Posts Tagged ‘Preparation’

The Get It button © Image created by Ross Cochrane

GENESIS 35:1-2 – GETTING A NEW START IN LIFE – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sometimes I wonder if I had the opportunity to get a new start and live anywhere in the world, where I would want to be?

Genesis 35 is about getting a new start in life, but it involves much more than simply getting away and moving house. It is a fitting story for the new year.

Who is this Old Testament Character? You may know him. Let me give you some clues…

WHO AM I?

  • I grew up in a dysfunctional family, getting by with my deceptions.
  • My Father favoured my brother but didn’t like me much, but I’ll get over it.
  • My mother encouraged me to get away with being dishonest and deceptive against my own brother to the point where he threatened to kill me.
  • I had to get out of there quick and run away from home because it would have been dangerous to stay.
  • I began living with my uncle who wanted only to get rich and tricked me into working for him for free for almost 14 years.
  • I was tricked into marrying a person I didn’t get along with.
  • I got together with the woman I loved and married her also. I loved her and tolerated the other one.  
  • I got away with having a number of illegitimate children with other women
  • Despite all this dysfunctional lifestyle, I was told directly by God to get away and move to a specific place back in my home country.
  • I ignored God, however, and instead got together with some people who lived immoral lives, trading and mixing with them, and even allowing their religious idols into my household.
  • The Mayor’s (kings) son raped my daughter and took her into his home and I let him get away with it.
  • My sons took action, however, and got even by retaliating against the terrible crime committed against their sister. My sons behaved like a terrorist group, getting out of control and going on a rampage, killing every male, and taking women and children captive and plundering the town.
  • In the midst of all this stress, sin and horror, when I just didn’t get it, God spoke to me directly again, and gave me a promise of protection and a new destiny?

Who am I?

Jacob

This is a story about getting a new start. No matter what you have done. No matter how dysfunctional your life is. No matter what mistakes you have made. No matter what kind of a parent, son or daughter you have been. How can you get a new start? How can you get back to God?

What would you do if you were the head of a totally dysfunctional family who is getting nowhere in life and you wanted to get a fresh start?

Fortunately for Jacob, God tells him what to do, because Jacob is a wimp. I know, he is chosen but he’s also a wimp. I know he’s a father of the faith, but I don’t really like him. God disagrees with me however. He’s sees in him something that I don’t and he encourages him to get up and go.

“Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau. 

1. GET READY

God says, get ready to make a new start. Get ready to become the person you were created to be. Get ready to start understanding your purpose in life.

If it was me, I’d probably say, Stop being so foolish and take some initiative in getting your life right with God and helping your family do the same. You’ve had plenty of opportunity.

God says, GET READY and secondly He says,

2. GET MOVING

  • Move to the place where you can hear from God.
  • Move to the place where you are least tempted by your sin.
  • Move away from the world’s values and towards God’s values.

But the main message is get moving. Get out of there and get going. Take action. Don’t just sit there and do nothing. Make a decision to act.

So God says GET READY, GET MOVING and then He says

3. GET BUILDING

Build an altar. In other words build a place of worship, something that shows your wholehearted devotion to God. Build an atmosphere of faith that will enable your family to find healing for their dysfunctional lifestyles. Build something of value that will last as a legacy and an example for you and your family.

And finally Jacob got it. He knew what he had to do in order to GET READY, GET MOVING, and GET BUILDING and it would mean burying things he needed to…

4. GET RID OF

Get rid of anything that would hinder you obeying God.

So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols,

How do I get a new start? Remove or get rid of your idols. What is it that gets in the way of you worshiping and serving God alone. Get rid of it.

If you are going to get a new start you have to make deliberate decisions to get tough and get rid of all the hindrances of your past life.

GET READY, GET MOVING, GET BUILDING, GET RID OF and Jacob says to his family,

5. GET CLEAN

 “PURIFY yourselves, and put on clean clothing.”  

Get clean inside and out. Repent of your sins. Get rid of the world’s influence and let God purify you from the inside out. Get right with God. Find forgiveness and get a new start in Christ

 Romans 13:14 (NLT) says, “… clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”  

Clean clothes and hands to symbolise clean lives.

