Posts Tagged ‘Authority’


“What are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them?” Psalm 8:3 (NLT) © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 8:3-8 – INTERVIEW WITH AN ATHEIST ON PSALM 8 – Part 3 

The scene takes place on the top floor of a Skyscaperin a luxury apartment belonging of a millionaire Atheist. From here the entire city can be viewed. It is breathtaking. The Atheist picks up a Bible and randomly turns to Psalm 8. Alarmingly, he finds King David, (author of Psalm 8) is transported to his apartment. A conversation ensues. (Disclaimer: This is my imagination and my own thoughts imposed upon the characters below as to what might have been said as I personally relate to Psalm 8. Both characters describe my own journey with seeking to understand and apply God’s Word, the Christian Bible, in the world in which I live). 

DAVID: What amazes me is that the majestic, famous, omnipotent, and worthy God, whose creative fingerprint can be found in all the earth, loves me. As one of God’s creative brushstrokes, with Him I can find the greatest expression of who I am. 

(Looks out the window at the night sky and prays again) “When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? (Psalm 8:3 NLT). 

I am interested to see that in the New Testament of your Bible, that my words from Psalm 8:3 are quoted again. Hebrews 2:6-8 (NLT) says, “For in one place the Scriptures say, “What are mere mortals that You should think about them, or a son of man that You should care for him?”  

ATHEIST: Why would a God who supposedly created the universe care for human beings when all we have done is destroy His creation?  If God did exist, and He doesn’t, then He would consider us as enemies

DAVID: Enemies of God? Yes.  But for followers of Christ, it says here, in Romans 5:9-10 (NLT) “Since we have now been justified by His (Christ’s) blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, WHILE WE WERE GOD’S ENEMIES, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” 

 We are enemies of God without Christ, but there is an invitation for friendship. God’s intention was to be friends, not that we would be opposed to Him. I wrote in Psalms 8:5-9 (NLT2) “Yet You made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.”  

ATHEIST: You say we were created a little lower than God. I’m an evolutionist. I believe that human beings are a little higher than other animals, but only in terms of intelligence.  

DAVID: I guess this is why people over the centuries have made idols in the image of animals to represent their gods. Those who are followers of Christ believe God made us in the image of Himself so that we can represent Him. We bear the stamp of our creator.  

We are God’s representatives on earth over His creation, yet, we are lower than God.  

That’s why I wrote in the Psalm you were reading, “You (God) gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority— the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents” (Psalm 8:5-8 NLT). 

ATHEIST: Authority over all things? If that’s true He didn’t know what He was doing. The world has been messed up by human beings. We are now frantically trying to save the planet from ourselves. We bring animal species to extinction, fill the oceans with plastic and the skies with pollution, and disregard climate change. National park animal sanctuaries, battery operated cars, wind generators and solar energy solutions have all been too few and have come too late. 

DAVID: Yes, I agree. We have made a mess of our world. We are the pinnacle of God’s creation and yet we still need His help to look after the planet over which He has given us authority.  

Since we were given the ability to choose, we could either use our authority to mess things up or use our authority to clean things up. Cleaning things up is now the harder choice.  

We are slaves when we ignore the boundaries God has created in our world that greedy people cross. 

ATHEIST: Yet you are a slave. You are a slave to your Holy Book, the Bible.  

DAVID: I could equally say that you are a slave to your worldview, but I agree with you. In John 8:31-34 Jesus met some religious leaders who thought they were free of their worldviews. He said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 

We are all slaves in one sense to something. Your Bible says in Romans 6:16-23 says, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness … But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

I notice in your Bible that Jesus says to His disciples, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26 NLT).  

1 Peter 2:16 encourages Christ-followers to “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” 

In Him I find freedom. It is the freedom of to whom and what I am willing to give my allegiance, having choices which bring purpose to my life. It is the freedom of new birth without abandonment, but being raised to find the security of a loving Father. It is freedom to fly, riding the banks of endless air, knowing that without the wind of the Spirit beneath my wings I would still only be wondering and amazed at the flight of the eagle from the ground.  

It is the boundaries themselves I find that have given me freedom, and without which I am truly enslaved. I like your New Testament Bible. It says here in 2 Timothy 3:16 (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.” There’s nothing wrong with boundaries. No-one escapes boundaries. It’s whose boundaries and which boundaries you choose that determine whether you are truly free.  

