Archive for the ‘Psalms’ Category

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Psalm 2:12 –BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 4

THE FOOLISH PLAN OF GOD

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God … This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. … Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin.” 

KISS THE SON

In the New Testament Psalm 2 is associated with Christ and so prophetically it invites us all to put our trust in the Son of God. The promise of salvation still stands. We love John 3:16 “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.” but remember John 3:16 is found in the context of verse 17 and 18. John 3:17-18 (NLT) says, God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE THE WORLD, BUT TO SAVE THE WORLD through Him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” 

David speaks to the rebellious kings, giving them time to come under his authority in Psalm 2:12 (NLT). He speaks of himself when he says “Submit to God’s royal Son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!”  

Judgment will come swiftly, but first, he offers joy and peace and refuge to those who submit to him. This is a picture of Christ in the future. God’s Royal Son.

Literally, Psalm 2:12 says “Kiss the Son.” The kiss in the ancient world was a symbol of affection and submission. In the Greek language of the New Testament the word for worship, proskuneo, means “to kiss towards. To come forward to kiss.” Worship wipes away the tears of judgment.

In John 5:22-27 (NLT), Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. … The Father has life in Himself, and He has granted that same life-giving power to His Son. And He has given Him authority to judge everyone because He is the Son of Man.” 

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

Romans 8:1 (NLT) says “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Derek Kidner says “Take refuge in Him. There is no refuge from Him: only in Him.”

The invitation of Psalm 2 is the same as Act 16:31 (NLT), “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, …” 

Pastor Ross

Breaking and Smashing © Animation created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 2:11 – BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 3

MAKE A CHOICE

I am surprised how many people think of Christianity as just another way to heaven, all religions are the same and we are all basically good people. This notion has already been challenged on the world scene. But it has always been challenged in the Bible. Psalm 2 makes it clear that not all religions are the same and that one day, there will be a time of reckoning. The New Testament in the Bible associates this Psalm ultimately to Christ and His Second Coming as a conquering King.

Notice that king David, the writer of this Psalm, is not saying that all religions lead to heaven. He is not saying that all religions have basically the same message. He is saying just the opposite. He is saying “Make a choice who you will serve. I am your only hope and I have come to save you. When you serve me, you will also serve God, who appointed me as your king.”

“Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11 NLT).

David says “Serve the Lord.” That’s all there is to it and the alternative is unthinkable. Either serve the Lord with reverent fear or be smashed and broken (see Parts 1-2).

FEAR AND JOY

Serve with reverence. Rejoice with trembling. Seems opposites. Seems very oppressive. But there is no room for sentiment here where rebellion is concerned with David.

He leaves room for a heart attitude change, but when it all comes down to it, this is an act of will rather than some emotional decision. There will come a time when it will be forced on them. Their choices are die or serve the Lord. Submit to David as king or be crushed.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEAR THE LORD?

The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is a deep sense of awe, respect, and reverence toward Him; submission and obedience to Him. It’s recognising that He has all authority and we do not. The New Testament indicates that it is a recognition of what Christ has done for us in love when He died on a Cross for our sins, and responding to that love. There is no other way for us to be saved.

Joy comes with a sense of relief from not having to face judgment. 1 John 4:17-19 (NLT) says, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” The opposite to experiencing the love of Christ is experiencing the fear of judgment.

The invitation of Psalm 2 is to welcome Jesus and submit to Him. That’s wise. Make a decision to rejoice in what He rejoices in. Love Him and serve Him above all else. The only unforgiveable sin is our unbelief. Hebrews 2:3 (NLT) says “So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus Himself and then delivered to us by those who heard Him speak?” Christ is the only way. He is the only One who loved us enough to save us.

Proverbs 9:10 (NLT) says “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

Pastor Ross

Wrecking Ball 2

Breaking and Smashing © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 2:10 – BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 2

THERE IS NO OTHER KING

Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT) speaks of Christ, humbled by dying on the Cross, but then it goes on to say “… Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

So when have we ever seen this happen? Every knee bowing down? Not yet. There have always been those who don’t believe in Christ and refuse to come under His authority. Through the centuries there have always been those who opposed Christ and His followers. Has the book of Philippians in the Bible got it all wrong? No!

