Matthew 15:21-28 – HOW GREAT FAITH IS AWAKENED

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH Photo by Ross Cochrane

They don’t want anything to do with her, but she walks into their midst to seek for Him anyway. She pleads with Him above the calls to send her away. He embodies the answers she needs to the prayers that have reached heaven’s corridors. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”Prayer is a window of hope and He has responded by His presence in this far away place. Accessible. Approachable.

If only her husband would believe? There’s something about a Mother’s love that is willing to find a path to God. But Jesus does not respond.

In the silence of Jesus somehow persistent faith is awakened. Anyone can see that she is faced with total rejection. Yet she stays and persists in asking for help with a heart that is breaking and a faith that lingers. Would mine?

She comes to Him again. She worships Him. Somehow she knows that He is God. She pleads with Him for help. Her persistence is not thwarted by His silence but all the more insistent.

Her daughter is possessed by a demon. Jesus does not ask her how this happened? Canaanites worshiped all kinds of other gods; god’s that defiled and penetrated the mind with their poison.

She calls Him “Lord” and “Son of David”. Surely this descendent of king David will help her? She cries for mercy for her daughter.

And then comes that famous exchange. Jesus finally speaks, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replies, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their Master’s table” “Dear woman,” Jesus says to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter is instantly healed. (Matthew 15:26-28 NLT).

He said her faith was great. Her daughter was healed instantly. When my faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. She didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to go with her. Her master had spoken. She had come under the authority of the Lord of heaven and earth and her daughter was healed.

What does great faith look like? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help (Matthew 15:22). It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation (Matthew 15:23-24). It looks like worship (Matthew 15:25). It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:26-27). It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus said it was great faith. It is faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

Matthew 21:22 (NLT) says “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” John 14:13-14 (NLT) says “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it!”

Jesus awakens that kind of faith as we worship Him. Faith that forces its way through rejection and seeming silence until it can appropriate a miracle. Jesus invites me and you to have such desperate and humble faith as this. 

Pastor Ross

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH - Picture created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

Letter to my wife on Mother’s Day

Dear Julie,

Happy Mother’s day,

I have been reading about the Gentile mother who came to Jesus for help for her daughter. Like you, she is a mother who comes to Jesus in humble surrender and worship on behalf of her children.

Like her, you are a Mother who wants to know and worship Jesus. Long before situations arise in our children’s lives you have been seeking the Lord on their behalf. You see prayer is a window of hope and you use it as a woman of faith to speak into impossible circumstances. Spiritual warfare for our children.

Like her, you take action as you come to Jesus for help. And you don’t give up. I admire that about you. Your persistence, despite not seeing answers straight away, despite the sacrifices you have to make and where you seem to hear silence for your efforts. You are not thwarted. You find the way.

Like her, you see the favour of God. When faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. So often your faithfulness sees it’s way through to a miracle.

What does great faith look like in a Mother? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help for your children. It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation. It looks like worship. It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus says to this mother it was great faith; faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

You are a mother such as this. I am inspired by your faith, by your persistence, by your love for your children, your grandchildren and your respect for your own mother. God bless you on this Mother’s Day, woman of great faith.

Love you,

Ross

 

Millstone

Millstone © Ross Cochrane

 

Matthew 18:3-6 – I’VE GOT YOUR BACK! – Jesus

The organisation Open Doors says, “Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian.”

In our sophisticated and modern world today, these are the estimated statistics … Each month over 300 Christians are killed for their faith, over 200 Churches and properties are destroyed, and over 750 acts of violence are committed against Christians such as beatings, physical torture, confinement, abductions, isolation, rape, arrests and imprisonment, slavery, and child marriages. (Open Doors)

Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. But if you cause one of these little ones WHO TRUSTS IN ME to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:3-6 NLT). 

A Millstone is normally about 18 inches in diameter and 3 inches thick, but Jesus is speaking of one which is much larger, pulled by an animal. Tying a millstone around your neck and being drowned was a method of execution used by the Gentile nations around Israel, the Syrians, Greeks, and Egyptians.

