Posts Tagged ‘Evil’

Seared conscience 2.png

Seared Conscience © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:5-6 – CAUTERISED

“Soon Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter, Dinah. But since his sons were out in the fields herding his livestock, he said nothing until they returned” (Genesis 34:5 NLT). 

How did Jacob hear about his daughter being raped by a pedophile? Perhaps it was community gossip, or from some of Dinah’s friends. Genesis 34:5 describes rape and pedophilia as Defilement (Genesis 34:5,3,27), and normally Judgment would be expected for the perpetrator for perverting the act of sex designed for marriage. Later, this would be defined in the Mosaic law.

Jacob doesn’t say or do anything until he sees his sons. Has he delegated his responsibility as a father to Dinah’s brothers?

I raise this because later, when Joseph, his favorite son is missing, assumed killed, Jacob is distraught. Is Jacob less concerned about his daughter being raped by a Paedophile and held captive in his home? He doesn’t go immediately and insist on her return but wants to wait and involve his sons.

JACOB, if only …

Is it because Dinah is the child of his least loved wife, Leah? Leah is the mother of many of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. In her loneliness, God answers her prayer for children including a daughter (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

It seems neither Leah nor Dinah is loved by Jacob, and they are therefore vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects them for Rachel.

In my ministry, I meet many people who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

Does this story of rape, pedophilia and child marriage have its starting place with a lonely young girl, who feels unloved by her father, running away from home to her neighborhood friends for some support? Jacob, if only …

Jacob may have done nothing, but Hamor, the father of the pedophile, instigates action to alleviate any animosity that may result from his son’s actions. He considers Child Marriage to be the answer and custom dictates that marriage, even child marriage, be negotiated by parents. Unbelievable!

HAMOR, if only …

“Hamor, Shechem’s father, came to discuss the matter with Jacob” (Genesis 34:6 NLT). Notice, there is no record of Hamor rebuking or disciplining his son for rape, pedophilia or kidnapping. There are no consequences in a court of law. There is no record of Hamor apologizing for his son’s actions. There is no talk of immorality, evil, shame, remorse or even asking humbly for forgiveness for this crime.

Were women in Canaanite culture treated like sexual objects so often that rape was accepted? Were there leaders so corrupt that no-one was willing to recognize and do something about a culture of rape, pedophilia, and kidnapping? Was it accepted that a man of power, a prince, could have sex with anyone he wanted? For that matter, had sex outside of marriage, as in our times, become the normal cultural practice where even children are sexualised? Hamor, if only…

Jacob is no better. Even now Jacob seems to keep his peace and does nothing. Jacob’s attitude and actions are in stark contrast to the response of his sons (see next post).

Genesis 34 is so much a mirror of the culture in which I live and Ephesians 4:18-19 (NLT) does not water down describing those who ignore God’s purposes for our world. It speaks of those whose “minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” 

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (AMP) speaks of people whose “… consciences are seared (cauterized)”. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) says, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark,…” 

Genesis 34 is, therefore, an invitation to recognize evil for what it is, not to cauterize my conscience by being conformed to a culture of sexual deviancy. Lord, help me to speak and take appropriate action when needed.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 16

David could see the blade, honed to perfection, slicing through the air towards him. Everything seemed to be focused on the dreadful edge of that sword, and in that split second David heard the clear voice of God speak, “Baal-Perazim! I am the Lord of the Breakthrough!”

From behind David, in full view of the creature, what looked like a great cloud seemed to surge and lift and fill the sky. It raced over David’s head and across the plain all around him, the thunder of its power now pulsating in his ears. It rippled across the sky towards the enemies who now completely surrounded king David and instead of darkening the sky it seemed as if the sky was filled with light.

A terrifying wind howled around them piercing the air with an awesome sound. The strength in the creatures arm seemed to melt and the force of his sword was easily deflected. A fear that David could almost feel now haunted the creatures eyes as he hesitated just a moment too long. David took the opportunity to thrust his sword forward. The creature looked down in horror as the sword found its mark and sliced cleanly into its heart.

