Posts Tagged ‘Restoration’

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The Questions of Discipline © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 6 – 10 WAYS TO KNOW IF I AM EXPERIENCING GOD’S DISCIPLINE? – Discipline Part 2

A car accident changed his life. He is in a wheelchair and believes that God is angry at him. Is his accident really GOD’S DISCIPLINE? 

Another woman who lost her husband feels that God is VERY SEVERE.

In Psalm 6, David believes that he is being disciplined by God.

O Lord, don’t REBUKE ME in Your anger or DISCIPLINE ME in Your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

DISCIPLINE?

  • Have you ever prayed for healing and not received it?
  • Do you feel that God is displeased with you and rebuking you for your sinfulness?
  • Do you believe that the Lord is angry with you and “taking you to the woodshed for a spanking with the razor strap?”
  • Does the Lord yell at you and discipline you in a rage?

King David is afraid that God is doing just that. His Psalm doesn’t go into details, but it is clear that he thinks that God is disciplining him. And he is upset, humbled and broken. He’s in anguish about his circumstances. He’s more concerned for inward peace than even outward healing, though, it seems, he needs both.

And that’s what leads me to ask this question…

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN IT IS GOD WHO IS DISCIPLINING ME AND WHEN HE IS NOT?

Fortunately, the Bible gives me some guidelines and they are not necessarily what you expect. They have much more to do with the results of discipline than to the discipline itself. Here are 10 ways to know if what you face is the discipline of God.

The first way has to do with God being a God of Truth …

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO GOD’S WORD?

Psalms 119:67,71 (NLT2) says “I used to wander off until You DISCIPLINED me; but now I CLOSELY FOLLOW YOUR WORD… My SUFFERING was good for me, for it taught me TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DECREES.” 

In fact, God’s Word itself disciplines us. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) says “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to MAKE US REALIZE WHAT IS WRONG IN OUR LIVES. IT CORRECTS US WHEN WE ARE WRONG and teaches us to do what is right.”

So difficult things that happen in our lives can lead us back into the Bible and what God has to say for our lives.

God’s Word always brings correction and direction for our lives, and perspective on how we can respond to what happens in the world and to us personally.

Sin triggers discipline. So the 2nd way to know if you are being disciplined by God has to do with the righteousness and justice of God… 

2. AM I PROMPTED TO ADMIT WHEN I GET THINGS WRONG?

1 John 1:8-10 (Msg) says …

“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we ADMIT OUR SINS—… He won’t let us down; He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.”

The key thing to remember is that when I deserved God’s discipline, Jesus suffered for me on the Cross and died to pay the price for my sin.

This brings me to admit when I get things wrong and ask God for the forgiveness that was purchased for me on the Cross.

That leads us to the third question to help you know if you are facing the discipline of God. It has to do with responding to God’s righteousness …

3. AM I PROMPTED TO PLEASE HIM AS MY HEAVENLY FATHER?

Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says, “For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.”

Revelation 3:19 (NLT) says, “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”

If I am loved by God as His child, apparently, there will be times of discipline.

Some parents today do discipline badly, but not God. God never abuses His children, and so His discipline will draw me closer to Him, not drive me away. 

I will not find myself saying, “Whatever” with teenage indifference to a parental instruction, but I will find myself delighting in pleasing Him as I respond willingly to His correction. My response will be prompted by my relationship to Him as my Father, someone I respect and love.

The 4th way to know if it is God who is disciplining me has to do with being prompted to recognise that God is omnipotent and sovereign and I need His help…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO RECOGNISE THAT ONLY GOD CAN HEAL ME?

Psalm 6:2 (NLT) says, “Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

The requests of David’s prayer indicate he feels the consequences of his sin and of God’s displeasure at him. He is distressed and depressed. Helpless and hopeless.

He doesn’t resist or reject God’s discipline or despise God for it. He recognises that only God can heal him on the inside and on the outside.

The 5th principle has to do with responding to God’s unfailing love…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO BE RESTORED TO HIM?

Psalm 6:3-4 (NLT) says, “I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until You restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of Your unfailing love.”

Psalm 6:6 (NLT) says, I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.

I mourn for something inside me which struggles and sometimes wants to give up and I am so tired of struggling and being defeated. Ever felt like this? I have.

Sin always clouds who I am in Christ and I need You to restore me to health on the inside. Distress, emotional anguish and depression over a period of time make me cry out “How long, O Lord?” How do you pray when you can’t cope?

David is so honest. He questions and wrangles with God as he cries out in pain and anguish. God even invites us to ask for answers.