The Romans reserved it only for the worst criminals and Jewish people were particularly repulsed by this. The Jews saw drowning as a symbol of utter destruction and annihilation. They feared it.

So Jesus is saying in effect, If someone becomes a follower of Christ and you cause them to fall into sin, to miss the mark, to induce them not to believe in Me, to go back to the old life, to harm, persecute or seduce them to the point of sin because of the pressure that you apply, then life for you, Jesus says, will not be worth living.

To stop someone from believing is reprehensible in Christ’s eyes. He is using the strongest picture of judgment that He can use for those who would harm new Christians or lead them astray. This shows you how precious a new believer is to Christ. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of belief in Him.

The disciples would have been shocked by what Jesus was saying. Perhaps you are too. Jesus was saying they needed to turn around, to repent from arguing over who was the greatest when they hadn’t really trusted in Christ completely themselves. They were going in entirely the wrong direction. They were disciples of Jesus but they had things entirely wrong.

It is better to be a humbly obedient child responding to Christ’s call and positioning than to be a proud, disobedient adult dependent only on themselves and seeking after power that means nothing.

As important as it is to pray for those who have responded to Christ in humble obedient faith, it is just as important for us to pray for those who persecute those who have become followers of Christ, that they would repent and be cut free from the millstone that is around their neck and the threat of being drowned in eternal judgment.

Pastor Ross

 

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The Cost © Ross Cochrane 

 

Matthew 18:5-6 – THE COST

Jesus says in Matthew 18:4-6 (NLT) “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf (Greek: in My Name) is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. 

Many people look at this verse and think it is talking about treating children well. It is not, although it goes without saying that we should do so. This is not talking about receiving little children in general, but receiving those who become like little children and who have believed and trusted in Christ.

To welcome those who humbly respond in obedience to Christ with a childlike faith as new followers of Christ is like welcoming Christ Himself. Jesus brings equality to a new level when He makes these statements. He says in effect these new Christians represent Me.

The old man could not escape it. It would be a sin not to allow Christ to direct his life.

Becoming a Christian would mean certain ostracism by his family and by his community if it became known. Even Jesus said, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed” (Matthew 10:21, NLT). This was true in his community when someone responded to Christ.

He had seen it before. Unbelieving family members would become like a cult, applying pressure in the form of psychological and physical abuse. He knew that if he gave his life to Christ he would face the possibility of death, and the certainty of rejection.

“How can you do this?” his wife shouted at him, “What about our children? If you become a Christ-follower, we will all be in danger. I will let the authorities know. I warn you. If you love your family, please don’t do this!”

What will I do now? he thought, l love my family but I also love Christ! How awful it is to be forced to choose between them, and even worse to face being betrayed by my own family, but, deep down, I know that I must follow Christ. The love for my family will never diminish but I must ask, ‘To who do I owe my allegiance?’ And if it is Christ, then I must ask for His help to keep my family from suffering?

In the days to come he would read the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew (10:37, 40 NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love Me, you are not worthy of being Mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than Me, you are not worthy of being Mine.”…”Anyone who receives you receives Me, and anyone who receives Me receives the Father who sent Me.”

In Matthew 10:32-33 (NLT) he read, “Everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before My Father in heaven. But everyone who denies Me here on earth, I will also deny before My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:15, 28).

He read of others who were persecuted for becoming Christians in Philippians 1:29 (NLT) “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.”

Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 (NLT) “And all nations will hate you because you are My followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” He still longed to have peace with God. Perhaps God would help him bear persecution and rejection!

In Matthew 16:24 (NLT) Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow Me.” It doesn’t sound all that rewarding, Lord, he thought, but then in John 16:33 (NLT) he read, “Take heart for I have overcome the world”. And in Romans 8:37 he read “I am more than a conqueror in Christ.”

In Matthew 10:39 (NLT) he read how Jesus says “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.” He thought, The key to handling pressure in my life is not to compromise in terms of my allegiance. It will mean standing firm in my resolve to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and come under His authority and direction no matter what the world throws at me. It will mean finding victory over every circumstance in this life in Him.

