Archive for February, 2012

Matthew 14:22-33 – HOW TO TRUST MORE AND SINK LESS

Trust more, Sink Less!

“I was terrified of the storm last night” she said. When I asked why, Jessica, 92, told me that she had once been STRUCK BY LIGHTNING! That would certainly explain her fear.

Imagine being on a lake in the midst of a terrifying storm and seeing a lightning lit, ghostlike, wave walking figure, coming towards you. If you were afraid of the storm, you would be overwhelmed with the horror of His presence (Matthew 14:26 NLT). What would it look like to see Jesus walking on water?

Suddenly they hear His familiar voice, a bell like song soaring above the noise of the storm, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). In the original language He says in effect “It is the ‘I AM’ who is coming to you”. “I AM” is the name for God. Job describes God as One who “… marches on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8 NLT). Even a cyclone whipping up the waves pales into insignificance in the presence of almighty God.

Peter blurts out “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.” Why would Peter even ask this question? It’s in the middle of a storm and the last thing you would want to do is to get out of the boat? What is he thinking? He’s AFRAID of the storm but in AWE of God’s presence. It’s a question of “Where is the safest place to be. In the boat or with Jesus.”

When I ask God for miracles at times He grants them in ways I don’t expect.  “Yes, come,” Jesus says. So Peter goes over the side of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29 NLT). 

At first there is a mixture of DOUBT AND IMPULSIVE PRESUMPTION, but doubt transformed into faith allowed Peter to walk on the water and accomplish the impossible. Impulsive presumption transformed into trust allowed him to be a part of the miracle. Peter gives me hope that my doubts and presumptions can be transformed into trust and faith just when I need the supernatural intervention of God.

I can spend my life rowing in circles in the midst of an unresolved storm or I can come. If Christ says “Yes, come” and it involves a miracle, then He will give me the power I need to accomplish the impossible (Matthew 14:29).

And Jesus still says “Come.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT) echoes these words “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” What would it be like to come to Christ in the midst of a storm?

When Peter sees the strong wind and the waves, he is terrified and begins to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouts. Despite weak faith, Jesus still saves him. It’s a little bit like the father who came to Jesus so his son could be healed. Jesus said “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father replied “I do believe, but HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!”  (Mark 9:24 NLT).

Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs Peter. “You have so little faith,” Jesus says. “Why did you doubt Me?”

Jesus doesn’t say he has NO faith. He just says “You have so LITTLE faith”. Still Peter must have known he’d either sink or be saved. Someone said “WHEN I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.”

This is the way it works when I come to Christ. In the midst of the storms of life Christ commands me to “Come.” I don’t have enough faith to save myself, only enough to cry out for mercy. “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reaches out and saves me. Acts 16:31 (NLT) says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

What if we could run with immunity, childlike in the midst of such awesome power, between the huge stuttering shocks roaring challenges that need to be heeded, the intense glimpses of cityscape, the jagged shards of light slicing the sky. What if we could dance with defiance to the frantic rhythm of drum crescendos on the rooves and driveways, sing to the sweeping chorus of wind and play with innocent abandon in the rushing water and the rain. What if we with faith unyielding on the sea could slip over the barriers of dread and walk where others fear to tread (Ross Cochrane). Philippians 4:13 (NLT) says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

What would it look like if I were willing to stop frantically rowing around in circles, get out of the boat, and with mustard seed faith walk towards Jesus to experience a lifechanging miracle? All I know is that when I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.

Pastor Ross

Whitewater Living!

Matthew 14:22-25 – EXTREME WHITEWATER LIVING

Increased levels of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin because of a high level of physical exertion! Adrenalin is racing through their veins (in other words they are afraid and insecure). These guys didn’t ask for a WHITE WATER RAFTING expedition, for an ultimate EXTREME SPORTS ADVENTURE that day. They are not ADRENALIN ADDICTS! They just want to get across the lake. This is the equivalent to the perfect storm, an environmental variable they could not have predicted.

She is screaming, OVERWHELMED with a sense of fear, hallucinating and imagining the worst. Her own INWARD STORM is raging, and as a result she is not in a position to trust anyone. She misunderstands our intentions and suddenly she is as strong as an ox. First she has to know what is going on before she can be helped and so we carefully explain what is happening. The waves are stilled and the ambulance men are eventually able to place her on the stretcher. Beautiful Jennifer (in her 80’s) is on her way to hospital. Matthew Henry says “Most of our danger from OUTWARD TROUBLES arises from … INWARD TROUBLES.”