(to be continued) 

Pastor Ross 

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IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

How do I pray when I am overwhelmed? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5  HOW DO I PRAY WHEN I AM OVERWHELMED?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from Australia was recently ousted from leadership. In revealing speeches, he spoke about bullying and intimidation.

“The reality is that a minority in the party room … have sought to bully [and] intimidate others into making this change of leadership.”

“… if people do want to conduct an internal insurgency, then, you know, that — they’re very hard to stop.

Welcome to Australian Politics.

King David also faced an insurgency. Absalom’s strategy to dethrone his own father was a war of words. His flattering words and false rumours served to destabilise David’s kingdom. David found that the best defence against those who lie like the devil is to pray like a saint.

If a telephone call can be likened to David’s morning prayer, then it is a conference call and all of us are privy to his words down through the centuries …

HOW DO YOU PRAY WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED BY LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES?

  1. EXPRESS YOURSELF IN WORDS AND EMOTIONS

“O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning” (Psalm 5:1 NLT).

Romans 8:26-27 says that when we don’t have the words to pray that “… the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but You” (Psalm 5:1-2 NLT).

     2. RECOGNISE GOD’S AUTHORITY

“O Lord,.. my King”. 

David, the king of Israel calls God LORD AND KING. He recognises the highest authority. If He is my Lord and my King then He has authority over me and my circumstances and therefore I can come humbly before Him when I need help.

David says he prays to no one but You (God)”. He’s not relying on people or his own abilities and thinking, or other gods, but seeks help from God alone.

     3. BOLDLY ASK FOR UNDESERVED FAVOUR

David cries, “Listen to my cry for help”.

For followers of Christ, we have the assurance that God hears our prayers. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) says that Jesus “… understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

     4. BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER 

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You... (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

Each morning – Notice David makes it a habit to pray each day. Beginning each day in prayer shows a consistent lifestyle of prayer and dependence in God.

     5. WAIT EXPECTANTLY FOR HIM TO ANSWER

“… I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

If I trust in God then I will have a capacity to wait expectantly for the answers I need in life.

By myself, I can become very discouraged, but when I trust in God there is a healthy expectation that God wants the best for me and rather than get depressed by the events of my life, I look for the answers.

But there is more to this prayer and some of David’s words you may find disturbing. (Read my next post)

Pastor Ross

Chosen 6

Authority and Identity © Images created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:25-28 – AUTHORITY AND IDENTITY

He was an arrogant, overweight tyrant, angry and loud, whose throne was a wheelchair. His bass-baritone voice rang out through the Aged Care Kingdom over which he thought he presided. A self-made millionaire, he still ran his business from his phone, barking his orders out in quick succession and with an abusive tongue.

He was dying of an aggressive cancer, and its poison had intruded into his heart and words. Although tears betrayed his deepest fears when I prayed with him, around others, his fears only served to steel his desire to exert his authority with offensive and cruel vitriol.

In Australia, at present, we have a Prime Minister, a man whose title historically exemplifies the Christian standard of service to his country. The so-called debates in Parliament show a group of people intent on wielding their authority. There appear to be no ministry officials here, only children expressing their indignation. Have we kept the term minister without the outworking of its essential function?

When James and John ask Jesus for roles of authority and power in the coming kingdom, they are not thinking of ministry. Are the other disciples indignant because of the arrogance of their request or jealous?

Jesus calls them together and says, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, (Matthew 20:25-26 NLT).

Is Jesus taking a Socialist or Communist kind of approach? To reduce all ranks to their lowest common denominator? Isn’t being an Apostle in the Church of higher rank than others in the Church? Wasn’t Timothy given authority to be a Pastor in a Church?

The emphasis is not so much on the rank but on how that authority is exercised.  Rulers have authority. This is not in dispute. Flaunting that authority or misusing it usurps its purpose because the influence of authority is designed by God to be exercised with a servant heart.

A sceptre, crown and throne make no difference to the heart of a true servant king and it is not the outward accompanying accoutrements of authority that are to be despised. It is attitudes such as indignation, pride, greed and personal status for the sake of lording it over others that are sinful.

