Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Revisited

He was having a biopsy on a lump. The doctor was concerned and rightly so. It turned out to be bowel cancer, a devastating discovery and as we walked into my office he asked me for my support in prayer. Of course I prayed, then and most days since, through the biopsies and tests and surgery and soon the Chemotherapy. Many others join us in prayer. He is part of our tribe. We love him.

Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morguefiles.org, and FilterForge.org

Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morguefiles.org, and FilterForge.org

I have been reading an excellent blog recently at http://wp.me/p4V5We-1R called Beautiful Life With Cancer. Have you experienced a life-threatening illness? I would be interested to find out what it was that helped you the most?

HOW DO YOU SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS?

I wonder what it would be like if I had asked the Father in Mark 9:14 that question as he was trying to find answers for his son. Imagine an interview with him.

We are talking to David today, whose son recently experienced a life-threatening illness. David, thanks for talking with me today. Could you tell us how your son came to find answers?

Certainly. I had heard about a great Physician who was visiting in our area and I went out to meet with Him to see if He could help my son. When we arrived nine of His team had gathered a crowd around them but they were not able to help us, although they tried. They spoke about Jesus and were arguing with some Scribes.

So what Jesus found when He came down the mountain was an ARGUMENT. I don’t know why they were arguing but I do know that it wasn’t helping anyone find healing that morning. In the middle of the argument was my little boy who desperately needed healing physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The negativity of the scribes almost sabotaged the future of my son. He needed people to be PRESENT, but he needed POSITIVE PRESENCE to give him hope. I knew somehow even then that Jesus would …

1. BE PRESENT AND BE POSITIVE

Many say “I’ll be there for you no matter what!” but of course they can not. Jesus keeps His promise – He will never leave us for forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet Him. Most people want to get away from NEGATIVE people and this crowd was no exception. They ran to Jesus and away from the Scribes. Would you want people like the Scribes, or someone like Jesus, to speak into your life when you are sick? I know that I wanted Jesus.

“What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked. In effect Jesus was saying – This isn’t a time for argument. It’s time for COMPASSION. I already knew that Negativity wasn’t going to heal my son.

That’s when I spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk.” My son couldn’t talk. I brought him to Jesus and WAS HIS VOICE when he had none. I verbalised my deepest prayer on my son’s behalf. I knew that I could…

2. BE HIS VOICE BEFORE GOD.

He was not able to pray but I could pray for him. And God helps us in our weakness so we know what God wants us to pray for (Romans 8:26-28).

I described to Jesus the spiritual oppression taking place in my son’s life … whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. My son was sick physically, emotionally and spiritually. He had a DEMON plaguing his life. His spiritual illness led him to have physical illness.

I was willing to do anything to find him the healing he so desperately needed. I told Jesus how I had gone to His disciples. I said, “I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

The Scribes couldn’t help, but I didn’t give up. The disciples couldn’t help, but I still didn’t give up. Then I finally came to Jesus. He gave me a second opinion and a second chance. Even if you are disappointed with His followers, you can still go directly to Him.

Jesus said, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you?” I don’t think Jesus was talking to the disciples or me when He said “You faithless people”. He was looking at the Scribes. Their NEGATIVITY had created an ATMOSPHERE OF UNBELIEF that had limited the ability of His disciples to heal my boy. Negativity certainly isn’t one of the spiritual gifts. It definitely doesn’t provide the atmosphere for a miracle to take place.

Jesus said “Bring the boy to me.” This was the best choice I have ever made, to

3. INTRODUCE HIM TO CHRIST.

Jesus took my son away from the Scribes and their negativity.

But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw my son into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. The evil spirit felt comfortable in the negativity of the Scribes and in the middle of an argument, but very uncomfortable in the presence of Jesus. I know now that Sin and evil are always exposed in the presence of Jesus, but so is forgiveness and healing. We can all reach out to Christ.

Jesus asked me “How long has this been happening?” I replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. I described to Jesus what had been HAPPENING IN THE PAST. This spirit was making my son suicidal.

But Jesus shows us that we don’t have to be RULED BY OUR PAST. He gave my son and me a POSITIVE FUTURE.

I said to Jesus “Have mercy on us and help us…” The illness had affected me too, so I said have mercy on US. I know that families with who look after someone who has a life-threatening illness need support too. I strongly identified with my son. I…

4. PUT MYSELF IN HIS SHOES.

I had empathy rather than sympathy. When I brought my son, I also came to Jesus. We both needed spiritual help.

