Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

Genesis 33:1-20 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Epilogue

What a relief. Jacob reunites with Esau without bloodshed. This story shows that bitterness and feelings of revenge are a choice, not a given. Forgiveness and reconciliation, integrity and generosity are also choices we can make.

“Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”

“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied.” Jacob is keen to say that it is God who has blessed him. Maybe he’s also making it clear, “Keep your hands off, Esau!” only in a more subtle way.

The whole family bows before Esau to show their respect. This isn’t saying, “Esau, we are all coming under your authority”, just simply acknowledging, “we are coming into your territory.”

  1. ENSURE THAT AN AGREEMENT IS REACHED
Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

Restitution © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

“And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked. Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship” (Genesis 33:8 NLT).

Jacob makes it quite clear that he is not coming in any way as an act of aggression as he meets Esau. This time he’s not offering a pot of stew. These animals are a means of restitution for his deceit in the past. This is a tangible way to make amends. But there is something else implied that is another hint at what Jacob has been doing.

“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself” (Genesis 33:9 NLT). The fact that Esau has 400 men indicates that he has made a life for himself already, perhaps as a mercenary. He obviously has plenty. But Jacob needs some indication from Esau that he has abandoned his claim to his Father’s blessing.

It is important to Jacob that he shows a gesture of reconciliation, not merely mouth the words.

“But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favour with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10 NLT).

Strange thing to say.

Instead of struggling with Esau, Jacob struggled with God. The struggle with God meant a hip wrenched from its socket, but he did receive God’s blessing.

But why does he describe his meeting with Esau as seeing the face of God? Perhaps he sees it as a blessing. Perhaps the blessing God gave had a specific clause that Esau would not annihilate him and his family. His smile was the face of God in terms of answered prayer. His fight with God substituted for his expected fight with Esau. Perhaps this is the blessing God gave to Jacob.

But I like what the Life Essentials Study Bible says. It suggests that the animals that Jacob gave to Esau amounted to a 10th of all he had, thus being an offering to God and this is why he said: “seeing your face is like seeing the face of God.” “Though it cannot be proven from this text, it would not be surprising if Jacob’s herd totaled 5,500 animals and the 550 he gave Esau represented 10 percent of his total assets, fulfilling his vow (Genesis 28:22).”

I really like this thought. He’s not setting Esau up as God, but fulfilling his vow to God to give a tenth of all he had. He did this by giving this offering of restitution for the blessing stolen from Esau. Perhaps this was the reason he gave his promise back in Genesis 28. Perhaps he always intended his tenth to be given to God in this way.

“Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift” (Genesis 33:11 NLT). 

Esau can see that God has blessed Jacob, so he accepts the gift.

Pastor Warren Wiersbe says “He was made a prince, but he was acting like a pauper” but this seems an unnecessary assumption. No pauper is able to offer such a generous gift. And if anything, God humbled Jacob, not exalted him, in his encounter. Jacob experienced a blessing with a limp, not a crown with a title.

In accepting the gift, the rift between Esau and Jacob is requited. Esau doesn’t say, “I demand my birthright and blessing back” but submits to Jacob’s favour as restitution for the deceptive manner of their taking, in kind.

Living as an alien to God’s promises for over 20 years, Jacob was abused for his labour but also enriched. And he enters the land God promises, injured and blessed.

There is nothing automatic about the blessing of God to Jacob. He didn’t simply inherit it from his father and he certainly didn’t achieve it through deceit. It could only enter his life through consent and grace. There is always a risk when You struggle with God. It is the greatest conflict you will ever face.

Years later, Jesus, descended from the line of Jacob and faced the greatest conflict ever faced by anyone, as He died on a Cross for our sin. The Cross is a crutch for those who realize that they walk with a limp. It is the reconciling plus sign for the human race. We need faith in Christ to take the journey God intends us to travel. It takes us into the promises of God for our lives.

God is not yet through with Jacob. This is a stepping stone to an ongoing journey in receiving all that God has promised, not just a happy ending to a feel-good movie. As we have seen in Jacob’s past, he has a tendency to make short-term choices which cause long-term pain, but through obedience he has arrived in the promised land. But he hasn’t completely arrived in terms of obedience, as he is yet to discover. (But that it for another time).

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)

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Matthew 18 – TOO ADULT

GRAHAM (an entrepreneur and 2IC of a company): “I know they learn quickly, they’re creative and they are curious and interested in life. They remember things easily and are fun loving people who have retained an imagination. I think it is wonderful that they don’t believe in limits.