As the creature roared in fear and pain David shouted, “I come to establish the righteousness, peace and joy of the Lord of heaven and earth this day!”

David could see then that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but thousands and thousands of Angelic beings racing towards the enemy. As he thrust his sword a second time towards the creature, the cloud dropped like a flood released from a dam.

“As waters break out, so have I broken out against My enemies before You!” came God’s clear voice from the flood. The deluge broke over them with the force of an exploding volcano. With another thrust of David’s sword, it swamped the enemy completely in front and behind and David lost sight of them in the rushing, surging tide. It seemed that he stood in the eye of a tornado as the enemy was ripped asunder.

What seemed like only moments later there was silence. It broke upon the plain with an eerie suddenness. David could hear the blood pulsing through his ears. There was no sight of the enemy or their leader. Thousands of broken idols were strewn across the plain. The chains and blindfolds from the captive nations had fallen away and they were standing in absolute silence looking towards him.

“I come in the name of the Lord of hosts,” he said, and his voice quivered with awe. As realisation dawned upon the masses that stood before him, cheering broke out across the plain and shouts of praise and worship filled the air.

In that moment, he felt so weak he collapsed, lying prostrate before the Lord, filled with the exhilaration and exhaustion of victory. He awoke from his vision on the floor, with Ahithophel peering anxiously into his eyes. He had heard David collapse and had run into the room expecting the worst. He was relieved not only to find David alive but somehow glowing.

“What happened, my lord?” said Ahithophel.

“Ahithophel, you know better than to interrupt me while I am in prayer. Why are you here?” said David, ignoring the question.

“My lord, I came to tell you that the Philistines have gathered in the valley of Rephaim!”

David looked into the concerned eyes of Ahithophel and laughed. He said, “No, not Rephaim. Baal-Perazim!” and Ahithophel was totally confused as David headed off to command his army.

Aiming at the heart, with the first thrust of David’s forces, the Philistines were driven back, perplexed at such strength, and had to regather their troops. Again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim, a large army. They didn’t realise, however, that the valley of Rephaim was now the valley of the Lord of the Breakthrough, Baal-Perazim, won through prayer. David went against the Philistines with a sure knowledge of victory that day and defeated the enemy quickly.

God told David to have Israel circle around behind the Philistines and when they heard a marching-like rustle in the balsam trees they were to attack and drive the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer, a distance of about twenty-four kilometres. God performed His promise, went before them, and routed all the enemy’s force, right to the very borders of their own country.

The destruction was turned upon the Philistines and their evil was broken in the land. As demon worshipers, the Philistines were very superstitious. The charms they wore into battle, idols of Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub were abandoned in their rush to escape the slaughter. They had become sacrifices to their own idols. They were the same scattered idols David had seen so clearly in his dream. One of the weapons left behind on the battlefield was a dagger. It had the same shaped blade as the dagger Joab had used to kill Abner. In fact, it had come from the same forge. It was picked up by one of David’s soldiers as they carried the idols of the Canaanites away and destroyed them.

From that point on, that part of the Valley of Rephaim, only four or five kilometres South-West of Jerusalem became known as, “Baal-Perazim”, the Lord of the Breakthrough.

The same thing would one day happen at the feast of Pentecost many years hence. When the kingdom of the Messiah came, apostles were told that they were not to do anything until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And when the Spirit came, it was just like the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven. It was the sound of victory as warriors of a new covenant went to battle against the forces of evil and to usher in the kingdom of God. In fact, it sounded just like the sound that David heard that day rushing through the tops of the balsam trees.

In prayer, a victorious king David reflected on the goodness of God in his life. He had made the most important decision of his life many years ago out on the hills with his sheep. He would dedicate his life to the Lord of hosts. God had remained faithful over the years and he stayed up for most of this night in prayer.

David had reigned as king in Hebron for seven and a half years. At first there had been a civil war with those who had supported the old regime of king Saul but eventually David had been anointed king over all the twelve tribes of Israel.

