actual events. The events are all dinki-di from the Bible (The real story of these events are found in the Bible and are all true). 

I won’t earbash you no more (I won’t talk a lot), so lets shakealeg (Let’s get on with it).  

Down to the barn in the old rusty ute

Old Australian Barn © By Ross Cochrane

AN AUSSIE OUTBACK NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

© by Ross Cochrane

‘Twas the night before Christmas; There wasn’t a sound.

Not a possum was stirring in Bethlehem’s town.

The inn keeper’s table had tucker and beer.

But out in the stable, Mary’s baby was near;

 

If it happened in outback Australia today

On a homestead up North, and so far away

With Goannas and Emus and red dirt and dust

Where cars and machin’ry are covered in rust

Where crocodiles snap and deadly snakes hiss

I’ve got a feeling it might look like this…

 

On a hot Christmas Eve, we’d be safe in our beds,

While dreams of pavlova dance round in our heads;

Mum in her nightie, and dad in his shorts,

Would have just settled down to watch TV sports,

 

As the Kangaroos gather out on the plain

And a Kookaburra laughs in the gum tree again

The red dog stops barking. The sky’s pink and blue

We can hear distant sounds of a didgeridoo

 

Then up in the night’s sky a star shines so bright;

Loud voices of praise wake us up with a fright.

We run to the screen door, peek cautiously out,

Sneek onto the deck, to find what it’s about.

 

Guess what had woken us up from our snooze,

But a whole host of angels declaring good news.

And one of them standing above a gum tree,

Said the Saviour was born and told us where He would be.

 

Now, I’m telling the truth. It’s all dinki-di.

Those heavenly angels filled up the sky.

One looked at us kids, his wings were like flames,

And he spoke to us all and called out our names.

Now, Davo, Now Bazza, Now, Kylie and Shane!

On Maggie! On Shazza! On, Stevo and Wayne!

Go to the kitchen, grab a quick drink,

Scoot down to the barn and see what you think!’

 

So down to the barn in the old rusty ute

With hearts full of wonder,  all of us scoot,

We park by a gum tree and jump to the ground,

Then in through the window, we all look around.

 

There were drovers and shearers, a man with a beard.

And his wife had a baby whom the workmen revered;

They wore singlets and shorts, because of the heat.

They took off their hats and bowed at His feet

 

The baby awoke and His eyes simply Shone!

Born of a virgin, God’s only Son!

Three Swagmen arrived from far east of the station

They’d been searching all day for the King of Salvation

 

A swag full of prezzies they flung from their backs,

And with everyone looking they undid their packs.

They spoke not a word, but bent down on one knee,

And presented their goodies and gifts. There were three…

 

One brought gold nuggets, a gift for a king

And one brought Him Frankincense, a strange gift to bring

And then there was Myrrh from the last one to come,

When he saw us he winked and he held up his thumb;

 

Then the angels appeared clear out of the blue;

Flung out their wings and prepared to shoot through.

They bellowed out loud as they swooped past the gates –

‘Merry Christmas to all, and good-on-ya, mates!’

Highway in the desert 2

Outback Australia

AUSSIE OUTBACK CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

 

HEAVEN – God’s Station and Homestead 

I want to take a moment now with my interpreter to spruke on about God’s Station and Homestead in the sky for a while before we say Hooroo. (I want to talk about heaven before we go).  

Heaven is not just a place way out beyond the black stump (Heaven is not a place which is far away).  

Heaven is not bullamanka (Heaven is not an Imaginary place somewhere beyond the back of Bourke). 

It’s God’s Homestead and station for us (It’s God’s home for us) 

It’s God’s Chrissie gift (It’s God’s Christmas present) 

So let me ask you 2 questions 

First of all – Are you sure that when you carkit that you are going to go and live in God’s Homestead? (Are you sure that when you pass away, when you die, you will be with God in heaven?) Tick this over! (Think about this for a moment) 

Secondly – If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you onto My station?” what would you say? (If God asked Why should I let you into My Heaven, what would you say?) 

Gardening!

Hard Yakka

AUSSIE BATTLER – Hard Yakka won’t cut it 

You might say, “Well, I’ve been an Aussie Battler all my life (I’ve been a hard trier or struggler all my life). I’ve done some hard yakka (I’ve worked hard). I lived a pretty good life. That should count for something.” 

