Posts Tagged ‘Heart’

Matthew 15:10-11 – POLLUTION

Like a Duck in an Oil Spill...  Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net. MorgueFiles and Filter Forge

Like a Duck in an Oil Spill…
Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net. MorgueFiles and Filter Forge

An acrid smell of damp coal lingers in the air and inflames her throat and nostrils, stinging her eyes. Handkerchief over her mouth and nose, she walks through the thick blanketing haze, discarding her third cigarette for the morning on the pavement, leaving it to smoulder unseen by those venturing out in what was to be known as “The Great Smog.” Just another Pea Souper.

The Great Smog, with its sulphur dioxide from chimney smoke and a host of other accumulated airborne pollutants defiled every corner of London in 1952, seeping into the respiratory system and extinguishing the flicker of life from over 12,000 people.

Grateful for some respite, Anna finally reaches her one bedroom apartment, but even as she opens the door the smog seems to invade the atmosphere inside the building with its hazy presence; sinister, dark and cold.

A report like a shotgun sounds as a train rumbles by near her building and she spills some of the precious hoard she is pouring into a glass. Cursing, she skulls the liquor, allowing it to bite the back of her throat. In the Great Smog, percussion caps were activated by the wheels of trains as an audible warning to the driver who was unable to see the signal. She feels like a duck in an oil spill unable to save herself from her own lifestyle.

Noise pollution, air pollution, radioactive pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, visual pollution. She lives in a polluted world.

Anna hesitates for a moment as she sees the small Bible on her desk given to her by a friend. She slowly opens it, only to be confronted by what Jesus speaks about as the greatest polluting influence of all. Personal pollution; the most contaminating force on the planet. He isn’t making a judgment about the contamination of her body and lifestyle by excessive smoking, drinking and drug abuse. He isn’t just speaking about the emotional and physical abuse she has experienced. He isn’t speaking of her poor living conditions. As bad as all these things are. He is speaking about a defiled heart; which expresses itself in defiling words gushing out like oil from a gashed tanker in pristine waters. Our words inevitably expose a heart polluted by our sin.

The Pharisees have polluted the environment for years with their teaching, traditions, and customs, but Jesus shows them that it will ultimately lead them to ruin.

Jesus calls to me in the crowd “… to come and hear. “Listen,” He says, “and try to understand.”” (Matthew 15:10 NLT) Hear Me above the noise pollution; the other voices that clamour for attention. His still, small voice is surprisingly clear. He says, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:11 NLT) “… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (Matthew 12:34 NLT). Toxins may have a devastating effect on my body, but what is expressed from my heart can have devastating effects on my ability to connect genuinely with God and others. Words won’t break bones, but they will break my relationships.

When Jesus speaks of the defiling nature of words He is not just speaking about openly hostile words; filthy language, critical, deceiving, censoring, harsh, unkind, uncaring words, but essentially any words, including sugar-coated venomous words, that despoil a relationship. “Defile” means “to make common; to make unholy, unclean; to become polluted and despoiled.” Jesus points to the religious leaders and says that it is they who are the pollution mongers. They wash their hands ceremonially while they ooze contaminated invective. It’s not food that defiles, but words that issue from a polluted heart.

In Hebrews 7:26 (NASB) Jesus is described as “…holy, innocent, undefiled,” Followers of Christ are invited to be like Jesus. God calls me to be clean, pure, holy, undefiled, spotless, unpolluted. Matthew 5:8 (NIV) says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

But like a duck in an oil spill, I cannot save myself. The only way I can have a pure heart is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who purifies my heart and washes away my sin. Psalms 51:7 (NLT) says “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” In Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) God says “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.” A divine exchange.

He takes my oily rags and clothes me in His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “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.”   

Pastor Ross

 

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Matthew 7:21-23 – THE HEART SHAPED KEY AND A USELESS LIMB

Cross = Love

Shirley has dementia and has real difficulty in understanding her world. She has also suffered a stroke which has paralysed half her body. With her good hand she lifts her paralysed hand to me and says “What is this? Here, take this away will you. I don’t want it!” She doesn’t recognise the useless limb anymore as being hers! It has the appearance of an arm but it’s power has been denied. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that there are some like that useless limb. They have a “FORM OF GODLINESS but DENY ITS POWER” (NIV).