The invitation that Christ gives to follow Him will involve a cost. The choice you make will change your life forever.

Pastor Ross

 

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Matthew 18:3-4 – THE BIRTHDAY INVITATION

We were invited to a birthday party recently of a friend who turned 40 (I know, so young). It was wonderful to see all our old (young) friends again and celebrate together.

A Birthday: an anniversary when a person celebrates the miracle of their birth, and for a moment we all have permission to act like children, wearing a party hat and blowing out candles on a cake, with birthday wishes and well wishes, singing the ritual song, giving gifts and celebrating another milestone. So encouraging.

Certain birthdays are milestones conferring particular rights and responsibilities; to be able to marry without parental consent, to vote, to run for elected office, to legally purchase and consume alcohol and tobacco products, to purchase lottery tickets, or to obtain a driver’s license.

The decades are particularly celebrated. 30, 40, 50. Where I work, in the aged Care Facility in Sydney, I think you have to reach 90 or 100 before you come of age. But isn’t it strange that although birthdays are important rites of passage into adulthood, we still revert back to all the childlike rituals to celebrate those rites?

In Matthew 18:3-4 (NLT) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So, the little child represents someone who humbly responds in obedience to Christ with childlike trust. What would it have been like to follow Christ…

The choice was clear, though difficult. It would go against everything he had been taught to believe. In order to become a follower of Christ I need to reason, think critically, and pray for God’s help, and then be willing to step out in faith like a little child, but when it all comes down to it, there is no sitting on the fence. I must choose, he thought, but already his heart had chosen. The only course for me is to live for Christ each day without compromise, no matter what the circumstances.

The old man walked to the top of the hill and looked out over the mountainous terrain of Israel. There in a secluded place between some large rocks, he felt as vulnerable as a little child. He began to weep and he prayed for the first time to Jesus.

“Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me, for I have sinned against You!” he cried out and in that barren place a deep sense of the presence of God enveloped him and he found himself lying prostrate, crying out that God would spare him. For hours, he remained there interceding until the dark secret places of his heart were completely laid bare before God.

“Oh, God,” he groaned “Release me from the power of my pride and let me serve You. Have mercy upon me and forgive me for I can no longer follow the old ways of living.”

Then it seemed like something broke deep inside with an almost audible ring as the shackles of his heart fell away. For the first time in his life, he felt free of the burdens of his own sin. It all seemed to make sense to him as he raised his hands and his heart towards the heavens that night.

The invitation Christ gives is to become like a little child, no matter what age, and humbly respond in obedience to the call of Christ with childlike trust.

1 John 5 (NLT) says “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.”

1 Peter 1:24 (NLT) says “For you have been born again, …”

The invitation He gives is a birthday invitation … to your own birthday. You are invited…

Pastor Ross

Anzac Day 2016

“Herein is Love … my grandfathers who were willing to face the enemy for the sake of freedom for their family” – Julie Cochrane

THE LORD’S ANZAC DAY PRAYER – POEM

 © By Ross Cochrane

 “Our Father…” In war, many people lose their fathers in distress,

And yet you say You are a Father to the fatherless.

“Our Father, who art in heaven,…”

It is to heaven many servicemen and women send their prayers,

And there they grapple for answers that earth cannot provide

For cares in the midst of battle.

It is for heaven’s victories they lay claim.

“…hallowed be Thy Name…”

Hallowed means “Worthy of honour” or “Set apart”,

We commemorate today those on our heart,

Those who have not returned.

Set apart for war they earned our freedom.

Yet in this prayer, we honour God in how we live,

To give respect for His Word and Ways,

To give Him praise that we are free to live our faith,

Without shame, unhindered by the shackles of oppression,

Yes, hallowed be Thy Name.

“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Wars are about kingdoms – worth the taking or defending.

