Posts Tagged ‘Born again’

THE PARABLE OF THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR © Ross Cochrane

What a timeless classic children’s story is the Very Hungry Caterpillar written by Eric Carle, which we loved reading to our children and grandchildren.

Very Hungry Caterpillar

When thinking about my Easter message this year I thought what better illustration by way of a parable to consider the truths of God’s Word regarding Christ’s death and resurrection.

Eric Carle begins his story by saying, “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” How amazing is this egg, fixed to the leaf with a very special rubbery substance which soon sets solid?

  1. GRACE

In our parable, this little egg represents you and me, and God has created and protected you and me for a purpose. We love chocolate eggs at Easter but this is not a chocolate egg, and this egg is not to be devoured and forgotten. It is an entirely different kind of egg.

Like this tiny egg, you may feel small and insignificant in the scheme of things, but Psalm 139 says that God is intimately acquainted with all your ways”. King David says in that Psalm, “I will give thanks to You (Lord), for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well…  lead me in the everlasting way.”

GOD CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE.

Eric Carle’s story continues, “One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry Caterpillar.”

He started to look for some food. I’m so HUNGRY!, he said. On Monday he ate through 1 apple. But he was still hungry. 

On Tuesday he ate through 2 pears, but he was still hungry. 

On Wednesday he ate through 3 plums, but he was still hungry. 

On Thursday he ate through 4 strawberries, but he was still hungry.

On Friday he ate through 5 oranges, but he was still hungry.

On Saturday he ate through 1 piece of chocolate cake, 1 icecream cone, 1 pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1 slice of salami, 1 lollipop, 1 piece of cherry pie, 1 sausage, 1 cupcake, And 1 slice of watermelon.

That night he had a stomach-ache!

The very hungry caterpillar then ate through one green leaf. He started to feel better.

Caterpillar on leaf morguefile

Now, the caterpillar was no longer small. He was a big, fat caterpillar.

(In the interests of the parable about Easter, I have added to the story,)

“He thought that he was born into this world simply to crawl in the dirt and gorge himself with the leaves of plants.

All he had done was eat and look after himself with no real concerns about anything else. He didn’t know that he was created for another purpose. The ugly, hungry caterpillar didn’t realize the possibility of TRANSFORMATION.

The Bible says we are like that Caterpillar, but we are created for more than simply survival. We may even feel that we are big in the eyes of the world, but God has offered us the possibility of Resurrection life. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). And Romans 3:20 says that “The gift of God is Eternal life.”

  1. SIN

WHAT STOPS US FROM LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL AND RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

“It wasn’t always easy for the Caterpillar. He had to be careful of predators like spiders and wasps and one time a bird tried to eat him but he camouflaged himself on a leaf.”  

Like that Caterpillar, there is a Predator in our life that stops us from living life to the full, the life for which we are created. The predator we face is SATAN. We live in a sinful world and commit personal sin.

Caterpillars may make use of camouflage to evade their predators, but very few eggs and caterpillars survive. Unlike the Caterpillar, you can’t hide from the results of sin. The Bible says “The Wages of Sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose (Satan’s purpose) is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT)

Now you may have accepted this grub kind of existence and think that you are destined to crawl around and eat whatever the world throws at you, trying to avoid sin and death, thinking that there’s nothing you can do about your lot in life, and your RIGHT.

WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO SAVE OURSELVES, … but GOD CAN AND DID…

  1. GOD

The good news is that the Bible says that God has made you for so much more. Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish INFINITELY MORE than we might ask or think.”

SO HOW DO WE RECEIVE WHAT GOD OFFERS?

“The Caterpillar was fully grown now and didn’t want another bite. In fact, he was so tired of all the hard work of eating and trying to keep away from predators that he began to wander around for a while not really knowing what to do. He WANTED A CHANGE. He longed for something MORE but didn’t know what it was. He decided to build a small house, called a cocoon around himself. He stayed inside for quite some time.”

