Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

THE CHOCOLATE EASTER STORY

Happy easter everyone!

I was talking to my friend Bob (84 years old) the other day and he said that Easter reminded him of chocolate so that got me thinking about chocolate and Easter eggs.

Chocolate Easter eggs. Why?

The earliest Cadbury chocolate eggs were made of ‘dark’ chocolate with a plain smooth surface and were filled with sugared almonds. The earliest ‘decorated eggs’ were plain shells enhanced by chocolate piping and marzipan flowers. Like this…

So I thought we could go on a bit of an EGG HUNT to discover the meaning of Easter for us, by telling the EASTER STORY WITH CHOCOLATE AND EASTER EGGS.

Hidden in the scriptures for all to discover is the first egg.

 

 

 

 

  1. THE EGG OF HEAVEN

Egg of Heaven

Here is a chocolate egg called “HEAVEN”. It’s described as a Creamy swiss milk chocolate coating with a gorgeously soft dark hazelnut truffle center. Someone said “if there’s no chocolate in heaven then I’m not going”

But over 2000 years ago Jesus brought a message of hope and love to the world at easter. He talked about the Kingdom of Heaven.

So the first egg on our egg hunt is heaven. Since we are on an egg hunt, let me ask you a question. Are you “as sure as eggs” that you are going to be with God in heaven?

If God were to ask you, “why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?

If you are not as sure as eggs what the answer is to that question, then the good news of Easter is worth finding. And this Easter egg hunt will be worthwhile.

Did you know that the bible tells you that you can be as sure as eggs that you will go to be with God in heaven?

1 John 5:13 in the bible says “these things I have written to you . . . That you may know that you have eternal life . . .” 

The egg has always been a symbol of the gift of new life,

The bible says, “. . . The gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23).

If I gave you a gift of an Easter egg today I wouldn’t expect you to pay for it or try to earn it. It’s free, and heaven is also a gift, and like any other genuine gift, it is not earned or deserved.

You probably thought that getting to heaven involved you living a good life and doing good deeds. 

Actually, no amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven for you.

Ephesians 2:8,9 in the bible makes it very clear. It says “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.”

Since heaven is a gift, what stops us from getting into heaven?

To find some clues for the answer, you will need to find the next Easter egg on this Easter egg hunt.

 

A true Easter hunt has to include talking about

  1. THE BAD EGGS

Bad Egg.jpg

Bad Egg © Ross Cochrane

The TRUE EASTER STORY has some BAD EGGS.

So who are these bad eggs?

 

 

 

 

JUDAS

Judas the Bad Egg.jpg

Judas was a Bad Egg. He made a deal with the Jewish leaders. He wanted to have a Nest Egg for his retirement. They gave him 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus and he led a crowd armed with swords and carrying torches. The mob included soldiers to arrest Jesus. Judas arranged a signal for them and he betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the traditional greeting of the day.

We think of Judas now as the Rotten Egg of the dozen disciples, disliked now by everyone because of his sin, his betrayal of Jesus and his bad Egg-sample.

 

 

 

 

 

PETER

Peter.jpg

But even Peter was a sinner. Peter claimed he would follow Jesus to his death, but when people started asking if he knew the man who was arrested, he must have had scrambled eggs for brains because he denied he knew Christ three times before the rooster crowed twice.

 

PONTIUS PILATE

Pontius Pilate

The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate tried to walk on eggshells and please the people but he couldn’t wash his hands of the sin of crucifying Jesus.

 

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND THE MOB

Sinful Mob

The sinful mob, egged on by the religious leaders ensured that Jesus was handed over to be crucified. They all had hearts like hard boiled eggs.

 

US

Us

But the bible says it was not only Judas and Peter and Pilate and the Jewish leaders and the mob who were sinners.

The Bible says we are ALL SINNERS. Romans 3:23 in the Bible says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” We are all Bad Eggs when it comes to our sin.

Sin can include things like betrayal, and lying or evil thoughts, but mostly it means not being willing to obey God’s purposes for our lives.