I know that they find a way into your hearts so that you end up loving them, excusing them, defending them, laughing and playing with them and you can’t do without them. But what’s the deal with relating them to people in authority, people who are great? You have got to be kidding? 

They are distracted so easily from a task, loud most of the time, demand attention and interrupt all the time. When they get tired, they get cranky. They want to eat all the time, and want others to get it for them.”

JESUS: “I called a little child to Me.” 

GRAHAM: “But Lord, how is a child related to greatness. I would understand if you said you have to be less self-serving and less self-centred, or listen more. But how is the calling of a child related to greatness?

In fact, why call a child at all. Children throw tantrums in shopping centres and are uncooperative when you want them to do something. They hit their brothers and sisters, disrupt a good conversation, and are bored easily. They are careless with their toys, changeable in their moods, and cling to their mothers.”

JESUS: “I called this child and the child came to Me, and I placed them in the midst of My disciples to teach them about greatness.”

GRAHAM: “So let me get this straight. This is a picture, right? You CALL the child then PLACE the child. There is a CHOICE made by the child to come. So, at least, this child is OBEDIENT. Are you saying that Your calling looks for a response of OBEDIENCE? But isn’t it the person who gives the direction the one who is great. You are the One who has the authority, especially since You managed to get a child to obey You?

And by the way, what about stranger danger? What were the mum and dad thinking? Were the parents around? Did the child know You?” 

JESUS: “I called the child and the child came.”

GRAHAM: “I guess the parents must have known You. Everybody knew You and, come to think of it, I seem to remember parents bringing their children to You so You could lay Your hands on them and pray for them. 

Didn’t that bother You? Having parents forcing their kids on You?”

JESUS: “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:13-14 NLT)

GRAHAM: “Oh, please, You can’t be serious. Children lie if it suits them, they are impatient with getting somewhere in the car, lack manners at the table, are irresponsible with tasks unless paid, covetous of their friends toys, possessive of their own, untidy and lazy about cleaning up, and so obstinate about knowing things they have got wrong.” 

JESUS: “When I called, the child came and I placed the child among My disciples.”

GRAHAM: “You said that before but what are You saying, Lord? Are You saying that You PLACED this child where you wanted him or her to be because OBEDIENCE comes before someone can be POSITIONED? But it’s still You giving the direction. Are you saying that greatness is being in the position You place us, the place where we can be used for Your purposes? Is this what you mean by greatness?

I still can’t accept it that a child can be great. Children in Your time on earth had no rights. They can’t be great. Children are so dependent on adults and yet insist on being independent. They are always asking questions, never want to go to bed early, embarrassingly make fun of others, hate homework and structured learning. When they are small they demand to be picked up. When they are big they refuse to give you a hug. How is that great?”

JESUS: “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.”

GRAHAM: “But Lord, children have no responsibilities, stand in front of the TV, invade your personal space, cough without covering their mouths, pick their noses, play in the dirt, pass on colds and flu and nits and ringworm and worse diseases. They have high pitched screams, have no idea of danger, and have far too much energy to keep up with. They break toys, and if they can’t get what they want, they ‘cry’.”

JESUS: “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming Me.” 

GRAHAM: “OK, Lord. Let me try to get my head around this. The Child was called, so she or he was old enough to understand, turn to You, exercise trust and obey. He or she makes a choice, a positive choice towards You.

I think You are trying to tell me that I need to think of greatness in the simplest of terms. It’s not the flaws of children that you want to emphasise but the simplicity of faith. This child, in this situation, is a picture of what it means to have dependence on You and trust in You.

I guess you are not saying that I am to be childish, but childlike, and have a simple openness in being directed in my life by You. To be great is to find my purpose and position in life lining up with Your purposes and where You want me to be. OK, I get it. Save me from being too adult.”

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26:1 – GOD RIDES A MOUNTAIN BIKE

Rachel's Bicycle

She has no money or likelihood of obtaining the $500 needed for its purchase, but my daughter Rachel sees a beautiful green bicycle with a basket advertised and decides that it is hers. She continues to believe that God will provide as she prays for her bike even though seemingly there is no way ahead. Psalms 37:4-5 (NLT) says “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” It’s not unusual then when Rachel’s husband Joel informs her that money that had been promised to them has unexpectedly been forwarded to him, more than enough. He purchases the bike, the basket, and everything she needs to ride her new green bike. Very cool.

In Genesis 26:1 Isaac and Rebekah are experiencing a time of “Not enough”. “A severe FAMINE now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time.” Why does the Lord allow FAMINE in a land where He said He would BLESS Abraham? Doesn’t seem to be right. Isaac is very wealthy. Not much good having wealth if he goes bankrupt because of a famine.

