Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

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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Emails from Moses – Postscript. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 36 – EMAILS FROM MOSES – Postscript 

To your majesty, King Hadar, 

Recently I have been searching the NET (National Edomite Transcripts) to find references to the history of the kings of Edom. I came across a few letters and e-mails between Jacob and Esau describing the beginnings of the fascinating history of your nation, but it mentions only clan leaders, not the kings.  

With your permission, I was wondering, since we have a common Ancestor in Abraham, if you or your secretaries would be able to help me find out what happened after Esau’s grandchildren died and specifically about the kings of Edom.  

As you know Israel has no kings, but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were promised by God that kings would come from their descendants. It hasn’t happened yet for Jacob’s descendants, but I understand your nation has had kings for many years. 

Yours ancestrally, 

Moses,  

Servant of God most high, 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Dear Moses, leader of the hordes of Israel, 

I am not compelled in any way to share anything with you, Moses. You and your God are nothing to us. But since we have a common ancestor in Abraham and Isaac, I will share briefly some the historical information of our great nation.  

In summary, there are 7 kings. Firstly, Bela, Jobab, and Husham.  

Then there’s Hadad (not me). You wouldn’t like this Hadad much. He killed Midian in the field of Moab, son of our common ancestor, Abraham, by his wife Keturah. I understand you have some Midianite connections also.  

Then there’s Samlah, Shaul, Baal-hanan and now I, king Hadad, am king. All kings ruled from different cities in Edom and I rule from the city of Pau. 

Yours historically, 

Hadad, King of Edom, 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Your Royal Highness, King Hadad, 

Your information has been helpful. Thankyou so much for the list of your kings. This allows me the opportunity to record the family tree of our common ancestors, Abraham and Isaac, through Esau.  

Yes, I had heard of the other King Hadad who killed Midian. His passing was grieved by Abraham and his wife, no doubt, and all the Midianites then and since. I lived in the district of Midian for 40 years after I left Egypt. Jethro, my father-in-law is also a Midianite priest to God most highHis daughter, my wife, is Zipporah.  

I am fascinated by your kings ruling from different cities. I thought each son would rule from their father’s city. I have never heard of this practice. Is there a reason for why this happens? 

Yours with curiosity, 

Moses,  

friend of God. 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Dear Moses,  

I think you have misunderstood me in thinking that our Edomite kings come from a family dynasty of rulers. This is not so. 

Many years ago, Esau wrote into the very fabric of our society that none of us can presume clan leadership on the basis of birthright or a father’s blessing. Each leader must earn his leadership by power of force and strategy 

There are no favorites in Edomite rulership, no family dynasties, no kings anointed by God in our clans. We fight for the right of the throne and keep it by the power of the sword, knowing that our sons will not be the next kings. 

6 kings have come and gone, all from different families and now I am king. No-one will usurp my kingdom, though there have been those who have tried 

The leaders of clans give their names to their districts. Those leaders are governed by my rulershipSome kings, including me, have had cities of our own but we have no capital cities. They are merely places to live, fortresses, some built into the very rocks of Petra. Edom is a country of narrow canyons and is easily defended.  

By the way, we don’t allow strangers into our lands and, despite our common ancestors, we are not allies. Jacob gave up that right when he stole Esau’s blessing. Esau we have loved and Jacob we have hated. Think twice before planning to travel this way into Canaan.  

Yours militarily, 

Hadad,  

High king of Edom 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

To Your Highness, King Hadad, King of all Edom, 

God has certainly been good to your people, putting you in possession of your land much sooner than us Israelites. Although you have made it clear that you do not regard us as allies, be assured that we are not a threat to your kingdom.  

God has made it clear that to us that you feel threatened by our presence in your territory, so we will be careful not to bother you, for we understand that He has given you all the hill country around Mount Seir as your property, and we do not want even one square foot of your land.  

If we need food to eat or water to drink, we will pay you for it. God has been with us in our journey from Egypt and each step through this great wilderness. We have lacked nothing. We will avoid the road through the Arabah Valley that comes up from Elath and Ezion-geber (Deuteronomy 2:2-8).  

We will bypass your territory because we respect you as the descendants of Esau.  

One day we will see kings over our people. From our descendants, we will see the Messiah, King of all kings. The promise to Abraham that all the nations of the world will be blessed through him will be fulfilled (Genesis 12:1-3). 

You have said that you have hated Jacob and love Esau. Be careful that one day God does not say of you, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Malachi 1:2-3) 

Yours respectfully, 

Moses,  

Friend and servant of God most high 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Dake reminds me that “the rock-hewn city, Petra, later the capital of Edom, was an ancient stronghold. The temples and houses cut in the sides of the mountains surrounding Petra still exist and look freshly made.  