After defeating the Jebusites, he had moved his military base to the fortified defences of Jerusalem. Now, it had been relatively easy for his family for a while.

The Philistines saw king David as a brilliant strategist in warfare. They were never a problem to him again. He had been able to build himself a palace, open up highways and trade routes and relax from the pressures of war.

For the first time for Obed-edom, the old Philistine slave, life seemed overwhelmingly good. God had answered his prayers and, miraculously, king David and his army had defeated the Philistines. Somehow he no longer saw himself as a Philistine. Now he was a slave of Jehovah Sabaoth, and each morning he uttered tearful thanks to the God who had created him for such a time as this.

He and his sons all began to find a deep relationship with the God of Israel and they began to wholeheartedly participate in the worship ceremonies. Each Sabbath day they listened avidly to each word that the priest uttered so that they could learn more about God and sometimes they were allowed to ask questions about the things that puzzled them.

For David, the Lord had to have central place in the kingdom, and it was while he was in prayer that he was prompted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, and place it in the special tabernacle prepared for it. He could not realise how the events of the coming days would change him.

Matthew 17:22-23 – THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY… 

Chains of the Enemy. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Chains of the Enemy. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” (Arabian Proverb).

Recently (2014) the media has exposed the sinful and cowardly beheadings and crucifixions of innocent people by an extremist Muslim group called Islamic State. These barbaric acts have disgusted the world and the Islamic State has been condemned as the enemy of true freedom. Even previous enemies have formed a coalition to stop their murderous advance.

The Bible associates people who commit such violent acts in the name of any religion as those who have given themselves over to demonic influences. Satan, the Great Enemy (1 Peter 5:8) is described as the Prince of Demons (Matthew 12:24), whose followers pursue his evil ideologies; accusation and blame against others (Revelation 12:10), murder of innocent people (John 8:44), pride in their blasphemous actions (Isaiah 14:12-20), and temptation of others to join them in sin (Genesis 3:1-7). They are fierce (Luke 8:29) and powerful (Ephesians 2:2) but cowardly (James 4:7). They are shrewd and intelligent (2 Corinthians 11:3) but blind, deceived (2 Corinthians 4:4) and ensnared by evil (Genesis 3:1-7). John 8:44 (NLT) calls them the children of their father the devil, who “love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”.

Jesus tells His disciples that “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of HIS ENEMIES. He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples are filled with grief (Matthew 17:22-23 NLT). They will remember His words at His empty tomb, when angels will draw their attention back to this conversation. In Luke 24:6-8 (NLT) they say “…Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of SINFUL MEN and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” Enemies and Sinful people murder the Messiah.

Was it Judas who betrayed Jesus? Was Jesus really referring to the Jewish nation, the Sanhedrin and the Romans as being His enemies? Afterall their deceit and barbaric acts resemble the Islamic State atrocities.

Romans 5:9-11 (NLT) confronts us with a stark truth! It was not only Judas, Jews and Romans who killed Jesus! The list of murderers is much wider than those who directly sent Him to the Cross. It says “Since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son WHILE WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. …” 

The men who Crucified Jesus were the Romans but it was OUR sin that held the hammer that nailed His hands to the Cross. Judas accepted 30 pieces of silver, but it was OUR sin that greeted Him with a betrayers kiss in the garden. The Romans beat Him and scourged him and abused him, but it was OUR sin that placed the crown of thorns on His head.

It was OUR SIN that brought Him to the Cross. WE were His enemies! WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE! Somehow retrospectively, our sin (that which identifies with Satan’s purposes) caused His death and when He died He died prospectively for that sin. Romans 5:8 (NLT) says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS.” We were the ones for whom He died, while we were His enemies.

