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

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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

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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

© 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: , , , ,

Crowsnest1

“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

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Code Breaker created © by Ross Cochrane

CODEBREAKER

I found it fascinating when I discovered he was a Codebreaker in the war. He looked somehow smaller now and curled up. I prayed for him, sang to him as light filtered through the window onto his old wrinkled brow.

The movie “The Imitation Game” talked about Codebreaking in the war and the once relatively unknown place called Bletchley Park located in northern England became famous.

Who knew that one of the magnificent old houses in Brisbane’s sophisticated inner northern suburb of Ascot, 21 Henry St, housed the top-secret organization called the Central Bureau of Intelligence, Australia’s equivalent to Britain’s Bletchley Park.

But of course, now we also know of the contribution of Australians like Jim (not his real name) which shortened the length of the war. Within those walls, the great unsung heroes of that war made their unique contribution to victory. It would be over 30 years before Jim spoke about it and only then was he able to receive his medals.

The bible is difficult to interpret at times. it’s a codebook, which if used well, can help us decipher the enigmas of life, fight the right battles, know the real enemy and bring us peace with God.

  1. CODEWORD – “WATER”

In John 4:13-14 (NLT) Jesus is speaking to a woman at a well and He says, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the WATER I GIVE will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them ETERNAL LIFE.” 

He speaks of the Water Of Life. What does He mean?

Well, the woman, like Jim, was a codebreaker. She deciphered the code easily. She knew he was speaking about Heaven.

The bible says heaven is a gift. You can’t earn it or work for it or deserve it. It’s as free as water from a well and it quenches our thirst for spiritual answers.

Jim deciphered that message also when he expressed his belief in Christ. He is now spending his first 10,000 years in eternity with God, Revelation 21:4 (NLT) says God will “…wipe every tear from his eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 

The only thing that stands in the way of all of us having that gift relates to the second Bible…

  1. CODEWORD – “DARKNESS”

The Japanese used difficult ciphers and complex codes which required intense and concentrated intellectual efforts to break. The Codebreakers were often left in the dark.

In code-breaking and life, we all go through times of darkness.

Isaiah 59:1-21 (NLT) says “… We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark.”

War itself is a time of darkness, and so is grief, but it’s fairly easy to decode the darkness the Bible refers to here as meaning our sin.

The Bible says we cannot save ourselves from our sin. We all need God’s forgiveness. Jim found that forgiveness. How did that happen?

The next bible code-word explains more of the puzzle.

  1. CODEWORD – “LIGHT”

1 John 1:5-7 (NLT) says, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.”

This code-word Light tells us that God is sinless, pure and holy.

2 Corinthians 4:4-7 (NLT) says “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

Jim came to know the love and light of God in his life. Since the God of light and purity can’t have anything to do with the darkness of our sin, how did that happen? That is an indecipherable problem for us, but not to God.

To solve that indecipherable problem, God sent the ultimate code-breaker into the world to deal with the darkness of our sin.

John 1 explains that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. … The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”  So

Jesus is that ultimate code breaker.

At the Aged Care center where Jim lived the last part of his life, there was a door code to get in. It is free entrance for those who know it. Which is appropriate because the next bible code-word is

  1. CODEWORD – “DOOR” OR “GATE”

In John 10:2-10 (NLT) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, I am THE GATE (or THE DOOR) for the sheep … Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

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

So what do we do with these codes – Water of Life, Darkness of Sin, Light of the World, and the Door of Salvation? The answer is found in the final bible codewords which are the

  1. CODEWORDS – “EARS TO HEAR”

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 13:9 (NIV) “He who has ears, let him hear.” Jesus spoke in Codes Himself or parables. Those who deciphered them became His disciples; His Codebreakers; those with Ears To Hear”.

Jesus spoke in parables. He gathered a group of His own codebreakers, His disciples, who were always intrigued by the coded stories Jesus told about heaven. They deliberately asked for Jesus to decipher His parables for them. He did, but there were a whole lot of people in the crowd who didn’t understand and did not want to understand what He was trying to say, so the disciples asked him why He used parables.

What Jesus said was astounding!

In Matthew 13:11 He says “You are PERMITTED to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are NOT.” The parables were foolishness to them because they refused to put time into deciphering the truth, listening to the signals, discerning the patterns.

