Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

THE CHOCOLATE EASTER STORY

Happy easter everyone!

I was talking to my friend Bob (84 years old) the other day and he said that Easter reminded him of chocolate so that got me thinking about chocolate and Easter eggs.

Chocolate Easter eggs. Why?

The earliest Cadbury chocolate eggs were made of ‘dark’ chocolate with a plain smooth surface and were filled with sugared almonds. The earliest ‘decorated eggs’ were plain shells enhanced by chocolate piping and marzipan flowers. Like this…

So I thought we could go on a bit of an EGG HUNT to discover the meaning of Easter for us, by telling the EASTER STORY WITH CHOCOLATE AND EASTER EGGS.

Hidden in the scriptures for all to discover is the first egg.

 

 

 

 

  1. THE EGG OF HEAVEN

Egg of Heaven

Here is a chocolate egg called “HEAVEN”. It’s described as a Creamy swiss milk chocolate coating with a gorgeously soft dark hazelnut truffle center. Someone said “if there’s no chocolate in heaven then I’m not going”

But over 2000 years ago Jesus brought a message of hope and love to the world at easter. He talked about the Kingdom of Heaven.

So the first egg on our egg hunt is heaven. Since we are on an egg hunt, let me ask you a question. Are you “as sure as eggs” that you are going to be with God in heaven?

If God were to ask you, “why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?

If you are not as sure as eggs what the answer is to that question, then the good news of Easter is worth finding. And this Easter egg hunt will be worthwhile.

Did you know that the bible tells you that you can be as sure as eggs that you will go to be with God in heaven?

1 John 5:13 in the bible says “these things I have written to you . . . That you may know that you have eternal life . . .” 

The egg has always been a symbol of the gift of new life,

The bible says, “. . . The gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23).

If I gave you a gift of an Easter egg today I wouldn’t expect you to pay for it or try to earn it. It’s free, and heaven is also a gift, and like any other genuine gift, it is not earned or deserved.

You probably thought that getting to heaven involved you living a good life and doing good deeds. 

Actually, no amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven for you.

Ephesians 2:8,9 in the bible makes it very clear. It says “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Since heaven is a gift, what stops us from getting into heaven?

To find some clues for the answer, you will need to find the next Easter egg on this Easter egg hunt.

 

A true Easter hunt has to include talking about

  1. THE BAD EGGS

Bad Egg.jpg

Bad Egg © Ross Cochrane

The TRUE EASTER STORY has some BAD EGGS.

So who are these bad eggs?

 

 

 

 

JUDAS

Judas the Bad Egg.jpg

Judas was a Bad Egg. He made a deal with the Jewish leaders. He wanted to have a Nest Egg for his retirement. They gave him 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus and he led a crowd armed with swords and carrying torches. The mob included soldiers to arrest Jesus. Judas arranged a signal for them and he betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the traditional greeting of the day.

We think of Judas now as the Rotten Egg of the dozen disciples, disliked now by everyone because of his sin, his betrayal of Jesus and his bad Egg-sample.

 

 

 

 

 

PETER

Peter.jpg

But even Peter was a sinner. Peter claimed he would follow Jesus to his death, but when people started asking if he knew the man who was arrested, he must have had scrambled eggs for brains because he denied he knew Christ three times before the rooster crowed twice.

 

PONTIUS PILATE

Pontius Pilate

The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate tried to walk on eggshells and please the people but he couldn’t wash his hands of the sin of crucifying Jesus.

 

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND THE MOB

Sinful Mob

The sinful mob, egged on by the religious leaders ensured that Jesus was handed over to be crucified. They all had hearts like hard boiled eggs.

 

US

Us

But the bible says it was not only Judas and Peter and Pilate and the Jewish leaders and the mob who were sinners.

The Bible says we are ALL SINNERS. Romans 3:23 in the Bible says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” We are all Bad Eggs when it comes to our sin.

Sin can include things like betrayal, and lying or evil thoughts, but mostly it means not being willing to obey God’s purposes for our lives.

None of us are Good eggs, no not one. None of us can get to heaven by ourselves because of our sin. We cannot save ourselves. None of us are perfect enough for heaven. Our sin is egg-sposed and the question is – is there any egg-scape.