John 1:10-11 (NLT) says “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. John 3:16-19 (NLT) says “…God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” In John 10:10 (NLT) Jesus says “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…”

We are all enemies of God, in darkness, associated with evil, betrayers and accusers. All that we despise about the worst of us is exposed by the death of Jesus. Yet Jesus is the only One able to restore purpose to our lives. John 10:10 goes on to say My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 1:12-13 says “But to ALL WHO BELIEVED HIM and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 3:16 (NLT) echoes these words and says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” (Arabian Proverb). Death was my enemy because Sin was destroying my life. Jesus is the enemy of my enemy and defeated the power of sin and death.  He is the only One who has come to save me and you.

Jesus is the enemy of my enemy and if I choose His invitation to believe in Him, then I am able to see His love for me and respond to Him as friend and Saviour. His invitation is extended to anyone who places their trust in Him. Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “My old self has been crucified with Christ. 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.” 

Pastor Ross

THE LORD’S REMEMBRANCE DAY PRAYER – POEM

 © By Ross Cochrane

REMEMRANCE DAY AT SHALOM AGED CARE

 “Our Father…” In war many people lose their fathers in distress,

And yet you say You are a Father to the fatherless.

“Our Father, who art in heaven,…”

It is to heaven many servicemen and women send their prayers,

And there they grapple for answers that earth cannot provide

For cares in the midst of battle.

It is for heaven’s victories they lay claim.

“…hallowed be Thy Name…”

Hallowed means “Worthy of honour” or “Set apart”,

We commemorate today those on our heart,

Those who have not returned.

Set apart for war they earned our freedom.

Yet in this prayer we honour God in how we live,

To give respect for His Word and Ways,

To give Him praise that we are free to live our faith,

Without shame, unhindered by the shackles of oppression,

Yes, hallowed be Thy Name.

“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Wars are about kingdoms – worth the taking or defending.

Oh to understand God’s kingdom view

And pray for what is right and true,

Contending for God’s rulership,

His Kingdom, and within His grip we find our worth,

Heaven’s perspective here on earth,

Only then we fear no dread.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

The ravages of war leaves those who live as refugees

To have no food,

Subdued into submission, many go without,

Yet I cry out for just enough for me and mine,

When I should ask for bread enough for thee and thine

For those whose needs cry out above my own

And fight unknown battles just to live

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Once driven by our sin and by regret,

Yet we are now forgiven as we trust in Christ,

And though atrocities have taken place in times of war,

We must forgive and open up the door to live again,

And only then will we remember the past and not be defeated,

To learn from the past so it is not repeated,

To remember those who died and not be hardened by our loss,

To forgive as Christ did on the Cross.

“Deliver us from evil…”

Lest we forget the debt of gratitude we owe

And the debt You paid for sin.

Deliver us from the evils of war,

Let us begin to live free from the things that bring oppression.

Let our confession be to live life free of turmoil and regret,

And as we pray this prayer we need His help,

LEST WE FORGET.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:24–30 – SMOKING WEED – Part 10

Smoking

The world is amazed as a corrupt president is removed from power in Egypt. The people who protested on the streets of Cairo are hailed as heros. In the midst of their jubilation we hear of a reporter being raped and beaten as she seeks to cover the story on the streets of Cairo. Like the parable in Matthew 13:24-30, the world is full of WEEDS. So is my garden at the moment but that’s not the topic of this parable.

Amidst the devastation of flood waters in Australia heros are born. SES workers rescue people from rooftops, Churches open their doors of their meeting places as evacuation centres and send out work parties to clean up homes from the mud and debri. Yet looters thieve the pickings of people who have lost everything. WEEDS AMONG WHEAT?

Rapists among the heros. Looters, like vultures among those trying to help the weak and helpless. Child traffickers among those who build orphanages to protect the children of Cambodia. Self righteous hypocrites among genuine followers of Christ. WEEDS AMONG THE WHEAT. “Why does God allow evil people, hypocritical people and people who apathetically look on while evil happens in the world to exist?”

Why doesn’t God force everyone to believe and to honour one another and Him? Way back in the Garden of Eden why didn’t God snuff out Adam and Eve the moment they sinned and start again? In the parable Jesus tells, even the angels don’t quite know what to do. “Should we pull out the weeds?” they ask (Matthew 13:28). 

