Posts Tagged ‘Miracle’

Matthew 15:21-28 – HOW GREAT FAITH IS AWAKENED

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH Photo by Ross Cochrane

They don’t want anything to do with her, but she walks into their midst to seek for Him anyway. She pleads with Him above the calls to send her away. He embodies the answers she needs to the prayers that have reached heaven’s corridors. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”Prayer is a window of hope and He has responded by His presence in this far away place. Accessible. Approachable.

If only her husband would believe? There’s something about a Mother’s love that is willing to find a path to God. But Jesus does not respond.

In the silence of Jesus somehow persistent faith is awakened. Anyone can see that she is faced with total rejection. Yet she stays and persists in asking for help with a heart that is breaking and a faith that lingers. Would mine?

She comes to Him again. She worships Him. Somehow she knows that He is God. She pleads with Him for help. Her persistence is not thwarted by His silence but all the more insistent.

Her daughter is possessed by a demon. Jesus does not ask her how this happened? Canaanites worshiped all kinds of other gods; god’s that defiled and penetrated the mind with their poison.

She calls Him “Lord” and “Son of David”. Surely this descendent of king David will help her? She cries for mercy for her daughter.

And then comes that famous exchange. Jesus finally speaks, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replies, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their Master’s table” “Dear woman,” Jesus says to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter is instantly healed. (Matthew 15:26-28 NLT).

He said her faith was great. Her daughter was healed instantly. When my faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. She didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to go with her. Her master had spoken. She had come under the authority of the Lord of heaven and earth and her daughter was healed.

What does great faith look like? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help (Matthew 15:22). It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation (Matthew 15:23-24). It looks like worship (Matthew 15:25). It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:26-27). It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus said it was great faith. It is faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

Matthew 21:22 (NLT) says “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” John 14:13-14 (NLT) says “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it!”

Jesus awakens that kind of faith as we worship Him. Faith that forces its way through rejection and seeming silence until it can appropriate a miracle. Jesus invites me and you to have such desperate and humble faith as this. 

Pastor Ross

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH - Picture created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

Letter to my wife on Mother’s Day

Dear Julie,

Happy Mother’s day,

I have been reading about the Gentile mother who came to Jesus for help for her daughter. Like you, she is a mother who comes to Jesus in humble surrender and worship on behalf of her children.

Like her, you are a Mother who wants to know and worship Jesus. Long before situations arise in our children’s lives you have been seeking the Lord on their behalf. You see prayer is a window of hope and you use it as a woman of faith to speak into impossible circumstances. Spiritual warfare for our children.

Like her, you take action as you come to Jesus for help. And you don’t give up. I admire that about you. Your persistence, despite not seeing answers straight away, despite the sacrifices you have to make and where you seem to hear silence for your efforts. You are not thwarted. You find the way.

Like her, you see the favour of God. When faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. So often your faithfulness sees it’s way through to a miracle.

What does great faith look like in a Mother? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help for your children. It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation. It looks like worship. It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus says to this mother it was great faith; faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

You are a mother such as this. I am inspired by your faith, by your persistence, by your love for your children, your grandchildren and your respect for your own mother. God bless you on this Mother’s Day, woman of great faith.

Love you,

Ross

Matthew 17:24-27 – FISHING FOR A MIRACLE

Coin Fish. Created by Ross Cochrane.

Coin Fish. © Created by Ross Cochrane.

There will always be those who confront you with their questioning cynicism to test your faith. They will cast a baited hook of guilt into the lake of obligation. They will seek to get a bite by putting a tariff on your beliefs and haul you in to support their cause, taxing the sacred parts of your soul with their questions and political manipulation.

Somehow Jesus always anticipates them. He knows ahead of time what they are thinking and asks questions that give perspective to the real matters of the heart.

The Tax Collectors come to the door and ask Peter if Jesus intends to pay His Temple tax. They are testing Him.

