Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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 

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Old Shed

Down to the barn in the old rusty ute

Image © by Ross Cochrane

AN AUSSIE OUTBACK NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 KJV)

G’day! (Hi)

It’s great to have you mob (crowd) here today. Being an Aussie (Australian) I thought you might like to hear my Aussie Outback version of a Night before Christmas.

You’ll hear a bit of Aussie Lingo here this arvo (Australian language here this afternoon).

So let’s get a bushmen’s barbie going here (outback barbecue), with a Billy boiling on the campfire (Can for making tea) 

You’ll hear a bit of Aussie Lingo (Australian language).  

I want to tell you a story around the campfire about the Nativity. Imagine what it would have been like if Jesus was born in outback Australia.  

Jesus, of course, was born in Bethlehem, not in the Never-Never (Outback Australia) 

So our story is a bit of a furphy (a made up story) but only concerning the place, not the actual events. The events are all dinki-di from the Bible (The real story of these events are found in the Bible and are all true). 

I won’t earbash you no more (I won’t talk a lot), so lets shakealeg (Let’s get on with it).  

Down to the barn in the old rusty ute

Old Australian Barn © By Ross Cochrane

AN AUSSIE OUTBACK NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

© by Ross Cochrane

‘Twas the night before Christmas; There wasn’t a sound.

Not a possum was stirring in Bethlehem’s town.

The inn keeper’s table had tucker and beer.

But out in the stable, Mary’s baby was near;

 

If it happened in outback Australia today

On a homestead up North, and so far away

With Goannas and Emus and red dirt and dust

Where cars and machin’ry are covered in rust

Where crocodiles snap and deadly snakes hiss

I’ve got a feeling it might look like this…

 

On a hot Christmas Eve, we’d be safe in our beds,

While dreams of pavlova dance round in our heads;

Mum in her nightie, and dad in his shorts,

Would have just settled down to watch TV sports,

 

As the Kangaroos gather out on the plain

And a Kookaburra laughs in the gum tree again

The red dog stops barking. The sky’s pink and blue

We can hear distant sounds of a didgeridoo

 

Then up in the night’s sky a star shines so bright;

Loud voices of praise wake us up with a fright.

We run to the screen door, peek cautiously out,

Sneek onto the deck, to find what it’s about.

 

Guess what had woken us up from our snooze,

But a whole host of angels declaring good news.

And one of them standing above a gum tree,

Said the Saviour was born and told us where He would be.

 

Now, I’m telling the truth. It’s all dinki-di.

Those heavenly angels filled up the sky.

One looked at us kids, his wings were like flames,

And he spoke to us all and called out our names.

Now, Davo, Now Bazza, Now, Kylie and Shane!

On Maggie! On Shazza! On, Stevo and Wayne!

Go to the kitchen, grab a quick drink,

Scoot down to the barn and see what you think!’

 

So down to the barn in the old rusty ute

With hearts full of wonder,  all of us scoot,

We park by a gum tree and jump to the ground,

Then in through the window, we all look around.

 

There were drovers and shearers, a man with a beard.

And his wife had a baby whom the workmen revered;

They wore singlets and shorts, because of the heat.

They took off their hats and bowed at His feet

 

The baby awoke and His eyes simply Shone!

Born of a virgin, God’s only Son!

Three Swagmen arrived from far east of the station

They’d been searching all day for the King of Salvation

 

A swag full of prezzies they flung from their backs,

And with everyone looking they undid their packs.

They spoke not a word, but bent down on one knee,

And presented their goodies and gifts. There were three…

 

One brought gold nuggets, a gift for a king

And one brought Him Frankincense, a strange gift to bring

And then there was Myrrh from the last one to come,

When he saw us he winked and he held up his thumb;

 

Then the angels appeared clear out of the blue;

Flung out their wings and prepared to shoot through.

They bellowed out loud as they swooped past the gates –

‘Merry Christmas to all, and good-on-ya, mates!’

Highway in the desert 2

Outback Australia

AUSSIE OUTBACK CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

 

HEAVEN – God’s Station and Homestead 

I want to take a moment now with my interpreter to spruke on about God’s Station and Homestead in the sky for a while before we say Hooroo. (I want to talk about heaven before we go).  

Heaven is not just a place way out beyond the black stump (Heaven is not a place which is far away).  

Heaven is not bullamanka (Heaven is not an Imaginary place somewhere beyond the back of Bourke). 

It’s God’s Homestead and station for us (It’s God’s home for us) 

It’s God’s Chrissie gift (It’s God’s Christmas present) 

So let me ask you 2 questions 

First of all – Are you sure that when you carkit that you are going to go and live in God’s Homestead? (Are you sure that when you pass away, when you die, you will be with God in heaven?) Tick this over! (Think about this for a moment) 

Secondly – If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you onto My station?” what would you say? (If God asked Why should I let you into My Heaven, what would you say?) 

Gardening!

Hard Yakka

AUSSIE BATTLER – Hard Yakka won’t cut it 

You might say, “Well, I’ve been an Aussie Battler all my life (I’ve been a hard trier or struggler all my life). I’ve done some hard yakka (I’ve worked hard). I lived a pretty good life. That should count for something.” 

The Bible says, “Getting on to God’s station (into heaven) is a gift, not something you do hard yakka for (heaven is a gift. It is not earned or deserved. No amount of personal effort, good works or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven) 

It’s no use having tickets on yourself (It’s not something you can boast or brag about). It doesn’t depend on you. It is a gift.  

We don’t have to pay a brass razoo for it. (We don’t have to pay anything for it. It’s a gift... ..And you are absolutely right – Romans 6:23 in the Bible says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Ephesians 2:8,9 says For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast) 

Hey! Don’t get carried away. You’re just the interpreter, remember? 

(Sorry. But tell me WHY is it that no one can earn their way to Heaven?) 

