Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

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Anger © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:4-5 – EXAMINE WHAT CONTROLS YOUR LIFE

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude” (Psalm 4:4 NLT).

I wondered who David was addressing in this part of Psalm 4. Is he talking to himself, his own followers or his enemies? Is he trying to protect himself against the sin of being controlled by anger rather than, as he has said in the previous verse, be set apart as a godly man? Or is this the Lord speaking and answering David’s prayer? Then I realized that these words are relevant to all parties no matter who said them or to whom they are addressed.

Ephesians 4:21-27 (NLT) gives us similar instruction to those who believe in Christ. “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, … let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. … And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

My take on Psalm 4:4 is, “If you think you have a reason to be angry, don’t let that anger make you think you have a right to act independently of God. Consider this deeply before taking any action. Sleep on it rather than do something you’ll regret.” The idea is the intention for reflection which leads to repentance.

Psalm 4:4 gives me a choice to examine myself. I can make choices that can change the way I respond to life’s circumstances. I don’t have to be controlled by my emotions. I can, as Psalm 4:5 (NLT) says, “Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:12 speaks about Absalom offering sacrifices to impress people. When religious rituals become an excuse for power-plays then it has nothing to do with trusting in God and it is hypocritical. Religious rituals and laws are never enough to replace the right spirit and relationship of dependence to God.

Psalm 4:4-5 invites me to a life of integrity and trust in Christ. He became a sacrifice for sin once and for all and trusting in Him alone brings forgiveness and a right spirit. I am not to live a life controlled by my emotions, but as Romans 12:3 (NLT) says, “… 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.”

Pastor Ross

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Unbelievable! © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:14-16 – WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 4)

Shechem has raped Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He now wants to marry her as a child bride and has kept her at his house. Surprisingly, Jacob’s sons don’t respond by speaking of the disgrace of raping their young sister! They don’t speak of the disgrace of child kidnapping and child sex slavery! They don’t talk of the disgrace of what they are really thinking! Instead, they talk of Circumcision. “We won’t let you marry her…” they say, “… because you’re not circumcised.”

WHY?!

Why circumcision? … Random. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant given to Abraham. What has this got to do with anything? If you want to talk about a sign why not a sign like a tattoo on the arm or something similar? Or wear colors on their leather jackets. At least those are signs that can be seen. But Circumcision? Really?

Here’s how I understand it. It seems to me that the sign of circumcision has something to do with the promise of Abraham having many descendants, being fruitful and multiplying (see the last post). The sign reaffirms God’s promise right at the very place where the sexual act takes place. It marks the sexual act as set apart for God’s purposes.

God was looking for obedience, but not just obedience. He wanted Abraham’s heart. This was a covenant sign of fruitfulness but also a sign of complete faith in God. The ritual needed to speak of the relationship. The outside sign needed to reflect an inward change of the heart concerning marriage and family and faith.

Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) speaks of what it means to be a Jewish believer. It says “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

The sign of Circumcision reminds the Jewish male believers that God has authority over them even in the most private aspects of their lives. He designed them and set them apart for sex within the context of their marriages, with their wives alone. It prompts them to remember, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

So what is going on in Genesis 34? Circumcision for someone like Shechem makes no sense at all! He is not part of the believing community. Shechem and the Hivite community have rejected faith in God. Now Jacob’s sons are also acting as if they have no faith … to the point of blasphemy. They are willing to desecrate a holy covenant ritual in order to amplify the intensity of their revenge?

DISCONNECTION

Twisting things around, Jacob’s sons say, in effect, that Circumcision is the only thing that separates them from the Hivite community. It’s a partial truth designed to achieve evil purposes. Circumcision is not the only reason for Jacob’s family to be separated from the Hivite community. What is? Hivite unbelief and a culture totally opposed to the things of God.

RELIGION AND REVENGE

Jacob’s son’s don’t mention anything about faith in God. Yet they want to use a holy sign of faith in Israel’s community as a means of revenge, the very opposite to the unifying sign of faith it was designed by God to be. Religion used as a means for murder. Nothing has changed. This is terrorism at its religious worst. Deceiving Shechem and themselves, they weave their evil trap further…

“… then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves,” they say, “We will live among you and become one people.” They have no intention of doing this.But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her and be on our way.” (Genesis 34:16 NLT). Are they really interested in Dinah or in revenge?