Jesus now sits on a throne at the right hand of the Father but it in no way counters His choice to be a servant of all. In fact, His Kingship is expressed in service.

A time is coming when Christ as a conqueror smashes Satan’s hold on the world and those who wield the power of evil motives will be judged decisively. Servanthood in no way diminishes the King exercising the righteous judgment of God.

Yet God chooses to exercise Judgment by first offering Love to a lost world. Without it, we would be left destitute and without hope.

The Servant King is not a doormat, but one who truly expresses the love of God. The gentle lamb is not diminished by also being the Lion of Judah. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild is not an accurate statement of servanthood. There is much strength when the greatest expression of the heart is servant love.

It is from such a servant King, Lion and Lamb, God almighty yet Son of Man, that we find our identity. My authority comes from servanthood and loving others, which only enhances whatever status I may or may not have. Looking at life through the eyes of a servant to the Servant King changes my perspective.

Matthew 20:27-28 (NLT) says “… whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 19

The lesson the next day held particular fascination for Absalom and Uzzah.

“Why are the angels on the top of the Ark?” said Uzzah before anyone had a chance to ask any other questions.

“The angels on the top of the Ark of the Covenant carry God’s righteousness and justice to us,” said Zadok, “Although we can’t see them, I am sure that God has designated real angels to be at His side as He makes His presence known to us on top of the Ark of the Covenant. These two angels have a special name. They are known as Cherubim. They sit on top of the Ark of the Covenant with their wings outstretched and look down at the Mercy Seat. Cherubim are God’s warrior angels. Do you remember me telling you how God placed Cherubim with a flaming sword east of the Garden of Eden to stop Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life after they had sinned?”

“Yes, Rabbi, but why would God want His warrior angels on top of the place where He wants us to know His presence? He doesn’t want to make war with us, with these …” Uzzah repeated the new word that described them, “… Cherubim, does He?” The other children laughed, but it was a nervous laugh.

“God’s warrior angels are not to be trifled with.” said Zadok, his deep voice cutting across their laughter. “They represent two of the most magnificent creatures ever created from the hand of God. They defend the justice and righteousness of God and that’s why they are depicted on the Ark of the Covenant.”

“What would happen if you touched the Ark? asked Absalom.

“The angels would draw their swords and kill you!” said Ahio. Uzzah and Absalom laughed but it was laughter peppered with apprehension. It’s ridiculous that two golden angels could draw their swords and kill us. They were both aware of the serious look on Zadok’s face and equally surprised and disturbed by his answer. It seemed that he agreed with Ahio.

“Yes!” said Zadok, “The only way you can approach the Ark is with blood from a sacrifice. If you touch the Ark of the Covenant without the blood of a sacrifice then you become the sacrifice, yourself.” Absalom and Uzzah looked at each other. It all seemed to have become a little far-fetched but they were still not quite sure.

“Is there anything inside the Ark?” Uzzah said suddenly to change the subject.

“Ah, It seems that I have missed out a very important part of my story. Yes, there is something inside the Ark. In fact it is what is inside that is important to our people because it contains objects from our history.” Absalom and Uzzah were once again fascinated. “Inside the box are three objects that all have a special meaning.” said Zadok, “These three objects represent the sin of our people, yours and mine included.”

“But what are these objects, Rabbi?” asked Uzzah.

“The first objects deep inside this box are broken. Originally they were the stone tablets containing the 10 commands that God gave to Moses. Why were they broken?” asked Zadok. Uzzah knew this well.

“They were broken because our people began to worship an idol.” he said.

“Yes, and when Moses saw them worshipping a golden calf, he smashed the tablets of the law on the ground. The pieces were collected and eventually put into the Ark of the Covenant as a picture of their sin against the Law of God. These broken tablets speak of our sin against the law of God.”

“Will they show us these tablets of the law that Moses tomorrow?” Absalom asked.

“The Ark hasn’t been opened since the days of Moses.” said Zadok. Uzzah and Absalom were obviously curious.