 

SIN – Making a big Blue with God 

Because . . . All of us cobbers have made a serious blue when it comes to obeying God. And so the wheels fell off. (All of us have sinned, got it wrong, missed the mark with God, and that’s where it all went wrong in terms of our relationship with God).  

Were all like a mob of sheep that have strayed into the back paddock (Because of our sin, we are all far away from God). 

Crickey! (This is serious!) We’ve got Buckley’s of getting ourselves out of the spot where in. (There is no way we can save ourselves- No chance at all. There’s just no way to get to heaven because we’ve blown it, big time). It’s not a matter of saying “She’ll be right, mate” because we are not right with God. (We can’t ignore it. We are not right with God). 

However, in spite of us making a big blue with God (in spite of our sins and mistakes) God wasn’t up a gumtree about this (God wasn’t in a quandary about what must be done.) 

 

GOD – True Blue 

God doesn’t get Aggro at us, only with our sin (He doesn’t get Aggressive or angry at us, only our rebellious ways). 

God wants to give us a fair crack of the whip! (God wants to give us a Fair go!) He is loving, but He is also just. 

God is true-blue and fair-dinkum about judging our sin (God is Pure and honest and keeps His promises about judging our sin) 

But He is also ridgy-didge about loving us (God genuinely loves us. Jeremiah 31;3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love”) 

God was keen as mustard to find a way to save us and Jesus was just what the doctor ordered. (God was Enthusiastic about saving us and solved our problem for us by sending Jesus.) 

one-way3

CHRIST – God’s Chrissie gift 

Without Jesus, we’ve got Buckleys (Without Christ we have no hope, no chance of being saved). 

God lobbed in on the earth as an ankle biter, born of the virgin Mary (God became a child, born of a virgin). And that’s Christmas, right?  

But there’s more to it than that. 

He was a normal bloke except that He lived a perfect life and died for us mob in order to pay a very exe price for us making a blue (He was a normal person who lived a perfect life and died on a Cross and paid an expensive price for our sins)  

And He died to purchase a station and homestead for us in Heaven (He died to purchase a place we can call home in heaven).  

That’s His Chrissie present! (That’s His Christmas gift to you). 

Jesus died for us and now being mates with God is a goer (Jesus enables friendship with God to be a reality).

The thing about Jesus is that He will never bail you up (Jesus will never force you to accept His gift of eternal life).

You have the choice to give it a burl or knockback Christ’s offer. (You have a choice to believe in Christ or refuse what He is offering you).

 

Boomerangs, Mirrors and Glass Houses

FAITH – Avergoyamug 

But you would be a dipstick if you didn’t at least consider faith this arvo (It would be foolish not to at least consider having faith in Christ this afternoon). 

Faith is like a boomerang. It will turn your life around and bring you back to God. It’s like Chucking a Uey (It’s like making a U-turn back towards God) 

So take a Captain Cook and give it a Burl (So have a look for yourself and give it a try). 

Faith puts us in a good Possie for a homestead in heaven. (Faith puts us in an advantageous position to receive eternal life). 

You may think what I am saying is a bit iffy (Perhaps you’re a bit doubtful, questioning what I am saying).  

But what I am trying to say is avagoyermug (What I am trying to say is “take the risk of faith and give it a try – the Bible says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” Acts 16:31). 

So let’s have a chinwag with God (Let’s talk to God. Let’s pray) 

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

Prayer © by Ross Cochrane.

SINNERS PRAYER – Chin Wag with God 

If this has made sense to you (the Strine and this message about why Jesus came) then this is a great opportunity at Christmas time to pray this prayer.  

“Dear God, thank you for loving me and sending your Son to die on the Cross for my sins. I know I’m a sinner, and I cannot save myself, so I ask for Your forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, I want to trust You as my Saviour and follow You as Lord, from this day forward.  Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” 

 If you have decided to give faith in Christ a go, then Bewdie, Grouse, ripper (If you respond to Christ then Very good, well done, unreal, great, fantastic). Don’t forget to tell me about it. 

So all that’s left to say is hooroo and have Micky-Mouse Christmas and Good on ya mates! (So goodbye and have an excellent Christmas and God’s richest blessings on you, my friends). 

nWindow with earth4.jpg

THE 7 WINDOWS OF CHRISTMAS

The Bible speaks about the Window of Heaven being opened to allow the blessings of God to come to earth for those who love God and honour His Name. That got me thinking about windows, windows of the soul, shop windows, car windows, computer windows, all kinds of windows.

And it all reminded me of the Window of Christmas, that small window of time that we celebrate the birth of Christ each year.

So this year my Christmas gift to you is a story based on 7 windows. It tells the Christmas story from the perspective of an opening in heaven.

First of all, …

  1. THE WINDOW OF HEAVEN

Our story begins many years ago when God first created an aperture in heaven called the Window of Heaven, an opening or passageway between heaven and earth, and through which flowed the blessings of God.

It opened to reveal a beautiful view of the Garden of Eden. In that garden, Adam and Eve would walk with God in the cool of the evening and He inspired them to always stay close to the Window of Heaven so that they could hear His voice and receive on earth the blessings of God from heaven.

Standing in the middle of the garden were two trees, clearly visible from the window. One was the Tree of Life, beautiful to behold and laden with fruit. But God pointed to another tree and said NOT to eat from it. Eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would close the Window of Heaven and the blessings of God could no longer fall to earth, His will would not be done on earth as it is in heaven.

One day, you guessed it, the first man and woman decided not to look to Heaven’s window for direction. So, unfortunately, my story also tells of…

  1. THE CLOSED WINDOW

Instead, Adam and Eve deliberately ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and suddenly the Window of Heaven was closed from the inside. God would not look on their sinfulness.

They saw the light go from the window as the curtains were closed and the garden was suddenly somber, subdued, muted and drab. They were afraid and hid themselves far from the window.