The good news is that the whole point of Easter is hope. In spite of our sin, the next egg on our egg hunt tells us a little bit more about the real hope of the Easter Story.

 

  1. OUR EGG-STRAORDINARY GOD

God.jpg

 

GOD IS LOVE

God is merciful, and therefore doesn’t want to punish us for our sin.

This is because  “ . . . God is love (1 John 4:8). And He says, “ . . . I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

 

 

 

GOD IS JUST

But the same bible which tells us that God loves us, also tells us that God is just and therefore must punish sin. He says in Exodus 34:7 (NLT) “but I do not excuse the guilty.”   

And Ezekiel 18:4 (NLT) “for all people are Mine to judge—… and this is My rule: the person who sins is the one who will die.”  

God loves us but doesn’t love our sin and must judge us.

So, is there any egg-scape?

The problem of our sin is “a hard egg to crack,” something we can’t solve, or deal with.

But our eggs-tremity is God’s opportunity

God solved this problem for us by the next egg in our egg hunt. The most important egg of all, that tells us the egg-ceptional message of Easter. 

So where is our next Egg? Or more accurately WHO is the next egg?

 

  1. JESUS – THE ONLY TRULY GOOD EGG

Jesus

Who is He? The Bible tells us clearly that He is the infinite GOD-MAN.

“In the beginning was the Word (Jesus). . . and the Word (Jesus) was God. And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1,14).

Jesus refused to walk on eggshells with people. He told it like it was. When He came to the temple in Jerusalem and found it had become a marketplace, He chased away the money changers and overturned their tables.

Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life. He was the only really Good Egg, but while He was on earth, What did He do?

 

HOT CROSS BUN = DEATH OF JESUS

The Hot Cross Bun at Easter reminds us that Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

He was crucified between two thieves. The Jewish rulers and the Roman soldiers mocked Him.

Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  

That’s what we remember on GOOD FRIDAY.

 

EASTER EGG = RESURRECTION

But the Easter egg for Christians is a symbol of the tomb and when we crack open the egg like this one, it represents the empty tomb of Jesus.

Jesus rose from the dead. Early on Sunday, the women went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb was empty. Angels told them that He had risen from the dead. Mary saw Him face to face and thought he was the gardener.

They ran and told the disciples. Later, Thomas, who was a bit of an egghead, said he wouldn’t believe unless he had scientific evidence. But he ended up with egg on his face when Jesus appeared to him and asked him to touch the wounds in His hands and side.

What’s all this got to do with the price of eggs?

Easter eggs are a symbol of hope and new life. Today billions of people all over the world believe that by dying and coming back to life Jesus gave people the chance to know God in a personal way.

What does Easter mean for our lives? 

Jesus Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross and now He offers you eternal life (Heaven) as a free gift.

There’s only one way to receive this gift.

And this gift is received by Faith.

 

5. FAITH – PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET

Faith

Easter tells us about the only time when it is absolutely safe to “to put all your eggs in one basket”, and that’s when we trust, rely on and cling to one person, Jesus, for our eternal security.

Saving faith is putting all your eggs in the one basket. Trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. It means resting on what he has done rather than in what you or I have done to get us into Heaven.

Acts 16:31 says “. . . Believe (trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .”

The question that God is asking you now at this Easter Service is would you like to receive the gift of eternal life?

THE COMMITMENT EGG

So here’s what we are going to do.

If you would like to put your faith in Christ alone this Easter, you can go to God in prayer right now. You can receive His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ right now.

“For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, … For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:10,13).

If you want to receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, then I encourage you to pray this beautiful Easter prayer right now. In fact, why don’t you all repeat these words after me?

“Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner, and do not deserve eternal life. But You loved me so much, that You died and rose from the grave, to purchase a place in Heaven for me. I now trust in You alone, for eternal life, and I repent of my sin. Please take control of my life, as Lord of my life. Thank you so much!”

If this prayer is the sincere desire of your heart, look at what Jesus promises to those who believe in HimI tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me HAS ETERNAL LIFE. (John 6:47).

THE FAMILY SIZE EGG

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name”(John 1:12).

EASTER IS YOUR SPIRITUAL BIRTHDAY—a day you will always want to remember! A day when new life was hatched in you. The Bible speaks of those who receive eternal life in these words:

They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:13).

