Archive for June, 2016

 

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© Lost and Found. Image Created by Ross Cochrane (Look for the words Lost, Found)

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST

Jesus came to save those who are LOST (Matthew 18:11, Luke 19:10) whatever that means. A man in his 90’s recently asked me “Who are those who are lost? Save them from what?” Because whatever lost means, Jesus came to save them from it, so it must be important. It’s a good question.

What does it mean to be lost and for that matter what does it mean to be found?

  1. LOST FRIENDSHIP

I am lost when I do not have a relationship with God. Romans 5:10-11 (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. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”  

  1. LOST LIFE

I am lost when I am unable to enjoy what life offers. Jesus said, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

  1. LOST BATTLE

I am lost when I am overcome by the battles of life. 1 John 5:4 (NIV) says “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”  

  1. LOST TIME

I am lost when I am wasting time and have no real meaning in my life. Romans 8:28 (NLT) “And 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.” Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity (or redeem the time) in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

  1. LOST SOUL

I am lost when my mind, emotions and will do not line up with God’s purpose for my life. In Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

  1. LOST CAUSE

I am lost when I am fighting for a lost cause without God and clearly need to change allegiances. Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

  1. LOST IN MY OWN WORLD

I am lost when I neglect all other influence in my life; lost in the foci of my own pursuits. The Bible encourages us not to be so absorbed in our own pursuits that we miss God’s purposes for us. Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) says to run the race “by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

  1. LOST IN A CROWD

I am lost when I feel so small in the world that I am unnoticed and my contribution seems insignificant. Jesus wants to show you that you are valued by God and can make an eternal difference. John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

  1. LOST IN A FOG

I am lost when there’s a fog that clouds my thinking and a darkness that makes it hard to find my way in life. In John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” And in John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

  1. LOST GENERATION

I am lost when I am part of a generation that is disillusioned by the world and without hope for the future. Hebrews 6:18-19 (NLT) says “we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

  1. LOST AT SEA

I am lost when I have a sense of sinking in life or being overwhelmed. In Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT) God promises to those who believe “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. For I am the Lord, your God, … your Savior.”

  1. LOST THE RACE

I am lost when I feel I am last in the contest or competition of life’s race. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (NLT) says “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step …”

  1. LOST LIVELIHOOD

I am lost when I am sitting in the ashes of a burnt-out life. In Isaiah 61:3-4 (NLT), God’s promise to His people is that “… He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair …” 

  1. LOST FOOTING

I am lost when I have lost my footing spiritually. Romans 3:10-31 (NLT) says “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one … For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. … God declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.”

The lost person is described by the Bible as being dead spiritually, separate from God. That person is in danger of being lost to an eternity without God. But that is not what God desires for our lives. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 

  1. SURE FOUND-ATION

In the context of Matthew 18 and Luke 19 we are not to look down on them or despise those who have found faith in Christ because God loves them enough to send His own Son to die on a Cross for their sins so that they can be forgiven and live as God intended, here and in eternity. They had lost their footing but now they have a strong found-ation on which to stand in Christ.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST THING

Animated Film by Shaun Tan

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST THING

Sometimes we discover that not everything fits into the secure boxes in which our perspectives are housed. Our curiosity is not simply drawn to those things that are easily explained but mostly to those things that defy conformity.

The dull colour palette of our everyday existence with signs that seek to direct us away from exploring anything that doesn’t line up, go on the rails, or that challenges the design is different to the unboxed, unfettered and unexplainable world around us, waiting to be explored by those fearless enough to take a step of faith.

In a city signposted, clear and functional, all meaning is predefined and presumed. What if we know we just don’t fit into this world of predetermined answers?

The story of The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan, explores our inner world and is an invitation not to lose that which is extraordinary, creative and fun-loving, that which is beyond explanation. It is an invitation to find a place for the expression and fulfilment of our human spirit, to discover our inner journey. So here are just a few random thoughts on this brilliant story…

YOU WILL NEED THE EYES OF A CHILD TO SEE THE LOST THING

You will need the eyes of a child to see the Lost Thing; to see that part of you that does not belong, does not conform, does not feel at ease or fit in with the surroundings of a world which concerns itself with other matters of limited importance, because it is the trust of a little child that truly understands how to give full expression to your purpose. Only the eyes of a little child can see the Lost Thing.