Oh to understand God’s kingdom view

And pray for what is right and true,

Contending for God’s rulership,

His Kingdom, and within His grip we find our worth,

Heaven’s perspective here on earth,

Only then we fear no dread.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

The ravages of war leave those who live as refugees

To have no food,

Subdued into submission, many go without,

Yet I cry out for just enough for me and mine,

When I should ask for bread enough for thee and thine

For those whose needs cry out above my own

And fight unknown battles just to live

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Once driven by our sin and by regret,

Yet we are now forgiven as we trust in Christ,

And though atrocities have taken place in times of war,

We must forgive and open up the door to live again,

And only then will we remember the past and not be defeated,

To learn from the past so it is not repeated,

To remember those who died and not be hardened by our loss,

To forgive as Christ did on the Cross.

“Deliver us from evil…”

Lest we forget the debt of gratitude we owe

And the debt You paid for sin.

Deliver us from the evils of war,

Let us begin to live free from the things that bring oppression.

Let our confession be to live life free of turmoil and regret,

And as we pray this prayer we need His help,

LEST WE FORGET.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 18:1-4 – “THE GREATEST” QUALITIES

Matthew 18:1-4 is an invitation to find your true identity but it will mean some rewiring of assumptions about what is great. Greatness is not a wall designed to keep people out. It is not a pyramid to keep people in. The qualities of “the greatest” will include…

SERVANTHOOD

Jesus doesn’t deny authority in the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is coming under authority that is important. Luke 22:26-30 (NLT) Jesus says “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as One who serves. “You have stayed with  Me in My time of trial. And just as My Father has granted Me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  

It is not a sense of entitlement but seeking out the best in others that is powerful. No-one can exercise authority without coming under authority. Servanthood is true greatness. He invites us into another person’s world.

HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE

“Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4 NLT).

Humble enough to turn aside, come and obey when Jesus calls. Greatness involves humble obedience. Humility admits our dependence on Christ and enables us to realise our potential in Him. To enter into Christ’s kingdom realm demands that we become like a child for it is only in doing so that we can become a child of the king.

RECEPTIVE AND TRUSTING

The child responded to the call of Christ. “Turn…” Turn like the child turning to listen to Him and come to Him. Become like a little child. Compliant to the things of God in our lives, it will involve being vulnerable enough to trust.

RISK TAKING AND FAITH

With faith, there will always be an element of risk. Children are not conscious of inherent dangers and a child may like showing off, but to come into a group of adults at the request of Jesus shows courage, risk-taking, and faith.

FOCUS ON CHRIST

Focus demands not being distracted by a false sense of entitlement but fixing our attention on what Christ is asking of us. It means a deliberate disassociation with self-centredness. The child made Jesus the centre of his or her attention and in doing so came under His authority.

And the invitation is to come as a Child comes, at the sound of Jesus’ voice, with all our gifts, motivations, abilities, potential, personality, and limited experience, to Jesus. Position depends on responding to His calling. God’s purposes replacing worldly ambition is a powerful influence.

SUBMISSION AND FAITH

Position, power, prestige, fame, wealth and ambition come into perspective under the authority of Christ. Am I motivated by pride or by a desire to submit myself to Christ? The motivation is all important.

Was it pride and covetousness that made them ask this question about who is the greatest? Self-importance and envy get in the way of our calling and position in Christ. It seems they were being contentious about who would lead them, who would be greatest and have the most authority.

Perhaps they were jealous of Peter or John or James. Perhaps it is just political wrangling over the best candidate. Whatever motivated the question, it was not indicative of a childlike faith.

The invitation is clear for those who would find their true identity and purpose.

“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.(Matthew 18:4 NLT)

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Matthew 18:1-4 – A FALSE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT

“Then His disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest.” (Luke 9:46, see also Matthew 18:1 and Mark 9:34)

Perhaps they never grew up. Perhaps as children, they demanded their way and threw tantrums if they didn’t get what they wanted when they wanted it. Now they are still in constant competition and expect “special treatment” because they think they deserve it.

They have tasted that sense of being unique and have been involved in the amazing miracles of Jesus, after all. But their narcissistic sense of entitlement begins to shorten their focus to a few centimetres as they stumble over one another with arrogant disregard. It’s all about me! I am the greatest!