GOD IS PATIENT, BUT …

The Bible describes our present time as a time of God’s grace. 2 Peter 3:9-10 (NLT) explains “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.” 

So the Bible is clear that this prophetic time of judgment hasn’t yet taken place. God is giving the nations time to repent, but one day Christ will return with swift judgment as a victorious ruler.

Jesus is not King of one nation only, but every nation. The rebellion of empires or our individual sin against him in no way diminishes His authority and power. His humble servanthood in no way diminishes His dominion and intention to return as the conquering King.

TO WHOM DO I OWE MY ALLEGIANCE?

“Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth!” (Psalm 2:10 NLT).

So these words are the culmination of an angry promise and warning. Surprisingly, it is a plea from a heart of grace. David says, “Don’t be fools. Act wisely. Be warned.” How are they to act wisely? They have a choice. Submit or be annihilated. Not much of a choice? If they only realized that it’s the choice of a drowning man. Grab the rope and be saved or die. Judgment will come whether you do or not. Fall from a plane without taking the parachute you’ve been offered will have inevitable consequences.

As an ancient king, David could have simply gathered his army and gone against these rebellious kings and brought them to justice, but he doesn’t. He gives them time to consider their future. Before the storm comes, a moment of grace.

In the same way, the Bible uses this Psalm to say that God’s purpose is not to take pleasure in judging us, but to save us from inevitable judgment. Judgment was never intended for us according to the Bible. It is intended for the final judgment of the devil and his angels. Our mutiny leaves us out in the storm but there is shelter in Christ.

Before Jesus came, John the Baptist prepared the way by saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus continued to say exactly the same thing (Matthew 4:17).

The voice of love still invites us to respond in love and repentance to the King of kings.

Pastor Ross

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Psalm 2:7-12 – BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 1

I WILL GIVE YOU THE NATIONS

Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT) says “The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.” 

All king David has to do is ask and God will give him the nations as his inheritance. Not just a little bit but the whole earth!

This Psalm is used in the New Testament to refer to Christ. It is not surprising then that the verses above are often used in sermons by missionaries who try to say it refers to God giving Christians the nations. After all, Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16:15 NLT).

But the context of Psalm 2 best fits JUDGMENT rather than SALVATION.

BREAKING AND SMASHING SIN AND DEATH

Reading this verse in context shows clearly that the King, the anointed One, Messiah, Son of God, will not only inherit the nations if He asks, but that there will be a swift, violent battle and no mercy shown in doing it. The very next verse says “You will BREAK THEM with an iron rod and SMASH THEM like clay pots’” (Psalm 2:9 NLT). It would be more appropriate for missionaries to associate Psalm 2 with the last part of Mark 16:16 – “But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned” (NLT) or with the Second Coming of Christ or the Last Judgment.

It’s the language here that is disturbing and sobering. “You will BREAK THEM with an iron rod and SMASH THEM like clay pots” (Psalm 2:9 NLT). We don’t like to think of Christ breaking and smashing people. These are violent and severe terms that don’t belong to a sweet Jesus, meek and mild who we have devised for our own fairy tale reassurance. But the reassuring thing about Easter is that Christ broke and smashed the power of sin and death.

The Roman empire rose up to conquer a threat to their kingdom and instead Christianity gained the victory as it spread throughout their empire on Roman roads. Religious extremists rose up to put an end to His kingdom, but instead, Christ dealt a blow to their evil as they helped paved the way for the love of Christ which blossomed despite persecution. Christ and His purposes will be accomplished and evil will not have it’s way. The Bible also says Christ is coming again to lay claim to His inheritance of the nations and judge the world.

King David, who wrote this Psalm, is a pretty violent sort of person. He is making it clear that those who have opposed him as the Lord’s anointed king are going to be conquered. And broken. And Smashed.

Even as a humble shepherd boy, David had used his sling to strike anyone or anything that would attack his sheep. He used his sling to defeat Goliath and led his army in many battles. Breaking and smashing.

Christ is described in the Bible as the great Shepherd who will lovingly find the lost sheep but will also protect the flock from thieves and wolves.

He has already destroyed the power of the devil and also brings judgment to all who are in rebellion against God. The sentencing is yet to be announced but judgment day will come. Evil at His crucifixion was categorically defeated. What was meant for evil was used by God in Breaking and smashing the power of Sin and Death.