When God found them in the garden, they refused to take responsibility for their disobedience. Sin had well and truly entered their world.

As the years and centuries went by, God realized that the hearts of men and women had moved so far away from the Window of Heaven that they could no longer see His light or receive His blessings or hear His purposes.

He longed to bring them close again, to call men and women back and once again open the Window of Heaven. But their sinfulness would always shut them off from Heaven’s blessings. The situation seemed hopeless and men and women seemed helpless, lost and with no purpose. They could not open heavens window by their own efforts. But of course, nothing is impossible with God and let’s be clear, God had taken the sinfulness of humanity into account. Which leads me to our third window called …

  1. THE WINDOW OF GRACE

One day, with a touch of His hand, God lit up the screen of heaven’s holographic computer and brought up a file from one of the windows. It was the Key Planning Document for a Space Launch. Its file name was Good News. The plan described The Window of Grace.

Long before man planned to launch a man into space and have him land on the moon, God planned to launch a man from heaven and have Him land on earth. And not just any man. A man the prophets had spoken about in ages past. It was the Window of Grace that would send Jesus, the Messiah, to be born in Bethlehem. It involved opening the Window of Heaven once more.

The day came when it began to happen. The window began to open but only for a brief moment. It was at that time, nine months before the first Christmas day that a young woman responded to the purposes of God in her life.

When Mary looked up there was an angel who appeared at Heaven’s window and told her she would bear a child, the Son of the Most High, and even though she was still a virgin, she responded to His words. She said, “May everything you have said about me come true.”

Something the size of a mustard seed fell from the window into Mary’s heart, and the angel Gabriel recognized it as faith. Before the window closed again, he said to Himself, “Truly God is a God of Grace.”

Gabriel and all the other angels knew that the Window of Heaven would one day be opened fully again. And this is why our Christmas story speaks about the fourth Window, …

  1. THE WINDOW OF TIME

It must happen at just the right time. It would be a relatively short window of opportunity when the light from the portal window would be in just the right position. They would have to wait for the fullness of time.

They could not miss this opportunity because it would only come once. God was never late or early with His promises but patient and the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity. Each one knew that the window was the passageway between heaven and earth. They waited, anticipation building in their hearts.

On earth, on the other side of the portal called Heaven’s Window, Joseph knew that he must find a place quickly, but Bethlehem was full and there was no place for them to go. All that was offered to Joseph that night, was a stable. This was indeed a small and humble place for Mary, nine months pregnant, but he had no other choice. The Baby could come at any moment. No other place was available. Yet somehow he knew that God was

No other place was available. Yet somehow Joseph knew that God was launching His purposes at just the right time and in just the right place. He could not fully comprehend that the Magnificence of heaven would shine through the Window of Heaven into a humble stable.

But all this was in the plan of God which leads us to our fifth window, …

  1. THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

First of all, God drew back the curtains and He looked down on the earth to see if anyone was looking toward heaven. The window was crystal clear. The light that shone from His majesty was glorious.

He saw that some wise men had noticed the light. The brightness of the window, like a star in the sky, seen from afar, was used by God to guide them on that first Christmas.

And then it happened. God opened the Window of Heaven and the angelic host saw their window of opportunity, and anxious to fulfill their mission, swooped through the portal, light flashing in rippling waves from their wings.

On that first Christmas night, some Shepherds saw the open window streaming with angels flooding the fields with light. The Angels reassured them and told them of the Saviour, born in Bethlehem, the Light of the World. When the angels returned through the portal window, they noticed that God intended to leave it open. It would only be shut for one more brief time in history, because of the…

6. THE WINDOW OF LOVE

The light of the Window of Heaven is framed with a cross. You see, when God opened the window of heaven, He did so with a trembling voice and there were tears in His eyes.

Light that shone from the window to the Manger was a prelude to the darkness of the Cross when the window would be closed and the curtains drawn once more for 3 days.

God knew from the very beginning that before Jesus could die for our sins, He had to be born into the world as a perfect human being, the light from the Window of Love. But as Jesus died for our sin, darkness descended on the earth. The voice of God was heard through a WINDOW OF JUDGMENT as He cried out, “It is finished”. 

But during all this the most amazing thing happened. The curtains that had closed heaven’s windows were torn from top to bottom and the light of eternity was offered to all those who believe in His Son. The Window of Heaven would remain open, once and for all. God so loved the world; you and me.

When the Apostle Paul saw this, he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT), “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 

John 1:1-5 (NLT) “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  

John 1:9-14 (NLT) “The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” 

The last window of our story is the most important window of all. The 6th window is …

7. THE WINDOW OF FAITH

That night in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to her baby. God’s light from the window reached down that first Christmas and fell in a splendid array of grace upon the stable in Bethlehem, filling it with peace and joy which danced in the eyes of the Christ-child.

In that moment, God’s voice was heard from the window and echoed throughout eternity. God said, “This is My Son and He will remind men and women that He has come as a light to shine in this dark world so that all who put their trust in Him will no longer remain in the dark.” The light from the window of heaven had ushered in the Light of the world.

Its light was so pure and sweet that the Shepherds and Wise Men, Mary and Joseph and we too, are drawn into His presence. The presence of Jesus.

The angel proclaimed to Joseph and to us that “He will save His people from their sins.”

Through the centuries that followed, many have seen the light from the window of heaven calling them to repent of their sins and to follow the light, just as on that first Christmas.

But perhaps up to now you have been a window shopper when it comes to faith in Christ. Never really committing yourself to Him.

The Faith Window is also a window of opportunity. This opportunity has only a limited timespan. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NASB) Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”

Christmas is an opportunity to be transparent with God. Our life is already an OPEN WINDOW to Him. Since the dawn of history, every time a person responds to Christ that window of heaven is opened and through it flows the blessings and purposes of God.

The key to Christmas is Jesus. He gives us all a Window of Faith to prompt you and me to trust in Him and find peace with God.