“What was the second object in the Ark?” Absalom was fascinated with what Zadok was teaching him. He loved to hear about the history of his people. Why do I feel afraid of Zadok? Sometimes he makes me feels so uneasy? He commands such authority, but he’s just a priest. One day, people will listen to me. Absalom wanted to learn how to wield such authority himself. He felt the same way in the presence of his father. Zadok answered him,

“The second object that was placed into the Ark was Aaron’s rod that budded. This spoke of how our people rebelled against God’s appointed leaders. You know this story. Our people had rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and God told them to choose rods for each of the twelve leaders of Israel and write their names on the rods. They were then to be placed in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Ark of the Testimony. The rod that sprouted would indicate to the people God’s appointed priest. What happened? Do you remember?”

“Only Aaron’s rod had sprouted by the following day.” said Absalom.

“Yes.” said Zadok, looking directly into Absalom’s eyes, “Unfortunately many of our people in Israel have rejected the priests and prophets of God and they have even rebelled against king David.”

“Yes”, said Absalom. Again he felt uncomfortable.

“Now let me tell you about the third object. The third object that was placed in the Ark was a pot of Manna. This pot of manna speaks of how our people complained and sinned against the provision of God. During the time of their wandering through the desert, God provided them with manna from heaven to eat each morning, but once again they complained, and God had to deal with them.

These three objects speak together about our people’s sin. But let me see if you have been listening. What are the three ways in which our people have sinned against God?”

Ahimaaz answered. “We have sinned against the Law of God, against his appointed leaders and against his provision for us.” He had listened carefully. He could always recite the correct answers.

“Very good! You have been listening well, my son.” Zadok was delighted with his son’s progress spiritually. One day he would be a fine priest. Absalom returned to the subject of his real interest.

“But why can’t we look at these holy objects that our father Moses once held?” he said.

“The angels who guard the throne on top of the Ark are the only ones who look down upon Israel’s sin and they don’t need to have the box opened to see how badly we have offended the holiness of God. God has made it very clear that the Ark of the Covenant is to be touched and carried only by the Priests.”

“You’re a priest. Would you be able to open it up for us to see Aaron’s rod?” asked Absalom.

“No! The Ark is only to be touched when it is carried. Two poles are to be placed through rings in the side of the ark and the Priests are then able to carry it around.” Absalom thought he might find a way one day to open the Ark.

Zadok’s voice became lower and, with shining eyes that expressed his love for these children, in almost a whisper he said, “The Lord of hosts is there with the Ark of the Covenant. Once a year, on the day of Atonement the priest brings the blood from the sacrifice and sprinkles it over the mercy seat and instead of seeing Israel’s sin, the angel’s see that a sacrifice has been made. The angels that carry God’s righteousness and justice are satisfied.

That’s why your father has decided to bring up the ark to Jerusalem, that it might be near him, and that it might focus attention upon God’s presence and His rulership in Israel. It has remained in the house of Abinadab, your uncle for some time now, but finally we are to see it come to it’s rightful place. Can you see now why your father wants to have it near us?”

“Yes,” said Absalom. “Yes, I think I do. Thankyou Rabbi.” The Ark is a great symbol of power. That’s the main reason why my father wants it with him. He would love to see the objects inside, but for now, he would be content to watch it come into Jerusalem tomorrow.

Matthew 16:19 – Part 1 – HOW TO UN-IMMOBILIZE THE IGNITION OF YOUR FAITH 

Key of Life - Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Key of Life – Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Such a small and frustrating device! How can my day be determined by something so insignificant? Yet when it has no life, I am stranded! I discovered this yesterday, and also that the shop over the road does not stock the tiny battery that would give power to UN-isolate the ignition of my car and get me to work on time.

The idea is that this device I am holding, by isolating the ignition, will protect my car from being stolen. No-one has stolen my car so far, so it must work. But not even my key can start my own car when this immobilizing monster holds me to ransom!

Theoretically, in my hands I have the power I need to engage the engine, but of course, theoretical power won’t start my car any more than a flat battery will – not today – not ever! The authority of my keys are useless without a battery tinier than my little fingernail. Mustard seed batteries.

In Matthew 16:19 Jesus has a set of KEYS and He says He will hand them over to Peter. Jesus has all the power of God at His disposal to give the bearer of these keys the authority of highest heaven to unlock and lock, open or close, bind or loose, forbid or permit heaven’s power to change earth.