Edom had everything in wealth and power but no real faith in God and only the prospect of judgment to realize (Obadiah 1). In contrast, Israel had little in material wealth and power, but a struggling faith in God and all of God’s promises yet to be realised in the coming Christ.  

Christ followers are invited to live by faith not by sight, (2 Corinthians 5:7) just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived (Hebrews 11).  

Pastor Ross 

Pinocchio

Pinocchioism © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5:9-12 – PINOCCHIOISM 

PINOCCHIO AND LYING

Pinocchio, the cute puppet who became a boy is a symbol of all barefaced liars.

He represents the poker-faced bluffs and feints of experienced liars. He personifies those who cover-up their embarrassing actions by their denials only to deceive themselves. He symbolizes those who defame reputations and try to deflect or ignore anyone who tries to hold them to account.

The protruding nose of Pinocchio pictures the calculated disinformation which grows and damages lives in the process, those who stretch the truth or minimize it when it suits them. From fib to fraud, their deceptive nature evades and blames and misrepresents.

Pinocchioism can be readily observed in the type of journalism that has little to no legitimate well-researched news but has eye-catching headlines used for self-serving purposes: captions that exaggerate and sensationalize, leaving out the contextualizing facts, and articles that pad their misrepresentations and misconceptions with other unsubstantiated lies.

Pinnochioism is found in Australian banks of late and other businesses run by leaders who alter and conveniently hide or destroy anything that may incriminate them in a court of law, giving the impression that it never happened; strategic lies in order to cover-up. CEO Pinocchios perjure themselves under oath when it serves the company, the bottom dollar and their fabricated reputation.

The age-old joke that you can tell when a politician is lying because his lips move is funny, but only because we associate politicians with lying so consistently.

And not too far from the lying words of politician Pinocchios, is the deceptive use of propaganda and warfare we see paraded in our news broadcasts across the world where lies become the most dangerous.

WAR AND LYING

According to Wikipedia, Sun Tzu declared that “All warfare is based on deception.” Machiavelli advised in The Prince “never to attempt to win by force what can be won by deception”, and Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan: “In war, force and fraud are the two cardinal virtues.”

These thoughts are only echoes of Davids words in Psalm 5:9 where he says his enemies “Cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others” – Nothing they say is true, reliable, dependable or trustworthy.

“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave”  Their hearts are spiritually dead on the inside and as a result, the dreadful odor of their corruptive influence is released. What a damning picture.

INHERENT LYING

What is even more disturbing about these words is that they are repeated and applied in the New Testament with implications that brings the stench of their corruption to all of us.

Romans 3:9-20, in the New Testament, quotes the words of Psalm 5:9 above and applies it much further than to David’s enemies. Listen to this…

“… all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous – not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.”   

“Snake venom drips from their lips.” 
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 
 Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.”
“They have no fear of God at all.”

… the entire world is guilty before God. … The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”

The New Testament states that all people are sinful and thus enemies of God’s purposes and living a lie, a lie which corrupts to the core of our being.

According to Wikipedia, at the age of about four and a half years, children begin to be able to lie convincingly.

Apparently, there is no equality in lying although men and women lie at equal frequencies. However, men are more likely to lie in order to please themselves while women are more likely to lie to please others. Studies have shown that we are less likely to lie when we have moral reminders or when we think others are watching.

One Psychologist, Hannah Arendt, said that when lying is accepted as a cultural norm, then no-one trusts anyone or anything that they hear, whereas honesty allows you to have deeper relationships. (Arendt, Hannah. “Hannah Arendt: From an Interview.” The New York Review of Books. 26 October 1978 issue. 30 November 2017.)

In John 8:44 (NLT) Jesus is speaking to those who are trying to trap Him “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

GOD AND LIES

In contrast, Numbers 23:19 (NLT) says, “God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?” 

Colossians 3:9 (NLT) therefore says to followers of Christ, “Don’t lie to each other…” We represent Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. Of all people, Christians have the capacity, responsibility and incentive to be honest.

In Psalm 5, enemies of truth, therefore, are enemies of God and of David who follows the truth. Psalm 5 speaks of lies that seek to destroy lives and speak of rebellion against God.

King David is more direct in Psalm 4:2 “How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” asks David but through himit is God who asks this question today.

We are all capable of manipulating the truth to get ourselves out of a corner.

I want something I can be sure of. In John 17:17 (NLT) Jesus prays for those who are His disciples, “Sanctify them by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.”