I said “Have mercy on US and help US, if you can.” Jesus asked me “What do you mean, ‘If I can’? Anything is possible if a person believes.”

What Jesus was saying is that MY OUTLOOK IS DETERMINED BY WHAT I’M LOOKING OUT FROM. I had to examine whether my perspective was one of unbelief or faith? I was encouraged to respond in faith so that as I brought my son I could also …

5. ENCOURAGE HIM TO RESPOND IN FAITH

Jesus was NOT AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT FAITH. Jesus changed the atmosphere when He spoke personally to me about faith in Him. He wanted me to CO-OPERATE with Him to get my son healed.

I so much wanted to believe. I cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” I had to be honest with Jesus so I admitted I had only a speck of faith and needed help with the rest. We always need to LIFT OUR EXPERIENCE TO THE LEVEL OF OUR BELIEF, rather than bring our faith down to the level of our experience (Brian Houston).

All we need is MUSTARD SEED FAITH in a HUGE God. It’s an active PARTICIPATION with God to grow and be involved in His purposes for our lives.

God is more concerned with the SPIRITUAL sickness of our lives than even physical sicknesses because He wants us to have eternal life. PHYSICAL HEALING IS TEMPORAL. SPIRITUAL HEALING IS ETERNAL.

When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, He rebuked the evil spirit.

He didn’t rebuke me for my lack of faith. He gave me hope.

He didn’t rebuke my son for allowing a demon into his life. He healed him.

He got to the heart of the matter and rebuked the demon and cast it out. When He dealt with the spiritual matter then my son was healed physically and emotionally.

He said “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” He said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” Then the spirit screamed and threw my son into another violent convulsion and left him. My son appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.”

They PRESUMED THE WORST but Jesus taught me to…

6. EXPECT THE BEST.

Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. Then He gave him back to me.

From that moment on he was well. What an amazing outcome. What an amazing God.

Thanks for sharing your story with us David, but tell me “WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE NOT HEALED?”

I cannot pretend to know what God is doing when someone is not healed. All I know is that when I pray and support and show compassion in Jesus name I can leave things in God’s hands. I trust Him to know what He’s doing.

I do know one thing. Jesus is interested in HEALING US SPIRITUALLY. That’s the ETERNAL solution. A relationship with Christ. He invites us into relationship with Him.

It the most wonderful thing for my son when Jesus reached down and took hold of him and he opened his eyes. Jesus face was the first person he saw after he was cured. That was life-changing!

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:22-33 – HOW TO TRUST MORE AND SINK LESS

Trust more, Sink Less!

“I was terrified of the storm last night” she said. When I asked why, Jessica, 92, told me that she had once been STRUCK BY LIGHTNING! That would certainly explain her fear.

Imagine being on a lake in the midst of a terrifying storm and seeing a lightning lit, ghostlike, wave walking figure, coming towards you. If you were afraid of the storm, you would be overwhelmed with the horror of His presence (Matthew 14:26 NLT). What would it look like to see Jesus walking on water?

Suddenly they hear His familiar voice, a bell like song soaring above the noise of the storm, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:26 NLT). In the original language He says in effect “It is the ‘I AM’ who is coming to you”. “I AM” is the name for God. Job describes God as One who “… marches on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8 NLT). Even a cyclone whipping up the waves pales into insignificance in the presence of almighty God.

Peter blurts out “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.” Why would Peter even ask this question? It’s in the middle of a storm and the last thing you would want to do is to get out of the boat? What is he thinking? He’s AFRAID of the storm but in AWE of God’s presence. It’s a question of “Where is the safest place to be. In the boat or with Jesus.”

When I ask God for miracles at times He grants them in ways I don’t expect.  “Yes, come,” Jesus says. So Peter goes over the side of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29 NLT). 

At first there is a mixture of DOUBT AND IMPULSIVE PRESUMPTION, but doubt transformed into faith allowed Peter to walk on the water and accomplish the impossible. Impulsive presumption transformed into trust allowed him to be a part of the miracle. Peter gives me hope that my doubts and presumptions can be transformed into trust and faith just when I need the supernatural intervention of God.

I can spend my life rowing in circles in the midst of an unresolved storm or I can come. If Christ says “Yes, come” and it involves a miracle, then He will give me the power I need to accomplish the impossible (Matthew 14:29).

And Jesus still says “Come.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT) echoes these words “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” What would it be like to come to Christ in the midst of a storm?