After meeting the physical and spiritual needs of people, Jesus sends the crowds home and His disciples across the lake. As night falls He retreats into the hills by Himself to pray. Why does He, of all people, need to pray? Perhaps because He has not yet had a chance to grieve the murder of John the Baptist. He wants to be alone. The paparazzi would have driven him to take His place in the spotlight. The people would have propelled Him towards campaigning for a presidential election, but Jesus wants to leave the last miracle behind and is compelled only to pray.  

Meanwhile, the disciples are in trouble far away from land. A strong wind has risen, and they are fighting heavy waves (Matthew 14:24). They are compelled to pray too, because this is a SAFETY AND SECURITY NIGHTMARE and they are 2000 years too early for a SEARCH AND RESCUE helicopter… yet Jesus had asked them to go. He goes to them.

When the disciples see Him walking on the water, they are terrified. In their fear, they cry out, “It’s a ghost!”” (Matthew 14:26 NLT) In the midst of a terrifying storm, you don’t expect someone walking on water in the moonlight and shadows of the deep. All they need is a sense of HORROR added into the mix. This spectre is almost enough to tip them over the edge. This is a story to tell their kids, if they get out alive. They are overwhelmingly astonished by this random miracle. One commentary on this passage says “Approaching deliverance sometimes wears an alarming aspect”.

Jesus doesn’t ever promise me that I will not meet storms along way in which He calls me to go. He asks me to go anyway. Nevertheless, it is a little disconcerting for the disciples to say the least! Jesus walking on water! Why does He do this? He wasn’t just SHOWING OFF (I’m God. I can walk on water. Bare foot skiing with a difference. Extreme water walking).

When I face an escalating adrenaline rush because of an extreme safety and security issue in my life He is always right there in the midst of it, calmly walking on the water while I am frantically rowing for my life. He is always there in the midst of my circumstances but at a slight distance. Mark says that He would have passed by. He won’t force His way into any situation. He waits for me to recognise His presence and His ability to help.

It’s a good principle. Be close enough to help someone who is feeling insecure and fearful but give them enough space to know that I am there to help. Give the person time to see I am not a further threat. Worthwhile moments well spent. If I see Rambo when I am underfire, I still need to know he is not the enemy before I can allow him to try to help me solve my dilemma.

Getting close enough for them to see Him, He says “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). It’s not safe in the boat, let alone in the water! If a man overboard, struggling to remain afloat had said this, you would question his sanity, but since Jesus is walking on water, He may just know what He’s talking about. He’d certainly have my attention!

I have to get my eyes off the trouble before I can see Him. I have to get my perspective right before I can understand. 365 fear not’s in the bible, a years worth of peace. Actually in the original language He says in effect “It is the ‘I AM’ who is coming to you”. “I AM” is the name for God. That’s just another confidence booster when you are in the midst of a storm, but only if you recognise Him. Bumper sticker – KNOW JESUS, NO FEAR. NO JESUS, KNOW FEAR.

The invitation during life’s most unsafe and insecure times is to acknowledge God’s help and presence and you will find courage and hope. Christ’s presence conquers fear. Knowing the love of Christ, dispels insecurity. His promise – “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)

Isaiah 43:1-2 speaks about Xtreme Life – “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Since He loved us enough to die for our sins, and defeated death by rising again, He is able to deliver us in the extreme life experiences in the midst of the storms we face,… just in time to prepare us for the next challenge. 

Pastor Ross

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

God truly does write love stories.

Words of Life

Genesis 24 – GOD WRITES LOVE STORIES – Part 1

She was there in the park, sitting on the bench in the mist, this mysterious beautiful woman in my life, and I realised that I was falling in love. We met with others in that early morning prayer meeting, but I wasn’t aware of them. I listened as she prayed and knew that we were being drawn together by God Himself. Like a window into her soul, her words enabled me to see her faith, intelligence, strength and beauty. I have known and loved this awesome woman twice as long as I was without her. We have been married for 37 years and this morning as I look out on a Autumn day in 2011, I remember being dressed in my school uniform on that cold misty morning when our journey began. I was 17. Years later Julie admitted that…

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Posted: February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Valentines Day. I am so grateful to God for my beautiful wife, and the many years we have shared together. I love you, Julie.

Words of Life

Genesis 24 – GOD HAS AN ONLINE DATING SERVICE! – Part 2

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…”

The most successful INTERNET DATING SITES today, according to Wikipedia, are very specific concerning those they target. To ensure compatibility many of them are advertised according to RACIAL OR RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS. That would have suited Abraham if he had been able to access the internet. Many today would accuse him of being a racist because he did not want his son to marry a Canaanite.

