Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Tree 9.jpg

Conversation © Created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 1:1-6 – THE STORY OF CHAFF – A Conversation

A conversation between the Chaff, the Tree, the Seed and the Gardener.

CHAFF: I care for no purpose but the flight. I care for no worth other than to rise high above the trees and there to roll and ride the breeze with all usefulness abandoned for a brief instant before the scattering. I am the chaff that separates until nothing is left or useful. I am untouched by the gardener’s hand, transient and far from His voice. I am separated from the life of the seed to ride on the wind with the illusion that I am free. I care not to think that I am unsustained by the dryness of a parched husk, storm battered and unsubstantial, fruitless and rootless, disconnected from Christ and hope, scattered, even in myself, and in the end useful for nothing but to feed a fire (Matthew 3:12).

TREE: I too love the wind that blows through my being, the heady heights from which sunlit vistas and scenic horizons are seen. But I am not scattered but resilient, not useless but resourceful and timeless in my adventures. My windswept branches are within the boundaries of my belonging. There is an integrity of being that means I am free to be who I am within the borders of my abiding in Him. I am sustained by the gardeners care and connected to the life He gives, fruitful and fit for service to be all I was created to be.

There is worthlessness and scattering that comes from not knowing Christ. A uselessness of one’s being. A transience. Life that blows away. There is no sustaining, or fruitfulness or prosperity. Worthless, lifeless, windswept, scattered, insecure, separated from the seed-life, there is no reality for life’s capacity, no integral existence or fruit or purpose by the riverbank, just a scattering in the storm. Even in the earth, chaff will not grow.

CHAFF: Am I to be judged because I have no roots? Am I to be condemned because I do not respond to the Gardener’s touch? I do not belong to those who sprout their platitudes and delight in belonging to their stand. Yes, I am lost and yes, I want to be. No responsibilities. Free.

SEED: Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to each one, but in the end it leads to death.” We two were so near once, and we look so much alike, yet in the end, we are separated as you disappear in the wind. Such is the judgment you have chosen. “For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalm 1:6 NLT).  

CHAFF: You who love the Gardener, you talk like Him, act like Him, stand with Him, listen to Him, delight in every interaction with Him, even bear fruit that tastes like Him. The Gardener watches over the path of your life. In some ways, I envy you.

TREE: Then listen! …Today the Gardener is giving you the choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster, … between blessings and curses, Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 NLT).

Seek Him and you will grow roots instead of rebellious sails. Know Him intimately and you will grow to great heights. Trust Him implicitly and the miracle of life will take place. Then when the storm comes you will not simply be dismembered and scattered. Proverbs 10:24-25 (NLT) says “The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation”.

He is calling you to come to Him. He will give you right standing with Himself. If God is for you, who can ever be against you? He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for you. Can anything ever separate you from Christ’s love?

CHAFF: But you too experience the storms of life. Where is the Gardener’s love then?

TREE: Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.

CHAFF: What is love? It is as meaningless as life.

TREE: I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—and if you believe in Christ not even the powers of hell can separate you from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate you from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:30-39). Come chaff and experience the miracle of the seed.

THE GARDENER: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalms 1 NLT).

Without delighting in the purposes of God, whatever other purposes we may have are inevitably lifeless and worthless, fruitless and rootless. Chaff blowing in the wind may look good for a moment but it decries a life of barrenness. The flight may seem exciting, rising to great heights at times and rolling and visiting places that are always new, but it will scatter and divide and not equal the heights reached of a growing tree nor find the fulfillment of a fruit-filled branch or the integrity of abiding in Christ. The journey of chaff is transient.

The miracle is that there is a choice. The Gardener invites you to choose life.

Pastor Ross

Advertisements

img_5796

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 2:1-2 NLT) 

SKY PILOT

Your voice alights, remembered, sings.

Your Words; Love’s labor.

Not the mocking tenor of the time.

Not the wicked void of Godless quests;

Diverging paths, divested of purpose.

Today my heart in harmony delights in Yours.

In perfect rhythm with Your soul it soars

with Spirit and with truth

above the clamorous calls of earth

to hear the voice of God.

© Ross Cochrane 12-1-17

Missing the Point

© Ross Cochrane – Gambling with Forgiveness

Matthew 18:23-35 – HOW TO INVEST IN WHAT TRULY MATTERS – The Parable of a Rogue Trader

WORLD BREAKING NEWS: Monday.  ANOTHER ROGUE TRADER SQUANDERS MILLIONS.

