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Photo by Anabel Litchfield (see http://anabel.com.au/about)

Psalm 5:8-11 – WHAT I LEARNED FROM A RECENT FAMILY CRISIS  

I’ve been reading Psalm 5 and have been trying to understand something of King David’s prayer, not expecting to see an example of it in my family.  

It takes faith to believe that God will grant us victory over everyday difficulties, but it takes greater faith to trust God when we go through suffering and loss. Victory comes, but often in ways we don’t expect. Our family recently reminded me that…. 

  1. WITH GREAT FAITH COMES GREAT SACRIFICE 

I know that God often answers our prayers in the ways we desire, but I know also that He allows that some of His people will suffer.  

David can’t put words to the crisis he faces when he says in Psalm 5:1 (NLT), “O Lord, … pay attention to my groaning…”  

Our daughter, Rachel (River) and Son-in-law, Joel, travelled home from Africa after preaching the gospel to countless crowds, only to discover that Joel’s Mum, Elaine, had collapsed and was now on life support. As they rushed to the hospital, their prayer was that she be restored to full health. I walked and talked with Joel at the hospital and he knew that it would take even greater faith to refine that prayer and make a decision to take her off life support.  

God invites us to have that kind of faith, to trust Him, even when we go through various trials. At first, not everything we might desire is in His purposes for us, but as we align our desires with His purposes, there is victory. 

  1. KEEP MOVING AND TRUSTING

As we spoke to Joel, he said he didn’t want to face his Mum’s funeral. It was all too big. But at the funeral, he spoke about how the Bennett family doesn’t back away from difficult situations.  

He has a path for us to take. We don’t stand still. Psalm 5:8,12 (NLT) invites God’s direction and protection in a crisis.  He finds a way where there is no way. It says “Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make Your way plain for me to follow …. For You bless the godly, O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love.”  

King David, but also the Bennett family reminds me that in a crisis, it is not always easy to see the way ahead. Jesus directs us when all around is perilous. He’s there, ahead of us, encouraging us to keep moving and trusting.   

When my heart is following God then it may be difficult, and there are circumstances that may cause me pain, but He gives perspective and it will be plain, simple, straightforward for me to follow the right path. There is heartache but at least there is no confusion when God is leading.  

When I pull away from Him it can become very confusing and difficult and I am defeated. Life gets complicated when I am not in that place of relationship with God, dependent upon His guidance. My only responsibility is to move forward in dependence on His grace, not back away. 

  1. GRIEF IS THE PRICE OF LOVE. 

As members of the family and many of the Church family gathered around Elaine’s bed at the hospital, communion was shared. My Son-in-law and other family members spoke. Joel’s Dad said Elaine breathed her last breath just as the service concluded. The Pastor at the funeral service said that grief is the sacrifice we make when we love someone.  

The well-worn words of Romans 8:28 (NLT) come to mind, “… we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”   

Later, at the funeral, Joel was the last member of the family to speak and he wrapped up all that needed to be said, simply and beautifully. Among other things, he said,  

  1. PRAISE GIVES YOU HOPE IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES

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Photo by Anabel Litchfield

In the midst of a crisis, David was able to pray, “Because of Your unfailing love, I can enter Your house; I will worship at Your Temple with deepest awe” (Psalm 5:7 NLT).  

The funeral service was amazing. A celebration of life with beautiful praise music and worship. We were proud of Joel, of our daughter Rachel who stood beside him, and of our grandchildren who took part in the service.  

At the end of his tribute, Joel expressed how his Mum would have wanted, above all else, that people come to know Jesus.   

In the light of sadness and loss, I see such strength of character developing. Even in the midst of pain, there is a maturity that emerges.  

  1. THERE ARE STILL OPPORTUNITIES FOR JOY

I am reminded that for the Bennetts, and particularly my grandchildren, as they learn to navigate the paths of victory in the midst of pain, that the words of Romans 5:3-4 (NLT) will accompany them through life… “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”  

Psalm 5:11 (NLT) says “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your Name may be filled with joy.”  

I look back at the photos from the funeral, beautiful photos taken by a sensitive friend, Bel Litchfield, and I see Joel and his family singing and praising together.   

Julie and I have always encouraged Joel and our grandchildren to take refuge in God. In doing so, even in the midst of pain, the paradox is that they will find joy and natural praise will overflow.  

  1. LET GOD TAKE THE FORCE OF THE BLOW

 

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Photo by Anabel Litchfield

In some photos I see Joel and Rachel with their arms protectively around their family, shielding them but also helping them to face the challenges of grief.  

Psalm 5:12 (NLT) says “For You bless the godly, O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love.” 

Once more I am reminded that Christ protects me and there is security and joy in Him. Challenges still come but I am in His hands. When I am dislocated from a relationship with God I am exposed to attack from the circumstances of life.   

When I face the battles of life, I am protected as I take refuge in God. He is my refuge, my shield, and He takes the force of the blows.

Bennetts, Julie and I are so proud of you. We love you. 

Pastor Ross

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Risk and Reward

What and who God hates!? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5:4-6 – WHAT AND WHO GOD HATES!?

