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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

 

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Psalms 1:1 – UNFRIENDING

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.” 

1. GO TO THAT PERSON’S PROFILE

If David was on facebook he would have unfriended them. Brothers Abishai and Joab are as wicked as they come. King David battled with their dispositions as well as their actions. After Joab killed Abner, David said, “And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah—Joab and Abishai—are too strong for me to control. So may the Lord repay these evil men for their evil deeds.” (2 Samuel 3:39 NLT)

When David speaks of the wicked (or ungodly), the sinners and the mockers in Psalm 1, was he thinking of unfriending Zeruiah’s sons?

Or was David talking about others who were following him? He regretted Saul following him, who tried to murder him on several occasions, and Amnon who raped his daughter, Tamar. Perhaps he was looking at Absalom’s profile, his handsome, power hungry son who waited years to kill Amnon and then conspired on his timeline against David, causing a civil war? Is he talking about Ahithophel, his trusted follower and advisor who unfriended him by becoming a traitor?

Perhaps he is talking about unfriending bullies like Goliath and other Philistine enemies who served false gods and threatened his life? Is David talking about Shimei who threw stones and abuse at David, or perhaps Sheba and Adonijah who rebelled against David’s leadership?

Or was he simply thinking of unfriending me or people with whom I keep company every day? People like us. Oh, maybe we have not killed or threatened to kill anyone, conspired to create war, abused or rebelled or expressed traitorous intent to anyone, but surprisingly, the wicked are not always those who commit outwardly sinful acts. They are not always outwardly immoral or evil, not just the mass murderers or those involved in bikie wars, terrorist bombings, stabbings, drive-by shootings or any overt criminal behavior.

In the Bible, the wicked, sinners and mockers can be simply those who have unfriended God; forsaken God’s counsel, advice, guidance, purposes, plans and desires. It refers to anyone, overtly criminal in behavior or not in our eyes, who has blocked and discarded the purposes for which they were created and thus live in opposition to any intervention of God into their lives. Forsaking God can lead us in many directions, and not simply those we consider as being outwardly wicked. Conversely, people we consider befriending because we consider having acceptable behavior may well be wicked in God’s eyes.

2. SELECT UNFRIEND

“Walking in the counsel of the Ungodly” is following advice or guidance and making plans for our behavior in everyday life which is in keeping with those who have cut themselves off from God (un-Godly), those who have no inclination to follow, acknowledge or heed God’s Word. Determine to block their messages of potential-limiting advice. Refuse their News Feed, don’t go to their homepage. Turn off notifications to their updates.

Mocking God has joyless consequences.

Proverbs 13:19-21 (NLT) says “It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them. Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous.”  

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) says “…bad company corrupts good character.”

With all the supposed social networks that we have in our world today, all the news feed of biased social media and those self-appointed experts on morality, justice and social norms, the Bible says there is still only one pathway for us to God. Through following Christ.

3. NEW FRIEND REQUEST

Perhaps that is why some have looked at this Psalm as a reference to the One who was the descendant of the author; the Lord Jesus Christ; One who never listened to the counsel of the wicked, never followed them, One who was free of sin and One who never regarded God’s will with cynicism or scorn. Son of David, Son of God.

God became man. There’s a message in your news feed. Top story. Trending, “good news of great joy”. Jesus goes to sinners to save them not conform Himself to their lifestyle. His perfect life opens the door to the Psalms as an example of his intentions for us. 1 Peter 2:21 (NLT) says, “…He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.” The Search tool is the Bible where you will find Him, His posts, apps, and events of His life, His viral reach. Become an engaged user.

Jesus is the only man who has completely lived a life which does not conform to the world around Him. Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) says that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses as “… One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Jesus, in John 17:15-16 (NLT) prays for believers. “I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

4. POKE

God is trying to get your attention. His invitation is to experience Joy and Blessing in life. The word “joys” as used in Psalm 1 is a plural word giving the idea of multiplied happiness, experiencing the full measure of joy with nothing withheld, contentment, ongoing peace, satisfaction, fulfillment, protection, assurance, provision and prosperity. It is a joy, peace, and assurance that transcends circumstances even when we encounter suffering.

5. LIKE

This joyful blessing is a gift from God. It results from His approval, His acceptance and favor. His likes are heart-shaped. His love is unconditional. But your Joy IS conditional on who you follow. Joyfulness is not simply a spontaneous response to circumstances but arises from an intentional choice to separate from those who extrude our enjoyment of life because they exclude the Way, the Truth and the Life. Two ways to live, two kinds of people, two roads, two destinies.