Does God look at some of us like Shirley looks at her paralysed limb and say “Depart from Me! I NEVER KNEW YOU? You are not My hand, the instrument of My purposes! You are paralysed and useless even though you look as though you belong. You have a FORM OF GODLINESS but have DENIED IT’S POWER!” (Matthew 7:23, 2 Timothy 3:1-5)?

With the right key, HUGO, an orphan, in the movie by the same name, restores an intricate, robot-like automaton. Hugo was convinced that if he could make the automaton work, it would give him a message of hope to make sense of his life. In order to find purpose in life he fixes broken things, and reflects on the fact that machines don’t have any extra parts. Every part of the machine is necessary. At one point he says “I couldn’t be an extra part. I have to be here for some reason.” Not only does he find all the right parts including a HEART SHAPED KEY, but eventually he also finds the purpose and love he has been looking for as he is accepted into a new family.

So DENYING THE POWER OF GODLINESS IS NOT USING THE HEART SHAPED KEY! Without it life will not make sense. John 3:16 (NLT) 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.” To have the key but not use it is to DENY IT’S POWER.

Denying the power of godliness is rejecting the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to impart forgiveness and connection with my heavenly Father. If I don’t turn the key by believing in Christ and coming under His authority I forfeit the purpose for which I was created, and no matter how good or religious I look, I will only have a FORM OF GODLINESS. I am a broken automaton, or a lifeless limb.

The invitation is to believe in Christ and what He has done for you, to turn the heart shaped key, to be free from the penalty of your sins (Romans 6:23), to see the cogs begin to whir and life begin to pulsate through you so that you can operate as your Creator intended. Far from being a lifeless limb, you will find healing grace through His love. Far from being a broken automaton, God says “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT). Accepted into His family, born again, you will be no longer orphaned, but a child of God. (Galatians 3:26). Turn the key today.

Pastor Ross

Part 12 – Matthew 12:22-42 – THE CANVAS OF MY HEART

The Canvas of My Heart

Yesterday I was reading about a man called Han van Meegeren who was a Dutch artist and an extremely talented ART FORGER. He forged some of the world’s most famous paintings so well that the best art critics and art experts of his time thought his paintings were GENUINE.

Painting one of the finest Vermeers anyone had ever seen was his greatest MISTAKE. He sold his forgeries during the second world war and one of them ended up with the Nazi commander Hermann Goring.

After the war, the sale of the painting was traced back to van Meergeren and he was arrested for selling Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. The punishment for this act of treason was death and so van Meegeren decided to CONFESS that the painting was a forgery. But what would convince the jury?

In Matthew 12 Jesus faces a different problem. His works are GENUINE. When He paints on a person’s life it is the Hand of God, AUTHENTIC, ORIGINAL AND UNIQUE. In Matthew 12:28, He says to the Pharisees “The kingdom of God has arrived among you”. The Pharisees see His miracles as counterfeit and His teaching false. Their unbelief is relentless. They continually try to trap Him.

In Matthew 12:38 (NLT) the Pharisees say “Teacher, we want You to show us a miraculous sign to PROVE YOUR AUTHORITY.” In Matthew 12:24 they test and tempt Jesus in the same way as Satan did in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5-7), demanding a SIGN from Him, but when He heals people they say He gets His power from Satan. They hypocritically demand a sign but then reject it. Can’t have it BOTH WAYS! What will it take to convince them?

In Acts 2:22 (NLT) when Peter preaches to those gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost “People of Israel, listen! God PUBLICLY ENDORSED Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful MIRACLES, WONDERS, AND SIGNS through Him, as you well know.” God verifies the authority of the works of Jesus and Jesus exposes the works of the Pharisees as a forgery. In Matthew 12:34 (NLT) He calls them a “brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” 

Certainly many people witness that Jesus does miracles, wonders and signs, but does this CONVINCE them? Does it convince you?

