Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

flower-from-rockMatthew 19:13-15 – WHY SEEK GOD’S BLESSING IN THE DIFFICULTIES OF LIFE?

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And He placed His hands on their heads and blessed them before He left” (Matthew 19:13-15 NLT).

These parents were intent on having Jesus bless their children. They lived in difficult times. Why do we seek God’s blessing for our children? Does it make a difference? Will they be protected from life’s challenges? Will they avoid the pitfalls we encountered? What difference will it make? Will it change them or change us and our attitudes?

  1. A BLESSING SEEKS GOD’S HIGHEST INTENTIONS

Luke 2:27-35 (NLT) speaks about the day when Jesus Himself, as a baby, was blessed by Simeon. “That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there.

He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”  

Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to be dedicated to God at the Temple where this blessing was made. In the light of these prophetic words of blessing concerning Jesus, is it surprising then that parents devoted to Jesus will always seek to bring their children to Him? They too seek God’s highest intentions for their children.

This blessing does not mean Jesus will by-pass the difficulties of life. Blessings don’t always mean that life will be easy. The blessing Simeon gave made it clear that Jesus’ life would have challenges, more than any of us will face. Many would oppose Jesus and Mary would end up having her heart broken.

I would rather go through life with Christ’s blessing than without it, so that I can face the difficulties and opposition I may encounter with His help. I need His strength and victory in my life.

  1. JESUS RECEIVES THOSE LIKE CHILDREN

Jesus receives children on one hand, and then Jesus rejects both the religious leaders and a rich man. The disciples were confused. In their minds, Jesus receives those whom He should reject, and He rejects those He should receive. He receives the humble and rejects the arrogant and proud.

Humility was not highly regarded as a virtue in those times, nor is it in ours.  Neither are women children given any real respect in many parts of our world. Human slavery is still a reality in our world. Christianity declares humility a virtue and not a weakness and has given women and children value. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to Christ.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) instructs parents about raising children. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

  1. JESUS LOVES ALL WHO COME TO HIM

It is interesting to note that Jesus rebukes those who disregard or disrespect children (Matthew 19:14-15), even His own disciples. Previously He refutes those who disrespect the marriage relationship, even the religious and governing authorities in Jewish society. He has not changed His views.

If Jesus blessed little children then we also can pray for them with hope and expectation that they too will one day follow Him and find His strength for life’s challenges.

Jesus loves all those who come to Him, of any age. He rebuked His own disciples when they tried to decide who should and should not come to Him.

John 1:12-13 (NLT) says, “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.”

These verses speak of being open to Jesus, so let’s not seek to read infant Baptism into its meaning. Jesus uses the blessing as a symbol of being open to Christ and coming to Him in submission and trust for your life and for the future. It isn’t dependent on how capable you are or how much you lack. It depends on Him and He is willing to receive us and to give us His blessing.

The invitation of Matthew 19:13-15 is for us all to come to Him as dependent children, admitting that we need His blessing to be all He has intended for us to be as we face life’s challenges.

Pastor Ross

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Yoke © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender

Matthew 19:1-12 – E-MAIL FROM JESUS ON MARRIAGE

1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, He left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed Him there, and He healed their sick. 3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And He said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.  9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” 10 Jesus’ disciples then said to Him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” 11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”   

E-MAIL TO JESUS FROM ME

Jesus, You are so old-fashioned. You think that from the beginnings of creation and probably beforehand (very old-fashioned), God invented marriage. If that’s the case, then modernity can only try to interfere with it or break it, but will fail since it is firmly established by God. You are saying that His original intentions remain unchanged. So no court or government can change the nature of what God has established. 

This makes sense to me, Lord. If marriage was designed by human beings and particularly by our present cultural hegemon (ruling class) who commandeer the social commentariat (media) we would see the downward annihilation of the basic union that holds society together, the family.  

But what I love about You, Jesus, is that although You are still being as vigorously questioned by the religious Pharisees of our day, You still show Your love for all people, while not buying into all of the popular cultural norms we try to justify. 