The invitation of the Bible is not to WALK in their way, STAND in their influence, SIT in their lifestyle, but to SIT in heavenly places in Christ, STAND firm in the faith and WALK with wisdom,…

“…for He raised us from the dead along with Christ and SEATED us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 NLT), so “STAND firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT), and “be careful how you WALK, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB).

Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God TRANSFORM YOU INTO A NEW PERSON by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Now that’s a milestone worth reviewing.

Pastor Ross

Related Article

https://davidkitz.wordpress.com/category/psalms/psalm-1/

 

Matthew 16:20 – COUNTING IN A NEW YEAR

Posted: December 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

Happy New Year to everyone! Thankyou for the privilege of entering your home through my blogs. May you know God’s touch upon your life in the blessings and challenges of the new year. 2017!

Words of Life

Matthew 16:20 – COUNTING IN A NEW YEAR

Counting in a New Year Counting in a New Year

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

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

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

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TRIBUTE TO COLIN MALCOLM SHEDDEN, A MAN OF FAITH, FAMILY AND FUN

Posted: December 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

My Father in law was an accountant. I wrote about his life and death on January 1st, 2014. He reminds at the beginning of this new year of some very solid values which to begin the new year and build my life.

Words of Life

COMMITTAL AND TRIBUTE TO COLIN MALCOLM SHEDDEN

Created by Ross Cochrane for the funeral of Colin Malcolm Shedden using Animato, Imovie and Paint.net

Just before Christmas, on the 23rd December, my Father-in-law died, the man I most respected in the world. On new years Eve we gathered in a Church with close to 300 people to say goodbye to a man we all loved and cherished. In the middle of holidays, still they came to say goodbye and pay their respects.

Colin Malcolm Shedden; Dad; Pa; Great Pa was a Christian accountant. Everyone knew he was a man who lived out his personal faith in Christ. He even kept a Bible on his desk, and was not ashamed to lead people to a personal faith in Christ, if the opportunity presented itself. His identity was characterised by Faith, Family and Fun. In the past we have laughed and…

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THE 7 WINDOWS OF CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

First of all, …

  1. THE WINDOW OF HEAVEN

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

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

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

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

  1. THE CLOSED WINDOW

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

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

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

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

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

  1. THE WINDOW OF GRACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. THE WINDOW OF TIME

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

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

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

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

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

  1. THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

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

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

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

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

6. THE WINDOW OF LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. THE WINDOW OF FAITH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Ross

 

 

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The Window © Ross Cochrane

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

Matthew 2, Luke 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross

Genesis 33:1-20 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Epilogue

What a relief. Jacob reunites with Esau without bloodshed. This story shows that bitterness and feelings of revenge are a choice, not a given. Forgiveness and reconciliation, integrity and generosity are also choices we can make.

“Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”

“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied.” Jacob is keen to say that it is God who has blessed him. Maybe he’s also making it clear, “Keep your hands off, Esau!” only in a more subtle way.

The whole family bows before Esau to show their respect. This isn’t saying, “Esau, we are all coming under your authority”, just simply acknowledging, “we are coming into your territory.”

  1. ENSURE THAT AN AGREEMENT IS REACHED
Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

Restitution © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

“And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked. Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship” (Genesis 33:8 NLT).

Jacob makes it quite clear that he is not coming in any way as an act of aggression as he meets Esau. This time he’s not offering a pot of stew. These animals are a means of restitution for his deceit in the past. This is a tangible way to make amends. But there is something else implied that is another hint at what Jacob has been doing.

“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself” (Genesis 33:9 NLT). The fact that Esau has 400 men indicates that he has made a life for himself already, perhaps as a mercenary. He obviously has plenty. But Jacob needs some indication from Esau that he has abandoned his claim to his Father’s blessing.

It is important to Jacob that he shows a gesture of reconciliation, not merely mouth the words.

“But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favour with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10 NLT).

Strange thing to say.

Instead of struggling with Esau, Jacob struggled with God. The struggle with God meant a hip wrenched from its socket, but he did receive God’s blessing.

But why does he describe his meeting with Esau as seeing the face of God? Perhaps he sees it as a blessing. Perhaps the blessing God gave had a specific clause that Esau would not annihilate him and his family. His smile was the face of God in terms of answered prayer. His fight with God substituted for his expected fight with Esau. Perhaps this is the blessing God gave to Jacob.

But I like what the Life Essentials Study Bible says. It suggests that the animals that Jacob gave to Esau amounted to a 10th of all he had, thus being an offering to God and this is why he said: “seeing your face is like seeing the face of God.” “Though it cannot be proven from this text, it would not be surprising if Jacob’s herd totaled 5,500 animals and the 550 he gave Esau represented 10 percent of his total assets, fulfilling his vow (Genesis 28:22).”