The invitation, while the earth is out on bail, is to find trust in Christ alone who pardons our sin and represents us when the big court day comes.

Pastor Ross

© Why – Video created by Ross Cochrane on Blender

Psalm 2:1-7 – GOD’S TURN TO ASK “WHY?”

If only we could appreciate that when we raise a fist to heaven and ask God “Why?” that He is often asking us the same question.

  1. DETERMINE NOT TO BE KNOWN FOR MEANINGLESS OPPOSITION TO GOD

God scoffs when people think that by their opposition to Him that He will somehow not achieve His purposes. God scoffs at me when I want to be known more for what I am against than what I am for. When I stand in an angry crowd with a placard that says, “I don’t believe in anything. I am just here to rebel” it is laughable; incredibly meaningless and this Psalm asks “Why?”

“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. (Psalms 2:1-4 NLT).

God encourages us not to be involved in such meaningless rebellion and arrogance against His divine purposes.

  1. DECIDE TO SEEK DIVINE DIRECTION RATHER THAN DIVINE DISCIPLINE

Then in anger He rebukes them, terrifying them with His fierce fury” (Psalms 2: 5 NLT).

Such arrogance will inevitably lead to heartache, discipline and rebuke. The Lord gets angry at the kings of the earth, those who have plotted against David, His appointed king. They would experience literal terror because David would come against them in a fierce, furious and swift battle. Instead of finding God’s direction for their lives they were faced with God’s discipline through God’s appointed leader.

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S ANOINTED SON AND KING

For the Lord declares, “I have placed My Chosen King on the throne in Jerusalem, on My holy mountain. The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are My son. Today I have become your Father.” (Psalms 2:6-7 NLT).

“My Chosen King … My Son … I have become Your Father.” This is the closest of relationships and there is no doubt that the God-appointed and anointed king has been given authority. God declares it, proclaiming it as the accurate message of His purposes. He declares it and it is engraved into the fabric of the universe, permanently established.

Leviticus 8:12 and 1 Kings 19:16 says that anointing oil was poured on priests, prophets and kings, a beautiful sign of the Holy Spirit setting them apart for God’s purposes.

The invitation of Psalm 2 is to see the perspective of the world through the eyes and leadership of His Son.

  1. RECEIVE THE PROMISES OF THIS MESSIANIC PROPHECY

The New Testament extends the meaning of this Psalm prophetically to speak of Christ, David’s descendant, as King of Kings, the Son of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit. He is the Messiah (anointed one, Mashiach), great High Priest, Prophet, and King of kings.

Acts 13:30-34 (NLT) says about Jesus “… God raised Him from the dead! And over a period of many days He appeared to those who had gone with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now His witnesses to the people of Israel. “And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. This is what the second psalm says about Jesus: ‘You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father.’ For God had promised to raise Him from the dead, not leaving him to rot in the grave. He said, ‘I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.’”

We have the enormous privilege to enter into the promises of God by trusting in Christ.

  1. TRUST IN THE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST

And just as God is angry and rebukes those who stand in opposition to king David in this Psalm, He also gets angry at those who stand in opposition against Christ as His anointed King. The New Testament takes up the thoughts of Psalm 2 and applies them to Christ …

In some future time, not specified but after the resurrection of Christ … “after that the end will come, when He (Christ) will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, HAVING DESTROYED EVERY RULER AND AUTHORITY AND POWER. For Christ must reign until HE HUMBLES ALL HIS ENEMIES BENEATH HIS FEET. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put ALL THINGS UNDER HIS AUTHORITY.” … so that God, who gave His Son authority over all things, will be UTTERLY SUPREME OVER EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE.” 1 Corinthians 15:23-31 (NLT)

Christ is described as a terrifying ruler and it will be humiliating and destructive for those who stand in defiance of Christ as King. There is no watering down of these verses. The second coming of Christ comes with judgment.

The invitation of Psalm 2 is to acknowledge Jesus Christ as King, with authority over our lives, to surrender ourselves to Him and submit to His will for us with a healthy mixture of respect (reverential fear) and joy.

Pastor Ross

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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

PSALM 2 – MUTINY!