James 1:5-8 (NLT) says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

Lord, sometimes You seem so far away. I pray that Your presence would be apparent in my life today and that You would actively intervene in my situation because I am continually in need of rescuing. Thankyou Lord for Your unfailing love that has saved me and continues to save me.

David is not impressed with the painful state that his life is in and wants the Lord to extricate him. It seems he even fears for his life and so the 6th way to tell whether or not I am being disciplined has to do with responding to who God is…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO WORSHIP HIM?

Psalm 6:5 (NLT) says, For the dead do not remember You. Who can praise You from the grave?

The Message Bible says, I’m no good to You dead, am I? I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 speaks about Christians participating in the remembrance meal in the wrong way and says some have been judged for doing so and some have even died as a result of their sin, … But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

David still had work to do. He wants to live and continue to make a difference as his life on earth gives praise to God. He is examining himself before God.

If I serve a righteous, holy and just God, then God’s discipline will also lead me to ask …

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO STAND AGAINST EVIL?

Psalm 6:7-8 (NLT) says, “My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. Go away, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping.”

My vision is blurred by grief at wasting my life. It seems sometimes that life conspires against me and I am surrounded by defeat instead of victory. Today I actively refuse evil ways and pursue Your ways, Lord. Thanks for listening to my heart.

God is immutable (unchanging and faithful to His character) and if God disciplines me then I can expect to ask…

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO DECLARE MY CONFIDENCE AND TRUST IN GOD?

Psalm 6:9 (NLT) says, The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.

Thank You for hearing my deepest cries. I trust You, Lord. I know You answer my prayers.

God is eternal and wants us all to share in His life. Does God’s discipline make me more passionate for the gospel?

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO DESIRE THAT THOSE DON’T KNOW THE LORD WILL BE CONVERTED?

Psalm 6:10 (NLT) says, May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified. May they suddenly TURN BACK in shame.

The Hebrew word for “Turn back” is the word that means to recover, restore, convert or revive. Is David praying for their repentance and conversion?

In Psalm 51:13 David says, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. THEN I WILL TEACH YOUR WAYS TO REBELS, AND THEY WILL RETURN TO YOU.”

May the things that conspire against all that I am created to be today be thwarted and run for cover and find none. May shame not be present in my life today as I serve You, Lord. May those who conspire against You be disciplined, not so they will suffer, but so that they too can find their way back to You.

God’s discipline is not purposeless and so a final question,

  1. AM I PROMPTED TO FIND SOMETHING GOOD WHICH COMES FROM EVERYTHING FACE IN LIFE?

What I do know is that Romans 8:27-29 (NLT) says, “… GOD CAUSES EVERYTHING TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” 

Notice this is not saying everything is good but God CAUSES everything to work together for good to those who love Him. The Christ-followers to whom this was written were experiencing persecution. God turns cursing to blessing.

When Jesus went to the Cross it was certainly not a good thing. But God caused everything to work together for good so that we could be saved.

By the way, I don’t believe that all the accidents, catastrophes, sickness and terrorism and droughts and floods and earthquakes and bad things that happen to good people are God’s discipline, any more than I believe old age is God’s discipline.

These things are all part of the world we live in and yes, God allows them.

Nevertheless, God can use what is already part of our lives for His good purposes, both good and bad things, and they can also serve to keep us trusting in Him. 

What I like about David is that he is honest with God. He realises that difficult times have a purpose and bring us to our knees with the kind of honesty that is disturbing to anyone else but God. 

God wants you and me to be transparently honest with Him.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF IT IS GOD WHO IS DISCIPLINING ME? I will be prompted to pay more attention to God’s word, to please Him as my Heavenly Father, to admit when you get things wrong, to recognise that only God can heal me, to be restored to Him, to worship him, to stand against evil, to desire that even those who don’t know the lord will be converted, to declare my confidence in God, to find something good which comes from everything we face in life.

God bless you.

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 32:13-16 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 7

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive because Esau lost respect for Jacob a long time ago. (see part 1-6).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes?

  1. MAKE IT EASY FOR THE OTHER PERSON TO COME TO THE TABLE

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© Flowers of Atonement, by Ross Cochrane

Jacob stayed where he was for the night. Then he selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau:(Genesis 32:13 NLT).  

After prayer, Jacob didn’t fall to pieces but sought to make it easy for Esau to talk. To avoid triggering further conflict Jacob sets about giving recompense for the deception he used so many years ago when he stole the birthright and blessing from Esau.