Jim knew that the consequences of not being able to decode enemy strategies mean that lives are lost.

The consequences of not decoding the messages of Jesus means that our purpose for life is lost. We are refused the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. God won’t force us to listen, and equally when I refuse to listen, then He won’t permit me to understand. I’m either receptive or left ignorant. He allows me the consequences of my choices.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (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.” It’s a code that needs to be deciphered to save us spiritually.

Having Ears To Hear refers to faith and faith is the key to deciphering the Door-code of the gospel. Without the Door-code of faith, there is no entrance to heaven’s door.

Romans 10:17 (NIV) says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Today we celebrate Jim’s incredible talent for solving puzzles, his imagination and the sheer determination to prevail in the face of incredible technical challenges. He was awarded some long-awaited medals.

Jim deciphered codes in the war but he also deciphered what God was trying to say to him through the message of the gospel. He placed His faith in Christ. The warfare for his soul was spiritual.

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) Paul talks about the spiritual battle. He says “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.”

The WATER OF LIFE – heaven is a free gift. THE DARKNESS – the Sin that gets in our way of knowing God. THE LIGHT – a Holy God who loves us but must judge our sin. THE DOOR – relationship with God open to all because Christ died for our sins and finally EARS TO HEAR – FAITH to Hear the message of the Gospel and place our trust in Christ for Eternal life.

Jim kept this secret for many years. He was warned “Do not talk at meals. Do not talk traveling. Do not talk at home.” I’m glad He didn’t keep his faith in God a secret.

At around 12:10 pm on Friday 27th January 2017, Jim deciphered the last part of the puzzle and was awarded the gift of heaven. He was 91 years old. Psalm 139:16 says that “all the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came to be.”

And the next time you are playing Chess or working on a Crossword puzzle, or placing your code into a computer or typing your password, or simply puzzling over the quandaries of life, remember to thank God that the code is broken. Death and sin have been defeated. Now the invitation remains for us to trust in the Ultimate Codebreaker – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for Water of Life, the Light of the Gospel, Door of heaven, for Your love and forgiveness in Christ, for ears to hear Your voice concerning how to live life to the full. Help us to have ears to hear You for direction and correction in the challenges and blessings of life, in Jesus Name, Amen

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The Dive © Picture created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 1:1-2 – DIVING TO SAVE OUR PLANET

“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.” (Psalm 1:1-2 NLT)

  1. OBEY THE DIVING INSTRUCTIONS

There is a strange compulsion and delight in reading and meditating on God’s Word. It hasn’t always been that way for me. Once it was simply an optional interest to spend some time each day getting to know what was in the Bible. Over the years it has become a compulsive habit, a delightful pursuit of discovery in knowing God. It has led to some changes in my life that haven’t always been easy.

I have discovered the truth of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT): “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.”

Like the Psalmist I find joy when I am in tune with what God has to say in His Word. “I take joy in doing Your will, my God, for Your instructions are written on my heart” (Psalms 40:8 NLT).

Jeremiah expresses it well when he says, “When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies” (Jeremiah 15:16 NLT). Delight, not obligation or duty. Not a drudgery or a burden, but a heartbeat. Romans 7:22 (NLT) says “I love God’s law with all my heart.” 

1 John 2:14 speaks of God’s Word living in our hearts. It’s alive and powerful, meant to be lived, not just memorized and certainly not ignored. “Meditation” is speaking more of a way of life, of constant, consistent, continuous application of God’s Word. I am not just an auditor, reading the gauges, but an applier of God’s Word. I live and breathe His truth.

James 1:22-25 (NLT) says “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

  1. FOLLOW THE DIVING INSTRUCTOR

1 John 5:1-5 (NLT) says “We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey His commandments. Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Jesus is described as the Word of God in human form (John 1:1, 14). There is an ongoing adjustment that He makes in my life. He accepts me as I am but I was never intended to stay as He found me, flailing at the bottom of the ocean. Only with the help of Christ can I pull away from the self-seeking influences of my sinful habits and negative attitudes and rise to the destiny designed for me. I can do this because of what He has accomplished on the Cross. He is my diving instructor, dive master, and dive guide.

Philippians 1:21 (NLT) says “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” 

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) say “My old self has been crucified with Christ. 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.”