GOD AND TRUTH

God’s Word is Truth, absolute truth. I am invited to test the truth of His Word by living my life according to its precepts, without uncertainty.

INVITATION TO TRUTH

I particularly want to be honest and call a lie a lie. I want to be able to admit to myself when I am operating from deception (and not to start believing my own lies as being my version of the truth). 

I want to be able to admit my deceptive behavior to God and see it from His point of view. Better still, I want to operate from the Truth in the first place. This is one of the serious challenges of our times (and of my life personally). It has to do with admitting when I am wrong and to have an external set of standards that don’t depend on me. I need God’s standard of truth to do this. 

The invitation is to know Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). John 8:32 (NLT) says, “… you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

Pastor Ross

Risk and Reward

What and who God hates!? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 5:4-6 – WHAT AND WHO GOD HATES!?

Psalm 5 gives great principles of how to pray when I am overwhelmed, but in the midst of it, we are confronted by what David says about what and who God hates. So far Psalm 5 encourages me to…

  1. EXPRESS MYSELF IN WORDS AND/OR EMOTIONS “… groaning.”
  2. RECOGNISE GOD’S AUTHORITY OVER MY LIFE “… my King”.
  3. BOLDLY ASK FOR GOD’S FAVOUR “Listen to my cry for help”.
  4. BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER “Each morning…” 
  5. WAIT EXPECTANTLY FOR HIM TO ANSWER, rather than get discouraged.

And then I am encouraged to…

     6. SEE THINGS FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

This next part of Psalm 5 is where I am confronted by WHAT GOD HATES AND WHO GOD HATES.  Firstly WHAT GOD HATES…

“O God, You take no pleasure in wickedness; You cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked” (Psalm 5:4 (NLT).

Habakkuk 1:13 (NLT) mirrors this when it says, “But You are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.”  

So, if God hates evil, then those who follow Christ also hate evil. Those who love Him LOVE WHAT HE LOVES but they also HATE WHAT HE HATES. Psalm 97:10 says “You who love the Lord, hate evil!…” Romans 12:9 (NLT) says, “… Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.”

So far so good. But the following verses disturb our comfortable view about God.

If you are overwhelmed by the difficulties of life, this Psalm goes on to say,

     7. BE WILLING TO HUMBLE MYSELF BEFORE GOD

“Therefore, THE PROUD may not stand in Your presence,…” (Psalm 5:5 NLT).

Who is the PROUD person?

In the context of this passage, a “PROUD” person is someone who thinks they can disregard the authority of God in their lives and live their own way.

What does it mean that they will NOT STAND IN GOD’S PRESENCE? 

Standing in God’s presence speaks of RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

When I ignore God, He will NOT FORCE me into relationship with Him, but the consequence is that I will not come to know Him or His purposes for my life. I will also face an eternity without Him.

The Bible speaks often of GOD’S LOVE FOR PEOPLE. 1 John 4:16 says “We know how much GOD LOVES US, and we have PUT OUR TRUST IN HIS LOVE. GOD IS LOVE, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”

BUT IS THERE ANYONE THAT GOD HATES?

The answer is YES, and a sobering truth, when I am overwhelmed by life’s difficulties, is that Psalm 5 invites me to ….

     8. RECOGNISE THAT I AM ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD   

Psalm 5 gives us further insight into God’s character. These next verses are expressed very strongly. They talk about WHAT AND WHO GOD HATES. 

We know He hates things like DECEPTION AND IMMORALITY and MURDER but Psalm 5 goes further… 

In Psalm 5, King David talks about God’s HATRED of SOME PEOPLE… 

He says “… for You HATE all who DO EVIL. You will DESTROY those who TELL LIES. The Lord DETESTS MURDERERS AND DECEIVERS” Psalm 5:5-6 (NLT).

From deceivers to murderers is a big jump and God HATES THEM ALL!?

Now, remember that the person writing these verses is KING DAVID.

King David did some things God HATES. He COMMITTED ADULTERY with Bathsheba and then DECEIVED AND MURDERED her husband, Uriah the Hittite.

King David might as well be saying that God hates him. 

But then in the next breath, David talks about God’s LOVE. Psalm 5:7 (NLT) says “Because of Your UNFAILING LOVE, I can enter Your house;…” 

IF KING DAVID HAS DONE THE EVIL THINGS THAT HE SAYS GOD HATES, THEN HOW CAN HE TALK OF GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE FOR HIM?