The Good News of Easter is that GOD SOLVED THE PROBLEM OF OUR SIN. 

This is EGG-CELLENT, EGG-CITING AND EGG-STAORDINARY news! It is EGGSTRA-SPECIAL for us! Easter is not just another EGG-CUSE for CHOCOLATE!

Easter is more than a beautiful story, it’s the promise of life and eternal glory

Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET by Trusting in Jesus alone for our eternal salvation.

So GET CRACKING. Have a SPEGG-TACULAR, EGG-CEPTIONAL and Happy Easter.

HE IS RISEN! 

Pastor Ross

 Chess King.jpg

Rebels Without a Cause – © Photo manipulation by Ross Cochrane (Morguefile.org, Blender.com and GetPaint.net)

Psalm 2:1-4 – REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE – an exercise in meaninglessness

“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:1-4).

SCOFFS?

Strange to think of God as scoffing. Not a word we use much because it means “to speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way”.

So this verse says that God is mocking them, ridiculing them, sneering at them, being scornful about them, treating them contemptuously, jeering at them, making fun of them, dismissing them. These are hardly expressions we imagine being used or associated with God toward us, even if we are trying to rebel against Him.

It seems that such an expression of scornful derision, though rarely used of God, is born out of the absolutely ludicrous nature of the opposition of rebellious people against His purposes. Their sentiments are so utterly unwarranted and so frantically senseless as to be ridiculous, meaningless. God laughs at such a revolt against Him (see also Psalm 37:8-13). Perhaps that’s the closest term that can be used for us to understand how He responds.

BOUNDARIES

James Dean embodied a teenage “rebel without a cause”; frustrated, isolated and desperate to prove himself, disillusioned with life and a loner. On screen and off he considered life was an experiment, and after his fatal car crash, even the homosexual community claimed him as a “poster boy”.

But discovering your identity does not have to be violent and reckless. It can be an exciting journey of discovery where boundaries are recognized rather than violated.

I never want my grandkids to assume that my beliefs and values and expectations must automatically be accepted, but I do want them exposed to the values and principles of the Bible. I don’t want them to miss exploring the frontiers of all God intends for their lives, and I am not foolish enough to tell them that there are not going to be consequences for the choices they make in life. When we choose to cross borders that God does not intend for us to cross, we enter into “crash and burn” territory.

Life always has it’s God directed boundaries, and there is freedom within those boundaries to make all the choices that lead to a complete life and rich blessing.

Psalm 1 is a case study of those who delight in what God wants for our lives. Psalm 2 is a prophecy about those who are rebels without a cause and defy what God wants for our lives. Psalm 1 is about the person who has a joyful connection with God and His purposes. Psalm 2 is about the rebellious person who wants to break any connection with God’s authority over them and live life recklessly apart from Him. Psalm 1 is about choosing to be free by living within the boundaries God provides. Psalm 2 is about choices which lead to the impoverishment and imprisonment of the soul, to loner status, disillusionment and estrangement from God.

MEANINGLESSNESS

Rebels without a cause once crucified Jesus and expected that somehow God would be thwarted by their schemes. Even that didn’t work. At the Cross, God judged our sin and invites us to trust in Christ. The alternative is ludicrous! Why would anyone choose to be estranged from God’s grace? It’s stupid! It proves nothing, accomplishes nothing; it is totally and utterly futile. Meaningless.

If God is laughing at our rebellion, why aren’t we weeping? Tears would be more appropriate, but it seems that it is only Jesus who is weeping at such sinful rejection of God’s love as He grieved over Jerusalem so long ago (Matthew 23:34ff).

JUDGMENT

We don’t like to admit our sinfulness or talk about God laughing at our foolishness or bringing judgment. We say, “God is a God of love” so how could He judge me. But the Bible speaks of the justice of God as clearly as it does about His love. The two are not incompatible.

God is the only one truly able to handle the emotion of anger with a level response and though He is patient, this passage tells us that eventually, judgment will come. This is not the vicious, callous and cruel and meaningless violence of terrorists in London against innocent people, but a completely holy, just and balanced response that holds us to account for our sin and rebellion against Him.