  1. OBSERVE THE SAFETY REGULATIONS

The environment into which I dive each day is hazardous, even though it is all too familiar to me. Survival depends on diver safety.

Psalms 119:91-93 (NLT) says “Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves Your plans. If Your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will never forget Your commandments, for by them You give me life.” 

“The law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:2), the Word of God, the Scriptures, the Holy Bible. I love its simplicity, it’s absolutes, it’s invitation to make responsible choices for life. Jesus says “Follow, Obey”. Simple, necessary procedures for the dive. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT) says to “…Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”

After all this time I am pleased that many of the procedures are becoming second nature, but I continue to learn and practice; to “meditate” so that my habits become automatic and faultless, a lifestyle aligned with God’s purposes.

Meditation is not emptying my mind but gaining perspective on how I can breathe in this oxygen-depleted world. It gives me discernment for what I am to reject in life and what I am to accept, what to avoid and what to embrace.

  1. AVOID THE DIVING HAZARDS

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers” (Psalm 1:1 NLT).

I am to stay away from creatures whose habits cause damage, those who have sharp hardened shells around their lives which lacerate and contaminate a diver with their poison.

Their stinging tongues, and venom cause pain and they can be dangerous when they are threatened by those who follow Christ in the dive.

Yes, I am not alone in the dive. God Himself is an experienced diving marine biologist/conservationist too, coming from heaven’s pure atmosphere into our environment to save our species, paying the price of our sin to save our planet, to save me.

He faced the sharks, the Lionfish, stonefish, crown of thorns starfish, and the Blue-ringed octopus, the mockers, sinners and the wicked who have the capacity to produce serious wounds; their venomous injections; toxic and dangerous. And He conquered the suffocating, air depriving dive of death so that I might breathe again.

I have come to understand that God loves me. He does not desire that I drown or get lost or become injured, and He has given specific procedures to minimize the risk as I follow Christ in the dive.

2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

  1. CARRY AND USE YOUR DIVING KNIFE.

Hebrews 4:12 (NLT) says “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

I need the “… sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 NLT) to cut myself loose from the entanglements of nets and lines that would seek to hinder my progress.

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) says, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

Psalms 18:4-6 (NLT) says, “The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.”

  1. REMEMBER YOUR DIVING REGULATOR

“Meditate”. Taking it in slowly. Not rushing. Allowing it to infiltrate and oxygenate my life. Day and night. Meditation carries the oxygen to my soul.

Psalms 119:11 (NLT) is my prayer. “I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” 

Can’t simply slip back into default mode. Default mode is falling back on something less than intended. Default mode is reverting to an older version of me motivated with habits and heart attitudes that are based on the lowest common denominator, not the highest possible purposes. I choose not to default on my faith and I am intentional in moving away from other lifestyles and towards obedience to God’s Word. And it is delightful, not debilitating.

Romans 12:2 (NIV) says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The Word of God will safely support me. I monitor my time and the pressures of the world inform me over and over again that I cannot afford to stay any longer in the environment I am in without replenishment from above.

  1. WEAR THE RIGHT DIVING GEAR

As I dive, I must keep in mind that I am alive because of my equipment, an environmentalist, seeking to make a difference in another world, full of wonder but also aware of danger. I am in the water but the water is not in me; a diver, who cannot breathe without help in the world I want to see saved.

  1. ACCOMPLISH THE DIVING MISSION

I can spend my time diving for recreational enjoyment in this new world, taking photos and video’s and documenting my environment or I can make a difference to save our species by innovative direct-action tactics, and by reconciling the world to Christ. In Matthew 4:19 (NLT) Jesus calls me. He says, “Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 

Mark 16:15-16 (NLT) says “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” We live in a drowning world.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NLT) speaks of our mission. “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

Pastor Ross

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“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.” (Psalm 2:1-2 NLT) 

SKY PILOT

Your voice alights, remembered, sings.

Your Words; Love’s labor.

Not the mocking tenor of the time.

Not the wicked void of Godless quests;

Diverging paths, divested of purpose.

Today my heart in harmony delights in Yours.

In perfect rhythm with Your soul it soars

with Spirit and with truth

above the clamorous calls of earth

to hear the voice of God.

© Ross Cochrane 12-1-17