Posted: March 15, 2017 in Psalm 2, Psalms
Tags: , , , ,

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“There Where the Human Spirit Strives” Crowsnest © Image created in Blender by Ross Cochrane

PSALM 2 – MUTINY!

(an analogy based on the truth of Psalm 2)

David King (King David) – First Mate – Ship’s Log

MAN THE DECKS!

The ship of humanity has been afloat for thousands of years, though the raging seas of sin and the winds of war have stung like the slapping fingers of a cat of nine tails on our pride. The decks and hull creaks and leaks in various places with each lashing. The sails are torn, but the masts still reach toward the heavens and the Crowsnest is manned; there in the highest loft, the human spirit still strives.

STOW THE CARGO!

The crew are greedy – continually stowing dangerous cargo and contraband on board – new social and cultural norms, politically acceptable corruption, and perilous religious views; all cannons and weapons held as valuable in various ports in the blackest of trades, but which load the ship with a heaviness that threatens to sink her if there’s bad weather.

BALE THE WATER!

Already we are frantically bailing to stay afloat. If she begins taking on too much more water it will demand a decision be made to throw such a cargo overboard, but there are those who would rather cling to it and risk Davy Jones’s Locker.

PLOT THE COURSE!

Mutiny is well underway and the Commander of our souls is being ignored. His compass and sextant have been thrown overboard but I am convinced that He alone can save us. The crew is drunk with the rum of self-importance and arrogant disregard for the Captain, indignant in their vanity.

Everyone seeks to be at the helm, but the ship is adrift as another storm looms large on the horizon. Oblivious to their plight, they plot their own destruction.

Psalms 2:1 asks, “Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?” Proverbs 16:18 (NLT) replies, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

INCITE A MUTINY!

“The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His anointed one” (Psalm 2:2 NLT).

Mutiny! A criminal conspiracy among a group of people to openly oppose, change, or overthrow the lawful authority to which they are subject.

Who are these kings of the earth who incite mutiny; who seduce those they lead from thinking they have any duty or allegiance to God and God’s anointed Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ? Who are these who goad the traitorous intentions of the nations; who are willing to risk imprisonment for eternity by their mutinous assemblies; who inspire rebellion in their arrogance?

I am all too willing to point the finger to numerous leaders in this world, but in reflecting on my own life, I suspect that I am included in their number and share their guilt, for in my own inclinations towards rebellion, I can see there are times when I have deliberately sought to ignore or overthrow the intentions of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus.

FREE THE SLAVES!

Psalm 2:3 (NLT) continues, “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”  

When I see myself as a slave rather than a son, I find myself wanting to be free of the chains of authority. But what chains bind us? Why do we consider that the rule of God enslaves us rather than frees us? Why are we suspicious of His motives and fail to see His love?

Perhaps it is because all of us are enslaved in some way by the choices we make. All of us are subject to laws of some sort. All of us wear a yoke; there are always boundaries. The difference is that Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  

Mutiny or compliance? The one in whom I am in mutiny against will determine the level of my striving and gauge my freedom.

MAKE THE CAPTAIN WALK THE PLANK!

As I write this poem I am incredulous. I cannot understand why anyone would want to do this. It is such a futile waste of life.

Note added: David’s incredulity is visited on the centuries that follow. With so many New Testament references, this is clearly a prophetic Psalm, with Messianic as well as local intent.

The New Testament recognized this psalm’s fulfillment in the mutiny of Jewish and Roman officials to crucify Christ. Acts 4:25-28 (NLT) is a prayer. Peter and John pray, “You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against His Messiah.’ “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, Your holy servant, whom You anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to Your will.” 

INCITE A MUTINY AGAINST MUTINY!

So I have launched my own mutiny against mutiny itself, and made myself walk the plank; to die to self. Avast! I have cast off the old way of life and live the new. I have pulled up the anchor, manned the Crowsnest and a new course has been plotted into new territory with new horizons and a new destiny with new opportunities in Christ.

I have gone about; turned the ship around and I am under new orders. Everything is above board; open for all to see. I am willing to face any storms that may come but I am under a new command. Christ has the bearings of this ship and I follow the course He has plotted. I may not know the ropes completely but I am willing to swab the decks and serve Him. I hold fast to His calling.

