Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Matthew 7:24-29 – HOW TO BE SHOCKED ENOUGH TO TAKE ACTION 

Building Your Life On The Rock. Painting and image by Ross Cochrane. Turn your head sideways to the right and you will see a sleeping headland or cliff-face imbedded in the rock.

A luxury villa with an immaculately manicured lawn, beautiful swaying palm trees, an infinity pool, a jetty for speedboats and a helipad, this is the paradise world of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Just one of 300 man-made islands sculpted from sand; a 14 billion dollar dream in Dubai. It took 5 years to build and 320 million cubic metres of sand dredged from the sea to create these islands and nest them inside a protected lagoon. But of course when you build on the sand things come crashing down; enter 2008’s global financial crash. Virtually overnight the market collapsed. Contracts worth hundreds of billions of pounds were put on hold. 60 billion dollars in debt. Shock!

In reading about Dubai World I couldn’t help but be reminded about the story Jesus told in Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) Jesus says “… anyone who hears My teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Epitaph – “His life was built on an unstable foundation and was not able to withstand the gradual undermining erosion that took place. Cracks in the wall began to appear early in his life. When the storms of sickness and suffering came, when the storms of temptation and sin came, when the storms of misunderstanding and gossip came, when the storms of doubt and rejection came, when the storms of stress and death came, when the storm of God’s Judgment came His life was built on sand and came crashing down. It was washed out to sea. The aftermath of a cyclone and the reminders of His life are now strewn in wreckage along the beach.” Shock!

The storms of life test the foundations of our faith. Not that you would notice the difference on the outside between the house built on sand and the house built on the rock, but when the storms come you will see how immeasurably different they are.

Jesus speaks about building on a solid rock foundation. Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” 

The “bedrock” relates to the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mountain but also to all His teaching. “Petra” (rock) is the word that is used here in the original language of the Bible. It doesn’t mean a stone or a single rock but it is describing a great outcropping of rock, a large expanse of bedrock which is SOLID, STABLE, AND UNMOVABLE.

How stable is your faith? What are you really trusting in? Will it still be there when the storms have passed, anchored and unmoving? Will the last storm of Judgment burn away the refuse of a life lived without God and produce irreparable devastation and separation from God for eternity?

Matthew 7:28 (NLT) says “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were AMAZED at His teaching …”

Amazed! Astonished! Shocked! There is a big difference between being astonished and coming under the authority of what Jesus is saying, between adding Jesus to our lives as an optional extra and truly following Him as our Lord and Saviour. Jesus was after action not just astonishment, worship not just wonder, obedience not just observation, salvation not just shock. The invitation is to allow God to turn amazement into action by actively trusting and following Christ as your Lord and Saviour today, the Solid Rock foundation for our lives. 

Pastor Ross 

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Part 16 – Matthew 12:43-45 – PLAYING WHACK-A-DEMON!

Whack-a-Demon!

Many years ago I worked in an organisation called SCILS – Sunshine Coast Independent Living Skills. We worked with people who had mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.

David (not his real name) was helped to find a place to rent in the community. He had been in danger of living on the streets and had already made some questionable friends. He cleaned up his life and we taught him some independent living skills – buying food on a budget, paying rent and keeping the place clean.

David wanted his new life but not at the expense of some of his old habits. He invited his so-called friends to visit him. When they saw that he now had an apartment, with plenty of room, with leechlike intensity, they used David to provide them with free rent and a place where their bad attitudes and lifestyles could thrive in relative anonymity. Even when confronted they were abrasive and uncooperative, malevolent. It took some time to EVICT them, and there was always the danger that they would RETURN.

When Jesus speaks to the religious leaders who confront Him with malevolent intent He says that they are part of an “evil and adulterous” generation that “refuses to repent” and “refuses to listen” (Matthew 12:41-42). As if that’s not enough to get offside with them, He then goes on to associate them with those who are DEMONIZED. Nice! Who said Jesus was meek and mild?   

In Matthew 12:43-45 (NLT) Jesus says “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”  

What is this about? I think Jesus is saying something like this. “You can clean up your life, get rid of your demons, get all religious and reform your life with rules and regulations and good works, but you won’t find real rest. You will still feel dry and empty inside. You will still be restless and crave that which you thought you had evicted from your life until it takes up control again, only this time several times worse.” 2 Peter 2:19 (NLT) says “For you are a slave to whatever controls you.”

An evil spirit can evidently be BANISHED but NOT DESTROYED, just as evil in our generation cannot be destroyed in this lifetime. We live in a world of PEACE-KEEPERS trying to keep evil at bay, but it will not be eliminated at the point of a gun.