Peter says spontaneously “Yes, of course” but he wonders if God is taxed! Peter goes into the house to speak to Jesus about this but before he has a chance, Jesus asks him a question which takes him by surprise. Had Jesus somehow heard the conversation at the door? Are the Tax Collectors still there, listening to His response… ?

“What do you think, Simon?” He asks. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes – from their own sons or from others?” (Matthew 17:25 NIV). What has this got to do with Kings? Why did Jesus ask this question? 

“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replies. 

“Well, then,” Jesus says, “the sons are free!”  

Applying this argument to the Temple tax goes something like this: God is the King of the Temple. God as King doesn’t charge His Son Temple Tax? Jesus, as God’s Son, is exempt from the tax (Matthew 17:26).

That makes sense. There is no obligation for Jesus to give us anything. But Jesus wants to go an extra mile. Surprisingly, despite being the Son of the King, in grace, He offers to pay, for us. It is not because of obligation that He offers to pay, but from a place of freedom that God provides. This is the principle of grace.

“But so that we may not offend them, …” He says. Not yet anyway. Soon offence would come but not now. Romans 9:33 (NASB) says that Jesus would become “a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 

“… so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” (Matthew 17:27 NIV). 

Is Jesus simply exaggerating a point and asking Peter to go fishing for a couple of days and pay the tax from the proceeds of the catch? I don’t think so. In an act of faith, the Temple tax was paid for the forgiveness of sins (Exodus 30:13-20), so that Israelis could enter the Temple pardoned and accepted by God; a new, fresh start. But here God pays the price for our sins.

This is a miracle from a fishing expedition that speaks of God’s grace in paying the price for our purification? The coin is a picture of what Jesus would do in dying for our sins.

Jesus tells Peter to go fishing. Strange fishing expedition. Is He serious? Go fishing? I wonder if Peter invited the tax collectors to go fishing with him. They don’t seem to be standing at the door waiting. Why go to all this trouble to get tax from a fish? A large silver coin in a fish.

Jesus said He would make them fishermen of men, not of coins to pay their tax, yet this story for Matthew, the ex-tax collector is bursting with significance. He knew the power of grace and provision from Jesus as Saviour and Lord. This story pictured once again his own journey in finding God’s grace.

Peter baits the hook, and the line is cast. With unusual patience, Peter waits. A group of tax collectors, who have curiously followed at a distance are confused and amazed, because, when the line is suddenly taut and he hauls in a fish, they can see the silver coin as the fish gasps for air.

The fish is prepared for eating, the coin is given to the astonished tax collectors and a lesson in grace is forever imprinted on Matthew’s heart as the story is recounted. Jesus pays Peter’s debt in full. He would soon pay Peter’s eternal debt on a cross.

The other disciples go fishing that day. Any excuse to go fishing. Is this an offshore tax haven? They decide to take a net. But not one coin is retrieved from any fish for a net return on the tax they had paid.  But they eat well that day and reflect on the marvelous provision and forgiveness of God. God invites you to go fishing for such a miracle as this.  

Pastor Ross

MATTHEW 17:24 – JESUS AND TAXES

Fish Coin by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Fish Coin by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Because of His nomadic lifestyle, the request is made after He arrives at Capernaum. Strange that He should be asked to give. But then every male over twenty is expected to contribute about two days pay per year (half a shekel, a Greek slater, a Roman denarius). Only once, in the days of Nehemiah the Builder, when the people were poor, has it been one third of a shekel (Nehemiah 10:32).

Perhaps it is because Matthew’s background was as a tax collector that this story stays in his mind. By the time he writes his gospel the emperor Vespasian had destroyed the Temple (AD 70) and defiled this sacred offering by using it to rebuild the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

But on this day you can still hear the religious leaders, Pharisees and Sadducees, arguing in the streets as to whether the payment of this silver coin was voluntary or compulsory. It didn’t matter much because as the announcement is made in all the towns of Israel; tax collectors asking for the payment, it is with a sense of nationalistic duty that each man gives to support the running of the Sanctuary.