Isaac moves to Gerar. This is still in the promised land. Why did he go to Gerar on the coast, where the Philistines live? More water? Trade? But LESS SAFE. Later the Philistines are enemies. Isaac has a large retinue of people trailing after him and he is responsible to protect and feed them. Why go there in the middle of danger?

During this famine time the Lord appears. We are not told exactly how He shows up but obviously Isaac was intending to go to Egypt like Abraham had done during a similar time of famine, and the Lord specifically tells him not to go. He doesn’t want him there. Why? Was it because people in Egypt served other gods? Was it because it would mean Isaac would have to leave the promised land? Later a descendent of Isaac called Joseph would go to Egypt, but not by choice. Why does God so often want me to stay where He has put me rather than quit?

What interests me is that we are NOT necessarily protected from the “FAMINE” times. Don’t misunderstand me. What I am saying is that God can bless us even in times of extreme need, when the finances aren’t there, when the river runs dry, when there seems no way ahead. In fact God seems to speak the LOUDEST in the midst of the famine and testing times. Unfortunately when all I see is famine, potential loss and difficult circumstances then my spiritual hearing is affected and I can easily miss the powerful voice of God’s authority.

God gives Isaac the OPPORTUNITY TO OBEY Him during a tough time and to stay within the sphere of His PROMISES. The land He promises is the land that sustains them. What God promises in His Word will always sustain my life no matter what I am going through. I don’t need to look elsewhere just because it gets tough.

I am reminded that Psalms 23:5 (NLT) says that the Lord prepares “a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”. He promises to provide for me even when all I can see is potential trouble. That means that when God calls me to a ministry, and things get a little tough, then I won’t simply get off my bike and resign because it isn’t working for me. I will trust in God to help me work things through.

In Genesis 26:3 God tells Isaac to “Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father.”

This famine is a TEST OF TRUST for Isaac as it was with Abraham. Same test, different member of the family. The question – “Will I trust the Lord to provide?” Will I face such a test? Even Jesus faced a desert experience with no food and extreme temptation to take the easy way out.

As a follower of Christ I am a CITIZEN of heaven but I walk as a FOREIGNER in this world. God’s intention is that He will be with me and BLESS me. He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). The invitation is to TRUST Him during the difficult times I am facing.

Do my desires for my life reflect His! When the going gets tough am I staying within the boundaries of His promises and trusting Him to provide and bless.

You have no money? What colour is that bike again? When even my wants are in line with the desires of the One who has authority in my life, then God will provide for me, and His presence will RIDE WITH ME! Only I’m sure that He would want me to ride a mountain bike. Lord?

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

Part 13 – Matthew 12:38-42 – LIFE BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE!

Beyond the Trampoline

I fell through a trampoline once. It was totally unexpected! One minute I was airborne and the next I was standing on the ground, wearing the trampoline like a giant torn tutu, and all my helpful family could do was laugh at me! I mention this because my granddaughter, normally so cooperative, sent a very clear message to her parents the other day. She said “NO! I won’t go!” She had been playing on the trampoline with her cousins, laughing and having such a great time that when it was time to go home, she simply refused. She was more interested in having FUN than in OBEDIENCE. She was more interested in playing games than in the implications of a world that existed beyond jumping on a trampoline. I fully understand, although my experience with a trampoline was a little more traumatic.

No doubt the Pharisees and other people around Jesus in Matthew 12:39 are also surprised and discomfited when he calls them an “EVIL AND ADULTEROUS generation” and affronted when He accuses them of “refusing to REPENT.” (Matthew 12:41-42). I mean this seems to be such a SWEEPING STATEMENT. Surely there is no need to be so CONFRONTING, so DEMANDING!

So what am I saying? Is Jesus trying to TAKE AWAY my fun? Give me the toys and the desires of my heart, Lord, but don’t demand anything from me,? How can a loving God be so judgmental and insistent? “After all I’m not a bad person. I am just having fun on my trampoline with my playmates and not bothering anyone. And I’m NOT GOING TO REPENT!” (Well, OK. Maybe not the bit about the trampoline, but you get the idea.)

Bumper sticker – “Jesus loves me just as I am, and He loves me too much to have me stay that way”. It’s not about taking away our fun. It’s about living life to the full. THE WORLD BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE. There comes a time when our rebellion and our wanting to play games with God demands REPENTANCE! John the Baptist preached the same message (see Matthew 3:2) and so did many others who paved the way for Christ.