Are they really interested in Dinah or in vengeance?

Jeremiah 9:8 (NLT) mirrors what they are doing. It speaks of the deceit of religious people. “…their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.”

The POSB commentary makes an interesting aside. “How many churches and ministers deceive people by leading them to put their trust in the church and its rituals instead of Christ Himself?”

Genesis 34 invites me to reflect upon being honest in how I respond to immorality. I am encouraged not to use religion as a means of manipulation or for indulging in revenge against those with whom I disagree. I am to be honest in expressing my faith and witnessing the change that has occurred in my heart because Christ died for my sins. I am to call for God’s justice in the world, even when depravity is an acceptable way of life in the community. I am to seek God’s heart and God’s promises, not simply fit in with cultural norms for my life and family.

Pastor Ross

YEAST BREAD - Created by Ross Cochrane

YEAST BREAD – Created by Ross Cochrane

Just add a little yeast! Her old gnarled hands are skilled as she kneads the yeast into the dough. She leaves the lump on the table to go about her household chores. A reaction takes place as the yeast begins to convert the sugars into carbon dioxide. The dough begins to expand and form tiny bubbles and gas pockets. Distorted formations begin to balloon from the dough. 

Bread Rising (Timelapsed) by Micaël Reynaud, YouTube

By the time she has returned the dough has risen. She breaks it into pieces to form each loaf, leaving them to rise again. The yeast will die when she bakes the bread but the air pockets will remain. I can smell the tantalising aroma of fresh bread filling the room and wafting on the morning breeze.

Just add yeast! When I add my rules and regulations to God’s intentions for my life; my rituals, habits and observances and hold myself and others to certain religious, intellectual or philosophical constraints and I have an inflated distortion of God’s truth; a life that appears larger but has no real substance; a life that lacks the freedom of the Holy Spirit, with an aroma that is alluring, tempting me with it’s cheap grace, then what I have added dies on the inside.

Just add the yeast! When I try to use my good behaviour as a means of being acceptable to God; a religion of good works, of social respectability; a “do-it-yourself” salvation. When I have an air of self-righteousness that permeates the loaf and folds in upon itself, as self-reliance rises above my dependence upon God; an external religion with no need for a personal relationship with Christ, just empty strivings; then I am blowing up a coloured balloon until it bursts.

When I add to God’s Word anything that neutralises the central message of God’s grace; anything that rejects Christ (the “Bread of Life”) dying for our sins and His work alone on the Cross in bringing us the gift of eternal life, I am using the “YEAST OF THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES”.

Romans 10:3-4 says “For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with Himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who BELIEVE in Him are made right with God.” 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) says “God saved you by His grace when you BELIEVED. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a GIFT from God. Salvation is NOT A REWARD FOR THE GOOD THINGS WE HAVE DONE, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

The yeast of the Pharisees will never satisfy once I have tasted the bread of life. My service is a by-product not the catalyst of my salvation!

Christ is enough for me. No need for yeast when Christ is present in your life and when He is Lord of your life. He transforms, reforms and gives us the perspective and the direction we need to live life to the full, a life of substance, not a life that simply looks larger but is filled with air pockets. A beautiful song was recently released by our Church (Hillsong Church) written by Reuben Morgan. It expresses that Christ is enough.

The invitation is to acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that He alone died for your sins and offers you eternal life and to believe in Him, trusting in Him alone for salvation and fullness of life. We don’t serve to get saved by Him. But when we are saved, we get to serve Him and live a life of substance. 

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 16:5-12 – BEWARE OF THUMP-BACK WHALES AND STREET SHARKS!

AND THIS IS ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS? Photo by Ross Cochrane using effects with iPad apps and Filter Forge and Paint.net

THE THUMP-BACK WHALE. THIS IS ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS? Photo by Ross Cochrane using effects with iPad apps, Filter Forge and Paint.net

It has small beady eyes, a huge gruesome head bearing shark-like teeth and body of a muscled figure with large fists. My grandson tells me that he is one of the good guys but I can’t see how. I know, it’s just a small toy in an armoury of monsters, but I have to laugh as it bites at my memory and reminds me of various people I have known; perhaps a genre of people; various political figures and dominant power-hungry people; puffed up with pride, biting away at anyone who threatened to relieve them of power, determined to win petty and worthless causes at all costs.