Psalm 5 gives great principles of how to pray when I am overwhelmed, but in the midst of it, we are confronted by what David says about what and who God hates. So far Psalm 5 encourages me to…

  1. EXPRESS MYSELF IN WORDS AND/OR EMOTIONS “… groaning.”
  2. RECOGNISE GOD’S AUTHORITY OVER MY LIFE “… my King”.
  3. BOLDLY ASK FOR GOD’S FAVOUR “Listen to my cry for help”.
  4. BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER “Each morning…” 
  5. WAIT EXPECTANTLY FOR HIM TO ANSWER, rather than get discouraged.

And then I am encouraged to…

     6. SEE THINGS FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

This next part of Psalm 5 is where I am confronted by WHAT GOD HATES AND WHO GOD HATES.  Firstly WHAT GOD HATES…

“O God, You take no pleasure in wickedness; You cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked” (Psalm 5:4 (NLT).

Habakkuk 1:13 (NLT) mirrors this when it says, “But You are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.”  

So, if God hates evil, then those who follow Christ also hate evil. Those who love Him LOVE WHAT HE LOVES but they also HATE WHAT HE HATES. Psalm 97:10 says “You who love the Lord, hate evil!…” Romans 12:9 (NLT) says, “… Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.”

So far so good. But the following verses disturb our comfortable view about God.

If you are overwhelmed by the difficulties of life, this Psalm goes on to say,

     7. BE WILLING TO HUMBLE MYSELF BEFORE GOD

“Therefore, THE PROUD may not stand in Your presence,…” (Psalm 5:5 NLT).

Who is the PROUD person?

In the context of this passage, a “PROUD” person is someone who thinks they can disregard the authority of God in their lives and live their own way.

What does it mean that they will NOT STAND IN GOD’S PRESENCE? 

Standing in God’s presence speaks of RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

When I ignore God, He will NOT FORCE me into relationship with Him, but the consequence is that I will not come to know Him or His purposes for my life. I will also face an eternity without Him.

The Bible speaks often of GOD’S LOVE FOR PEOPLE. 1 John 4:16 says “We know how much GOD LOVES US, and we have PUT OUR TRUST IN HIS LOVE. GOD IS LOVE, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”

BUT IS THERE ANYONE THAT GOD HATES?

The answer is YES, and a sobering truth, when I am overwhelmed by life’s difficulties, is that Psalm 5 invites me to ….

     8. RECOGNISE THAT I AM ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD   

Psalm 5 gives us further insight into God’s character. These next verses are expressed very strongly. They talk about WHAT AND WHO GOD HATES. 

We know He hates things like DECEPTION AND IMMORALITY and MURDER but Psalm 5 goes further… 

In Psalm 5, King David talks about God’s HATRED of SOME PEOPLE… 

He says “… for You HATE all who DO EVIL. You will DESTROY those who TELL LIES. The Lord DETESTS MURDERERS AND DECEIVERS” Psalm 5:5-6 (NLT).

From deceivers to murderers is a big jump and God HATES THEM ALL!?

Now, remember that the person writing these verses is KING DAVID.

King David did some things God HATES. He COMMITTED ADULTERY with Bathsheba and then DECEIVED AND MURDERED her husband, Uriah the Hittite.

King David might as well be saying that God hates him. 

But then in the next breath, David talks about God’s LOVE. Psalm 5:7 (NLT) says “Because of Your UNFAILING LOVE, I can enter Your house;…” 

IF KING DAVID HAS DONE THE EVIL THINGS THAT HE SAYS GOD HATES, THEN HOW CAN HE TALK OF GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE FOR HIM?

Look down to Psalm 5:10 (NLT). It says “O God, DECLARE THEM GUILTY. Let them be CAUGHT IN THEIR OWN TRAPS. DRIVE THEM AWAY because of their MANY SINS, for they have REBELLED AGAINST YOU.” (Psalm 5:10 NLT)

That’s what happened to David! David was declared GUILTY by Nathan the Prophet. He was CAUGHT IN HIS OWN TRAP. He had REBELLED AGAINST GOD and almost driven away because of his many sins.

Romans 1:18 (NLT) says, “But God SHOWS HIS ANGER from heaven against ALL SINFUL, WICKED PEOPLE WHO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH BY THEIR WICKEDNESS.” 

The trouble is that the Bible says we are ALL SINFUL PEOPLE. Romans 3:23 (NLT) “For EVERYONE HAS SINNED; we ALL fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

IS EVERYONE HATED BY GOD? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?

We all like to quote John 3:16, 18a (NLT) which 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… There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. 

But what about the rest of John 3:18 (NLT), … But anyone who does not believe in Him has ALREADY BEEN JUDGED for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” 

HOW CAN DAVID TALK OF GOD’S LOVE FOR HIM? 

The only reason I can find is that David REPENTED OF HIS SIN AND GOD FORGAVE HIM. He also paid the heavy consequences of his actions (2 Samuel 12).

For us, God’s love and hatred are connected to the Cross. God found a way to love those He hates.

So we cannot look at Psalm 5 without seeing it through the eyes of the Cross.

     9. UNDERSTAND THAT WITHOUT CHRIST, WE ARE ALL ENEMIES OF GOD, AND WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS

Romans 5:6-21 (NLT) says that before we started following Christ we were ALL SINNERS AND ENEMIES OF GOD.