I’m with the angels in this parable. I just want to get rid of all the evil in the world. I’m not sure where to draw the line with this, but there’s some obvious people who deserve to be UPROOTED first. Let’s get rid of all the religious hypocrites while we are at it. But Jesus says “‘No, …, you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.” (Matthew 13:29).

Jesus identifies the fact that we have an ENEMY who works against God’s kingdom purposes. We CO-EXIST with all kinds of evil people (sin has tainted our world) and to make hasty, malicious, unfounded judgments about them and try to uproot them would damage us. The reason is that I am tainted with sin too. I am hardly equipped to judge without taking the log out of my own eye (Matthew 7:5). How do I know who is righteous and who isn’t? My flawed judgment is likely to pull up the wheat with the weeds.

Besides, ALL of us deserve to be uprooted and thrown into the fire (What a horrible picture that is). Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” But in God’s grace He let’s “both grow together until the harvest. Then” He says “I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” (Matthew 13:30 NLT). It puts a whole new slant on smoking weed.

Of course the intention of this story is not to say that God wants to BURN THE WEEDS – those who don’t know Christ! The intention of the story is to show that He is allowing plenty of time BEFORE He judges the world. 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.” It seems even weeds have a chance to be transformed (Now that’s the kind of miracle I need in my garden at present).

Jesus is saying that the only hope for an evil world is found in a holy God and because of Him we have an ancient invitation, a time capsule rediscovered again and again in John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” He is still the only Way, Truth and Life we have (John 14:6).

Pastor Ross

Part 13 – Matthew 12:38-42 – LIFE BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE!

Beyond the Trampoline

I fell through a trampoline once. It was totally unexpected! One minute I was airborne and the next I was standing on the ground, wearing the trampoline like a giant torn tutu, and all my helpful family could do was laugh at me! I mention this because my granddaughter, normally so cooperative, sent a very clear message to her parents the other day. She said “NO! I won’t go!” She had been playing on the trampoline with her cousins, laughing and having such a great time that when it was time to go home, she simply refused. She was more interested in having FUN than in OBEDIENCE. She was more interested in playing games than in the implications of a world that existed beyond jumping on a trampoline. I fully understand, although my experience with a trampoline was a little more traumatic.

No doubt the Pharisees and other people around Jesus in Matthew 12:39 are also surprised and discomfited when he calls them an “EVIL AND ADULTEROUS generation” and affronted when He accuses them of “refusing to REPENT.” (Matthew 12:41-42). I mean this seems to be such a SWEEPING STATEMENT. Surely there is no need to be so CONFRONTING, so DEMANDING!

So what am I saying? Is Jesus trying to TAKE AWAY my fun? Give me the toys and the desires of my heart, Lord, but don’t demand anything from me,? How can a loving God be so judgmental and insistent? “After all I’m not a bad person. I am just having fun on my trampoline with my playmates and not bothering anyone. And I’m NOT GOING TO REPENT!” (Well, OK. Maybe not the bit about the trampoline, but you get the idea.)

Bumper sticker – “Jesus loves me just as I am, and He loves me too much to have me stay that way”. It’s not about taking away our fun. It’s about living life to the full. THE WORLD BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE. There comes a time when our rebellion and our wanting to play games with God demands REPENTANCE! John the Baptist preached the same message (see Matthew 3:2) and so did many others who paved the way for Christ.

DENIAL – “The world isn’t all that bad!” Have you followed world news lately or walked around a video shop? We have movies that justify homosexuality, adultery and murder as entertainment and world leaders who justify their corruption as a normal part of their governance. It would seem that an “EVIL AND ADULTEROUS generation” (Matthew 12:39) is actually quite a fitting description of our world. DENIAL – “I am not all that bad.” Have you read your Bible lately? Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “…everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” And I don’t see a whole lot of REPENTANCE taking place in the lives of our generation. Lots of denial. Very little repentance.