The sails are hoisted and we are running with the wind, goosewinged sails, the mainsail to port and the jib to starboard; maximizing the amount of canvas exposed to the wind. I stand on the quarterdeck, wind to my back, sailing towards the horizon with expectation and hope. David King (King David).

Pastor Ross

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Conversation © Created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 1:1-6 – THE STORY OF CHAFF – A Conversation

A conversation between the Chaff, the Tree, the Seed and the Gardener.

CHAFF: I care for no purpose but the flight. I care for no worth other than to rise high above the trees and there to roll and ride the breeze with all usefulness abandoned for a brief instant before the scattering. I am the chaff that separates until nothing is left or useful. I am untouched by the gardener’s hand, transient and far from His voice. I am separated from the life of the seed to ride on the wind with the illusion that I am free. I care not to think that I am unsustained by the dryness of a parched husk, storm battered and unsubstantial, fruitless and rootless, disconnected from Christ and hope, scattered, even in myself, and in the end useful for nothing but to feed a fire (Matthew 3:12).

TREE: I too love the wind that blows through my being, the heady heights from which sunlit vistas and scenic horizons are seen. But I am not scattered but resilient, not useless but resourceful and timeless in my adventures. My windswept branches are within the boundaries of my belonging. There is an integrity of being that means I am free to be who I am within the borders of my abiding in Him. I am sustained by the gardeners care and connected to the life He gives, fruitful and fit for service to be all I was created to be.

There is worthlessness and scattering that comes from not knowing Christ. A uselessness of one’s being. A transience. Life that blows away. There is no sustaining, or fruitfulness or prosperity. Worthless, lifeless, windswept, scattered, insecure, separated from the seed-life, there is no reality for life’s capacity, no integral existence or fruit or purpose by the riverbank, just a scattering in the storm. Even in the earth, chaff will not grow.

CHAFF: Am I to be judged because I have no roots? Am I to be condemned because I do not respond to the Gardener’s touch? I do not belong to those who sprout their platitudes and delight in belonging to their stand. Yes, I am lost and yes, I want to be. No responsibilities. Free.

SEED: Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to each one, but in the end it leads to death.” We two were so near once, and we look so much alike, yet in the end, we are separated as you disappear in the wind. Such is the judgment you have chosen. “For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalm 1:6 NLT).  

CHAFF: You who love the Gardener, you talk like Him, act like Him, stand with Him, listen to Him, delight in every interaction with Him, even bear fruit that tastes like Him. The Gardener watches over the path of your life. In some ways, I envy you.

TREE: Then listen! …Today the Gardener is giving you the choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster, … between blessings and curses, Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 NLT).

Seek Him and you will grow roots instead of rebellious sails. Know Him intimately and you will grow to great heights. Trust Him implicitly and the miracle of life will take place. Then when the storm comes you will not simply be dismembered and scattered. Proverbs 10:24-25 (NLT) says “The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation”.

He is calling you to come to Him. He will give you right standing with Himself. If God is for you, who can ever be against you? He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for you. Can anything ever separate you from Christ’s love?

CHAFF: But you too experience the storms of life. Where is the Gardener’s love then?

TREE: Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.

CHAFF: What is love? It is as meaningless as life.

TREE: I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—and if you believe in Christ not even the powers of hell can separate you from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate you from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:30-39). Come chaff and experience the miracle of the seed.

THE GARDENER: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalms 1 NLT).

Without delighting in the purposes of God, whatever other purposes we may have are inevitably lifeless and worthless, fruitless and rootless. Chaff blowing in the wind may look good for a moment but it decries a life of barrenness. The flight may seem exciting, rising to great heights at times and rolling and visiting places that are always new, but it will scatter and divide and not equal the heights reached of a growing tree nor find the fulfillment of a fruit-filled branch or the integrity of abiding in Christ. The journey of chaff is transient.

The miracle is that there is a choice. The Gardener invites you to choose life.

Pastor Ross

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Psalm 1 Tree weathering a storm – © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 1:1-3 – HOW CAN I WEATHER THE STORMS OF LIFE

It was just a breath but it felled the supports of her life that day, and for a moment she was a lone tree in a forest where hundreds of carefully nurtured hopes and dreams had been uprooted in the storm.

“What will I do now? We were together for 67 years”.