So if this story has made sense to you, then would you pray this prayer with me? It’s a prayer to receive Christ as your personal Saviour this Christmas. In fact, why don’t we all say this prayer together? Will you repeat these words?

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to save me.  My sin has closed me off from a relationship with You but  I am now opening up my heart to You because I realise that You died for my sins. Thankyou for the window of Grace to accept You as my personal Lord and Saviour. I am taking this window of opportunity to trust in You, alone, Lord Jesus. Thankyou for loving me and making me the person You designed me to be; to live my life in peace with You. Thankyou for saving me.

If you prayed that prayer for the first time, I’d love to from you. Let me know and I will endeavour to help you in this blog with your new journey of faith.

Pastor Ross

 

 

windowwith-light-02

The Window © Ross Cochrane

THE STORY, THE WINDOW AND THE DANCE OF CHRISTMAS (Edit)

Matthew 2, Luke 2

A window frames our lives, gives us boundaries and is a place from which to explore our perspective of the world. It is a place to which our inquisitiveness comes, an interface from which we can safely navigate our domain. From here we experience light which shapes what we see, and interacts with the unknown beyond the window and walls.

A window is a time-frame of opportunity, to launch words and actions and intentions. Christmas is such a window. There is no shutter on this window. It is open for the world to look in and out from and glimpse a moment in time in all its raw honesty, the star, the manger, the stable where Jesus was born.

This window is not contained within a wall, but within the intentions of God. The Word of God in human form, a window to the universe from which we explore our faith, our heritage, our decisions, our legacy, our destiny, allowing us to explain the unknown by what is known, our window into the future, perspective from God’s Word in such beautiful language, simplicity and candid expressions of life.

They give gifts to the King, Saviour of the world. Here is the basis for my worship, the carols of life. Here is the theology of the heart, colliding with the theology of the spirit and offering practical rejoinders to the sinfulness of my humanity. Here is a window to the soul and an invitation to live an authentic life.

Joy to the world. Joyfulness is always the intention of God towards those attuned to His Spirit. But joyfulness has a prerequisite in the Bible which continues to shape it’s disposition; a dance of choices.

The angelic host calls me to Peace and Joy and this means I must choose to refuse to dance with those whose advice is disabled by their negativity and scorn, the media-driven voices of self-proclaimed authorities. Their only charm is a bitter tongue and a contemptuous spirit. I cannot keep in step with such awkward disregard for the dance.

I dance with joyfulness, musing on news of the new-born King in slow waltzing strides and an open contemplative heart to what the Spirit of God is saying.

Like the Magi, only without a star, I must leave the window and find my way through the traffic, but I have paused at the window of the story of the Christ-child, bathed in His light and warmth and my heart has begun to dance in perfect timing with the music of His voice.

Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross

Introduction

My Grandaughter loves the musical, The Sound of Music, written by Rogers and Hammerstein. So do people in the Aged Care Facility where I work as a Chaplain.

It has been 50 years this year since the Sound of Music Movie was made. Hard to believe.

There’s a part of the movie where Maria teaches the Von Trapp children to sing, “Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun.” DO, RE MI FA SOL LA TE DO, which I understand are the notes CDEFGABC on the piano.

So I have improvised a Christmas Story this year, based on the notes of that scale.

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love

CHRISTMAS AND THE EIGHT NOTES THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

© Ross Cochrane

DOE, A DEER, A FEMALE DEER.

Our story begins with God who had created all of heaven and earth in six days. While He was resting on the seventh day, He decided to write a symphony for the world.

Music hadn’t been invented yet, so He looked around the Garden of Eden to find something which would inspire Him to create the musical notes which would allow Adam and Eve to express their deepest worship, as well as inspire them to reach their highest potential.

In a clearing in the garden, He came across a lovely doe, drinking from a stream.

He decided to choose a note that could be used in His Symphony of Love to the world, a note that would be one of the central notes of all music down through the ages.

He called it the Note of the Doe because it reminded Him of the sounds of the gentle stream over the pebbles and the quiet nature of this beautiful female deer whose thirst was quenched by the water.

He said, “As the deer thirsts for the water, so the souls of men and women will long for Me” and for the first time a crystal clear note was heard in the heavens and resounded throughout all the earth.

Since the dawn of history, every time a person responds to God’s purposes that note is heard in heaven as part of God’s Symphony of Love.

Nine months before the first Christmas day a young woman responded to the purposes of God in her life. When an angel appeared to Mary and told her she would bear a child, she heard the distinct sound of that note; the Note of the Doe. She had a thirst for the things of God and she responded to His words. She said, “May everything you have said about me come true.”

RE, A DROP OF GOLDEN SUN

Just then a glorious drop of golden sunlight coursed it way through the trees, resting on the doe and dancing on the water, harmonising the colours of the clearing in a magnificent array of light. In that moment another note sounded in the earth and echoed throughout eternity. God said, “This note will remind men and women that 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.” This note was created to usher in the Light of the World.

Years later, on the first Christmas night, some Shepherds heard it too. As it filled their hearts with its sound, the fields were flooded with light. They had heard that angelic note that somehow touched the earth like Spring sunlight on the meadow. The radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. Angels reassured them and told them of the Saviour, born in Bethlehem, the Light of the World.

ME, A NAME I CALL MYSELF

One day, the first man and woman decided that they wanted to be like God and write their own symphony of notes which they called the Symphony of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but only one note was heard throughout the garden; the note of ME. It was repeated over and over again; ME, ME, ME, in a regular rhythmic beat.

God heard the note in the Garden because it was so discordant with the melody of the music which He had been creating. He found them hiding in the garden and asked them, “What have you done?” but they only said, “It wasn’t ME!” and refused to take responsibility for the note of disobedience and sin which they had created.

