Archive for December, 2018

The Get It button © Image created by Ross Cochrane

GENESIS 35:1-2 – GETTING A NEW START IN LIFE – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sometimes I wonder if I had the opportunity to get a new start and live anywhere in the world, where I would want to be?

Genesis 35 is about getting a new start in life, but it involves much more than simply getting away and moving house. It is a fitting story for the new year.

Who is this Old Testament Character? You may know him. Let me give you some clues…

WHO AM I?

  • I grew up in a dysfunctional family, getting by with my deceptions.
  • My Father favoured my brother but didn’t like me much, but I’ll get over it.
  • My mother encouraged me to get away with being dishonest and deceptive against my own brother to the point where he threatened to kill me.
  • I had to get out of there quick and run away from home because it would have been dangerous to stay.
  • I began living with my uncle who wanted only to get rich and tricked me into working for him for free for almost 14 years.
  • I was tricked into marrying a person I didn’t get along with.
  • I got together with the woman I loved and married her also. I loved her and tolerated the other one.  
  • I got away with having a number of illegitimate children with other women
  • Despite all this dysfunctional lifestyle, I was told directly by God to get away and move to a specific place back in my home country.
  • I ignored God, however, and instead got together with some people who lived immoral lives, trading and mixing with them, and even allowing their religious idols into my household.
  • The Mayor’s (kings) son raped my daughter and took her into his home and I let him get away with it.
  • My sons took action, however, and got even by retaliating against the terrible crime committed against their sister. My sons behaved like a terrorist group, getting out of control and going on a rampage, killing every male, and taking women and children captive and plundering the town.
  • In the midst of all this stress, sin and horror, when I just didn’t get it, God spoke to me directly again, and gave me a promise of protection and a new destiny?

Who am I?

Jacob

This is a story about getting a new start. No matter what you have done. No matter how dysfunctional your life is. No matter what mistakes you have made. No matter what kind of a parent, son or daughter you have been. How can you get a new start? How can you get back to God?

What would you do if you were the head of a totally dysfunctional family who is getting nowhere in life and you wanted to get a fresh start?

Fortunately for Jacob, God tells him what to do, because Jacob is a wimp. I know, he is chosen but he’s also a wimp. I know he’s a father of the faith, but I don’t really like him. God disagrees with me however. He’s sees in him something that I don’t and he encourages him to get up and go.

“Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau. 

1. GET READY

God says, get ready to make a new start. Get ready to become the person you were created to be. Get ready to start understanding your purpose in life.

If it was me, I’d probably say, Stop being so foolish and take some initiative in getting your life right with God and helping your family do the same. You’ve had plenty of opportunity.

God says, GET READY and secondly He says,

2. GET MOVING

  • Move to the place where you can hear from God.
  • Move to the place where you are least tempted by your sin.
  • Move away from the world’s values and towards God’s values.

But the main message is get moving. Get out of there and get going. Take action. Don’t just sit there and do nothing. Make a decision to act.

So God says GET READY, GET MOVING and then He says

3. GET BUILDING

Build an altar. In other words build a place of worship, something that shows your wholehearted devotion to God. Build an atmosphere of faith that will enable your family to find healing for their dysfunctional lifestyles. Build something of value that will last as a legacy and an example for you and your family.

And finally Jacob got it. He knew what he had to do in order to GET READY, GET MOVING, and GET BUILDING and it would mean burying things he needed to…

4. GET RID OF

Get rid of anything that would hinder you obeying God.

So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols,

How do I get a new start? Remove or get rid of your idols. What is it that gets in the way of you worshiping and serving God alone. Get rid of it.

If you are going to get a new start you have to make deliberate decisions to get tough and get rid of all the hindrances of your past life.

GET READY, GET MOVING, GET BUILDING, GET RID OF and Jacob says to his family,

5. GET CLEAN

 “PURIFY yourselves, and put on clean clothing.”  