James 4:8 (NLT) says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” 

5 things to do for a new start…

  • GET READY by making a Choice
  • GET MOVING by taking definite action
  • GET BUILDING by developing a culture of worship
  • GET RID OF anything that would hinder you from worshiping and serving God
  • GET CLEAN by confessing your sins to God and finding forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ alone.

If God can forgive and purify Jacob and his family, then anyone can come to Him to find forgiveness and get a new start. Any heart can be made clean.  

THE NEW YEAR IS COMING UP.

The new year often gives us opportunity for A NEW START. So the first lesson for the new year from this story is an invitation about getting right with God and getting rid anything that might get in the way of your relationship with God.

Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “… if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”  

Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

God is saying to you like He did with Jacob, “GET READY to take some initiative and GET MOVING toward Me rather than away from Me. GET BUILDING the altar of worship in your life. GET RID OF the old way of life and embrace a new way by believing in Jesus. Jesus laid down His life for you so that you could GET BACK to God and find forgiveness.”

Hope you GET IT (the invitation of God), GET AFTER IT (salvation), GET ON WITH IT (your God-given purpose) and GET BACK (into a relationship with Christ), GET OVER IT (your past) by GETTING YOUR HEAD AROUND IT (Forgiveness) and finally GET AHEAD IN LIFE by GETTING SOMEWHERE with your GOD. (Couldn’t resist more GETS, but I am serious about wanting you to GET THE MESSAGE). 

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Pastor Ross

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

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 15

“Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men” (Genesis 33:1 NLT).

This is a showdown. The gunfight at OK Corral. Jacob has seen a host of angelic warriors and then he has seen God face to face, and but now he must come face to face with Esau. This is tense and who knows, He may soon see God face to face again, depending on the outcome.

One way or another Esau is looking forward to a reunion with his brother, either for vengeance or reconciliation. Ringing in Jacob’s ears is a threat from 20 years earlier by Esau who wanted him dead.

So Jacob doesn’t immediately think that Esau is coming with 400 men to have a party and celebrate their reunion. Would you?

He has prepared well for this standoff, but still, it must have felt like he was bringing a knife to a gunfight. He could do with a bit of angelic assistance right now (Genesis 32:1-2) but he wasn’t about to procrastinate any longer in meeting Esau (Genesis 32:3).

Standoff metal.jpg

No gun, no bullets, just respect and humility. Photo manipulation by Ross Cochrane

Crafted with respect and humility (Genesis 32:4 NLT), Jacob’s message to Esau had focused on a friendly outcome (Genesis 32:5,6 NLT). He had mastered his emotions (Genesis 32:7 NLT) but this would still be a standoff.

Having a personal relationship with God means that you are open to the impossible, which is why he is choosing not to run. Instead, he shows care for all those who were with him (Genesis 32:7-8 NLT); people are always more important than the conflict.

Talking to the only One he could really trust, he prays up a storm (Genesis 32:9 NLT). Prayer is always a good strategy in times of conflict. In prayer, he reminds God of His past faithfulness but in doing so reminds Himself of a bigger picture (Genesis 32:9 NLT). When all we can see are the difficult circumstances, we miss out on seeing God’s purposes. Jacob is real with God, admitting he is not perfect (Genesis 32:10 NLT). Recognising that we have a responsibility in owning our part in the conflict will always test faith and character.

He is specific in his prayer, outlining what he desires to take place (Genesis 32:11-12 NLT). And then, after prayer, he seems to get further revelation. He makes it easy for Esau to come to the table by giving a peace offering rather than give him an itchy trigger finger (Genesis 32:13 NLT) by reaching for his gun. It’s always good to find a way to avoid triggering further conflict. Taking every possibility into account, Jacob anticipates Esau’s questions (Genesis 32:17-20 NLT).

He realises that the stress of conflict can have a big impact on family (Genesis 32:21-23 NLT) and so Jacob seeks to minimise this as much as possible. Family is more important than our personal battles.

Inward battles of character and faith are worth fighting. Jacob will face off with Esau because he is willing to stand for what he believes in (Genesis 32:24 NLT). But he wrestles with God first and discovers that if he is willing to hold on, there will be pain as well as blessing. (Genesis 32:25,26 NLT). Even when things are painful and difficult and overwhelming in the conflict, it’s always too soon to give up. When life strikes a blow that crushes me, am I willing to hold on?