Matthew 16:19 (NLT) says “And I will give you (Peter) the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” 

What is Jesus talking about here when He speaks of the Keys of the Kingdom? Why would He give them to Peter? Acts 2:14-41 partly answers these questions.

1. KEYS TO OPEN THE DOORS OF FAITH

Peter opens “the door of faith” at Pentecost and the life of eternity rushes through the veins of the Church. Shocking, shameless freedom surges like a tidal flow into its soul. For a while it is left drowning in the wake only to come up from the depths with a sudden intake of breath and every fibre of its being responding with surprise and delight. The Church is born.

Keys of the kingdom of Heaven, activated by the power of the Spirit, give us the opportunity to respond in faith to Christ and what He has done for us. In this way Peter opens the gates of heaven to 3000 people on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). 

The key slides into the deadbolt across the corrugations of metal and is turned. I can hear the soft click of metal as it aligns itself with perfect precision and feel the bolt slide smoothly until the door is released. These gates, says Warren Wiersbe, “have been opened to those who believe ever since.” 

The doors of heaven are unlocked! Correspondingly, the gates of hell have not been able to withstand the onslaught of God’s kingdom advancing and setting prisoners free. Those who are condemned already can now be pardoned. Escape from hell and entrance to heaven doesn’t occur at the pearly gates when I die, but at faith’s gates when I believe in Christ.

I had been BOUND in my sin, battery flat and no authority or power to do anything about it. Condemned! When I trusted in Christ I was LOOSED from my sin and ran through the open door toward freedom in Him. What incredible opportunities and possibilities have been unlocked in my life by the power and authority of these keys! 

There is nothing like an open door to stir your curiosity as to what adventures may lie beyond it’s threshold. Before you stands such a door. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:13 – A MORE MANAGEABLE MESSIAH

Making Jesus in our own image

A MORE MANAGEABLE MESSIAH - Image created by Ross Cochrane

A MORE MANAGEABLE MESSIAH – Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Jesus,

As Your marketing manager I am glad You finally asked the question “Who do others say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13). Finally You are concerned about Your consumer base. Afterall, without people like me, where would You be? Consumer Loyalty is important. You need to control the perception that we have about You if you want to go to the next level? A few points…

GLOBAL SUCCESS

Do You want to accelerate Your success globally; set the pace in a highly competitive world? Do You want to be more powerful and more highly effective? You can only go so far with the things You are saying and doing and I am here to give You some wins on the board.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Firstly, You will need to lose the “I came to do the Father’s will” line. No-one is interested in pleasing their Father in this generation. Half of them don’t have fathers. Leave Your Father out of it. It will only alienate the fans. If You are going to build a fan club, You will need to relate to their way of life. By the way, this “Take up your cross and follow Me” line won’t go down well either. Make it easy for us to follow You. Offer a free lunch instead. You do that well. Customer service.

PERSONAL APPEARANCE, PROFILE AND POPULARITY (The 3 P’s)

I will help You to reinvent Your social image, Your website, revitalise some of Your more popular sayings on Twitter. I’m here to build Your image; give You some style; tweak Your profile page, find the right opportunities, put You out there, pursue fame a little more intentionally. Heal someone famous and watch it go viral on YouTube. I can follow it up by arranging some TV interviews on the morning show, FM radio. We’ll give You, an audition for Australia has Talent or the X-Factor highlighting Your miracles. Do You have the X-Factor? To be honest, no one really cares about Your message unless it is actually entertaining or they are your close friends.

THE BOOK

By the way, You need to consolidate Your popularity by re-editing Your book. It will take a while but, for a fee, I will edit out the things that people don’t like; a smaller, leaner Bible.

THE MOVIE

I’m thinking something like a superhero movie promoting You as someone who intervenes in our human situations and automatically saves us from tragedies, hurts, trials and wrinkles. Bypass the trials and cross straight to the blessings. I’ve got a few good scripts.

Maybe a fishing show on TV. You’ve got a gift. We could sell some merchandise; plastic bank in the shape of a fish etc. And the way You calmed the sea that time we could do a great video on answers to Global Climate change.

You already inspire a lot of people with Your communication gifts. You deserve fame, so please, lose the Servanthood thing. Don’t think so small because You will only encourage others to think small. New mantra – “Assertiveness, not Servanthood.” Maybe a few high-powered “How-to” seminars and hypnosis sessions will fix this.