Lord, You decide. They don’t realise that their question to Jesus is selfish and demanding. Somehow the world revolves around them and others must meet their needs.

They try to impose their unrealistic expectations upon Jesus with overdramatic flair, willing to bully their way into the kingdom with their manipulative and egotistical mindset. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” they ask Him, vying for His attention and approval at the expense of each other (Matthew 18:1 NLT).

Their voices are raised, and their question is aggressive and demands self-serving endorsement. They will go to any lengths to prove which one is better than the rest. Surely Jesus will pick me and take away the threat of competition.

Each of them expects it will be them, especially Judas, James and John and none of them really expects to have to negotiate or compromise. They each have priority and will be very upset if Jesus doesn’t recognise their greatness. They crave his admiration and want to assert their dominance over the others.

Jesus helps them become less self-absorbed and more self-aware. He challenges their false beliefs in themselves and their false sense of entitlement. He gets them to take their eyes off themselves and include others in their world. He gives them a whole new paradigm by getting them to be open to new ways of thinking.

They have been excessively preoccupied with personal power and prestige and their pride is in danger of destructive mindsets and behaviour. They have a grandiose fantasy of their own success, brilliance and ability. Jesus gives them back their true identity.

Perhaps the disciples and I need to repent of a false sense of entitlement in our thinking. There are lots of nuances to repentance, but this kind of Kingdom demands that we turn around and trust in Christ (Matthew 4:17) because a spiritual kingdom involves coming under the authority of Christ. Our greatness is derived from our response to Him, and not based on our misguided sense of being deserving.

“Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4 NLT).

Judas obviously didn’t take Christ’s teaching on board (John 12:4-6). He did not repent and become a child of God but became one whose thinking aligned more with the devil (John 6:70-71).

I am not entitled to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. I don’t deserve it. The invitation Jesus gives me is not about entitlement but about being converted from distorted ways of thinking about greatness, and also to be converted to a new way of life in Christ. The principles for entering the Christian life are the same as those for living it. Repent from your sins and become like little children.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 18 – TOO ADULT

GRAHAM (an entrepreneur and 2IC of a company): “I know they learn quickly, they’re creative and they are curious and interested in life. They remember things easily and are fun loving people who have retained an imagination. I think it is wonderful that they don’t believe in limits.

I know that they find a way into your hearts so that you end up loving them, excusing them, defending them, laughing and playing with them and you can’t do without them. But what’s the deal with relating them to people in authority, people who are great? You have got to be kidding? 

They are distracted so easily from a task, loud most of the time, demand attention and interrupt all the time. When they get tired, they get cranky. They want to eat all the time, and want others to get it for them.”

JESUS: “I called a little child to Me.” 

GRAHAM: “But Lord, how is a child related to greatness. I would understand if you said you have to be less self-serving and less self-centred, or listen more. But how is the calling of a child related to greatness?

In fact, why call a child at all. Children throw tantrums in shopping centres and are uncooperative when you want them to do something. They hit their brothers and sisters, disrupt a good conversation, and are bored easily. They are careless with their toys, changeable in their moods, and cling to their mothers.”

JESUS: “I called this child and the child came to Me, and I placed them in the midst of My disciples to teach them about greatness.”

GRAHAM: “So let me get this straight. This is a picture, right? You CALL the child then PLACE the child. There is a CHOICE made by the child to come. So, at least, this child is OBEDIENT. Are you saying that Your calling looks for a response of OBEDIENCE? But isn’t it the person who gives the direction the one who is great. You are the One who has the authority, especially since You managed to get a child to obey You?

And by the way, what about stranger danger? What were the mum and dad thinking? Were the parents around? Did the child know You?” 

JESUS: “I called the child and the child came.”

GRAHAM: “I guess the parents must have known You. Everybody knew You and, come to think of it, I seem to remember parents bringing their children to You so You could lay Your hands on them and pray for them. 

Didn’t that bother You? Having parents forcing their kids on You?”