I recall that Paul says in Ephesians 5:22-33, that God created marriage to be a picture of Your love for Your church. It speaks to me of Your absolute faithfulness. Jesus, You are not going to write us a letter of divorce. You, at least, are faithful to Your Bride – the Church. We are not always as faithful to You as time and time again we choose to conform to the world around us.  

It’s easy to see then, why You hate divorce, Lord. It’s because You love marriage. Especially since marriage is designed to reflect the relationship we can have with You. But through hard-heartedness, many remain divorced from You, Jesus and from eachother.  

It occurs to me that divorce and other invented marriage anomalies, even unwittingly, picture a war on the beauty of the gospel, God’s grace, and faithfulness and on the basic unit of our society, the family.  

It seems to me that You make Yourself clear. God has designed marriage, so we don’t need to redefine it. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant relationship, as is our bond with You, Lord Jesus. 

Lord, it’s difficult to stand up against those who feel they can decide what the cultural position should be. The vitriol concerning gay marriage is an example.  

Nevertheless, as a Christian, I am compelled to stand up for my faith and to proclaim the answers from the Bible for living a life as God intended from the beginning.  

I’ve been reading some history, Lord. When You taught these principles, Jesus, women were regarded as property to be possessed by men. They had no rights. Women were abused: used and discarded, neglected and violated. Divorce was common. And the principles outlined clearly by Moses were often challenged and twisted to mean whatever the hegemon decided.  

The social commentariat that You spoke with would come up with all the loopholes or blatantly disregard God’s original intentions to proclaim their views as law. Leprosy and childlessness became reasons for divorce and along with countless other complicated reasons to break the marriage vows that God intended for a lifetime.  

Jesus, You didn’t side with Shammai or Hillel, respected Jewish scholars, but to what God originally intended and to God’s Word. As always, though not forever, You extend Your grace and forgiveness to those who respond to Your Word and Your love by entrusting their lives to You, Lord Jesus, in relationship. 

“Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. I love the way You use the imagery of a yoke (joined together). Two oxen are yoked together, and they work together and are more effective in their work than they are separate. This is the picture of a man and woman united as one. Adam Clarke says  when persons (a man and a woman) were newly married, they put a yoke upon their necks,  to show that they were to be one, closely united, and pulling equally together in all the concerns of life.”  

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NLT) 

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7 NLT). 

Thanks, Lord. I value my marriage and love my wife. I also value and love my relationship with You. Help me to live out these principles.  

Yours, 

Ross 

 

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Matthew 19:7-11 – EMAILS TO JESUS – About Marriage and Divorce – Part 2

 

The Pharisees Write to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

We are offended and insulted. You don’t seem to realize that Your words are the source of misunderstanding and can significantly damage our standing in this community. You have impugned our character with Your accusations and implied that we have flagrantly disobeyed the law concerning divorce. This amounts to hate speech and Your public ridicule amounts to defamation. We take offence and have no intention of turning the other cheek. Your slanderous, libelous or defamatory comments have caused us to consider legal action.  

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S) team.

 

A Man Who Has Considered Divorce Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

I have seriously been considering divorcing my wife for a younger woman I am interested in. You got my attention today when You said ‘a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 

As a potter, I was reminded of a deep brown clay and a light yellow clay I mixed together recently to make a pot. After it was fired, my customer dropped it on the way out and it broke in half. Although it was broken in two, the 2 halves will never be the brown and yellow clay again, but each half will always retain the substance of the other. The image has disturbed me since You spoke.

I guess that’s why I was interested in how you responded to what the Pharisees said to You concerning divorce.  They asked You, “… why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?”  

I was hoping you would say something which would back up what I intended to do, to show me a way to make it a little easier to divorce my wife. But You were more concerned with keeping the marriage relationship strong. I must admit, You masterfully cut across the attack of the Pharisees and that’s why I am writing this letter. 

I thought the Pharisees had You cornered when they spoke about what Moses said, but you didn’t flinch. You replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.”  

You also made me think when You said rather forcefully, “And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

You made Your point crystal clear and went a lot further than I was willing to hear. You didn’t allow any leeway. I had never really considered directly what God intended for my marriage and, like the Pharisees, I was more interested in what Moses the lawgiver said about concessions for a divorce. 