DENIAL – “The world isn’t all that bad!” Have you followed world news lately or walked around a video shop? We have movies that justify homosexuality, adultery and murder as entertainment and world leaders who justify their corruption as a normal part of their governance. It would seem that an “EVIL AND ADULTEROUS generation” (Matthew 12:39) is actually quite a fitting description of our world. DENIAL – “I am not all that bad.” Have you read your Bible lately? Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “…everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” And I don’t see a whole lot of REPENTANCE taking place in the lives of our generation. Lots of denial. Very little repentance.

So what is this “REPENT FOR THE END IS NEAR!” T-shirt that Jesus seems to be wearing? What is this placard He is holding? It isn’t exactly a message that stirs my heart and makes me feel good. It’s UNCOMFORTABLE to be confronted with my sin, and sometimes I want Jesus to take a much SOFTER approach. Then again “REPENT PLEASE” isn’t going to cut it with me or in an evil world. Perhaps SEARED CONSCIENCES (1 Timothy 4:2) need the encouragement of ELECTRIC SHOCK treatment!

Paul seems to sum things up. When he preached at Athens in Acts 17:30-31 (NLT) he said “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He COMMANDS everyone everywhere to REPENT of their sins and TURN TO HIM. For He has set a day for JUDGING the world with JUSTICE by the man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.”

When Peter preaches to a crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2:37-38 (NLT) they responded to the message. It says “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said …”What should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must REPENT of your sins, TURN to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received FORGIVENESS for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Somehow Jesus’ message is clear. There’s LIFE BEYOND THE TRAMPOLINE! It’s meant to be lived to the full. The invitation to real life, abundant life is there before you. Jesus hands it to you. You open it up and you look down to what it will cost. It says “REPENT AND BELIEVE! TURN AND RECEIVE! LET ME DIRECT YOUR LIFE”. Am I willing to pay such a price? Now that’s the choice.

God bless you Church as you affirm the message of Christ and show the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8), the example of a life which is responsive to the touch of God, rich and full, giving hope and incentive for repentance for others in our evil and adulterous generation.

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

 

Genesis 8 – Part 1 – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

I feel as if a flood of memories from the last 10 years is sweeping over me, and like Noah I would like to hear the voice of God say “come into the ark” where you’ll be safe. Instead, He is saying “GO OUT OF THE ARK” and face whatever is out there. It will be a new beginning. God has lifted me up and brought me safely through some stormy times, and when the fountains of the deep burst open God closed the door of His protection and shielded me. But now it’s time to move on.

You can’t stay in the ark forever or it becomes a comfort zone. It was never intended to be a permanent dwelling place, just a temporary safe haven, but that hasn’t stopped me from asking “Lord, I want to know where to go to from here.” Noah gives me some good advice for this new year.

Noah is one of the greatest men who ever lived and he knew how to please God. In fact that’s why he was great. I imagine him as an old man, face weathered, hands boney, pure white hair and beard, older than any man I’ve ever seen, although sometimes I look in the mirror and catch glimse of such a man.

I’m a little seasick, like the first time I went out in a boat in the Whitsundays, but I want to know WHERE TO GO FROM HERE. If Noah was here he would say, “Where you go from here will be determined by your faith and your faith will be tested by what remains after the storm.”

Noah would say, “Let God close the door on your past.” It’s no use carrying around the baggage of my past. Christ died to forgive me. I accept that forgiveness and find a new future by trusting in Him.

Noah would say, “Wait for God’s timing. Sometimes His timing isn’t ours, which means we have to wait. But waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. Make good use of today.” Noah prepared for the future, even while he was in the ark. He sent out a raven, then a dove and then removed the covering. When opportunity comes it’s too late to prepare. I need to prepare ahead of time. I can always ask God what I need to do to prepare for your future.

Noah would say “Don’t stay in the ark.” It’s easy to stay in that place where God has met me in the past and never progress beyond that point. God wants my testimony to be up to date.

What interests me is Genesis 8:15-16 (NLT) “Then God said to Noah, “leave the boat, all of you-you and your wife, and your sons and their wives.” The last time Noah heard the Lord speak was when the Lord said, “Come in to the Ark” and then he doesn’t hear anything for a long time – for a year and nearly a month. And then God says, “Go out!” I notice that Noah didn’t ask any questions. I’m sure he was glad to obey! When God has just destroyed the world as you knew it completely, you do as He says, no questions asked.

God bless you Church as you let go of the past and step out in faith and obedience to God this year.

Pastor Ross