Look down to Psalm 5:10 (NLT). It says “O God, DECLARE THEM GUILTY. Let them be CAUGHT IN THEIR OWN TRAPS. DRIVE THEM AWAY because of their MANY SINS, for they have REBELLED AGAINST YOU.” (Psalm 5:10 NLT)

That’s what happened to David! David was declared GUILTY by Nathan the Prophet. He was CAUGHT IN HIS OWN TRAP. He had REBELLED AGAINST GOD and almost driven away because of his many sins.

Romans 1:18 (NLT) says, “But God SHOWS HIS ANGER from heaven against ALL SINFUL, WICKED PEOPLE WHO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH BY THEIR WICKEDNESS.” 

The trouble is that the Bible says we are ALL SINFUL PEOPLE. Romans 3:23 (NLT) “For EVERYONE HAS SINNED; we ALL fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

IS EVERYONE HATED BY GOD? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?

We all like to quote John 3:16, 18a (NLT) which says, “For this is how God LOVED THE WORLD: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life… There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. 

But what about the rest of John 3:18 (NLT), … But anyone who does not believe in Him has ALREADY BEEN JUDGED for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” 

HOW CAN DAVID TALK OF GOD’S LOVE FOR HIM? 

The only reason I can find is that David REPENTED OF HIS SIN AND GOD FORGAVE HIM. He also paid the heavy consequences of his actions (2 Samuel 12).

For us, God’s love and hatred are connected to the Cross. God found a way to love those He hates.

So we cannot look at Psalm 5 without seeing it through the eyes of the Cross.

     9. UNDERSTAND THAT WITHOUT CHRIST, WE ARE ALL ENEMIES OF GOD, AND WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS

Romans 5:6-21 (NLT) says that before we started following Christ we were ALL SINNERS AND ENEMIES OF GOD.

It says, “God showed HIS GREAT LOVE for us by sending Christ to die for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from GOD’S CONDEMNATION. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son WHILE WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us FRIENDS OF GOD….”

So, here’s what I have discovered so far about Psalm 5 and what and who God hates.

  • The Bible says that ALL PEOPLE HAVE SINNED
  • It also says GOD HATES SINFUL PEOPLE.
  • WE WERE ALL ENEMIES OF GOD
  • God takes no pleasure in us being His ENEMIES because of our sin.
  • God wants to express His LOVE to us, not His HATRED.
  • God sent Christ into the world to SAVE HIS ENEMIES – US so that we could be recipients of His LOVE.
  • Christ tells His disciples to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES just as He did.
  • Christ PAID THE PENALTY for our sins and when we trust in what He has done for us, we are NO LONGER GOD’S ENEMIES but FRIENDS OF GOD and recipients of His LOVE.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord … does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants EVERYONE TO REPENT.” 

David is able to pray confidently, Because of Your unfailing love, I can enter Your house; I will worship at Your Temple with deepest awe” (Psalm 5:7 NLT).

With Christ in my life, my response to God’s unfailing love is worship with a deep sense of awe and expectation. God loves me and I know that I can stand confidently in His presence. His invitation extends to all who trust in Him.

When I say, “God loves the sinner but not the sin”, it is a little too simplistic. He hates us being His enemies and sent Christ to restore a broken and deadly relationship.

For followers of Christ, the invitation of Psalm 5 is to enter into God’s presence in prayer,  and we can do so because of His unfailing love. That environment of God’s unfailing love invites us to find our destiny. That environment of God’s unfailing love enables us to stand firm in the battles of life.

Pastor Ross

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The greatest expression of Christ's amazing love is intrinsically woven into the Cross. The ransom He paid for us is like a beautiful, precious blood red ruby sweeping its reflections across our lives and dancing its light into our hearts. I have been ransomed with such a treasure as this. My sins separated me. The cost was the death of Jesus Christ to free me and return me to a relationship with God. (Images and animation done with Blender Cycles and Yafaray by Ross Cochrane) #blender #blender3d #blendercycles #blenderrender #blender3dart #blenderartist #blenderart #blenderguru #imageblender #blenderanimation #blenderanimations #blenderanimationproject #blenderanimate #blenderanimationnodes #blenderanimator

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Cross=Love. Press for instagram Animation © Image and Animation above by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 20:28 – RANSOM

The greatest expression of Christ’s amazing love is intrinsically woven into the Cross of Christ. The ransom He paid for us is like a beautiful, precious blood-red ruby sweeping its reflections across our lives and dancing its light into our hearts.

I have been ransomed with such a treasure as this. My sins separated me. The cost was the death of Jesus Christ to free me and return me to a relationship with God.