Get clean inside and out. Repent of your sins. Get rid of the world’s influence and let God purify you from the inside out. Get right with God. Find forgiveness and get a new start in Christ

 Romans 13:14 (NLT) says, “… clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”  

Clean clothes and hands to symbolise clean lives.

James 4:8 (NLT) says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” 

5 things to do for a new start…

  • GET READY by making a Choice
  • GET MOVING by taking definite action
  • GET BUILDING by developing a culture of worship
  • GET RID OF anything that would hinder you from worshiping and serving God
  • GET CLEAN by confessing your sins to God and finding forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ alone.

If God can forgive and purify Jacob and his family, then anyone can come to Him to find forgiveness and get a new start. Any heart can be made clean.  

THE NEW YEAR IS COMING UP.

The new year often gives us opportunity for A NEW START. So the first lesson for the new year from this story is an invitation about getting right with God and getting rid anything that might get in the way of your relationship with God.

Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “… if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”  

Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

God is saying to you like He did with Jacob, “GET READY to take some initiative and GET MOVING toward Me rather than away from Me. GET BUILDING the altar of worship in your life. GET RID OF the old way of life and embrace a new way by believing in Jesus. Jesus laid down His life for you so that you could GET BACK to God and find forgiveness.”

Hope you GET IT (the invitation of God), GET AFTER IT (salvation), GET ON WITH IT (your God-given purpose) and GET BACK (into a relationship with Christ), GET OVER IT (your past) by GETTING YOUR HEAD AROUND IT (Forgiveness) and finally GET AHEAD IN LIFE by GETTING SOMEWHERE with your GOD. (Couldn’t resist more GETS, but I am serious about wanting you to GET THE MESSAGE). 

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Pastor Ross

Manger and the Cross

A NATIVITY PLAY – FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS (© Written by Ross Cochrane 2018) 

PASTOR: Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, of course, but some years ago I remember a woman saying to me, “Without the manger, there would have been no Cross and no Salvation” 

So it made me think about the SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES of CHRISTMAS AND EASTER. Christmas – the BIRTH of Christ. Easter – the DEATH of Christ. 

ANGEL 1: So over here we have the MANGER. (Spotlight – Mary, and Joseph beside Jesus in the Manger. Angel stands behind them) 

ANGEL 2And over here we have the CROSS (Spotlight – Angel stands beside a large Cross) 

PASTOR: 

  1. WITHOUT CHRISTMAS AND EASTER WE WOULD HAVE NO HOPE OF HEAVEN. 

MARY (at the manger): SO JESUS IS GOD’S GIFT FROM HEAVEN… 

JOSEPH (at the manger):  AND HEAVEN IS JESUS’ GIFT TO US  

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): Romans 6:23 in the Bible says “…the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord” DO YOU KNOW HIM? (Said to the audience) 

PASTOR: 

So without Christmas or the Cross, there would be no hope of heaven. 

2. AND SECONDLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAK OF OUR NEED TO FIND CHRIST  

WISE MAN 1 (at the manger): I am one of the MAGI, or as you know us “The Wise Men” and we followed God’s directions intentionally and found Christ in a house some time after He was born. We searched for Him and in finding Him, we also found faith and hope.  

FOOLISH MAN (At the Cross): I was one of the FOOLISH MEN who  jeered at Him and rejected Him at His death. I was once lost and needed to find forgiveness. Yet Jesus said on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.  

ALL OF US NEED TO FIND JESUS, BUT OUR SIN GETS IN THE WAY. 

PASTOR: 

To solve this problem we need the help of the one who was BORN TO BE SAVIOUR. That’s the point of the story of Christmas and the story of the Cross. 
3. SO THIRDLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAKS OF CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOUR 

ANGEL1 (at the manger) I was one of the ANGELS who appeared to the Shepherds and declared the birth of the SAVIOUR.  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): Yes, and I was one of the ANGELS at the tomb who appeared to the women and declared He is RISEN. The Bible says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”  

He SAVES you by paying the price for your sin. 

