Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Extraction © Ross Cochrane

Extraction © Ross Cochrane

Psalm 3:1-7 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE? – Part 6 – Prayer, Faith and Victory

In Psalm 3, David invites you, through his example, to remind yourself of what the Bible says about God

c. God Answers Your Prayers (Psalm 3:4)

Apparently, the American President Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

In Psalms 3:2, 4 (NLT) David says “So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude … “I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Interlude”  

It seems that David’s enemies, led by his own son and those whom he once trusted, are trying to defame David’s faith and vilify David with denunciations and discouragement and blame, but rather than waste a response on these unrestrained voices of doom, David cries out to the Lord. He is not silenced by the enemy and God is not silenced by their malignant allegations and blasphemous presumptions.

The Ark of the Covenant, where God chose to reveal His presence may still be in Jerusalem’s holy mountain, but David hears heavens voice and experiences the presence of God despite being compelled to flee from his own son’s army into the wilderness. He prays and receives God’s answers while he is running away from those who once gathered with him in supposed worship.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) says “… So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

1 John 5:13-15 (NLT) says, “… we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” 

d. God Watches Over You (Psalm 3:5)

Psalm 3:5 says “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.” 

Grace meets my vulnerability as I sleep. Love dispels my fears with His peace. I may choose to be anxious but it’s better to trust that even Jesus asleep in my boat is enough. His presence is all I need to have peace. His trust in the Father is mine (Mark 4:39). He calms the tumultuous waves.

In Matthew 11:28 (NLT) Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

e. God Gives You Victory Over Impossible Circumstances (Psalm 3:6-7)

Psalm 3:6-7 says “I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from You, O Lord. May You bless Your people. Interlude”  

This is violent teeth breaking language. Those who know the horrors of war are familiar with such terms. He uses common expressions of his day. I need “Slap the enemy in the face” kind of courage to face my circumstances head on and “Shatter the teeth of the wicked” kind of victory against impossible odds.

Those of us who have never faced war back away from such forceful language and prefer less callous dentistry, but David asks for victory using warrior expressions, terms that describe much less than his enemies desire for him. They don’t only want to slap him on the face and break his teeth.

The New Testament describes our spiritual battle and the champion of our faith. 1 John 5:4-5 (NLT) says “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT) says, “… For God has said,  “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence,  “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”  

In Mark 9:23 (NLT) Jesus says, “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Psalm 3 invites me to remind myself of what I know about God. He is MY SHIELD – taking the brunt of the blows that come against me in life, MY IDENTITY – in Him I find out who I really am, MY FOCUS in times of need – answering my prayers, MY SECURITY – watching over me, MY VICTORY over impossible circumstances, MY BLESSING in life, My PEACE – peace with God means I can experience peace in whatever circumstances I face.

The invitation of Psalm 3 in the light of the New Testament is to come to know real peace despite pressure as we get to know God personally through Christ.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:9 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 5

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-4).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? When you need urgent counsel, who do you talk to?

  1. TALK THINGS OVER WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST
IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

Lifeline © Image created by Ross Cochrane.

“Then Jacob prayed, “O God…”” (Genesis 32:9 NLT).

Sure, you might want a human counselor, but when it comes to trusting someone, God is a great contact.

Jacob comes to God in prayer. This is crisis prayer but shows that God is becoming a more central figure in his life. In fact, this prayer is central to all that happens in this story. It leaves me to consider that if Jacob has a history of significant interactions with God, then prayer is a key factor to the outcomes of my own life today.

 

 

 

  1. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

Heritage4.jpg

Heritage © book created by Julie Cochrane. Photo by Ross Cochrane

“O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, You told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And You promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly’” (Genesis 32:9 NLT). 

To be blessed by God and then murdered by his brother doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. When all we can see are the difficult circumstances, we miss out on seeing God’s past record of faithfulness. Prayer draws us back into the reality of God’s intentions.

Jacob is laying it out on the line with God in prayer. There is family history in his relationship with God. There is a covenant in place and so far it has all worked out. God has been faithful.