When Peter sees the strong wind and the waves, he is terrified and begins to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouts. Despite weak faith, Jesus still saves him. It’s a little bit like the father who came to Jesus so his son could be healed. Jesus said “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father replied “I do believe, but HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!”  (Mark 9:24 NLT).

Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs Peter. “You have so little faith,” Jesus says. “Why did you doubt Me?”

Jesus doesn’t say he has NO faith. He just says “You have so LITTLE faith”. Still Peter must have known he’d either sink or be saved. Someone said “WHEN I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.”

This is the way it works when I come to Christ. In the midst of the storms of life Christ commands me to “Come.” I don’t have enough faith to save myself, only enough to cry out for mercy. “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reaches out and saves me. Acts 16:31 (NLT) says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

What if we could run with immunity, childlike in the midst of such awesome power, between the huge stuttering shocks roaring challenges that need to be heeded, the intense glimpses of cityscape, the jagged shards of light slicing the sky. What if we could dance with defiance to the frantic rhythm of drum crescendos on the rooves and driveways, sing to the sweeping chorus of wind and play with innocent abandon in the rushing water and the rain. What if we with faith unyielding on the sea could slip over the barriers of dread and walk where others fear to tread (Ross Cochrane). Philippians 4:13 (NLT) says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

What would it look like if I were willing to stop frantically rowing around in circles, get out of the boat, and with mustard seed faith walk towards Jesus to experience a lifechanging miracle? All I know is that when I TRUST MORE, I SINK LESS.

Pastor Ross

John 3:16 –  PARABLE OF THE LOST MINERS

Parable of the Lost Miners

The world watched as 33 Chilean miners TRAPPED underground for 69 days were rescued. The last miner was rescued on Thursay October 14, 2010, a day marked with celebration and joy all around the world. The President of Chile said that Chile will never be the same.

One of the rescued men, Mario Sepulveda, said “I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought and God won the battle. I reached out and took hold of God’s hand. I never doubted that I would be rescued.” According to one article a number of men and their loved ones gave their lives to Christ during the ordeal as they prayed and reached out for God’s help.

Scientists and engineers WORKED day and night to design and drill an ESCAPE hole half a mile down to the trapped miners. 69 days later, they lowered a capsule from CAMP HOPE down to the men. It took 50 minutes to rescue each man. One newspaper headline read “FREED FROM HELL TO HOPE”. As the steel caged capsule surfaced it was as if each man was given NEW LIFE, SAVED, DELIVERED, REBORN.

It got me thinking about what this story would look like if Jesus told it as a parable. I’m sure it would go something like this.

“Once there was a wise, good and powerful King. His kingdom was known as the kingdom of Hope and it was the richest kingdom in the world. He ruled his people with love and justice. The kingdom of Hope was known throughout the world and other kings would seek to emulate the leadership of the great King. His writings and pronouncements were valued. For countless generations his family had ruled the land which was rich in beauty and mineral wealth. His people worked the land and as they ploughed the fields they would find diamonds and gold. As they ate the fruit of the orchards they would find health and strength. As they obeyed their king they prospered and he encouraged his people to share the wealth of the land with their families and with others all around the world. His exports were prized by many people – gold, silver, precious stones, fruit from his orchards and many other riches.

Not satisfied with working the land and planting orchards for food, the people became greedy and decided to find more efficient ways to extract the mineral wealth of the land. They dug a huge mine miles into the earth and worked night and day. Their families suffered as sons and daughters were without their fathers for many days on end. They became very rich from the resources they unearthed, but careless in their work practises and in their family relationships.

The wise king established safety precautions for them to follow but they were largely ignored so it was not surprising that there were many serious accidents and sure enough one day the mine collapsed. Many of the men from the kingdom became trapped in the bowels of the earth. As earth showered down upon them they stopped digging, left their tools and ran for their lives to a section of the mine that remained intact. Some men were wounded and had to be carried to safety. For a while they were stunned at the situation they found themselves in. They cried out in anguish and fear. But then many of them began to blame eachother. Fights began to break out. Then their anger turned towards the king. It was his fault that the safety precautions were not enforced! Soon a number of the men began shouting their abuse and slandering the name of the king.

Others began examining the instructions in the safety manual that the king had written to see if there was something they could do. They found a procedure which would let the king and those on the surface know that they were alive, so that the king could find a way to get them out. They knew the king would know where they were and that they were alive, but they cried out to him and made as much noise as they could. Others told them to be quiet and that the king didn’t care.

