Posts Tagged ‘Ears to Hear’

Codebreaker.jpg

Code Breaker created © by Ross Cochrane

CODEBREAKER

I found it fascinating when I discovered he was a Codebreaker in the war. He looked somehow smaller now and curled up. I prayed for him, sang to him as light filtered through the window onto his old wrinkled brow.

The movie “The Imitation Game” talked about Codebreaking in the war and the once relatively unknown place called Bletchley Park located in northern England became famous.

Who knew that one of the magnificent old houses in Brisbane’s sophisticated inner northern suburb of Ascot, 21 Henry St, housed the top-secret organization called the Central Bureau of Intelligence, Australia’s equivalent to Britain’s Bletchley Park.

But of course, now we also know of the contribution of Australians like Jim (not his real name) which shortened the length of the war. Within those walls, the great unsung heroes of that war made their unique contribution to victory. It would be over 30 years before Jim spoke about it and only then was he able to receive his medals.

The bible is difficult to interpret at times. it’s a codebook, which if used well, can help us decipher the enigmas of life, fight the right battles, know the real enemy and bring us peace with God.

  1. CODEWORD – “WATER”

In John 4:13-14 (NLT) Jesus is speaking to a woman at a well and He says, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the WATER I GIVE will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them ETERNAL LIFE.” 

He speaks of the Water Of Life. What does He mean?

Well, the woman, like Jim, was a codebreaker. She deciphered the code easily. She knew he was speaking about Heaven.

The bible says heaven is a gift. You can’t earn it or work for it or deserve it. It’s as free as water from a well and it quenches our thirst for spiritual answers.

Jim deciphered that message also when he expressed his belief in Christ. He is now spending his first 10,000 years in eternity with God, Revelation 21:4 (NLT) says God will “…wipe every tear from his eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 

The only thing that stands in the way of all of us having that gift relates to the second Bible…

  1. CODEWORD – “DARKNESS”

The Japanese used difficult ciphers and complex codes which required intense and concentrated intellectual efforts to break. The Codebreakers were often left in the dark.

In code-breaking and life, we all go through times of darkness.

Isaiah 59:1-21 (NLT) says “… We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark.”

War itself is a time of darkness, and so is grief, but it’s fairly easy to decode the darkness the Bible refers to here as meaning our sin.

The Bible says we cannot save ourselves from our sin. We all need God’s forgiveness. Jim found that forgiveness. How did that happen?

The next bible code-word explains more of the puzzle.

  1. CODEWORD – “LIGHT”

1 John 1:5-7 (NLT) says, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.”

This code-word Light tells us that God is sinless, pure and holy.

2 Corinthians 4:4-7 (NLT) says “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

Jim came to know the love and light of God in his life. Since the God of light and purity can’t have anything to do with the darkness of our sin, how did that happen? That is an indecipherable problem for us, but not to God.

To solve that indecipherable problem, God sent the ultimate code-breaker into the world to deal with the darkness of our sin.

John 1 explains that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. … 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.”  So

Jesus is that ultimate code breaker.

At the Aged Care center where Jim lived the last part of his life, there was a door code to get in. It is free entrance for those who know it. Which is appropriate because the next bible code-word is

  1. CODEWORD – “DOOR” OR “GATE”

In John 10:2-10 (NLT) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, I am THE GATE (or THE DOOR) for the sheep … Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

So what do we do with these codes – Water of Life, Darkness of Sin, Light of the World, and the Door of Salvation? The answer is found in the final bible codewords which are the

  1. CODEWORDS – “EARS TO HEAR”

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 13:9 (NIV) “He who has ears, let him hear.” Jesus spoke in Codes Himself or parables. Those who deciphered them became His disciples; His Codebreakers; those with Ears To Hear”.

Jesus spoke in parables. He gathered a group of His own codebreakers, His disciples, who were always intrigued by the coded stories Jesus told about heaven. They deliberately asked for Jesus to decipher His parables for them. He did, but there were a whole lot of people in the crowd who didn’t understand and did not want to understand what He was trying to say, so the disciples asked him why He used parables.