The Bible says, “Getting on to God’s station (into heaven) is a gift, not something you do hard yakka for (heaven is a gift. It is not earned or deserved. No amount of personal effort, good works or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven) 

It’s no use having tickets on yourself (It’s not something you can boast or brag about). It doesn’t depend on you. It is a gift.  

We don’t have to pay a brass razoo for it. (We don’t have to pay anything for it. It’s a gift... ..And you are absolutely right – Romans 6:23 in the Bible says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Ephesians 2:8,9 says For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast) 

Hey! Don’t get carried away. You’re just the interpreter, remember? 

(Sorry. But tell me WHY is it that no one can earn their way to Heaven?) 

 

SIN – Making a big Blue with God 

Because . . . All of us cobbers have made a serious blue when it comes to obeying God. And so the wheels fell off. (All of us have sinned, got it wrong, missed the mark with God, and that’s where it all went wrong in terms of our relationship with God).  

Were all like a mob of sheep that have strayed into the back paddock (Because of our sin, we are all far away from God). 

Crickey! (This is serious!) We’ve got Buckley’s of getting ourselves out of the spot where in. (There is no way we can save ourselves- No chance at all. There’s just no way to get to heaven because we’ve blown it, big time). It’s not a matter of saying “She’ll be right, mate” because we are not right with God. (We can’t ignore it. We are not right with God). 

However, in spite of us making a big blue with God (in spite of our sins and mistakes) God wasn’t up a gumtree about this (God wasn’t in a quandary about what must be done.) 

 

GOD – True Blue 

God doesn’t get Aggro at us, only with our sin (He doesn’t get Aggressive or angry at us, only our rebellious ways). 

God wants to give us a fair crack of the whip! (God wants to give us a Fair go!) He is loving, but He is also just. 

God is true-blue and fair-dinkum about judging our sin (God is Pure and honest and keeps His promises about judging our sin) 

But He is also ridgy-didge about loving us (God genuinely loves us. Jeremiah 31;3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love”) 

God was keen as mustard to find a way to save us and Jesus was just what the doctor ordered. (God was Enthusiastic about saving us and solved our problem for us by sending Jesus.) 

one-way3

CHRIST – God’s Chrissie gift 

Without Jesus, we’ve got Buckleys (Without Christ we have no hope, no chance of being saved). 

God lobbed in on the earth as an ankle biter, born of the virgin Mary (God became a child, born of a virgin). And that’s Christmas, right?  

But there’s more to it than that. 

He was a normal bloke except that He lived a perfect life and died for us mob in order to pay a very exe price for us making a blue (He was a normal person who lived a perfect life and died on a Cross and paid an expensive price for our sins)  

And He died to purchase a station and homestead for us in Heaven (He died to purchase a place we can call home in heaven).  

That’s His Chrissie present! (That’s His Christmas gift to you). 

Jesus died for us and now being mates with God is a goer (Jesus enables friendship with God to be a reality).

The thing about Jesus is that He will never bail you up (Jesus will never force you to accept His gift of eternal life).

You have the choice to give it a burl or knockback Christ’s offer. (You have a choice to believe in Christ or refuse what He is offering you).

 

Boomerangs, Mirrors and Glass Houses

FAITH – Avergoyamug 

But you would be a dipstick if you didn’t at least consider faith this arvo (It would be foolish not to at least consider having faith in Christ this afternoon). 

Faith is like a boomerang. It will turn your life around and bring you back to God. It’s like Chucking a Uey (It’s like making a U-turn back towards God) 

So take a Captain Cook and give it a Burl (So have a look for yourself and give it a try). 

Faith puts us in a good Possie for a homestead in heaven. (Faith puts us in an advantageous position to receive eternal life). 

You may think what I am saying is a bit iffy (Perhaps you’re a bit doubtful, questioning what I am saying).  

But what I am trying to say is avagoyermug (What I am trying to say is “take the risk of faith and give it a try – the Bible says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” Acts 16:31). 

So let’s have a chinwag with God (Let’s talk to God. Let’s pray) 

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

Prayer © by Ross Cochrane.

SINNERS PRAYER – Chin Wag with God 

If this has made sense to you (the Strine and this message about why Jesus came) then this is a great opportunity at Christmas time to pray this prayer.  