My wife has a wonderful heritage of faith extending back generations in her family, but any follower of Christ has become a part of the generational blessing and faithfulness of God over centuries and we have good reason to develop trust. We do so on the basis of a new covenant with God made through the death of Christ.

Hebrews 8:6-13 (NLT) says “But now Jesus, … mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises: “… I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

From Genesis 28:12-15, it’s quite clear that God was with Jacob and would protect him wherever he went. God had big plans for Jacob and his sons. Jesus would eventually come from his line. If Esau wanted to escalate conflict, then he really didn’t have a chance.

We have the history and heritage of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness going back thousands of years. Yet sometimes it is our own past history and lack of faithfulness that gets in our way of trusting in God.

Jacob was the big man, knowing that he was in the right, when he stood up to Laban. But with Esau, he knows he has done the wrong thing.

What do you do when your actions have caused the conflict? (Find out more. Part 6 is coming).

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 39

Those in court seem to instinctively and collectively step back towards the door to distance themselves from the presence of God as Nathan speaks. The courtroom empties as David slumps forward from his throne with nowhere to escape but to his knees, tears streaming down his face, the full weight of months gone, now pressing upon his shoulders. Only Absalom and the amanuensis remain, but they are in the shadows. The spotlight of God’s presence rests heavily upon David’s conscience. He speaks, but the words are no more than a groan that comes from somewhere deep within,

“I have sinned against the Lord.”

Silence envelopes the room and it seems that God reaches down and touches David, for his body trembles as Nathan says, “The Lord also has taken away your sin. 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.” Absalom slips from the room unnoticed. Nathan is gone almost as quickly as he had come and David lies prostrate before the Lord for some time.

As predicted, the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David became very sick.

Grief-stricken, David retreated in prayer for his child; He fasted and lay prostrate before the Lord all that night on the ground. Friends and counsellors in his palace encouraged him to eat but he was unwilling. As kings advisor, Absalom came to David and said “Your people are waiting for you to judge their cases. Why won’t you listen to them?” David remained silent, prostrate before the Lord. He had lost the power to act at all on behalf of his people. Then he murmured with a voice of deep anguish, “How can I seek justice for my people when the judgement of God still rests heavily upon me and upon my innocent son? You don’t seem to understand that he is dying in my place. Now leave me.” Absalom left and pondered this situation to see if he could gain any advantage.

It seemed that David lost his interest in hearing the cases of his people in court from that time on. Absalom’s interest, however, increased. As one of the kings sons and advisors, he determined to judge their cases. It will be good practise for when I am king. For now, I cannot do it from the throne of course, but in time…

Each night the others who sat at the king’s table were quiet, waiting to see what would happen. David, absent from the table, continued his fasting and praying day after day while the child lingered. Then, on the seventh day, the circumstances of the child changed.

The servants were afraid to tell David at first. They were afraid that he might do something to harm himself. But David noticed his servants whispering together and understood that the child was dead.

When he knew for sure, he got up, washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes; and went into the Tabernacle to worship the Lord. He accepted fully the consequences of his sin and thanked the Lord for His justice mixed with His mercy. His life had been spared yet forgiveness had come with so great a price. Then he went back to his own house, and requested food. When Absalom saw the change in David, he was confused. He asked the servants what had happened to bring the king back to his right mind. They related David’s words to him,

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; because I thought, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?”

For a while he had thought that his father may have lost his sanity. Certainly, he thought, he had completely lost his ability to rule. In David’s absence, it had been he who had been hearing the cases of the people. He felt that he was the only one aware of what was needed in the kingdom. In conceding that his father was well again, he said simply to David,

“Despite your absence, you will find your kingdom is still intact. We have not lost the war with the Ammonites and your people’s needs are still being cared for”.

David said “Thankyou, my son. I knew that I could rely on you.” The comment was fleeting as David left the room to be with Bathsheba in her time of need.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 16

David could see the blade, honed to perfection, slicing through the air towards him. Everything seemed to be focused on the dreadful edge of that sword, and in that split second David heard the clear voice of God speak, “Baal-Perazim! I am the Lord of the Breakthrough!”

