Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Manger and the Cross

A NATIVITY PLAY – FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS (© Written by Ross Cochrane 2018) 

PASTOR: Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, of course, but some years ago I remember a woman saying to me, “Without the manger, there would have been no Cross and no Salvation” 

So it made me think about the SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES of CHRISTMAS AND EASTER. Christmas – the BIRTH of Christ. Easter – the DEATH of Christ. 

ANGEL 1: So over here we have the MANGER. (Spotlight – Mary, and Joseph beside Jesus in the Manger. Angel stands behind them) 

ANGEL 2And over here we have the CROSS (Spotlight – Angel stands beside a large Cross) 

PASTOR: 

  1. WITHOUT CHRISTMAS AND EASTER WE WOULD HAVE NO HOPE OF HEAVEN. 

MARY (at the manger): SO JESUS IS GOD’S GIFT FROM HEAVEN… 

JOSEPH (at the manger):  AND HEAVEN IS JESUS’ GIFT TO US  

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): Romans 6:23 in the Bible says “…the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord” DO YOU KNOW HIM? (Said to the audience) 

PASTOR: 

So without Christmas or the Cross, there would be no hope of heaven. 

2. AND SECONDLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAK OF OUR NEED TO FIND CHRIST  

WISE MAN 1 (at the manger): I am one of the MAGI, or as you know us “The Wise Men” and we followed God’s directions intentionally and found Christ in a house some time after He was born. We searched for Him and in finding Him, we also found faith and hope.  

FOOLISH MAN (At the Cross): I was one of the FOOLISH MEN who  jeered at Him and rejected Him at His death. I was once lost and needed to find forgiveness. Yet Jesus said on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.  

ALL OF US NEED TO FIND JESUS, BUT OUR SIN GETS IN THE WAY. 

PASTOR: 

To solve this problem we need the help of the one who was BORN TO BE SAVIOUR. That’s the point of the story of Christmas and the story of the Cross. 
3. SO THIRDLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAKS OF CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOUR 

ANGEL1 (at the manger) I was one of the ANGELS who appeared to the Shepherds and declared the birth of the SAVIOUR.  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): Yes, and I was one of the ANGELS at the tomb who appeared to the women and declared He is RISEN. The Bible says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”  

He SAVES you by paying the price for your sin. 

SHEPHERD (at the manger): I was one of the Shepherds. We RAN TO FIND HIM in the manger just after His birth. It was so appropriate that Shepherds celebrated His birth because He was the Lamb of God, Saviour of the World.  

PETER (at the Cross): I am Peter, one of Jesus disciples. I acted very differently. At His death, jeering crowds gathered around Jesus and I ABANDONED Him, the sinless LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, now I realise, He was wounded for my transgressions. 

PASTOR: Yes, Christmas and the Cross speak of Christ as our Saviour. 

4. But FOURTHLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAK OF OUR NEED TO RESPOND TO CHRIST IN FAITH 

MARY (at the manger): Yes, FAITH SPEAKS ABOUT FILLING UP AN EMPTY SPACE IN OUR LIVES THAT BELONGS TO JESUS.  

But just before Jesus was born there was NO ROOM for Him at the Inn and we had to LAY HIM IN A BORROWED MANGER.  

JOSEPH OF ARAMATHEA (at the cross): I am Joseph of Aramathea. At the end of His life there was NO ROOM for Him so we LAID HIM IN A BORROWED TOMB. My tomb. 

MARY (at the manger): Yet JESUS INVITES US TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIM IN OUR HEARTS AND LIVES. THAT’S CALLED ‘FAITH’ – MAKING ROOM FOR HIM. HAVE YOU MADE ROOM FOR HIM? 

SOLDIER (at the Cross): I remember that at His death, a strange Darkness fell on the earth to COVER HIM. Not even a star in the sky. 

WISE MAN 2 (at the manger): Yet at his birth, A STAR shone brightly to direct me and my fellow Wise Men to Him and REVEAL HIM. WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS. DO YOU SEEK JESUS TODAY? 