But years later, a strange thing happened on that first Christmas when Mary gave birth to Jesus. The sound of ME was somehow changed, and the curse that had come with the note of ME, ME, ME which rang throughout the earth was changed by the simple sound of a baby in a manger.

Jesus later changed the name of the Note to Follow ME. He said “This note shall remind men and women that they are sinners in need of a Saviour. It will be a note to remind them of ME, to seek ME, believe in ME and follow ME.”

Through the centuries that followed few heard the sound of the note calling them to repent of their sins and to follow, but on that first Christmas, Joseph recalled that he had heard it in a dream. An angel sang the note when he said, “Mary will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

FA, A LONG, LONG WAY TO RUN

As God played the beautiful notes that would one day be used in His symphony, He realised that the hearts of men and women had moved so far away that they could no longer hear the notes He had created for His Symphony of Love.

He longed to awaken the music within them and bring them close again, to bridge the gap, to call men and women back to Himself. And it occurred to Him that He needed to create a note as crisp and clear as a bell, which would call men from afar.

As He travelled throughout the universe pondering what note to use, He passed by a distant star. The star was so overjoyed by His presence that it began to emit a pure and beautiful sound from deep within its core. The closer God came to the star, the brighter it got and the praise of the star rose louder and clearer than all other sounds.

God looked down on the earth to see if anyone could hear the beauty of the sound of this star’s worship and saw that some wise men had noticed. The note and brightness of the King Star, heard and seen from afar, was used by God to guide them to Bethlehem on that first Christmas and became a note in God’s Symphony of Love.

King Herod heard the music of the King Star also coming from the vicinity of Bethlehem and tried to deaden the sound with the crescendo of his anger, but he could do nothing. The Wise Men still sought Jesus and presented Him with gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Doe, a deer, a female deer

Ray, a drop of golden sun

Me, a name I call myself

Far, a long, long way to run

SEW, A NEEDLE PULLING THREAD

Every stringed instrument is played on strings that are threaded through the tuning pins and stretched out along the sound board.

As God looked down on the earth that first Christmas, He saw something most remarkable. It was a scarlet string that had threaded its way through history from the Garden of Eden all the way to Bethlehem. Few people could see it, but it was there.

It was the Scarlet String of God’s Grace. The Prophets had spoken about it. It was the grace of God that sent Jesus, the Messiah, to be born in Bethlehem. Totally undeserved.

God reached down that first Christmas and took the end of that Scarlet String of Grace where it rested at the door of a stable in Bethlehem.

As the master musician came into our lives, He wiped off the dust of the years of disuse, and skilfully added the Scarlet String of His Grace, threading it through the tuning pins, as He tightened and tuned His instrument.

And on that string, another note would be added to God’s Symphony of Love, A Grace Note, which introduced the Key Note of the Symphony.

It was given voice for the first time as God picked up the bow and He led His angelic orchestra by playing the most magnificent of melodies. A melody so pure and sweet that the Shepherds and Wise Men, Mary and Joseph and we too, were drawn into His presence.

You see, the String of Grace was threaded through the tuning pin and stretched across the Soundboard of Salvation so that God’s Symphony of Love could be shared with the World.

We had been “out of tune” and none of the chords sounded like they were meant to be played, but because of the birth of Christ we finally had something to measure each note. He is the key to us getting in tune with God. He takes away the old strings and threads the new strings through our human spirit and orchestrates in us a Rhapsody of Love that lasts for eternity.

It was that needle pulling the Thread of Grace that gave us the Voice of Faith as God played His Overture.

The Symphony of Love was the most beautiful of symphonies ever heard in all the world, … but there was still something missing.

LA, A NOTE TO FOLLOW SO

As God looked at His Son and began to play so beautifully that first Christmas, He realised that two notes were still missing from His symphony. One of them He knew would be the most difficult notes He would ever compose.

He realised that Jesus Himself was the most Noteworthy part of Christmas. The sound of His voice would echo down through the centuries so pure and lovely that it would transpose the music of people’s lives into the Key of Heaven.

So after creating His Grace Note, He created the Note of LA to represent Jesus Himself, the first and the Last, the overture that ushered in the Symphony of Love and the finale of Creation, for He is so noteworthy that it is the message of His voice that follows on from everything else that has played out in our lives so far.

TE, A MEAL WITH WINE AND BREAD.

I know, we sing it as Tea, a drink with jam and bread, but it wasn’t always that way. This note is the finale of God’s Symphony of Love.

You see, God, with a trembling voice, brought the last note into being, once and for all. There were tears in His eyes as He created the note of TE.

This note was first played at a meal with wine and bread, called The Last Supper.

God called the note “t” because it would always be associated with the shape of the Cross. The Symphony of Love that began at the Manger was a prelude to the Cross.

God knew from the very beginning that before Jesus could die for our sins, He had to be born into the world as a perfect human being. It was on this note that the Symphony of Love reached its crescendo, the crescendo of history, as Jesus died for our sin, and darkness descended on the earth. The voice of God was heard through the thunder of the cymbals as the Finale was played and He cried out, “It is finished”.

When the Apostle Paul heard the note, he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT), “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

The key to Christmas is the birth of Jesus. Galatians 4:4 (NASB) says “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman.” Right on cue, Jesus came and He is instrumental in the arrangement God had created for the world. Jesus would bridge the gap between God and Man.

This was God’s orchestration. God’s magnificent Sonata. His creative arrangement. His Serenade of Grace. He was the composer of this beautiful Rhapsody of Love, this Overture to the World.

That will lead us back to doe; back to the person who is responsive to God and open to His purposes. Back to a ray of golden sun that led wise men to the Light of the World. Back to reflecting that life is not all about ME and that Jesus came to save ME from my sin. It seems that Jesus had the only Me without sin. He said “Come to Me, believe in Me, follow Me”. And so Wise Men came from a far, far away place, following His star to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah King.

God threaded the String of Grace and composed a Symphony of Love and played it at Jesus birth and at His death, so those who believe in Him could be his Instruments of Love and live as God intended.