EASTER

At the Cross, His anger at sin covered the world in darkness and God scoffed at humanity for the foolishness of their rejection and for thinking that they could silence His love.

Our rebellion is unfounded. He laughs at our foolishness. His absolute authority is completely intact despite our feeble challenges. He is not threatened or disturbed by our stupid plans or religious fallacies. Our missiles only harm us, not Him. He is still in control.

The tomb is empty. Thinking they could kill Jesus was futile. He brought justice to our sins and still invites us into relationship with Him. Nothing can be so meaningless as trying to silence the love of God.

Pastor Ross

Meaningless

Hand of Jesus4

THE HANDS OF GRACE

The world is changed by the HANDS of the Lord,

Which reach out from the handbook of ages,

Where Hands of His grace have planned and penned the stages

For undeserving hands in need of life restored,

The hand-wrought work of God; unearned reward,

Handpicked, and free at last from sins cruel wages.

Yet mishandled grace has smudged most its pages.

 

THE HANDS OF MAN 

So God’s pure hands now hold a two-edged sword,

While sinful, errant hands hold nought but shame,

In need of His abiding, guiding hand.

With things so out of hand, we must share blame.

We take the law into our hands and stand

Doomed, death’s wages play our hand a losing game,

As hands rebel against His Holy Name

 

THE HANDS OF GOD

Did God throw up His hands at my offence?

Or wash His hands of me until I die?

Or did He force His hand upon me to comply?

In Satan’s hands, my life will not make sense,

God acts with heavy hand and moral sense.

On one hand, He condemns with just resolve.

On the other hand, His love wants to absolve

 

THE HANDS OF SALVATION

I forced God’s hand to judge me. No defence.

The hands of Jesus have for me made room.

Those hands that flung the stars and worlds in space

Became the tiny hands in Mary’s womb.

Hands-on hands, rough and calloused found their place.

Soon nail pierced hands would rise up from the tomb

Those Hands which long to craft my life in grace.

 

His gentle hands restore sight with one touch,

Hands that heal the wounds and scars we bear,

Hands that soften hardened hearts heal with loving care,  

Those hands that feed five thousand offer much,

Servant hands that wash disciple’s feet. Such

Loving hands bless children with a prayer.

His hands broke bread and gave us wine to share,

Hands that wrenched the victory from the devils clutch.

 

Yet Judas would such blameless hands betray

And hand Him up to hands of sinful men,

His hands abandoned, as we turned away.

Pilot would such faultless hands condemn.

He tried to wash his hands of guilt that day,

And blood is also on our hands as it was then.

 

The crowd forced Pilot’s hand to crucify.

The hands of Jesus bore His Cross and our travails.

And into open hands, we drove those cruel nails.

He knew firsthand that He would have to die,

Sin handled, “It is finished” was His cry.

Into His Father’s hands, His spirit sails,

And though His hands are still, His love prevails.  

 

Salvation, paid in full, His hands supply,

He won hands down the victory over death,

And on the day I handed Him my sin,

He handed me forgiveness, peace within.

My hands received new life from Spirit breath.

 

So touch His nail scarred hands, be born again,

Those hands that offer love of unplumbed depth.

He takes your hand, the journey can begin.

 

THE HANDS OF FAITH

The hands of faith are my hands reaching out,

And Jesus is on hand to hear my prayer.

He wants all hands on board, He’s just and fair.

He waits for hands of faith that will not doubt,

Clean hands and hearts of those who are devout.

For faith is not a ‘hand-me-down’ we wear,

Not second hand but born from choice and prayer.

We take hands off, He turns our life about,

 

The clock hands say the day is almost spent.

Salvation is at hand, the time is near.

Faith takes the hand of God with full intent,

Surrendered hands and hearts and ears to hear.

So with clean hands and heart make the ascent

In His eternal hands, there is no fear.

 

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

So today, as we pray, could you open your hands in front of you and open your heart to Him.

Dear Lord Jesus, I admit to You that I have sin on my hands, and I ask for Your forgiveness, for clean hands and a new start. I believe that when Your hands were nailed to the Cross You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I hand over my life to You and invite You to come into my heart and life.

Take my hand of faith because I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour.