It says, “God showed HIS GREAT LOVE for us by sending Christ to die for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from GOD’S CONDEMNATION. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son WHILE WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us FRIENDS OF GOD….”

So, here’s what I have discovered so far about Psalm 5 and what and who God hates.

  • The Bible says that ALL PEOPLE HAVE SINNED
  • It also says GOD HATES SINFUL PEOPLE.
  • WE WERE ALL ENEMIES OF GOD
  • God takes no pleasure in us being His ENEMIES because of our sin.
  • God wants to express His LOVE to us, not His HATRED.
  • God sent Christ into the world to SAVE HIS ENEMIES – US so that we could be recipients of His LOVE.
  • Christ tells His disciples to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES just as He did.
  • Christ PAID THE PENALTY for our sins and when we trust in what He has done for us, we are NO LONGER GOD’S ENEMIES but FRIENDS OF GOD and recipients of His LOVE.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord … does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants EVERYONE TO REPENT.” 

David is able to pray confidently, Because of Your unfailing love, I can enter Your house; I will worship at Your Temple with deepest awe” (Psalm 5:7 NLT).

With Christ in my life, my response to God’s unfailing love is worship with a deep sense of awe and expectation. God loves me and I know that I can stand confidently in His presence. His invitation extends to all who trust in Him.

When I say, “God loves the sinner but not the sin”, it is a little too simplistic. He hates us being His enemies and sent Christ to restore a broken and deadly relationship.

For followers of Christ, the invitation of Psalm 5 is to enter into God’s presence in prayer,  and we can do so because of His unfailing love. That environment of God’s unfailing love invites us to find our destiny. That environment of God’s unfailing love enables us to stand firm in the battles of life.

Pastor Ross

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

How do I pray when I am overwhelmed? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5  HOW DO I PRAY WHEN I AM OVERWHELMED?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from Australia was recently ousted from leadership. In revealing speeches, he spoke about bullying and intimidation.

“The reality is that a minority in the party room … have sought to bully [and] intimidate others into making this change of leadership.”

“… if people do want to conduct an internal insurgency, then, you know, that — they’re very hard to stop.

Welcome to Australian Politics.

King David also faced an insurgency. Absalom’s strategy to dethrone his own father was a war of words. His flattering words and false rumours served to destabilise David’s kingdom. David found that the best defence against those who lie like the devil is to pray like a saint.

If a telephone call can be likened to David’s morning prayer, then it is a conference call and all of us are privy to his words down through the centuries …

HOW DO YOU PRAY WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED BY LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES?

  1. EXPRESS YOURSELF IN WORDS AND EMOTIONS

“O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning” (Psalm 5:1 NLT).

Romans 8:26-27 says that when we don’t have the words to pray that “… the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but You” (Psalm 5:1-2 NLT).

     2. RECOGNISE GOD’S AUTHORITY

“O Lord,.. my King”. 

David, the king of Israel calls God LORD AND KING. He recognises the highest authority. If He is my Lord and my King then He has authority over me and my circumstances and therefore I can come humbly before Him when I need help.

David says he prays to no one but You (God)”. He’s not relying on people or his own abilities and thinking, or other gods, but seeks help from God alone.

     3. BOLDLY ASK FOR UNDESERVED FAVOUR

David cries, “Listen to my cry for help”.

For followers of Christ, we have the assurance that God hears our prayers. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) says that Jesus “… understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

     4. BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER 

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You... (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

Each morning – Notice David makes it a habit to pray each day. Beginning each day in prayer shows a consistent lifestyle of prayer and dependence in God.

     5. WAIT EXPECTANTLY FOR HIM TO ANSWER

“… I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

If I trust in God then I will have a capacity to wait expectantly for the answers I need in life.

By myself, I can become very discouraged, but when I trust in God there is a healthy expectation that God wants the best for me and rather than get depressed by the events of my life, I look for the answers.

But there is more to this prayer and some of David’s words you may find disturbing. (Read my next post)

Pastor Ross

Lie like the Devil or...

Lie like the devil or ….?

Truth isn’t truth? © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:1-2 – TRUTH ISN’T TRUTH? CONTEXT NEEDED.

Psalm 4:2 King David says, “How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” 

Recently, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that “truth isn’t truth” during a television interview. Even in context, this statement is a sad reflection on politics.

He was talking about a conversation between President Trump and FBI director James Comey in February 2017. Mr Comey’s account of that conversation is quite different from President Trump’s.

Guiliani said, “When you tell me that he (Donald Trump) should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”

Todd responded: “Truth is truth.” Mr Giuliani said: “Truth isn’t truth.”

Mr Giuliani then gave context to his comment – “If you’re just a genius, tell me what the truth is! We have a credibility gap  You’ve got to select between the two of them.”

In another interview, Mr Giuliani was commenting on facts. He said, “It’s in the eye of the beholder,”

“No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder,” Cuomo said.

“… yes they are. Nowadays they are,” Giuliani asserted.