Pastor Ross

Social Engineers2.png

Social Engineer (as used in Political Science) © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefile.org

Matthew 19 – SOCIAL ENGINEERING (term as used in Political Science) IS NOW PREVALENT IN AUSTRALIAN CULTURE

The arrogant efforts to influence particular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by government educational programmes, media or social activist groups (the Pharisees of our day), in order to produce desired characteristics in a target population can be quite contrary to the original intentions of God. In political science, it is called Social Engineering. In the Bible, it is called following people instead of God.

Followers of Christ invite others to respond to the gospel of Christ. Manipulating the social climate, Social Engineers, however, can use deceptive political agendas and critically vilify those with different values as bigots.

  1. DISTORTED VIEWS ABOUT MARRIAGE

In Matthew 19, The Pharisees, the Social Engineers of Jewish culture, were seeking to argue with Jesus over divorcing their wives. Strangely, married parents were determined to come to Jesus for their children to be blessed.

In the midst of distorted views of marriage which the Pharisees were seeking to promote, Jesus gives us the original intentions of God for marriage. And children, a picture of the oneness we share in marriage, born of the union of a man and woman, are embraced and blessed.

It’s difficult today to be accepted if you hold to the views of Jesus concerning marriage being between a man and a woman, and children being raised with the values of the Bible. Christian values and beliefs are no longer taught and in fact, discouraged in the classroom.

  1. DISTORTED VIEWS ABOUT TRAINING CHILDREN

Over the years, I have watched in Australia the Government taking more and more of the responsibilities away from parents, particularly, it seems, parents who believe and follow Christ. This is disconcerting because, according to the Bible, the Government is not responsible for raising Children or shaping their values, but parents are, as they humbly submit themselves to God and His Word.

Recently the Social Engineering programme has culminated in introducing laws which will eventually be used to train up children to accept that marriage is not only between a man and women, and that fluidity of gender is to be accepted and embraced, with no regard, and indeed contempt, for any parents who think otherwise.

  1. FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST RESPOND WITH SECURE TRUST IN CHRIST AND HIS WORD

Loving our neighbors but not necessarily their choices, attitudes, values or lifestyles, some followers of Christ are paying the price for their beliefs. They stand firm with a secure trust in Christ and the truth of God’s unchanging Word.

1 Corinthians 1:20 says “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Romans 12:1-3 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.”

Those who follow Christ respect Government authorities and pray for them to have wisdom in their decisions. When these decisions are contrary to the Bible, Christians continue to believe the Bible and continue to make a difference in the world by sharing the life-changing values of the gospel of Christ and inviting others to respond, not manipulating and imposing their views through name-calling and negative media saturation.

Unlike the Social Engineers of our time, Christ invites us to be like little children, coming in humility to admit that we need His help to live the life for which we were created. We are invited, not forced, to find perspective through the plethora of distorted thinking today, by applying His absolute Truth to our lives. 

Pastor Ross

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Adult and child

MATTHEW 19:13 – WHY WE BROUGHT OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED

As Christian parents, Julie and I decided to bring our children to Christ to be blessed moments after they were born. I remember clearly in that miracle moment following the births of our children, lifting them up to Christ for His blessing. We still bring our children to be blessed in prayer.

Matthew 19:13 says, “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them.”

What I love is that children were received by Jesus. He was more than willing to take time and pray for them.

At the very beginning of their lives, the spiritual prayers of righteous people are important for their lives. James 5:16 (NLT) says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Laying His hands on these children was a way of identifying with them in order to symbolize the bestowal of blessing from God and dedication to God (Genesis 48:14; Numbers 27:23).

As I was reading the POSB commentary recently on this passage, I was prompted to think of the reasons why we bring our children to Christ to be blessed.These six reasons express the deepest prayers I have for my own children, even though they are now adults with children of their own.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF THIS WORLD, not science or technology or medicines as wonderful as they may be.We believe that their only hope in this world is through relationship with Christ. Jesus made it clear. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but through Me” (John14:6).

1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”

We bring our children to Christ because we have personally experienced what it means to become born again into the family of God ourselves and know the reality of Salvation and new life in Him. We want them to be blessed with new life in Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BLESS THEM, then and now. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

 

We refuse to allow them to grow up neglected, ignored, by-passed, and pushed aside, given no direction and left to fend for themselves. We care enough to want the best for them, too.

We want them trained up in the ways of God, not squashed by the world’s values by being left unrestrained to express whatever sinful desires they like and indulged to the point of being totally selfish.