Another rogue trader is back in the headlines after Compassion Bank’s Owner and Managing Director revealed that “unauthorised trading” by Michael Heartless has cost the bank millions of dollars.

The losses had surprisingly little impact on the market generally, due to Bank reserves and profits, which fortunately dwarfed the rogue trader’s activities. “This will not even touch the bank’s massive resources for the Kingdom our bank serves,” said Managing Director, J.C. Davidson, who also rules the dominion of World Kingdom Enterprises, “but it is disappointing.”

Michael Heartless had it all, authority in the banking arena, great wealth and honour. Living in a huge house, he was chauffeur driven in a magnificent limousine. He wore designer clothes and a Rolex watch. A wheeler and dealer and now an exposed ruthless rogue trader, he was the Senior Trader of Compassion Bank’s massive company.

Heartless worked his way up in the company from the position of Assistant Accountant to Senior Accountant and then Senior Trader, and was entrusted with borrowing from his employer’s Worldwide Banking Corporation to make huge business deals and investments. Traders said he expressed a love for working for his boss, as a trusted long-time employee.

After a lucrative career, Mr. Heartless began to get careless, making a series of questionable deals and fraudulent choices which inevitably lost millions of company dollars. Because he had worked in Compliance, he became adept at hiding his losses and bypassing checks.

Never thinking he would be discovered, and always thinking he could pay back the company if given time, he added to his fraud by siphoning off enough funds to keep on living his extravagant lifestyle. He bought luxury goods and property at over inflated prices, spending millions in a number of waterfront apartments. He was sure his next big deal would pay back the money he owed.

The Managing Director and owner, J C Davidson, had given his employer an incredible amount of leeway, allowing him to make choices for the good of Kingdom Enterprises. Perhaps his fraud would not have been discovered for some time except an immediate audit was underway and J.C. Davidson wanted to bring His accounts up to date with all His Banking Traders who had borrowed money from Him.

One auditor said “It was an unpayable debt. Some countries could be run on what Mr Heartless owed. His debt was so immense that at first we thought it was beyond estimation. The interest alone on such a debt would be enormous.”

The audit revealed the massive losses and fraud and Mr. Heartless was summoned to appear before the Managing Director and Auditors. Although Heartless respected J.C. Davidson, he lacked the integrity of his boss and did not want to face up to his debt. A fellow trader said, “He refused to come at first but when a limousine arrived with two rather large messengers, he knew he had no choice.”

Subsequently, J.C. Davidson exercised His sovereign authority and demanded that Heartless repay the money lost. Heartless was unable to pay the debt, so according to court transcripts, Davidson ordered everything he owned to be sold.

Heartless, along with his family members, who were co-conspirators, were ordered to be placed under an enforced work order to recover the debt. This amounted to hard labour and community service for the rest of their lives. The conviction was immediately appealed by Heartless who tried desperately to work out a deal with Davidson.

One of the auditors told our reporter that Heartless literally collapsed and begged Davidson for more time. “He was totally unrealistic. He asked for patience and he would repay the whole debt. It was laughable. At least he acknowledged that the debt was his to pay, but trying to propose some kind of time based repayment scheme was ridiculous … His mistake was thinking that he could operate and manage finance apart from being accountable to J.C.”

 

WORLD BREAKING NEWS: Tuesday. ROGUE BANKER WALKS FREE.

The world was left reeling today in hearing that the Rogue trader, Michael Heartless, walked away from paying a single cent. Bankers are questioning the way J.C. Davidson exercises His extensive sovereignty over Kingdom Enterprises.

An auditor for Kingdom Enterprises said, “What I found to be unbelievable is that J.C. Davidson had pity on him, released him and forgave his debt entirely, withdrawing all charges, and personally covered the money owed.” …

J.C. Davidson later made a statement. “You must understand that Compassion Bank is run not only on a set of legal principles of building business relationships. It is run on the invisible relationship principles of love, forgiveness and grace which cannot be legislated. Legal compliance without a heart to do what is right is fruitless. I encourage my employees to regard relationships of forgiveness and compassion with each-other as being incredibly important. The example of forgiveness I have shown to Mr. Heartless is more important than the money he owes Me. I am willing to pay the price for him.”

The banking world was astounded at the enormous debt forgiven and the apparent lack of justice and business sense. Bankers all over the world have accused Davidson of taking part in the fraud, but so far His business dealings by countless independent auditors have proved to be beyond reproach.