None of us are Good eggs, no not one. None of us can get to heaven by ourselves because of our sin. We cannot save ourselves. None of us are perfect enough for heaven. Our sin is egg-sposed and the question is – is there any egg-scape.

The good news is that the whole point of Easter is hope. In spite of our sin, the next egg on our egg hunt tells us a little bit more about the real hope of the Easter Story.

 

  1. OUR EGG-STRAORDINARY GOD

God.jpg

 

GOD IS LOVE

God is merciful, and therefore doesn’t want to punish us for our sin.

This is because  “ . . . God is love (1 John 4:8). And He says, “ . . . I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

 

 

 

GOD IS JUST

But the same bible which tells us that God loves us, also tells us that God is just and therefore must punish sin. He says in Exodus 34:7 (NLT) “but I do not excuse the guilty.”   

And Ezekiel 18:4 (NLT) “for all people are Mine to judge—… and this is My rule: the person who sins is the one who will die.”  

God loves us but doesn’t love our sin and must judge us.

So, is there any egg-scape?

The problem of our sin is “a hard egg to crack,” something we can’t solve, or deal with.

But our eggs-tremity is God’s opportunity

God solved this problem for us by the next egg in our egg hunt. The most important egg of all, that tells us the egg-ceptional message of Easter. 

So where is our next Egg? Or more accurately WHO is the next egg?

 

  1. JESUS – THE ONLY TRULY GOOD EGG

Jesus

Who is He? The Bible tells us clearly that He is the infinite GOD-MAN.

“In the beginning was the Word (Jesus). . . and the Word (Jesus) was God. And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1,14).

Jesus refused to walk on eggshells with people. He told it like it was. When He came to the temple in Jerusalem and found it had become a marketplace, He chased away the money changers and overturned their tables.

Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life. He was the only really Good Egg, but while He was on earth, What did He do?

 

HOT CROSS BUN = DEATH OF JESUS

The Hot Cross Bun at Easter reminds us that Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

He was crucified between two thieves. The Jewish rulers and the Roman soldiers mocked Him.

Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  

That’s what we remember on GOOD FRIDAY.

 

EASTER EGG = RESURRECTION

But the Easter egg for Christians is a symbol of the tomb and when we crack open the egg like this one, it represents the empty tomb of Jesus.

Jesus rose from the dead. Early on Sunday, the women went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb was empty. Angels told them that He had risen from the dead. Mary saw Him face to face and thought he was the gardener.

They ran and told the disciples. Later, Thomas, who was a bit of an egghead, said he wouldn’t believe unless he had scientific evidence. But he ended up with egg on his face when Jesus appeared to him and asked him to touch the wounds in His hands and side.

What’s all this got to do with the price of eggs?

Easter eggs are a symbol of hope and new life. Today billions of people all over the world believe that by dying and coming back to life Jesus gave people the chance to know God in a personal way.

What does Easter mean for our lives? 

Jesus Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross and now He offers you eternal life (Heaven) as a free gift.

There’s only one way to receive this gift.

And this gift is received by Faith.

 

5. FAITH – PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET

Faith

Easter tells us about the only time when it is absolutely safe to “to put all your eggs in one basket”, and that’s when we trust, rely on and cling to one person, Jesus, for our eternal security.

Saving faith is putting all your eggs in the one basket. Trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. It means resting on what he has done rather than in what you or I have done to get us into Heaven.

Acts 16:31 says “. . . Believe (trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .”

The question that God is asking you now at this Easter Service is would you like to receive the gift of eternal life?

THE COMMITMENT EGG

So here’s what we are going to do.

If you would like to put your faith in Christ alone this Easter, you can go to God in prayer right now. You can receive His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ right now.

“For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, … For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:10,13).

If you want to receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, then I encourage you to pray this beautiful Easter prayer right now. In fact, why don’t you all repeat these words after me?

“Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner, and do not deserve eternal life. But You loved me so much, that You died and rose from the grave, to purchase a place in Heaven for me. I now trust in You alone, for eternal life, and I repent of my sin. Please take control of my life, as Lord of my life. Thank you so much!”

If this prayer is the sincere desire of your heart, look at what Jesus promises to those who believe in HimI tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me HAS ETERNAL LIFE. (John 6:47).

THE FAMILY SIZE EGG

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name”(John 1:12).

EASTER IS YOUR SPIRITUAL BIRTHDAY—a day you will always want to remember! A day when new life was hatched in you. The Bible speaks of those who receive eternal life in these words:

They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:13).

The Good News of Easter is that GOD SOLVED THE PROBLEM OF OUR SIN. 

This is EGG-CELLENT, EGG-CITING AND EGG-STAORDINARY news! It is EGGSTRA-SPECIAL for us! Easter is not just another EGG-CUSE for CHOCOLATE!

Easter is more than a beautiful story, it’s the promise of life and eternal glory

Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET by Trusting in Jesus alone for our eternal salvation.

So GET CRACKING. Have a SPEGG-TACULAR, EGG-CEPTIONAL and Happy Easter.

HE IS RISEN! 

Pastor Ross

PSALM 2 – MUTINY!

Posted: March 15, 2017 in Psalm 2, Psalms
Tags: , , , ,

Crowsnest1

“There Where the Human Spirit Strives” Crowsnest © Image created in Blender by Ross Cochrane

PSALM 2 – MUTINY!

(an analogy based on the truth of Psalm 2)

David King (King David) – First Mate – Ship’s Log

MAN THE DECKS!

The ship of humanity has been afloat for thousands of years, though the raging seas of sin and the winds of war have stung like the slapping fingers of a cat of nine tails on our pride. The decks and hull creaks and leaks in various places with each lashing. The sails are torn, but the masts still reach toward the heavens and the Crowsnest is manned; there in the highest loft, the human spirit still strives.

STOW THE CARGO!

The crew are greedy – continually stowing dangerous cargo and contraband on board – new social and cultural norms, politically acceptable corruption, and perilous religious views; all cannons and weapons held as valuable in various ports in the blackest of trades, but which load the ship with a heaviness that threatens to sink her if there’s bad weather.

BALE THE WATER!

Already we are frantically bailing to stay afloat. If she begins taking on too much more water it will demand a decision be made to throw such a cargo overboard, but there are those who would rather cling to it and risk Davy Jones’s Locker.

PLOT THE COURSE!

Mutiny is well underway and the Commander of our souls is being ignored. His compass and sextant have been thrown overboard but I am convinced that He alone can save us. The crew is drunk with the rum of self-importance and arrogant disregard for the Captain, indignant in their vanity.

Everyone seeks to be at the helm, but the ship is adrift as another storm looms large on the horizon. Oblivious to their plight, they plot their own destruction.

Psalms 2:1 asks, “Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?” Proverbs 16:18 (NLT) replies, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

INCITE A MUTINY!

“The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His anointed one” (Psalm 2:2 NLT).

Mutiny! A criminal conspiracy among a group of people to openly oppose, change, or overthrow the lawful authority to which they are subject.

Who are these kings of the earth who incite mutiny; who seduce those they lead from thinking they have any duty or allegiance to God and God’s anointed Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ? Who are these who goad the traitorous intentions of the nations; who are willing to risk imprisonment for eternity by their mutinous assemblies; who inspire rebellion in their arrogance?

I am all too willing to point the finger to numerous leaders in this world, but in reflecting on my own life, I suspect that I am included in their number and share their guilt, for in my own inclinations towards rebellion, I can see there are times when I have deliberately sought to ignore or overthrow the intentions of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus.

FREE THE SLAVES!

Psalm 2:3 (NLT) continues, “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”  

When I see myself as a slave rather than a son, I find myself wanting to be free of the chains of authority. But what chains bind us? Why do we consider that the rule of God enslaves us rather than frees us? Why are we suspicious of His motives and fail to see His love?