From behind David, in full view of the creature, what looked like a great cloud seemed to surge and lift and fill the sky. It raced over David’s head and across the plain all around him, the thunder of its power now pulsating in his ears. It rippled across the sky towards the enemies who now completely surrounded king David and instead of darkening the sky it seemed as if the sky was filled with light.

A terrifying wind howled around them piercing the air with an awesome sound. The strength in the creatures arm seemed to melt and the force of his sword was easily deflected. A fear that David could almost feel now haunted the creatures eyes as he hesitated just a moment too long. David took the opportunity to thrust his sword forward. The creature looked down in horror as the sword found its mark and sliced cleanly into its heart.

As the creature roared in fear and pain David shouted, “I come to establish the righteousness, peace and joy of the Lord of heaven and earth this day!”

David could see then that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but thousands and thousands of Angelic beings racing towards the enemy. As he thrust his sword a second time towards the creature, the cloud dropped like a flood released from a dam.

“As waters break out, so have I broken out against My enemies before You!” came God’s clear voice from the flood. The deluge broke over them with the force of an exploding volcano. With another thrust of David’s sword, it swamped the enemy completely in front and behind and David lost sight of them in the rushing, surging tide. It seemed that he stood in the eye of a tornado as the enemy was ripped asunder.

What seemed like only moments later there was silence. It broke upon the plain with an eerie suddenness. David could hear the blood pulsing through his ears. There was no sight of the enemy or their leader. Thousands of broken idols were strewn across the plain. The chains and blindfolds from the captive nations had fallen away and they were standing in absolute silence looking towards him.

“I come in the name of the Lord of hosts,” he said, and his voice quivered with awe. As realisation dawned upon the masses that stood before him, cheering broke out across the plain and shouts of praise and worship filled the air.

In that moment, he felt so weak he collapsed, lying prostrate before the Lord, filled with the exhilaration and exhaustion of victory. He awoke from his vision on the floor, with Ahithophel peering anxiously into his eyes. He had heard David collapse and had run into the room expecting the worst. He was relieved not only to find David alive but somehow glowing.

“What happened, my lord?” said Ahithophel.

“Ahithophel, you know better than to interrupt me while I am in prayer. Why are you here?” said David, ignoring the question.

“My lord, I came to tell you that the Philistines have gathered in the valley of Rephaim!”

David looked into the concerned eyes of Ahithophel and laughed. He said, “No, not Rephaim. Baal-Perazim!” and Ahithophel was totally confused as David headed off to command his army.

Aiming at the heart, with the first thrust of David’s forces, the Philistines were driven back, perplexed at such strength, and had to regather their troops. Again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim, a large army. They didn’t realise, however, that the valley of Rephaim was now the valley of the Lord of the Breakthrough, Baal-Perazim, won through prayer. David went against the Philistines with a sure knowledge of victory that day and defeated the enemy quickly.

God told David to have Israel circle around behind the Philistines and when they heard a marching-like rustle in the balsam trees they were to attack and drive the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer, a distance of about twenty-four kilometres. God performed His promise, went before them, and routed all the enemy’s force, right to the very borders of their own country.

The destruction was turned upon the Philistines and their evil was broken in the land. As demon worshipers, the Philistines were very superstitious. The charms they wore into battle, idols of Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub were abandoned in their rush to escape the slaughter. They had become sacrifices to their own idols. They were the same scattered idols David had seen so clearly in his dream. One of the weapons left behind on the battlefield was a dagger. It had the same shaped blade as the dagger Joab had used to kill Abner. In fact, it had come from the same forge. It was picked up by one of David’s soldiers as they carried the idols of the Canaanites away and destroyed them.

From that point on, that part of the Valley of Rephaim, only four or five kilometres South-West of Jerusalem became known as, “Baal-Perazim”, the Lord of the Breakthrough.