JESUS: “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:13-14 NLT)

GRAHAM: “Oh, please, You can’t be serious. Children lie if it suits them, they are impatient with getting somewhere in the car, lack manners at the table, are irresponsible with tasks unless paid, covetous of their friends toys, possessive of their own, untidy and lazy about cleaning up, and so obstinate about knowing things they have got wrong.” 

JESUS: “When I called, the child came and I placed the child among My disciples.”

GRAHAM: “You said that before but what are You saying, Lord? Are You saying that You PLACED this child where you wanted him or her to be because OBEDIENCE comes before someone can be POSITIONED? But it’s still You giving the direction. Are you saying that greatness is being in the position You place us, the place where we can be used for Your purposes? Is this what you mean by greatness?

I still can’t accept it that a child can be great. Children in Your time on earth had no rights. They can’t be great. Children are so dependent on adults and yet insist on being independent. They are always asking questions, never want to go to bed early, embarrassingly make fun of others, hate homework and structured learning. When they are small they demand to be picked up. When they are big they refuse to give you a hug. How is that great?”

JESUS: “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

GRAHAM: “But Lord, children have no responsibilities, stand in front of the TV, invade your personal space, cough without covering their mouths, pick their noses, play in the dirt, pass on colds and flu and nits and ringworm and worse diseases. They have high pitched screams, have no idea of danger, and have far too much energy to keep up with. They break toys, and if they can’t get what they want, they ‘cry’.”

JESUS: “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming Me.” 

GRAHAM: “OK, Lord. Let me try to get my head around this. The Child was called, so she or he was old enough to understand, turn to You, exercise trust and obey. He or she makes a choice, a positive choice towards You.

I think You are trying to tell me that I need to think of greatness in the simplest of terms. It’s not the flaws of children that you want to emphasise but the simplicity of faith. This child, in this situation, is a picture of what it means to have dependence on You and trust in You.

I guess you are not saying that I am to be childish, but childlike, and have a simple openness in being directed in my life by You. To be great is to find my purpose and position in life lining up with Your purposes and where You want me to be. OK, I get it. Save me from being too adult.”

Pastor Ross

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THE HANDS OF GRACE

The world is changed by the HANDS of the Lord,

Which reach out from the handbook of ages,

Where Hands of His grace have planned and penned the stages

For undeserving hands in need of life restored,

The hand-wrought work of God; unearned reward,

Handpicked, and free at last from sins cruel wages.

Yet mishandled grace has smudged most its pages.

 

THE HANDS OF MAN 

So God’s pure hands now hold a two-edged sword,

While sinful, errant hands hold nought but shame,

In need of His abiding, guiding hand.

With things so out of hand, we must share blame.

We take the law into our hands and stand

Doomed, death’s wages play our hand a losing game,

As hands rebel against His Holy Name

 

THE HANDS OF GOD

Did God throw up His hands at my offence?

Or wash His hands of me until I die?

Or did He force His hand upon me to comply?

In Satan’s hands, my life will not make sense,

God acts with heavy hand and moral sense.

On one hand, He condemns with just resolve.

On the other hand, His love wants to absolve

 

THE HANDS OF SALVATION

I forced God’s hand to judge me. No defence.

The hands of Jesus have for me made room.

Those hands that flung the stars and worlds in space

Became the tiny hands in Mary’s womb.

Hands-on hands, rough and calloused found their place.

Soon nail pierced hands would rise up from the tomb

Those Hands which long to craft my life in grace.

 

His gentle hands restore sight with one touch,

Hands that heal the wounds and scars we bear,

Hands that soften hardened hearts heal with loving care,  

Those hands that feed five thousand offer much,

Servant hands that wash disciple’s feet. Such

Loving hands bless children with a prayer.

His hands broke bread and gave us wine to share,

Hands that wrenched the victory from the devils clutch.

 

Yet Judas would such blameless hands betray

And hand Him up to hands of sinful men,

His hands abandoned, as we turned away.

Pilot would such faultless hands condemn.

He tried to wash his hands of guilt that day,

And blood is also on our hands as it was then.

 

The crowd forced Pilot’s hand to crucify.

The hands of Jesus bore His Cross and our travails.

And into open hands, we drove those cruel nails.