Jack, a friend of mine, is unable to walk. When I spoke to him about God, he said “If God was real He wouldn’t leave me like this. I don’t deserve this. Where’s the proof that God exists?” He said He doesn’t see any evidence of God because God refuses to heal him. What will it take to convince him?

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” WHY DOESN’T HE HEAL MY FRIEND JACK?

Perhaps part of the answer is found in John 4:48 (NLT) where Jesus asks, “Will you never believe in Me unless you see MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND WONDERS?” 

It seems to me that the FOCUS is not so much believing in signs and wonders (and I do), but in allowing His artworks to lead me back to Him. The SIGNATURE IS GENUINE. It is in believing in the Master Artist Himself and then in allowing Him to paint upon THE CANVAS OF MY LIFE. Romans 10:9 (NLT) puts it this way, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The brushstrokes of His forgiveness touches the very fabric of my being and His creative genius gives my life AUTHENTICITY.

Jesus is asking me to trust in Him WHETHER OR NOT I see signs and wonders. I encouraged Jack to put His faith in Jesus, not just in looking for a sign. Matthew 24:24 speaks about FALSE SIGNS that are forgeries that can lead us away from Jesus.

God bless you Church as you put your faith in Jesus. And as we focus on Him, THEN we are in a position to see His miraculous intervention in our lives in all kinds of ways, the authenticity of which is beyond question.

Pastor Ross

Part 11 – Matthew 12:22-37 – THE MUSIC OF MY SOUL

“Where’s my…” “On the kitchen bench” “…keys”. “What happened to my…” “It’s in the washing machine. You wore it yesterday.” My wife knows my thoughts before I ask. It’s uncanny. “Do you know where my…” “On your desk” “…phone is”. She is intimately acquainted with my habits, thoughts and absent mindedness.

Matthew 12:25 (NLT) says that “Jesus knew their THOUGHTS…” because God is intimately acquainted with the ways, thoughts and WORDS of the human race. He’s even better than my wife at this and that is saying something.

The Pharisees reject Jesus but then they proceed to SLANDER His name before the people. They say in Matthew 12:24 (NLT) “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.” They obviously didn’t say this directly to Jesus, but Jesus knows what they are thinking. Jesus replies powerfully, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

How did Jesus know what the Pharisees were thinking? Did He just anticipate what they were thinking? Was this a WORD OF KNOWLEDGE? (1 Corinthians 12:8). I am aware of this when I pray – that I can’t keep even my thoughts from Jesus. So often in His presence, He asks me His probing questions and provides correction to the twisted pathways of my thinking and to my sinful attitudes. He aligns my thinking with His so that I am not double-minded and at odds with Him. He gets me thinking in terms of victory, not defeat. No compromise. And my life starts to SING.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its FRUIT. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” Great analogy! Jesus produces good fruit in the WORDS He speaks. He is speaking in the power of the Spirit. And that doesn’t mean He had to watch His words or that that His words were so WATER-WEAK, warm and affectionate to everybody that they had no impact. He is SCATHING in His words to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:34-35. He says “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you SPEAK what is good and right? For whatever is in your HEART determines what you SAY. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” It takes courage to say this to powerful men.

But Jesus, of course, is right. Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” so how can I SPEAK from the treasury of a good heart? I am doomed if it all stops here? It gets worse in Matthew 12:36-37 “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you SPEAK. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”  

If my heart writes the music of my life then my WORDS are the LYRICS OF THE SOUL. I can tell from the lyrics what is in your heart. Open your mouth and I can hear what kind of song is in your heart.

David’s prayer in Psalms 51:10 (NLT) gives me HOPE. He cries out to God, “Create in me a CLEAN HEART, O God…” In Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT), as if in answer, God says “…I will give you a NEW HEART, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” As He writes the MUSIC OF MY SOUL a clean heart sings the most amazing harmonies. And all of a sudden my words are translated into worship. My confession becomes a song of destiny.