JOSEPH (at the Manger): How amazing that Jesus was BORN into our family. Our Son. I am just a simple carpenter and I taught Him my skills. 

ANGEL 2: (at the Cross): Yes, and Jesus was also the Son of God, He died so that you could be BORN AGAIN into His family, THE FAMILY OF GOD, as God’s sons and daughters. His heavenly Father is also a skilled craftsman. Jesus said “I came to do My Fathers business”. He’s still the Carpenter. He came to shape your lives. 

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): He is the Alpha  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): …and the Omega.  

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): He is the Beginning  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): …and the end. 

MARY (at the manger): Born in a manger, Born that we might be born again. Immanuel – God with us. 

PETER (at the Cross): Died on a cross. Died that we may never die. Saviour from our sins. 

BOTH ANGELS: He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. 

ALL: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Our Lord Jesus. 

PASTOR:  

DO YOU KNOW HIM? I INVITE YOU TO SAY THIS PRAYER AFTER ME AND INVITE HIM INTO YOUR HEART AND LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS. 

Repeat this prayer as I pray out loud. Let’s all pray. 

Jesus, thank you for coming to this world as a baby,  

living a perfect life  

and dying on the cross for me,  

so that I can be forgiven.   

Thank you that you came back to life  

and proved that your death was enough 

to pay for my sin.   

Jesus, please forgive me.   

I now receive your offer of forgiveness  

and I put my hope and trust in you  

as my Saviour and Lord.  

Thank You for your gift of eternal life.  

Thank You for giving me an amazing life here and now 

And one day I will be with You in heaven forever.   

AMEN … 

If you did receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today, would you let me know?  It would bring great joy to me to hear how you have been made right with God.   

Pastor Ross 

Old Shed

Down to the barn in the old rusty ute

Image © by Ross Cochrane

AN AUSSIE OUTBACK NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 KJV)

G’day! (Hi)

It’s great to have you mob (crowd) here today. Being an Aussie (Australian) I thought you might like to hear my Aussie Outback version of a Night before Christmas.

You’ll hear a bit of Aussie Lingo here this arvo (Australian language here this afternoon).

So let’s get a bushmen’s barbie going here (outback barbecue), with a Billy boiling on the campfire (Can for making tea) 

You’ll hear a bit of Aussie Lingo (Australian language).  

I want to tell you a story around the campfire about the Nativity. Imagine what it would have been like if Jesus was born in outback Australia.  

Jesus, of course, was born in Bethlehem, not in the Never-Never (Outback Australia) 

So our story is a bit of a furphy (a made up story) but only concerning the place, not the actual events. The events are all dinki-di from the Bible (The real story of these events are found in the Bible and are all true). 

I won’t earbash you no more (I won’t talk a lot), so lets shakealeg (Let’s get on with it).  

Down to the barn in the old rusty ute

Old Australian Barn © By Ross Cochrane

AN AUSSIE OUTBACK NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

© by Ross Cochrane

‘Twas the night before Christmas; There wasn’t a sound.

Not a possum was stirring in Bethlehem’s town.

The inn keeper’s table had tucker and beer.

But out in the stable, Mary’s baby was near;

 

If it happened in outback Australia today

On a homestead up North, and so far away

With Goannas and Emus and red dirt and dust

Where cars and machin’ry are covered in rust

Where crocodiles snap and deadly snakes hiss

I’ve got a feeling it might look like this…

 

On a hot Christmas Eve, we’d be safe in our beds,

While dreams of pavlova dance round in our heads;

Mum in her nightie, and dad in his shorts,

Would have just settled down to watch TV sports,

 

As the Kangaroos gather out on the plain

And a Kookaburra laughs in the gum tree again

The red dog stops barking. The sky’s pink and blue

We can hear distant sounds of a didgeridoo

 

Then up in the night’s sky a star shines so bright;

Loud voices of praise wake us up with a fright.