He knew firsthand that He would have to die,

Sin handled, “It is finished” was His cry.

Into His Father’s hands, His spirit sails,

And though His hands are still, His love prevails.  

 

Salvation, paid in full, His hands supply,

He won hands down the victory over death,

And on the day I handed Him my sin,

He handed me forgiveness, peace within.

My hands received new life from Spirit breath.

 

So touch His nail scarred hands, be born again,

Those hands that offer love of unplumbed depth.

He takes your hand, the journey can begin.

 

THE HANDS OF FAITH

The hands of faith are my hands reaching out,

And Jesus is on hand to hear my prayer.

He wants all hands on board, He’s just and fair.

He waits for hands of faith that will not doubt,

Clean hands and hearts of those who are devout.

For faith is not a ‘hand-me-down’ we wear,

Not second hand but born from choice and prayer.

We take hands off, He turns our life about,

 

The clock hands say the day is almost spent.

Salvation is at hand, the time is near.

Faith takes the hand of God with full intent,

Surrendered hands and hearts and ears to hear.

So with clean hands and heart make the ascent

In His eternal hands, there is no fear.

 

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

So today, as we pray, could you open your hands in front of you and open your heart to Him.

Dear Lord Jesus, I admit to You that I have sin on my hands, and I ask for Your forgiveness, for clean hands and a new start. I believe that when Your hands were nailed to the Cross You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I hand over my life to You and invite You to come into my heart and life.

Take my hand of faith because I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour.

I accept the gift of eternal life that you hand to me,

I pray this prayer knowing that now I am in Your hands. Thankyou for welcoming me into Your family.   

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, then Jesus will give You a hand in living life to the full, as God intended. And please e-mail me if I can help you live your life for Him.

Pastor Ross

 

These are the hands of Alf Bourne, a 97 year old volunteer Chaplain. Photo by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

HANDS

The Bible is our HANDBOOK for Salvation

I got to thinking about the Bible being a HAND book. And it struck me that there are a lot of hands that are in its pages.

What are the hands of the handbook of the bible that speak about Easter.

  1. HANDS OF GRACE

The hands of Grace are the hands of God handing us His gift. The Bible says that God hands us the gift of heaven on a platter. We don’t have to work for it with our hands, earn it and we don’t deserve it. It’s given to us by grace as a gift from His hand. “The gift of God is eternal life”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done” by our hands, “so none of us can boast about it.” 

Eternal life is God’s handiwork, handmade for us, and we are handpicked to receive it.

But there’s a problem taking this gift in hand.

What’s the problem?

The problem is to do with the hands of man

  1. THE HANDS OF MAN

The trouble is that God’s hands are pure, sinless hands.

But the hands of people in the world are sinful hands.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God sought to give the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, a guiding hand

But when Adam and Eve sinned, things got out of hand. They took the law into our own hands rather than live as God intended.

God’s hands are too pure to put up with our sin.

We became enemies of God, and those with sinful hands cannot go to heaven because the “wages of sin is death.”

How could God hand us His love when we turned our hands against Him.

What could be done?

Did God throw up his hands because the situation seemed hopeless? No.

Did He force his hand upon us and make us comply with His will? No.

He had a plan. He wrote it in his handbook and written in His own hand, He tells us about …

  1. THE HANDS OF GOD
  • On one hand – God hates sin and must condemn those who sin.
  • On the other hand – God loves you and me and wants to save us from the hands of the evil one, from condemnation, from going to hell, from a life that is less than He intended.

Make no mistake, God acts with a heavy hand towards our sin. Because of the sin on our hands, it looked like the entire human race was destined to go to hell.

You see, we forced God’s hand and compelled Him to judge our sin. But fortunately, God knew how to handle the problem of sin.

That’s where Jesus’ hands come into the story.

Let’s look at what the handbook says about…

  1. THE HANDS OF JESUS.

Jesus also wanted to have a hand in the human race.

The hands of Jesus that created the world became the tiny hands formed in Mary’s womb. He became a human being and lived among us.