Alone, vulnerable but still standing, briefly she had wanted to join him and no longer feel the pain of her loss.

But as Elaine (not her real name) looked around her once more, it seemed that other parts of her world had survived the storm after all. With the Pastors words and prayers, she realized that Faith was still standing, though some of its branches and foliage were in bad repair, and there was Love’s support, strong and unmoving, reaching out with hugs and tears as family members came to her side. She glanced through a haze of grief and for just a moment saw Hope still standing wearily in the distance.

Psalm 1:3 says, “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”  

Their roots are anchors, and they are storm sturdy. They are secure in life’s ragings Ephesians 3:17-18 (NLT) says “Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.”

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Elaine gives thanks through her tears for Jim, a codebreaker in the war and a wonderful husband and father, and a man of faith.

For Elaine, this storm has made her aware of the depth of her roots in Christ and in her old age she gives witness to Psalms 92:12-14 (NLT); “…the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age, they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.”

Psalm 1:3 says “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”  

Grounded in the principles of the Scriptures her roots have gone deep to that which of eternal value, that which is unmoved in the storms of life, that which is solid and sustaining, an anchor of hope for the future.

“What will I do now?” she says again, tears coursing down her wrinkled face. She hears the words of Christ through the noise of grief. His invitation to Elaine and to us is “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. … I am the vine; you are one of My branches … Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Hear the wind of the Spirit blowing through the trees and feel the warmth and light from above, as Christ says, “abide in Me.” (John 15:4-5 NLT).

Pastor Ross

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Psalm 1:1-3 – THE GARDENER AND THE SEED

This post is dedicated to my amazing son …

Psalm 1:3 (NLT) says “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”  

Seed: What is it You see in me? Why am I so important to You, Gardener. I am only a seed.

Gardener: I have chosen you to clean the air of pollution so that others breathe easy, cool passers-by under the shade of your branches, invite wildlife to gather and make joyful music and prevent the erosion of your community. You are not just a seed but a tree planted along the riverbank. I am positioning you for My purposes and I have already taken into consideration the physical, social, spiritual, political and economic climates of your environment, the fruits that your life will produce and the right atmosphere in which you will thrive personally and be a blessing to others.

Seed: (thinks) “I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” (Psalms 52:8 NLT)

BELONGING

Seed: Where do I belong, Gardener?

Gardener: I have considered the topography (mountains and valleys), the springs (rivers of water), and taken into account erosion (your life will not be worn down by the influences around you), a place where you will have the most impact and where you will thrive on land that you can call your own.

You are planted in a wisely chosen place where you have the most potential to live a fruitful life, intentionally planted where I, the Gardener, want you to be. Perhaps your circumstances will change, but My purposes do not.

You will have room to grow alongside others and together you will find support and nourishment.

GROWTH

Seed: But Gardener, what if I don’t grow?

Gardener: You have been touched by My Hand and I have chosen you to be one of the “trees of righteousness, one of the … great oaks that I, the Lord, has planted for My own glory” (Isaiah 61:3 KJV, NLT). I am your Gardener, Your God, and only “… God makes the seed grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NLT).

STORMS

Seed: Gardener, will there be difficult times ahead?

Gardener: Yes. But despite the extremes of climate in your community that may come and go, I want you to survive and thrive where I have placed you. Your roots will take hold, anchored in the place where you will not get swept away by the next storm. You are created to be committed, standing strong and firm in Christ.

Listen to My words in Isaiah 58:11 (NLT) “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength …” 

PRUNING

Seed: What will I look like? What if I grow deformed and diseased?

Gardener: My Son is a gardener also and I will send Him to prune you of broken, dead and diseased limbs, and remove them completely from your life. Your past sins are no longer an issue for your life and your present sins will also be pruned. You will be beautiful in my sight “… He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed…” (John 15:2-4 NLT).

SEASONS

Seed: So I am a fruit tree?

Gardener: Yes. I want you to produce good fruit but there will be seasons where there is none. You will have fruit in the right seasons. You will not always see fruit and at those times you must not be discouraged.

VALUE

Seed: But Gardener, I am afraid I will not bear fruit at all. I have heard the story of your Son, in Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) “… He was hungry, and He noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.”