So what is this “REPENT FOR THE END IS NEAR!” T-shirt that Jesus seems to be wearing? What is this placard He is holding? It isn’t exactly a message that stirs my heart and makes me feel good. It’s UNCOMFORTABLE to be confronted with my sin, and sometimes I want Jesus to take a much SOFTER approach. Then again “REPENT PLEASE” isn’t going to cut it with me or in an evil world. Perhaps SEARED CONSCIENCES (1 Timothy 4:2) need the encouragement of ELECTRIC SHOCK treatment!

Paul seems to sum things up. When he preached at Athens in Acts 17:30-31 (NLT) he said “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He COMMANDS everyone everywhere to REPENT of their sins and TURN TO HIM. For He has set a day for JUDGING the world with JUSTICE by the man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.”

When Peter preaches to a crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2:37-38 (NLT) they responded to the message. It says “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said …”What should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must REPENT of your sins, TURN to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received FORGIVENESS for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Somehow Jesus’ message is clear. There’s LIFE BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE! It’s meant to be lived to the full. The invitation to real life, abundant life is there before you. Jesus hands it to you. You open it up and you look down to what it will cost. It says “REPENT AND BELIEVE! TURN AND RECEIVE! LET ME DIRECT YOUR LIFE”. Am I willing to pay such a price? Now that’s the choice.

God bless you Church as you affirm the message of Christ and show the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8), the example of a life which is responsive to the touch of God, rich and full, giving hope and incentive for repentance for others in our evil and adulterous generation.

Pastor Ross

Part 7 – Matthew 12:22 – BLIND AND DUMB ABOUT DEMONS!

See No Evil, Speak No Evil!

As I walked into the room I had visited only that morning I noticed that some people, had an increased CONFUSION, RESTLESSNESS AND INSECURITY. I met the Asian woman with such beautiful eyes who HALLUCINATES and HEARS VOICES each afternoon. I had a quiet conversation with a woman who, the afternoon before, had thrown a chair across the room, shouting out in OUTRAGE, which was unusual because she is normally so calm, composed and certainly not able to lift a chair of that size.

One man, normally passive and easy to get along with became increasingly MORE DEMANDING and UPSET for no reason at all, SUSPICIOUS of everyone and DISORIENTED, swearing at everyone and abusive to the point of having to be physically restrained by the police and taken to a hospital for sedation.

What am I describing? A DEMON POSSESSED person? Perhaps. A person on DRUGS? (Well yes, but prescribed). MENTAL ILLNESS? I am actually describing what can happen to many people during a time known as SUNDOWNING (in the afternoons and towards nightfall). Many people suffering from DEMENTIA experience SUNDOWNING. The cause of SUNDOWNING is unknown, and so it is treated with ANTIPSYCHOTIC drugs. But I wonder if there is a SPIRITUAL DIMENSION to Sundowning?

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in Genesis 3 their sin sparked off a lot of CONSEQUENCES. Romans 8:20-23 (NLT) says “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s CURSE. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious FREEDOM from death and decay. … for we long for our bodies to be RELEASED from SIN AND SUFFERING. …” Sin carries an ongoing curse that only Jesus can break.

In Matthew 12:22 (NLT) I read two simple sentences without a lot of details. “Then a DEMON-POSSESSED man, who was BLIND AND COULDN’T SPEAK, was brought to Jesus. He HEALED the man so that he could both speak and see.” 

I am intrigued because I have many unanswered questions about this verse. HOW did he become demon-possessed? WHY was he blind and unable to speak? Was it BECAUSE of the demon or demons? Obviously not all disability can be linked to demons. How do I determine what is and isn’t? Can all disabilities be healed? Is it only those associated with the demonic? I am not told.

Was he an evil man? Did he have to REPENT first? Did he give his life to Jesus? Did he have to give his CONSENT in order to be healed? I don’t know. One thing is sure – when I am in the presence of Christ I am in a position where I can be healed, delivered and restored.