Even given context, Giuliani’s “truth isn’t truth” and “facts are in the eye of the beholder” remarks, points to a worldview that everyone can have their own version of the truth and that there is no absolute truth. Relativism.

Lindy Keffer from Focus on the Family says, “In a society where ultimate truth is treated like a fairy tale, an outdated idea or even an insult to human intelligence, the motto of the day becomes, “WHATEVER!” Believe whatever you want. Do whatever seems best to you. Live for whatever brings you pleasure, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. And of course, be tolerant. Don’t try to tell anyone that their whatever is wrong.” 

The Press has had a field-day with Guiliani’s comments, but some people have pointed out that when Guiliani’s interview was broadcast by the newspapers and twitter comments, the headlines and some articles left out the context of his “truth isn’t truth” statement and are therefore also misleading, lies in themselves, their version of the truth of what was said without the context, and thus proving his assertion.

King David is more direct in Psalm 4:2 “How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” asks David but through him, it is God who asks this question today.

We are all capable of manipulating the truth to get ourselves out of a corner. The blatant lies of politicians have long been acknowledged. The slogan from the Bible that hangs over the door of many courtrooms, “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” appears to have been watered down to “I will have my version of the truth and you will have your version of the truth and one of us will be set free depending on what someone else’s version of the truth is.” 

Can we believe what Comey tweeted? … 

“Truth exists and truth matters. Truth has always been the touchstone of our country’s justice system and political life. People who lie are held accountable. If we are untethered to truth, our justice system cannot function and a society based on the rule of law dissolves.” Guiliani would say, “Truth according to whom?” What is the standard of truth in Comey’s statement? Does it come from an external source or from our version of the truth?

I want something I can be sure of. God’s Word is Truth, absolute truth. I am invited to test the truth of His Word by living my life according to its precepts, without uncertainty.

I particularly want to be honest and call a lie a lie. I want to be able to admit to myself when I am operating from deception (and not to start believing my own lies as being my version of the truth).

I want to be able to admit my deceptive behaviour to God and see it from His point of view. Admitting a lie to others is perhaps the most difficult thing to do. Better to operate from the Truth in the first place. This is one of the serious challenges of our times (and of my life personally). It has to do with admitting when I am wrong and have an external set of standards that don’t depend on me. I need God’s standard of truth to do this.

You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for Himself. The Lord will answer when I call to Him” (Psalm 4:3 NLT).

Answer me when I call to You, O God who declares me innocent” (Psalm 4:1 NLT).

It’s what God declares over my life that matters most. Just as David is declared innocent by God, I am declared by God to be forgiven because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross for me.

I have come to know the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the Truth has set me free.

I can come to Him at any time and He listens if I am willing to give an honest account.

Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

The Bible never says that I won’t face troubles, but it speaks of God undeserved favor (mercy) and that He hears my prayer.

Even David as a King faces challenges and needs God’s help. He asks humbly for God’s undeserved favor, knowing that God will hear his deepest prayers.

Through this prayer of David, God invites me to call to Him and acknowledge my need for His help, without the lies.

Pastor Ross

Related Article

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/teens/absolute-truth

 

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Was blind, … © Created Images by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79b Cycles

Matthew 20:29-30 -  INTERVIEW  – ONCE BLIND 

As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind.Two blind men were sitting beside the road.  

I interviewed Daniel in a Church service recently. He is completely blind. Daniel said “I was not always blind so I know what I have lost. Being so much older now, I have lost a lot of my mobility and my blindness adds to my lack of independence. Simple things can be difficult for me. For example, I still cannot use my phone and at times I can’t even find the cradle in which to replace it.”

Together Daniel and I related his story to this passage of the Bible in Matthew 20. I didn’t record the interview but you’ll find many of his thoughts in the story below …

If I went back in time with a Camera crew and met and interviewed the 2 blind beggars on the side of the road before Jesus came along, the interview might go something like this… 

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Was Blind, … © Created Images by Ross Cochrane

I am here just outside Jericho, on a very busy road, and in a short time, we will try to get an interview with Jesus as He passes this way. In the meantime, we are speaking to Azriel and Efraim (not their real names), both believers and both completely blind. 
I am interested in what life is like for you and what is your take on the events of this day. Azriel, may I start with you. You went blind in your 20’s as a result of cataracts. May I ask you first what problems you face in everyday life and how your blindness restricts you?

Azriel: Yes, Of course. As you can imagine, I have lost a lot of my independence. I can’t work so I have experienced a dramatic loss of income. This means I have been reduced to begging and relying on others for my livelihood. The money I make from begging is often inadequate. That’s partly why I am here.

How did you find your way here today?

Azriel: It was a challenge, but I know this road and I just had to follow the noises of the people and ask for directions. This is the major road out of Jericho.

Mostly, my life is monotonous, sitting near the city gate begging, but at this time of year, everyone is going to the Passover in Jerusalem. Jericho is a major roadway to Jerusalem and everyone has a story to tell or news to share. That’s how we discovered news about Jesus passing this way.

I can beg by the roadside and listen to the conversations. I make a lot of money with so many people going by and learn a lot about what is happening in the world.