We run to the screen door, peek cautiously out,

Sneek onto the deck, to find what it’s about.

 

Guess what had woken us up from our snooze,

But a whole host of angels declaring good news.

And one of them standing above a gum tree,

Said the Saviour was born and told us where He would be.

 

Now, I’m telling the truth. It’s all dinki-di.

Those heavenly angels filled up the sky.

One looked at us kids, his wings were like flames,

And he spoke to us all and called out our names.

Now, Davo, Now Bazza, Now, Kylie and Shane!

On Maggie! On Shazza! On, Stevo and Wayne!

Go to the kitchen, grab a quick drink,

Scoot down to the barn and see what you think!’

 

So down to the barn in the old rusty ute

With hearts full of wonder,  all of us scoot,

We park by a gum tree and jump to the ground,

Then in through the window, we all look around.

 

There were drovers and shearers, a man with a beard.

And his wife had a baby whom the workmen revered;

They wore singlets and shorts, because of the heat.

They took off their hats and bowed at His feet

 

The baby awoke and His eyes simply Shone!

Born of a virgin, God’s only Son!

Three Swagmen arrived from far east of the station

They’d been searching all day for the King of Salvation

 

A swag full of prezzies they flung from their backs,

And with everyone looking they undid their packs.

They spoke not a word, but bent down on one knee,

And presented their goodies and gifts. There were three…

 

One brought gold nuggets, a gift for a king

And one brought Him Frankincense, a strange gift to bring

And then there was Myrrh from the last one to come,

When he saw us he winked and he held up his thumb;

 

Then the angels appeared clear out of the blue;

Flung out their wings and prepared to shoot through.

They bellowed out loud as they swooped past the gates –

‘Merry Christmas to all, and good-on-ya, mates!’

Highway in the desert 2

Outback Australia

AUSSIE OUTBACK CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

 

HEAVEN – God’s Station and Homestead 

I want to take a moment now with my interpreter to spruke on about God’s Station and Homestead in the sky for a while before we say Hooroo. (I want to talk about heaven before we go).  

Heaven is not just a place way out beyond the black stump (Heaven is not a place which is far away).  

Heaven is not bullamanka (Heaven is not an Imaginary place somewhere beyond the back of Bourke). 

It’s God’s Homestead and station for us (It’s God’s home for us) 

It’s God’s Chrissie gift (It’s God’s Christmas present) 

So let me ask you 2 questions 

First of all – Are you sure that when you carkit that you are going to go and live in God’s Homestead? (Are you sure that when you pass away, when you die, you will be with God in heaven?) Tick this over! (Think about this for a moment) 

Secondly – If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you onto My station?” what would you say? (If God asked Why should I let you into My Heaven, what would you say?) 

Gardening!

Hard Yakka

AUSSIE BATTLER – Hard Yakka won’t cut it 

You might say, “Well, I’ve been an Aussie Battler all my life (I’ve been a hard trier or struggler all my life). I’ve done some hard yakka (I’ve worked hard). I lived a pretty good life. That should count for something.” 

The Bible says, “Getting on to God’s station (into heaven) is a gift, not something you do hard yakka for (heaven is a gift. It is not earned or deserved. No amount of personal effort, good works or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven) 

It’s no use having tickets on yourself (It’s not something you can boast or brag about). It doesn’t depend on you. It is a gift.  

We don’t have to pay a brass razoo for it. (We don’t have to pay anything for it. It’s a gift... ..And you are absolutely right – Romans 6:23 in the Bible says the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Ephesians 2:8,9 says For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast) 

Hey! Don’t get carried away. You’re just the interpreter, remember? 

(Sorry. But tell me WHY is it that no one can earn their way to Heaven?) 

 

SIN – Making a big Blue with God 

Because . . . All of us cobbers have made a serious blue when it comes to obeying God. And so the wheels fell off. (All of us have sinned, got it wrong, missed the mark with God, and that’s where it all went wrong in terms of our relationship with God).  