I accept the gift of eternal life that you hand to me,

I pray this prayer knowing that now I am in Your hands. Thankyou for welcoming me into Your family.   

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, then Jesus will give You a hand in living life to the full, as God intended. And please e-mail me if I can help you live your life for Him.

Pastor Ross

 

These are the hands of Alf Bourne, a 97 year old volunteer Chaplain. Photo by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

HANDS

The Bible is our HANDBOOK for Salvation

I got to thinking about the Bible being a HAND book. And it struck me that there are a lot of hands that are in its pages.

What are the hands of the handbook of the bible that speak about Easter.

  1. HANDS OF GRACE

The hands of Grace are the hands of God handing us His gift. The Bible says that God hands us the gift of heaven on a platter. We don’t have to work for it with our hands, earn it and we don’t deserve it. It’s given to us by grace as a gift from His hand. “The gift of God is eternal life”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done” by our hands, “so none of us can boast about it.” 

Eternal life is God’s handiwork, handmade for us, and we are handpicked to receive it.

But there’s a problem taking this gift in hand.

What’s the problem?

The problem is to do with the hands of man

  1. THE HANDS OF MAN

The trouble is that God’s hands are pure, sinless hands.

But the hands of people in the world are sinful hands.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God sought to give the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, a guiding hand

But when Adam and Eve sinned, things got out of hand. They took the law into our own hands rather than live as God intended.

God’s hands are too pure to put up with our sin.

We became enemies of God, and those with sinful hands cannot go to heaven because the “wages of sin is death.”

How could God hand us His love when we turned our hands against Him.

What could be done?

Did God throw up his hands because the situation seemed hopeless? No.

Did He force his hand upon us and make us comply with His will? No.

He had a plan. He wrote it in his handbook and written in His own hand, He tells us about …

  1. THE HANDS OF GOD
  • On one hand – God hates sin and must condemn those who sin.
  • On the other hand – God loves you and me and wants to save us from the hands of the evil one, from condemnation, from going to hell, from a life that is less than He intended.

Make no mistake, God acts with a heavy hand towards our sin. Because of the sin on our hands, it looked like the entire human race was destined to go to hell.

You see, we forced God’s hand and compelled Him to judge our sin. But fortunately, God knew how to handle the problem of sin.

That’s where Jesus’ hands come into the story.

Let’s look at what the handbook says about…

  1. THE HANDS OF JESUS.

Jesus also wanted to have a hand in the human race.

The hands of Jesus that created the world became the tiny hands formed in Mary’s womb. He became a human being and lived among us.

He wants to have a hand in your life and my life today because Jesus is a hands-on kind of person

The rough, calloused craftsman’s hands of a village carpenter, working hands that gripped lumber with bare-handed fingers, removed splinters, shaped timber and sanded the rough edges are the hands that want to shape and craft our lives today.

Those strong, calloused but gentle hands that could restore sight to the blind with a touch, bring life to the dead, heal deformed hands, and lift those who were lame up from the dust are the same hands that want to heal the wounded places in our lives.

The same compassionate, helping hands that took five loaves and two fish and fed the five thousand; the same servant hands that washed His disciple’s feet; the same loving hands that prayed for little children and blessed them want to touch and change your life forever today.

But what has all this got to do with God’s problem at hand? If we are still condemned by God, how did Jesus’ hands change things?

Well, here’s what happened.

Jesus had the same clean, sinless, pure hands of God

The handbook of the bible says in 1 John 3:5 (NLT) “there is no sin in Him.”

Judas had the blood of Jesus on his hands, but even Judas said, “I have betrayed Innocent blood.”

Pilot declared “I find no fault in Him”

Why is this important?

Only clean, sinless hands can do what Jesus did for us.

Here’s what He did.

It was the time of the Passover and Jesus hands took up bread and wine and told His followers that it was a perpetual picture of His coming sacrifice. On Good Friday, many celebrate communion and remember His words, “Do this in remembrance of Me”.

Why did He say that?

Because He knew that His hands were hands that would be betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound.

The Handbook says The Son of Man was betrayed into the hands of sinful men. 

Jesus was handed over to the religious leaders and then they handed Him up to be judged by Pilate.

Pilate sought to take his hands-off and to distance himself from judging Jesus.