When they tried to imply that You were setting Yourself above Moses, You kept bringing what God originally intended into the argument. This didn’t sit well with me at first but when I think of what God originally intended then I can see that God believes in my marriage more than I do. The master potter has mixed the clay and fired the pot to last a lifetime, … if well cared for.

So if God wants marriages to succeed, then He doesn’t want me to be looking for loopholes in the law to accommodate my failures in working on my marriage. I can see that He wants me to look for ways to normalize a strong marriage. He doesn’t want me to look for the exemptions to accommodate my sexual fantasies, but to find ways to enhance my faithfulness.

You have given me perspective. Lot’s to think about. All this time I have been blaming my wife for our marriage difficulties rather than addressing my own hard-hearted attitudes. 

When we married I never contemplated that one day I would consider divorce, but I have incrementally edged us towards the precipice, and deliberately tried to make her life miserable to justify my sinfulness. 

During one argument with my wife, I warned her of my intention to divorce her. It caused her such pain, and I can see why divorce is not what God originally intended. 

Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you have messed with my thinking. It’s too soon to give up on us yet. It’s better to just go with what God wants and see what happens, even when it would be easier to simply write her a letter of divorce.

Lord, thankyou for softening my heart. I’ve got a long way to go, but thankyou for helping me to look for the incremental changes that will bring healing grace and restore trust to my marriage.

A convicted follower

 

Divorced Wife of a Pharisee writes to Jesus  

Dear Jesus,

I was in the crowd today and heard what You said about divorce and adultery, but you didn’t go far enough!

Leviticus 20:10 (NLT) says “If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death.” That’s what you should be saying! Re-marriage wouldn’t be a problem. Further adultery wouldn’t be an issue then.  ‘Til death do us part.

The Scriptures clearly say that the penalty for adultery is the death penalty, but You ignored this. I know that since this was written, God seems to break His own rules and offers grace to those who deserve death, but why?

Why should grace be given to my scoundrel husband? Why should it be so easy for him to leave me? Moses wrote it clearly enough in the commandments, “You shall NOT commit adultery or covet your neighbor’s wife”. So why is it that my husband should get away with adultery and with leaving me for my neighbor’s wife simply by writing me a notice of divorce? You didn’t give any answers for this!

I’d be the one throwing the first stone at both of them. He doesn’t deserve God’s grace. Something inside me had died. Why should he live?

I overheard your disciples say, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”  I agree! Finally some sense. It’s not worth the pain.

If my husband wasn’t ready for the commitment, he shouldn’t have married me in the first place. It’s meant to last a lifetime, through the good and bad. Even You said that. And I agree. It’s a spiritual commitment. A gift from God that shouldn’t be split apart.

I know that King David got away with adultery because God was gracious to him.  He deserved death. Why is God so gracious? And Solomon was even worse. And don’t bring up Hosea and how he forgave his harlot wife, or talk to me about forgiving my husband. I won’t! I can be just as hard-hearted as him. I’m through with my husband, with Moses, and God and You too!

As far as I am concerned, God is far too gracious to adulterers and that’s all I have to say.

An Angry Divorced Wife

 

Divorced Wife of Pharisee writes to Jesus Again

PS  I’ve been meeting with some women who are all divorced. One of them is a young woman who once felt like me, but she has not remained bitter since becoming a follower of You. I envy her peace and even her faith. She was the one who encouraged me to write to You. Perhaps I’ll stay with her for a while, but don’t get the idea that I agree with the kind of mercy You are peddling to hard-hearted sinners like my husband.  

The truth is, I don’t really want him to die. I wish he would repent, but it seems I will now remain single for the rest of my life. You said some remain single. As You say, “Not everyone can accept this statementOnly those whom God helps.  My friend is praying that God will help me. …  

Dear Jesus,

After the explosive email I sent to You the other day, I thought I had better write to You and apologise. It was my hurt speaking. Somehow I know that you will forgive me. Something struck me about what you said about those who remain single all their lives. You said, “Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”  

For the moment I choose not to marry again, even though, according to the principles you have taught, I am able to remarry. You see, even as I write, I have decided to become one of Your followers, something I thought I would never do.