Were all like a mob of sheep that have strayed into the back paddock (Because of our sin, we are all far away from God). 

Crickey! (This is serious!) We’ve got Buckley’s of getting ourselves out of the spot where in. (There is no way we can save ourselves- No chance at all. There’s just no way to get to heaven because we’ve blown it, big time). It’s not a matter of saying “She’ll be right, mate” because we are not right with God. (We can’t ignore it. We are not right with God). 

However, in spite of us making a big blue with God (in spite of our sins and mistakes) God wasn’t up a gumtree about this (God wasn’t in a quandary about what must be done.) 

 

GOD – True Blue 

God doesn’t get Aggro at us, only with our sin (He doesn’t get Aggressive or angry at us, only our rebellious ways). 

God wants to give us a fair crack of the whip! (God wants to give us a Fair go!) He is loving, but He is also just. 

God is true-blue and fair-dinkum about judging our sin (God is Pure and honest and keeps His promises about judging our sin) 

But He is also ridgy-didge about loving us (God genuinely loves us. Jeremiah 31;3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love”) 

God was keen as mustard to find a way to save us and Jesus was just what the doctor ordered. (God was Enthusiastic about saving us and solved our problem for us by sending Jesus.) 

one-way3

CHRIST – God’s Chrissie gift 

Without Jesus, we’ve got Buckleys (Without Christ we have no hope, no chance of being saved). 

God lobbed in on the earth as an ankle biter, born of the virgin Mary (God became a child, born of a virgin). And that’s Christmas, right?  

But there’s more to it than that. 

He was a normal bloke except that He lived a perfect life and died for us mob in order to pay a very exe price for us making a blue (He was a normal person who lived a perfect life and died on a Cross and paid an expensive price for our sins)  

And He died to purchase a station and homestead for us in Heaven (He died to purchase a place we can call home in heaven).  

That’s His Chrissie present! (That’s His Christmas gift to you). 

Jesus died for us and now being mates with God is a goer (Jesus enables friendship with God to be a reality).

The thing about Jesus is that He will never bail you up (Jesus will never force you to accept His gift of eternal life).

You have the choice to give it a burl or knockback Christ’s offer. (You have a choice to believe in Christ or refuse what He is offering you).

 

Boomerangs, Mirrors and Glass Houses

FAITH – Avergoyamug 

But you would be a dipstick if you didn’t at least consider faith this arvo (It would be foolish not to at least consider having faith in Christ this afternoon). 

Faith is like a boomerang. It will turn your life around and bring you back to God. It’s like Chucking a Uey (It’s like making a U-turn back towards God) 

So take a Captain Cook and give it a Burl (So have a look for yourself and give it a try). 

Faith puts us in a good Possie for a homestead in heaven. (Faith puts us in an advantageous position to receive eternal life). 

You may think what I am saying is a bit iffy (Perhaps you’re a bit doubtful, questioning what I am saying).  

But what I am trying to say is avagoyermug (What I am trying to say is “take the risk of faith and give it a try – the Bible says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” Acts 16:31). 

So let’s have a chinwag with God (Let’s talk to God. Let’s pray) 

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

Prayer © by Ross Cochrane.

SINNERS PRAYER – Chin Wag with God 

If this has made sense to you (the Strine and this message about why Jesus came) then this is a great opportunity at Christmas time to pray this prayer.  

“Dear God, thank you for loving me and sending your Son to die on the Cross for my sins. I know I’m a sinner, and I cannot save myself, so I ask for Your forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, I want to trust You as my Saviour and follow You as Lord, from this day forward.  Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” 

 If you have decided to give faith in Christ a go, then Bewdie, Grouse, ripper (If you respond to Christ then Very good, well done, unreal, great, fantastic). Don’t forget to tell me about it. 

So all that’s left to say is hooroo and have Micky-Mouse Christmas and Good on ya mates! (So goodbye and have an excellent Christmas and God’s richest blessings on you, my friends). 