Matthew 16:5-7 (NLT) says “Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warns them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (and Herod)… At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.”

When Jesus speaks of the “YEAST of the Pharisees and Sadducees” and of king Herod in Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15 He is warning us. Yeast causes bread to ferment, enlarging and lightening it with swelling air pockets of gaseous matter. The religious pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the dirty politics of Herod is expressed in hot air; no real substance, just a pervading influence like yeast. Gas bags! Poisonous, toxic gas bags! Religion and Politics; a hazardous mixture of hot air at the best of times, often polluting and blinding the minds of the people to the message of salvation found only in Christ. What use is Politics and religion if it falls short of God’s intentions for my life?

STREET SHARK - BIG HEAD, SHARK-LIKE TEETH AND FISTS. Another good guy?

STREET SHARK – BIG HEAD, SHARK-LIKE TEETH AND FISTS. Another good guy?

Shark-like they seek to encircle Jesus and bear their teeth with fists ready for a fight to maintain their dominance. Street Sharks and Thumpback Whales. Jesus spends little time with them and crosses the lake to those who are more willing to respond to His lifechanging presence.

His disciples don’t understand. They have tasted forbidden leaven. Orthodox Jews are careful not to buy bread made by Gentiles. It’s not clean if touched by a Gentile! The leaven (yeast) of the Gentiles infects everything around it. So His disciples are astonished that Jesus would say don’t buy bread from the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of the day! Surely the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees would be Kosher.

Then Jesus says something that makes me wonder. Matthew 16:9,10 (NLT) says “Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up?”  

Notice Jesus mentions both miracles. They participated in the miracle of provision, yet they don’t get it. They left the Pharisees and Sadducees behind in the wake of feeding well over 9000 people. But it’s the leftovers that interest me. Why the leftovers? Was it because the Pharisees and Sadducees and others refused to eat their portion? Jesus provided but they refused? The miracle of the leftovers alone should have been sign enough for the Pharisees. Interesting thought. One thing is sure – their rejection was like yeast.

They refused the bread and fish. Jesus refuses them. They were wary of the bread of Life. Jesus says beware of their teaching. Be less concerned with bread and more concerned with leaven. Be less aware of what I lack and beware of taking on what I don’t need for my life; those deceptive cultural, religious, intellectual, philosophical, scientific and political attitudes to feed my ego but not my soul. Beware of what feeds my self-image but leaves me less Christlike and starving for spiritual truth. Beware of Street Sharks and Thumpback Whales!.. well, you know what I mean; the yeast of an empty life without Christ.

In John 6:31-41 (NLT) Jesus says, “…The TRUE BREAD of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” … Jesus says, “I am the BREAD OF LIFE. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty…. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent Me, not to do My own will… For it is My Father’s will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” 

Pastor Ross

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

 

 

Matthew 14:1-2 – BREAKING THE CHAINS OF MY LIMITATIONS

Breaking the Chains of My Limitations

One hundred and one years have passed and he still believes in a SUPERSTITION that once haunted Herod Antipas almost 2000 years ago. The centenarian I spoke with yesterday doesn’t like the idea of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, of continuing to live on past death, nevertheless he clings to a belief in REINCARNATION, that the soul is recycled. It is recorded that Herod Antipas also believed you could return and inhabit a different living person (Matthew 14:1-2). Reincarnation with a twist.

In delivering a series of messages based on The Truth Between Us, Erwin McManus, founder of Mosaic, recently said that true atheists and followers of Christ both want to rid themselves of SUPERSTITION. Thankfully, both atheists and followers of Christ ask us “Is that really the truth?” and if we were honest sometimes the answer is “No, it’s more connected with superstition and rituals and our own biased desires.” It may even be based on our self imposed limits for discovering half truths.

Religion especially can be the hive of superstitious nonsense. But then again science and rationalism can also limit our ability to discern truth by relying only on our senses. Allowing for a multiplicity of ways to discern truth and not simply restricting and limiting discernment to the five senses allows me to exercise faith as a valid system of perception. When science refuses to acknowledge that we know things beyond our senses it becomes scientism. It cuts us off from the possibilities of discovering a more holistic range of truth for our lives.