And I have chosen not to seek marriage again. Like those who remain unmarried for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, I have chosen to come under Your authority as my Lord and King; to serve the purposes You have set for my life. This is a radical but welcome change that has occurred in my life.  

I’ve been talking about my husband not repenting of his sins against me but not realising I needed to repent of my own sins towards God and that all of us need God’s grace if we are to be saved. 

Single for The Sake of the Kingdom

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Matthew 19:1-2 – E-MAILS TO JESUS

The Pharisees write to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

We didn’t realize You were coming into our area but now that You have arrived we notice You are attracting large crowds. Proselytising is strongly discouraged in our community. 

We, the Pharisee Investigative Group Surveillance, will be on hand and will see to it that you and your followers are scrutinized with the appropriate checks and balances of all you say and do.

We ask that you comply with the following

  • Do not speak against religious and government authorities, local customs and laws.
  • Do not share heretical teaching, or engage in defiling acts such as healing or associating with undesirable people such as sinners and those with leprosy or Gentile dogs, especially on the Sabbath.
  • Do not throw furniture or act violently in and around the temple or synagogues.
  • Do not leave food scraps around after meal times
    • Do not refuse to answer the questions of the Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance group or hesitate in asking for any further legal advice.

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S.)

 

A Woman Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

1 You finished teaching in Galilee today and You said You are going down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds have been following You there and You have been healing their sick. I just wanted You to know that I am going with them.

It is difficult to make the adjustment of leaving, but I know that I must move on. One painful season of my life has finished. 

I almost left it too late. Making the right move depends on making sure you make the right choices. It’s not always easy, is it? I knew I had to go from here but I wanted so much to put it off. That’s partly why I am writing this letter.

Unlike me, You always understand the right time to go. When You finish saying what You want to say, You just move on, so resolute for some reason to move ever closer to Jerusalem. I am not sure why.

Jesus, I have noticed that You never stop people like me from following You. Even though I am all alone and have no right to expect anything from You, somehow I know that when You welcome the crowds, You are welcoming me too.

In fact, I have discovered that believing what You say for my life is a continual journey of following You, Lord. You say You still want to heal people like me on the inside and make me whole.

I feel safe with You. You will never turn me away or leave me to face the journey of life alone, but neither will You compel or coerce me to obey and follow You.

I am praying that God will help me in the next part of the journey but I know it will not necessarily be easy.

Jesus, You simply invite me to come, and in coming, I know that I must turn from all else, from the directions I could take to the directions You want for me to take. You say we have all gone astray from God and that You are the only way back.

I have found that this is what faith is all about. Simply turning around and following You, instead of trusting in the direction I wanted to go without You.

I just wanted to thank You.

Yours,

A follower.  

 

The Pharisees Write to Jesus

Jesus,

We warned you about associating with sinners, the sick, proselytizing and teaching about culturally sensitive issues. You will now be subject to the public questioning of the Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S) team.

 

A Woman Follower Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

3 Today, some Pharisees came and tried to trap You with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 

They seem intent on wanting to trap You, to set You up and discredit what You teach. They want to see You fail. You can speak freely but only if You agree with their point of view.

You are healing the sick but they are more concerned about a theological issue concerning divorce. Go figure.

I felt as if they were looking at me. Why did they choose this question? One of them looked at me with derision. Do they know my secrets, a Christ-follower who is divorced? I shrank back into the crowd. But I don’t feel rejection from You, Lord, only respect.

I think I know what the Pharisees are doing. That’s the reason for this letter. There is more to their question than meets the eye. Their question has political overtones.

That’s why I am warning You, Lord, but already it seems too late. I know You are not concerned for political games but I also know that Your forthright views won’t endear You to the Pharisees. The truth is that the Pharisees don’t only want to trap You, Lord, but they want to get You into trouble with King Herod. Herod does not tolerate those who say anything against divorce.