When Davidson was asked again why He let Heartless and his family walk free, He simply said, No amount of sacrifice on his part or enforced work programmes for his family could possibly re-pay their debt. He admitted his crime and I forgave his debt. That’s the end of the matter.” This approach would not be tolerated in normal banking practices in other countries. Heartless has refused an interview and has not been seen since his release.

 

WORLD BREAKING NEWS: Wednesday. MICHAEL HEARTLESS LIVES UP TO HIS NAME.

It seems the story of the rogue trader, Michael Heartless is far from finished. It has recently come to light that when Heartless left his boss, after being completely forgiven of his multi-million dollar debt, that he immediately went to a fellow banking trader who owed him a few thousand dollars.

Heartless lived up to his name. Despite being forgiven so great a debt himself, it was confirmed by reliable sources and witnesses that he demanded payment and assaulted his debtor.

His fellow trader owed him a tiny debt in comparison to the millions of dollars that Heartless had been forgiven. A witness said that his fellow trader, who can’t be named “… begged for a little more time to pay, but Heartless kept on demanding immediate payment and wouldn’t listen.” It is alleged that Heartless pressed charges against the man, and had him arrested and thrown into prison.

A witness said “You would think that this guy Heartless would be over the top joyful about being forgiven his unpayable debt? But no. He uses violence to demand his fellow trader to pay a tiny debt in comparison. Unbelievable!”

 

WORLD BREAKING NEWS: Thursday. MICHAEL HEARTLESS FINALLY IN JAIL.

Michael Heartless finally faces a jail sentence. Fellow traders are whistleblowers as to Heartless’ lack of compassion and J.C. Davidson steps in.

Charges have been laid and Heartless is now in prison but for the most surprising of reasons. J.C. Davidson, presiding over His own court, described Heartless as “… an evil man.” He said, in summing up his sentence, “You acted within the law but sooner or later evil men are brought to account for their evil acts. This is your time to be called to account for your unforgiveness and lack of compassion. In this court, your unforgiveness is a greater crime than the original debt which I forgave. Your crime is your lack of compassion. You will remain in custody until you have shown forgiveness to your fellow trader and until that time you will bear the torture you have brought on yourself.”

The world stands dumbfounded by his charge. Apparently Michael Heartless receives justice for his heartless pursuit of a fellow debtor. He is a prisoner because of his own bitterness and lack of compassion. His punishment is self-imposed. His unforgiveness has placed him in prison and because of his bitter and vindictive actions towards another fellow trader, he will not be free until he takes the example of his boss, and learns to forgive.

An employer who was at the court told said, “The world may not agree with how the Managing Director of Compassion Bank and Kingdom Enterprises exercises His sovereign authority over His country, but perhaps we could all learn to be a little more compassionate in the light of our own indebtedness towards God.”

Warren Wiersbe says “The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others, then we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment.”

 

WORLD BREAKING NEWS: Friday. JESUS SERVANTS FORGIVE DEBTORS.

The prayer Jesus taught His disciples includes the words “… forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors … If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15 NIV and NLT).

In the parable in Matthew 18:23-35, the king is the Lord Jesus Christ. The servants are anyone who calls Him their King. The Kingdom refers to the sphere of His authority to rule over us as our King, and His ability to bring us to account. Romans 14:11-13 (NLT) says, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to Me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” 

The context of this parable is forgiveness between two people who are followers of Christ. Jesus says that we are people who offer forgiveness continually without trying to count the number of times or measure the size of the debt (Matthew 18:21-22).

The currency in this parable is the extensive, unmeasurable amount of forgiveness we have received from God compared to the meagre amount of forgiveness we will ever have opportunity to give to others who sin against us. True compassion, therefore, arises out of a deep-seated understanding of our own forgiveness and prompts in us the capacity to forgive others.

God offers us mercy because of the death of Christ on the Cross who paid the penalty for our sin and not because of some misplaced idea of us being able to pay the debt. It is not surprising then that Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  

The parable has further explanation through the words of Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT) which says “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” 

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 40

“You shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die.”

As the day came for Bathsheba to deliver her second child, the words of Nathan the prophet returned to taunt David repeatedly. He did not share his concerns with her. She looks so radiant. Will the Lord let this child live?

When David knew that Bathsheba had given birth to a son, his concerns only deepened. He spent much time in prayer. How can I ever hope to understand your mercy and judgments, Lord? My past weighs heavily upon my conscience. All I can ask is, in Your love and forgiveness, You might see fit to extend this little one’s life?

