Posts Tagged ‘Childlike Faith’

Psalm 8:3 – Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 8:2 – INTERVIEW WITH AN ATHEIST ON PSALM 8 – Part 2 

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: (picks up Bible that the Atheist has been reading and turns to the New Testament). Nothing comes close to who God is and His character. When I wrote Psalm 8, I was also talking prophetically about a coming Messiah. I notice the writers of the New Testament, written many years after my writings recognise Him to be Jesus. Jesus shares the glory of God. John 1:14 (NLT) says, “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.”  

Colossians 1:15 (NLT) says “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,…  

ATHEIST: In our world He is mostly a swearword used on many building sites and general conversation, although I grant you that He is also recognised as an historical figure who made an impact on the world with His teachings. 

DAVID: Nothing can rob God of His glory. Not using His Name as a swearword. Carelessly profaning His name makes no difference to who His is and the impact He still makes in the earth.  Look at this. This was written to Christians in Philippi. Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT) says, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 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. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

ATHEIST: I have no intention in bowing down to Jesus just because your Bible, not mine, says He is God and that He existed before the world was created and is supreme over all creation. There are many Scientific explanations as to how the world came into being and none of them include God. 

DAVID: Scientific theories may exclude God but then Science is not concerned with God, only the physical world. I like what your Bible says in Romans 1:20 (NLT), “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” I remember as a child looking up to the stars and trying to fathom how they came into existance and the eternity of space, and coming to the conclusion, though I didn’t know Him then, that there must be a Creator.  

ATHEIST: A child is easily susceptible to such beliefs. And it is childish to maintain such a stance. 

DAVID: In Psalm 8:2 you noticed that I wrote as I prayed, You have taught children and infants to tell of Your strength, silencing Your enemies and all who oppose You.  

ATHEIST: What is that supposed to mean?  Your childish faith will oppress me? 

DAVID: No, not at all, but it takes a childlike, but not childish faith to believe in Christ and to trust Him in the face of opposition. 

For me the very life of a child itself is evidence of the almighty power and wonder of God. I realise that not everyone is going to be impressed by God’s strength, excellence and majesty, but they are often silenced by the simplicity and miracle of the birth of a child and the faith of a child. 

I notice that in your Bible, in the New Testament, Jesus quoted me (from Psalm 8:2) when His enemies, the religious leaders, confronted Him. The children were shouting praises when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday.  

Matthew 21:14-16 (NLT) says of Jesus, “The blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” 

Jesus misses out the second part of the verse I wrote in Psalm 8:2 about silencing enemies of God, however the Pharisees would have known this verse and would not have missed what Jesus was saying – that they were the enemies. 

I notice that earlier, in Matthew 18:2-3 (NLT), Jesus calls a little child to Him and puts the child among crowd. Then He says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” 

Even at the birth of Jesus Himself, He is called Saviour. The babe in the manger became the Saviour of the world. 

ATHEIST: Childlike faith or simply foolishness? Do you really believe that you must turn from your sins, believe that Christ died for your sins, and that you must do this to get into some mythical realm called heaven? To me that sounds ludicrous. 

DAVID: I notice in your Bible in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 that it says, “God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” 

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.  

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). 

(to be continued) 

Pastor Ross  

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The Cost3.jpg

The Cost © Ross Cochrane 

 

Matthew 18:5-6 – THE COST

Jesus says in Matthew 18:4-6 (NLT) “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf (Greek: in My Name) is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. 

Many people look at this verse and think it is talking about treating children well. It is not, although it goes without saying that we should do so. This is not talking about receiving little children in general, but receiving those who become like little children and who have believed and trusted in Christ.

To welcome those who humbly respond in obedience to Christ with a childlike faith as new followers of Christ is like welcoming Christ Himself. Jesus brings equality to a new level when He makes these statements. He says in effect these new Christians represent Me.

The old man could not escape it. It would be a sin not to allow Christ to direct his life.

Becoming a Christian would mean certain ostracism by his family and by his community if it became known. Even Jesus said, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed” (Matthew 10:21, NLT). This was true in his community when someone responded to Christ.

He had seen it before. Unbelieving family members would become like a cult, applying pressure in the form of psychological and physical abuse. He knew that if he gave his life to Christ he would face the possibility of death, and the certainty of rejection.

“How can you do this?” his wife shouted at him, “What about our children? If you become a Christ-follower, we will all be in danger. I will let the authorities know. I warn you. If you love your family, please don’t do this!”

What will I do now? he thought, l love my family but I also love Christ! How awful it is to be forced to choose between them, and even worse to face being betrayed by my own family, but, deep down, I know that I must follow Christ. The love for my family will never diminish but I must ask, ‘To who do I owe my allegiance?’ And if it is Christ, then I must ask for His help to keep my family from suffering?