I was a friend to Herod’s wife, Phasaelis. King Herod has divorced her. I tried to warn her about Herod’s affair with his own niece, Herodias, and it was me who helped her escape to her father, Aretas, king of Arabia.

When my husband found out I had helped Phasaelis, he was furious. He did not want to be associated with me for fear of King Herod’s wrath, so he divorced me, and threw me out of the house. He threatened to turn me in to the authorities.

And that’s why I am hesitant to follow You now that you are moving closer to Herod. 

King Aretas has put a contract out on King Herod’s life for the shameful way he has treated his daughter. He has declared war on Herod and there is a bitter battle taking place on the Northern border.

And Lord, it’s not only Herod You should be concerned about. You should know that Herodias, Herod’s niece, and lover, is just as dangerous as Herod himself. She caused Your friend, John the Baptist, to be murdered.

When Herod arrested John the Baptist, Herodias sought to justify her relationship with Herod, but John the Baptist denounced her “marriage” saying that it was against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). John was just like You, anything but politically correct.

Herodias didn’t like anyone exposing her sinfulness. Her conscience was seared with a life of excess, and she had the political backing to get her way. With a heart as black as the dungeon wall in which John the Baptist was imprisoned, Herodias tried to rid herself of what she considered to be an irritation, this badly dressed and ill-spoken man, … and she succeeded.

Herod granted her request. It was quite a table that had been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sat together at the king’s table that night as John’s head was brought in on a platter. You see, it doesn’t pay to say anything about God’s views on the marriage relationship. It is considered to be hate speech.

I know You are not intimidated by the dangerous question the Pharisees asked. But Lord, they are trapping You into speaking against Herod’s incestuous, adulterous marriage, even indirectly, and this could get You into a lot of trouble and I don’t want this to lead to Your death, too.

I would recommend that You leave this place as soon as possible,

Yours,

A Concerned Follower

 

The Pharisees write to Jesus

Jesus!

How dare you question our theological understanding! Your narrow views about the Scriptures are not wanted here. Not once did you mention the views of our esteemed Scholars and experts, Shammai and particularly Hillel, who have interpreted the Scriptures to be more culturally appropriate? This matter will not end here.

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S.)

 

A Woman writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

I’ve been thinking about the way You answered the Pharisees when they asked You about divorce. You answered their question. 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” You replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 

They wanted to argue and impose their thinking upon You, not read the Scriptures in order to understand what God was saying to them.

You cut across the plans of the Pharisaical social engineers, beyond all the popular opinions of the Romans and Jews, beyond all their justifications and You went back to what God has already declared in the Bible. I love the way You said, “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?”

The simplicity of Your statement struck me. You said that God created them male and female for the purpose of marriage. I am a Roman woman and I am so aware that we Romans practice polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, incest, keeping of concubines, prostitution, and divorce. But you made it clear that the original blueprint God made for marriage involves one man, one woman, who become one in Marriage.

5 You said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 

I’ve been thinking about this Oneness. You seem to be suggesting more than just the physical union but a oneness like a spiritual glue that God uses to bond us together as a husband and wife and this eventually leads to us to become a mother and father ourselves.

My husband and I had a son. You said a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife. But Your words only remind me of the pain I feel.

When my husband divorced me, he took our son. Our son, the miracle of the oneness of our marriage, torn from me. 

You expressed it well. 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 

My divorce at first left me with less than I started out with. I felt bereft in every way, split apart from the oneness I experienced with my husband and torn apart from the expression of our oneness – our only son. I miss my son with an unbearable pain and all I can do is ask God to protect him.

Yet, despite the devastation and pain, my relationship with You has somehow made me whole. If only my marriage had the oneness I experience spiritually as I trust in You. If only my husband knew that it was God who joined us together.

Yours,

A Reflective Follower

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Psalm 2:11 – BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 3

MAKE A CHOICE

I am surprised how many people think of Christianity as just another way to heaven, all religions are the same and we are all basically good people. This notion has already been challenged on the world scene. But it has always been challenged in the Bible. Psalm 2 makes it clear that not all religions are the same and that one day, there will be a time of reckoning. The New Testament in the Bible associates this Psalm ultimately to Christ and His Second Coming as a conquering King.