But the crowds forced his hand and cried out “Crucify Him”.

He didn’t want to have Jesus blood on his hands so he tried to wash his hands of it.

But they took Jesus away to be crucified and the hands of Jesus carried His own Cross.

When the Romans crucified Jesus, they drove nails into His hands. He died for us and paid the price for our sin.

Jesus knew firsthand what it was like to suffer and die. In Luke 23:46 (NLT) it says that on the Cross, “Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!” And with those words He breathed His last.” 

They were crucified hands.

The sinners price was borne by those hands in full. “The wages of sin were paid.”

On that day, we handed over our sin and He handed over His forgiveness and we are made right with God. He bore our sin and paid the price of death which leaves our hands free to receive God’s gift of heaven.

He won the victory over sin and death hands down.

But all that will mean nothing to you and me without

  1. THE HANDS OF FAITH

The hands of faith are our hands reaching out to Jesus

Jesus is always on hand to hear our prayer of faith.

That’s what happened with Thomas.

Ten days after the resurrection, Jesus said to Thomas: John 20:27-29 (NLT) “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” 

Jesus wants all hands on board 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says that God “… is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent”.

Faith is not a hand-me-down commodity from Christian parents. Every person must make their own choice. It can’t be second hand.

Faith is our choice. We have a free hand. God won’t force your hand.

Faith is getting our hands off the controls of our life and putting our lives in His hands. He will take you by the hand and lead and nurture you in your faith.

In fact, you can do this today if you want to.

The bible says today is the day of salvation. Now is the time. The time is at hand. The hand of the clock is moving. We can’t hold back time.

The question is, will you take hold of His hand today.

Faith is shaking hands with God and getting right with Him.

Faith is putting our hands up and surrendering our lives to Christ.

Faith is raising your hand and saying, Here I am Lord, take me in Your loving hands.

For those who believe in Him, in John 10:28-29 (NLT) He says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. 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.”

When we are in the hands of God anything is possible.

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

So today, as we pray, could you just open your hands in front of you and open your heart to Him.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner.

I have sinful hands, and I ask for Your forgiveness.

I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I turn from my sins

and hand over my life to You

I invite You to come into my heart and life.

Take my hand.

I want to trust and follow You

as my Lord and Saviour.

I accept the gift of eternal life

That you hand me

In Your Name.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, then Jesus will give You a hand in living life to the full, as God intended. Amen.

 

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Easter, Hands of Jesus
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THE HANDS OF JESUS

© by Ross Cochrane

Fingers that flung worlds and stars in space

Became the tiny fingers formed in Mary’s womb,

Then craftsman’s hands, all calloused, shaping wood and stone,

Hands to feed five thousand, and defy the storm,

Hands that seek God’s will to make our hearts His throne.

Hands betrayed, abandoned, lashed and bound,

Forsaken hands, abused and battered, have borne

The sinners price in full. Yes, He alone

Reached out His hands to us, and we are found

And known

 

SPECIAL GUEST AT THE EASTER SERVICE, SHALOM CENTRE, SYDNEY

Man in the Shadows © Ross Cochrane using Paint.netWe have a special guest with us today and I will tell you a little bit about Him before I introduce you to Him personally. We are honoured to have Him with us.

He is a remarkable young man who had quite a year last year since our last Easter Service. It’s been an astonishingly turbulent year, but if anyone knows about the message of Easter, he does.

This young man has done a lot of world travel in the last year and has witnessed some amazing events all around the globe.

Do you remember Flight MH-370 that got lost and was never found? This young man happened to be in Malaysia Airport in March, seeing off some of His family members on flight MH-370 that day in Kuala Lumpur. He was one of the last to see that plane ease into the skies before it went missing. The world’s biggest aviation mystery.

We try to make sense of what happened. As the search efforts proved futile and the hopes of the families of the crew and passengers began to fade, he spoke to Danica Weeks, whose husband was on flight MH-370: She asked Him “How can life go on without him? How do you tell a small boy, who last waved his daddy off on a plane to go to work, that daddy will never come home again? …”

Our guest today was there, giving hope, when relatives were trying to make sense of the lost flight of MH-370. He cried with them and comforted them in their grief and He brought God’s grace.

In fact if anyone knows about the true meaning of Easter he does.