Am I prepared to allow God to confront my past in order to move on into the future with His purposes for my life? Wrestling with God will change me forever as it did with Jacob (Genesis 32:27-28 NLT).

Not all of my questions will be answered but if I am persistent in finding the right outcome, there will be breakthrough and blessing (Genesis 32:29 NLT). Don’t give up on the struggle. Don’t give up because you go through painful times that humble you into the place of complete trust. Hold on to God until the blessing comes. It will demand faith. But it’s worth it.

So often we have to wrestle with God before we can face up to our circumstances. Our struggles spiritually determine our struggles naturally. And much bigger issues are at stake.

I can use my circumstances to move forward (Genesis 32:26 NLT). Are you prepared to keep moving forward with the changes God has made in your life?

The faith journey is not always easy. Like Jacob, all I can do is acknowledge the setbacks and expect the blessings. Both are life-changing experiences that God will use for the journey ahead (Genesis 32:29,30 NLT).

When I have done all that there is to do, what next?

  1. LEAD THE WAY (Genesis 33:3). Lead by example with courage and humility.

“So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last …

Then Jacob went on ahead.” (Genesis 33:1-3 NLT). What happens as Jacob meets Esau? Find out in the final episode of this series, Part 15, coming soon.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:26 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 13

God appears in human form. He strikes Jacob, as well as blessing him, so that he limps forever after. Jacob recognises this “man” as one who could bless him, and as God. He holds onto God until the blessing comes. It demands faith. (See Parts 1-12). But I also need to …

  1. REALISE THAT THERE MAY BE BIGGER ISSUES AT STAKE

Love this video as an illustration of a Bigger Picture

Jacob could never have known but the blessing he received reached down through the ages and was realised in its fullness through what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross.

So often we have to wrestle with God before we can face up to our circumstances. Our struggles spiritually determine our struggles naturally. Jacob’s struggle was spiritual and natural. And much bigger issues were at stake.

How is it that God becomes a man and struggles with Jacob? We could equally ask, “How does God become a man in the form of Jesus?” We don’t know specific answers but marvel at the miracle we receive by faith.

When God became a man, in the form of Jesus, He struggled with our sin and won the victory. When God became a man and struggles with Jacob, He allowed Jacob the opportunity to win a blessing while barely able to walk away at all. This was a worship experience like nothing experienced before but Jacob must be wondering, “What now, Lord? How can I meet Esau in this broken state?”

  1. USE YOUR PREPARATION IN MOVING FORWARD

Prepared for the journey.jpg

 

“Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” (Genesis 32:26 NLT). Why is this wrestling champion concerned about the sun rising? He’s not afraid to be seen in the light, is He? Hardly. 1 John 1:5 (NLT) says “God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.” 

But Jacob refuses to let him go. Does He want to go before the dawn because He wants anonymity? Too late. Jacob knows that He is God and quite capable of releasing Himself from Jacob’s grip. More likely it is something a lot simpler. God wants Jacob to get on with his meeting with Esau. It was important that Jacob meet up with his wives and children and continue on their way to fulfil God’s promises.

Many suggest that since this figure is God Himself, a Theophany, then He wants to use night to veil His appearance to protect Jacob from dying in His presence? Moses had a similar experience.

Moses in Exodus 33:18-23 (NLT) says to God,

“Then show me Your glorious presence.” The Lord replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. BUT YOU MAY NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT MY FACE, FOR NO ONE MAY SEE ME AND LIVE.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near Me on this rock. As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.”  

Sometimes our real conflict is not the natural one but the spiritual one that wages war on our souls. Jacob has been wrestling with God. Have you? Are you prepared to keep moving forward with the changes God has made in your life? How can you do this? (Find out by reading Part 14. Coming Soon).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – RESUME OF A SERVANT LEADER – Part 7

Servant Leadership

He is not mentioned by name in this story but he makes a name for himself in the pages of history. If you are looking for an example of SERVANT LEADERSHIP, you will find it here in Abraham’s servant. Imagine if he asked for a reference to add to his resume.

As I speak about the leadership characteristics of this man, I wonder would the reference Abraham writes about him be the same kind of reference he would write for me? What does it look like to be a servant leader?

His reference would probably read something like this…

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,

I have known Eliezer for many years. He has served my family over all those years. In fact he has been a most trusted manager and a true servant leader.