Notice that king David, the writer of this Psalm, is not saying that all religions lead to heaven. He is not saying that all religions have basically the same message. He is saying just the opposite. He is saying “Make a choice who you will serve. I am your only hope and I have come to save you. When you serve me, you will also serve God, who appointed me as your king.”

“Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11 NLT).

David says “Serve the Lord.” That’s all there is to it and the alternative is unthinkable. Either serve the Lord with reverent fear or be smashed and broken (see Parts 1-2).

FEAR AND JOY

Serve with reverence. Rejoice with trembling. Seems opposites. Seems very oppressive. But there is no room for sentiment here where rebellion is concerned with David.

He leaves room for a heart attitude change, but when it all comes down to it, this is an act of will rather than some emotional decision. There will come a time when it will be forced on them. Their choices are die or serve the Lord. Submit to David as king or be crushed.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEAR THE LORD?

The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is a deep sense of awe, respect, and reverence toward Him; submission and obedience to Him. It’s recognising that He has all authority and we do not. The New Testament indicates that it is a recognition of what Christ has done for us in love when He died on a Cross for our sins, and responding to that love. There is no other way for us to be saved.

Joy comes with a sense of relief from not having to face judgment. 1 John 4:17-19 (NLT) says, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” The opposite to experiencing the love of Christ is experiencing the fear of judgment.

The invitation of Psalm 2 is to welcome Jesus and submit to Him. That’s wise. Make a decision to rejoice in what He rejoices in. Love Him and serve Him above all else. The only unforgiveable sin is our unbelief. Hebrews 2:3 (NLT) says “So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus Himself and then delivered to us by those who heard Him speak?” Christ is the only way. He is the only One who loved us enough to save us.

Proverbs 9:10 (NLT) says “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

Pastor Ross

Wrecking Ball 2

Breaking and Smashing © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 2:10 – BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 2

THERE IS NO OTHER KING

Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT) speaks of Christ, humbled by dying on the Cross, but then it goes on to say “… Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

So when have we ever seen this happen? Every knee bowing down? Not yet. There have always been those who don’t believe in Christ and refuse to come under His authority. Through the centuries there have always been those who opposed Christ and His followers. Has the book of Philippians in the Bible got it all wrong? No!

GOD IS PATIENT, BUT …

The Bible describes our present time as a time of God’s grace. 2 Peter 3:9-10 (NLT) explains “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.” 

So the Bible is clear that this prophetic time of judgment hasn’t yet taken place. God is giving the nations time to repent, but one day Christ will return with swift judgment as a victorious ruler.

Jesus is not King of one nation only, but every nation. The rebellion of empires or our individual sin against him in no way diminishes His authority and power. His humble servanthood in no way diminishes His dominion and intention to return as the conquering King.

TO WHOM DO I OWE MY ALLEGIANCE?

“Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth!” (Psalm 2:10 NLT).

So these words are the culmination of an angry promise and warning. Surprisingly, it is a plea from a heart of grace. David says, “Don’t be fools. Act wisely. Be warned.” How are they to act wisely? They have a choice. Submit or be annihilated. Not much of a choice? If they only realized that it’s the choice of a drowning man. Grab the rope and be saved or die. Judgment will come whether you do or not. Fall from a plane without taking the parachute you’ve been offered will have inevitable consequences.

As an ancient king, David could have simply gathered his army and gone against these rebellious kings and brought them to justice, but he doesn’t. He gives them time to consider their future. Before the storm comes, a moment of grace.

In the same way, the Bible uses this Psalm to say that God’s purpose is not to take pleasure in judging us, but to save us from inevitable judgment. Judgment was never intended for us according to the Bible. It is intended for the final judgment of the devil and his angels. Our mutiny leaves us out in the storm but there is shelter in Christ.

Before Jesus came, John the Baptist prepared the way by saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus continued to say exactly the same thing (Matthew 4:17).

The voice of love still invites us to respond in love and repentance to the King of kings.

Pastor Ross

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

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Bad Egg © Ross Cochrane

The TRUE EASTER STORY has some BAD EGGS.