Like the Caterpillar, we have to find that place of spiritual rest where we can reflect and begin to see the need in our life and desire something more. Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (Matt. 11:28). It’s only when we trust in Jesus that a miracle on the inside occurs.

 “And something happened on the inside. As he rested, an AMAZING TRANSFORMATION began to take place. Most of the tissues and cells in his body began to break down completely. In effect, his body died except for some tiny cells that were ACTIVATED.

Those cells began to use the nutrients of the Caterpillar in such a way that he was BORN AGAIN INTO SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW. It was a miracle. He was born again.

When the transformation was complete, he could hardly wait to see himself. He nibbled a small hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out and… “

(At this point I released a butterfly from a small box. He stayed on my finger for a while and then flew into the audience only to land on someone else) 

Butterfly Morguefile

“… A BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY emerged. He spent an hour basking in the sun to dry out his new wings and then as the wind lifted him, he took flight. He glided aloft, fluttering and riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after flower, tasting the nectar and ‘showing off his vivid colors to the vibrancy of the blossoms.’ 

HE THOUGHT, THIS IS WHAT I WAS TRULY CREATED FOR.”

  1. CHRIST

THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS SPIRITUALLY TO US WHEN WE GIVE OUR LIVES TO JESUS AND TRUST OURSELVES TO HIM.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATION; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

  1. FAITH

THE BUTTERFLY SYMBOLISES BEING BORN AGAIN.

In John 3:6-8 Jesus says, “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be BORN AGAIN.’

The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are BORN OF THE SPIRIT.”

There is much more to life than what we now see and what you may have accepted. And there is hope beyond the grave.

The parable of the very Hungry Caterpillar reminds me of the hunger every person has on the inside for relationship with God. When we trust in Christ, something new is activated from within. Our old life is gone but nothing is wasted. In His hands, we are made new, with a new life. We are a new creation.

The Bible says God became a man but without sin. The Bible says He paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the Cross for us. He was laid in a tomb.

BUT EASTER DOESN’T STOP AT THE CROSS, … OR AT THE TOMB …

The story of the Cocoon and Crysalis reminds me that on Sunday Morning after Jesus had been crucified and taken to the grave, the disciples came to the tomb and saw JESUS’ GRAVECLOTHES lying there, much like an EMPTY CHRYSALIS. An angel told the startled disciples. “HE IS RISEN,”

(At this point in my message I released 15 other butterflies into the audience)

Why do we have this Easter service? To go through the ritual? Not at all! Rather we gather to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death itself. He is our Lord and our Savior, His Victory is our victory. In celebrating His resurrection we celebrate our own assurance of ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OVER DEATH.

YOU CAN BE BORN AGAIN BY PUTTING YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST.

Let’s pray this prayer together. It is for all of you who would like to know for certain that you are born again and that you have eternal life. 

Lord God, thankyou that You have created me for much more than I can even imagine. Thankyou for creating a hunger in me for spiritual truth. Thankyou Lord Jesus, for dying for my sins. Thankyou for rising again so that I too could have new life. 

Come into my life, Lord Jesus. Make me a new creation. I am under Your authority. I am in Your hands. I spread my wings, and fly to You, 

Amen. 

Pastor Ross

Related Posts

see also

http://www.joyfulheart.com/easter/buterfly.htm

The Parable of The Butterfly

 

 

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 5 – Matthew 11:13-14 – IN A PREVIOUS LIFE I WAS A DOLPHIN?

Reincarnation

I asked some friends what they thought about REINCARNATION last night and got some funny responses – should have known. One of them said “once, in a previous life, I was a dolphin… lol jk.” Another one said “It’s weird to think you may have been an ant once upon a time. …”

I know that Scientologists like the actor TOM CRUISE believe in some strange things. But apparently that includes REINCARNATION? Past reincarnation, or “past lives, entering the flesh again”, is a key part of the principles and practices of the CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY. I knew that HINDUISM teaches about reincarnation but apparently many MUSLIMS also believe Jesus and some prophets may incarnate again!

