Posts Tagged ‘Parents’

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

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

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

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

  1. A BLESSING SEEKS GOD’S HIGHEST INTENTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. JESUS RECEIVES THOSE LIKE CHILDREN

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

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

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

  1. JESUS LOVES ALL WHO COME TO HIM

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

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

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

John 1:12-13 (NLT) says, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

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

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

Pastor Ross

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Adult and child

MATTHEW 19:13 – WHY WE BROUGHT OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED

As Christian parents, Julie and I decided to bring our children to Christ to be blessed moments after they were born. I remember clearly in that miracle moment following the births of our children, lifting them up to Christ for His blessing. We still bring our children to be blessed in prayer.

Matthew 19:13 says, “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them.”

What I love is that children were received by Jesus. He was more than willing to take time and pray for them.

At the very beginning of their lives, the spiritual prayers of righteous people are important for their lives. James 5:16 (NLT) says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Laying His hands on these children was a way of identifying with them in order to symbolize the bestowal of blessing from God and dedication to God (Genesis 48:14; Numbers 27:23).

As I was reading the POSB commentary recently on this passage, I was prompted to think of the reasons why we bring our children to Christ to be blessed.These six reasons express the deepest prayers I have for my own children, even though they are now adults with children of their own.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF THIS WORLD, not science or technology or medicines as wonderful as they may be.We believe that their only hope in this world is through relationship with Christ. Jesus made it clear. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but through Me” (John14:6).

1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”

We bring our children to Christ because we have personally experienced what it means to become born again into the family of God ourselves and know the reality of Salvation and new life in Him. We want them to be blessed with new life in Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BLESS THEM, then and now. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

 

We refuse to allow them to grow up neglected, ignored, by-passed, and pushed aside, given no direction and left to fend for themselves. We care enough to want the best for them, too.

We want them trained up in the ways of God, not squashed by the world’s values by being left unrestrained to express whatever sinful desires they like and indulged to the point of being totally selfish.

Because they belong to God, He wants the best for them. I want so much for them to look outside themselves and acknowledge that they need the help of God for the challenges they face in life. He wants to bless them with guidance.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THAT THEY WILL HAVE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE CONCERNING THEIR IDENTITY AND FUTURE. He knows them better than they know themselves. They are unique and God has a unique destiny and purpose for them. We want them to learn that they are created by God for a purpose and that they make a difference in the world for Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THEY LEARN TO BE PEOPLE OF FAITH IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN HIS WORD, not simply look towards the popular opinions of the media. I don’t want the world and its influences to shape their thinking.

 

The TV and social media might be useful in their lives but I don’t bring them to the TV or computer to be blessed. I believe in helping them to shape their spiritual values and beliefs on what the Bible says. And this will be a blessing.

We want them to grow up with discernment about what is sin and not simply embrace the world’s popular values. We refuse to contribute to them becoming weak spiritually and feeling as if they have to accept anything and everything the world offers. We don’t want to leave them struggling to swim and sink in the cultural assault of a valueless society.

We are not so preoccupied with life that we don’t see our responsibility and the importance of raising our children in the ways of the Lord.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED WITH HIS LOVE: that they know God’s love and learn to love others, which incidentally, is not necessarily accepting the lifestyle choices of others.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO GOD and although He entrusted them to us, we want to acknowledge that they are His, which is why we raise them according to the principles of the Bible.

 

In Isaiah 64:8 (NLT), Isaiah sees a people that have deliberately chosen to be shaped by the world’s values, and he says “Yet You, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

The invitation is that we might bring our children to Christ that they may be crafted with a distinctive identity and future, not in our image but in the design and purpose of God for their lives.May the blessing of the Master Potter uniquely shape the lives of our children with His blessing, to be all they were intended to be.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:14-18 – IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER - Image created by Ross Cochrane.

IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER – Image created by Ross Cochrane.