The same thing would one day happen at the feast of Pentecost many years hence. When the kingdom of the Messiah came, apostles were told that they were not to do anything until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And when the Spirit came, it was just like the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven. It was the sound of victory as warriors of a new covenant went to battle against the forces of evil and to usher in the kingdom of God. In fact, it sounded just like the sound that David heard that day rushing through the tops of the balsam trees.

In prayer, a victorious king David reflected on the goodness of God in his life. He had made the most important decision of his life many years ago out on the hills with his sheep. He would dedicate his life to the Lord of hosts. God had remained faithful over the years and he stayed up for most of this night in prayer.

David had reigned as king in Hebron for seven and a half years. At first there had been a civil war with those who had supported the old regime of king Saul but eventually David had been anointed king over all the twelve tribes of Israel.

After defeating the Jebusites, he had moved his military base to the fortified defences of Jerusalem. Now, it had been relatively easy for his family for a while.

The Philistines saw king David as a brilliant strategist in warfare. They were never a problem to him again. He had been able to build himself a palace, open up highways and trade routes and relax from the pressures of war.

For the first time for Obed-edom, the old Philistine slave, life seemed overwhelmingly good. God had answered his prayers and, miraculously, king David and his army had defeated the Philistines. Somehow he no longer saw himself as a Philistine. Now he was a slave of Jehovah Sabaoth, and each morning he uttered tearful thanks to the God who had created him for such a time as this.

He and his sons all began to find a deep relationship with the God of Israel and they began to wholeheartedly participate in the worship ceremonies. Each Sabbath day they listened avidly to each word that the priest uttered so that they could learn more about God and sometimes they were allowed to ask questions about the things that puzzled them.

For David, the Lord had to have central place in the kingdom, and it was while he was in prayer that he was prompted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, and place it in the special tabernacle prepared for it. He could not realise how the events of the coming days would change him.

Matthew 17:14-20 – HOW TO ADJUST YOUR FOCUS

“Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, take another shot.”

Focus. Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge.org, Paint.net, and MorgueFiles.com

Focus. Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge.org, Paint.net, and MorgueFiles.com

Recorded in brilliant failure, Matthew 17:16 is a digital snapshot the disciples would rather have erased from the memory card. The colours are too dark, and there are no finely focused images of a miracle, just the indistinct madness of an ill-conceived attempt. When the disciples can’t cast out a demon from a boy, Jesus tells them that they “don’t have enough FAITH” (Matthew 17:20 NLT). In Mark 9:28-29 (NLT) Jesus adds “This kind can be cast out only by PRAYER.” 

Faith and prayer, like the interplay between field of focus and the aperture, are both needed to obtain the right exposure to God’s light for a healing miracle to occur. The disciples depth of faith was far too shallow, much too close to the Scribes, focused on their arguments, accentuating their negativity and blurring the little boy’s needs into the background.

They had needed more light that day. They did not allow God to adjust the aperture of faith to even the size of a mustard seed to obtain enough light to expose this little boy to the love of Jesus. Their image was far from perfect. 

DEPTH OF FAITH

As Jesus came down from the mountain He framed a different picture of all that was happening in a deep depth of faith. Everything was in focus, the argument with the Scribes, the crowd, the failure of the disciples, the faith of the father and the boy who needed healing. He saw the scene with absolute clarity.

The paparazzi crowd zoomed in on Jesus and away from the negative image of the argument, focusing their lenses on the celebrity of Jesus. The Son is the best light source of all. Rich and warm, His light brings out the best colours in everyone, but also highlights the strong shadows of darkness in the scribes and boy; the demonic shapes, long and sinister. The contrast is striking.

Then darkness suddenly flees as the demon is fully exposed to a blinding flash of light! Abruptly the shadows vanish and the image of a bright little boy appears, alive and well for all to see. The crowd is in awe at the picture of health they see. What had looked obscure and shadowy is now a beautifully balanced image of a boy, correctly exposed to the saving power of Jesus. Miracles are all about light. They marvel in the presence of Jesus, Master of Light and Life.