Perhaps it is because all of us are enslaved in some way by the choices we make. All of us are subject to laws of some sort. All of us wear a yoke; there are always boundaries. The difference is that Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  

Mutiny or compliance? The one in whom I am in mutiny against will determine the level of my striving and gauge my freedom.

MAKE THE CAPTAIN WALK THE PLANK!

As I write this poem I am incredulous. I cannot understand why anyone would want to do this. It is such a futile waste of life.

Note added: David’s incredulity is visited on the centuries that follow. With so many New Testament references, this is clearly a prophetic Psalm, with Messianic as well as local intent.

The New Testament recognized this psalm’s fulfillment in the mutiny of Jewish and Roman officials to crucify Christ. Acts 4:25-28 (NLT) is a prayer. Peter and John pray, “You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against His Messiah.’ “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, Your holy servant, whom You anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to Your will.” 

INCITE A MUTINY AGAINST MUTINY!

So I have launched my own mutiny against mutiny itself, and made myself walk the plank; to die to self. Avast! I have cast off the old way of life and live the new. I have pulled up the anchor, manned the Crowsnest and a new course has been plotted into new territory with new horizons and a new destiny with new opportunities in Christ.

I have gone about; turned the ship around and I am under new orders. Everything is above board; open for all to see. I am willing to face any storms that may come but I am under a new command. Christ has the bearings of this ship and I follow the course He has plotted. I may not know the ropes completely but I am willing to swab the decks and serve Him. I hold fast to His calling.

The sails are hoisted and we are running with the wind, goosewinged sails, the mainsail to port and the jib to starboard; maximizing the amount of canvas exposed to the wind. I stand on the quarterdeck, wind to my back, sailing towards the horizon with expectation and hope. David King (King David).

Pastor Ross

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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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

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EAU DE COLOGNE – SOMETHING STINKS IN COLOGNE

The original Eau de Cologne is a spirit-citrus perfume created in Cologne in 1709 by Giovanni Maria Farina (1685–1766). In 1708, Farina wrote to his brother: “I have found a fragrance that reminds me of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils and orange blossoms after the rain”. He named his fragrance Eau de Cologne, in honour of his new hometown. A single vial of this aqua mirabilis (Latin for miracle water) cost half the annual salary of a civil servant.

But something else stinks in Cologne.

The skyline is dominated by an imposing, dark, dirty, sandstone structure, one of the largest Church buildings in the world. We visited the Cathedral in the old part of the city of Cologne today (21st May 2016), begun in 1248 and finally finished in 1880, and constantly being repaired to this day. It remained standing, despite 14 hits by aerial bombs, when the city was decimated by WWII.

Accumulating the pollution of the world around it over the years, Cologne Cathedral is a tortured ugly soul, streaked black on the outside with the residue of war and industry since its medieval history. The sandstone could not withstand the pressure of the water needed to clean it, and the city could not afford the cost of the “bathwater and soap” for such an enormous enterprise.

The only alternative is to replace the offending parts, stone by stone. Some stained glass and damaged sections have been replaced by modern designs and these stand in contrast to the dirt and soot of the years.

As a whole, it stands as a testament to the sins of the world around it absorbed into its structure and it groans babel-like, a giant coal-worker unable to wash itself of the grime accumulated throughout it’s working life. Having gone through the hell of wars it now faces a world gone mad with values and lifestyles that deny the reason for its existence.

Around 20,000 visitors a day look up at her mace-like, contaminated spires. She is another story of degradation, a metaphor of a vestige of humanity standing there with bare, dirty feet, reaching out to God with sin-stained hands, mascara stained face, wanting to shake herself free of grime and collapse in a heap of rubble. But although wars have spared this creature, she is still abused by a miscreant city who continues to impregnate her with filth and use her for its own profit.

Some Cathedrals in Europe are no longer places where a Church meets but have been taken over by the city to operate as Museums, empty relics of the past (We visited a Cathedral in Bruges which had a Michelangelo statue that the city charged 20 euro’s just to look at. The altar was screened off, an unholy of unholies formed for the city’s greed. I wondered what happened to the people of faith who once met here to worship God).