His secret to success is His love for people which I have personally had the opportunity to experience over the last year and He has always generously given me His time.

A MESSAGE OF GRACE

I had the privilege of interviewing our honourable guest before the service and He told me that Australians have been searching this year for answers. We have searched for love and life and hope and we have searched for God’s grace even in the midst of tough circumstances.

Australians have definitely had to explore some eternal issues and spiritual issues, issues of life and death in the last year.

As we spoke I realised that He is extremely well connected. We got to talking about famous people who died last year, … the people who have inspired us.

It turns out that he knew Malcolm Fraser personally. He spoke at the funeral of Gough Whitlam, who died at the age of 98 in October. He has sung with Joe Cocker with his raspy voice “You are so Beautiful”. He knew Rod Taylor the actor and encouraged Colleen McCullough with her creative skills to write “The Thorn Birds.” He played alongside Leonard Nimoy in the original “Star Trek” TV series. He knew Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and laughed, sometimes, with Joan Rivers and Robin Williams who all died last year. Absolutely incredible. But His powerful spiritual connection and service is even more incredible.

After Robin Williams died He was saying that He noticed that people were searching for answers to dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. He was instrumental in giving many people the help they needed.

It seems more than co-incidental that this our guest this morning happened to be at the match and witnessed the tragic death of cricketer Phillip Hughes, who was killed when he was struck by a bouncer at the SCG. He helped Michael Clarke write his eulogy when he said “We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on. So rest in peace my little brother. I’ll see you out in the middle.” He spoke at the funeral and sought once again to bring God’s grace.

He told me that at funerals He often confronts people to think about death and dying because it’s too important to play games with eternal issues.

When he speaks at a funeral he often asks 2 questions “Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?” And the other question is…

“Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” what would you say?”

These are good questions when we are faced with eternal issues. What would you say? “I’ve lived a pretty good life? Or She’ll be right mate?”

He told me about a gift that Philip Hughes had given to a friend of his – a signed cricket bat. It’s worth a lot of money now, I’m sure, but it was a gift. His friend didn’t pay for it or work for it or earn it in any way. It was given freely to him.

He says heaven is like that. You can’t earn your way to heaven by living a good life. Nobody can earn, work for or deserve heaven. It’s a free gift. And He’s right. That’s exactly what the Bible says about heaven. That’s exactly what the Easter Message proclaims. Heaven is a free gift. You can’t work for it, deserve it or earn it in any way.

The Bible says in Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Ephesians 2:8-9 says – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Like any genuine gift, Eternal life is free. If anyone knows about the Easter message, it’s him. 

AN UNDERSTANDING OF SIN 

Days before an Isis terrorist beheaded the US journalist Steven Sotloff, my young friend was talking to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Mr Abbot said to him “I refuse to call this hideous movement Islamic State because it’s not a state; it is a death cult.” My friend said “Sin always instigates death.”

The man I am soon to introduce to you happened to be in Ukraine when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukrainian air space by Russian separatists and a battle ensued to recover the bodies. He had tried to stop them but they would not listen. All 298 people on board were killed, including 38 Australians, on July 17.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would “Shirt-front” President Putin over the murder of Australian citizens and “Shirt-fronting” became Australia’s word of the year. My friend believes in Care-fronting. You don’t avoid the issues but you do it without causing further harm. My friend had been in negotiations with Boko Haram when they kidnapped 273 Nigerian girls. Sin steals the precious things of life.

When Daniel Christie died from a coward punch he was there. Daniel Christie’s family said they wanted king-hit attacks to be referred to as “coward punches. We don’t agree with the popular term ‘king-hit’.” They said. SIN would be a better word still. Sin is often a very cowardly response to our circumstances.

My guest was in Sierra Leonne last year caring for those dying from Ebola. He says that “Sin, like the Ebola Virus is dangerous. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. We have all been infected to some degree by our sin and we cannot save ourselves. This is also an important part of the message of Easter.”

Sin is what drove Man Haron Monis to take 17 hostages at the Lindt Café in Martin Place, Sydney, with tragic results. Sin takes hostages of our lives and produces death. My friend was there with the Chaplains who were deployed, once again offering hope.

