Posts Tagged ‘Consequences’

Sword and Shield – better proportions and lighting

A post shared by Ross Cochrane (@pastorross1) on

The Sword Shall not Depart from your House © Ross Cochrane

 

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

The Sword Shall not depart from you – Part 3

2 Samuel reads like a Starwars prequel to Psalm 3. Luke Skywalker had some issues with his Dad, Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. So does Absalom.

What happened to make Absalom hate his father so much?

2 Samuel tells the story of how Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar. When Amnon raped Tamar, King David did nothing. Perhaps that’s when Absalom began to hate his own father and lost his faith in God.

Absalom was not about to sit around and do nothing. Two years later, his simmering rage against Amnon had not been assuaged. So he plotted revenge.

Absalom invited Amnon to a harvest feast and then murdered him. He escaped to live with his grandfather, Talmai, King of Geshur. David does nothing to get him back or hold him to account for his crime.

Why does David let Absalom get away with murder?  

Well, perhaps David’s own conscience plays a part in his decision-making. Is he reluctant to act because of his own sin of adultery and murder?

David’s life moves from a soap opera to a murder mystery to a Starwars premake. David had slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. But worse still, to cover up his sin, he had murdered her husband Uriah by putting him in the thick of battle without support. Perhaps these sins made him inept when it came to disciplining his sons.

David confesses his sins bitterly when confronted by Nathan the prophet, but Nathan prophesies that “The sword shall not depart from your house” and this prophecy was finding fulfillment in the most horrible way.

Sword2

David suspects nothing when Absalom is eventually allowed to return to Jerusalem. Instead of behaving in humility to his Father, Absalom patiently and relentlessly wins the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15:13) and stages a rebellion.

WHY DID DAVID WRITE THIS PSALM?

With all this emotion and action spinning around in the background and threatening another episode, Psalm 3 begins to take on a new meaning. It is said that David composes this Psalm when he is forced to leave Jerusalem, fleeing from Absalom’s army, as he passes by the mount of Olives. 2 Samuel 15 recounts how he weeps, with his clothes torn, and with dust on his head as a sign of his grief and shock at such a revolt. Not only his son but many people he trusted have turned against him.

Although David grieves over his son’s rebellion, somehow David finds peace during this terrible situation. This Psalm indicates that he runs FROM Absalom but INTO the arms of God. His defense from Absalom’s huge army is this prayerful Psalm.

“How do I continue to have peace in times of pressure?” David leaves me an example when I am facing circumstances I face as a consequence of my own mistakes in life.

  1. BE HONEST WITH GOD ABOUT THE PRESSURES AND THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING but also, like David
  2. MAKE A DECISION TO RECOGNISE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD

Terrorists, drug lords and presidents and kings only seem to get away with their sinful behavior.

Consequences and forgiveness are different. The Bible indicates that although we often face the consequences of our own sin against others, God forgives us when we honestly confess our transgressions to Him. But let’s not pretend that this forgiveness did not come at a price. Christ paid for us the supreme cost by dying for us on the Cross. The Cross pays our debt of sin and our relationship with God is restored when we place our trust in what Christ has done.

We may face consequences and pressures that directly result from our sins yet God can give us the peace we need while He deals with the mess we make at times with living. He gives us peace when we are surrounded by circumstances that are far from friendly and absorbs the blows of the enemy. (Psalm 3 has a lot more to say about this).

Pastor Ross

Weeds framed Grunge4.jpg

© Don’t Cross Me – created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 18:15-20 – CROSS ME AND YOU’LL REGRET IT?

She came to me, tears streaming down her face and in obvious distress. It was Sunday and I was walking across from our house to our small Church building to take the service. The morning was beautiful, her confession was not.

For around three years she had been the bursar of the Christian School that our Church had started and that morning she blurted out that she had stolen money on a number of occasions and was not able to pay it back. She knew that eventually it would be discovered.

Thanking her for her courage in telling me, I encouraged her to wait until I was able to speak to our leaders and I went to the Sunday Service with my mind spinning and a heavy heart.

