Archive for July, 2016

AWAKENING FROM A DREAM

Posted: July 18, 2016 in Dreams
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AWAKENING FROM A DREAM

Wait, not yet! A scurrying, hurrying rush, a flittering of featherwings through pockets in air to hide in clouds, and then all that was so crystal clear a moment before is disappearing into a blur of nonsense. I am sad to see it go.

I had found a mysterious place forgotten, and gradually began remapping my historical connection with it and in the process discovering so much that made sense. But it’s truth, like butterfly wings against my face flickers briefly in wakefulness and becomes only an illusion of reality. Shadows linger but cannot connect themselves permanently to the light of day.

Sad, not to be wandering in the boundless imaginings, timeless halls of unreasoned stories which touch the edges of my waking world, and though frantically I tried to hold them, they are gone.

© Ross Cochrane – 2016

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WHO KICKED JESUS OUT OF POLITICS? Theocracy and Democracy.

DEMOCRACY

We get what we ask for, but for Australia it seems we don’t really know what that is. Australia voted and it seems no-one really likes any particular party.

The common definition of democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” That means free and fair elections, the people get to vote, human rights are respected and we live with the consequences equally. It is not the freedom to elect our own dictators.

It’s been around since at least the 5th century BC.

THEOCRACY

The simple definition of Theocracy is “Government by God through His Word”. For example God’s Word is the GPS by which followers of Christ navigate a pathway in this world. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.”

God is recognised as the Supreme Leader and the government system is run according to the guidance of God through His Word.

Today Theocracy is not a desired form of government by most Western countries. In historical terms we remember those who tried to impose their form of Theocracy on others such as Oliver Cromwell or Bloody Mary in England and more recently Isis and the many countries where exercising free speech is suppressed by the religious political leaders.

Yet Jesus spoke of a Theocracy; a new kind of Theocracy. In John 18:36 (NLT) Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep Me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Today, His politics are too dangerous; His Theocracy too risky. We don’t vote for Him because His rulership is not based on the wishes of a majority, but on individuals making a life-changing choice to serve Him no matter what party you vote for. It is not established by passing policies through parliament, but by followers of Christ choosing to love God wholeheartedly and seeking to make the love of Christ known to others no matter who governs. The Kingdom of God is extended as Christians live as God intends. Not policies but purpose in life.

Today the neglect of the Bible and of God in society is evident. The separation of Church and state was originally designed to protect both Church and state, but is now used to subjugate any influence of God in politics?

To many in society, to share the love of Christ is outrageously dangerous. We must no longer say the Lords prayer in Schools, swear on the Bible in a court of law, use the name of Jesus, Christmas, or espouse the values and standards of the Bible in public for fear of … well, for fear of … I don’t know. Apparently Biblical principles of loving your neighbour, and loving God are intolerable for many who consider a more secularist and popularist saviour in a particular political party.

Aligned with Democracy are those who are involved in socially engineering their own agendas. Politically correct secularists systematically impose their far from neutral morality system on society and seek to presume it to be enforced. It is promoted with autocratic zeal incessantly. Anyone who disagrees is labelled and belittled. But Colossians 2:8 (NLT) says, “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.”

In a Theocracy only God is able to judge right and wrong with absolute justice. If we are sinful people as the Bible indicates, then we are not able to implement Biblical laws in a just way? No-one is. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” So for a follower of Christ, their heart-change will always be more important than a policy change. A genuinely changed life is the greatest influence of all in family, a community, a city, a nation.

Therefore, a follower of Christ can exist under any kind of government system because they are ultimately under the authority of God. Christ followers seek to apply Biblical principles rather than simply politically popularist and secularist views. They pray for their national leaders so that laws will not prevent followers of Christ from living as God intends. 1 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) says “Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”

In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches us to pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. MAY YOUR KINGDOM COME SOON. MAY YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. The Message Bible says, “Our Father in heaven, Reveal who You are. SET THE WORLD RIGHT; DO WHAT’S BEST— AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.”  

Followers of Christ speak of Jesus as Lord, meaning the Lord, above all other rulers. He is the King of kings. Jesus makes it clear by saying in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Universities with the motto “the truth shall make you free” apply this quote to secularist teachings but John 8:31-32 (NLT) gives the context “Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

But His is a very different Theocracy. If you want to come under the authority of Christ as King of kings, then Jesus says “… you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24 NLT). Matthew 23:11-36 (NLT) says, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”

Those who disagreed with Jesus, violently tried to impose their kind of Theocratic dictatorship upon Him by crucifying Him. Similarly, Western thought rejects the Theocracy of the Servant Leadership of Christ, handing over their authority to scientism and democracy to rule. Unfortunately there are ever increasing restrictions on those who follow Christ.

Those who want to impose their form of Theocracy, Jesus calls “Hypocrites!” … “Blind guides!” … “Blind fools!” … “For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” … “Snakes! Sons of vipers!” Politically incorrect hate speech or an accurate assessment of many religious leaders in our world today?

The walk of faith is a life under the authority of Christ and directed towards influencing, not imposing our views upon, the people of the world around us to respond to His love, so they can repent of their sin and believe the message of Christ. Unlike the Crusaders of past history and Isis in modern history, Jesus does not impose His rulership on anyone. He is a Servant King.

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT) says “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.”

Every man and woman has become a priest (spiritually sensitive to God) and royal (part of God’s family) when they believe in Christ. His authority is not coercive but very influential. A Biblical Theocracy incorporates individuals from every nation of the world responding to Christ and living free within the boundaries of Christ’s love. Bishop Tom Wright says, “We with the gospels have… a story, but it is a love story, not a power story.”