Eternity in the sand.png

Eternity © Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:21 – LIFE, BE IN IT! Eternal Life and How to Receive it

She gave her life to Christ that day. She relaxed back into the hospital pillow after we had prayed and June (not her real name) knew that she had received the gift of eternal life. The very next day when I came to visit her again, I discovered that she had died.

In Matthew 19 the rich young ruler discovers that he loves riches above eternal life. In spite of this, he left Jesus in sorrow. Such a choice can never bring joy.

WHAT IS ETERNAL LIFE?

Eternal life is the life of God. When we give our lives to Christ and follow Him, He gives His life to us, and our possessions become His because we become His. Yes, He allows us to use possessions in serving Him, but all we have belongs to Him and is to be held lightly because it is temporal. The life we receive is life in Him and His life is eternal.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

If we are to receive eternal life then it will involve responding to the only love in this world that is perfect. This perfect love is found in Christ.

John 15:13 (NLT) says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”Jesus would prove this by dying for our sins. He was the only one able to do so.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) 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.God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

WHAT IS THE PREREQUISITE FOR RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

Jesus tailors this message of eternal life to the rich young ruler by saying, “If you want to be perfect (complete), go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

The rich young ruler is not willing to sell everything he owns to give to the poor as Jesus commands him to do. He told Jesus he loved his neighbor, but not enough to give up his riches. He realizes in this moment he is not willing to follow Jesus. He rejects Jesus authority over him and walks away in unbelief.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT) says, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil …”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN MY LIFE?

Matthew 19:21 is not saying that Jesus asks everyone to sell everything they own to give to the poor. Jesus says to the rich young ruler and to us, in effect, “Give Me first place in your life by coming under My authority.” Doing what Jesus commands is a prerequisite for following Him. We declare that truth by being willing to surrender rulership of our lives to Him.

I yield my life to Jesus. He gives His life to me. This willingness to surrender myself to Him is called being “in Him”. In Galatians 2:20 (NLT) Paul expresses it like this, “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.”

In an effort to promote exercise, a television advertising slogan said, “Life, be in it!” The Life of Christ is eternal. Receiving Christ is receiving His life. His invitation is “Eternal Life, be in it!” That day, years ago, unlike the rich young ruler, June received the gift of Eternal Life. This Christmas what better gift could we receive.

Pastor Ross

 

Sydney Harbour Sept 2016 IMG_6009 (48).png

Eternity © by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Matthew 19:17 – TWO PREREQUISITES FOR HAVING ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS (Part 2)

With a worried look on her face as she sat upright in her hospital bed, June said, “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven. Have I done enough?” How could I know that June would die the next day? June would have loved the answers that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler who came to Him with the same question about good works and eternal life but her response to Christ was so different.

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replies. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).

Surely Jesus is good and therefore should be able to answer his question. Why does Jesus say “Why ask Me about what is good?” Why does Jesus say, “Keep the commandments” and not “Follow Me” or “Believe in Me” first?

Jesus could have quoted the words that would eventually be written in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Jesus could have quoted words which Paul would write in Titus 3:5 (NLT)“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Where is His evangelical zeal? He didn’t go through the 4 spiritual laws or Evangelism Explosion points to cover the gospel and elicit a response of faith. Why did he bring up keeping the law, of all things? Jesus, what are you doing? Where is Your theology?

Then again, perhaps the 4 spiritual laws and our traditional methods are not the only way to share the gospel. What was Jesus trying to get this young man to realize? For that matter…

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW IF I AM TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

As I shared with June I told her that not one of us is good enough to get to heaven by ourselves. Like Jesus, I said in effect that…

  1. NO-ONE IS GOOD BUT GOD. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This young man was quite satisfied that he was a good man. He was arrogant enough to think that a perfect God would accept a flawed human standard of goodness. This is a common misconception.

 

Instead of saying “You are a sinner”, Jesus makes it clear to him that no-one is good but God. It amounts to the same thing.

 

If God alone is good then God alone holds the answers to receiving eternal life. It can’t be earned by us, only received by us and in a way that will not compromise the perfect character of God.