I regard Eliezer as a gift from God. He has administrated the affairs of my considerable estate with efficiency and my business has prospered considerably (Genesis 24:1-2. Of course it was God who had blessed Abraham and Eliezer was there to administer the business and household. Many commentaries say that this servant had to be Eliezer but he is not actually mentioned by name.)

With his extensive experience (which is another way of saying that he is old) I believe he has, through his involvement in a variety of business and personal experiences, much to offer. He has learned valuable lessons and together we have charted new territory (Genesis 24:2).

You will find that Eliezer is NOT AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS and he ANTICIPATES DIFFICULTIES when given a task, not because he is being negative but in order to achieve his task more effectively and understand more accurately what is being asked of him (Genesis 24:5. When Abraham asks Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac back in Mesopotamia, Eliezer sees a problem and says, “If this girl won’t agree to come with me. Should I take your son with me?” He presents a problem but suggests a solution. Abraham rejects the solution but it shows that Eliezer is proactive).

Eliezer has a great reputation for finding the right people for our family business. Recently I entrusted Eliezer with an impossible mission which involved travelling to another country and “headhunting” a suitable girl to live and work back in Canaan with my son. He has a particular passion for EXECUTIVE MATCHMAKING, and found someone who was more than suitable. Isaac loved her so much, he married her. (Genesis 24:3-4. Eliezer found the right person for Isaac to marry.)

Always PREPARING WELL, Eliezer has been entrusted with full access to my finances and he budgets well. As you know I have a sizeable fortune. Eliezer can be TRUSTED with money (Genesis 24:10,22,53 When he set off to find Rebekah, he took a fortune with him by way of gifts in silver, gold and garments as well). He is RESPONSIBLE. When transacting business for my family recently in the East, I put at his disposal some of my trained soldiers.(Genesis 24:32. Abraham had his own private army which he had previously used when his nephew Lot was captured by king Chedorlaomer. The story is found in Genesis 14:14-16. I would presume that he would send some of these men with Eliezer for protection purposes). Eliezer also travelled with a valuable cargo into dangerous territory and I am sure an angel was going before him because he was able to accomplish his mission with efficiency. (Genesis 24:7. Abraham said that an angel would go before him to find a wife for Isaac. I presume this would be an angel like Gabriel, who would protect the promises and purposes of God concerning these ancestors of Jesus).

Eliezer takes RESPONSIBILITY after thinking through things well. He’s not afraid of finding success for others. He’s NOT OUT TO SERVE HIS OWN INTERESTS. Once given the mission, he GETS ON WITH THE JOB assigned to him. He is POSITIVE and LOOKS FOR SOLUTIONS and has honoured me. (Genesis 24:12-14. Eliezer prays “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.” He is always serving the interests of God and his master).

What I particularly appreciate about Eliezer is that he allows God to guide him. You will not find anyone as COMMITTED to serving the Lord and his employer as Eliezer. He has a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD and WORSHIPS EASILY and God guides him.  (Genesis 24:12,21,26,42,48,52. At each step Eliezer is careful to ask God for success and to praise God for the answers he receives. Psalms 37:23 (NLT) says “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives”).

He’s a DETAILS PERSON, but somehow manages to be PRECISE AND TO THE POINT with his presentations. (Genesis 24:33-49. Eliezer explains the reason he is there, how God has prospered Abraham to the point where is is now a rich man. He speaks about the miracle of Isaac’s birth and how he is the sole heir to Abraham. He explains that he took an oath to find a wife for Isaac among Abraham’s relatives, and how he had asked for a sign so that God would lead him to the right girl. The Lord led him to Rebekah. Without being pushy he seeks to have them make a decision). You will find Eliezer not to be intrusive but he is ASSERTIVE and firm when closing a deal. (Genesis 24:49) Very DECISIVE, and COMMITTED to accomplishing the purpose of the tasks I have assigned him, he does not waste time. He is never keen about delaying things (Genesis 24:55-56. Once Eliezer has found Rebekah, he is keen to go the very next day). Although he is PERSISTENT, he is careful not to force his way into a situation. He completes what he sets out to do.

If his experience and gifts in excellent service and trusted leadership, along with his loyalty seems to match up with any opportunities you may have, then you must know that although I commend him to you and that he would be an asset to you, YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM. He is permanently indentured to me. Abraham. 