Ephraim: I don’t like going outside but I have to if I am going to survive. Azriel and I travel together. It’s a little like the Blind leading the Blind and the trouble is, it’s not always safe, with ditches, wagons, animals and Roman soldiers. People expect us to get out of the way. We know the best places to beg but often they are also the most dangerous.

It must be difficult to get through the crowded areas

Ephraim: Being on the road to Jericho at this time of year is always exhausting. Too many people roaming about, bumping into us or tripping over us. But we have to contend with the crowds to survive. We have no judgment to react quickly to any dangers so we are accident prone.

Some people give bad directions to us and others just don’t have time for us. We can’t venture out too far or we will get separated and lose our way without help. Sometimes people say “follow me” but unless they are watching us we will get lost in a crowd like this.

How do you cope emotionally with your blindness?

Efraim: I guess we cope because we don’t only rely on our hearing; on touch and smell and on taste to navigate our way through life (although my hearing is particularly good).

Before I had faith in Jesus, I found myself continually grappling with loneliness. My family seemed to be embarrassed by me and I lacked any sense of dignity. I felt as if I was not important to anyone. I felt isolated and I must admit, I still get depressed at times, but I am absolutely sure that I can rely on God and on His mercy.

I get frightened easily when I am alone outside. Rather than thinking the best in people, I can become suspicious of them. Sometimes I am not sure if I am being helped or being mugged. Azriel is fairly positive, so his friendship helps me, but I don’t make a lot of friends.

Since I believed in Christ, I have realised that I can’t trust completely in my own abilities or judgments and I can’t rely on others all the time. We can’t always just go with the crowd.

Azriel, What gives you hope?

Azriel: Our belief. As Ephraim said, we believe in Christ. We heard Him speak once and since then we have both come to believe that He is the promised Messiah, the Son of David. We will cry out for His mercy if ever we hear Him again. His mercy will give us a reason to live.

 

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Is there anything else you would like to say?

Azriel: If Jesus is going to the Passover in Jerusalem, then we don’t want to be so blind as to not recognise Him.  He will probably come along this road and we are keeping our ears open. Without Jesus, we are even more blind and helpless and with nowhere to go. But God is always near to us since we believed. I pray that He will give us the eyes of faith to see Him, and the humility to shout out for His touch and His mercy. We want to understand more of who He is and what that means for our lives.

Maybe your desire will come more quickly than you realised. I have just received news that Jesus is coming this way. 

As you can hear, the moment I said Jesus was coming, these two blind men are shouting out “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd doesn’t seem to like them calling out

“Be quiet!” 

People from the crowd are yelling at them. Let’s talk to one of them. Excuse me, can I ask you why you don’t want these blind men to get Jesus’ attention? 

Crowd member:  They are calling Jesus the Son of David. That’s a term used for the Messiah, the coming King who will one day free us from the tyranny of our enemies. Jesus may be a respected teacher but He is not the Messiah. Talk like that is almost blasphemous.

Another Crowd Member: Besides, they are beggars. As if Jesus will want to speak with beggars. It’s embarrassing.

Despite the crowds yelling at them to be quiet, Azriel and Ephraim are shouting even louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Azriel and Ephraim, you seem intent on getting this crowd a little angry. Why do you continue shouting? They want you to remain silent and go back to asking for alms. 

Azriel: This is our only opportunity to see Jesus so we cannot give in to their demands. We intend to shout even louder for His intervention of mercy, even if it is undeserved and even if they are embarrassed and have no sympathy or compassion for our desperation. We are going to “Seek the LORD while He may be found” We are going to “call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6 NLT).

Well, it seems these two blind men cannot be dissuaded. They are shouting even louder. And Jesus is approaching. Let’s see what He does. 

Jesus hears them, and surprisingly, He is stopping to talk to them. 

“What do you want Me to do for you?”

Jesus has stopped and has asked them to articulate their needs. He seems to have accepted the title they have given Him, “Son of David”. Perhaps they are not so blind after all. It will be interesting to see if He will give them any money. They need a handout and they have already asked Him for mercy.

“Lord, we want to see!”

Well, you can see that Azriel and Ephraim are desperate, even to the point of believing that Jesus can perform a miracle and enable them to see. Jesus stands with them and the crowd have gathered around Him. They cried out for mercy desperately, but when Jesus stopped, they didn’t ask Jesus for money but for their sight. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for them, these poor beggars. Everyone has gone silent, wondering what Jesus is going to say or do. Perhaps he’ll encourage the crowd to give. How sad.

Of course, there are many desperate people on this crowded road who need the mercy of God. Not all of them are as demonstrative as these 2 beggars. Perhaps this is a reminder that none of us should be so blind as not to see the needs of those around us. Over to you…

… Wait, something is happening. 

Jesus is reaching down and touching their eyes. (Quickly, get a close-up of this.) Something is happening to their eyes. The moment Jesus touched their eyes something incredible happened! Their eyes are no longer clouded and white with cataract damage. They are clear and bright. (Did you get that?) 

The crowd have breathed a collective breath of amazement. People are gathering around. The crowd is getting a little thick around here. We can’t see what is going on. (Reporter talks to a man on a wagon) Excuse me, can you see what is happening? 

Man on wagon: Yes, Jesus was moved with compassion for two beggars and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! They are following Him. All praise to God! (Matthew 20:34).