MESSIAH STATUS

By the way, You are doing the right things by telling us not to tell people who You really are (Matthew 16:20). Telling people You’re the Messiah is not exactly the best way to go viral. Best to withhold a significant amount of the truth until You get a larger profile. And You’ll need to drop the “first shall be last” line. Start using the “Genie in a bottle of blessing” kind of thinking. It’s a lot more popular. Oh, and avoid Nazareth. We don’t want bad press.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

Jesus, You really need to tone down what You say about the Pharisees. Just filter Your comments a little more. It doesn’t hurt to tiptoe a little when it comes to political correctness issues, especially when You disagree with what is popular. What I’m saying is be a little more tolerant ie don’t express Your differences against culturally acceptable sins.

POLITICAL ACTIVISM

You’ve got royalty in Your blood since you come from King David’s lineage and he was quite popular, so make the most of it. What is it with Your desire to mix with the social outcasts. We want to get the bad people off the streets; the muggers, the gangs, the drug addicts, not encourage them! That won’t get You any votes, especially with the Pharisees. You have to mix with the right crowd.

John the Baptist was willing to die for what He believed in. Somewhere down the line You could organise a political march against the Romans. If you didn’t talk of Peace all the time You would probably already be a great militant leader. Don’t get me wrong but people are more interested in victory over the Roman terrorists than loving our enemies. World Peace is for Miss Universe campaigns. What’s the use of having absolute power if you can’t use it once in a while to get rid of those we consider to be undesirables.

EXPRESSING YOURSELF

Just follow my basic ideas on how to behave and wait for me to give You the go-ahead. Follow my script and You’ll get there. I’ll save You a lot of trouble in the end. Salvation is at hand if You are willing to factor in what Your consumers want You to be.

Your Faithful Agent

Judas

NOOO! If I allow my human wants and wishes to define my view of Jesus; manipulate the Messiah to be made in my image, then He becomes a product of my imagination rather than who He really is and I will inevitably water down the message of the gospel. I am created in His image, not He in mine. It is me that needs managing by Him, not Him by me. The invitation He gives comes by way of a choice “Who do You say that I am?” If I respond to Him as God then I can surrender to the very purpose for which I was created, in Him. (Romans 8:28-39)

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:31-32 – SMALL SEED, INCREDIBLE POTENTIAL – Part 13

Mustard Seed Potential

When I read the Parable of the Mustard seed I am left with some serious questions. Jesus just tells the story in two sentences and leaves it at that. No explanation. He just 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).

And I am left asking how can something so VAST like the Kingdom of Heaven be compared to something so SMALL. How could something of such immense significance be infused into the DNA of such a small seed, how could such power and authority be found in something so small, something so minute. We are talking about the SOVEREIGN RULERSHIP of God here. So what is it with the mustard seed analogy?

I’ve thought about this a lot of late, read some other scriptures and tried to figure it out. Somehow I think that this is what Jesus intended all along. He deliberately leaves us to find out what it means knowing that only those who will seek first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) will find the answers from His Word of Truth. So here’s an UNEDITED edition of the parable and what I think Jesus is getting at…

“Once the King of a vast empire decided to become a farmer and plant a crop that would one day reap a huge harvest. He spent time preparing the soil and when the time was ripe He went out into His field and deliberately planted ONE SMALL SEED in the fertile earth.

It was no ordinary seed. It was a seed of destiny, a seed of promise, a seed of kingdom significance, the seed of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Inherent in this one seed was the very nature and character of the King Himself and His authority to rule and reign in the lives of those who follow Him. It was destined to change the world. That’s why the soil in which He chose to plant His seed was the soil of a person’s heart and life.

At first the seed was planted into the heart and life of a young virgin girl who bore this tiny seed in her womb. And in the most HUMBLE of places she gave birth to HEAVENS KINGDOM ON EARTH. Not in the splendour of a palace. He was born in a manger, a TINY BABY. The seed became a human being. It all seemed so INCONSEQUENTIAL and unimportant, just another baby, but don’t miss this. We are talking about the KING OF KINGS and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

An ancient book recorded His birth. Among other things it says “…Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the HUMBLE POSITION of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:7-8 NLT). Just a small seed yet heavens kingdom “…appeared in human form, He HUMBLED HIMSELF in obedience to God.”