Then it seemed that his worst fears might be realised! A message came from Nathan! David froze as he anticipated what God might say through the prophet. The mercy of God’s Love or the justice I deserve? Will this son also be taken from me?

“The child that is born to you,” said the messenger. David winced noticeably, closing his eyes, “… is loved by the Lord, as a ewe lamb is loved by a poor shepherd.” Nathan’s message came with words of hope and destiny.

In that moment, David understood. Every life is a gift and precious in Your sight, Oh God. Only You can give life and only You can take it away. Your justice is hard to bear but Your mercy is born from it.

Bathsheba heard an exhilarated shout and then release of laughter. She walked through the open door and curiously looked for its source. David was standing by the window as the bewildered messenger took his leave. As she came to him, David was still laughing, but there was something strange about his laughter and when he turned to her touch she realised that his eyes were glistening with tears. He held her close as relief flowed over him like spring rain and the peace of the Lord descended upon him.

He knew then that he would call his son “Solomon,” because the name “Solomon” means “Peace”. It gives testimony to the peace that comes from God’s total and absolute forgiveness. Nathan would give him a prophetic name as well – “Jedidiah”, which meant “Loved by the Lord”. The prophet Nathan would also become Solomon’s personal tutor in the years ahead.

Absalom was quiet that day. He held the baby, and said all the right words, but felt uneasy by the presence of this little one, even threatened in some way. A twinge of jealousy rose up within him. No word from the prophet had come at his birth to say that he was loved by the Lord. Perhaps he perceived in the Spirit that this baby would one day… He handed the baby back to Bathsheba.

Genesis 30:19-21 – WHAT TO DO WHEN LOVE HURTS

What to do when love hurts

What to do when love hurts

As I greet him with a smile he looks at me with the confusion of dementia in his eyes and demands that I leave. “I don’t want to talk with you. I don’t know you?” I am a stranger to him, though we have talked as friends many times in the past. In the hall I meet a woman who is walking slowly with the help of a stick. I ask her if she is lost and she tells me that she has never been so insulted in all her life. “I wish all you nosy people would just leave me alone!” she says. I apologise and leave her to sit for a while in the foyer. Through the glass entrance door I see a woman sitting alone and crying. I talk with her about her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. “He doesn’t recognise who I am anymore and pushes me away” she says, deeply hurt.

I meet people in aged care who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked and sometimes they can choose to let grazes fester and become deep wounds; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

The unintentional wounds caused by those with Alzheimer’s disease are felt by those who have known the joys of relationship; those who have loved. It is not really true that love hurts. It is not being loved that hurts. Love is what heals a broken heart.

Leah is not loved by her husband, Jacob, and is vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects her for her younger sister, Rachel.

God in His grace chooses to give Leah another son to Jacob after a time of barrenness (Genesis 30:19-20) and her broken heart finds expression in the name of her son. She names him Zebulun, which means “dwelling” and “honour.” She chooses this name in acknowledgement that God has not forsaken her and honours her with a sixth son. But in the naming of her son, she also declares her desperate hope that her husband will honour her and finally choose to dwell with her exclusively.

She names him with the tears of her hurt that becry the absence of love “…now my husband will DWELL with me, because I have borne him six sons” (Genesis 30:20 NASB). She is the mother of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. He will sleep with her but his affections are reserved for Rachel. In her loneliness God also gives a daughter to Leah (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

Is the desire Rachel and Leah have for children based on the hope of having a share in the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)? It seems that they have disassociated with God’s promises for what has become a race of jealousy; vying for the love of Jacob and the approval of others.

Rachel and Leah invite me to ask myself the difficult questions – “Are my motivations for a fruitful life based on God’s promises; His Word? Or am I involved in a power play for love and acceptance from others?”  

When you experience the absence of love, in whom will you place your trust? Jesus invites you to place your trust in Him, over and above all other relationships, and to find your identity as a person who is loved by God. 

Don’t misunderstand, close relationships with others are important on this journey we make with God, but my identity is shaped essentially by God’s intentions and not the expectations or neglect of others. The healing grace of God’s love gives me a perspective on all my other relationships in life and enables me to live as God intends. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 29:21-35 – CAUGHT IN A TRAP! I CAN’T WALK OUT!

Caught in a Trap - Photo by Ross Cochrane

Caught in a Trap – Photo by Ross Cochrane

“What have you done to me?” Jacob rages at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?” 