THE APERTURE (Faith)

Each person is a lens with their own maximum and minimum aperture setting (faith). Jesus invites me to use the widest aperture to let in as much of the light from God’s Word as possible. Otherwise, I will experience an underexposed life. 

ISO SPEED (Inner Sensitivity Opportunity)

At its simplest level, the Faith Aperture is an opening in my perception the size of a mustard seed. When God’s illumination passes through that opening, it shines on a light-sensitive heart that absorbs the light and captures the image of the Son of God within. The ISO speed (the Inner Sensitivity Opportunity) controls the sensitivity of my heart. The higher the ISO speed, the more sensitive the heart is to the light of God’s Word and the message of Christ. As these settings are adjusted to different circumstances I can get clarity and focus for perceiving my world through the eyes of God.

FOCUS AND LENS (Perception) 

Life is all about capturing light. It is received in faith. When I manually seek to control my world some circumstances will be in focus, crisp and clear, while others will be out of focus, blurry and confusing. As I allow the light of Christ to fill my life there are many ways that God automatically allows my perception sensors, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to detect, track and adjust my faith focus in the situations that I face each day. His invitation is to bring light and life and focus to your life.

He moves in closer like a big cat, stepping lightly and with careful intent, zooming in on His subject. He wants to capture every detail, the peppered freckles, the curve of the mouth, the twist of hair in the breeze. 

The intersecting lines of the viewfinder are poised and the autofocus is locked onto His subject. Playing with the early light, the background trees splash soft, subdued nuances of colour upon the scene. And in that split second when everything is resolved, His finger instinctively finds the shutter release and presses. The sound of the shutter sings in the silence, and a split second of time digitally replicates itself, irrevocably remembered and beautiful.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-28: DOES GOD STILL HEAL PEOPLE TODAY?

Praying for Angie

Praying for Angie

She had battled with cancer and won. “No-one could help me. It was just me” she said, “No-one could go through it with me. I had to fight it all by myself. I’d like to have faith in God but I don’t have it and so I did it all alone.” Is it positive thinking that brings healing or how much I pray with faith? In Deuteronomy 32:39 (NLT) God says He is the only One who has the power over life and death and the power to wound and heal “I am the One who kills and gives life; I am the One who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from My powerful hand” (see also 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). Does God still heal the sick today?

Jesus disciples were certainly involved in healing the sick. Back in Matthew 10:8 (NLT) Jesus “gave them AUTHORITY” to go out and Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” Seventy two of the wider circle of disciples including the twelve were sent out in Jesus’ Name (with healing ability and authority) and Luke 10:17 (NLT) says “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to Him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use Your name!””

By Matthew 17:14, nine disciples have arrived at the bottom of a mountain, gather a crowd, and get involved in an argument with the religious leaders, the Scribes, and can’t cast a demon from a boy. They ask Jesus why they failed. He said “YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH” (Matthew 17:20 NLT).

When the disciples were originally sent to heal the sick and cast out demons in Matthew 10:14 (NLT) it says “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” Notice, it doesn’t say to STAY AND ARGUE. Negativity is faith-depleting and limits the healing possibilities through faith in Christ. Negativity is doubt-building. Prayer is faith-building.

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus said. They didn’t have enough faith themselves because they were drawn into an argument with the Scribes (Mark 9:14). Bad attitudes kill faith. By the time they tried to heal this boy, a mountain of unbelief stood in the way. It seems they were meant to search for those who would listen and respond in faith to the message of God’s grace, not have their faith dragged down to the level of the arguments of men. Faith doesn’t mix well with scepticism and negativity.

When Jesus arrived, He was faced with a mountain of unbelief. He was looking for that which pleases God in the crowd. He didn’t find it in the Scribes. He didn’t find it in His disciples. He didn’t find it in the crowd. He found it in the mustard-seed-faith of a father and moved a mountain for his son. He wanted to have the faith of the boy’s father involved too. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) says “…it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”

God doesn’t want lone-ranger-super-disciples trying to cast out demons. He wants a community inspired to believe for a miracle and in the only One who has come to save them from their sin. The prayer of faith that can remove demons is the kind of faith that can move a mountain of unbelief. Luke 9:43 (NLT) says “Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power. Everyone was marveling at everything He was doing”. One healing left a crowd of people in awe of what God could do.