Gardener: You are planted to add value and produce good fruit. You are not a fig tree to be cursed or a noxious weed causing damage to neighboring gardens. You are chosen to be a blessing.

I have planted you for such a time as this; at just the right time, giving you every opportunity to grow and survive.

POTENTIAL

Seed: I have to admit that at present I feel so small and insignificant and of no use.

Gardener: Listen to the words of My Son. Jesus says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 NLT)

Seed: You speak as if I have already grown to be a great tree of righteousness.

Gardener: See yourself as I see you many years from now. I have prepared you to flourish with lush foliage, bearing good fruit. I marked the spot in eternity past. I placed you gently into the soil, not too deep, not too shallow, so the roots are buried and not exposed.

You are planted by the water of the Word of God. I know the nurture of moisture, soil, winds, and other conditions that affect how you survive. You will always be sustained and find deep-seated joy in Christ.

Listen to My words in Psalms 128:1-3 (NLT) “How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow His ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!…”

CHOSEN

Seed: Will I really enjoy my life? Will my fruit taste good to others?

Gardener: Joyful delight in My Word makes you able to produce that for which you are created. In Matthew 7:17-19 (NLT) Jesus says, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.” 

My Son, Jesus, says in John 15:16 (NLT) “You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.” 

My servant Paul says in Colossians 1:10 (NLT) “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”

FRUIT

Seed: What kind of fruit will I produce, Gardener?

Gardener: You produce fruit that helps others respond to the gospel. In Romans 1:13-17 (NLT) Paul says “I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit … For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith …”

You grow in holiness (Romans 6:22), in generosity (Romans 15:28, Philippians 4:17), in an understanding of who I am (Hebrews 13:15) and in character. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

THIRST

Seed: “O God, You are my God; I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You;…” (Psalms 63:1 NLT). “I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain” (Psalms 143:6 NLT).

Gardener: “Jesus, My Son, once stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory)” (John 7:37-39 NLT).

My word in Revelation 22:17 (NLT) says “Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”

This is not a stagnant pool but a flowing, nourishing river of water, even though you have been placed in a world where springs are few and far between.

UPRIGHTNESS

Seed: How big will I become in the world?

Gardener: I am not concerned with how big You become in the sight of others. You are designed and planted as one who is upright, no matter how big or small you are to those around you. You are making a difference in each season of your life. You are an evergreen. You prosper away from the invasive trees whose wicked intrusive influence leads nowhere in terms of bearing fruit and prosperity.

Standing tall is not always desirable. Standing upright always is. Standing tall among Sinners would be like a fruit tree planted in a desert, and left to die. The Wicked and the Mockers are not evergreen. They are here and gone. They despise what is fruitful and prosperous. They wither and die, whereas you are a fruit tree, standing upright, along the riverbank doing what you are designed to do; bearing fruit. Bringing prosperity to others. Blessing those around you. Bringing joyful delight.

AGE

Seed: What will happen when I am old and I am ready to die?

Gardener: “… The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (Psalms 92:12-14 NLT).

One day I will transplant you for advantage in an even better location at just the right time. But you will always belong where I have planted you.

GRAFTED

Seed: Gardener, all this sounds too good to be true. I am afraid that I will not be able to achieve all that You aspire for my life.

Gardener: And you are right. You can’t. Not by yourself. By yourself, you will not flourish or bear good fruit. Only one tree planted along the riverbank has the characteristics that I have been speaking about for you. Jesus is that tree. Jesus bears fruit in His season, with leaves that will not wither, adding value to the environment, providing shelter and shade and a resting area for those around Him, a meeting place in His branches. Refreshment, nourishment, music and ideas will find their place in Him and fly to other places from His branches.

I am the gardener and I am willing to graft you into the tree of life. Jesus is the tree. You are the branches. Listen to My words from Romans 11:16-24 (NLT) “For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too … You …, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. … You are just a branch, not the root … and you are there because you do believe (in Christ) …” In Christ, you will achieve your destiny.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) says that as you believe, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin.”

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

The invitation is to be united with Christ by entrusting your life to Him, so that you, like My Son, will be like a tree planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Your leaves will never wither, and you will prosper in all you do, not because there are no storms but because you are grounded in Christ.  

Pastor Ross