We are people with a message of great influence. The invitation of God’s Word is to believe in Christ. As we do, Jesus says “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT). Shine on.

Pastor Ross

Lost and Found half rusted.jpg

© Lost/Found – Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 18:11-14 – SAVE ME!

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

God lost the human race. God lost their love, worship and friendship. Romans 3:10-12 (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.” All we like sheep have gone astray.

He hasn’t stopped loving us or seeking after us. He sent His Son to save us. But what does that mean? The Bible unfolds that message of being saved …

1. CHRIST CAME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE ME

Matthew 18:14 (NLT) says, “In the same way, it is not My heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

Romans 10:13 (NLT) says “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 

2. CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAME TO SAVE ME

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me”. No-one else came to save us.

3. CHRIST CAME TO SAVE SINNERS

Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT), “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of His great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life.”

God loves to forgive. God does not approve of or condone the sin, but He loves the sinner and extends His grace to anyone who becomes positive to the message of Christ.

4. CHRIST CAME TO SAVE ME FROM MY SINS

In Matthew 1:21 (NLT) an angel spoke to Joseph about the birth of Jesus, “And she (Mary) will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.” 

5. CHRIST CAME TO FORGIVE ME

Acts 10:43 (NLT) says “…everyone who believes in Him (Jesus) will have their SINS FORGIVEN through His Name.”

6. CHRIST CAME TO SAVE ME FROM JUDGEMENT AND ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD

John 3:17-18 (NLT) “… 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.”

In John 12:46-48 (NLT) Jesus said again “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear Me but don’t obey Me, for I have come to SAVE THE WORLD AND NOT TO JUDGE IT. But all who reject Me and My message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.” 

Being positive to the message of Christ leaves tracks for God to follow. The Shepherd searches for them and finds us.

Why does God seek us? Because He does not want us to be lost, devastated. This is an example we can all follow concerning anyone who is positive towards the things of God. This is a prime reason for not looking down on or despising these new followers of Christ. They are loved by God and they have become positive towards Christ, and they have come into relationship with God. They are part of His flock.

Followers of Christ share with God in seeking and protecting people who are positive towards the things of God, not looking down on them or despising them because of their past. The world is full of those who are lost and need to be found. We pursue them because this is the example of God Himself. 1 John 5:1 (NLT) says “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves His children, too.”

John Calvin said, “It is in the highest degree unreasonable that we should disdainfully reject those whom the Son of God has so highly esteemed.” John 3:16 (NLT) agrees. It says, “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.” The invitation is to believe in Him who came to save us.

Pastor Ross

 

Lost but Found

© Image Created by Ross Cochrane – Lost but Found (Seek and you will find the words Lost and Found)

Matthew 18:11-14 – DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

The owner/shepherd still has the ninety-nine. Does it really matter to lose one sheep? I guess it matters to the lost sheep. Then again sometimes a lost sheep won’t even realise it is lost until it is too late. Sheep can be stupid at times.

But who are those who wander away in this parable? Isaiah 53:6 (NIV) answers that question by saying “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”  What was I saying about being stupid?

In the context of Matthew 18, the Lost Sheep is someone who has become positive to the things of God and is a new follower of Christ. Jesus says not to look down on them or despise them, because they are loved by God. They are part of His flock. They wandered away but now they are found.

It’s not so unusual to think of God as an Owner/Shepherd. The profile fits Him well.

  1. HE IS AWARE OF THOSE WHO ARE LOST

Most owner/shepherds in the time when this was written in Israel knew their sheep by name, so they were aware of which one was missing. They knew each characteristic of their sheep. The sheep also knew the voice of the Shepherd and followed.

  1. HE CARES FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST

This is a parable. The key theme – God cares for, knows and seeks for His lost sheep. He seeks every person individually, patiently and relentlessly.

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

God loves the world (John 3:16) but He also loves us individually. One sheep in the flock. One face in the crowd. God wants to have a relationship with each one of us. He knows each sheep and seeks each sheep that strays.

The Shepherd doesn’t wait for us to be ready to come home. He makes the first move. 1 John 4:19 (KJV) says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.”   

  1. HE TRACKS AND PROTECTS LOST SHEEP

In Israel when this parable was told, sheep could easily get lost in the rugged terrain and shepherds became experts at tracking lost sheep, protecting them from wild animals such as wolves or lions, and caring for the wounded wanderers. Each sheep was important.

We were all designed to be part of God’s flock, and having wandered off, it is good to know that there is the potential to be found by Him.

Being positive to the message of Christ leaves tracks for God to follow, but if you listen, you will hear the voice of the Shepherd.

In John 10:27-30 (NLT) Jesus says, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, for 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. The Father and I are one.”

  1. HE DOES NOT PUNISH THOSE WHO ARE FOUND

This shows the difference between Jesus and the spiritual leaders of Israel. The Scribes and Pharisees didn’t care for their people. If someone wandered away spiritually or morally, they were condemned, punished or expelled, rather than brought back into the fold and cared for.

If God’s lost sheep are found, there are no beatings. No punishments. He seeks us out and does everything to bring us back to the fold.

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Being lost is a punishment in itself until we are saved.

  1. HE SAVES AND CELEBRATES THOSE WHO ARE FOUND

Matthew 18:14 ends by emphasizing being found. It is not God’s will that anyone be lost but that all who have become positive to God are saved from certain destruction. Being lost carries with it implications of being injured, wounded or of certain disaster if they were not saved, and so it is used to describe death and hell or eternity without God. God cares. Christ saves, and all of heaven celebrates when those who were lost are now found (Luke 15:10).

If there are ninety-nine who are saved, does it really matter that one is lost? It matters to the sheep and fortunately also to the Shepherd. He seeks you and calls your name.

Pastor Ross