In the days to come he would read the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew (10:37, 40 NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love Me, you are not worthy of being Mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than Me, you are not worthy of being Mine.”…”Anyone who receives you receives Me, and anyone who receives Me receives the Father who sent Me.”

In Matthew 10:32-33 (NLT) he read, “Everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before My Father in heaven. But everyone who denies Me here on earth, I will also deny before My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:15, 28).

He read of others who were persecuted for becoming Christians in Philippians 1:29 (NLT) “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.”

Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 (NLT) “And all nations will hate you because you are My followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” He still longed to have peace with God. Perhaps God would help him bear persecution and rejection!

In Matthew 16:24 (NLT) Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow Me.” It doesn’t sound all that rewarding, Lord, he thought, but then in John 16:33 (NLT) he read, “Take heart for I have overcome the world”. And in Romans 8:37 he read “I am more than a conqueror in Christ.”

In Matthew 10:39 (NLT) he read how Jesus says “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.” He thought, The key to handling pressure in my life is not to compromise in terms of my allegiance. It will mean standing firm in my resolve to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and come under His authority and direction no matter what the world throws at me. It will mean finding victory over every circumstance in this life in Him.

The invitation that Christ gives to follow Him will involve a cost. The choice you make will change your life forever.

Pastor Ross

Part 8 – Matthew 11:25-30 – WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE OF GENIUS

Without the Encumbrance of Genius

Perhaps it is the reason that I embraced Christianity so easily – THE CHRISTIAN FAITH DOESN’T DEMAND INTELLIGENCE. I’m not criticising intelligence.  I have an above average intelligence level. Well, actually, although it was above average according to the IQ test I completed at School, it was more tilted towards the average side than the above part. I have imagined having an intelligence level that would ASTOUND people, but unless that miracle happens I will remain who I am, without the ENCUMBRANCE OF GENIUS and I will always have to examine things carefully before I can understand them.

Jesus prayed an unusual prayer in Matthew 11:25-27. After the cities of Korazin and Bethsaida had ignored Him and rejected Him, He prayed

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the CHILDLIKE. Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way!”

Jesus says that only the childlike can understand spiritual things. He doesn’t say childish, just childlike. I must admit I can have a little trouble with distinguishing between the two at times, but I do recognise God as my Father and I know that I am in His family.

Some time ago I received a number of pocket sized Gideons Bibles with white covers to give out to the staff and residents of Shalom. Shalom is an Aged Care Facility and I work there as a Chaplain. These small New Testament Bibles are given out in Schools in Australia every few years by the Gideons. Someone gave some to us.

As I offered the aged residents of Shalom these Bibles it occurred to me that I needed to ask them whether they could read the SMALL PRINT. Few of them could. People in their 80’s and 90’s don’t often have very good eyesight for reading normal print books, let alone the pocket sized version I was handing out. It was an EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. They were literally BLIND TO GOD’S TRUTH. The only Bible many of them have now is me. Anyone want to donate some large print pocket Bibles that I can give away?

Jesus talks of a different kind of BLINDNESS. Blind due to my INDIFFERENCE to His miracles and message. Blind to His will and purposes in my life. Blind to a relationship with God because of my self sufficient attitudes.

2 Corinthians 3:14 (NLT) says “the people’s minds were HARDENED,” It is like a veil over their thinking “so they CANNOT UNDERSTAND the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.” Ephesians 4:18 describes it as having their “UNDERSTANDING DARKENED, being alienated from the life of God”

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) says that it is Satan who “has BLINDED THE MINDS of those who don’t believe. They are UNABLE TO SEE the glorious light of the Good News. They DON’T UNDERSTAND this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT) puts it this way “But people who aren’t spiritual CAN’T RECEIVE THESE TRUTHS from God’s Spirit. It all sounds FOOLISH to them and they CAN’T UNDERSTAND it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

Jesus makes it clear that the only way to understand God is through Him. He says “No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27 NLT)

Now that’s AUTHORITY! Jesus stands as the ONLY MEDIATOR between me and God. (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus does the choosing and He has chosen to reveal the Father only to those who believe and come under His authority.

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE can come to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME. Acts 4:12 (NLT) says “There is salvation in NO ONE ELSE! God has given NO OTHER NAME under heaven by which we must be saved.The only access I have to truth is to COME TO HIM and the key is faith not intelligence. It is CHILDLIKE FAITH, not genius. It is not being self sufficient but humble enough to be DEPENDENT upon Him. Nothing wrong with intelligence. I need a brain to think through these things but knowing God is not dependent upon intelligence. It demands coming under the authority of Jesus Christ.

I love the way 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 (NLT) puts it “This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans… Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes … when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. … and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

God bless you Church as you exercise the foolishness today of believing in Christ and coming under His authority for your life, WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE OF YOUR GENIUS. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Pastor Ross