THE LOST PART OF US NEEDS A PLACE TO BELONG

The Lost thing has tentacles and an iron shell for protection, drawers and doors that contain secrets and at the end of the day, after playful interaction and masterfully innovative projects, it is still there, asking without words, “Where do I really belong?”

THE LOST PART OF YOU CAN NOT BE EXPLAINED

Along the way we try to find people who might know something about our plight, to explain this odd nowhereness feeling we have that no-one really notices. It’s big to us and sometimes friends will try to find the exact answer from a psychological, scientific point of view, identifying the lost part of our life from empirical evidence and careful observation and experimentation, as if there is something wrong with us, but in the end the textbook doesn’t help and they encourage us not to think about it. “Some things are like that,” they say. “You just have to live with it,” and so we don’t mention it again and take our Lostness home with us.

YOU’RE LOSTNESS CAN NOT BE CONTAINED

But it gets in the way at home and so you have to hide your Lostness in the back shed where you go to be alone and feed your thoughts. It’s better when you don’t share this Lost Thing you feel with anyone else. You are kind of happier keeping it to yourself but you know you can’t keep it in the shed forever. It’s too big for the shed. This isn’t the right place for it to find it’s true potential. It really is a dilemma.

It doesn’t belong at home or in the emptiness of beurocracy or places devoid of imagination where people sit in the darkness of disinterest or in the rush of things to do.

THERE IS HOPE

Then comes a still, small voice and you are given a sign of hope. It points you to a long and narrow way through the city to a place you would never know existed unless you are actually looking for it.

You find a door, reach out in faith and turn the key and it whirs and eventually someone opens it up to a wide world that you knew somehow, even with your Lostness, must exist. There is colour. There is creativity and you are in awe. You have found the purpose of the Lost Thing and it belongs here, where you are free to express who you really are. Your life has meaning and purpose. What was lost has been found.

Oh, you can’t enter fully into that place of belonging yet, but that “Found Thing” can. That inner part of you that was lost has finally found a home, a place to express the full realisation of your potential.

And somehow I hear the voice of Jesus gently saying “Don’t ever lose the childlike humility of responding to Me and My purposes for you. I came to give you life and life to the full. The Son of Man came to save that which was lost”

Pastor Ross

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© Calling all Angels – Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 18:10 – ARE YOU KIDDING ME – ANGELS?

Matthew 18:10 (NLT) “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven THEIR ANGELS are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.”  

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds write in their song Into My Arms

And I don’t believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you.

In Matthew 18:10 Jesus moves into what many regard as fiction. He has already likened the humbly obedient person who is receptive to Christ to a child. Then He says that new followers of Christ have GUARDIAN ANGELS READY AT HAND! Hebrews 1:14 indicates that they are assigned to care for your spiritual growth when you have placed your trust in Christ.

Psalm 91 also mentions angels, and it’s evident that this is not some romantic baby cherub firing arrows at lovers, but more like the Science Fiction winged hero like Falcon in the new Captain America movie who fights for our deliverance (but without the mechanical wings).

Psalm 91:1-16 (NLT) says, “… If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. FOR HE WILL ORDER HIS ANGELS TO PROTECT YOU wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!”

Turn to any section of the Bible and sooner or later you’ll come up against an angel. It seems these guys don’t care that people don’t believe in them. So when Jesus talks about new followers of Christ having angels in heaven, ready at hand, He’s not kidding?

What will these heavenly creatures do if a new follower of Christ is looked down on, despised or demeaned? Come down with swords ready at hand to annihilate all opposition? Obviously not. New Christians are despised and demeaned all the time and those who do this seem to get away with it.

It’s clear we still experience evil situations in life, but according to Psalm 91, with God’s help, they will not overwhelm or overcome us, and even for plagues and diseases, God will find the way through in terms of protection and rescue. The Psalm continues,

“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them.” Things will come against those who trust in God but nothing will be successful?