He wants to have a hand in your life and my life today because Jesus is a hands-on kind of person

The rough, calloused craftsman’s hands of a village carpenter, working hands that gripped lumber with bare-handed fingers, removed splinters, shaped timber and sanded the rough edges are the hands that want to shape and craft our lives today.

Those strong, calloused but gentle hands that could restore sight to the blind with a touch, bring life to the dead, heal deformed hands, and lift those who were lame up from the dust are the same hands that want to heal the wounded places in our lives.

The same compassionate, helping hands that took five loaves and two fish and fed the five thousand; the same servant hands that washed His disciple’s feet; the same loving hands that prayed for little children and blessed them want to touch and change your life forever today.

But what has all this got to do with God’s problem at hand? If we are still condemned by God, how did Jesus’ hands change things?

Well, here’s what happened.

Jesus had the same clean, sinless, pure hands of God

The handbook of the bible says in 1 John 3:5 (NLT) “there is no sin in Him.”

Judas had the blood of Jesus on his hands, but even Judas said, “I have betrayed Innocent blood.”

Pilot declared “I find no fault in Him”

Why is this important?

Only clean, sinless hands can do what Jesus did for us.

Here’s what He did.

It was the time of the Passover and Jesus hands took up bread and wine and told His followers that it was a perpetual picture of His coming sacrifice. On Good Friday, many celebrate communion and remember His words, “Do this in remembrance of Me”.

Why did He say that?

Because He knew that His hands were hands that would be betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound.

The Handbook says The Son of Man was betrayed into the hands of sinful men. 

Jesus was handed over to the religious leaders and then they handed Him up to be judged by Pilate.

Pilate sought to take his hands-off and to distance himself from judging Jesus.

But the crowds forced his hand and cried out “Crucify Him”.

He didn’t want to have Jesus blood on his hands so he tried to wash his hands of it.

But they took Jesus away to be crucified and the hands of Jesus carried His own Cross.

When the Romans crucified Jesus, they drove nails into His hands. He died for us and paid the price for our sin.

Jesus knew firsthand what it was like to suffer and die. In Luke 23:46 (NLT) it says that on the Cross, “Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!” And with those words He breathed His last.” 

They were crucified hands.

The sinners price was borne by those hands in full. “The wages of sin were paid.”

On that day, we handed over our sin and He handed over His forgiveness and we are made right with God. He bore our sin and paid the price of death which leaves our hands free to receive God’s gift of heaven.

He won the victory over sin and death hands down.

But all that will mean nothing to you and me without

  1. THE HANDS OF FAITH

The hands of faith are our hands reaching out to Jesus

Jesus is always on hand to hear our prayer of faith.

That’s what happened with Thomas.

Ten days after the resurrection, Jesus said to Thomas: John 20:27-29 (NLT) “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” 

Jesus wants all hands on board 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says that God “… is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent”.

Faith is not a hand-me-down commodity from Christian parents. Every person must make their own choice. It can’t be second hand.

Faith is our choice. We have a free hand. God won’t force your hand.

Faith is getting our hands off the controls of our life and putting our lives in His hands. He will take you by the hand and lead and nurture you in your faith.

In fact, you can do this today if you want to.

The bible says today is the day of salvation. Now is the time. The time is at hand. The hand of the clock is moving. We can’t hold back time.

The question is, will you take hold of His hand today.

Faith is shaking hands with God and getting right with Him.

Faith is putting our hands up and surrendering our lives to Christ.

Faith is raising your hand and saying, Here I am Lord, take me in Your loving hands.

For those who believe in Him, in John 10:28-29 (NLT) He says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from THE FATHER’S HAND.”

When we are in the hands of God anything is possible.

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

So today, as we pray, could you just open your hands in front of you and open your heart to Him.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner.

I have sinful hands, and I ask for Your forgiveness.

I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I turn from my sins

and hand over my life to You

I invite You to come into my heart and life.

Take my hand.

I want to trust and follow You

as my Lord and Saviour.

I accept the gift of eternal life

That you hand me

In Your Name.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, then Jesus will give You a hand in living life to the full, as God intended. Amen.