From Camp Hope the king soon drilled a small shaft down to the men. He said that the small shaft was just a promise of things to come when a larger hole would be drilled. The miners sent a note up to tell him that they were alive. Food and air was provided by the king along with an assurance that he would provide the way out. Some of the men continued to slander the name of the king, convinced that he intended to kill them.

Days and months went by. Periodically a note would come down the small shaft with a message from the king saying that a hole was being drilled and that someone was coming to save them. A physician would come down through a shaft to the men and examine them. He would give medical assistance and then bring each of them to safety. Many of the men did not believe. They saw no evidence of escape or the help that the king was providing them from above. They decided to make the best of it and ignore the messages and simply receive the provision from above that came through the smaller shaft.

Nevertheless the king continued to drill down to the men, day by day, and continued to send reassuring messages down through the small shaft.

The day finally came when the escape hole was nearly finished. The king sent final instructions through to the men to prepare the way as he drilled through the final few feet to the roof of their prison.

The king was so excited! He had done everything possible to provide a way to rescue the men. In camp Hope their was great celebration that the men would finally be rescued. The king decided to send his own son who was the best physician in the land down in an escape capsule from camp Hope to the trapped men. He was surprised that when he arrived far below that their were few men who welcomed him. He began to bring healing to the wounded men and gave instructions for each person to be rescued.

Some of the miners, after all the work that had been done for them, decided they DIDN’T WANT TO BE RESCUED and walked back into the darkness of the mineshaft, away from the capsule which had been made to bring them to safety and celebration on the surface? They refused to be saved and decided to stay behind? They tried to KILL THE PHYSICIAN who came to examine them, SLANDERED his name, the capsule, the king, the citizens of the kingdom of Hope and they stayed behind. They didn’t want to be hugged by the king of Hope! They didn’t want their lives changed forever? They said to the kings son, “I REJECT ALL YOUR WORK to save me. I DON’T WANT TO BE RESCUED!””

What is the meaning of this parable? John 3:16-18 (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. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Jesus has done everything He could do to save me from the penalty of my sin. There is nothing left for Him to do, but I am left with a choice as to whether or not I respond to the conviction in my heart and receive Christ as my Saviour.

Like the miners who agreed to be rescued I stepped into the very love of God and received new life and hope for the future. As I emerged the King of kings wrapped His arms around me to the applause of heaven. My life will never be the same.

Pastor Ross

Part 6 – Matthew 12:17-21 – GRAND FINAL VICTORY! CHOOSE ME!

Choose Me!

Australia is in the middle of GRAND FINAL FEVER with the NRL – THE DRAGONS VS THE ROOSTERS. What are the characteristics needed for those chosen to be the warriors of this battle? What is it that will win the game and bring victory? What will provide the competitive edge that guarantees success in the end? A BONE CRUSHING, COMPETITIVE MOMENTUM, A WIN-AT-ALL-COSTS, FAN PLEASING POWER that SHOWS-NO-MERCY, and that’s just for starters!

You would think that when God chose the BEST MAN to lead His team to VICTORY He would choose someone well QUALIFIED? When God is the SELECTOR, you would think He would choose someone who would GUARANTEE such success that you could engrave His Name on the VICTORY TROPHY long before He even arrived on the planet. His JERSEY could be hung in the HERO’S HALL OF FAME way ahead of time!

Matthew 12:17-18 (NLT) says “This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him: “Look at My Servant, whom I have CHOSEN. He is My BELOVED, who PLEASES Me. I will put MY SPIRIT upon Him, and He will proclaim JUSTICE to the nations. He will NOT FIGHT OR SHOUT or raise His voice in public. He will NOT CRUSH the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be VICTORIOUS. And His name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

1. So what qualities does God look for in the One He chooses to lead the grand final of grand finals? Is it the BONE CRUNCHING INTENSITY of a charging bull? NO! He chooses someone TO BRING HEALING AND RESTORATION TO OTHERS (Matthew 12:15). Instead of pounding the opposing team into the ground, He runs onto the field like an AMBULANCE MAN to pick up the players that are INJURED, and expects me to do the same. What is this?

Many people wanted Jesus to CRUSH the Roman occupiers, and for that matter the Pharisees. To TACKLE them with such RAGING POWER that they would be wiped off the face of the earth – a player like Elijah who would call down FIRE from heaven and CONSUME them (2 Kings 1:10,12)! GAME OVER except for the cheering! The fans left happy! JUSTICE with a FREE KICK! NO! He came to HEAL AND RESTORE me when I am BRUISED AND BROKEN and He calls me to do the same.