“Dear God, thank you for loving me and sending your Son to die on the Cross for my sins. I know I’m a sinner, and I cannot save myself, so I ask for Your forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, I want to trust You as my Saviour and follow You as Lord, from this day forward.  Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” 

 If you have decided to give faith in Christ a go, then Bewdie, Grouse, ripper (If you respond to Christ then Very good, well done, unreal, great, fantastic). Don’t forget to tell me about it. 

So all that’s left to say is hooroo and have Micky-Mouse Christmas and Good on ya mates! (So goodbye and have an excellent Christmas and God’s richest blessings on you, my friends). 

Eternity in the sand.png

Eternity © Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:21 – LIFE, BE IN IT! Eternal Life and How to Receive it

She gave her life to Christ that day. She relaxed back into the hospital pillow after we had prayed and June (not her real name) knew that she had received the gift of eternal life. The very next day when I came to visit her again, I discovered that she had died.

In Matthew 19 the rich young ruler discovers that he loves riches above eternal life. In spite of this, he left Jesus in sorrow. Such a choice can never bring joy.

WHAT IS ETERNAL LIFE?

Eternal life is the life of God. When we give our lives to Christ and follow Him, He gives His life to us, and our possessions become His because we become His. Yes, He allows us to use possessions in serving Him, but all we have belongs to Him and is to be held lightly because it is temporal. The life we receive is life in Him and His life is eternal.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

If we are to receive eternal life then it will involve responding to the only love in this world that is perfect. This perfect love is found in Christ.

John 15:13 (NLT) says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”Jesus would prove this by dying for our sins. He was the only one able to do so.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

WHAT IS THE PREREQUISITE FOR RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

Jesus tailors this message of eternal life to the rich young ruler by saying, “If you want to be perfect (complete), go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

The rich young ruler is not willing to sell everything he owns to give to the poor as Jesus commands him to do. He told Jesus he loved his neighbor, but not enough to give up his riches. He realizes in this moment he is not willing to follow Jesus. He rejects Jesus authority over him and walks away in unbelief.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT) says, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil …”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN MY LIFE?

Matthew 19:21 is not saying that Jesus asks everyone to sell everything they own to give to the poor. Jesus says to the rich young ruler and to us, in effect, “Give Me first place in your life by coming under My authority.” Doing what Jesus commands is a prerequisite for following Him. We declare that truth by being willing to surrender rulership of our lives to Him.

I yield my life to Jesus. He gives His life to me. This willingness to surrender myself to Him is called being “in Him”. In Galatians 2:20 (NLT) Paul expresses it like this, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In an effort to promote exercise, a television advertising slogan said, “Life, be in it!” The Life of Christ is eternal. Receiving Christ is receiving His life. His invitation is “Eternal Life, be in it!” That day, years ago, unlike the rich young ruler, June received the gift of Eternal Life. This Christmas what better gift could we receive.

Pastor Ross

Sydney Harbour Sept 2016 IMG_6009 (50).png

Eternity © By Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:20-21 – WHAT ELSE MUST I DO TO GET TO HEAVEN? – Part 4

The day was beautiful outside but the hospital ward was dark and crowded as I spoke to June. She told me that she had lived a good life but asked how could she be certain that it would be enough to have eternal life.

In Matthew 19:21 The rich young ruler, like June, comes to discover some answers about eternal life. In his own way of thinking, the young man has kept all the commandments. He says, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments. What else must I do?(Matthew 19:20 NLT).He knows that somehow, despite keeping the commandments, he has fallen short of eternal life.

If I had been a disciple I would have interrupted this young man’s assertion and repeated parts of the Sermon on the Mount, since this rich young man does not see that even his attitudes and thoughts are important (see Matthew 5). He doesn’t understand that no-one can keep the commandments perfectly. But unlike me wanting simply to prove a point, Jesus wants to do everything possible to lead this young man to eternal life.

Mark 10:21 (NLT) says, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”

The young man is confident about his own righteousness but not about eternal life.There is an intuitive awareness that eternal life eludes him which elicited this question in the first place to Jesus.

WHAT USE ARE THE 10 COMMANDMENTS?

Paul the Apostle, also a man of authority in his life before he knew Christ, discovered the truth about the commandments when he said in Romans 7:7-12 NLT, “In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” … the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.”

If keeping the commandments is not enough to guarantee me a place in heaven, what else must I do?

Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

Here’s the chance for this young man to be the 13th Disciple of Jesus!

Why does Jesus say, “If you want to be perfect?”Doesn’t this contradict what He has just told the young man about only God being good? Why does He choose generosity as a means of obtaining eternal life?How is perfection based on selling possessions? Or is it the last part of his direction that is the most important –following Jesus?

1 John 3:16-20 says it well, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?…Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, … “

Was Jesus touching a raw nerve and knew that this rich young man could not follow Him wholeheartedly without divesting himself of that which he worshiped above eternal life – riches?

When confronted, the rich young ruler’s attitude proves to be selfish. Possessions are more important to him than following Christ.

DO I HAVE TO SELL EVERYTHING I HAVE AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?

Is Jesus introducing a new commandment? Is selling everything I have and giving it to the poor now the criteria of eternal life? I don’t think so. Nowhere else in the Bible are we told to sell all we have in order to follow Christ.

For the rich young ruler, riches stood in the way of receiving eternal life because he chose to follow them rather than Christ. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Are you willing to allow riches to be used for My purposes as a servant in your life, rather than allowing them to rule over your life?”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN YOUR LIFE?

The invitation Christ gives us is perhaps best expressed in these questions, “What takes first place in your life? Are you willing to give this up in order to follow Christ wholeheartedly?” The cost of authentic faith for you will be quite different to the cost of authentic faith for me. All of us repent in order to follow Christ. All of us turn away from something in order to turn toward Christ. What does that mean for you? (Continued in Part 5)

Pastor Ross

2016-09-11 13.50.55-3.pngEternity © by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:16-17 –DOES KEEPING THE 10 COMMANDMENTS GUARANTEE ME A PLACE IN HEAVEN? – Part 3

She was not at all concerned that she was in a crowded open ward with some men who were speaking loudly. June wanted to know “How can I know for certain if I am going to heaven? Have I done enough?” I was able to get the men to quieten down and they were apologetic when I told them that I was her Chaplain. They listened to our conversation.

Her questions proved to be important since she died the next day. I am reminded that her questions have been asked before in Matthew 19.

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”

“Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 19:16-19 NLT).

Why did Jesus choose only these commandments? Why did He give them out of order?

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT HAVING ETERNAL LIFE?

  1. DO MY GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGH MY BAD DEEDS?

June was unsure whether she had done enough to have entrance to heaven. She wondered whether her good deeds outweighed her bad ones. I was able to dispel her misunderstanding.

June would have loved the conversation Jesus had with the rich young ruler. She responded to Jesus very differently to this young man.

A lot has been made about the specific commandments Jesus chose and the order in which Jesus quoted the commandments, but it seems to me that Jesus quotes a number of them deliberately.

This young man wants to find out the one good deed that above all others should be obeyed to guarantee that he has eternal life. If I do one really good thing, can it outweigh all other things I may have done which stand in the way of my having eternal life? Jesus doesn’t give him or us what we request. The rich young ruler is obviously off track

Instead of asking which is the one good deed he must keep to have eternal life, perhaps the rich young ruler should realize that breaking even one leaves us in need of God’s grace. James 2:10 (NLT) says “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”

Is any one good deed better than the others? Obviously not.

Jesus chooses only those commandments that are to do with the well-being and love of our neighbors (good deeds generally). Keep all these and you’ll get what you want, He says. You’ll have eternal life.

James 2:8 (NLT) says, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself”(see Leviticus 19:18).

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replies. “What else must I do?” (Matthew 19:20 NLT).

Has he really obeyed all these commandments? Now comes the crunch.

  1. WILL OBEDIENCE EARN YOU ETERNAL LIFE?

The rich young man knows he hasn’t murdered anyone, or committed adultery, or stolen from anyone, or testified falsely in a court of law against his neighbor, and according to the law, he has honored his mother and father. Still, he doesn’t fully interpret the true meaning of keeping these laws summed up by Jesus as, “Love your neighbor as yourself”(Matthew 19:19 NLT) and he intuitively understands that eternal life has eluded him.

His ideas on obedience in keeping the commandments seem very different to those of Jesus (read Matthew 5), but Jesus doesn’t point this out.

June, like this young man, certainly knew, as she lay in her hospital bed, that despite her good life, something was missing. And she was right.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED? (Find out in Part 4). The answer might surprise you.