My friend says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

THE INEVITABILITY OF JUSTICE

We were talking about justice in the world just the other day. The young man I will introduce to you was a witness in the trial of Oscar Pistorius. The court case kept the world in suspense until October, with a “live trial”. He was eventually found guilty of culpable homicide.

Our honoured guest says that sin always catches up with us and that although God is merciful He does not leave the guilty go unpunished.

He should know. He was on the MV SEWOL in April, the ‘South Korean ferry’ where 304 passengers lost their lives, and the captain of the ship was sentenced to 36 years in prison. Sin does not go unpunished.

Entertainer Rolf Harris knows that sin catches up with you when he faced trial on child sex abuse charges. My friend was one of the witnesses.

My guest told Barry O’Farrel not to accept the bottle of wine. Sin can look innocent but it is always corrupt.

THE RESPONSE OF FAITH

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan’s know what justice is all about. They are on death row in Indonesia for Drug trafficking. My friend knows Andrew Chan personally and led him to faith. Andrew started reading his Bible and after his sentence wrote these words in his diary.

“The Lord was showing me that all things are possible and that all I had to do was to believe in Him without wavering and that’s what I decided to do. Before the trial I began praying and telling the Lord, “If you get me out of this and set me free I will serve you forever.” Well, when the judge announced the death penalty I was in shock”. For quite some time he could not understand but then my friend told him “He did set you free! In your heart, He has set you free.” He then wrote “I then understood that I was free. I might be in prison, but in my heart I was free. I found a real salvation through Jesus Christ in prison, and the message of salvation in my life that I share with everyone can never be contained by the walls of the prison” (Andrew Chan, Death Row, Kerobokan Prison, Bali). What an amazing declaration!

My guest helped him to realise that we all deserve to be punished for our sin but Christ took our sin and paid the punishment price for us.

You have read His book. You have followed His life story. He is the most admired and influential man in the world. What I know for sure is that He will inspire all of us today.

Of course some of you already know who I am talking about. So let me introduce Him to you. The Lord Jesus Christ. Of Course. He is only a prayer away. He is there in all the events that we encounter through the year encouraging us towards faith. He will never leave us or forsake us no matter what the world throws at us. If anyone knows the true meaning of Easter, He does.

THE MESSAGE OF LOVE

He offers heaven as a free gift. It is not earned or deserved.

He offers forgiveness because we are all sinful people and we cannot save ourselves

He pays the price that the justice of God demands for our sin by dying on the Cross for us, so that we can have a personal relationship with God.

He offers those who have faith in Him and in what He has done for us a place in heaven.

2014 was a year of risk. Our guest would say that faith is spelled RISK. Faith in Christ is a risk worth taking. Faith gives us new perspective for the circumstances we face in life. Faith inspires us to take action.

To receive the gift of heaven we transfer our trust from ourselves to Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.

AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRIST

Because of Jesus, Easter has relevance not only for the past but for the present and future. The Cross is about Love. Easter is about Life. Let me introduce you to Jesus. He is only a prayer away from transforming your life.

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. Thankyou for Loving me. Thankyou for giving me Life. In Your Name. ”

Amen.

Easter and A Soldier's Cross. Photo by Ross Cochrane

Easter and A Soldier’s Cross. Photo by Ross Cochrane

Easter And The Soldier’s Cross

by Ross Cochrane

I found it framed, the old painted image.

It was hidden, lost among a host

of well-read books on benches, forsaken and tossed,

Snubbed, Where dust paid tribute to it’s visage.

Antiquated icon, our heritage

Painted here with tears, and smeared with cost,

One who bears sin and cares upon a cross

Shares nail-scared hands, love’s eternal message.

 

This soldiers name on canvas gives a clue

Of one who knew that death has lost it’s sting,

And though he died, perhaps he always knew,

There where the cruel bullets crack and sing,

His canvas of the cross would speak anew

Of life and peace that faith in Christ can bring.

 

Cross = Love. Created by Author using Paint.net, morgueFile and Photoforge.

“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20 He came to a rusty, broken world and took upon Himself the stains of our sin to open heaven’s door and show us that #CrossEqualsLove  #Easter

Cross = Heart2

 

Cross = Love. Created by Author using Paint.net, Filter Forge,
Love = Cross7