Romans 10:9-13 (NLT) says the words I speak will determine my destiny. “If you CONFESS with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” …. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

God bless you Church as your words are translated into worship today.

Pastor Ross

 

Part 3 – Matthew 12:9-14 -DEFORMITIES OF THE HEART AND HAND

Gnarled Root System

Yesterday, with the encouragement of my wife, I got rid of some THORNY WEEDS growing like trees in the back garden. The thorns were now like razor sharp nails and so it was difficult to get to the roots without punctures, scratches and a bad attitude. I knew that if I didn’t get to the roots, they would just grow again so I used the MATTOCK. A mattock is a hand tool similar to a pickaxe, particularly suited for digging. Unfortunately, I am not! It took forever to dig around the roots and pull out the bulbous, deformed hand of the root system with it’s disfigured fingers reaching out insidiously in all directions.

Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) warns us “…Watch out that no POISONOUS ROOT OF BITTERNESS grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” There are some poisonous thorny people Jesus has to deal with in Matthew 12:9. RAZOR SHARP in their responses to Jesus and just as destructive. The CLAWED FINGERS of their law system are DISTORTED AND MALFORMED and particularly difficult to uproot. It is not at all surprising that Jesus uses a man with a DEFORMED HAND to illustrate what needs to be done if ever they are to be healed of their DEFORMED HEART.

I notice in Matthew 12:9-10 (NLT) that it says that “Jesus went over to THEIR synagogue, where He noticed a man with a deformed hand. “THEIR synagogue”. Nice point, Matthew. Not the place where God chose to reveal Himself, but where THEY chose to do THEIR religious rituals and make THEIR rules and regulations.

But this verse also says something about Jesus. He didn’t back away from weeding God’s garden. He meets me on my turf. He confronts me about my LEGALISM in the place where I am more DEFORMED ON THE INSIDE than this man’s withered hand, in the synagogue of my own making (Sorry but I couldn’t help but make the analogy).

The man with the deformed hand is probably not allowed to enter the synagogue because of his disfigurement, yet the fact that he is here perhaps gives me the clue that he is in some way looking to God for help. He happens to be in the place where Jesus is – a good place to be if you are looking for healing. Nevertheless healing is often appropriated in the midst of a SPIRITUAL BATTLE.

The Pharisees could see that Jesus noticed this man and so with their THORNS BRISTLING they ask Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping He would say yes, so they could bring charges against Him.) 

There’s all sorts of reasons that I can raise as to why Jesus can’t heal me when I am DEFORMED on the inside, as these Pharisees were. I can be so concerned with maintaining my RELIGIOUS APPEARANCE that I miss the fact that I need healing of my SPIRITUAL DISFIGUREMENTS. When I am so wrapped up in myself and my legalism, and I don’t even notice the needs of others, that’s when Jesus confronts me with a question to counter my MISSHAPEN AND MALFORMED thinking.

In Matthew 12:11-12 (NLT) Jesus says, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” 

Later on Jesus encapsulated the essence of the commandments of the law by saying, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

What He says to me is “Do you value your religious rituals more than you value people?” Do I put some of my TWISTED AND WARPED ways of thinking in the way of showing COMPASSION to others? What are my PRIORITIES?

You can determine what kind of person I am by my PRIORITIES and by what I do with the OPPORTUNITIES I have to show compassion. I can equally see what kind of person you are by your priorities and the opportunities you use to show compassion. That day Jesus is not only wanting to heal a deformed hand but SPIRITUALLY DISFIGURED HEARTS. Instead the Pharisees look for opportunities to kill Him (Matthew 12:14).

In Matthew 12:13 (NLT) Jesus says, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was RESTORED, just like the other one!” Jesus doesn’t just give me perspective by His WORDS but also by His ACTIONS. He demonstrates the truth of loving God and loving people. He encourages me to reach out to Him and in that very act I am HEALED AND RESTORED.

God bless you Church as you reach out to Jesus and as He brings healing to the DEFORMITIES of our hearts and enables us in turn to reach out with our hands to others with a compassion that makes a difference.

Pastor Ross