No-one should be more committed to pursuing truth than a follower of Christ, who says He is the way, TRUTH, and life and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 14:6, John 8:32). Sometimes the only verifiable truth I have is the truth evidenced by a changed life. It isn’t Jesus who is responsible for leading me to believe in superstition. He will never take me anywhere where truth is not.

When Herod hears that some people think that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead (Luke 9:7-9), with superstitious fear and a guilty conscience, he readily grasps at this explanation (2 Timothy 4:4). This is weird because he claims to be a Sadducee, and Sadducees don’t believe in life after death.

Years later Herod meets Jesus face to face when Jesus is on trial to be crucified (Luke 23:8–12) but even then He misses his opportunity to discover who Jesus really is and examines Him as a curiosity.

Strange that all the conclusions about Jesus that people come up with don’t include what John has been telling them all along. God has promised to them a Redeemer. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Saviour. Instead they come up with a quasi reincarnational theory.

Where does imagination stop and truth start? Children mix imagination and truth, but discerning that which is imaginary and that which is a possibility is the process that allows me to discover truth.

If I was not willing to accept Christ for who He is I guess I would be forced to come up with some fanciful explanation that allowed my atheism or superstition some credence and would not obligate me to come under God’s authority. Scientific or religious. It wouldn’t matter much which. There’s a downward trend here in Herod’s life that must tear him to pieces inside. He can’t explain away the miracles of Jesus and he desperately wants to maintain control of his world, so he must grasp at staws.

The invitation that both Herod and John the Baptist gives to us is to seek the truth. In the palace Herod entertains the truth but allows superstition and pride to reject Christ for who he really is. In the dungeon John the Baptist speaks the truth and though he is beheaded by Herod, it is the Truth about Jesus that sets him free.

Perhaps the questions worth asking are “What superstitions am I willing to embrace when it comes to seeking for the truth about Jesus? Am I simply applying limited constructs in a desire to eradicate Christ and His authority in my life? Am I really willing to seek the truth about who Jesus is? Am I willing to act on truth that I perceive beyond my senses and beyond my superstitions?”

John 16:13 (NLT) speaks about God the Holy Spirit as “THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH” who “will guide you into all truth” John 16:8 (NLT) says “… He will convict the world of its sin …” of unbelief. Am I willing to look beyond myself for the answers I need in life?

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:10-17 – HOW TO GUAGE YOUR SPIRITUAL APATHY – Part 3

Hard Hearted Towards God

We visited the Opera House in Sydney not long ago. Thousands of people on foot! I am reminded that there is a spiritual INDIFFERENCE that walks the concrete footpaths of my city and what Christ has to say is often swept away or trampled by UNRESPONSIVE and negligent attitudes. The sounds of the city snatches away our attention and the persistent voice of Christ’s love fights to be heard above the collective sighs of our APATHY. Just like the parable of the Sower and the Soils.

It seems to me that the parables of Matthew 13 are directed to my city – especially to those not intentional in listening to Jesus, in order to give them perspective on what they are doing and opportunity for them to repent and believe and become fully alive to the things of God. They are a mirror and guage for me to see how I respond to spiritual truth.

Jesus speaks of HARD soil, defensive, closed and bitter towards God. He speaks of others with SHALLOW hearts, and superficial faith, and of those so PREOCCUPIED and busy that they miss their opportunity to discover what life is about. Then there are those who have RECEPTIVE hearts to the message He gives. They are like fertile soil, producing a crop worth harvesting. Yet even some of them produce in a LIMITED way, giving only 30% and 60% returns.

His disciples are intrigued by the story, but they see a whole lot of people in the crowd like those I saw in the streets of Sydney who don’t understand what He is trying to say, so they ask Him why He uses parables.

What Jesus says is astounding!

In Matthew 13:11 He says “You are PERMITTED to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are NOT. He is about to invest something by way of the resources of heaven into people’s lives, but some are NOT PERMITTED to understand? What does He mean that some are NOT PERMITTED?

It seems clear that in this passage they are NOT PERMITTED TO UNDERSTAND and it is FOOLISHNESS to them because they REFUSE TO LISTEN, not because God has put earplugs in their ears. A negative response to Jesus and His message means they are refused the SECRETS of the Kingdom of Heaven. God won’t FORCE me to listen, and equally when I refuse to listen, then He won’t PERMIT me to understand. I’m either receptive or left ignorant. If I slam the door so deliberately on God, then He also deliberately allows me the CONSEQUENCES of that choice.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is FOOLISH to those who are HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” Are they headed for destruction WITHOUT A CHOICE of faith? I don’t think we can read that from the context of this passage. The choice is evidently there but they have refused to LISTEN. As a result even what they understand becomes foolishness to them and they are HEADED FOR DESTRUCTION because of their deliberate rejection of Christ and His message.