What Jesus said was astounding!

In Matthew 13:11 He says “You are PERMITTED to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are NOT.” The parables were foolishness to them because they refused to put time into deciphering the truth, listening to the signals, discerning the patterns.

Jim knew that the consequences of not being able to decode enemy strategies mean that lives are lost.

The consequences of not decoding the messages of Jesus means that our purpose for life is lost. We are refused the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. God won’t force us to listen, and equally when I refuse to listen, then He won’t permit me to understand. I’m either receptive or left ignorant. He allows me the consequences of my choices.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is FOOLISH to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” It’s a code that needs to be deciphered to save us spiritually.

Having Ears To Hear refers to faith and faith is the key to deciphering the Door-code of the gospel. Without the Door-code of faith, there is no entrance to heaven’s door.

Romans 10:17 (NIV) says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Today we celebrate Jim’s incredible talent for solving puzzles, his imagination and the sheer determination to prevail in the face of incredible technical challenges. He was awarded some long-awaited medals.

Jim deciphered codes in the war but he also deciphered what God was trying to say to him through the message of the gospel. He placed His faith in Christ. The warfare for his soul was spiritual.

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) Paul talks about the spiritual battle. He says “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.”

The WATER OF LIFE – heaven is a free gift. THE DARKNESS – the Sin that gets in our way of knowing God. THE LIGHT – a Holy God who loves us but must judge our sin. THE DOOR – relationship with God open to all because Christ died for our sins and finally EARS TO HEAR – FAITH to Hear the message of the Gospel and place our trust in Christ for Eternal life.

Jim kept this secret for many years. He was warned “Do not talk at meals. Do not talk traveling. Do not talk at home.” I’m glad He didn’t keep his faith in God a secret.

At around 12:10 pm on Friday 27th January 2017, Jim deciphered the last part of the puzzle and was awarded the gift of heaven. He was 91 years old. Psalm 139:16 says that “all the days ordained for me were written in God’s book before one of them came to be.”

And the next time you are playing Chess or working on a Crossword puzzle, or placing your code into a computer or typing your password, or simply puzzling over the quandaries of life, remember to thank God that the code is broken. Death and sin have been defeated. Now the invitation remains for us to trust in the Ultimate Codebreaker – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for Water of Life, the Light of the Gospel, Door of heaven, for Your love and forgiveness in Christ, for ears to hear Your voice concerning how to live life to the full. Help us to have ears to hear You for direction and correction in the challenges and blessings of life, in Jesus Name, Amen

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Matthew 13:34-35 – HEY! THAT’S ME IN THAT STORY! – Part 15

Hey! That's me in that story!

Back in the 60’s my parents allowed me to go to the city cinema and watch movies about Tarzan. The back yard then became my jungle and I would act out the whole movie again. I still have a tendency to be a product of the last movie I have seen, book I have read, conference I have attended? I PUT MYSELF INTO THE STORY and I find myself aspiring to the values of the hero.

Julie writes beautiful children’s stories. In each book she has written for our grandchildren, she seeks to encapsulate who they are through one of the characters and the adventures they have. She puts them into the story with the hope that one day they will be inspired to seek their God given destiny. There’s something about a story.

Why does Jesus speak in parables? Why doesn’t He explain all His stories? Matthew 13:35 says that He spoke in parables because “This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.” Surely there is MORE TO IT than just fulfilling an ancient prophecy about being a storyteller.

I tried to discover which prophet Matthew refers to. It seems it was the person who wrote Psalm 78:2-7. He says “for I will speak to you in a PARABLE. I will teach you HIDDEN lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders. For He issued His laws to Jacob; He gave His instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. SO EACH GENERATION SHOULD SET ITS HOPE ANEW ON GOD, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands.” (NLT) There it is. Stories DRAW YOU IN. I can imagine children in the time of this Psalm playing out games about Moses and other characters from the Bible, PUTTING THEMSELVES INTO THE STORY, taking on the character and aspiring to the values of the heroes. That’s the point of a parable. It’s a truth that is meant to be lived out.