So who are these bad eggs?

 

 

 

 

JUDAS

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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

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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

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Matthew 18:18-20 – FORGIVENESS AND A TORN $10 NOTE

It was at Mt Austin Primary School before I was a teenager that I discovered that I was skilled in drawing and painting. It was 1966 and I decided to make a copy of the new decimal currency, a $10 note. What can say? I was young. I didn’t know it was illegal and I had no intention of using it as currency, only as an Artwork.

Meticulously, I worked for hours on my $10 note until I was fairly sure that I had a respectable representation and took it to School the next day.

One of the better artists in the class happened to see it and was impressed. He wanted to show some of his friends and so foolishly, I let him take it away. He promised to return it, which he did … in two pieces; torn down the centre. Hours of hard work. He apologised sincerely. He said it was an accident. I forgave him and took my torn emotions and artwork home. Sticky-tape just didn’t work for me. It had been destroyed, but it had been an accident. What can you do? Move on.

Not to be deterred I decided to make an even better representation of the $10 note using all the newly discovered techniques I had mastered from the last one. Once again it took me hours to make and I hesitated on taking it to school but eventually decided I could make my artist friend feel a little better in the light of my replica.

On showing it around at School, once again my artist rival wanted to show it around to his friends and I said I would rather he didn’t, but he said he would keep it safe. Surely he would be careful this time, and my trusting nature gave way.

Lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice but my artwork came back torn in half once again and once again my friend was apologetic. I was heartbroken about my artwork and less concerned about my careless friend. I forgave him once again. To this day, I don’t know if it was his jealousy that caused the ruined artworks or his carelessness. How many times do you forgive?

Forgiving a torn artwork is trivial. What happens when the sin sears its way into your soul and brings devastation to your heart? All I know is that I have been forgiven more than I could hope for in my life and have been tested with offenses where only God’s help enabled me to forgive.

Peter once came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone (Greek my brother) who sins against me? Seven times?” (Matthew 18:21 NLT).

Good question. Is forgiveness limited? Are there circumstances when I can’t or should not forgive? Do I only forgive the small things?

Adam Clarke says “It was a maxim among the Jews never to forgive more than thrice (three times) Peter raises that by more than a half, but Jesus multiplies forgiveness into an eternal value. Perhaps nothing is more difficult than to forgive.

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replies, “but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:22 NLT). Jesus says, in effect, that forgiveness is uncountable, unlimited.

Trying to count how many times I have forgiven someone in itself shows an unforgiving spirit. Forgiveness has an eternal quality and gives us a picture of the spirit of Christ. It defies counting because it comes from the heart. It’s not some scientific calculation, and it will demand grace, not reciprocity.

Can you measure how much a person has been loved or forgiven? Impossible. We can count offenses easily, but forgiveness involves leaving the offence behind, so we cannot count mercy.

To understand what Christ has accomplished in forgiving us for sins beyond count is to appreciate how much we need to forgive others without counting.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) says “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” The invitation is to forgive and not carry around the burden of bitterness. Do everything you can to restore the relationship.

And no, I have never drawn a $10 note again, but the skills I gained from the experience were invaluable. A torn $10 note is not worth a torn relationship. Forgiveness in a relationship transcends an enumeration of our faults?

WHO KICKED JESUS OUT OF POLITICS? Theocracy and Democracy.

DEMOCRACY

We get what we ask for, but for Australia it seems we don’t really know what that is. Australia voted and it seems no-one really likes any particular party.

The common definition of democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” That means free and fair elections, the people get to vote, human rights are respected and we live with the consequences equally. It is not the freedom to elect our own dictators.

It’s been around since at least the 5th century BC.

THEOCRACY

The simple definition of Theocracy is “Government by God through His Word”. For example God’s Word is the GPS by which followers of Christ navigate a pathway in this world. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.”

God is recognised as the Supreme Leader and the government system is run according to the guidance of God through His Word.

Today Theocracy is not a desired form of government by most Western countries. In historical terms we remember those who tried to impose their form of Theocracy on others such as Oliver Cromwell or Bloody Mary in England and more recently Isis and the many countries where exercising free speech is suppressed by the religious political leaders.