 

  1. WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. WE DON’T EARN IT. Jesus says to him, “…if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”.

I told June that Eternal Life is a gift, not something we earn, work for or deserve. But what about the rich young ruler?

Jesus gives this young man an impossible task. If it were possible to keep the commandments perfectly as Jesus did, then he could receive the gift of heaven. But no-one can. He has already said “No-one is good but God.” Paul would eventually write, For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.(Romans 3:20 NLT).

Was Jesus helping this young man see that there was nothing he could do to receive eternal life by himself? Was He helping him to place his trust alone in a perfect God rather than his good works? Is this what He was saying to June as I spoke to her that day?

What happens next? (see part 3 for more of the story).

Pastor Ross

Matthew 19:16 – WHAT MUST I DO TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS? – Part 1

Eternity

Eternity, Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT).

She sat up in her hospital bed, clearly agitated, waiting for me. She looked so alert and clearly wanted to talk. I was not to know that she would die the next day and how important it was for her to have her questions answered.

Almost before I had greeted June (not her real name) she blurted out “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven? Have I done enough?” June had been attending my Devotional Talks at the Aged Care Centre and I am reminded of her all these years later as I read this interview with Jesus.

WHO IS HE?

Who was this someone who comes to Jesus? Matthew tells us that he is a young man (Matthew 19: 20). Luke tells us he is a ruler (Luke 18:18) and Mark says he comes running and kneeling (Mark 10:17). All three gospels tell us that he is rich. He is obviously a leader but with a lot of respect for Jesus as a teacher. Rich, young and powerful. Is he a ruler of the synagogue?

WHAT DOES HE WANT?

The rich young ruler thinks that there is one particularly good thing above every other good deed that he can do to earn eternal life. The fact that he comes to Jesus shows he is concerned about this and respects Jesus enough to get an answer to his dilemma.

His question, unlike the Pharisees (Matthew 19:3), seems to be genuine. He is not trying to trap Jesus.

Perhaps in listening to Jesus, he has become concerned that he would not go to heaven? Like June, he asks what he must do, not realizing the real truth about how we receive eternal life depends on God, not on us. But more about this later.

WHY DOES HE COME TO JESUS? 

He is obviously a good man willing to do good works to earn eternal life, but perhaps he heard Jesus speak about the children. Jesus said, “For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14 NLT). How could those who were like children be closer to eternal life than this rich young ruler of the synagogue, with all his good works, and status in society?

Surely eternal life doesn’t just come to people at birth. He knows that not everyone automatically has eternal life. Children are not capable of doing good works.

Notice that what the rich man calls “eternal life” is the same thing that Jesus’ calls the “kingdom” (Matthew 19:23) and the disciples call being “saved” (Matthew 19:25).

The more he listens to Jesus, the more he is shaken in his understanding of eternal life, so he comes to Jesus to set things straight.

WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM HIM?

So what can I learn from this young man as he comes to Jesus and from June as she sat in the hospital bed that day some years ago? What can they teach me that will make a difference in my life?

1.Seek the Eternal not the temporal. They are on the right track. This young man and June believe that there is more to life than what they are experiencing. (Matthew 19:16)

2.Come to Christ with respect and openness. After you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, ask Him how you can have eternal life, but be open enough receive what He says.

3.Recognise Christ for who He is. Jesus is the only One who is able to give you the answer to any questions about eternal life. Jesus says, “… No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NLT). Even if you come with presumptions that are wrong, these will be sorted out by the answers you receive from Christ.

Acts 17:27 (NLT) says that “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.” 

June, like the rich young ruler, asked her questions and we talked about the answers only Jesus could provide.

Psalm 145:18 (NLT) says “The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.”

Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)says, “Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT) says, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

The invitation of Matthew 19:16 and from the Bible as a whole is to come to Christ for the answers you need about eternal life during this Christmas season.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? (See next post)

Pastor Ross

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THE 7 WINDOWS OF CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

First of all, …

  1. THE WINDOW OF HEAVEN

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

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

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

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

  1. THE CLOSED WINDOW

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

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

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

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

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

  1. THE WINDOW OF GRACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. THE WINDOW OF TIME

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

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

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

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

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

  1. THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

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

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

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

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

6. THE WINDOW OF LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. THE WINDOW OF FAITH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Ross

 

 

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The Window © Ross Cochrane

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

Matthew 2, Luke 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross

WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – and Jesus isn’t being Politically Correct

Jesus Wept.jpg

Intro

Political correctness describes language, policies, or measures which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.

Words have changed to accommodate political correctness. We now have a Chair instead of a Chairman, a Sanitation Engineer instead of a Garbage Man, Physically Challenged people instead of the Handicapped. A Secretary is now an Administrative Assistant, and Failure is now Deferred Success. A small person is Vertically Challenged and Bald People are Follicularly Challenged

Old people must be Chronologically Advantaged. Someone suggested that we talk of the Dead as people who are metabolically challenged.

We can’t say “Merry Christmas” because of it’s Christian connotations, so we say “Happy Holidays” but run into trouble because “Holidays” originated from “Holy Days”. Apparently saying, “You are in my thoughts” is now better than “in my prayers.”

It’s Wrong or should I say Differently Logical.

I wondered how Jesus would find it if He had been born into and lived in our time.

I wonder what would happen,…

So I’ve written this poem

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – And Jesus Isn’t Politically Correct

© by Ross Cochrane

 

Twas the night before Christmas, and I’m wondering how

Jesus would live if he’d come to us now

How would He cope, because as I reflect,

Jesus was never politically correct

 

His disciples would answer as Servants” no longer

“Messianic Assistants” is a term so much stronger.

He must watch what He says; and not cause them disgrace,

And say “Spiritually challenged,” not “ye of little faith”,

 

Calling Pharisees “vipers” and talking of hell,

Is now labelled “Hate talk” and won’t go down well.

And equal rights advocates are really annoyed

Since women disciples have not been employed

And Zaccheus refuses to be labelled as short

He’s “Vertically Challenged” or he’ll take You to court

 

It all started the moment He came to the earth,

There was so much contention about Jesus’ birth;

Animal Liberationists want hay from the manger

To feed animals in the stable they say are in danger!

Mary’s ride on the donkey was just too much strain,

On the donkey, not Mary! It’s so inhumane!

When Jesus is titled the Lamb that was slain,

You wouldn’t believe – that offends them again!

 

“Did Jesus have a licence to run a café

When the bread and the fish were given away?”

The disciples, with no gloves, distributed food

Which leaves it wide open for them to be sued.

The Food Safety authorities are just not impressed

So twelve baskets left over have been repossessed.

 

And what of the people whom Jesus has healed

With no known credentials in the Medical field.

The Board of Physicians were so horrified

So they all tried to stop Him before someone died.

“We will take You to court for Malpractice,” they said

But that’s before Lazarus was raised from the dead

 

In an age where our words must be viewed as correct

What can He say if He wants to connect

He can’t speak of sacrifice, nor speak of the blood,

He can’t speak of Servanthood, evil or good,

Nor say He’s the Way, the Truth and the Life;

That would be too exclusive and only cause strife.

 

He can’t speak of heaven or say the Lord’s prayer,

And as for repentance, He must not go there.

Nothing of hell or belief in God’s Son,

Nor of the vict’ry o’er death He had won.

 

Nothing of God that is gender specific,

Nothing of faith, ’cause that’s unscientific,

Nothing of judgment or salvation in Christ,

No absolute truth, death, or sins payment price.

 

And as for the Bible, while not strictly forbidden,

Like “light under a bushel”, it’s better off hidden.

Why raise the ire of those psychological,

Who claim that salvation is all ecological.

 

Jesus wept and was empty. He wrote on the ground;

What fully acceptable thing could be found?