Jesus is the Overture and the Finale. His birth was a Prelude to our salvation. His death was instrumental in bringing forgiveness to the world.

When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything. Nothing is impossible with God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The key to Christmas is Jesus. He gets us working in harmony with Him and others. He gives us a new melody of worship and gives us our own unique voice; He keeps us in time with the rhythm of life; the different tempos, different tones, and different timbres. He whispers into our lives with the soft notes and builds us up in the crescendos of life. He’s there at the beginning and there at the finale. The Maestro at work, playing His Symphony of Love at Christmas, a prompt to you and me to trust in Christ and find harmony with God.

And if this story has made sense to you, then would you repeat this prayer with me? It’s a prayer to receive Christ as your personal Saviour this Christmas.

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to save me. I admit that I have been out of tune with You and out of sync. I believe that You died for my sins and I want my life to more than just about me. I hear the sound of God’s symphony of love and I accept You as my personal Lord and Saviour. Make my life Your instrument. Make me the person You designed me to be; to live my life in Harmony with You. Thankyou for saving me.

 

Have a great Christmas everyone. Thanks for the great support you have given to Words of Life through the year. So excited about nearing completion with the Book of Job, about all that God has taught me and the opportunity to share with such amazing people. Thankyou.

Matthew 16:20 – COUNTING IN A NEW YEAR

Counting in a New Year

Counting in a New Year

In Luke 2:10-11 (NLT) an angel appears to shepherds and says “Don’t be afraid … “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The SAVIOUR—yes, the MESSIAH, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, …!”

These men are the Shepherds who look after the unblemished sheep sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem morning and evening. They are aware of what the angel is talking about – the Messiah is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The angel is declaring in effect that Jesus is the culmination of over one hundred prophetic expectations written ages before His birth, all very clear, referring to the Messiah; the Anointed One, the Deliverer, Prophet, Priest, Ruler and Judge. Jesus fulfils these predictions entirely. Uncanny! Unsettling! … especially to the Romans and the Religious leaders.

To the High Priests the message of Jesus as the Messiah (the antidote to certain judgment; the only vessel of salvation), is a toxic prescription. Before His influence goes viral, they decide to kill Him. They’ll ridicule, abuse and bring Jesus to trial as One who blasphemed God. A contaminating message demands extreme countermeasures. Too many countries are still applying such methods. But although Jesus accepts a borrowed manger, He refuses a borrowed grave and rises from the dead.

In Western countries Christianity is quashed in more acceptable ways; the news covers a story about some weirdo with a placards about the end of the world and creepy people with low IQ’s on the extreme fringe of a religious cult or with a mental illness. Jesus is not linked with my scientist friend who has a strong faith in Christ, or a business person or even a Prime Minister, and certainly not with the average person. The message is too toxic.

The message the angels brought has been a little distorted in today’s world. I wonder what they think of us as we react to John Lennon saying he is more popular than Christ but neglect to mention Jesus at Christmas to celebrate His birth (“Have a happy holiday” but not a “merry Christmas”). What do they think of a world where “In God we trust” is written on money, but not in people’s hearts? God bless America but not on His terms. In Australia – prayers in Parliament but not Christ in the classroom. Swear on the Bible in the courtroom but use Christ’s Name as a swearword in the street. Prayerword becomes swearword. Too toxic!

Is Jesus now the silent guest at every table because He makes conversation awkward? Is He the skeleton in the human closet; the One we never mention? Unpalatable to the general public. If only He would remain quiet and not rise from the dead. To a religious atheist; one of the High Priests of humanism, He is still public enemy number one. Judas wasn’t all that impressed with Jesus as the Messiah, either.

The great commission is a shock to our sensibilities. Suddenly Jesus gives us permission to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” The Good News is that Jesus is the only One who saves us from sin and judgment. The Messiah has come. 

The prophecies are super accurate as each historical event becomes a reckoning and we count off the seconds towards another celebration of a new year. The Messiah is to be a descendent of David; TICK! Born in Bethlehem; TICK! Born of a virgin; He is God with us. TICK! He is a teacher with great authority who will be rejected. TICK! He is to open the eyes of the blind, heal the sick, and raise the dead. TICK! He is to be despised and rejected by His own people, charged falsely, denied justice, and condemned to a violent death. TICK! He is to rise from the dead, ascend to the right hand of God, and be given power and authority. TICK! The predictions line up at a minute to midnight on history’s clock as the seconds count down to when His enemies will be judged and He establishes His own spiritual kingdom, which shall never end … TICK, TICK, TICK

Christmas says that the truth about Jesus makes sense and it is a message that relentlessly refuses to be quashed; “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31 (NLT). Good news that will bring great joy …” Wonderful message for a world where there is still no room in the Inn! The invitation is to make room. Let the back stable, complete with animal trough to which He has been relegated, be transformed; let your heart become His throne room. The Saviour was born that you would find new birth in Him! TICK! “Happy New Year!”

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:20 – HOW TO START A CONVERSATION WITH JESUS

Conversation - Photo and Image by Ross Cochrane

Conversation – Photo and Image by Ross Cochrane

Walking into the building that morning (some years ago) a couple we did not know greeted us, engaging with us in conversation easily. How pleasing to go away on holidays and return to be welcomed warmly as guests by perfect strangers. They were quite surprised when I spoke to the crowd that morning. They had no idea that I was the Pastor of the Church they had attended for the last month. It was probably better that way. Sometimes a title can be an impediment.

ICEBREAKERS AND INTRODUCTIONS

Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus! How do you start a conversation with Jesus? If you were Jesus what would you say? The normal icebreakers are not going to work ….

“Hello, I’m Mark and I’m a mechanic?” 

“Hi, I’m Jesus, I’m the Messiah, Saviour of the world, the Way, Truth and Life, Deliverer, King of kings and Lord of lords, Son of God, and Light of the world.” 