Like a subscription or a membership fee that enables them to appropriate the use of the Great Temple, it pays for animals, incense, wine, flour and oil and priests. It pays for the sacrifices made each night and morning and is given freely, salted with that sense of historical obligation. Exodus 30:13-20 (NLT) says it is to be given in silver “… as a sacred offering to the Lord. … to purify your lives, making you right with Him, … ransom money … for the care of the Tabernacle.” 

It is not unusual that “the collectors of the Temple tax” make enquiries as to Jesus paying. That is their responsibility after all (Matthew 17:24). It brings into the temple treasury a lot of money. But why are they reluctant to go directly to Jesus? Instead they come to Peter and ask him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” Are they trying to accuse Jesus of being a Temple-tax-evader?

In an act of faith the tax was paid for the forgiveness of sins, so that they could enter the Temple forgiven and accepted by God; a new, fresh start.

Why would Jesus need to pay? Jesus had no sin for which He needed forgiveness. The Temple tax payment is a picture of what He would do for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”   

As the treasurer of the group (John 13:29), it is expected that Judas be responsible for paying the tax for all of them. This year Jesus chooses a different approach.

Soon Judas would throw 30 pieces of silver down in the Temple (Matthew 27:5) trying to retract his treachery, enough to pay for a lifetime of Temple Taxes, but he would hang himself before being purified by the sacrifice of Jesus.

This time the tax is given miraculously as an act of grace, a picture of Forgiveness. Jesus is the price; not earned or worked for and totally undeserved. He gives voluntarily in every way to pay for our sins. Jesus will pay the full price and He is the once and for all sacrifice. He will contribute His life for them. And for you. Grace unearned. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 15:21-28 – HOW GREAT FAITH IS AWAKENED

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH Photo by Ross Cochrane

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH
Photo by Ross Cochrane

They don’t want anything to do with her, but she walks into their midst to seek for Him anyway. She pleads with Him above the calls to send her away. He embodies the answers she needs to the prayers that have reached heaven’s corridors. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.” Prayer is a window of hope and He has responded by His presence in this far away place. Accessible. Approachable.

If only her husband would believe? There’s something about a Mother’s love that is willing to find a path to God. But Jesus does not respond.

In the silence of Jesus somehow persistent faith is awakened. Anyone can see that she is faced with total rejection. Yet she stays and persists in asking for help with a heart that is breaking and a faith that lingers. Would mine?

She comes to Him again. She worships Him. Somehow she knows that He is God. She pleads with Him for help. Her persistence is not thwarted by His silence but all the more insistent.

Her daughter is possessed by a demon. Jesus does not ask her how this happened? Canaanites worshiped all kinds of other gods; god’s that defiled and penetrated the mind with their poison.

She calls Him “Lord” and “Son of David”. Surely this descendent of king David will help her? She cries for mercy for her daughter.

And then comes that famous exchange. Jesus finally speaks, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replies, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their Master’s table” “Dear woman,” Jesus says to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter is instantly healed. (Matthew 15:26-28 NLT).

He said her faith was great. Her daughter was healed instantly. When my faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. She didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to go with her. Her master had spoken. She had come under the authority of the Lord of heaven and earth and her daughter was healed.

What does great faith look like? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help (Matthew 15:22). It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation (Matthew 15:23-24). It looks like worship (Matthew 15:25). It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:26-27). It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus said it was great faith. It is faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

Matthew 21:22 (NLT) says “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” John 14:13-14 (NLT) says “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it!” 

Jesus awakens that kind of faith as we worship Him. Faith that forces its way through rejection and seeming silence until it can appropriate a miracle. Jesus invites me and you to have such desperate and humble faith as this. 