Jesus speaks about the importance of keeping Church relationships healthy in Matthew 18:15. He says “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  

If our bursar had sinned against me the matter would have been easy to solve but the criminal act she had committed affected the whole Church. Matthew 18:15 encourages us to limit the interaction with only those involved in the offense.

But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses(Matthew 18:16 NLT).  

Our leader’s meeting that week was awash with prayer and a genuine desire to deal with the situation well. Could this matter that affected our whole Church be kept in-house and dealt with by the leaders alone? Would the whole Church in some way need to be involved? Did we need to let the police know? She would be charged and have a police record for the rest of her life. There are times when this is totally appropriate. Was this one of those times? What did the Bible say? …

Luke 17:3-4 (NLT) says “So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

Galatians 6:1 (NLT) says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”  

It seems that the Bible regards repairing a relationship with a person who has wronged you as being even more important than their sinful actions. Confront the person without malice with the view to repentance, forgiveness and a new start. There may be restitution and other consequences but restoring the broken relationship is the most important. It’s not “Cross me and you’ll regret it! That’s a barbed wire threat that damages relationships. It’s The Cross allows room for me to forgive!” Jesus with hands reached out said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT).

If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector(Matthew 18:17 NLT).  

This sounds so prescriptive and legalistic at first. But to treat a person as someone who is not a follower of Christ is still an opportunity to show them the love of Christ. Fortunately for us, the person hadn’t refused to listen. Just the opposite. She had admitted to me privately of a public sin. If it had just been against the leaders we could have dealt with the matter in-house, but we needed to deal with this as a Church.

As I remember it, the Church service the next week gave followers of Christ a reminder of the guts of forgiveness. We began our service with worship and praise but I informed our Church that we had a difficult situation to work through.

I had previously encouraged the lady to come and share with the Church, with my help, what had happened. I was amazed at her bravery.

That day we had an opportunity to show hard-hearted malice and unforgiveness, but as I remember it, each member came forward personally and putting their arms around her said, “I forgive you.” Each person expressed their love for her. There were many tears that day as we prayed for her and we knew the presence and approval of God. Followers of Christ have a responsibility to reconcile but it’s nice to see it in action. It doesn’t always happen that way.

Many could have withdrawn from this lady who stole money from us, gossipped to others about the wrong things she had done, or even tried to get revenge. Instead, because of her genuine admission and contrition for the wrong she had done against us as a Church, we took up an offering that morning for her. She had lost her job because of her theft and needed all the help she could get to re-establish herself.

The Church paid for her debt. Justice had been accomplished through forgiveness. I was humbled and grateful to God. The invitation of this passage is to restore lost relationships. Not “Don’t Cross me or you’ll regret it!” but “Because of the Cross, there is room for me to forgive.”

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 39

Those in court seem to instinctively and collectively step back towards the door to distance themselves from the presence of God as Nathan speaks. The courtroom empties as David slumps forward from his throne with nowhere to escape but to his knees, tears streaming down his face, the full weight of months gone, now pressing upon his shoulders. Only Absalom and the amanuensis remain, but they are in the shadows. The spotlight of God’s presence rests heavily upon David’s conscience. He speaks, but the words are no more than a groan that comes from somewhere deep within,

“I have sinned against the Lord.”

Silence envelopes the room and it seems that God reaches down and touches David, for his body trembles as Nathan says, “The Lord also has taken away your sin. You shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die.” Absalom slips from the room unnoticed. Nathan is gone almost as quickly as he had come and David lies prostrate before the Lord for some time.

As predicted, the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David became very sick.

Grief-stricken, David retreated in prayer for his child; He fasted and lay prostrate before the Lord all that night on the ground. Friends and counsellors in his palace encouraged him to eat but he was unwilling. As kings advisor, Absalom came to David and said “Your people are waiting for you to judge their cases. Why won’t you listen to them?” David remained silent, prostrate before the Lord. He had lost the power to act at all on behalf of his people. Then he murmured with a voice of deep anguish, “How can I seek justice for my people when the judgement of God still rests heavily upon me and upon my innocent son? You don’t seem to understand that he is dying in my place. Now leave me.” Absalom left and pondered this situation to see if he could gain any advantage.