(Awkward silence) “I see… well, nice meeting You.” 

Perhaps it’s better to let Jesus initiate the conversation. How does Jesus make a memorable first impression? Where do you begin when you are the Saviour of the world and Your purpose for coming is to form genuine trust relationships with others? How can you hope for initial rapport to be created? At least Jesus knows one thing to avoid in starting a conversation…

TITLES AND LABELS

I have read all kinds of reasons why Jesus “sternly warns the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah” (Matthew 16:20 NLT). It’s not that He is unsure of Himself. He’s not shy or embarrassed about who He is. Some say His disciples have a false understanding and He needs more time to teach them what the word Messiah really means. Others say He wants them to wait until the Holy Spirit comes to empower them before sharing who He is. Still others say that it would cause a riot to tell people that He is the Messiah and Jesus wants to avoid confrontation or an uprising. These reasons seem complicated and unnecessary.

The simplest explanation is that Jesus is not interested in titles but in genuine interactions; in starting up a conversation with us where we can get to know Him without any frills. He wants us to come to a knowledge of the truth by meeting us where we are and allowing us to be open with Him. Jesus doesn’t have to try to impress us and He’s not trying to impose Himself on us.

INTEREST AND HUMILITY

Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) gives great advice in starting a conversation. It says “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. … take an interest in others, too. … have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had … Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God…” (Philippians 2:3-5 NLT) Christmas and the Cross remind us about the humility of Christ as He relates to us.

OPENNESS AND TRUST

So when Jesus “sternly warns the disciples not to tell anyone that He is the Messiah” (Matthew 16:20 NLT) it seems to me that He invites us to come to understand who He is, as Peter did (Matthew 16:13-19), through personal relationship and openness to God, not simply because of a label giving Him status.

Normally you can’t expect miracles to take place in your first interactions with someone new … except when you start a conversation with Jesus.

“So Jesus, I’ve heard a little bit about You. Some people say You are the prophetic voice of our time?” 

“But who do you say that I am?”

Great way to begin! But be warned – starting a conversation with Jesus could end up being a life-changing encounter. I know the traditional rule is that you never start a conversation with people you don’t know well with talk about religion, politics, money, relationships, family problems, health problems, or sex. The risk of offensiveness is way too high. Jesus however will inevitably address all these issues in our lives and more. He’s not afraid to get to the heart of a conversation about troubled lives, estranged relationships, and even sin and death. But far from being awkward, His initial invitation allows us to get to know Him personally and to keep in touch … for eternity. 

Pastor Ross

LOST TWICE FOR THREE DAYS – CHRISTMAS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

 

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

It struck me as Pastor Brian Houston was speaking at the Christmas Eve Service that for 3 days Mary lost her Son when He was 12 and for 3 days she lost Him again when He was 33. Both times He was “about His Fathers business” (Luke 2:42-51 NLT). Mary was present for His birth and present at His death. We celebrate both Christmas and Easter so as not to miss the significance of His birth and His death.

At the Beginning of His life there was no room for Him at the Inn and He was laid in a borrowed manger. At the end of His life there was no room for Him so they laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Followers of Christ make room for Him in their lives.

At His birth lowly Shepherds came. At His death the great Shepherd was abandoned, yet He said “I am the Good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, … So I sacrifice My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NLT).

At the beginning innocent babies were killed. At the end of His life guilty thieves died with Him on the Cross. The Bible says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT).

Wise men followed God’s directions intentionally after He was born. Foolish men knew not what they were doing at His death. Yet in Luke 23:34 (NLT) Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.

He was visited by shepherds at His birth. Disciples abandoned Him at His death. It takes commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

Herod tried to put Him to death at His birth. Pilate tried to save Him from death at His trial, but ended up washing his hands of Him. All of us are given a choice concerning what we will do with Jesus.

Wise men acknowledged Him as King soon after He was born. At the end of His life foolish men put Him on a Cross with a sign they thought was mocking Him as King of the Jews. Yet Revelation 17:14 (NLT) calls Him “… Lord of all lords and King of all kings…” Followers of Christ acknowledge His rulership in their lives.

After His birth wise men gave generously to Jesus. At His death the religious rulers gave Judas “thirty pieces of silver” to betray Him (Matthew 26:15 NLT). Matthew 16:26 (NLT) says “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Wise men invested their wealth as they gave it to Jesus. At His crucifixion foolish soldiers “gambled for His clothes” at the Cross Luke 23:34 (NLT) concerned only with taking. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NLT).

A star shone at His birth. He was the light of the world at His death. God still directs us to Him.

Angels at His birth spoke of a Saviour. Angels at the tomb said He is risen. Romans 6:9 (NLT) says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”

Jesus was born into the family of Abraham, ancestor of King David. He died so that we could be born again into His family.

At His Conception the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. At the conception of the Church the Holy Spirit came upon 120 disciples in an upper room. Zacharias was speechless before Jesus was born. Peter preached a powerful message after Jesus rose again (Acts 2). With the help of the Holy Spirit we can share the message of Christ boldly.

At His birth He is called Immanuel “God with us”. After His death Hebrews 13:5 says God will “never leave You or forsake You”

He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the end. Saviour, Born that we may never die. He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. Born in a manger, died on a cross. Born that I might be born again. Immanuel, God with us. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, My Lord Jesus.

Pastor Ross

 

THE 4 KINGS OF CHRISTMAS

4 KINGS. 4 cards. Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts. Each King represents a person in the Christmas Story. Three of these kings represent people today as well,… maybe you. Three of them missed Christmas altogether. The fourth invented it!

The first person who missed Christmas is represented by THE KING OF SPADES.