1 Peter 2:4 (NLT) says that God’s Church is far from an empty relic of the past. “You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but He was chosen by God for great honour. And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple.” Not a dead monumental, stained, empty tower, but a living organism responding to what God is building.

Far from the dirt and grime image of Cologne Cathedral, Titus 3:5 (NLT) says, Jesus “… washes away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” He invites us to become a living temple, pure and holy, untainted by the world’s polluting influence.

Ephesians 2:20 (NLT) says “Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.”

Colossians 2:7 says “… let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” 

Eau de Cologne was believed to ward off Bubonic plague. But even Eau de Cologne cannot ward off the deep-seated stains of sin in our world.

Something stinks in Cologne that needs more than a perfume to fix. John 12:3 gives me hope as Mary pours a costly perfume over Jesus’ feet, wiping His feet with her hair in an expression of trust and hope. The room is filled with the perfume of faith in Christ. Such a fragrance is the worship of those who have become a sweet smelling incense to the Lord as they trust in Christ.

I pray for such a fragrance in Cologne and in my own life, today. Perhaps then we, like Giovanni Maria Farina of old could rephrase his sentiments, “I have found a fragrance that reminds me of worship that is new every morning, of a holy mountain climb in spring, of a stream in the desert and the lilies of the field after the rain”.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 15:21-28 – HOW GREAT FAITH IS AWAKENED

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH Photo by Ross Cochrane

They don’t want anything to do with her, but she walks into their midst to seek for Him anyway. She pleads with Him above the calls to send her away. He embodies the answers she needs to the prayers that have reached heaven’s corridors. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”Prayer is a window of hope and He has responded by His presence in this far away place. Accessible. Approachable.

If only her husband would believe? There’s something about a Mother’s love that is willing to find a path to God. But Jesus does not respond.

In the silence of Jesus somehow persistent faith is awakened. Anyone can see that she is faced with total rejection. Yet she stays and persists in asking for help with a heart that is breaking and a faith that lingers. Would mine?

She comes to Him again. She worships Him. Somehow she knows that He is God. She pleads with Him for help. Her persistence is not thwarted by His silence but all the more insistent.

Her daughter is possessed by a demon. Jesus does not ask her how this happened? Canaanites worshiped all kinds of other gods; god’s that defiled and penetrated the mind with their poison.

She calls Him “Lord” and “Son of David”. Surely this descendent of king David will help her? She cries for mercy for her daughter.

And then comes that famous exchange. Jesus finally speaks, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replies, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their Master’s table” “Dear woman,” Jesus says to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter is instantly healed. (Matthew 15:26-28 NLT).

He said her faith was great. Her daughter was healed instantly. When my faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. She didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to go with her. Her master had spoken. She had come under the authority of the Lord of heaven and earth and her daughter was healed.

What does great faith look like? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help (Matthew 15:22). It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation (Matthew 15:23-24). It looks like worship (Matthew 15:25). It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:26-27). It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus said it was great faith. It is faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

Matthew 21:22 (NLT) says “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” John 14:13-14 (NLT) says “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it!”

Jesus awakens that kind of faith as we worship Him. Faith that forces its way through rejection and seeming silence until it can appropriate a miracle. Jesus invites me and you to have such desperate and humble faith as this. 

Pastor Ross

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH - Picture created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

Letter to my wife on Mother’s Day

Dear Julie,

Happy Mother’s day,

I have been reading about the Gentile mother who came to Jesus for help for her daughter. Like you, she is a mother who comes to Jesus in humble surrender and worship on behalf of her children.

Like her, you are a Mother who wants to know and worship Jesus. Long before situations arise in our children’s lives you have been seeking the Lord on their behalf. You see prayer is a window of hope and you use it as a woman of faith to speak into impossible circumstances. Spiritual warfare for our children.