I really like this thought. He’s not setting Esau up as God, but fulfilling his vow to God to give a tenth of all he had. He did this by giving this offering of restitution for the blessing stolen from Esau. Perhaps this was the reason he gave his promise back in Genesis 28. Perhaps he always intended his tenth to be given to God in this way.

“Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift” (Genesis 33:11 NLT). 

Esau can see that God has blessed Jacob, so he accepts the gift.

Pastor Warren Wiersbe says “He was made a prince, but he was acting like a pauper” but this seems an unnecessary assumption. No pauper is able to offer such a generous gift. And if anything, God humbled Jacob, not exalted him, in his encounter. Jacob experienced a blessing with a limp, not a crown with a title.

In accepting the gift, the rift between Esau and Jacob is requited. Esau doesn’t say, “I demand my birthright and blessing back” but submits to Jacob’s favour as restitution for the deceptive manner of their taking, in kind.

Living as an alien to God’s promises for over 20 years, Jacob was abused for his labour but also enriched. And he enters the land God promises, injured and blessed.

There is nothing automatic about the blessing of God to Jacob. He didn’t simply inherit it from his father and he certainly didn’t achieve it through deceit. It could only enter his life through consent and grace. There is always a risk when You struggle with God. It is the greatest conflict you will ever face.

Years later, Jesus, descended from the line of Jacob and faced the greatest conflict ever faced by anyone, as He died on a Cross for our sin. The Cross is a crutch for those who realize that they walk with a limp. It is the reconciling plus sign for the human race. We need faith in Christ to take the journey God intends us to travel. It takes us into the promises of God for our lives.

God is not yet through with Jacob. This is a stepping stone to an ongoing journey in receiving all that God has promised, not just a happy ending to a feel-good movie. As we have seen in Jacob’s past, he has a tendency to make short-term choices which cause long-term pain, but through obedience he has arrived in the promised land. But he hasn’t completely arrived in terms of obedience, as he is yet to discover. (But that it for another time).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 33:1-20 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 16

Jacob is leading the way concerning this potentially volatile situation with his brother Esau. What happens next is all part of the puzzle of this remarkable story.

“So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last” (Genesis 33:2 NLT).

Jacob puts those he loves most at the back, so if they have to run, then they’ll have a better chance, perhaps.

I am amazed at how many commentators say Jacob goes back to scheming at this point. He’s not simply going to offer those he loves to front up with Esau first! He has to put his wives and children somewhere. The Bible tells us where. Does that mean he is scheming and not trusting in God? Give him a break. He has more obvious flaws than this.

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Objectivity not favouritism © Ross Cochrane

  1. REMAIN OBJECTIVE (Genesis 33:3).

It’s not scheming that is the problem here. It is favouritism. Jacob has a favourite wife and a favourite son. It is fairly obvious to everyone that he is distancing the most loved from danger.

Later, Joseph’s brothers show their dislike for this favouritism and Jacob once more will learn the hard way. He is preparing the ground for a day of discontent. Showing favouritism and a lack of objectivity will inevitably lead to further conflict.

That changes nothing of the fact that Jacob has come a long way concerning his faith. He is going to go meet Esau and 400 men. That’s not exactly a lack of faith. He has obeyed God and has prepared well to get this far.

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Respect © Ross Cochrane

  1. RESPECT YOUR RIVAL

“Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him” (Genesis 33:3 NLT).

I like this. Jacob doesn’t try to hide behind his family. He goes on ahead of them to meet Esau and his 400.

Why does he bow down seven times? Is this extreme respect? Custom? This is an ancient protocol for meeting a king. Jacob, God’s diplomat, bows down. Apart from showing cultural respect for Esau whose territory he was entering, it is almost worship. I’m sure that as Jacob bowed, he was madly praying that God would stop Esau from killing him. Perhaps it was God he was connecting himself with. Stay with this thought until later because I believe here, we have a hint at what Jacob has probably been doing all along.

Nevertheless, it is confusing. According to the prophetic blessing, Esau, the elder, was meant to serve Jacob, the younger. (Genesis 27:29). His time has obviously not yet come.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) adds some light by saying, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” But this is not the full story. There is something more at stake here.

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Reconciliation © Ross Cochrane

  1. MAKE CHOICES TOWARDS RECONCILIATION

“Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.” 

Hate had obviously dissipated in Esau through the years. The fight with God the previous night was the only fight that Jacob would face that day. It seems it became a substitute for the fight he expected with Esau. Both men have changed.

So here is a culmination unexpected to say the least. Jacob bows in respect rather than deceitful arrogance and Esau embraces him with love rather than expected anger.

What a relief. This story shows that bitterness and feelings of revenge are a choice, not a given. Forgiveness and reconciliation, integrity and generosity are also choices we can make.

