Posts Tagged ‘Promise’

Genesis 31:1-13 – FOCUS ON THE PROMISE NOT THE PROBLEM

FOCUS

Focus on the Promise not on the Problem. Created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morguefile and FilterForge

Focus on the Promise not on the Problem. Created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, Morguefile and FilterForge

“The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” (Alexander Graham Bell). 

The fleeting movement had caught my interest. It was only a leaf, red on one side and green on the other. As I focused on the outward edge I saw tiny green legs. Turning the leaf over, a small spider momentarily appeared and then retreated to the other side, away from the light and my attention.

I pivoted the lens perpendicularly to the sun and focused the resulting beam on the very central ridge of the leaf, narrowing the light until it was a small white spot of searing heat. The backbone of the leaf began to bend and sizzle with the intensity of the beam and as a thin trail of hazy smoke ascended, the spider appeared, scurrying to the front side of the leaf, green against the red, a cynosure of contrast. 

My lens was swivelled again so that I could observe the intricate nature of the creature but once again it disappeared to the green side of the leaf where it’s camouflage would keep it from prying predators.

Jacob is the cynosure for all eyes, accented by his wealth against a backdrop of anger. A focal point for the envy of Laban’s sons; the convergence point of searing blame. Jacob wants to hide but the lens of their concentrated criticism has brought him into focus. For 20 years he has been tolerated but of late his business ventures have made him the centre of attention.

ON THE PROMISE

And now, in the heat of the moment, just briefly but with clarity, his attention is deflected from their gaze to the brightness of the prevailing light of a promise made to him by God. The image of a promised land looms large in his vision and he is able to see clearly what must be adjusted in his life for it to become a reality.

As the lens of Laban’s sons zoom in, exposing their jealousy for his wealth, zeroing in with their false assumptions, pinpointing his position with their predatory avarice, their very focus becomes a starting point for Jacob, a journey of new discoveries, away from their gaze.

Filled with new assurance, Jacob was still tentative about declaring his plan openly. He had entered into covenant with God and God had guaranteed the outcome. In fact God would be with him, pledging to Jacob the land of his ancestors.

To undertake such a journey would involve courage, but he has seen a vision of a stairway to heaven and he became aware long ago that he was a bonded servant undertaking a dangerous but necessary adventure. How could he tell his wives? How could he tell Laban?

Once he had hinted to Laban that this journey back to the promised land was likely to occur but Laban was prospering by his work and so he had entered into an agreement with Laban which would financially benefit them both.

Now was the time. His destiny was only a possibility as long as he stayed. His talent for listening to God in his farming techniques had increased his fortune.

He meets with his wives in secret in the fields over a strategic coffee. He shares the compulsion he has for leaving secretly. He shares how God has engaged his attention and pledged to be with him. He wants desperately to believe in that promise.

Jacob is intimately acquainted with broken promises. He was pledged to marry Rachel and Laban had given him Leah. His wages have been changed 10 times. He has been cheated just as he has cheated others.

Somehow this pledge from God is different and gives him every indication to expect fulfilment. The portend of potential hope was drawing him to respond, heralding new opportunities for his family rather than the prospect of submitting to the shadowed presage of a rising hatred in Laban’s family that did not bode well.

NOT ON THE PROBLEMS

T.F. Hodge said “To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles” (From Within I Rise).

The problem in this case has to be faced and it will be complicated. How will he let Laban know he is leaving? How will he inform his wives without others overhearing that he intends to go?

It’s all going to get messy with emotions, and timing will be the most important difficulty to overcome. He knows he can expect trouble. It’s already been brewing. He doesn’t want any setbacks; snags in his plans. His plight for flight may well disturb a hornets nest. 

Someone said “The successful man is the average man, focused.” Jacob is focused. The invitation and challenge Jacob offers us is to remain focused on the promises of God not on the problems at hand. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 15:21-28 – WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST?

WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST? (Artwork by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net)

WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST?
(Artwork by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net)

Why then did the missionaries who came to speak at our Church when I was young at Wagga Wagga in NSW, Australia, encourage people to commit their lives to go to the uttermost parts of the world? They would even quote Jesus words in the great commission from Matthew 28:19 and preach on the word “GO!” They would quote Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me EVERYWHERE—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

So what is it with Jesus when He says to this Canaanite woman who lives on the edge of Israel’s territory that He is sent only to help Israel? (Matthew 15:24). Why was He sent only to help Israel? What makes them better than us? Is Jesus a racist; rejecting other nations? Did He limit the gospel to Galilee, His home territory? No Gentiles! No Samaritans! No Romans! Only to Jews. Only the familiar; the safe-ground; the Comfort Zone; the Sofa gospel; the selected invitation gospel; only the Jews can come to My party gospel!

Didn’t Jesus know about Acts 1:8 and what about John 3:16 “For God loved THE WORLD so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” This doesn’t paint Jesus a Racist and a Chauvinist so why then is He being so selective concerning the Jews when it comes to this Gentile woman crying out for mercy?

Doesn’t He know about Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) – “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer JEW OR GENTILE, slave or free, MALE AND FEMALE. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” According to this, Jesus could never be accused of being a racist or a chauvinist.

What am I to make of this contradiction, Lord? What are you saying to me? If you drive by the Equal Rights verse from Galatians 3 above too quickly you’ll miss it. It speaks about a promise that was once made by God to Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish race; all through the Old Testament the Jews are the people God chose to take His message to the nations. 1 Chronicles 16:24 (NLT) says they were to “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” Psalms 67:2-3 (NLT) says “May Your ways be known throughout the earth, Your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise You, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise You.”

The Jews failed to take the message to the nations and became an exclusive club. Because of God’s promises to them Jesus is sent to give them a second chance; to help them concerning the New Covenant message; to enable them to fulfil their redemptive purpose. God honours His promise to Israel and in Matthew 15 Jesus obviates the prejudices of the disciples to bring them to see God’s purpose.

Jesus says His priority is to help first His lost sheep in Israel. He is less interested in equality and much more interested in this Gentile woman receiving and believing the message of the gospel? By His initial silence and a few words to this woman, He is helping His disciples understand that they have a responsibility to share the message of the gospel with the Gentiles. They still don’t get it until Jesus affirms this woman’s great faith and He heals her daughter as requested. This Gentile. This woman. This rejected one finds hope and healing, acceptance and inclusion in the presence of her Saviour.

He honours His promises to me today. His Word is faithful. Thankyou Father for being the God of the second chance when I don’t get it right the first time. Thankyou for making me an heir to the promises you made to Abraham so long ago. Thankyou for reaching out to the very ends of the earth. Thankyou for breaking down the walls of hostility and touching us with Your love.

Ephesians 2:13-14 (NLT) says “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” Far from being a racist He is a demolition specialist, breaking down the walls between us and God and the walls we build between each other.

Pastor Ross