Yet Jesus spoke of a Theocracy; a new kind of Theocracy. In John 18:36 (NLT) Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep Me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Today, His politics are too dangerous; His Theocracy too risky. We don’t vote for Him because His rulership is not based on the wishes of a majority, but on individuals making a life-changing choice to serve Him no matter what party you vote for. It is not established by passing policies through parliament, but by followers of Christ choosing to love God wholeheartedly and seeking to make the love of Christ known to others no matter who governs. The Kingdom of God is extended as Christians live as God intends. Not policies but purpose in life.

Today the neglect of the Bible and of God in society is evident. The separation of Church and state was originally designed to protect both Church and state, but is now used to subjugate any influence of God in politics?

To many in society, to share the love of Christ is outrageously dangerous. We must no longer say the Lords prayer in Schools, swear on the Bible in a court of law, use the name of Jesus, Christmas, or espouse the values and standards of the Bible in public for fear of … well, for fear of … I don’t know. Apparently Biblical principles of loving your neighbour, and loving God are intolerable for many who consider a more secularist and popularist saviour in a particular political party.

Aligned with Democracy are those who are involved in socially engineering their own agendas. Politically correct secularists systematically impose their far from neutral morality system on society and seek to presume it to be enforced. It is promoted with autocratic zeal incessantly. Anyone who disagrees is labelled and belittled. But Colossians 2:8 (NLT) says, “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”

In a Theocracy only God is able to judge right and wrong with absolute justice. If we are sinful people as the Bible indicates, then we are not able to implement Biblical laws in a just way? No-one is. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” So for a follower of Christ, their heart-change will always be more important than a policy change. A genuinely changed life is the greatest influence of all in family, a community, a city, a nation.

Therefore, a follower of Christ can exist under any kind of government system because they are ultimately under the authority of God. Christ followers seek to apply Biblical principles rather than simply politically popularist and secularist views. They pray for their national leaders so that laws will not prevent followers of Christ from living as God intends. 1 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) says “Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”

In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches us to pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. MAY YOUR KINGDOM COME SOON. MAY YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. The Message Bible says, “Our Father in heaven, Reveal who You are. SET THE WORLD RIGHT; DO WHAT’S BEST— AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.”  

Followers of Christ speak of Jesus as Lord, meaning the Lord, above all other rulers. He is the King of kings. Jesus makes it clear by saying in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Universities with the motto “the truth shall make you free” apply this quote to secularist teachings but John 8:31-32 (NLT) gives the context “Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

But His is a very different Theocracy. If you want to come under the authority of Christ as King of kings, then Jesus says “… you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24 NLT). Matthew 23:11-36 (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. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”

Those who disagreed with Jesus, violently tried to impose their kind of Theocratic dictatorship upon Him by crucifying Him. Similarly, Western thought rejects the Theocracy of the Servant Leadership of Christ, handing over their authority to scientism and democracy to rule. Unfortunately there are ever increasing restrictions on those who follow Christ.

Those who want to impose their form of Theocracy, Jesus calls “Hypocrites!” … “Blind guides!” … “Blind fools!” … “For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” … “Snakes! Sons of vipers!” Politically incorrect hate speech or an accurate assessment of many religious leaders in our world today?

The walk of faith is a life under the authority of Christ and directed towards influencing, not imposing our views upon, the people of the world around us to respond to His love, so they can repent of their sin and believe the message of Christ. Unlike the Crusaders of past history and Isis in modern history, Jesus does not impose His rulership on anyone. He is a Servant King.

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT) says “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.”

Every man and woman has become a priest (spiritually sensitive to God) and royal (part of God’s family) when they believe in Christ. His authority is not coercive but very influential. A Biblical Theocracy incorporates individuals from every nation of the world responding to Christ and living free within the boundaries of Christ’s love. Bishop Tom Wright says, “We with the gospels have… a story, but it is a love story, not a power story.”

We are people with a message of great influence. The invitation of God’s Word is to believe in Christ. As we do, Jesus says “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT). Shine on.

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)