It seemed that David lost his interest in hearing the cases of his people in court from that time on. Absalom’s interest, however, increased. As one of the kings sons and advisors, he determined to judge their cases. It will be good practise for when I am king. For now, I cannot do it from the throne of course, but in time…

Each night the others who sat at the king’s table were quiet, waiting to see what would happen. David, absent from the table, continued his fasting and praying day after day while the child lingered. Then, on the seventh day, the circumstances of the child changed.

The servants were afraid to tell David at first. They were afraid that he might do something to harm himself. But David noticed his servants whispering together and understood that the child was dead.

When he knew for sure, he got up, washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes; and went into the Tabernacle to worship the Lord. He accepted fully the consequences of his sin and thanked the Lord for His justice mixed with His mercy. His life had been spared yet forgiveness had come with so great a price. Then he went back to his own house, and requested food. When Absalom saw the change in David, he was confused. He asked the servants what had happened to bring the king back to his right mind. They related David’s words to him,

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; because I thought, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?”

For a while he had thought that his father may have lost his sanity. Certainly, he thought, he had completely lost his ability to rule. In David’s absence, it had been he who had been hearing the cases of the people. He felt that he was the only one aware of what was needed in the kingdom. In conceding that his father was well again, he said simply to David,

“Despite your absence, you will find your kingdom is still intact. We have not lost the war with the Ammonites and your people’s needs are still being cared for”.

David said “Thankyou, my son. I knew that I could rely on you.” The comment was fleeting as David left the room to be with Bathsheba in her time of need.

Part 2 – Genesis 22:1-11 – LORD, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Sacrifice

There’s plenty of evidence of blatant disregard for human life today. Terrorism and suicide bombers? Capital punishment? Human trafficking. Abortion?

So what is God thinking when He asks Abraham to take his only son, the son he loves, and to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. I know that He stops him at the last second but what is going on here? If He is making a point of some kind then it seems to be a pretty extreme and cruel way to get the message across, and what is the message anyway?

Perhaps God is attempting to show me in a dramatic way that HUMAN SACRIFICE of any kind is wrong? Is that the point He is trying to drive home? If His point is to say that HUMAN LIFE IS VALUABLE, then what about those miners who died recently or the soldiers in Afghanistan? Weren’t they valuable? We prayed for them, some people around the clock. If God is trying to stress the VALUE of human life then it seems to me that asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is a kind of gruesome way to drive this point home.

The question is not “Why did God allow those miners to die or those soldiers in Afghanistan to sacrifice their lives?” but perhaps, “Why does He allow us to live, when we have messed His world up so much by our sin?” We are the ones who continue to allow bad things to happen to good people? We don’t seem to appreciate the far-reaching implications of our sin. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, …” Why doesn’t God wipe out the human race and start again? It’s been done before (see Genesis 6:7, Genesis 7).

I can only go back to Ezekiel 18:23 (NLT) where God asks “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” The Bible says that judgment is real and it will come to everyone. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

Sacrificing a human life is not the point here, as horrific as it is, and as abhorrent to the Lord as it is. I can think of only two or three other valid reasons why God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son whom he loved as a burnt offering, only to stop him at the last second.

Burnt offerings were sacrifices for SIN. It seems that God is showing me that ISAAC WASN’T WORTHY. Even the most precious and loved of sacrifices is NOT ENOUGH to pay for the penalty of our sinfulness.

Romans 5:12 (NLT) says “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” God is showing me that there is NO-ONE WORTHY in the whole of the human race to die for sinners, except of course Jesus. Isaac deserves to die because of his own sin and cannot die as an innocent victim for the sin of others. God’s Son was the ONLY ONE. As abhorrent as human sacrifice is to God, the only way to pay for the penalty of sin was through the death of His only Son, the One whom He loved. Hebrews 10:11-12 (NLT) says Jesus offered Himself as a “single SACRIFICE for sins, good for ALL TIME.”