Abraham sent his trusted servant out to find a perfect match for his son Isaac, but he was instructed to go to Abraham’s relatives. He didn’t want a marriage where race or faith in God would be compromised.

Today the servant could have linked into JDate (which is for Jewish singles) while avoiding the local dating sites such as CanaaniteDate.com.

How do you find a person who…

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Matthew 14:13-21 – THE JESUS DIET

Cross = Love

18 days of demonstrations during 2011 leads to a PEOPLE POWER COUP in Egypt and PRESIDENT MUBARAK resigns. Widespread allegations of corruption, abuse of power including murder are made. Mubarak is put on trial and his role in the assassination of his predecessor Anwar Sadat is investigated.

It had been a turbulent time. John had stirred the crowds to repent and prepare the way for the Messiah. With John’s murder they flock to Jesus, perhaps to see what He will do. If He is the promised Messiah, will He stage a coup, overthrow Herod and usher in a new Government? Instead of people power, He shows them the power of God.

Herod’s banquet ended with a MURDER (Matthew 14:1-12). Jesus’ banquet begins with a MIRACLE. Instead of feeding their vengeance, He feeds them physically and spiritually. Instead of BLOODSHED there is HEALING. He WELCOMES them and TEACHES them about the Kingdom of God, and He HEALS those who are sick” (Luke 9:11 NLT). He HAS COMPASSION on them because they are like sheep without a shepherd. (Mark 6:34 NLT). Herod’s banquet pales into insignificance when Jesus provides a picnic.

He waits until I am well and truly hungry, late in the afternoon. When my resources are not enough. When my humanity is inadequate when faced with the enormity of the need. When I am empty, drained of solutions and concern, and feeling lost. That’s when I want to leave work, go home, forget about those in need and be with my family. Let those in need learn to find a way to meet their own needs (Matthew 14:15)! Ever feel this way? That’s when Jesus says, “That isn’t necessary—YOU FEED THEM” (Matthew 14:16 NLT).

There are times when I am so “NOT moved” to compassion as Jesus is (Matthew 14:14). Pity maybe, but not compassion. Compassion is different. Compassion is committed to lean in and to DO something when pity has been overwhelmed.

Andrew says “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (John 6:9 NLT). Who is this kid, anyway? Are his parents around? If my grandsons had been there, I’m sure it would have been one of them. I like this little guy who gives his lunch to Jesus. He is the only one to come up with the beginnings of a solution to the problem.

5000 men. Some of the women and children would have stayed at home but many were there. 10,000 people? 20,000? “You can have my fish and barley loaves”. It’s absurd to seat ten to twenty thousand people with the view to feeding them 2 fish and 5 loaves. Surely! “Unsatisfactory, insignificant, insufficient, inadequate, deficient, lacking, not enough, a child’s portion!”

Jesus simply says “BRING THEM HERE,” Bring your limited human resources to Me. The blessing is given and Jesus breaks the bread.

Jesus invites the disciples to distribute the bread. It seems that it multiplies in their hands as they go. He takes it, blesses it, breaks it, gives it away. One loaf to every thousand men. The more they distribute the more there is that remains. 12 disciples. 12 baskets left over, untouched.

Healthy too. Omega 3 fish oil, barley bread. Why isn’t there a FISH AND BARLEY LOAF DIET? THE JESUS DIET? (Saw a book once called “What would Jesus eat?”) “Could I have mine battered and with some chips?”

What would the world look like if we brought what was in our hands to Jesus. Compassion and responsibility would accomplish the extraordinary (Matthew 14:15-21). More than enough.

Jesus, using bread as a symbol of relationship says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever COMES to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever BELIEVES in Me will never be thirsty” John 6:35 (NLT). THE JESUS DIET.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Jesus says “… pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38 NLT) More than enough.

It seems Jesus is deliberately inviting His disciples to look beyond the simple awareness of a need. By the way, these people could go home and have their own food, so this is NOT speaking about feeding the poor.

Jesus is inviting us NOT TO MISS AN OPPORTUNITY to accomplish the EXTRAORDINARY in ANY situation of need. He invites you to be responsive to what God can do through you, to use what you have in your hand. To show COMPASSION and not just pity. To rely on Him to get you through. So take what resources you have to God right now and allow Him to use them for His purposes. God’s EXTRAVAGANCE, your CO-OPERATION. Remain in a place where God wants you to be to see His purposes accomplished despite your reservations and your limitations. Be open to a MIRACLE! Never be hungry! Never be thirsty! Taste and see that the Lord is good. Bread of Life. Cool diet.

Pastor Ross