Treating Rachel as a commodity to be worked for, a mail order bride on lay-buy for 7 years, he is surprised when he receives the wrong package. Perhaps he had celebrated with just a little too much wine at the wedding feast but “that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her” (Genesis 29:23).

How do you confuse Leah for Rachel, even in the dark. They obviously don’t talk? Or is it that in 7 years Jacob really doesn’t get to know Rachel except for her “beautiful figure and a lovely face” (Genesis 29:17).

Has her father forced Leah to say nothing? Surely Leah could talk, but to do so will lead to Laban being embarrassed by his guests and by the community. Retribution for her will be swift and perhaps brutal. Leah will never escape the life she lives with her greedy father unless she marries this man who will one day inherit a double portion of Isaac’s wealth and take her away. After 7 years she knows Jacob to be a hardworking man and it seems she has fallen in love with him. When she bears him children, she laments that he does not love her. Caught in a trap. She can’t walk out.

Jacob the deceiver is deceived. By pretending to be Rachel, Leah was inadvertently treating Jacob in the same way he had treated his father. As Jacob had pretended to be Esau to obtain his birthright and blessing, now Leah pretends to be Rachel to obtain freedom from Laban. He reaps what he sows. What he expected to be his dream life is rapidly becoming his nightmare. Caught in a trap. He can’t walk out.

Discovering he is married to the wrong woman makes him feel like an old fool, but there is nothing Jacob can do about it, … except to marry Rachel as well. It seems bigamy is an acceptable practice in Haran. He receives Rachel a week later after an agreement with Laban to work another 7 years for her.

Was Leah God’s choice for Jacob in marriage? We are not told. Jacob only sees that Rachel has a beautiful face and figure. Does God approve of this second marriage? No statement of judgment is given, but it is interesting that He gives children to Leah and not Rachel.

The Lord sees that Leah is unloved, but why does He decide to take sides in this matter? Jacob prefers Rachel. Is it that the Lord prefers Leah? Is it only because Leah is hated that He blesses her with children or is there more to it than that? (Genesis 29:31). Perhaps it is also that Leah is a woman of faith and Rachel is yet to believe in the Lord. Jesus would come through a line of believers.

Leah expresses her belief in God through the names of her children, Reuben, Simeon, Levi. She is grateful for children because she is miserable in her marriage. Each time she has a child she expresses her desire to be loved and says, in effect “The Lord has noticed my misery. I am unloved, but now my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32-34 NLT). We all want to be loved. Many life-lessons unfold in the years to come.

When she names her fourth son Judah (“praise to Jehovah”) she seems to have come to a place where she is content to simply trust in Jehovah, God of the Covenant, to work out His purposes in her life. From Judah the Saviour will come and the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled.

God is Leah’s marriage counsellor and she finds her strength in Him. When our heartaches collide with His purposes, soap operas are transformed into stories of salvation as we learn to trust in Christ. 

Pastor Ross

Image adapted by Ross Cochrane from MorgueFile Photo

Image adapted by Ross Cochrane from MorgueFile Photo

Spider and Trap - Photo by Ross Cochrane

Spider and Trap – Photo by Ross Cochrane

Spider and Dining Table - Photograph by Ross Cochrane

Spider and Dining Table – Photograph by Ross Cochrane

 

In the past I have made judgments about Tattoos and associated those who have made choices to permanently mark their skin as those who don’t really care about themselves. I have discovered, of course, that this is not always true and that some tattoos depict deep care. Certainly Isaiah 49:16 is one such case where God is pictured as wearing a tattoo.

Isaiah 49:15-16 assures me that I am not alone, lost or forgotten. I have not been abandoned by God, no matter how difficult the circumstances I face may be. Jesus reaches out to me in love, to encourage and reassure me with nail-pierced hands. When I think of Christ who bears the marks of the Cross even in His resurrection body, I am drawn to the fact that it was my sin that nailed Him there and because He died for my sin it is my name God engraves, tattooed, permanently inscribed, like nail piercings, on the palms of His hands. What a beautiful, yet sobering picture, when I think of the sacrifice that love bore for me, so that I could be found in the palm of His hand.

God says in Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV) “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; …”   

ISAIAH 49:15-16 – LOVE’S TATTOO 

© By Ross Cochrane

They fit on arms of those who care not,
Where they stand out, charmless on harmed flesh.
They threaten to bring painful protests, excess stress,
flayed fresh wounds. You bear them without a thought
and declare other views. You have not sought
to carelessly align with lawlessness,
or wear scars to share as marks of madness,
but bear the healing grace that You profess,

And with all this purpose made permanent,
A name, not picture, is displayed,
And love, not loss, is cut with firm intent,
Inscribed in ink that now will never fade
Upon Your Holy palms with full consent,
And it declares the price that You have paid.