Romans 5:15 (NLT) says “… For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful GRACE and His gift of FORGIVENESS to many through this Other Man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 6:23 (NLT) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

God bless you as you begin to make some sense of this. Sometimes I need to be shocked to the max before I truly begin to understand what God has accomplished in sending His only Son to die for me.

Pastor Ross

Part 6 – Matthew 11:15-19 – WHY DON’T YOU DANCE TO MY TUNE!

Dance To My Tune!

Rome, who is only 1 year old, picked up a plastic spade and began playing it, pretending it was a guitar. It has the right shape. Anything can become a guitar in his hands. He has seen guitars at Church and as he danced he made sounds like he was playing one of the upbeat worship songs. We danced and sang with him. 

Two of my grandsons had come to our house. It was a great time. Super heroes, wrestling matches and Rachel, their Mum and my daughter, reading them stories. 

Sometimes, of course, there can be tears and complaints when the brothers don’t co-operate or participate with their games and they can be very stubborn and insistent, but mostly we laughed and played the afternoon away. 

Sometimes, when the game becomes too demanding, I revert to being an ADULT and Rachel says, “Zion, don’t bother Pa. He doesn’t want to play right now.”  

So when Jesus compares His generation with children playing games I am right there with Him. I know the joys and occasionally the hassles of children and their games. What I notice is that JESUS DOESN’T DANCE TO THE TUNE OF THE RELIGIOUS EXPECTATIONS AROUND HIM.  

Jesus says, “To what can I compare this generation? It is like CHILDREN PLAYING A GAME …. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and YOU DIDN’T DANCE, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ … But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” (Matthew 11:16-19 NLT)  

What is Jesus getting at here? In the whole context of the passage, if I was to translate it into our culture I think Jesus is saying something like this… “You want Me to dance to the music you are playing, but you don’t realise that it is WAY OUT OF TUNE. I am waiting for you to ASK ME TO PLAY the music of eternity that was written for you by God Himself. I am waiting for you to dance and sing and live in harmony with Me.” 

I was speaking with a man recently who had been in a near fatal car accident and he said that God didn’t seem to care about His injuries. I asked him if he blamed God and He said something to the effect of “Yes, GOD IS TO BLAME. Why didn’t He intervene when I had that car accident, or when my friend died of cancer? How could He let something like that happen?”  

It’s kind of like this – “JESUS, I PLAYED MY OWN MUSIC. WHY DIDN’T YOU DANCE TO MY TUNE.”  

Some time ago I spoke to a man who intended to divorce his wife and marry another woman he had been seeing. When I pointed out what the Bible says about marriage and divorce he said, “I know what the Bible says but God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy!” What he’s saying is “Jesus, LET ME PLAY THE MUSIC and You dance to it.” When Jesus doesn’t dance to the tune, we get ANGRY. “Why didn’t you save my relationship? Why did you let my friend die? Why do I have to pay the CONSEQUENCES of my own actions and my own sin?”  

THERE’S SOMETHING WAY OUT OF TUNE WITH TELLING THE CREATOR WHAT TO DO WITH HIS WORLD. Maybe I need to dance to His tune instead.  

There’s a hymn that we used to sing that I never really liked. I always thought it was a bit strange, but in this context it makes sense. It is a hymn where Jesus says “I am the LORD OF THE DANCE”“I’ll lead YOU all in the dance…” and that was long before MICHAEL FLATLEY touched the floor with his Irish music and dance production. 

WORSHIP on Sunday was awesome at Hillsong Church. Tears were running down my face as we sang and danced together. Jesus simply says, “I am the LORD OF THE DANCE. Trust Me to know how to play the music of eternity in your life. DANCE TO MY TUNE.” 

God bless you Church as you acknowledge Jesus as LORD OF THE DANCE, today.

Pastor Ross