Like her, you take action as you come to Jesus for help. And you don’t give up. I admire that about you. Your persistence, despite not seeing answers straight away, despite the sacrifices you have to make and where you seem to hear silence for your efforts. You are not thwarted. You find the way.

Like her, you see the favour of God. When faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. So often your faithfulness sees it’s way through to a miracle.

What does great faith look like in a Mother? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help for your children. It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation. It looks like worship. It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus says to this mother it was great faith; faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

You are a mother such as this. I am inspired by your faith, by your persistence, by your love for your children, your grandchildren and your respect for your own mother. God bless you on this Mother’s Day, woman of great faith.

Love you,

Ross

 

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Millstone © Ross Cochrane

 

Matthew 18:3-6 – I’VE GOT YOUR BACK! – Jesus

The organisation Open Doors says, “Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian.”

In our sophisticated and modern world today, these are the estimated statistics … Each month over 300 Christians are killed for their faith, over 200 Churches and properties are destroyed, and over 750 acts of violence are committed against Christians such as beatings, physical torture, confinement, abductions, isolation, rape, arrests and imprisonment, slavery, and child marriages. (Open Doors)

Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. But if you cause one of these little ones WHO TRUSTS IN ME to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:3-6 NLT). 

A Millstone is normally about 18 inches in diameter and 3 inches thick, but Jesus is speaking of one which is much larger, pulled by an animal. Tying a millstone around your neck and being drowned was a method of execution used by the Gentile nations around Israel, the Syrians, Greeks, and Egyptians.

The Romans reserved it only for the worst criminals and Jewish people were particularly repulsed by this. The Jews saw drowning as a symbol of utter destruction and annihilation. They feared it.

So Jesus is saying in effect, If someone becomes a follower of Christ and you cause them to fall into sin, to miss the mark, to induce them not to believe in Me, to go back to the old life, to harm, persecute or seduce them to the point of sin because of the pressure that you apply, then life for you, Jesus says, will not be worth living.

To stop someone from believing is reprehensible in Christ’s eyes. He is using the strongest picture of judgment that He can use for those who would harm new Christians or lead them astray. This shows you how precious a new believer is to Christ. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of belief in Him.

The disciples would have been shocked by what Jesus was saying. Perhaps you are too. Jesus was saying they needed to turn around, to repent from arguing over who was the greatest when they hadn’t really trusted in Christ completely themselves. They were going in entirely the wrong direction. They were disciples of Jesus but they had things entirely wrong.

It is better to be a humbly obedient child responding to Christ’s call and positioning than to be a proud, disobedient adult dependent only on themselves and seeking after power that means nothing.

As important as it is to pray for those who have responded to Christ in humble obedient faith, it is just as important for us to pray for those who persecute those who have become followers of Christ, that they would repent and be cut free from the millstone that is around their neck and the threat of being drowned in eternal judgment.

Pastor Ross

 

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Matthew 18:3-4 – THE BIRTHDAY INVITATION

We were invited to a birthday party recently of a friend who turned 40 (I know, so young). It was wonderful to see all our old (young) friends again and celebrate together.

A Birthday: an anniversary when a person celebrates the miracle of their birth, and for a moment we all have permission to act like children, wearing a party hat and blowing out candles on a cake, with birthday wishes and well wishes, singing the ritual song, giving gifts and celebrating another milestone. So encouraging.

Certain birthdays are milestones conferring particular rights and responsibilities; to be able to marry without parental consent, to vote, to run for elected office, to legally purchase and consume alcohol and tobacco products, to purchase lottery tickets, or to obtain a driver’s license.

The decades are particularly celebrated. 30, 40, 50. Where I work, in the aged Care Facility in Sydney, I think you have to reach 90 or 100 before you come of age. But isn’t it strange that although birthdays are important rites of passage into adulthood, we still revert back to all the childlike rituals to celebrate those rites?