God bless you as you seek to learn and apply these principles of servant leadership from this amazing man of God.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:1-17 – A BACKHOE WOULDN’T GO ASTRAY! – Part 2

A Backhoe wouldn't go astray!

Just as well He didn’t come to HOLLYWOOD. I can see some of his key people pushing back the fans who crowd in and just want to get close enough to touch the edge of his coat or get His AUTOGRAPH. The PAPARAZZI are out in force and the CRITICS are out to get Him. TV channels want exclusive INTERVIEWS. He is on the cover of TIME magazine. There’s a wax statue of Him in Madame Tussauds and He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. OPRAH wants Him on her show and little ACTION FIGURES of Him are already appearing in the shops. He has big business SPONSORS with a shoe company that makes sandals and there’s a clothing line. Eastern style is in. A BIOGRAPHY of His life and miracles is being written by 4 different authors and He has a MOVIE CONTRACT. There’s even a PERFUME brand called Nard which costs the earth with His picture on the bottle.

Wait a minute! No, this is not about “15 minutes of fame”. It’s about “sowing and reaping” longterm. It’s not “The Farmer wants a wife”. It’s the FARMER WANTS A CROP. Jesus may have achieved CELEBRITY STATUS but He is not interested in walking out on the water to IMPRESS the crowd! He is here to stir them to LISTEN to a simple message that will IMPACT their lives.

He goes and sits by the lake as people gather. How big is the crowd? I don’t know but soon it is so big that He decides to teach them from a boat. It’s no auditorium with special lighting effects, fancy sound system and huge screens to display His Bible references, but it will do.

He has already had a busy day, but now the master story teller begins and the crowd get’s quiet. The first story is pretty basic, nothing particularly riveting here. He weaves the facets of His story around a farmer who sows a crop on four different soil types with limited success. In our day it translates to a businessman who makes some bad investments and one good investment.

You know the story – a “farmer” scatters his seed in his field. Some seed falls on the HARD GROUND and birds eat it. Other seed grows in ROCKY soil, and it wilts because it doesn’t have deep roots. Some seed grows in a THORN infested area and the thorns choke the tender plants (Matthew 13:3-8). And some grows in “FERTILE SOIL” and produces a crop.

Is it only me or does anybody else in this crowd think that this farmer is fairly IRRESPONSIBLE with the way he goes about sowing his crop? I mean he hasn’t PREPARED his field very well. There’s still rocks, shallow soil and thorns, as well as some good soil. You’d think he’d clear the weeds and remove the rocks and plow the field before he sows the seed. What kind of farmer does this?

This farmer doesn’t seem all that concerned about getting rid of the OBSTACLES TO GROWTH first. He just absently scatters the seed on an UNPREPARED field. Seems like a weird thing to do. He needs to have a methodical plan if he wants to get a return. A wheelbarrow, a shovel and a pickaxe, and a backhoe wouldn’t go astray of course, but all he is interested in is scattering seed. How irresponsible and WASTEFUL is this?

Someone said “The QUALITY OF THE FIELD – determines the QUALITY OF THE YIELD.” Is he looking to sowing a crop for a harvest or feeding the birds?

The fact is that this farmer isn’t about to FORCE the soil types to do anything. He accepts me as I am but He doesn’t want me to stay that way. It seems this is a co-operative farm and by the time He sows He has already allowed ample opportunity for me to respond to the backhoe, crowbar and pickaxe. John the Baptist puts it this ways “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” … ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”   (Matthew 3:2-3 NLT)

Let’s face it – unless I change, then I’m not going to be able to RECEIVE what He is offering. It’s pretty obvious that the dirt He is talking about is me, and this is about as down to earth as you can get when it comes to describing my spiritual state. The question is have I already responded to the REPENTANCE SHOVEL until the ROCKS are removed, some HEALING SOIL SOFTENER to aerate the HARDNESS of my heart, to the pulling out of the WEEDS of bitterness until I have a receptive attitude. Jesus says in effect “I’ll do the sowing and the growing. You do the believing and receiving.”

God bless you as you allow repentance to turn the hardened, shallow and distracted parts of your heart in order to receive all that God intends for you and make your life fruitful. For me, a spiritual backhoe and crowbar wouldn’t go astray at times!

Pastor Ross