The downside to living as a human of course is that He was destined die as a human. How could the Majesty of all heaven live His life as a human being? How could He die and be buried like a seed in the ground, yet in our story that is exactly what happened. He “died a criminal’s death on a cross.” I know I said it’s the unedited version but I can’t get into too many details here. You’ll have to read the book.

I can tell you this, however. “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 13:32 NLT).

Yes, the seed began to grow into a mighty tree and all of a sudden the Cross became His throne where heavens authority and character was expressed. It would have incredible impact upon the world.

The only way I can describe what happened was that on that Cross reserved for criminals, the Divine SOVEREIGNTY of heaven chose to pay the penalty for our sin! Divine JUSTICE was satisfied! Divine RIGHTEOUSNESS became available! Divine LOVE was released forever! Divine LIFE was offered! OMNISCIENCE was articulated! OMNIPOTENCE accomplished what was impossible! OMNIPRESENCE assured us that He would never leave or forsake us! His Divine IMMUTABILITY confirmed afresh that He is the same yesterday, today and forever! His Divine VERACITY drew us into the presence of all Truth!

But our story doesn’t end at the Cross. It BEGINS.

Here’s the real miracle of the story. Unless a seed is “planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24 NLT).

He rose again! He defeated the power of sin and death! The seed grew to fulfil His destiny and so it is no wonder then that “…God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11 NLT).

This is a true story. You say, how do I know all this is true about the Seed? I know because as it became a tree and grew I became engrafted (Romans 11:17) as one of it’s branches, along with millions of others, His Church. When I yielded to the great authority of Christ, the life of the Seed became my life. “… 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” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).”

One day every knee will bow, but today the invitation is in the form of a small Seed of DESTINY, PROMISE AND LIFE and it is given freely to you. It is a seed with all the authority of heaven infused into it’s DNA, the very life of God Himself. Inherent in such a small seed is all of heavens authority and resources made available for the circumstances of life, such incredible potential for those who seek and accept the gift of the mustard Seed.

Pastor Ross.

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Matthew 13:24 – I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE! – Part 8

Dethroned!

He has ruled Egypt for 29 years and has no intention of resigning. Mubarak and his family are incredibly rich. Apparently they have $70 billion due to corruption, kickbacks and some legitimate business activities. His kingdom is vast. Money, prestige, power, an army.

Huge numbers of demonstrators gather in Cairo and throughout the country demanding his resignation. 18 long days of protests, millions of people, chaos in Cairo, bloodshed in the streets.

Mubarak has survived six assassination attempts, but his dictatorship has brought the wrath of Egypts masses against him. They are shouting “We don’t want to live like this, anymore!” For many days Mubarak refuses to step down. Finally on the 11th February, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigns. Afterall, what use is a kingdom without the authority to rule over your people?

In Matthew 13:24 Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. What has heaven got to do with this discussion? A true kingdom is where the king has the authority to rule over his people. The kingdom of heaven stands in stark contrast to the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves on earth.

That term, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, comes up a lot in the Bible, especially in the gospels. What is the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God? And what on earth does it have to do with Mubarak?

My freedom depends on which kingdom I seek and no, by seeking the kingdom of heaven I am not speaking about suicide, euthanasia or death. Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven has nothing to do with dying (except perhaps dying to selfish ambition) and much to do with experiencing life to the full, HERE AND NOW. In John 10:10 Jesus says (NIV) “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      

Sure, heaven, the Kingdom of God, is a LITERAL place, but Jesus said something interesting. He said “The Kingdom of Heaven has come” (Matthew 4:17). In fact we pray that way whenever we pray the Lord’s prayer. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that the will and authority of the Kingdom of Heaven will be translated into the everyday things of earth, here and now.

What makes it heaven is the fact that God is RULING AND REIGNING. His kingdom is His SPHERE OF AUTHORITY, so in reality, if I come under His authority, I can receive heaven or ETERNAL LIFE here and NOW as well as in eternity. The kingdom has come! It begins now!

But it doesn’t just happen! It demands protest. It demands me declaring “I don’t want to live the way I am living anymore!” It demands a resignation of the present ruler over my life. Hang on a minute – that would be me!