I’m telling you this because I was dumbfounded to read that in a 2005 Gallup poll 20 PERCENT of U.S. adults BELIEVED IN REINCARNATION! (Wikipedia) The article goes on to say that “Recent surveys by the Barna Group, a Christian research nonprofit organization, have found that A QUARTER of U.S. Christians, including 10 PERCENT OF ALL BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS, embrace the idea”.

Kind of gives an entirely skewed view on 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) which says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is A NEW CREATURE; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Forgive me throwing up my hands in horror and tearing out my hair! (well perhaps not the hair. I don’t have any to tear out!) No wonder some people in mental institutions believe that they have come back as Jesus Christ. God became a man. Why not go round again? This is not what Paul meant when he said “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NASB).

Why am I talking about RE-INCARNATION? What started me on that track was a passage of the Bible in Matthew 11 where Jesus is speaking about John the Baptiser. Let me explain…

As a child I once asked my mother “Is Santa real?” She would say “If you believe he is real then he is.” What kind of answer is that? Jesus has a different approach. It involves me accepting what He has to say before I can appropriate His message to my life.

Matthew 11:14 says “And if you are willing to accept what I say, HE IS ELIJAH, the one the prophets said would come.” If you know the story of Elijah, he didn’t die but was taken up into heaven. 2 Kings 2:11 (NLT) says “… Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.” 

Jesus always takes me by surprise, but what is this really all about? How can John the Baptist be Elijah the prophet? Malachi 4:5 (NLT) gives a prophecy about Elijah. It says “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.” 

What makes things even more complicated is that back in John 1:21-23 (NLT) the Pharisees have already asked John the Baptiser “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “NO,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “NO.” “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”(He’s quoting from Isaiah 40:3).

One minute John says he ISN’T ELIJAH and then Jesus says HE IS? Jesus says one thing and John has already CONTRADICTED Him. Is he Elijah and doesn’t know it? And if he is Elijah, how? Why? And Whoah! That’s pretty far fetched! Is this some kind of RE-INCARNATION MIRACLE? (Inter terrestrial Alien music in the background – “do do do do, Do Do DO DO!”).

Was John ELIJAH IN HIS PREVIOUS LIFE? If he was then we have our religions mixed up here. Doesn’t Jesus realise we believe in CHRISTIANITY NOT HINDUISM? Why does Jesus say He IS Elijah? Was it a METAPHOR? Why did He say “If you are willing to accept what I say”. Is it only true if we accept it?

How can I get this in perspective? John the Baptist was ONE OF A KIND and the LAST OF A KIND. He was the last of the old HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERS. He joined the old highway to the new one – the OLD TESTAMENT TO THE NEW TESTAMENT.

It was the END OF AN ERA. Up until this time prophets only FORETOLD the coming of Jesus. Now John was INTRODUCING HIM PERSONALLY! Matthew 11:13 (NLT) says “For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time.” 

I love it when I am faced with a difficulty like this. Because I believe in what Jesus says and I trust Him. And in order to understand I also know that SCRIPTURE OFTEN INTERPRETS SCRIPTURE. In Luke an angel gives a prophecy about John and this clears it up for me (Here I am listening to an angel!) In Luke 1:17 (NLT) the angel says of John “He will be a man with the SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH.”

So John is A TYPE OF ELIJAH. Elijah, like John, was a prophet who spent time out in the desert places too. He condemned kings for their sin. He challenged the religious people of his time. He also had questions about God and wasn’t afraid to ask them. He was no reed in the wind at Mt Carmel (1 Kings 18:24-38). The message of old hasn’t changed. It is still the same. REPENT! GET RIGHT WITH GOD! It seems to me that Jesus is saying John is a PICTURE of Elijah who is yet to come. He is NOT BEING LITERAL! He is not talking about Reincarnation! In Matthew 11:14 Jesus says “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

God bless you Church as you really hear the message of John 3:7 (NLT) where Jesus says to Nicodemus “You must be born again.” Romans 6:11 (NASB) says it in this way “… consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Pastor Ross