2. I would have chosen someone with at least a COMPETITIVE EDGE, shouting out TAUNTS with fire in His eyes like a rabid fan, but God chose Someone TO SERVE – Jesus wasn’t even on the FRONT ROW! He’s the guy that brings the water at half time and He calls me to do the same. Matthew 23:11-12 (NLT) says “The greatest among you must be a SERVANT. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave (or SERVANT) and was born as a human being. …” In Galatians 5:13 (NLT) God says through Paul “…use your freedom to SERVE one another in love.”

3. But serving one another is not catering to our whims. God doesn’t choose Him because He has an overwhelming desire to PLEASE THE FANS. Instead He chooses someone who has the desire TO PLEASE GOD, not cater to us, because fans are so fickle (Matthew 12:18). And make no mistake, God is pleased with Jesus even if the Pharisees are not! 1 Peter 2:4 (NLT) says “…He was REJECTED by people, but He was CHOSEN by God for great honour.” God has already said in Matthew 3:17 (NIV) “This is my Son, whom I LOVE; with Him I am WELL PLEASED.”

And once again Jesus is my example. Ephesians 5:2 and Romans 12:1-3 (NLT) says “Live a life filled with LOVE, following the example of Christ…” “…know God’s will for you, which is good and PLEASING and perfect.” 

4. I would have chosen someone with the POWER AND MOMENTUM of a DEMOLITION BALL in full swing but God chooses Jesus who has the SPIRIT OF GOD upon Him (Matthew 12:18), and the POWER OF GOD behind Him, giving me the example of how to live my Christian life. That’s why Ephesians 5:18 says that I am to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” and to exercise the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

5. On the football field selectors choose those who will SHOW-NO-MERCY but God chooses Someone TO PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO ALL PEOPLE. Justice is doing what is right before God and man (see Matthew 5:6). Jesus Christ shows me how to live and behave toward God and toward others, not just play the game. Micah 6:8 (NIV) says “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act JUSTLY and to love MERCY and to walk HUMBLY with your God.”  

God bless you Church. Jesus was chosen TO BRING HOPE TO A BRUISED AND BROKEN WORLD, as He died for me on the Cross and paid the PENALTY for my sins. The game is still AT HALF TIME and there is still time to be selected for the TEAM. I don’t have to sit on the bench. CHOOSE ME! The final trumpet is yet to sound and Christ will be proclaimed VICTORIOUS. WE WIN!

Pastor Ross

Part 5 – Matthew 12:14-21 – HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!

Bruised Reed!

As I talked with Nancy that day she said, “I pray to God every night and ask Him why He has been so unfair to me. Why did He leave me alive?” She is an elderly woman suffering the results of a stroke. She said “My Mother died of a stroke. Why didn’t He take me too, instead of leaving me like this? It is so unfair. Why is God so unfair?” Where is the JUSTICE of God when you end up with a stroke instead of dying in the process? How am I supposed to answer that?

In obedient response to Jesus a man with a deformed hand in Matthew 12:13 reaches out and is HEALED. Nancy blames God for NOT HEALING her and then NOT KILLING her. The Pharisees blame Jesus for HEALING on the Sabbath and they want to KILL Him (Matthew 12:14). Others gladly receive healing and restoration (Matthew 12:15). It seems God can’t please anyone! TO CARE OR NOT TO CARE – that is the question.

In Matthew 12:15 Jesus HEALS ALL THE SICK among them. How cool is this! My grandson would not have had a cold or tonsillitis if he had been there. My friend Fred would not have trouble walking because his arthritis would be gone and Alice would be able to breath properly again. Amelia would stretch out her stroke affected hand and not dribble food from the right side of her face.

So WHERE IS HE NOW? Do all these people somehow happen to be in the wrong century and the wrong country and is Jesus still in the “have LIFE TO THE FULL” business or is it now the “LIFE WHICH IS CRUEL” business? Has He CHANGED His purpose? Is He now into STROKES! Perhaps a few “RANDOM ACTS OF BLINDNESS, arthritis and dementia”?

What about Nancy? She would say to God “HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!” I can’t help but take that one step further and ask why is it that Nancy can be so insistent about not including God in her life and then blame Him when things go wrong? Is God TAKING IT OUT on Nancy? Or is it Nancy who is being UNFAIR? What would it look like if God was really fair according to our standards?