Because they belong to God, He wants the best for them. I want so much for them to look outside themselves and acknowledge that they need the help of God for the challenges they face in life. He wants to bless them with guidance.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THAT THEY WILL HAVE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE CONCERNING THEIR IDENTITY AND FUTURE. He knows them better than they know themselves. They are unique and God has a unique destiny and purpose for them. We want them to learn that they are created by God for a purpose and that they make a difference in the world for Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THEY LEARN TO BE PEOPLE OF FAITH IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN HIS WORD, not simply look towards the popular opinions of the media. I don’t want the world and its influences to shape their thinking.

 

The TV and social media might be useful in their lives but I don’t bring them to the TV or computer to be blessed. I believe in helping them to shape their spiritual values and beliefs on what the Bible says. And this will be a blessing.

We want them to grow up with discernment about what is sin and not simply embrace the world’s popular values. We refuse to contribute to them becoming weak spiritually and feeling as if they have to accept anything and everything the world offers. We don’t want to leave them struggling to swim and sink in the cultural assault of a valueless society.

We are not so preoccupied with life that we don’t see our responsibility and the importance of raising our children in the ways of the Lord.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED WITH HIS LOVE: that they know God’s love and learn to love others, which incidentally, is not necessarily accepting the lifestyle choices of others.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO GOD and although He entrusted them to us, we want to acknowledge that they are His, which is why we raise them according to the principles of the Bible.

 

In Isaiah 64:8 (NLT), Isaiah sees a people that have deliberately chosen to be shaped by the world’s values, and he says “Yet You, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

The invitation is that we might bring our children to Christ that they may be crafted with a distinctive identity and future, not in our image but in the design and purpose of God for their lives.May the blessing of the Master Potter uniquely shape the lives of our children with His blessing, to be all they were intended to be.

Pastor Ross

Tweaked

Rainbow © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 9 – Part 1 – RAINBOWS AND EMPTY ROOMS

We saw the colours of a rainbow reflected on the wall yesterday. A rainbow is a uniquely Biblical symbol. A rainbow. There, like a mysterious portent of blessing, defying the mist of rain and piercing the imagination with its multiplicity of colours, the heart with its beauty, and I smile, as often I do when I see a rainbow.

I’ve always felt that way about rainbows.

If the altar was Noah’s expression of his commitment to God, the rainbow is God’s expression of his commitment to Noah and ultimately to me. Thanks Lord, I’m still touched and inspired by your watercolours.

In Genesis 9:8-10 (NASB95) it says, “Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm My covenant with you…” but He doesn’t stop there. He says 3 more significant words full of hope and promise for me – “and your descendants,” THAT’S ME! He includes me in the promise He made to Noah. Now that is cool!

He even includes the animals. “and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth.”

Why did God worry about the animals? Because God promised Adam and Eve that they would rule over the earth and the animal kingdom. The rainbow speaks of being good stewards of the earth. GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

The word “COVENANT” appears 8 times in a very short space in the next few verses. So it must be important.

WHAT IS A COVENANT? It’s an agreement, a promise. God says, “Yes, I am confirming My covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” 

“Where do we go from here?” Noah would say, “TRUST IN THE PROMISES OF GOD.” Look for the covenant promises. Make sure you have entered into a covenant relationship with Jesus, not based on my promises to God but on His promises to me (It’s much more reliable that way).

“Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of My covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed MY RAINBOW IN THE CLOUDS. It is the SIGN OF MY COVENANT with you and with all the earth.”

A RAINBOW IS A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF CHRIST. Jesus is called the light of the world. A rainbow has 3 primary colours, red, green and purple. RED SPEAKS OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST – His sacrifice on the cross for me. Genesis 8:21 says “The intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth;” Jesus paid the price for my sin. “The blood of Christ”, the Bible says, cleanses from all sin.” Now that’s good to know. Isaiah 1:18 puts it this way “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”

GREEN SPEAKS OF NEW LIFE after the storm. Genesis 8:11 (NASB95) says, “The dove came to him (Noah) toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.” The olive leaf was a picture of new life after the storm. Jesus said “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly” Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

PURPLE IS THE COLOUR OF KINGS. When Jesus was being tried, they mocked Him and dressed Him in purple. He is called King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus knew what it was like to go through a storm. He is still my King of kings and my Lord of lords.

The Rainbow declares to me today and perhaps to you too, “If I have been through a storm, then God still has a future for me.” In fact, you can’t have a rainbow, without having a storm or at least rain.

Where did I start all this. Oh yes, with a rainbow. Beautiful. Makes me smile. Just after the rain subsided – a rainbow in the sky from heaven touching earth. In Europe the rainbow is called “the bridge of the Holy Spiritand as I sit with my computer on a card table in the middle of a mostly empty study (gave away my beautiful desk), the Holy Spirit is here right now.

“WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE, LORD?”

Like Noah of old, He says to me “It’s time to trust in Me, as always”. So I build an altar, – surrender my life afresh to Christ as an act of worship. And I offer up my worship to my Lord and Saviour who loves me with an indescribable love, intercede on behalf of my community with a fervency and expectation of Gods miraculous intervention into the circumstances of our everyday lives, renew my dependence on Him, believe in the power of a rainbow, and let the covenant relationship with my Lord wash over me with it’s colours by trusting in His promises.

“Lord You do everything in your time. Thankyou for continuing to complete the work You have begun in my life and in Julie’s life and in my family and Church. Father, when the storms abate and the floods recede, I am washed by Your promises and stand clean before You, and as I’m looking out this window into the garden beyond, I’m almost expecting to see a rainbow again. It’s there in my heart.

Thankyou Lord Jesus for taking the full force of the storm when you died on the cross, that the ground is now dry for me to walk upon with You.

Holy Spirit, continue to speak with me and guide me. I don’t want to stay huddled up with the security of Your past guidance and afraid to move with Your most recent guidance.

Help me Lord, today, to act upon what You are saying, now. I choose to be obedient today and take the risk of faith.

 Cover me Lord with the rainbow of Your protection and grace. Thank You for establishing Your covenant with me. I commit myself and my family, my Church and my friends to you. Help us make a difference in this world.”

Genesis 9 invites you to marvel at the colours of a rainbow and make this your prayer too. … And thanks for sharing my quietime with me.

Pastor Ross

Identity Theft - Photo by Rachel Bennett and Ross Cochrane

IDENTITY THEFT – Photo by Rachel Bennett and adjusted by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 3 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE? – Part 5

Identity Shield

He needs an Identity Shield, a service that will provide him with total protection to keep his name and identity safe. He needs lost wallet protection and a $1 million plus insurance policy to cover costs incurred due to loss. For David, it needs to be a mobile service because he is presently on the run. Well, maybe David doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.

Well, maybe King David in Psalm 3 doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.

Absalom, David’s own son, is wanting to take over his father’s identity as King; the lot. If he lived today he’d want his private phone number, social security number, address and credit card information, bank account information and medical insurance. He wants to be King, live in the palace, change the photograph and signature on the official passport and have it all; a whole kingdom; wine, women, wealth and worth.

Absalom’s scam was subtle but effective. He began Phishing for information about David’s kingdom, winning people’s hearts and allegiance. He Shoulder Surfed the crowd with deceitful charm, looking to undermine David’s security codes and Skimmed for information useful in orchestrating a successful rebellion and takeover.

Is David grieving over identity theft when He writes Psalm 3?

In Psalm 3:3 (NLT) David He prays and says to God, “You are my glory, the One who holds my head high.” The glory of being King of Israel had been ripped away from David when he fled from Jerusalem. His cultural identity had been questioned big time. He feels the grief of his loss deeply.

2 Samuel 15:30 (NLT) says “David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill.” 

That doesn’t seem to be much hope. How can he be grieving and then say, “But You, O Lord, are my shield; You are my glory, the One who holds my head high”? (Psalm 3:3).

How can you have peace in times of pressure? 

It seems David has peace despite the loss of the trappings of power and the discouragement of having to leave Jerusalem.

3. REMIND YOURSELF OF WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT GOD

It seems that God is all the glory David needs. There is a spiritual battle to be won and God is his shield. He worships the King of glory and he will reign as King by allowing that glory to flow through him, despite his circumstances. It is enough to have Him in his life. His spiritual identity is untouched.

a. God Is My Shield – He takes the blows in the midst of my spiritual battles.

b. God Is My Identity – I find my identity in Christ. He lifts up my head when I lose perspective.

Absalom may look like him, talk like him and masquerade as him but he does not have the identity found in God of a king; the calling of a king, the anointing of a king, the heart of a king. His own identity is blurred and marred by his sin. God lifts David’s head up high when all seems lost outwardly.

When I am cowered by my regrets, worries, difficult circumstances, opposing voices of culture and individuals who seek to devalue my faith in Christ, I remind myself that God lifts up my head. He not only encourages me but He personifies encouragement in me. He not only forgives me. He is my forgiveness. He not only identifies with me. He is my identity.

Absalom tries to masquerade with David’s identity. David may have temporarily been dethroned but God is still on the throne and sovereign. While God is still on the throne then David is still King. While God is still on the throne of my life, then my identity is found in Him.

When I face the pressures of life and my identity is threatened, the invitation of Psalm 3 is to allow God to be the lifter of my head and I am reminded that He knows who I am better than I know myself. Since my identity is found in Christ I can be at peace.