Pastor Ross

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH - Picture created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH – Picture created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

Letter to my wife on Mother’s Day

Dear Julie,

Happy Mother’s day,

I have been reading about the Gentile mother who came to Jesus for help for her daughter. Like you she is a mother who comes to Jesus in humble surrender and worship on behalf of her children.

Like her, you are a Mother who wants to know and worship Jesus. Long before situations arise in our children’s lives you have been seeking the Lord on their behalf. You see prayer is a window of hope and you use it as a woman of faith to speak into impossible circumstances. Spiritual warfare for our children.

Like her, you take action as you come to Jesus for help. And you don’t give up. I admire that about you. Your persistence, despite not seeing answers straight away, despite the sacrifices you have to make and where you seem to hear silence for your efforts. You are not thwarted. You find the way.

Like her you see the favour of God. When faith collides with His favour a miracle takes place. So often your faithfulness sees it’s way through to a miracle.

What does great faith look like in a Mother? At times, it looks like a desperate cry for help for your children. It looks like an unstoppable persistence that refuses to give up when faced with an impossible situation. It looks like worship. It looks like humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. It looks bigger than the circumstance. Jesus says to this mother it was great faith; faith that waits for a miracle (Matthew 15:28).

You are a mother such as this. I am inspired by your faith, by your persistence, by your love for your children, your grandchildren and your respect for your own mother. God bless you on this Mother’s Day, woman of great faith.

Love you,

Ross

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

Trust more, Sink Less!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:13-21 – THE JESUS DIET

Cross = Love

18 days of demonstrations during 2011 leads to a PEOPLE POWER COUP in Egypt and PRESIDENT MUBARAK resigns. Widespread allegations of corruption, abuse of power including murder are made. Mubarak is put on trial and his role in the assassination of his predecessor Anwar Sadat is investigated.

It had been a turbulent time. John had stirred the crowds to repent and prepare the way for the Messiah. With John’s murder they flock to Jesus, perhaps to see what He will do. If He is the promised Messiah, will He stage a coup, overthrow Herod and usher in a new Government? Instead of people power, He shows them the power of God.

Herod’s banquet ended with a MURDER (Matthew 14:1-12). Jesus’ banquet begins with a MIRACLE. Instead of feeding their vengeance, He feeds them physically and spiritually. Instead of BLOODSHED there is HEALING. He WELCOMES them and TEACHES them about the Kingdom of God, and He HEALS those who are sick” (Luke 9:11 NLT). He HAS COMPASSION on them because they are like sheep without a shepherd. (Mark 6:34 NLT). Herod’s banquet pales into insignificance when Jesus provides a picnic.

He waits until I am well and truly hungry, late in the afternoon. When my resources are not enough. When my humanity is inadequate when faced with the enormity of the need. When I am empty, drained of solutions and concern, and feeling lost. That’s when I want to leave work, go home, forget about those in need and be with my family. Let those in need learn to find a way to meet their own needs (Matthew 14:15)! Ever feel this way? That’s when Jesus says, “That isn’t necessary—YOU FEED THEM” (Matthew 14:16 NLT).

There are times when I am so “NOT moved” to compassion as Jesus is (Matthew 14:14). Pity maybe, but not compassion. Compassion is different. Compassion is committed to lean in and to DO something when pity has been overwhelmed.

Andrew says “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (John 6:9 NLT). Who is this kid, anyway? Are his parents around? If my grandsons had been there, I’m sure it would have been one of them. I like this little guy who gives his lunch to Jesus. He is the only one to come up with the beginnings of a solution to the problem.

5000 men. Some of the women and children would have stayed at home but many were there. 10,000 people? 20,000? “You can have my fish and barley loaves”. It’s absurd to seat ten to twenty thousand people with the view to feeding them 2 fish and 5 loaves. Surely! “Unsatisfactory, insignificant, insufficient, inadequate, deficient, lacking, not enough, a child’s portion!”

Jesus simply says “BRING THEM HERE,” Bring your limited human resources to Me. The blessing is given and Jesus breaks the bread.