Let’s face it, we know that no matter how much the United Nations or any government seeks to LEGISLATE righteousness, they are merely shooting RUBBER BULLETS. The mass of evil will be dispelled for a time only to raise it’s ugly head elsewhere like the game at shows and fairgrounds where you use a mallet to “WHACK-A-MOLE”. We could call this variation “WHACK-A-DEMON!”

We know that a REFORMED lifestyle won’t work. I can clean up my life, scrub the floors of my soul, throw out the garbage, but an empty house is designed for a TENANT, not just to stand there as a sanitised, disinfected empty shell. What I need is a new tenant who will look after the place, not just a empty apartment that will attract all kinds of UNWELCOME GUESTS.

We know that RELIGION won’t cut it either. Jesus is speaking to very religious people (the Pharisees) who advocate a list of “Thou shalt not’s” to remain clean. They even have a few rules for Jesus, including “Don’t heal anyone on the Sabbath”. Substituting religious evils in the guise of good intentions for what God really wants to do in my heart will not change me (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Evict the evil spirits by all means but REPLACE the bad tenants with a good tenant. A life is not transformed by the absence of EVIL SPIRITS but by the presence of THE HOLY SPIRIT (2 Timothy 1:14, Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit indwells my life when I believe in Christ and then I have a chance of a life of VICTORY OVER SIN (1 John 5:1-5).

God bless you as you believe in Christ right now, and as the Holy Spirit comes to lead you into all truth and take up residence in you (John 14:16-17), you will have the opportunity to obey God (1 Peter 1:2) rather than play games of WHACK-A-DEMON.

Pastor Ross

Part 8 – Matthew 12:22-28 – I’M AN ATHEIST AND I INTEND TO STAY THAT WAY!

I’m an Atheist!

He was wide-eyed but unable to speak properly. The nurses told me that he did not have long to live. Brian (not his real name) was experiencing spasms of pain and shortness of breath. He was groaning and looked weak, drawn and afraid. I offered to pray for him. I prayed for healing and encouraged him to reach out to Christ and seek to have a relationship with Him. I told him that Christ would be able to help him get through this situation.

The next day I came in to see Brian again. I asked the nurses how he was and they told me he was much better. I was surprised that he was able to speak again. His recovery was amazing. An answer to prayer! I introduced myself. He looked at me, recognized who I was immediately, and said vehemently, “I’m an ATHEIST and I intend to stay that way!” His response to Christ as he had faced the possibility of death was to REJECT Him. I said that this was his choice but that I hoped he would come to know the Lord.

It’s not unusual that the crowd is amazed as Jesus heals a demon-possessed, blind and dumb man in Matthew 12:22, but it’s that TOTAL REJECTION of Jesus by the Pharisees (and Brian) that surprises me the most.

The Pharisees response to Jesus is vehement and MALICIOUS. Not only do they REJECT Jesus but 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.”

Why are they saying this? Why aren’t they willing to examine things further? Is it that they are afraid of losing their REPUTATION? Is it because they want to hold onto their POWER and already feel that it is slipping away? Perhaps.

The Pharisees are the TALIBAN of Jesus day (If you can’t get people to think your way, bomb them). They behave like RELIGIOUS THUGS! The intensity of their unbelief is incredible. It has already expressed itself as they plotted to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14)! They are obstinate, pig-headed, determined, inflexible, unmoved, stubborn and persistent leaders. The kind of political leaders we still revere today.

The Pharisees did not actually see first hand Jesus heal the demon possessed, blind and dumb man. That’s not surprising. When I DISTANCE myself from Jesus I will rarely see His miracles, even when I hear about what God is doing in the lives of others who have had a personal experience of Christ. Like the Pharisees, I will not be satisfied or happy for the man who has been healed, even though his life has been CHANGED FOREVER. It is only as I am willing to place myself in PROXIMITY to Jesus and see Him for who He is that I begin to acknowledge, like the crowd, the possibility of Him being the MESSIAH, more than a man, the One sent by God to save me from my sin.

In psychology, PROJECTION is a defense mechanism where a person denies what is happening in their own lives, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions, and then ascribes them to other people. Perhaps the Pharisees are demon possessed themselves and being BLIND to this, they PROJECT what is happening to themselves onto Jesus. John the Baptist calls them a BROOD OF VIPERS in Matthew 3:7 who are resistant to REPENTANCE.

In Matthew 5:20 (NLT) Jesus says “But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

The man who was healed was BLIND AND DEAF. The Pharisees are BLIND AND DEAF themselves to the things of God and need healing. John 12:38-40 (NIV) says “…For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has BLINDED their eyes and DEADENED their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Like Brian, they say, “I am blind to what Jesus has done for me and I intend to stay that way!” My Dad used to say “There are none so blind as those who will not see!”

The invitation is to allow the Lord to open your eyes to His truth and intentionally remain open to Christ and what He wants to do in your life today.

Pastor Ross