It is in the silence of the moment when there are no more discordant arguments; where there is a pause in the perpetual warring of words and the clamour of severe speeches. That is the peaceful habitation where trust is born. It is there in the shadow of a simple question where there are no answers or words left to explain away a spark of faith, that a man kneels with great respect and finds his opportunity to believe.

He and his son had gathered with the crowd in anticipation, waiting for the four men to return from the mountain. His purpose is to find answers for his son. But there are some opinions of protest in the crowd, disturbing the mob, a verdict of voices representing themselves with their forbidding arguments and ridicule. They are not interested in the boy but want to find a platform to spread their malicious media; toxic teachers. They have “…an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth” (1 Timothy 6:3-6 NLT).

Every Sunday crowds of people still gather to hear the Word of God over the noise of the week, and still there are the Transcribers of terror in our world who forge their tongues in hell and bring an atmosphere of argument seeking to quench faith. Those who fear them hear them. Their form of truth is upheld by controlling others, and anything to do with Jesus is a threat.

So it happens that a time of incredible worship and miraculous encounters; glorious meetings on the mountain, is followed by a valley of corrupt and godless people arguing over a demonised boy. That will bring you down to earth every time.

But then the crowd becomes aware of Jesus. He speaks and once you hear the voice of Jesus, you are “overwhelmed with awe” (Mark 9:15 NLT). What is it about Jesus that inspires this response? The crowd leaves the arguments with the religious teachers behind and runs to Him (Mark 9:15). He has that kind of influence. “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asks (Mark 9:16 NLT). The Scribes don’t have an answer.

That’s the moment when the father of the demonised boy broke the embarrassing silence, and kneels before Jesus with just a mustard seed of faith (Luke 9:37-43, Mark 9:14-29, Matthew 17:14). In the quietness of the moment when there is no arguing; in the shadow of Jesus question where there are no answers to interrupt, this father kneels, and prays,

“Lord, have mercy and heal my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I beg You to look at him. He is my only child. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk” (see Luke 9:37-43, Mark 9:14-29 and Matthew 17:15).

Children need parents to bring them to Christ, but how did this child end up with an evil spirit? He suffered greatly. He appears to have Epilepsy. He is plagued physically with an illness but spiritually by a demon. Prone to self-harm and suicide, He tries to burn himself or drown himself. What happens in a little boy’s life to leave him demonised? What was he exposed to? What happened? What kind of experiences and evil indoctrination allowed a demon to have such a foothold?

Jesus seems quite rude as he turns towards the Scribes in the crowd. The Scribes had probably started the argument over healing the boy. They are corrupt, with twisted minds who have distorted the truth with their perverse religious control. Easily impressionable, the boy is probably demonised because of the inculcation during his earliest years of their evil influence. The child stands in their midst and Jesus says, “Bring the boy to me.” So they bring the boy. The further from the Scribes he gets the better.

Jesus said to them, “You faithless and corrupt people, how long must I be with you and put up with you?” (Luke 9:37-43 and Mark 9:14-29 NLT). Jesus doesn’t suffer fools easily. He attracts those with a teachable spirit. He supports those who express a need for God but calls these wicked men for what they are. He could easily have called them crooked serpents; people who have opened themselves up to corruption, instruments of the devil who pave the way for people to be demonised rather than be opened to the miracle of a transformed life of faith in Christ.

Jesus wasn’t impressed with their sinful, arrogant rebellion. The boy was merely a pawn in their midst to stir up a religious dispute, an opportunity to find targets for their threats. Unbelief swaps the blessing of God for an argument. Because it stems from warped thinking, it expresses no mercy to others and is stubborn and unjust. Crosseyed and twisted in their thinking, they pervert the truth. They are wicked in their behaviour and attitudes. They cause irreparable damage in the lives of people and it seems they have wreaked havoc in the life of this little boy.