Jesus invites the disciples to distribute the bread. It seems that it multiplies in their hands as they go. He takes it, blesses it, breaks it, gives it away. One loaf to every thousand men. The more they distribute the more there is that remains. 12 disciples. 12 baskets left over, untouched.

Healthy too. Omega 3 fish oil, barley bread. Why isn’t there a FISH AND BARLEY LOAF DIET? THE JESUS DIET? (Saw a book once called “What would Jesus eat?”) “Could I have mine battered and with some chips?”

What would the world look like if we brought what was in our hands to Jesus. Compassion and responsibility would accomplish the extraordinary (Matthew 14:15-21). More than enough.

Jesus, using bread as a symbol of relationship says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever COMES to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever BELIEVES in Me will never be thirsty” John 6:35 (NLT). THE JESUS DIET.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Jesus says “… pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38 NLT) More than enough.

It seems Jesus is deliberately inviting His disciples to look beyond the simple awareness of a need. By the way, these people could go home and have their own food, so this is NOT speaking about feeding the poor.

Jesus is inviting us NOT TO MISS AN OPPORTUNITY to accomplish the EXTRAORDINARY in ANY situation of need. He invites you to be responsive to what God can do through you, to use what you have in your hand. To show COMPASSION and not just pity. To rely on Him to get you through. So take what resources you have to God right now and allow Him to use them for His purposes. God’s EXTRAVAGANCE, your CO-OPERATION. Remain in a place where God wants you to be to see His purposes accomplished despite your reservations and your limitations. Be open to a MIRACLE! Never be hungry! Never be thirsty! Taste and see that the Lord is good. Bread of Life. Cool diet.

Pastor Ross

Part 14 – Matthew 12:38-41 – THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL!

3 Days and Nights

A few days ago, my good friend Joe (not his real name) was taken to hospital after the antibiotics that he was taking didn’t appear to be making a discernable difference. He deteriorated quickly and after a few days, he was just a skeleton lying in bed, fighting for each breath.

I drove to work on Thursday still pleading to the Lord for a MIRACLE of healing but Joe had died around 2 am that morning, Thursday 5 November 2010 at only 91 years of age. I know that seems OLD to you, but he wasn’t. Good mates are AGELESS. He was someone I loved, a man with a deep faith, a good friend. Heaven rejoices and I am happy for him too but there is an empty space inside which tugs at my heart because I will miss him. Where was my miracle?

When the Pharisees challenge Jesus to show them a sign in Matthew 12:39-40 (NLT) it is NOT in order to see someone they LOVE HEALED, or to see people they CARE ABOUT RESTORED. They want theatrics, a circus show, for Jesus to jump through a hoop at their bidding. They have NO COMPASSION for the healing of a demonised blind man who has been unable to speak and NO CONCERN for the man with a deformed hand who was totally restored. They want DEATH to their enemies – a bolt of lightning to DESTROY the Roman oppressors or at the very least someone to lead an UPRISING. Where was their miracle?

Jesus sees right through them. He says “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet JONAH.”

What on earth has JONAH got to do with the Pharisees asking for a sign, or for that matter Joe? Well, Jesus goes on to explain, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” His powerful words in Matthew 12:41(NLT) still ring in my ears – “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they REPENTED of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone GREATER than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.”

The Pharisees want a SIGN, a miracle, to prove that Jesus is from God. Jesus seems to be saying “You have all the signs you need in the Old Testament Scriptures already and they all lead to Me!” He doesn’t mess around with their bad attitudes or get DISTRACTED from the essentials. He leads them to the GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL.

When I think of the story of Jonah I think of the miracle of him being SWALLOWED by a fish and surviving for 3 days and nights. And since that is a picture of the RESURRECTION of Jesus, I want to get into working out the details of how these 3 days and nights fit in with when Jesus’ died. How was it 3 days AND 3 nights?