There you have it. We did witness something remarkable. There are too many people around for us to get through to interview Jesus and these blind beggars who apparently have been completely healed, but we will keep trying. 

Please, let us through. We are reporters. We desperately need to speak to Jesus. Please, show a bit of mercy. We can’t miss this opportunity. Not now, after what we just witnessed… 

Forget the camera, guys. We need eyes to see Him too…  

Reporter begins shouting: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________

This story needs still the words of someone like Adam Clarke, born in 1763, who wrote a commentary on this passage from the Bible and gave what proves to be a timeless invitation. He says,

Reader, whosoever thou art, act in behalf of thy soul as these blind men did in behalf of their sight, and thy salvation is sure. Apply to the Son of David; lose not a moment; He is passing by, and thou art passing into eternity, and probably wilt never have a more favorable opportunity than the present. The Lord increase thy earnestness and faith!

Pastor Ross

Related Articles

http://www.thewellatspringfield.org/a-blind-beggar-who-sees/

 

Jacket - World-Hanger 2

Damaged © by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79 and GetPaint.net

Matthew 20:28 – EXCHANGED

 I didn’t notice it until now, but it is not what the salesperson told me it was, and it is not the size or color I asked forWhat was I thinking? This jacket I am wearing is far too small and far too dark and the lining is torn, and I want it exchanged. 

How fortunate. The same salesperson who sold it to me is still here. I show him the docket and ask him for a replacement, but I am told I am not entitled to one. 

“I beg your pardon,” I say, It is damaged, I don’t want it, it doesn’t fit me and is far too restrictive. I have no use for a small, ill-fitting, damaged jacket!” but he does not listen, even when I begin to raise my voice.

“Please don’t shout at me,” he says, making me feel bad“The sign says, (he points at the sign) NO REPLACEMENTS OR REFUNDS.”

I’m sorry,” I say, “but your sign means nothing, and you know that, by law, you must replace damaged goods. This is a major problem and I have a right to a replacement. I would not have bought this jacket if I had known it was damaged.” I can’t believe I bought it anyway. I don’t even like it. 

He smiles and asks to take a look at the jacket. I show him the torn lining and he says“It looks perfectly OK to me, and you have waited far too long.

shake my head and look him in the eye. “This jacket is obviously seriously damaged. I demand a replacement! He smiles again, sighs and relents. “Very well, take a look at the jackets and find one which is of the same value.”

I look at the other jackets only to find that all of them have increased dramatically in price, all of them are badly made, and all of them are far too small. I am starting to get annoyed and ask instead for a refund and when he says “No,” I threaten to go to Consumer Affairs. 

“Look,” says the shop owner“Since you have a docket, here’s what I will do. I will give you a repair notice and you can find anyone you choose to repair the jacket and I will pay the full price for the repair.” 

am suspicious, but I need a jacket and I leave the store feeling angry that I accepted having to wear something too small, but I find a store in the shopping center who does repairs and give them the repair notice and ask about my jacket. 

“Another one”, the shop owner says, “I’m sorry but we cannot repair your jacket. It is not worth the time or effort. It’s so badly made, it would only tear again. You have been duped and this repair notice is worthless. I am not willing to take the chance and bear the cost.” 

“I will find someone else who will repair it“. 

“You won’t find anybody else who is willing,” she says. 

I will contact Consumer Affairs,” I say. “And what did you mean when you said, ‘Another one’?

“Look around you”, she says, “Everyone has a jacket like yours.” 

I am just about to ask what on earth she is talking about when I look around at the other shoppers, only to find, to my horror, that everyone is wearing a jacket like mine. Is this a dream? It is hardly the fashion to wear damaged, ill-fitting garments. I am astounded. What is going on?   

Just then I see a man walking towards me who is NOT wearing an ill-fitting damaged jacket. His jacket fits him perfectly. It is tailored without flaws and made of the finest of fabrics and He really stands out in a crowd. I am extremely pleased for Him (well, perhaps a little jealous)

He notices me looking at Him and says, “Do you realize your jacket is damaged?” I am annoyed and a little embarrassed by this question (is it that noticeable?) but smile and say, “Yes, I am trying to find someone to repair it?” 

He says, “Your jacket is not designed to fit who you are.”

“Well, it seems to be the fashion, I say, looking around, “and it cost me a great deal.”

“The wages of sin is death,” He says. It looks like your jacket can be replaced, but not repaired. The shop assistant gives me a look as if to say, “I told you so.” 

He continues, “Here, let me take a look at your jacket. I’m a tailor. No harm in letting him look.

I can’t seem to get it off and feel foolish until He helps me. Then He takes off His own jacket and says, “Try mine.” I must admit, I would like to try on this beautifully made jacket, so I don’t refuse His invitation

Strange. He puts on my jacket as I try on His. 

“It fits you well.” He says. My jacket on Him looks grotesque. I can see all its flaws.   

“Yes, I can feel how comfortable it is.

It suits you,” He says. In fact, it was made for you. It is yours, a gift. You are a new person.

“I can’t afford such a jacket,” I protest, but when I look up He is walking away wearing my jacket and I try to say something but there are people with old jackets all over the place and I am distracted as I look at my new self in a shop windowA gift, He said…

Of course, you realize now that this is a parable.