What I also notice from the prophecy in Psalm 78 is that Jesus is not so much teaching something NEW but He’s explaining through parables truths that have been HIDDEN IN THE PAST. That’s what He says in Matthew 5:17-19 (NLT). “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose…”

Even Jesus has put Himself into the story. In fact as God puts Himself into our story by entering into the world and dying on a Cross for my sins, He gives me the invitation to be a part of His story, to discover His purposes and will for my life. As He lived a perfect life, I now can exchange my sinfulness for the righteousness of Christ. As He died on a Cross so too I choose to take up the Cross and follow Him. I exchange my story for His. He is my life. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Through Christ I understand God’s Truth. He has written me into the pages of His story (History).

Jesus says “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” (Matthew 13:43 NLT). It’s interesting to me that Jesus is not trying to cater to everyone. He knows that the Pharisees are not really interested in the story except to try to trap Him or misrepresent Him. In Matthew 13:14-15 (NLT) He says “…For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.’” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) says “…Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. ….” 

Some things only God is able to reveal to us. Jesus says in John 14:26 (NLT) “…the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” When it comes to the crunch, the parables will come alive in me through my everyday experiences as I allow the Holy Spirit to apply His Truth in me.

The invitation is to have the SPIRITUAL EARS TO HEAR. Those who God gives the ability to understand will be those who actively and intentionally put themselves into the parables and see and hear how they are enacted in our lives today.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:10-17 – HOW TO GUAGE YOUR SPIRITUAL APATHY – Part 3

Hard Hearted Towards God

We visited the Opera House in Sydney not long ago. Thousands of people on foot! I am reminded that there is a spiritual INDIFFERENCE that walks the concrete footpaths of my city and what Christ has to say is often swept away or trampled by UNRESPONSIVE and negligent attitudes. The sounds of the city snatches away our attention and the persistent voice of Christ’s love fights to be heard above the collective sighs of our APATHY. Just like the parable of the Sower and the Soils.

It seems to me that the parables of Matthew 13 are directed to my city – especially to those not intentional in listening to Jesus, in order to give them perspective on what they are doing and opportunity for them to repent and believe and become fully alive to the things of God. They are a mirror and guage for me to see how I respond to spiritual truth.

Jesus speaks of HARD soil, defensive, closed and bitter towards God. He speaks of others with SHALLOW hearts, and superficial faith, and of those so PREOCCUPIED and busy that they miss their opportunity to discover what life is about. Then there are those who have RECEPTIVE hearts to the message He gives. They are like fertile soil, producing a crop worth harvesting. Yet even some of them produce in a LIMITED way, giving only 30% and 60% returns.

His disciples are intrigued by the story, but they see a whole lot of people in the crowd like those I saw in the streets of Sydney who don’t understand what He is trying to say, so they ask Him why He uses parables.

What Jesus says is astounding!

In Matthew 13:11 He says “You are PERMITTED to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are NOT. He is about to invest something by way of the resources of heaven into people’s lives, but some are NOT PERMITTED to understand? What does He mean that some are NOT PERMITTED?

It seems clear that in this passage they are NOT PERMITTED TO UNDERSTAND and it is FOOLISHNESS to them because they REFUSE TO LISTEN, not because God has put earplugs in their ears. A negative response to Jesus and His message means they are refused the SECRETS of the Kingdom of Heaven. God won’t FORCE me to listen, and equally when I refuse to listen, then He won’t PERMIT me to understand. I’m either receptive or left ignorant. If I slam the door so deliberately on God, then He also deliberately allows me the CONSEQUENCES of that choice.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is FOOLISH to those who are HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” Are they headed for destruction WITHOUT A CHOICE of faith? I don’t think we can read that from the context of this passage. The choice is evidently there but they have refused to LISTEN. As a result even what they understand becomes foolishness to them and they are HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION because of their deliberate rejection of Christ and His message.