SHEPHERD (at the manger): I was one of the Shepherds. We RAN TO FIND HIM in the manger just after His birth. It was so appropriate that Shepherds celebrated His birth because He was the Lamb of God, Saviour of the World.  

PETER (at the Cross): I am Peter, one of Jesus disciples. I acted very differently. At His death, jeering crowds gathered around Jesus and I ABANDONED Him, the sinless LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, now I realise, He was wounded for my transgressions. 

PASTOR: Yes, Christmas and the Cross speak of Christ as our Saviour. 

4. But FOURTHLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAK OF OUR NEED TO RESPOND TO CHRIST IN FAITH 

MARY (at the manger): Yes, FAITH SPEAKS ABOUT FILLING UP AN EMPTY SPACE IN OUR LIVES THAT BELONGS TO JESUS.  

But just before Jesus was born there was NO ROOM for Him at the Inn and we had to LAY HIM IN A BORROWED MANGER.  

JOSEPH OF ARAMATHEA (at the cross): I am Joseph of Aramathea. At the end of His life there was NO ROOM for Him so we LAID HIM IN A BORROWED TOMB. My tomb. 

MARY (at the manger): Yet JESUS INVITES US TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIM IN OUR HEARTS AND LIVES. THAT’S CALLED ‘FAITH’ – MAKING ROOM FOR HIM. HAVE YOU MADE ROOM FOR HIM? 

SOLDIER (at the Cross): I remember that at His death, a strange Darkness fell on the earth to COVER HIM. Not even a star in the sky. 

WISE MAN 2 (at the manger): Yet at his birth, A STAR shone brightly to direct me and my fellow Wise Men to Him and REVEAL HIM. WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS. DO YOU SEEK JESUS TODAY? 

JOSEPH (at the Manger): How amazing that Jesus was BORN into our family. Our Son. I am just a simple carpenter and I taught Him my skills. 

ANGEL 2: (at the Cross): Yes, and Jesus was also the Son of God, He died so that you could be BORN AGAIN into His family, THE FAMILY OF GOD, as God’s sons and daughters. His heavenly Father is also a skilled craftsman. Jesus said “I came to do My Fathers business”. He’s still the Carpenter. He came to shape your lives. 

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): He is the Alpha  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): …and the Omega.  

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): He is the Beginning  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): …and the end. 

MARY (at the manger): Born in a manger, Born that we might be born again. Immanuel – God with us. 

PETER (at the Cross): Died on a cross. Died that we may never die. Saviour from our sins. 

BOTH ANGELS: He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. 

ALL: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Our Lord Jesus. 

PASTOR:  

DO YOU KNOW HIM? I INVITE YOU TO SAY THIS PRAYER AFTER ME AND INVITE HIM INTO YOUR HEART AND LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS. 

Repeat this prayer as I pray out loud. Let’s all pray. 

Jesus, thank you for coming to this world as a baby,  

living a perfect life  

and dying on the cross for me,  

so that I can be forgiven.   

Thank you that you came back to life  

and proved that your death was enough 

to pay for my sin.   

Jesus, please forgive me.   

I now receive your offer of forgiveness  

and I put my hope and trust in you  

as my Saviour and Lord.  

Thank You for your gift of eternal life.  

Thank You for giving me an amazing life here and now 

And one day I will be with You in heaven forever.   

AMEN … 

If you did receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today, would you let me know?  It would bring great joy to me to hear how you have been made right with God.   

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 35 – WHAT WOULD THEY SAY?

Posted: December 9, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Genesis 35 – WHAT WOULD THEY SAY? 

Too many voices © Image created by Ross Cochrane

The previous chapter, Genesis 34, reads like a Newspaper article on child abuse, terrorism and human trafficking. 

A local prince of Shechem, whose name is also Shechem, seizes Dinah, the young daughter of Jacob, and rapes her. Jacob does nothing but when Jacob’s sons discover what has happened, Simeon and Levi, who were Dinah’s full brothers, take their swords and enter the town and slaughter not only Shechem, but every male. Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons take all their little children and wives and lead them away as captives. They also plunder the town – everything they can lay their hands on.  