Jesus exchanged my sin for His righteousness. He did not repair me. I do not have patches on my sinfulness. He doesn’t just stitch up my tatters. God sees me as forgiven because of what Jesus did for me on the Cross. Romans 5:1 (NLT) says, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

Romans 13:12 (NLT) says, … clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. …” Galatians 3:26 (NLT) says I have “… put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 

Matthew 20: 28 says For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom (substitute) for many.”

I have exchanged death for life because the price was paid. The dark, ill-fitting, damaged-goods jacket of my sin was exchanged for the perfectly fitting jacket of His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT) says,  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering (substitute) for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Galatians 6:15 says we can be distracted by things that don’t really matter in life. It says, What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

The invitation to EXCHANGE is still available.

Pastor Ross

 

Love,Judgment and Grace12

Love, Justice and Grace © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:28 – PRISONER EXCHANGE

Five Taliban leaders are released in return for the release of Bowe Bergdahl after he was taken hostage in Afghanistan. The Taliban negotiated a ransom price in the form of a prisoners exchange for Bergdahl. It is not uncommon in theatres of war to negotiate to secure the release of prisoners. Nevertheless, Bergdahl was subsequently judged by court-martial and sentenced for the crime of desertion from his unit before being captured.

A bridge in the shape of a Cross. God’s love on one side. God’s Justice on the other. The hostages of Satan are kept in the Slave Market of Sin. God’s Justice and God’s law demands the death penalty.

God’s love releases His sinless Son as a ransom. Jesus walks across the bridge to pay the price demanded by God’s Justice. He is subsequently judged by evil men and sentenced to die on a Cross. In exchange, all prisoners have the freedom to walk across the bridge to receive His life. Not all do.

Romans 5:10 (NLT) says, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.”

Click on picture for animation

Love, Justice and Grace. Images and Animation © by Ross Cochrane using Blender 2.79

The Justice of God is satisfied by the death of the sinless Son of Man. The Love of God is expressed by granting life to the hostages of Satan incarcerated in the Slave Market of Sin. Satan, Sin, and death are defeated as Jesus rises from the dead. Those who have walked towards God’s love are no longer condemned. Those who choose to remain behind are already condemned.

John 3:17-18 (NLT) says “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.” 

Matthew 20: 28 says For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

The invitation of the Exchange remains open.

Pastor Ross

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The Wall © Animation (Instagram) and images by Ross Cochrane

Press image above to view animation on Instagram

ONE SIDE 

We all co-signed the legal document. We all had a part in our politiciansbusiness managers, educators, scientists and religious leaders to endorse an executive order to build the wall.  

Yes, Governor Adam and his wife Eve sealed the act, so there is a precedent for wall buildingBut we were all there when, as an act of arrogant declaration of ushering in untold wealth and prosperity, they took a bite of the forbidden fruit. It was momentous and although they were deported for their actions, they changed the world and we successfully built the wall to keep God out.   

Jesus, the Substitute Terrorist 

Some say that Jesus has built a bridge and walks among us even now infiltrating our defenses and forming sleeper cells. Jesus the terrorist; a dangerous and unwanted criminal who will corrupt the minds of our children, radicalizing them to be subservient to His LeadershipWe built the wall to prohibit Him and His followers from having an influence on us. 

We must be vigilant. Most cells are inconspicuous enough and many remain dormant. But they can be activated unaccountably by religious zeal as they pray or listen to their preachers, and all of a sudden, they are making an impact on our way of life, threatening to sabotage our educational and social norms by proselytizing any who will listen, and destroying our cultural icons.  

There is nothing new here. The wall of China, castle walls, the walls of Jericho, the walls of Jerusalem, the Berlin wall, the Iron Curtain. They are all designed to keep us insulated and keep the enemy at bay. We like to hold onto our territory, secure our boundaries. We build fences around our houses. The curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was not enough to separate people from God.  . We need the wall! 

This isn’t about drugs and guns, because these we have already legalized. This is about blocking an invading enemyYes, it is a wall against the immigration of faith-based advocates of the teachings of the Bible and against the unwanted radicalization of our children by those who follow Christ, simply that.  

It’s all to do with what we want for our community. We don’t want Jesus or His kind of influence among us, telling us to repent with His message of servanthood. 

THE OTHER SIDE 

Two different worlds divided by a vicious, impenetrable barrierIt snakes its deadly pathway through humanity. The development of these malevolent blocks of sinful enterprise has placed a death penalty upon all born behind this Wall of ShameBehind this wall, we die to any sense of what is right and reveal only the arrogance of the human heart. It is an unhealed wound which magnifies the waywardness of the human soul. It is built from the gravestones of a lost world, a slave market of the human spirit.  

I was born inside the walled slave market. We all were. All the political and educational leaders, all the respectable people, all the non-respectable people, all the moral, immoral, amoral, religious, irreligious, non-religious, the educated and uneducated, the rich and the poor, every race and every gender preference.  