Pastor Ross

 

Sydney Harbour Sept 2016 IMG_6009 (48).png

Eternity © by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Matthew 19:17 – TWO PREREQUISITES FOR HAVING ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS (Part 2)

With a worried look on her face as she sat upright in her hospital bed, June said, “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven. Have I done enough?” How could I know that June would die the next day? June would have loved the answers that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler who came to Him with the same question about good works and eternal life but her response to Christ was so different.

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replies. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).

Surely Jesus is good and therefore should be able to answer his question. Why does Jesus say “Why ask Me about what is good?” Why does Jesus say, “Keep the commandments” and not “Follow Me” or “Believe in Me” first?

Jesus could have quoted the words that would eventually be written in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Jesus could have quoted words which Paul would write in Titus 3:5 (NLT)“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Where is His evangelical zeal? He didn’t go through the 4 spiritual laws or Evangelism Explosion points to cover the gospel and elicit a response of faith. Why did he bring up keeping the law, of all things? Jesus, what are you doing? Where is Your theology?

Then again, perhaps the 4 spiritual laws and our traditional methods are not the only way to share the gospel. What was Jesus trying to get this young man to realize? For that matter…

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW IF I AM TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

As I shared with June I told her that not one of us is good enough to get to heaven by ourselves. Like Jesus, I said in effect that…

  1. NO-ONE IS GOOD BUT GOD. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This young man was quite satisfied that he was a good man. He was arrogant enough to think that a perfect God would accept a flawed human standard of goodness. This is a common misconception.

 

Instead of saying “You are a sinner”, Jesus makes it clear to him that no-one is good but God. It amounts to the same thing.

 

If God alone is good then God alone holds the answers to receiving eternal life. It can’t be earned by us, only received by us and in a way that will not compromise the perfect character of God.

 

  1. WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. WE DON’T EARN IT. Jesus says to him, “…if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”.

I told June that Eternal Life is a gift, not something we earn, work for or deserve. But what about the rich young ruler?

Jesus gives this young man an impossible task. If it were possible to keep the commandments perfectly as Jesus did, then he could receive the gift of heaven. But no-one can. He has already said “No-one is good but God.” Paul would eventually write, For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.(Romans 3:20 NLT).

Was Jesus helping this young man see that there was nothing he could do to receive eternal life by himself? Was He helping him to place his trust alone in a perfect God rather than his good works? Is this what He was saying to June as I spoke to her that day?

What happens next? (see part 3 for more of the story).

Pastor Ross

Matthew 19:16 – WHAT MUST I DO TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS? – Part 1

Eternity

Eternity, Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT).

She sat up in her hospital bed, clearly agitated, waiting for me. She looked so alert and clearly wanted to talk. I was not to know that she would die the next day and how important it was for her to have her questions answered.

Almost before I had greeted June (not her real name) she blurted out “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven? Have I done enough?” June had been attending my Devotional Talks at the Aged Care Centre and I am reminded of her all these years later as I read this interview with Jesus.

WHO IS HE?

Who was this someone who comes to Jesus? Matthew tells us that he is a young man (Matthew 19: 20). Luke tells us he is a ruler (Luke 18:18) and Mark says he comes running and kneeling (Mark 10:17). All three gospels tell us that he is rich. He is obviously a leader but with a lot of respect for Jesus as a teacher. Rich, young and powerful. Is he a ruler of the synagogue?

WHAT DOES HE WANT?

The rich young ruler thinks that there is one particularly good thing above every other good deed that he can do to earn eternal life. The fact that he comes to Jesus shows he is concerned about this and respects Jesus enough to get an answer to his dilemma.

His question, unlike the Pharisees (Matthew 19:3), seems to be genuine. He is not trying to trap Jesus.

Perhaps in listening to Jesus, he has become concerned that he would not go to heaven? Like June, he asks what he must do, not realizing the real truth about how we receive eternal life depends on God, not on us. But more about this later.

WHY DOES HE COME TO JESUS? 

He is obviously a good man willing to do good works to earn eternal life, but perhaps he heard Jesus speak about the children. Jesus said, “For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14 NLT). How could those who were like children be closer to eternal life than this rich young ruler of the synagogue, with all his good works, and status in society?

Surely eternal life doesn’t just come to people at birth. He knows that not everyone automatically has eternal life. Children are not capable of doing good works.