Faith is contagious. Mustard seed faith in a Dad moved a range of mountainous difficulties for his son, but also removed the mountainous influence of unbelief. The way we relate to God is by faith. God not only looked for a spark of faith in the father of the boy when He couldn’t find it in the disciples but He invites you and me to have faith in Christ today.

“Does God still heal the sick today?” Wrong question. “Am I willing to trust in Christ, come under His authority, and pray for God’s healing mercy?” Much better.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:1-5 – WHEN LISTENING FINDS THE RIGHT VOICE 

Listening. © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Listening. © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

When Listening walks with a friend in the park or offers them a cup of coffee in a quiet bay window overlooking her garden she happens upon the most amazing stories. People are always willing to open up to Listening. She mirrors your movements as you speak to her and hears your heart. She doesn’t interrupt or tell you what you should do, but somehow at the end of the conversation you discover for yourself a pathway ahead. 

Listening has a twin sister called Hearing. Although they bear a strong family resemblance to each other, they are quite different. Hearing is distracted easily. She watches the News at night on TV but could not tell you what was said. She is more interested in the sound of your voice than in the conversation. She can sit with you but the sounds float around her head and she gets lost in the domain of imagination or in the pressing things she is yet to act upon. 

It is when Hearing becomes too emotional that she least resembles Listening. She parks in clearways and blocks the traffic with conversational narcissism; showing no interest in what you are saying. In her childhood she had trouble remembering and paying attention to what she was told. As a result her grades suffered and she developed behaviour problems. 

Being a child of Nurture, Listening makes her living as a Nanny. She takes hold of the sounds born into the world from anothers thoughts, and cradles them in nurturing arms, raising them into responsible maturity, and returns them to the conversations of life with Understanding. 

I found Listening at the beach when I wanted to give voice to my questions. She was gazing at the ocean waves rolling in. “Conversations are like the ocean” she said. She taught me how to surf, riding the noisy waves on a board called Perspective, deftly and sensitively responding to each rise and fall as the crests curled around us. My questions became less insistent as we made our way to the shore and by the time we had reached the sand the world once again almost made sense. 

Once, when I was walking through the city, crowded in by voices and traffic noise; just an anonymous face in a crowd, somehow Listening recognised me from afar, smiled and waved. She knew a quiet café to sit and talk. 

Sometimes it seems that Listening waits at the door for me to return home, and hearing the keys jingling as the door opens, anticipates my presence by being fully engaged and ready to hear how my day has gone. Listening looks me in the eye but sees beyond my words. 

Listening loves me. I see her often personified in the eyes of my wife as she greets me after a long day or in the mischievous smile of a grandchild who finds me in my study, gives me a hug, asks me a question and waits patiently with big eyes for my response. She is defined by relationship; family, friends and innumerable encounters, and she is nurtured with Prayer when my words remain unspoken and I begin to be attentive to the whispers of God. 

Prayer and Listening are mountain climbers. On a mountain they can stir my imagination, inform my opinions, hold me enthralled by exposing me to my deepest creative self, open me to new ideas, and make me expect more, reach for more and motivate my very being with appreciation or inspiration or worship. 

I was not surprised to find Listening climbing the mountain with Jesus and the disciples. When she saw Jesus shine like the sun and heard Moses and Elijah talking with Him about His exodus, she tried to help Peter interpret what was going on. But Peter had been asleep, and Prayer had remained with Jesus. It was only on waking that Peter learned that some conversations cannot be interpreted without Prayer’s access to heaven’s perspective. Without Prayer even Listening was unable to help. 

When Listening is directed to the voices of our experience, voices of our emotions, voices of our expertise or voices of our senses, despite her insights, she is still not suitable to interpret miracles or spiritual truth. 