When the message of Jesus is treated as being ridiculous, unreasonable, unbelievable, over simple, uninspiring and those who share His message are treated with the same contempt, then it is obvious that the seed falls on hard, shallow and thorny ground.

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 13:12 (NLT) “To those who LISTEN to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are NOT LISTENING, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” 

God bless your eyes and ears today. The invitation He gives to us is to SEE and HEAR with the eyes and ears of faith. May Jesus be able to say of you today “… blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” (Matthew 13:16 NLT)

Pastor Ross 

Part 16 – Matthew 12:43-45 – PLAYING WHACK-A-DEMON!

Whack-a-Demon!

Many years ago I worked in an organisation called SCILS – Sunshine Coast Independent Living Skills. We worked with people who had mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.

David (not his real name) was helped to find a place to rent in the community. He had been in danger of living on the streets and had already made some questionable friends. He cleaned up his life and we taught him some independent living skills – buying food on a budget, paying rent and keeping the place clean.

David wanted his new life but not at the expense of some of his old habits. He invited his so-called friends to visit him. When they saw that he now had an apartment, with plenty of room, with leechlike intensity, they used David to provide them with free rent and a place where their bad attitudes and lifestyles could thrive in relative anonymity. Even when confronted they were abrasive and uncooperative, malevolent. It took some time to EVICT them, and there was always the danger that they would RETURN.

When Jesus speaks to the religious leaders who confront Him with malevolent intent He says that they are part of an “evil and adulterous” generation that “refuses to repent” and “refuses to listen” (Matthew 12:41-42). As if that’s not enough to get offside with them, He then goes on to associate them with those who are DEMONIZED. Nice! Who said Jesus was meek and mild?   

In Matthew 12:43-45 (NLT) Jesus says “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”  

What is this about? I think Jesus is saying something like this. “You can clean up your life, get rid of your demons, get all religious and reform your life with rules and regulations and good works, but you won’t find real rest. You will still feel dry and empty inside. You will still be restless and crave that which you thought you had evicted from your life until it takes up control again, only this time several times worse.” 2 Peter 2:19 (NLT) says “For you are a slave to whatever controls you.”

An evil spirit can evidently be BANISHED but NOT DESTROYED, just as evil in our generation cannot be destroyed in this lifetime. We live in a world of PEACE-KEEPERS trying to keep evil at bay, but it will not be eliminated at the point of a gun.

Let’s face it, we know that no matter how much the United Nations or any government seeks to LEGISLATE righteousness, they are merely shooting RUBBER BULLETS. The mass of evil will be dispelled for a time only to raise it’s ugly head elsewhere like the game at shows and fairgrounds where you use a mallet to “WHACK-A-MOLE”. We could call this variation “WHACK-A-DEMON!”

We know that a REFORMED lifestyle won’t work. I can clean up my life, scrub the floors of my soul, throw out the garbage, but an empty house is designed for a TENANT, not just to stand there as a sanitised, disinfected empty shell. What I need is a new tenant who will look after the place, not just a empty apartment that will attract all kinds of UNWELCOME GUESTS.

We know that RELIGION won’t cut it either. Jesus is speaking to very religious people (the Pharisees) who advocate a list of “Thou shalt not’s” to remain clean. They even have a few rules for Jesus, including “Don’t heal anyone on the Sabbath”. Substituting religious evils in the guise of good intentions for what God really wants to do in my heart will not change me (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Evict the evil spirits by all means but REPLACE the bad tenants with a good tenant. A life is not transformed by the absence of EVIL SPIRITS but by the presence of THE HOLY SPIRIT (2 Timothy 1:14, Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit indwells my life when I believe in Christ and then I have a chance of a life of VICTORY OVER SIN (1 John 5:1-5).

God bless you as you believe in Christ right now, and as the Holy Spirit comes to lead you into all truth and take up residence in you (John 14:16-17), you will have the opportunity to obey God (1 Peter 1:2) rather than play games of WHACK-A-DEMON.