In Matthew 12:20 (NLT) a prophecy from Isaiah about Jesus is given. It says “He will NOT CRUSH THE WEAKEST (or BRUISED) REED OR PUT OUT A FLICKERING CANDLE. Finally He will cause JUSTICE to be victorious. And His Name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

So let me get this right. Why did He come? He came for a number of reasons but essentially He comes to give me HOPE in a world that is BRUISED by injustice and pain. He comes to heal, not to break the “BRUISED REED”. He comes to RESTORE my life when I am hurt and crushed by life’s experiences, discouraged to the point of giving up, and depressed to the max. He comes to encourage me when I am weak and my motivation for life is a “FLICKERING CANDLE”.

And then when I see Him for who He is I can’t do anything but care for others also. I am able to put Thessalonians 5:11-14 into practise “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another … encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NASB95)

I prayed with Nancy that day, that God would show her His purposes for her life as well as heal her. I assured her that God wasn’t into giving people strokes or into killing them. That was more the kind of thing Satan would do, not God. In John 8:44 Jesus says that Satan “… was a murderer from the beginning…” (NLT). In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.” So Jesus makes it clear that His purpose is not to TAKE something from us that we have, but to RESTORE something to us that has been stolen.

Will Nancy be healed? I don’t know. I don’t have the full picture of what God is doing. I do know that I can experience life to the full as I know Jesus personally, whatever circumstances I face. “He will not break the bruised reed” (Matthew 12:20). I have HOPE in Him.

God bless you Church as you make a choice to respond to God and come under His authority rather than blame Him for what goes wrong. I can see a distorted picture of Him through the glasses of my circumstances and sin, or I can seek Jesus in my pain and begin to see Him for who He really is. In Him there is always HOPE.

Pastor Ross

Part 1 – Genesis 21:1-7 – LAUGHING AT GOD!

Laughing at God!

As he was born my heart was bursting with JOY. I held my son Ben up to the Lord and dedicated him then and there. I was so grateful for the gift of a child. I remember driving home at the beginning of that day laughing and honking the horn so everyone could SHARE THE JOY I had, though on reflection they may not have appreciated it fully.

Abraham and Sarah would always remember how they laughed at the promise of a son in their old age. It seems Isaac was laughed at in one way or another all his life. Isaac means “laughter”. What an appropriate name. A river of LAUGHTER runs through the entire story of the birth of Isaac.

Abraham laughed in BEWILDERED AMAZEMENT in Genesis 17:17 and Sarah mirrored his response in DISBELIEVING DOUBT in Genesis 18:12 until she too was able to believe. 25 years later they laughed in DELIGHT AND FAITH and in the SHEER JOY of finally realizing the promise of having a son in Genesis 21:6. Sarah indicates that people will laugh and celebrate in WONDER AND AMAZEMENT at what God had done in their old age. God has a sense of humour.

25 YEARS! Lord, You take a while to come through with your promises. Genesis 21:1-2 almost downplays the momentous event of Isaac’s birth by simply saying, “The Lord kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what He had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.” But of course what You say You always do, in Your time not mine.

Why do You delay Your promises? 25 years seems an awful long time. I guess it’s what everyone says – You want my faith to grow, for me to learn what perseverance and trust and earnest prayer is all about. You teach me to have a CONFIDENT HOPE, instead of an INDECISIVE WISH.

Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) says “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the HOPE we affirm, for God can be TRUSTED to keep his promise.” 

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) says “PATIENT ENDURANCE is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. THEN you will receive all that He has promised.”  

Romans 4:20-21 (NLT) says “Abraham NEVER WAVERED in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises.” 

Genesis 21:5 (NLT) says “Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born” Sarah said “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” She should talk! She’s no spring chicken either. Sarah is 90. 

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” 

INFINITELY MORE! In fact JESUS would be one of the DESCENDENTS of Isaac. Sarah doesn’t know it but Isaac’s birth points towards the BIRTH OF THE SAVIOUR, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:3) as promised to Abraham.

JESUS AND ISAAC. Both births were PROMISED an outrageously long time before fulfillment. Both births were MIRACULOUS both HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE, and both birth’s brought INDESCRIBABLE JOY.

MARY’S JOY MIRRORS SARAH’S JOY. In Luke 1:46-47 (NLT) it speaks about Mary’s response to the promise of Jesus’ birth. “Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!..” 

Some laugh at the idea of God. God bless you Church as you LAUGH AT WHAT GOD IS DOING, not because you mock Him, but because you know the incredible Joy that the Holy Spirit brings as our lives collide with the promises of God and connect with Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

Pastor Ross