In Matthew 18:3-4 (NLT) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So, the little child represents someone who humbly responds in obedience to Christ with childlike trust. What would it have been like to follow Christ…

The choice was clear, though difficult. It would go against everything he had been taught to believe. In order to become a follower of Christ I need to reason, think critically, and pray for God’s help, and then be willing to step out in faith like a little child, but when it all comes down to it, there is no sitting on the fence. I must choose, he thought, but already his heart had chosen. The only course for me is to live for Christ each day without compromise, no matter what the circumstances.

The old man walked to the top of the hill and looked out over the mountainous terrain of Israel. There in a secluded place between some large rocks, he felt as vulnerable as a little child. He began to weep and he prayed for the first time to Jesus.

“Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me, for I have sinned against You!” he cried out and in that barren place a deep sense of the presence of God enveloped him and he found himself lying prostrate, crying out that God would spare him. For hours, he remained there interceding until the dark secret places of his heart were completely laid bare before God.

“Oh, God,” he groaned “Release me from the power of my pride and let me serve You. Have mercy upon me and forgive me for I can no longer follow the old ways of living.”

Then it seemed like something broke deep inside with an almost audible ring as the shackles of his heart fell away. For the first time in his life, he felt free of the burdens of his own sin. It all seemed to make sense to him as he raised his hands and his heart towards the heavens that night.

The invitation Christ gives is to become like a little child, no matter what age, and humbly respond in obedience to the call of Christ with childlike trust.

1 John 5 (NLT) says “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.”

1 Peter 1:24 (NLT) says “For you have been born again, …”

The invitation He gives is a birthday invitation … to your own birthday. You are invited…

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 18:1-4 – “THE GREATEST” QUALITIES

Matthew 18:1-4 is an invitation to find your true identity but it will mean some rewiring of assumptions about what is great. Greatness is not a wall designed to keep people out. It is not a pyramid to keep people in. The qualities of “the greatest” will include…

SERVANTHOOD

Jesus doesn’t deny authority in the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is coming under authority that is important. Luke 22:26-30 (NLT) Jesus says “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as One who serves. “You have stayed with  Me in My time of trial. And just as My Father has granted Me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  

It is not a sense of entitlement but seeking out the best in others that is powerful. No-one can exercise authority without coming under authority. Servanthood is true greatness. He invites us into another person’s world.

HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE

“Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4 NLT).

Humble enough to turn aside, come and obey when Jesus calls. Greatness involves humble obedience. Humility admits our dependence on Christ and enables us to realise our potential in Him. To enter into Christ’s kingdom realm demands that we become like a child for it is only in doing so that we can become a child of the king.

RECEPTIVE AND TRUSTING

The child responded to the call of Christ. “Turn…” Turn like the child turning to listen to Him and come to Him. Become like a little child. Compliant to the things of God in our lives, it will involve being vulnerable enough to trust.

RISK TAKING AND FAITH

With faith, there will always be an element of risk. Children are not conscious of inherent dangers and a child may like showing off, but to come into a group of adults at the request of Jesus shows courage, risk-taking, and faith.

FOCUS ON CHRIST

Focus demands not being distracted by a false sense of entitlement but fixing our attention on what Christ is asking of us. It means a deliberate disassociation with self-centredness. The child made Jesus the centre of his or her attention and in doing so came under His authority.

And the invitation is to come as a Child comes, at the sound of Jesus’ voice, with all our gifts, motivations, abilities, potential, personality, and limited experience, to Jesus. Position depends on responding to His calling. God’s purposes replacing worldly ambition is a powerful influence.

SUBMISSION AND FAITH

Position, power, prestige, fame, wealth and ambition come into perspective under the authority of Christ. Am I motivated by pride or by a desire to submit myself to Christ? The motivation is all important.

Was it pride and covetousness that made them ask this question about who is the greatest? Self-importance and envy get in the way of our calling and position in Christ. It seems they were being contentious about who would lead them, who would be greatest and have the most authority.

Perhaps they were jealous of Peter or John or James. Perhaps it is just political wrangling over the best candidate. Whatever motivated the question, it was not indicative of a childlike faith.

The invitation is clear for those who would find their true identity and purpose.

“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.(Matthew 18:4 NLT)