Jesus rebukes the Scribes just as He rebukes the demon in this little boy. Does justice demand such a rebuke? Yes. Jesus is the only one truly able to deliver such a rebuke. This perverse, malicious group of religious miscreants don’t deserve the favour of God yet instead of fire from heaven they get to witness a miracle. The demon is probably released back into their midst.

Come to think of it, as angry as I get about corrupt and evil people in the world, the Bible says not one of us deserves God’s favour. Only the grace of God can save us. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The invitation is to come to Jesus with a speck of faith in the quiet space when arguments no longer matter and receive the miracle of grace which will transform your life. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26:34-35 – INCOMPATIBLE!

Unequally Yoked – Photo Created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and MorgueFile photos

The engine of a FIESTA in a FERRARI! PICKLES and ICE CREAM! There are certain things that definitely DON’T go together. ALUMINIUM FOIL and MICROWAVES (Julie discovered this some time ago). CHILDREN and CANCER. Wouldn’t it change the world if HONESTY and POLITICS went together?

It was dark when I dressed, and when I arrived at the Church building, we sat around in a small circle of dedicated students learning and reciting Greek declensions with our Pastor. It was about halfway through one of these early morning classes that I noticed my shoes. I was wearing TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHOES! Very embarrassing. I wonder if anybody else noticed? Certain things should not be worn together.

Deuteronomy 22:10 (NLT) says “You must not plough with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.” The idea here is that there are certain things that are totally INCOMPATIBLE. They were never meant to be placed in the same yoke, never meant to be together in the same equation. Just won’t fit! Won’t make sense! Doesn’t work well!

Just when everything is working out well in Genesis 26:34, Esau decides to marry two unbelieving Hittite women. MARRIAGE is one of the most important decisions we make in this life. Esau doesn’t consult his parents but instead reveals his blatant disregard for them. I know that he was 40 years old but the fact that he didn’t even talk with his parents about his decision shows he knew they would not be pleased with his choices.

Esau has already shown his blatant disregard for the promises of God by selling his birthright for a pot of stew. But why did he want to marry Hittite women, who were idol worshipers and who REJECTED THE GOD OF ABRAHAM? Esau seems to be intent on distancing himself even further from God by refusing to come under His authority in his life or to be accountable to Him in any way. He is making it plain that he is not a believer.

This decision makes both his parents miserable to the point of being grief stricken for the mess Esau is making of his life. He has blown it big time. Adultery and bigamy. Hebrews 12:16 calls him immoral and Godless.

Esau is not a believer but for followers of Christ, the principles are clear. There are certain things that DEFINITELY DON’T GO TOGETHER. Idols and belief in God. Christ and the devil. Light and darkness. Good and Evil. Righteousness and wickedness. A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) says “DON’T TEAM UP WITH (be UNEQUALLY YOKED with) those who are unbelievers.” It’s like harnessing an ox and an ass together.

The picture of being UNEQUALLY YOKED comes from farming life. Oxen and mules don’t work well together. They will pull a load differently, so if you put them in the same harness, they’ll be very ineffective. 1 Corinthians 6:15 goes on to say How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?”

“What’s so bad about believers marrying unbelievers? Big deal!”

I can’t afford to be too quick in dismissing what God has to say. Marrying someone who does not share my beliefs IS a big deal. It has to do with who I allow to speak into my life. Romans 12:2 (NLT) says “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I love my wife and even more important than my marriage relationship is my relationship with God. I was once INCOMPATIBLE, UNEQUALLY YOKED for any kind of relationship with Christ. He could not and would not have a relationship with me because my sin made me completely incompatible.

But on a Christmas day many years ago, I gave my life to Christ. On that day I appropriated what Christ did for me personally. Christ paid the penalty for my sin when He died on the Cross for me. He exchanged His righteousness for my sin. When that amazing transaction took place and I stood before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ, I became TOTALLY COMPATIBLE for a relationship with Him. Has that transaction taken place in your life? Have you considered the radical difference it would make in your life should you decide to believe in Christ and appropriate what He has done for you?

Pastor Ross

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