On this mountain Listening is directed to a Person, the only One able to interpret the past, give voice to the present and fulfil the future. God’s voice whispers from the cloud, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5 NLT). 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:1 – HOW TO ASCEND THE GREATEST MOUNTAIN OF ALL

How to Climb the Greatest Mountain of All. Image created from Morguefile free photos, Paint.net and ForgeFilter.org

How to Climb the Greatest Mountain of All. Image created from Morguefile free photos, Paint.net and ForgeFilter.org

I was so intrigued by the fact that he had named himself. His father neglected to name him and so in his early teenage years he chose his own name; the name of a mountain. Mt Taraksh means Great One, and in keeping with his name, Taraksh wanted to achieve great things. As well as becoming a great father to his children, Taraksh overcame the stigma of moving away from the caste system of his culture, and became one of an elite group of theoretical scientists during the period of the second world war.

The legacy Taraksh leaves is the legacy of the mountain. Mountains are often symbols of our lives. Mountains inspire us and demand respect, test our strength and expose our weaknesses. We are humbled in the shadow of the immensity of a mountain, and it’s stability and strength inspires us to rise beyond the mundane and to achieve our goals and dreams. As we raise our eyes to the peak of a mountain we are reminded that life’s journey requires perseverance and faith. From it’s heady vantage points we are called to reflection and encouraged to look beyond ourselves.

Mountains call us to sacred acts of contemplation and spiritual challenge; a place where we receive perspective for life; a place to be open to spiritual truth. It is not surprising then that “…Jesus takes Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and leads them up a high mountain to be alone” (Matthew 17:1 NLT). He is here to pray in the quiet hours of the night, and as so often is the case, it is on a mountain where His interaction with God causes a magnificent collision of heaven with earth.

Such a collision had once stirred up a demonic squall on a lake. Frightened disciples saw Him walk on water that night and exercise authority over the natural and spiritual elements to bring calm (Matthew 14:22-33). It was on the side of a mountain such as this where Moses received the call of God when God spoke to him from the middle of a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4). It was on that same mountain that he received the Law written by the finger of God in stone (Exodus 24:12). It was on a mountain that Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven to consume the offering on their altar (1 Kings 18:19-40). It was on a mountain where Elijah, fleeing from Jezebel, heard the gentle whisper of God that called him to get back in harm’s way and stand up and be counted (1 Kings 19:12).

Prayer and a mountain are a powerful combination. It is after praying on a mountain that Jesus chose His disciples (Luke 6:12). And now on this mountain where Jesus prays with His disciples; a mountain that looked out over Galilee and out towards Calvary’s distant mountain, a transaction takes place that will bring the past, present and future into perspective; a transaction that would need to be examined with wonder and fear by Jesus’ closest disciples (Mark 5:37, Matthew 26:37). 2 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT) says “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”. There would be no doubt as to what would transpire here.

What happened on this mountain? You’ll have to wait and see. But for now Jesus is inviting you to come with Him to the mountain to pray and receive forgiveness for the past, sustaining grace for the present and a destiny to fulfil in the future. In fact Jesus is our Rock, our Refuge, our Foundation, our Strength and Stability, the One from whom we gain perspective for our lives, the One who overcomes the obstacles of sin and death, the greatest of all mountains. 

As we kneel before the Cross on Calvary’s mountain, where Jesus died for our sins, we are confronted with the vastness of eternity, and tremble with reverent fear in the presence of God. It is in the great expanse of this mountain refuge; this solid Rock on which we stand, that we hear the gentle whispers of God.

Pastor Ross

Gif using Parallax images

Gif using Parallax images

LUKE 2:9 – MARY DID YOU KNOW? Poem

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

Mary, did you know? – the poem © by Ross Cochrane

Had Mary known the pain that He would bear
When in her arms this baby Jesus lay,
Would she have wanted Him to stay
to face a Cross, and give His very life?
Had Mary known the ugliness of strife
would she have held tiny hands tighter still
while thinking of them nail pierced on deaths hill?

Had Mary known that in this manger lay
the One whose head would lay within a tomb,
would she have gasped each time she came to pray
and sung with tears a lullaby each night
And mourned the seed that issued from her womb?