Pastor Ross

Part 4 – Matthew 12:1-14 – ANCIENT MYSTERY UNLOCKED!

Ancient Mystery Unlocked!

Talk about SUSPENSE AND INTRIGUE! Subatomic anti-matter threatens the existence of Vatican city in Rome. Key Cardinals from the Roman Catholic church vanish. And it all points to the ILLUMINATI, a secret society that has re-emerged from history. I watched the movie by Dan Brown called “Angels and Demons” a couple of nights ago. Throughout the movie there’s a battle with science and religion.

The hero is Robert Langdon, a renowned symbologist, who has to follow a TRAIL OF CLUES left by the bad guys, the Illuminati, to find the kidnapped Cardinals and SAVE THEM from being executed each hour and stop an anti-matter bomb from wiping out Vatican City. In true suspense thriller style, no-one is who they seem to be.

In Matthew 12, the PLOT IS SIMILAR. I have been kidnapped by my legalistic thinking. Jesus is the hero who leaves me a whole lot of CLUES worth following. If I follow the clues, I begin to see a picture of WHO JESUS REALLY IS and how I can be SAVED. Colossians 1:26 (NLT) says “This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people”

It all hinges on the question the Pharisees (Illuminati) ask Jesus “Is it lawful to harvest grain and heal on the Sabbath?” (Matthew 12:2,10) and Jesus uses their legalistic lack of compassion to give me the first clue.

Clue 1 – KING DAVID – In answer to their question Jesus says that king David went into the house of God and ate sacred bread which was not lawful (Matthew 12:3-4). That’s a CLUE in itself because Jesus is a DESCENDENT of king David (Matthew 1:1). As I search through the holy books I discover an ANCIENT COVENANT made between God and David that establishes the throne of David forever (2 Chronicles 13:5). I discover that Jesus is called the KING OF KINGS (1 Timothy 6:15). And strangely enough I discover that I am also created to EXERCISE AUTHORITY over the earth responsibly as His representative (Genesis 1:28). Apparently rulership is part of the deal as I come under the authority of Christ (Revelation 20:4).

Clue 2 – PRIESTS – Jesus says that priests worked on the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:5). Dig a little, and I find that Jesus is called the GREAT HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 4:14) and if you are a follower of Christ, you and I are collectively called a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS (Exodus 19:6 and Revelation 1:6) and HOLY PRIESTS (1 Peter 2:5). I have direct access to God, no SECRET KEYS for the door required (Ephesians 3:12).

Clue 3 – THE TEMPLE – Jesus says He is GREATER than the Temple (Matthew 12:6), the place where God chooses to REVEAL HIMSELF (Habakkuk 2:20 and Acts 7:46-50). In fact if I search through the ancient document of Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) I find that it says “For in Christ lives all the FULLNESS OF GOD in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the Head over every ruler and authority.” And something else – Christians, as they gather together are collectively called the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (1 Peter 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Note the “your” is plural in the original Greek). It is where Christ dwells and expresses His life. The pieces are coming together.

Clue 4 – LORD – In Matthew 12:8 (NLT) Jesus gives the final clue. He says, “For the Son of Man is LORD, even over the Sabbath!” Jesus can do whatever He wants, on any day He wants. Not just Lord of the Sabbath but I discover that He is the LORD OF LORDS (1 Timothy 6:15) and He doesn’t have to go through an ENCLAVE to elect Him to that office. Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT) says “… God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the Name above all other names, that at the Name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.”  

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! It’s written in the ANCIENT TEXTS. It is obvious when you piece the CLUES together that He is saying that He has authority to rule and reign over every aspect of my life. I don’t obey a set of coded laws. I obey a living person who has all authority. Not a Lord who compels me to obey but One who invites me to COME UNDER HIS AUTHORITY so my life will have meaning and purpose and a hope for the future. Not a king of RITUAL, but a King of RELATIONSHIP. Not a Priest who is RELIGIOUS, but One who is PERSONAL. Not a Temple where we GO to Church, but we ARE the Church, THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

God bless you Church as you UNRAVEL THE MYSTERY (Colossians 1:26-29) and reach out to Jesus like the man with a deformed hand. All of a sudden things are no longer twisted and distorted and misshapen. The clues are plain to see and you will see Him for who He is and worship Him with all your heart and mind and soul.

Pastor Ross