No doubt commentators will read this as a sign of weakness in both men. Some, like the famous reformist, John Calvin, suggest that God has forced Esau to be kind towards Jacob, but it is not necessary to take away a person’s will for Esau to respond well to Jacob. A change has taken place in Esau. Even without faith, Esau’s anger had time to dissipate over the years. He is ready to move on.

But it is what is said next that gives us a further hint as to what Jacob has been doing with this encounter all along. What is it? Find out by reading the Epilogue of this Story – Part 17.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 33:1-20 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 15

“Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men” (Genesis 33:1 NLT).

This is a showdown. The gunfight at OK Corral. Jacob has seen a host of angelic warriors and then he has seen God face to face, and but now he must come face to face with Esau. This is tense and who knows, He may soon see God face to face again, depending on the outcome.

One way or another Esau is looking forward to a reunion with his brother, either for vengeance or reconciliation. Ringing in Jacob’s ears is a threat from 20 years earlier by Esau who wanted him dead.

So Jacob doesn’t immediately think that Esau is coming with 400 men to have a party and celebrate their reunion. Would you?

He has prepared well for this standoff, but still, it must have felt like he was bringing a knife to a gunfight. He could do with a bit of angelic assistance right now (Genesis 32:1-2) but he wasn’t about to procrastinate any longer in meeting Esau (Genesis 32:3).

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No gun, no bullets, just respect and humility. Photo manipulation by Ross Cochrane

Crafted with respect and humility (Genesis 32:4 NLT), Jacob’s message to Esau had focused on a friendly outcome (Genesis 32:5,6 NLT). He had mastered his emotions (Genesis 32:7 NLT) but this would still be a standoff.

Having a personal relationship with God means that you are open to the impossible, which is why he is choosing not to run. Instead, he shows care for all those who were with him (Genesis 32:7-8 NLT); people are always more important than the conflict.

Talking to the only One he could really trust, he prays up a storm (Genesis 32:9 NLT). Prayer is always a good strategy in times of conflict. In prayer, he reminds God of His past faithfulness but in doing so reminds Himself of a bigger picture (Genesis 32:9 NLT). When all we can see are the difficult circumstances, we miss out on seeing God’s purposes. Jacob is real with God, admitting he is not perfect (Genesis 32:10 NLT). Recognising that we have a responsibility in owning our part in the conflict will always test faith and character.

He is specific in his prayer, outlining what he desires to take place (Genesis 32:11-12 NLT). And then, after prayer, he seems to get further revelation. He makes it easy for Esau to come to the table by giving a peace offering rather than give him an itchy trigger finger (Genesis 32:13 NLT) by reaching for his gun. It’s always good to find a way to avoid triggering further conflict. Taking every possibility into account, Jacob anticipates Esau’s questions (Genesis 32:17-20 NLT).

He realises that the stress of conflict can have a big impact on family (Genesis 32:21-23 NLT) and so Jacob seeks to minimise this as much as possible. Family is more important than our personal battles.

Inward battles of character and faith are worth fighting. Jacob will face off with Esau because he is willing to stand for what he believes in (Genesis 32:24 NLT). But he wrestles with God first and discovers that if he is willing to hold on, there will be pain as well as blessing. (Genesis 32:25,26 NLT). Even when things are painful and difficult and overwhelming in the conflict, it’s always too soon to give up. When life strikes a blow that crushes me, am I willing to hold on?

Am I prepared to allow God to confront my past in order to move on into the future with His purposes for my life? Wrestling with God will change me forever as it did with Jacob (Genesis 32:27-28 NLT).

Not all of my questions will be answered but if I am persistent in finding the right outcome, there will be breakthrough and blessing (Genesis 32:29 NLT). Don’t give up on the struggle. Don’t give up because you go through painful times that humble you into the place of complete trust. Hold on to God until the blessing comes. It will demand faith. But it’s worth it.

So often we have to wrestle with God before we can face up to our circumstances. Our struggles spiritually determine our struggles naturally. And much bigger issues are at stake.

I can use my circumstances to move forward (Genesis 32:26 NLT). Are you prepared to keep moving forward with the changes God has made in your life?

The faith journey is not always easy. Like Jacob, all I can do is acknowledge the setbacks and expect the blessings. Both are life-changing experiences that God will use for the journey ahead (Genesis 32:29,30 NLT).

When I have done all that there is to do, what next?

  1. LEAD THE WAY (Genesis 33:3). Lead by example with courage and humility.

“So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last …

Then Jacob went on ahead.” (Genesis 33:1-3 NLT). What happens as Jacob meets Esau? Find out in the final episode of this series, Part 15, coming soon.

Pastor Ross