LOVE’S TATTOO

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

Cross = Love

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

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

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

So DENYING THE POWER OF GODLINESS IS NOT USING THE HEART SHAPED KEY! Without it life will not make sense. John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God LOVED the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES IN HIM will not perish but have eternal life.” To have the key but not use it is to DENY IT’S POWER.

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

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

Pastor Ross

Part 5 – Genesis 22:1-19 – CHRISTMAS SUBSTITUTES!

Christmas Substitute

In the very centre of Christmas cheer, amidst the silver bells, coloured baubles and lights, enormous sparkling chandeliers, banners and wreathes and beside a gigantic Christmas tree, there in the middle of everything stands a huge throne that dominates the centre of the plaza. No, it’s not for Jesus. It is for Santa Claus, enthroned as the CHRISTMAS SUBSTITUTE of a naughty and nice world.

The nativity scene is hard to find, tucked away in a glass case around the corner somewhere. At least in Australia we still have them. It’s not that we don’t want to include Jesus, the Saviour of the world, in the celebrations, it’s just that there is no room in the … well you know what I mean. It seems you still have to search for Jesus, like wise men of old, without the help of the star. So much for Matthew 6:33 (NLT) “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” 

I’m not sure Jesus would go for the big red throne adorned with tinsel and holly anyway. The stable seems to indicate that God is less interested in all the frills and more interested in ruling over the hearts and lives of those willing to love, honour and obey the real King of kings and Lord of lords, people such as Abraham.

In Genesis 22, Isaac is the promised son, whom Abraham loves. It is interesting to me that this is the first time the word “love” is used in the Bible and it is in connection with the love of a father for his son. The New Testament makes it clear that this real life story is also a picture of Christ, the Son of God, whom God loves. In Matthew 3:17 (NLT) God says about Jesus “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.”

You know the story. God stops Abraham from killing his only son at the last minute and provides a SUBSTITUTE SACRIFICE. In Genesis 22:13 it says, “Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering IN PLACE OF his son.” God provides for us even in the most dreadful of circumstances.

Substitution. Isaac is Abrahams only son of the promise. Jesus is God’s only Son, the promised Messiah. The ram SUBSTITUTES for Isaac. The lamb of God, Jesus Christ, SUBSTITUTES for me. Isaac carries the wood. Christ carries the cross. Abraham offers Isaac on Mt. Moriah. Years later, Solomon’s Temple is built on Mt Moriah, where many sacrifices take place. Christ is offered up on the same mountain ridge, once and for all for my sins. Abraham travels three days and received back his son. Christ spends 3 days in the tomb and He is resurrected. Abraham calls Mt. Moriah Jehovah-Jireh, “the Lord will provide.” God provides for Abraham. God provides a SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE for me in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God says to Abraham in effect, “Because you have not withheld anything from Me, even the one person you loved the most, then I will not withhold anything from you concerning my purposes.”

Abraham’s submission to God’s will, in an ultimate act of worship, pictures beautifully the SUBSTITUTIONARY WORK of Christ. In Matthew 26:39 (NLT) Jesus says “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Hebrews 5:8 (NLT) says “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned OBEDIENCE from the things He suffered.” 

Abraham’s obedience to God is a direct application of Proverbs 3:5 (NLT) in the most trying of circumstances “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” 1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT) asks, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your OBEDIENCE to His voice? Listen! OBEDIENCE is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”

God bless you as you as you abdicate the throne this CHRISTMAS. I object that Santa has become a SUBSTITUTE for Jesus, but on closer inspection behind the beard and the red suit, if you look hard enough you will see me, bowing to culture and the “naughty and nice things” of the world. Sitting on a throne of my own making.

But I choose to abdicate! I choose to take off the mask and look for the manger. Forget the naughty and nice. I just want to be Ho, Ho, Holy! (Sorry, couldn’t resist). I choose His righteousness as a SUBSTITUTE for my sinfulness. I realise that all I have to offer Him is more akin to a stable, not a palace, or some fancy throne, yet here in this place, without all the frills of a Christmas substitute, I choose to recognise Jesus as my King.

Now with that established, let’s have a lot of fun! Have a happy holiday but most of all a Merry CHRISTmas!

Pastor Ross