When the message of Jesus is treated as being ridiculous, unreasonable, unbelievable, over simple, uninspiring and those who share His message are treated with the same contempt, then it is obvious that the seed falls on hard, shallow and thorny ground.

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 13:12 (NLT) “To those who LISTEN to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are NOT LISTENING, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” 

God bless your eyes and ears today. The invitation He gives to us is to SEE and HEAR with the eyes and ears of faith. May Jesus be able to say of you today “… blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” (Matthew 13:16 NLT)

Pastor Ross 

Matthew 13:1-17 – MAYBE IF I ACTUALLY LISTENED FOR A CHANGE! – Part 1

Ears to hear?

In the middle of an argument, my Mum would say something like this – “Maybe if you LISTENED for a change, you would understand what I am trying to tell you!” So often I am not so much LISTENING but simply waiting for the other person to finish so that I can get across my point of view. Not really a very teachable position to be in. Ears to hear but unwilling to listen.

Joan is 99 years old and she feels that her world is so isolated. Even with hearing aids, she has to listen carefully to pick up anything I am saying. Ears that don’t hear well but more than willing to listen.

In Matthew 13 Jesus says “LISTEN!” with even greater authority than my Mum and with a voice that even Joan can understand. He addresses this problem of how different people are responding to Him. I can get caught up in all the arguments, but the real issue is to do with LISTENING. MAYBE IF I LISTENED…

Just a simple story. Jesus is obviously speaking about something important, but as I read, it doesn’t seem all that significant. The question is “Am I going to miss what He is trying to tell me because of my preconceived ideas about Him or because I insist on my own points of view?” Maybe if I listened….

It’s been a BUSY DAY for Jesus. He has been doing some amazing miracles and teaching with incredible authority. He has been bombarded with a steady barrage of artillery from the Pharisees by way of insults and challenges. It’s usually the religious people who criticize Jesus the most. He does not allow this to distract Him and encourages others to stay on track and LISTEN. Ears to hear.

He says in effect that listening is like a “farmer” who has seeds to plant and he goes into the field and scatters them. The seed that falls on the “FOOTPATH” is eaten by the “birds”. Other seed grows in “SHALLOW SOIL” with “UNDERLYING ROCK” and it wilts because it doesn’t have deep roots. Other seeds grew too, but they grew in a THORN infested area. They grew up and the thorns choked the tender plants (Matthew 13:3-8). We’ve got some thorny weeds in our garden like that.

It seems that this farmer does have some “FERTILE SOIL” in his field and it is the only ground that produces a crop worth harvesting. Even then he doesn’t get a very good crop in terms of his overall investment in seed. The crop he does receive from the fertile soil doesn’t all give him a 100% return. Some of it only yields 30%, and some 60%.

Just a simple story without explanation. In fact Jesus doesn’t seem as if He is going to give me an explanation at first.

But He goes on to tell me that anyone with EARS TO HEAR should listen and understand (Matthew 13:9). So this is not meant to be just a nice story. It has significant meaning and implications that are worthwhile for me to understand and apply. Is that the FIRST CLUE to being FERTILE SOIL – having EARS TO HEAR?

Is He talking about faith when He says “He who has ears to hear”? I don’t know yet. One thing is clear. There are those who don’t hear and don’t understand (Matthew 13:11-17). Apparently it takes an INTENTIONAL HEARING if I am to understand anything Jesus says. Or, like the Pharisees, I can remain far too intentional about not listening to anything He says.

So the invitation Jesus gives me is “Listen!” God bless you today as you respond to Jesus by saying “What would my world look like if I listened to what Jesus is saying here and spent time intentionally seeking to understand how it applies to my life today.”

Jesus looks to me as He speaks to the crowd in Matthew 13:9 (NLT) and says “Anyone with ears to hear should LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND.” “OK Lord, You’ve got my attention. I’m listening?”

Pastor Ross