Pastor Ross

P.S By the way, speaking of identity theft, I’ve said before that I’ve been searching through Christ’s mail to source His ID; His statements, offers, distinguishing bits of information, etc. It’s there for all to see. After reading what He posts, I am able to get His personal data. It’s quite a revelation.

I remember that time in my own life when I first came to a knowledge of who Jesus was. I didn’t have to search through His trash. He had none, but I did have to search through mine. In doing so I found out about my own shortcomings and longed to change my identity. It happened on a Christmas day. It was an “Ah Ha!” moment. I discovered identifying evidence of who Jesus is. That revelation changed my life forever. Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) says “If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”

An exchange took place that day as I surrendered my old life to Him. I was born again and I took on a new identity. I exchanged my sin for His righteousness. I didn’t work for it, earn it or deserve it in any way. But it was credited to my account. I was living on His credit card.

My malicious software (sin) stole His life when He died on the Cross and grace gave me mine. He paid the price for me. He picked up the tab at the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “… the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NLT).

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has CREATED US ANEW in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  1 John 5:11 (NLT) says “… this life is in His Son.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (NLT) says“…He died for everyone so that those who receive HIS NEW LIFE will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

Barabbas wasn’t the only one who was exchanged for Jesus on the day of His crucifixion. I was too! Jesus paid the punishment for my sin. The innocent Son of God was indicted on my behalf. Jesus died but the exciting thing is that He invites us to exchange His righteousness for our sin. He has given us freely His identity and we have the resources of heaven at our disposal. Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) says that God “…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED WITH CHRIST.” Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV) says “… For to me, TO LIVE IS CHRIST and to die is gain.” IDENTITY THEFT? Not really. Identity exchange. He freely offers us the identity for which we are created. 

Pastor Ross

Wrecking Ball 1.jpg

Psalm 2:7-12 – BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 1

I WILL GIVE YOU THE NATIONS

Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT) says “The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.” 

All king David has to do is ask and God will give him the nations as his inheritance. Not just a little bit but the whole earth!

This Psalm is used in the New Testament to refer to Christ. It is not surprising then that the verses above are often used in sermons by missionaries who try to say it refers to God giving Christians the nations. After all, Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16:15 NLT).

But the context of Psalm 2 best fits JUDGMENT rather than SALVATION.

BREAKING AND SMASHING SIN AND DEATH

Reading this verse in context shows clearly that the King, the anointed One, Messiah, Son of God, will not only inherit the nations if He asks, but that there will be a swift, violent battle and no mercy shown in doing it. The very next verse says “You will BREAK THEM with an iron rod and SMASH THEM like clay pots’” (Psalm 2:9 NLT). It would be more appropriate for missionaries to associate Psalm 2 with the last part of Mark 16:16 – “But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned” (NLT) or with the Second Coming of Christ or the Last Judgment.

It’s the language here that is disturbing and sobering. “You will BREAK THEM with an iron rod and SMASH THEM like clay pots” (Psalm 2:9 NLT). We don’t like to think of Christ breaking and smashing people. These are violent and severe terms that don’t belong to a sweet Jesus, meek and mild who we have devised for our own fairy tale reassurance. But the reassuring thing about Easter is that Christ broke and smashed the power of sin and death.

The Roman empire rose up to conquer a threat to their kingdom and instead Christianity gained the victory as it spread throughout their empire on Roman roads. Religious extremists rose up to put an end to His kingdom, but instead, Christ dealt a blow to their evil as they helped paved the way for the love of Christ which blossomed despite persecution. Christ and His purposes will be accomplished and evil will not have it’s way. The Bible also says Christ is coming again to lay claim to His inheritance of the nations and judge the world.

King David, who wrote this Psalm, is a pretty violent sort of person. He is making it clear that those who have opposed him as the Lord’s anointed king are going to be conquered. And broken. And Smashed.

Even as a humble shepherd boy, David had used his sling to strike anyone or anything that would attack his sheep. He used his sling to defeat Goliath and led his army in many battles. Breaking and smashing.

Christ is described in the Bible as the great Shepherd who will lovingly find the lost sheep but will also protect the flock from thieves and wolves.

He has already destroyed the power of the devil and also brings judgment to all who are in rebellion against God. The sentencing is yet to be announced but judgment day will come. Evil at His crucifixion was categorically defeated. What was meant for evil was used by God in Breaking and smashing the power of Sin and Death.

The invitation, while the earth is out on bail, is to find trust in Christ alone who pardons our sin and represents us when the big court day comes.

Pastor Ross