KING OF SPADES

KING OF SPADES

If you look at the KING OF SPADES you will see a King with a SWORD in his hand. In the Christmas Story this king is violent and cruel. History tells us he killed his wife and three of his own sons because he suspected they were trying to take his throne. Some people said it was safer to be his sow than his son, because Jews didn’t eat pigs but this king slaughtered his own sons. Like the gunman over in Newtown Connecticut recently, he also murdered children at Christmas time (Our hearts grieve for your loss). Bethlehem mourned that first Christmas also because of a king who had to WIN AT ALL COSTS.

SPADES is a good sign for him because if you tried to play games with this king, you would end up DIGGING YOUR OWN GRAVE.

Matthew 2:1-8 (NLT) tells us his name. It says “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of KING HEROD. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.”

The wise men CALLED HIS BLUFF and found Jesus but returned to their home another way.

Herod was a WILD CARD. He was more than a few cards short of a deck. He certainly didn’t call a spade a spade. He said he wanted to worship Jesus but he really wanted to get rid of him. He was a negative, bitter, angry, revengeful leader. Like a lot of world leaders today who want to HOLD ALL THE CARDS, to have absolute rulership and power, Herod was willing to do anything to hold onto his kingdom.

HEROD MISSED CHRISTMAS

Today many people miss Christmas for the same reason. Afraid that Jesus might cramp their lifestyles, or their ambitions, they are self-sufficient and don’t see their need of a Saviour. They play games with God and are not willing to lay all their cards on the table with Him. People miss Jesus because they don’t want Him to be LORD AND KING of their lives. What about you?

But there was ANOTHER KING in our Christmas Story. I have represented him by THE KING OF CLUBS.

KING OF CLUBS

KING OF CLUBS

Also holding a sword, he is a dangerous leader. I have chosen the KING OF CLUBS because he headed up a group of leaders, a CLUB of people who missed Christmas.

Self-centred, suspicious and always getting offended, they were a very negative club. They always saw problems and were always looking for an argument. They were perfectionists, trying to keep all kinds of laws, and systems of their own making, and always critical of others. Wallowing in gloom and doom, they considered that they had been dealt a bad hand in life. They harboured animosity and sought revenge. They were unforgiving and prejudiced and self-righteous.

But their religious system was really a HOUSE OF CARDS. Jesus layed His cards on the table with them. He had many confrontations with them and eventually they demanded His death. They were frauds, jokers in disguise. This religious Club was headed up by a leader called the high priest.

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS MISSED CHRISTMAS

Matthew 2:4 says, “(Herod) called a meeting of the LEADING PRIESTS AND TEACHERS OF RELIGIOUS LAW and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”   “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:    ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”    These leaders (called the Sanhedrin) knew where Jesus was to be born but didn’t go there to find him. They MISSED CHRISTMAS! They had been waiting for the Messiah for years, yet this RELIGIOUS CLUB didn’t bother to walk 2-3 miles to see if this was Him. Why?

More interested in studying about the messiah than actually worshiping Him, they had RELIGION BUT NO REALITY. They considered themselves TOO HOLY. They were not willing to admit to their own sinfulness and therefore they didn’t think they needed the Saviour. Treacherous and secretive, they wanted to hold the cards close to their chest.

Many today ignore Christ because they don’t understand their need of a Saviour. They are religious but they don’t want a relationship with Christ. They don’t want to lay their cards on the table. What about you?

This Card is the KING OF DIAMONDS.

KING OF DIAMONDS

KING OF DIAMONDS

Diamonds speak of MONEY. It represents a man who wasn’t strictly a king, but certainly a man who loved making money. King of his own castle,he owned real estate, a lodging house. That Christmas he knew that if he played his cards right he could make a lot of money from all the people in town.

He doesn’t have a sword, but an AXE. Yet this man had no AXE TO GRIND with Mary and Joseph. When Joseph and Mary turned up he turned them away because there was no room in his Inn. He was already too busy. He had a Full House.Too many other people in Bethlehem that night

THE INNKEEPER MISSED CHRISTMAS

Luke 2:7 (NLT) says, “She (Mary) gave birth to her first child, a Son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” It was a good deal for the Innkeeper. He’s not actually mentioned in the Bible but he must have been there.

We can get so caught up in the busyness of Christmas we can miss it’s REAL WORTH!

King Herod. The Religious leaders. The Innkeeper. All of Jerusalem missed Christmas. All of Bethlehem missed Jesus. No room.

Only a few found Christ that Christmas. Wise men followed a diamond in the sky, and came up aces. Only a few still find Him today. What about you?

The last King is the KING OF HEARTS.

KING OF HEARTS

KING OF HEARTS

He represents the REASON FOR THE SEASON, THE TRUMP CARD. He was born in Bethlehem, laid in a manger, and is called the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. The heart indicates His LOVE for the world.

John 3:16 (NLT) 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 Bible says that the cards are stacked against us without Christ. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death” (Spiritual Separation from God).

When it was on the cards that we would all fall short of God’s perfect standard, the Bible says that Jesus showed His cards, so to speak, and came up trumps. It says “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT).

But He will never FORCE YOUR HAND. He always gives us a choice. John 1:12 (NLT) simply says “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

Herod missed Christmas. The Religious Leaders missed Christmas. The Innkeeper missed Christmas. Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem missed Christmas.

Ignorant preoccupation. Negativity. Jealous fear. Prideful indifference. Religious ritual. Unbelief. What about you? Will you miss Christmas? Is your life a house of cards. What are you following? Someone said WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS.

On Christmas Day, many years ago, I believed in Christ. He changed my life. The invitation God gives at Christmas is to receive Christ and trust your life to Him today. He’s got the best hand. He’s a great Bridge partner. In fact He is the BRIDGE to life and Peace with God.

The Bible says God is not mocked and He can’t be bluffed. He is great with Patience. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “…He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. He wants to count us in,not so that we can play games with God, but so we can lay our cards on the table before Him and commit our lives to Him, so that we will enjoy the true significance of Christmas. What about you?

Pastor Ross