I wonder what would Jacob think and feel about all this? 

THE VOICES OF JACOB 

Jacob: Sometimes the image of who I am created to be is blurred by my unhealthy responses to God. “Who am I?” “What am I doing?” “How did all this happen?”  

There are all these voices in my head that I keep replaying over and over again and they lead me around in circles.  

I hear the voices of my parents, Isaac and Rebekah. My Dad wasn’t a terribly good father, favouring Esau above me. I was influenced by my Mum to succeed in life but in all the wrong ways. I keep hearing Laban’s voice, my Father-in-law, and it is always so abrupt. Esau’s voice in my mind is always revengeful and bitter. Leah’s voice is grief-stricken by what has happened to our daughter. Who do I listen to? 

WHAT WOULD LABAN SAY? (Jacob’s father-in-law) 

You shouldn’t have left me, Jacob. You wouldn’t find yourself in this mess if only you had stayed. But I must admit, going to Shechem was a good choice. Lots of trade. Sure, they are an idolatrous lot, but you made a lot of money in trade. You had to look after your family and household and sometimes that means making deals. Too bad it has turned out so badly. They’ll never trade with you again. You should have stayed with me for another 7 years. 

Jacob: When I had to run from Esau, I worked with you for 20 years. I have allowed your pagan idolatry and Shechem’s perverted morality to infiltrate my household and I have done nothing about it? My sons, your grandsons, have committed a terrible criminal act. 

WHAT WOULD ESAU SAY? (Jacob’s brother) 

Be honest, Jacob. You stayed near Shechem because that’s the kind of people you want to mix with; deceitful and manipulative, wicked and morally corrupt.  

You’re a loser, Jacob. You have failed. You’re just a Mommy’s boy, pushed around by her and others all your life, afraid to step out and make your own decisions.  

Just look at your life. You got caught in the trap of living up to the expectations of our Mother, Rebekah, then Laban, and then bowing to every whim of your wives, Rachel and Leah. You have been play-acting, pretending and manipulating. No-one knows who you really are. You have no real, intimate, honest relationships with anyone, especially your own family.  

You shouldn’t have stolen my birthright, brother. Now your daughter is traumatised and your sons have committed murder, plunder and human trafficking. Where were you? What response have you made? You’re a coward. I should have killed you myself. 

You fled to Bethel once from me. Now you have to flee from the revenge of people in the towns near Shechem. You are not all that popular anymore, Jacob.  

If I were God, I would leave you to face the wrath of the residents of the surrounding towns. It would save me the trouble. 

WHAT WOULD ISAAC SAY? (Jacob’s Dad) 

I knew something like this would happen. Now, you are anxious over the debts you have incurred from the crisis for which you have caused, unable to fulfil your real potential in life. That’s why Esau was my choice. 

I knew you couldn’t handle the birthright, Jacob. Esau could have done it better. God gave you the promise He has given to all our family since Abraham. He should have given it to Esau. You’ve made a mess of it.  

You have experienced various traumas in your life, Jacob, some avoidable and others not, and you have not coped well. You have manipulated others, including me, but now you are beaten, without purpose, unable to move, playing the “if only” game. If only my sons hadn’t murdered the men of Shechem, we could have lived here peacefully.  

I’m sorry to say this, son, but Esau is right. You have been acting like a loser. Losers  don’t pursue their God-given destiny. You’ve been waiting in an unhealthy place hoping for some kind of a miracle but God is waiting for you to take some initiative and obey Him. You’ve finally deceived yourself. 

WHAT WOULD REBEKAH SAY? (Jacob’s mother) 

Leave him alone! We’ve all been involved in deceiving others and ourselves. It seems to me that God sees something in his heart that you don’t see and that even he doesn’t see yet. So, there’s hope. 

Don’t listen to them, Jacob. Listen to me. You’ve always been my favourite. Come on Jacob. What are you doing? Run! Protect yourself. Move!  