No! Mary would have only known the joy
Of heavens love within a baby boy.

And if we knew of God’s elusive plan
With eyes to see the pain that we would bear,
Would we have tried to run from grace and prayer
instead of face the cross He bids us take?
Without sufficient strength our pride to break
would we avoid the shaping hands of God,
the disciplines that issue from His rod?

Would we receive the testing desert sun
along with times of joy and hope and light?
Or shape a “painless” destiny and run
with such swift feet away from heaven’s tears
and any preparation for the fight?

No! From the future He has spared us much
That we might know His patient, perfect touch.

Matthew 7:7-11 – SYNC IN PROGRESS …

Sync in Progress

My computer is now IN SYNC with my i-pad 2. My portable Wi-fi is also in sync with all my Wi-fi capable devices. The ongoing cost of all these devices is incredible. I spent $100 in just one month downloading 6 GB of data using my Wi-fi account, thinking it would last a year. Oh, the COST of being in sync!

I’d like to think that my prayers are always in sync with God, but that is not always true. I don’t always get what I want or what I think I need immediately? Why did Phil’s daughter die of cancer, an agonising death, when she was only 6 years old, though a Church load of people prayed? Why wasn’t she healed?

There’s a COST to being in sync with God, and it means that I transfer management rights of my life to Him. It is beyond my ability to see why He does not intervene at times or to see His purpose in everything I pray about, but I have come to trust Him. If I were in charge then … things would be an absolute mess, and so the more I get to know Him the more impact my prayers have to accomplish His purposes on the earth. My responsibility is to pray in sync with Him. His is to answer in His way and with His perfectly co-ordinated timing, according to His Character.

I would not give my grandson a loaded gun just because he asks for it, but when Rome says “I’m hungry” (which is often the first thing that he will say when coming into our house) then he knows that I will feed him. Matthew 7:9 (NLT) says “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

1 John 5:14-15 (NLT) speaks of being in sync with God when it says “And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that PLEASES Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us WHAT WE ASK FOR.” James 4:2-3 (NLT) says – “… Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because YOUR MOTIVES ARE ALL WRONG—you want only what will give you pleasure.”

Matthew 7:11 (NLT) “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” NO RELUNCTANCE on God’s side. He is not disinterested and unconcerned. Like a father — He loves and cares for me. He’s NOT DEAF. He hears me. He DOESN’T HESITATE or GIVE GRUDGINGLY. He WON’T REBUKE me for asking (James 1:5).

And His answers are NOT POOR QUALITY. He gives “GOOD GIFTS” (Matthew 7:11). 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.” Matthew 21:22 (NLT) says “You can pray for anything, and if you have FAITH, you will receive it.”

The answer is mine, RIGHT NOW, by faith in God who answers prayer, even BEFORE I see it? The only condition – being IN SYNC with God; operating in unison, in agreement, co-ordinated to harmonise my life with His in such a way that my actions in time, space and purpose produce the maximum impact for Him. He expresses it this way “But if you REMAIN IN ME AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU, you may ask for ANYTHING YOU WANT, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7 NLT).

Elijah called down fire from heaven, and yet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were protected from flames. Prayer has parted the Red Sea for Moses, brought down the walls of Jericho for Joshua, brought victory in battle for David, imparted wisdom for Solomon, closed the mouths of lions for Daniel, even extended the hours in the day without the use of daylight savings for someone who I can’t quite remember at the moment – was it Isaiah? Yes, (Isaiah 38:8).

The power of synchronised prayer can cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead. It encourages trust, deals with sin, accesses heavens throne-room, and changes my circumstances. It enables me never to give up, to keep on reaching beyond what I can achieve, to keep asking for the impossible, seeking for the unsolvable, and knocking on the doors of heaven for the answers I need on earth. It is the conversation of dependent children with their all-sufficient Father, and that’s when we will see extraordinary things take place in the ordinary everyday situations of life. SYNC IN PROGRESS … !

Pastor Ross