Although this wall brings to mind the schemes of Donald Trump, it is far more comprehensive; with global implications Its bars and barriers are constructed of human sin (Romans 3:23) which have separated humanity from God. Its foundation is laid with white-washed tombs because the penalty of our sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). It is constructed of our false trust in human righteousness ignoring that all of us have gone our own way (Isaiah 53).  

But the wall humanity has built to keep Jesus, the refugee, out, far from enslaving God, has enslaved ourselves 

Jesus, the Substitute Refugee 

Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

Jesus, born of a virginthe only free person who ever lived, came into the world outside the walled slave market of our sin. He built a bridge and walks among us and invites us to follow Him. God became a man and offers us eternal life. 

To purchase my freedom I needed someone outside the wall to pay the ransom price, but the ransom price was deathoffered to God to satisfy His justice and wrath against my sin.  

I am eternally grateful that Jesus paid the price and died on the Cross to purchase my freedom from the penalty of my sin. He paid the full ransom price with His own death so that I could live in freedom. was the refugee without a home and Jesus welcomed me into His Kingdom. Matthew 20: 28 (NLT) says Jesus came  to give His life as a ransom for many.” He became a substitute for me. 

Romans 5:10 (NLT) says, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.” 

The Cross became a battering ram to open the way to God. There is a God-sized gap in the wall of every human heart. He invites those who will exercise faith to walk through itand to implore our world to   

Tear down this wall!” 

Pastor Ross 

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The greatest expression of Christ's amazing love is intrinsically woven into the Cross. The ransom He paid for us is like a beautiful, precious blood red ruby sweeping its reflections across our lives and dancing its light into our hearts. I have been ransomed with such a treasure as this. My sins separated me. The cost was the death of Jesus Christ to free me and return me to a relationship with God. (Images and animation done with Blender Cycles and Yafaray by Ross Cochrane) #blender #blender3d #blendercycles #blenderrender #blender3dart #blenderartist #blenderart #blenderguru #imageblender #blenderanimation #blenderanimations #blenderanimationproject #blenderanimate #blenderanimationnodes #blenderanimator

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Cross=Love. Press for instagram Animation © Image and Animation above by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:28 – RANSOM

The greatest expression of Christ’s amazing love is intrinsically woven into the Cross of Christ. The ransom He paid for us is like a beautiful, precious blood-red ruby sweeping its reflections across our lives and dancing its light into our hearts.

I have been ransomed with such a treasure as this. My sins separated me. The cost was the death of Jesus Christ to free me and return me to a relationship with God.

Pastor Ross

Chosen 6

Authority and Identity © Images created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:25-28 – AUTHORITY AND IDENTITY

He was an arrogant, overweight tyrant, angry and loud, whose throne was a wheelchair. His bass-baritone voice rang out through the Aged Care Kingdom over which he thought he presided. A self-made millionaire, he still ran his business from his phone, barking his orders out in quick succession and with an abusive tongue.

He was dying of an aggressive cancer, and its poison had intruded into his heart and words. Although tears betrayed his deepest fears when I prayed with him, around others, his fears only served to steel his desire to exert his authority with offensive and cruel vitriol.

In Australia, at present, we have a Prime Minister, a man whose title historically exemplifies the Christian standard of service to his country. The so-called debates in Parliament show a group of people intent on wielding their authority. There appear to be no ministry officials here, only children expressing their indignation. Have we kept the term minister without the outworking of its essential function?

When James and John ask Jesus for roles of authority and power in the coming kingdom, they are not thinking of ministry. Are the other disciples indignant because of the arrogance of their request or jealous?

Jesus calls them together and says, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, (Matthew 20:25-26 NLT).

Is Jesus taking a Socialist or Communist kind of approach? To reduce all ranks to their lowest common denominator? Isn’t being an Apostle in the Church of higher rank than others in the Church? Wasn’t Timothy given authority to be a Pastor in a Church?

The emphasis is not so much on the rank but on how that authority is exercised.  Rulers have authority. This is not in dispute. Flaunting that authority or misusing it usurps its purpose because the influence of authority is designed by God to be exercised with a servant heart.

A sceptre, crown and throne make no difference to the heart of a true servant king and it is not the outward accompanying accoutrements of authority that are to be despised. It is attitudes such as indignation, pride, greed and personal status for the sake of lording it over others that are sinful.

Jesus now sits on a throne at the right hand of the Father but it in no way counters His choice to be a servant of all. In fact, His Kingship is expressed in service.

A time is coming when Christ as a conqueror smashes Satan’s hold on the world and those who wield the power of evil motives will be judged decisively. Servanthood in no way diminishes the King exercising the righteous judgment of God.

Yet God chooses to exercise Judgment by first offering Love to a lost world. Without it, we would be left destitute and without hope.

The Servant King is not a doormat, but one who truly expresses the love of God. The gentle lamb is not diminished by also being the Lion of Judah. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild is not an accurate statement of servanthood. There is much strength when the greatest expression of the heart is servant love.

It is from such a servant King, Lion and Lamb, God almighty yet Son of Man, that we find our identity. My authority comes from servanthood and loving others, which only enhances whatever status I may or may not have. Looking at life through the eyes of a servant to the Servant King changes my perspective.

Matthew 20:27-28 (NLT) says “… whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Pastor Ross