Something was needed, a gift that He might

Give to all and not anger the left or the right.

 

His gift was for all, but demands a decision,

From all groups of people and every religion;

Ev’ry ethnicity, ev’ry colour and hue,

Everyone, everywhere…and that includes you.

And it goes way beyond being naughty or nice,

For no-one but He could afford such a price.

 

And this is His gift, it’s price beyond worth…

The reason that Jesus was sent to the earth;

He loved us so much, He would not turn away;

He knew then and now of the problem today;

We look on the outside, but He looks within,

And died on a Cross to pay for our sin.

 

The reason for the season beyond Jesus’ birth,

Is His gift of forgiveness, Peace with God here on earth.

 

Have a great Christmas everyone. Thanks for the great support you have given to Words of Life through the year. So excited about nearing completion with the Book of Job, about all that God has taught me and the opportunity to share with such amazing people. Thankyou.

Matthew 16:20 – COUNTING IN A NEW YEAR

Counting in a New Year

Counting in a New Year

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

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

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

To the High Priests the message of Jesus as the Messiah (the antidote to certain judgment; the only vessel of salvation), is a toxic prescription. Before His influence goes viral, they decide to kill Him. They’ll ridicule, abuse and bring Jesus to trial as One who blasphemed God. A contaminating message demands extreme countermeasures. Too many countries are still applying such methods. But although Jesus accepts a borrowed manger, He refuses a borrowed grave and rises from the dead.

In Western countries Christianity is quashed in more acceptable ways; the news covers a story about some weirdo with a placards about the end of the world and creepy people with low IQ’s on the extreme fringe of a religious cult or with a mental illness. Jesus is not linked with my scientist friend who has a strong faith in Christ, or a business person or even a Prime Minister, and certainly not with the average person. The message is too toxic.

The message the angels brought has been a little distorted in today’s world. I wonder what they think of us as we react to John Lennon saying he is more popular than Christ but neglect to mention Jesus at Christmas to celebrate His birth (“Have a happy holiday” but not a “merry Christmas”). What do they think of a world where “In God we trust” is written on money, but not in people’s hearts? God bless America but not on His terms. In Australia – prayers in Parliament but not Christ in the classroom. Swear on the Bible in the courtroom but use Christ’s Name as a swearword in the street. Prayerword becomes swearword. Too toxic!

Is Jesus now the silent guest at every table because He makes conversation awkward? Is He the skeleton in the human closet; the One we never mention? Unpalatable to the general public. If only He would remain quiet and not rise from the dead. To a religious atheist; one of the High Priests of humanism, He is still public enemy number one. Judas wasn’t all that impressed with Jesus as the Messiah, either.

The great commission is a shock to our sensibilities. Suddenly Jesus gives us permission to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” The Good News is that Jesus is the only One who saves us from sin and judgment. The Messiah has come. 

The prophecies are super accurate as each historical event becomes a reckoning and we count off the seconds towards another celebration of a new year. The Messiah is to be a descendent of David; TICK! Born in Bethlehem; TICK! Born of a virgin; He is God with us. TICK! He is a teacher with great authority who will be rejected. TICK! He is to open the eyes of the blind, heal the sick, and raise the dead. TICK! He is to be despised and rejected by His own people, charged falsely, denied justice, and condemned to a violent death. TICK! He is to rise from the dead, ascend to the right hand of God, and be given power and authority. TICK! The predictions line up at a minute to midnight on history’s clock as the seconds count down to when His enemies will be judged and He establishes His own spiritual kingdom, which shall never end … TICK, TICK, TICK

Christmas says that the truth about Jesus makes sense and it is a message that relentlessly refuses to be quashed; “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31 (NLT). Good news that will bring great joy …” Wonderful message for a world where there is still no room in the Inn! The invitation is to make room. Let the back stable, complete with animal trough to which He has been relegated, be transformed; let your heart become His throne room. The Saviour was born that you would find new birth in Him! TICK! “Happy New Year!”

Pastor Ross