Somehow this man had opened his life up to EVIL! Demons are evil. But despite this, Jesus heals him. No-one is BEYOND the compassion of Jesus. Jesus BROKE THE CONNECTION with demonic influence. SPIRITUAL WARFARE – a CRUSH-SATAN’S-HEAD kind of victory! He demonstrates power over the enemy by casting out demons and healing this blind and dumb man IMMEDIATELY. The crowd saw an immediate change in his circumstances. When someone who has been blind can SEE AND HEAR again, you pay attention.

Speaking about being BLIND AND DUMB, why is it that in the West we are so unwilling to talk about or acknowledge the possibility of SPIRITUAL WARFARE? Not only BLIND to the things of God but TOO DUMB TO DEAL WITH DEMONS? ANTIPSYCHOTIC DRUGS can’t be the only solution to things we don’t understand. It seems at times I am all too willing to SUPPRESS that which I cannot control. I wonder if drugs leave people even MORE SUSCEPTIBLE to the demonic world? (see messages on Matthew 8:28-34).

Like the man in this verse we all need to be BROUGHT to Jesus. Did someone care enough to bring him or was he FORCED? Did he AGREE to come? Was he sceptical? I am not told, but I do know that I want to be willing to be brought into the presence of Jesus when I need help to see. Blindness and deafness of any kind, demon possession and the most regrettable sins remain as impossible problems until I am willing to bring them to Jesus.

God bless you Church as you are willing to be brought into the presence of Jesus so that you have an opportunity to be healed and restored and set free. God bless you as you look for opportunities to bring others to Christ.

Pastor Ross

Part 8 – Genesis 18:16-33 – THE GAVEL, THE CROSS AND THE TALIBAN!

The Cross and the Gavel

I am all too ready to say that the TALIBAN deserve God’s judgment without really thinking twice. I tend to think of them in the same way that I think about SODOM AND GOMORRAH. But did Sodom and Gomorrah really deserve to be judged? Does the Taliban? If I knew that a large city governed by the Taliban was about to be bombed to the ground, am I really willing to INTERCEDE on behalf of those who may be genuinely seeking God in the hope that perhaps some could come to know Christ and be saved?

When I look at this passage I notice that the people of Sodom have already seen God at work. For instance they have been DELIVERED MIRACULOUSLY from Chedorlaomer by Abraham back in Genesis 14.

The king of Sodom is there when “Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High … blessed Abram with this blessing: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.'” He hears about who God is, even if he didn’t know before. But that’s not enough.

Romans 1:18-20 lays it on the line. It says that “God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature. So they have NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING GOD.”

In Genesis 18:23 Abraham says to God, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?” He presumes that God will sweep away the wicked, but will He also sweep away those who believe? Abraham recognises that God is just. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU KNOW HIS WAYS.

I am impressed with Abraham. He could have just asked for God to spare Lot, his nephew, but he bargains with God for anyone who may have an ounce of belief in Sodom to be spared. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU LOVE PEOPLE!

I notice something else about Abraham. He doesn’t say, “How could a LOVING God send people to hell?” He says the opposite. In effect he says “How could a JUST God send people to hell?” He appeals, not to God’s love, but to HIS JUSTICE. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU KNOW THAT HE IS ABSOLUTELY FAIR concerning His decisions and His judgments are always just. It’s me who has the SKEWED VIEW of love and justice, not God.

Instead of asking how a LOVING GOD could send people to hell, perhaps I need to be asking how a JUST GOD could decide to SAVE anyone! I have sinned too and fall short of the mark (Romans 3:23).

Or an even better question would be how can I be so arrogant and sinful as to think that I am good enough to go to heaven?

Abraham persists in interceding for Sodom and it’s cities. This in fact is the FIRST INTERCESSORY PRAYER in the Bible. His prayer is HUMBLE and not PRESUMPTUOUS. He doesn’t demand in Jesus Name that Lot and his family be spared. He comes to God on the basis of HIS CHARACTER not on the basis of his own selfish desires and brings his prayer down in numbers until he says “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten (righteous people) are found there?”