But it seems to me I can miss the forest for the trees if I’m not careful. The MATHEMATICS of the resurrection is not the REAL EMPHASIS of this passage. Jonah’s resurrection from the fish was a great sign, but the GREATEST MIRACLE, however, according to Jesus, is the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS! A whole generation of Ninevites REPENTED because of Jonah’s message. That’s the intention of God. To see people FORGIVEN AND RESTORED to Him! Jesus, on the other hand, is faced with people who “REFUSE to repent” (Matthew 12:41).

My friend Joe knew THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL. He knew the forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour. He leaves a LEGACY OF FAITH. His legacy is a family who has come to love and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jonah says “I knew that you are a MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE GOD, SLOW TO GET ANGRY AND FILLED WITH UNFAILING LOVE. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.”

God hasn’t changed. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord …does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” He loves us as we are but loves us too much to leave us that way. He wants us to respond to Him, to trust in Christ, to experience THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL – FORGIVENESS and a life changed forever. The invitation He gives is to us; to participate in the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE.

Pastor Ross

Part 2 – Genesis 19:1-38 – SAVED BUT STUPID!

Close Call!

How amazing was the news story of the 15-month-old boy who survived the train accident in May this year.

It all took place in a split second but for the grandmother who looked away for just a moment from the pram she was pushing, it must have seemed like eternity. When she turned back, the pram was rolling off the platform at Tooronga station (Sydney, Australia). The pram fell onto the tracks into the path of an oncoming train.

I have grandsons and I can’t imagine how that grandmother was feeling – the SICK FEELING OF DREAD as this transpired before her and there was nothing she could do. When they pulled the baby from under the train, everyone thought that it was a MIRACLE he was alive. A few scratches and that was it. Talk about a CLOSE CALL. Some say the grandmother should have been more careful. Easy for us to say.

Have you read Genesis 19 lately? Talk about a CLOSE CALL! By the absolute merciful grace of God Lot and his immediate family is saved when Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. It is a MIRACLE they survive at all.

Lot is told to gather his family and bring them out of the city before the angels destroy it. Here’s an opportunity to OBEY GOD AND BE SAVED. He speaks to his sons-in-law and they think he’s joking. As you would. You try telling your family that you’ve been told by two angels that they are about to destroy Sydney and they need to leave everything, and take the Pacific highway out of town. Lord, if such a time comes, would You mind telling them personally? They’ll think I’m mad.

Nevertheless I find it strange that few people today take the message of judgment seriously. Sometimes in the seconds remaining between life and death, they are laughing that hell exists rather than acting on what God has said about salvation. STUPID!

It took all night for Lot to try to convince his family and when morning dawns, the angels are on Lot’s case to leave or be “SWEPT AWAY in the punishment of the city” (Genesis 19:15).

Even then there was EQUIVOCATION. They gave Lot opportunity to take the initiative and leave. Lot HESITATES and the angels have to seize the hands of his family in order to DRAG them outside the city. SAVED BUT STUPID!

Even when they are outside the city one angel saysESCAPE FOR YOUR LIFE! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”

CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS! But Lot says to them, “Oh no, my lords! What is going on here? He asks to flee to Zoar instead. This isn’t time to come up with a new plan? Sometimes I am just plain stupid. I want to come up with an ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTION to what God says in His Word, when I just need to be QUICK TO OBEY. By the grace of God the angels don’t strike Lot down as an example to the others. 

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT) says, “Indeed, the “RIGHT TIME” IS NOW. TODAY is the day of salvation.” DON’T PUT IT OFF!

It gives me a whole NEW APPRECIATION of what it means to be SAVED BY GRACE (Ephesians 2:8-9). NONE OF US deserve it.

God bless you as you seek to see things through the eyes of the Cross and gain a true picture of what it means to be saved by grace. “Lord, help me to be QUICK TO OBEY AND SLOW IN BEING STUPID”.

Pastor Ross