When God’s Kingdom, His rule and reign, is a reality in my life, then things change on the INSIDE. The UNSEEN aspects of my life are now directed by the Lord. My life becomes His throne. He calls the shots so that the kingdom functions as it should. I am no longer bound up with my outward circumstances but with serving Him.

What good to gain the whole world and build my own kingdom on the outward trappings of this world, like Mubarak, only to lose my own soul (Luke 9:25).

Matthew 6:33 says I am to “…Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and His righteousness, and He will give you everything you need.” Romans 14:17 tells me that “…the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The invitation is to be dethroned from the throne of my own making and from building my own kingdom. It is saying honestly to God, “I DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE!” and accepting Christ as my Saviour and King. God bless you as you come under His authority as the Ruler of your life today.

Pastor Ross

Part 12 – Matthew 12:22-42 – THE CANVAS OF MY HEART

The Canvas of My Heart

Yesterday I was reading about a man called Han van Meegeren who was a Dutch artist and an extremely talented ART FORGER. He forged some of the world’s most famous paintings so well that the best art critics and art experts of his time thought his paintings were GENUINE.

Painting one of the finest Vermeers anyone had ever seen was his greatest MISTAKE. He sold his forgeries during the second world war and one of them ended up with the Nazi commander Hermann Goring.

After the war, the sale of the painting was traced back to van Meergeren and he was arrested for selling Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. The punishment for this act of treason was death and so van Meegeren decided to CONFESS that the painting was a forgery. But what would convince the jury?

In Matthew 12 Jesus faces a different problem. His works are GENUINE. When He paints on a person’s life it is the Hand of God, AUTHENTIC, ORIGINAL AND UNIQUE. In Matthew 12:28, He says to the Pharisees “The kingdom of God has arrived among you”. The Pharisees see His miracles as counterfeit and His teaching false. Their unbelief is relentless. They continually try to trap Him.

In Matthew 12:38 (NLT) the Pharisees say “Teacher, we want You to show us a miraculous sign to PROVE YOUR AUTHORITY.” In Matthew 12:24 they test and tempt Jesus in the same way as Satan did in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5-7), demanding a SIGN from Him, but when He heals people they say He gets His power from Satan. They hypocritically demand a sign but then reject it. Can’t have it BOTH WAYS! What will it take to convince them?

In Acts 2:22 (NLT) when Peter preaches to those gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost “People of Israel, listen! God PUBLICLY ENDORSED Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful MIRACLES, WONDERS, AND SIGNS through Him, as you well know.” God verifies the authority of the works of Jesus and Jesus exposes the works of the Pharisees as a forgery. In Matthew 12:34 (NLT) He calls them a “brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” 

Certainly many people witness that Jesus does miracles, wonders and signs, but does this CONVINCE them? Does it convince you?

Jack, a friend of mine, is unable to walk. When I spoke to him about God, he said “If God was real He wouldn’t leave me like this. I don’t deserve this. Where’s the proof that God exists?” He said He doesn’t see any evidence of God because God refuses to heal him. What will it take to convince him?

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” WHY DOESN’T HE HEAL MY FRIEND JACK?

Perhaps part of the answer is found in John 4:48 (NLT) where Jesus asks, “Will you never believe in Me unless you see MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND WONDERS?” 

It seems to me that the FOCUS is not so much believing in signs and wonders (and I do), but in allowing His artworks to lead me back to Him. The SIGNATURE IS GENUINE. It is in believing in the Master Artist Himself and then in allowing Him to paint upon THE CANVAS OF MY LIFE. Romans 10:9 (NLT) puts it this way, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The brushstrokes of His forgiveness touches the very fabric of my being and His creative genius gives my life AUTHENTICITY.

Jesus is asking me to trust in Him WHETHER OR NOT I see signs and wonders. I encouraged Jack to put His faith in Jesus, not just in looking for a sign. Matthew 24:24 speaks about FALSE SIGNS that are forgeries that can lead us away from Jesus.

God bless you Church as you put your faith in Jesus. And as we focus on Him, THEN we are in a position to see His miraculous intervention in our lives in all kinds of ways, the authenticity of which is beyond question.

Pastor Ross