Abraham gets down to 10 people before he stops interceding for them. And the Lord replies, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

DID SODOM DESERVE JUDGMENT? Does the Taliban? Yes! But I am glad that it is God’s decision concerning when ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Justice and Love collide at the Cross. His love was expressed to me by making it possible to receive His forgiveness. His justice was there as He paid the penalty for sin on my behalf.

As I write this, I’m praying that you will believe in Christ and His work on the Cross for you and be saved.

God bless you Church as you intercede for those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Saviour today.

Pastor Ross

 

Part 7 – Genesis 18:16-33 – HOW COULD A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?

Chinese War Sword

In the early years of her life she witnessed horrific events as members of her family were beheaded in conflicts in China. Although she was only a little girl, MI LEE (not her real name) was forced to watch and still hallucinates about these terrible and barbaric events.

At 93, she can’t speak much now and her eyes are not the best, but her lovely face lights up when her daughter tells her that the Pastor is saying hello to her. This little old Chinese woman who attends my devotions faithfully served as an officer in the Salvation Army for most of her life, helping the poor and destitute and preaching the gospel.

WILLIAM BOOTH, the founder of the Salvation Army would have been proud of Mi Lee. Her faith in God and in her Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is strong despite the evils perpetrated against her.

If 9/11 taught us anything, it is the presence of evil in this world. All of a sudden the world believed in evil, but people like William Booth and Mi Lee seek to hold back the tide of evil, to introduce the flavour of eternity into the world, and expose such evil to the light. To be salt and light. (See Matthew 5:13-16)

London had William Booth. Australia has Mi Lee. SODOM HAD A MAN CALLED LOT. They answer the question “HOW CAN A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?”

In Genesis 18, Sodom is about to be destroyed by God’s judgment, but God’s grace and love have given the people of Sodom every opportunity to repent. They have had the EXAMPLE AND LEADERSHIP OF LOT in their midst. Did Lot try to represent God to Sodom? I think he did.

I have heard messages about how Lot gave into the temptations of evil as he first LOOKED TOWARDS SODOM (Genesis 13:10), then WENT DOWN into the valley, by CHOOSING THE BEST LAND (Genesis 13:11) “then Lot MOVED HIS TENTS to a place near Sodom and SETTLED AMONG THE CITIES of the plain” even though “the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord” (Genesis 13:12 NLT). Then he began to LIVE IN SODOM itself (Genesis 14:12) and finally we find him “SITTING IN THE GATE” which indicates a place of authority in the city. He’s received a lot (excuse the pun) of criticism.

Lot is always spoken of as WORLDLY AND SELFISH but is he seeking to be an influence for good? Is he simply being salt and light in a tasteless and dark city (see Matthew 5:13-16)? It’s not enough to say he was wrong to mix with evil people. William Booth did and he made a difference. Jesus did and the Pharisees accused Him of doing the wrong thing too. Lord let me always be willing to be a positive influence for you with those around me who don’t know you.

2 Peter 2:6-9 (NLT) says “…God also rescued Lot out of Sodom BECAUSE HE WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, LOT WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day….” Maybe Lot means well by bringing up his family in this evil city. Not sure I’d want my children brought up in Sodom and Gomorrah. Sydney is bad enough! But perhaps he has good intentions as a leader in the city.

But despite any possible efforts of Lot, now their evil has reached the point of no return and JUDGMENT IS IMMINENT. An outcry for justice, perhaps from those who were oppressed in Sodom, has risen to God and the only appropriate response is about to take place.

DID SODOM DESERVE JUDGMENT? Oh Yes! And as a matter of fact I do too! It’s only by God’s grace that I am saved.

God bless you Church as you are instruments of God’s grace giving lost people with whom you interact everyday the opportunity to repent and give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mi Lee didn’t turn away from God when life was overwhelmingly assaulted by the forces of evil. She didn’t bring her beliefs down to the level of her circumstances. She reached out to Christ and lifted her circumstances up to the level of her beliefs. As a consequence she has made a difference in the world and showed the love of Christ to those around her with unmet physical, spiritual and emotional needs. She still does. Help me to make a difference such as this, Lord.

Pastor Ross