Notice that what the rich man calls “eternal life” is the same thing that Jesus’ calls the “kingdom” (Matthew 19:23) and the disciples call being “saved” (Matthew 19:25).

The more he listens to Jesus, the more he is shaken in his understanding of eternal life, so he comes to Jesus to set things straight.

WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM HIM?

So what can I learn from this young man as he comes to Jesus and from June as she sat in the hospital bed that day some years ago? What can they teach me that will make a difference in my life?

1.Seek the Eternal not the temporal. They are on the right track. This young man and June believe that there is more to life than what they are experiencing. (Matthew 19:16)

2.Come to Christ with respect and openness. After you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, ask Him how you can have eternal life, but be open enough receive what He says.

3.Recognise Christ for who He is. Jesus is the only One who is able to give you the answer to any questions about eternal life. Jesus says, “… No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NLT). Even if you come with presumptions that are wrong, these will be sorted out by the answers you receive from Christ.

Acts 17:27 (NLT) says that “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.” 

June, like the rich young ruler, asked her questions and we talked about the answers only Jesus could provide.

Psalm 145:18 (NLT) says “The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.”

Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)says, “Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT) says, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

The invitation of Matthew 19:16 and from the Bible as a whole is to come to Christ for the answers you need about eternal life during this Christmas season.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? (See next post)

Pastor Ross

flower-from-rockMatthew 19:13-15 – WHY SEEK GOD’S BLESSING IN THE DIFFICULTIES OF LIFE?

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And He placed His hands on their heads and blessed them before He left” (Matthew 19:13-15 NLT).

These parents were intent on having Jesus bless their children. They lived in difficult times. Why do we seek God’s blessing for our children? Does it make a difference? Will they be protected from life’s challenges? Will they avoid the pitfalls we encountered? What difference will it make? Will it change them or change us and our attitudes?

  1. A BLESSING SEEKS GOD’S HIGHEST INTENTIONS

Luke 2:27-35 (NLT) speaks about the day when Jesus Himself, as a baby, was blessed by Simeon. “That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there.

He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”  

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be dedicated to God at the Temple where this blessing was made. In the light of these prophetic words of blessing concerning Jesus, is it surprising then that parents devoted to Jesus will always seek to bring their children to Him? They too seek God’s highest intentions for their children.

This blessing does not mean Jesus will by-pass the difficulties of life. Blessings don’t always mean that life will be easy. The blessing Simeon gave made it clear that Jesus’ life would have challenges, more than any of us will face. Many would oppose Jesus and Mary would end up having her heart broken.

I would rather go through life with Christ’s blessing than without it, so that I can face the difficulties and opposition I may encounter with His help. I need His strength and victory in my life.

  1. JESUS RECEIVES THOSE LIKE CHILDREN

Jesus receives children on one hand, and then Jesus rejects both the religious leaders and a rich man. The disciples were confused. In their minds, Jesus receives those whom He should reject, and He rejects those He should receive. He receives the humble and rejects the arrogant and proud.

Humility was not highly regarded as a virtue in those times, nor is it in ours.  Neither are women children given any real respect in many parts of our world. Human slavery is still a reality in our world. Christianity declares humility a virtue and not a weakness and has given women and children value. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to Christ.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) instructs parents about raising children. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

  1. JESUS LOVES ALL WHO COME TO HIM

It is interesting to note that Jesus rebukes those who disregard or disrespect children (Matthew 19:14-15), even His own disciples. Previously He refutes those who disrespect the marriage relationship, even the religious and governing authorities in Jewish society. He has not changed His views.

If Jesus blessed little children then we also can pray for them with hope and expectation that they too will one day follow Him and find His strength for life’s challenges.

Jesus loves all those who come to Him, of any age. He rebuked His own disciples when they tried to decide who should and should not come to Him.

John 1:12-13 (NLT) says, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

These verses speak of being open to Jesus, so let’s not seek to read infant Baptism into its meaning. Jesus uses the blessing as a symbol of being open to Christ and coming to Him in submission and trust for your life and for the future. It isn’t dependent on how capable you are or how much you lack. It depends on Him and He is willing to receive us and to give us His blessing.

The invitation of Matthew 19:13-15 is for us all to come to Him as dependent children, admitting that we need His blessing to be all He has intended for us to be as we face life’s challenges.

Pastor Ross