Jacob: You think I need to run?  

WHAT WOULD LEVI AND SIMEON SAY? (Two of Jacob’s sons) 

Yes, run, Father. It’s better than what you have been doing: wasting your time, not learning from your past, fearful of your future, and uninvolved in your household. Frankly, you have been irresponsible, placing our family in environments of danger. If it wasn’t for us, you would have let that wicked Paedophile, Shechem, get away with raping our sister and all their morally corrupt men to violate all our women. You are more concerned about business and trade than about us. 

WHAT WOULD LEAH SAY? (One of Jacob’s wives) 

They are right Jacob! How could you be so unloving to your own daughter, wives and sons, hiding behind your mask and disappearing when we needed you the most. You lack confidence in God and yourself. You’re helpless, hopeless, blaming others, lacking in dignity and respect from your father Isaac and my Father, Laban, and from your brother Esau, your cousins and now your whole household.  

Why did you make us stay in Shechem? Why is it only now you want to leave? Because of your reputation? It’s obviously not because of what has happened to Dinah. If only we had moved to Bethel in the first place, but now it’s too late to change the damage that has been done.  

Jacob: I didn’t think that … 

Leah: That’s the trouble, Jacob. You didn’t think. Did you think that God would intervene although you made decisions that don’t reflect His will for your life? You didn’t take action to protect your daughter, so our sons did. And now you are in grief and shame.  

Jacob: I know. That was my choice and I was wrong. 

Leah: You need more than mere repentance for all that has transpired for your negligence and silence. Your deceitful behaviour and your dysfunctional fathering and attitudes are appalling.  

Your actions have brought judgment upon us. I’m ashamed of you. 

Jacob: I know I have failed you, Leah. Do you really think this is a judgement of God? 

WHAT IS GOD SAYING? 

There is no judgment upon you from Me. You created your own judgment, enough for any lifetime, by coming out from the umbrella of My grace and playing with a wicked city.  

Jacob, you were born to succeed in life. You have been shaped to be a leader and patriarch, someone to be respected, living an authentic faith life, trustworthy and stable, responsive to Me and to your family. 

Genesis 35:1 (NLT) Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.” Now I am commanding you to get up and get going to where you were intended to go in the first place.  

Jacob: It seems that I have been running away from You all my life, Lord, rather than running to You, but now I am trying to listen to Your still, small voice. Thank You that You are still there, speaking to me among the other voices screaming at me. I am amazed that Your voice has remained faithful and gracious, not judging and demanding, inviting me to enter into the life for which I was created.  

Now it has come to this. You have to command me again to go, and do what I should have done years ago by my own free will. 

I built an altar to You at Shechem but now unfortunately, it will only be a reminder to the townships in the area of the most atrocious criminal acts. I am so sorry, Lord, that it will not only be associated with me but now also with You.   

God:  There’s nothing you can do about the past but to accept the responsibility for your actions or lack thereof, repent, and accept the consequences. I have said in Joel 2:13 says, “Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead. Return to Me, the Lord your God, for I am merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I am eager to relent and not punish.”  

Jacob: I am afraid, Lord. The people from the towns will bring their revenge on me. 

God: Don’t miss the point, Jacob. Lot moved too close to Sodom (Genesis 19). You moved too close to Shechem. Lot had to move or die. You have to move or die. 

You can’t change what has happened or how people respond to it. Building an altar in Bethel will bring you back to fulfilling and honouring Me. Let your life from this point on begin to bring closure to the past and hope for the future.  

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT2) I have written, “… if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”  

WHAT WILL YOU SAY? 

Where have you settled? What voices haunt you from your past and stymy you from your God-given destiny? The invitation of Genesis 35 is not to listen to the voices of the past or present that thwart your progress and place you and others in jeopardy but to listen to what God is saying above the shouting and abuse in your own head. 

Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for your sins and mine and offers us forgiveness and a relationship with Him. 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.”

Acts 16:31 (NLT) says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”  

Pastor Ross