Moses is possibly the writer of Psalm 91. Moses had it good. He only had to grapple with desert perils; hidden traps, terrors by night and arrows by day, deadly diseases, stumbling over rocks and facing lions and snakes. Today that translates into terrorist attacks, stabbings, road rage drivers, cancer, rapes, riots, Ebola or Aids and a whole lot more threats to health and home. Hebrews 11:37 describes heroes of the faith who experienced much worse.

God unfolds His Story throughout the pages of Scripture and we realise that there is even more to the story of God’s protection and victories in life than even Psalm 91 shares with us. And apparently angels are part of that story. I’m not kidding!

The invitation is to trust in Christ and in doing so we are promised the victory and protection of God available to us during times of difficulty. Calling all angels.

Pastor Ross

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© Wings – Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 18:10 – CALLING ALL ANGELS

He contends with constant pressure from the local neighbours to renounce his Christian faith. Yesterday he was threatened by a group of young Muslims who told him he will “regret it” if he does not forsake his belief in Christ.

“I might be expelled from my village. I could be beaten, but Jesus went through it all. If my Lord faced persecution, who am I not to expect the same treatment?” Muhammed is willing to die for his newfound beliefs. (Name changed)

To be a follower of Christ in North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya and Yemen and many other countries in the world today is dangerous. Christians are abducted, arrested, enslaved, isolated, beaten, tortured, raped and murdered (Open doors).

Jesus is direct to all of us concerning new followers of Christ. “Beware that you don’t look down on (or despise) any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my Heavenly Father” (Matthew 18:10 NLT).  

Jesus: “Take care of my child.”

Angel: “But he is not a child, Lord. He has wrinkles around his eyes and he walks slowly. He has a body that is dying, like all humankind. And his human spirit … Oh, I see what you mean! He IS a child.”

Many people look at Matthew 18:10 and think it is talking about looking down on or despising little children. It is not. I have no doubt that children who have not reached an age of accountability also have angels watching over them, but in the context of Matthew 18, it is clear that this verse is about those who become like little children and who have believed and trusted in Christ.

Jesus: “Yes, he is My child. His spirit has awakened and he has received new birth, and we have all welcomed him into My family. I am assigning you to watch over him and care for his spiritual growth. His neighbours will not be as welcoming.”

“We understand Lord. He has responded to You with a childlike faith as a new follower. Don’t his neighbours realise that if they welcome him, they are welcoming You?”

“No, not yet. They don’t realise that demeaning him and looking down on him is like demeaning and looking down on God Himself. Their consciences have been seared and scar tissue has formed over their hearts” (1 Timothy 4:2). The angels looked horrified. It was incredulous to them that anyone would choose to do this.

Hebrews 1:14 (NLT) makes an amazing statement. “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”

Angel: “If someone looks down on and despises this new follower of Yours who has become humbly obedient to Your message, Lord, we will destroy them with the sword of justice!” The angels looked serious but a little unsure.

Jesus: “No. He will be despised and demeaned during his time on earth but he will have an opportunity to be my witness to his persecutors and others will respond to My message. He has My favour and love. You are to guard what is happening to his human spirit. Leave his human will intact and provide opportunities for him to grow as my follower. Use everything he goes through to make him stronger in his faith.”

Angel: “We will care for him, Lord, throughout his life, and witness what it is that You want to do through him.”

In Matthew 18:10, Jesus is saying in effect that God doesn’t look down on or despise new followers of Christ. He invites us strongly to respond to what He is saying. This has implications for those who would persecute, despise or demean those who respond to others who respond to the message of Christ.

Jesus makes it clear that to cause a new follower of Christ to stumble in their faith and lead them to sin by tempting them or despising them is to go against God Himself. Yet He leaves a way open for even the vilest of persecutors to repent and to follow Him.

The Bible indicates that if you have responded to Christ’s invitation and have been humbly obedient in trusting Him, you will be in the presence of God also one day, “… Absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV). You are valued by God. You will one day have free access into His presence and who knows, perhaps meet personally the angelic beings who have guarded your journey.

Pastor Ross