Now he is getting things right with his brother without compromising on the promises of God. The aftermath of failures can be used by God to grant success. Perhaps this is why God has blessed him materially. So that he could make restitution to Esau, with interest.

Some accuse Jacob of trying to buy Esau’s favor, but it’s always easy to be suspicious of his motives when an olive branch is extended. He has just been in prayer. This is more likely to be a response from the time he has spent with God.

200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 15 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys(Genesis 32:14-15 NLT).  

This is a fortune but Jacob has a moral obligation. He is being exceptionally generous but these animals were never really meant for him. All these animals are valuable but restitution is due. Jacob shows Esau that he respects and cares about the unrealised issues in their relationship that may still be important to him.

He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, “Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds”(Genesis 32:16 NLT).

He decides to drip-feed the animals to Esau, one herd at a time. Wave after wave of gifts. He’s not running away, but making it easy for his brother to come to the negotiating table.

God’s blessings to Jacob become Esau’s gift of restoration. So much of that with which we are blessed is not meant for us but is for giving away to others. So often our response to God’s material blessings are put to the test. Are we willing to let them go?

What if Esau is suspicious of Jacob’s motives like so many commentators have been? (Find out. Read Part 8. Coming soon).

Pastor Ross

Part 6 – Matthew 12:17-21 – GRAND FINAL VICTORY! CHOOSE ME!

Choose Me!

Australia is in the middle of GRAND FINAL FEVER with the NRL – THE DRAGONS VS THE ROOSTERS. What are the characteristics needed for those chosen to be the warriors of this battle? What is it that will win the game and bring victory? What will provide the competitive edge that guarantees success in the end? A BONE CRUSHING, COMPETITIVE MOMENTUM, A WIN-AT-ALL-COSTS, FAN PLEASING POWER that SHOWS-NO-MERCY, and that’s just for starters!

You would think that when God chose the BEST MAN to lead His team to VICTORY He would choose someone well QUALIFIED? When God is the SELECTOR, you would think He would choose someone who would GUARANTEE such success that you could engrave His Name on the VICTORY TROPHY long before He even arrived on the planet. His JERSEY could be hung in the HERO’S HALL OF FAME way ahead of time!

Matthew 12:17-18 (NLT) says “This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him: “Look at My Servant, whom I have CHOSEN. He is My BELOVED, who PLEASES Me. I will put MY SPIRIT upon Him, and He will proclaim JUSTICE to the nations. He will NOT FIGHT OR SHOUT or raise His voice in public. He will NOT CRUSH the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be VICTORIOUS. And His name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

1. So what qualities does God look for in the One He chooses to lead the grand final of grand finals? Is it the BONE CRUNCHING INTENSITY of a charging bull? NO! He chooses someone TO BRING HEALING AND RESTORATION TO OTHERS (Matthew 12:15). Instead of pounding the opposing team into the ground, He runs onto the field like an AMBULANCE MAN to pick up the players that are INJURED, and expects me to do the same. What is this?

Many people wanted Jesus to CRUSH the Roman occupiers, and for that matter the Pharisees. To TACKLE them with such RAGING POWER that they would be wiped off the face of the earth – a player like Elijah who would call down FIRE from heaven and CONSUME them (2 Kings 1:10,12)! GAME OVER except for the cheering! The fans left happy! JUSTICE with a FREE KICK! NO! He came to HEAL AND RESTORE me when I am BRUISED AND BROKEN and He calls me to do the same.

2. I would have chosen someone with at least a COMPETITIVE EDGE, shouting out TAUNTS with fire in His eyes like a rabid fan, but God chose Someone TO SERVE – Jesus wasn’t even on the FRONT ROW! He’s the guy that brings the water at half time and He calls me to do the same. Matthew 23:11-12 (NLT) says “The greatest among you must be a SERVANT. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave (or SERVANT) and was born as a human being. …” In Galatians 5:13 (NLT) God says through Paul “…use your freedom to SERVE one another in love.”

3. But serving one another is not catering to our whims. God doesn’t choose Him because He has an overwhelming desire to PLEASE THE FANS. Instead He chooses someone who has the desire TO PLEASE GOD, not cater to us, because fans are so fickle (Matthew 12:18). And make no mistake, God is pleased with Jesus even if the Pharisees are not! 1 Peter 2:4 (NLT) says “…He was REJECTED by people, but He was CHOSEN by God for great honour.” God has already said in Matthew 3:17 (NIV) “This is my Son, whom I LOVE; with Him I am WELL PLEASED.”

And once again Jesus is my example. Ephesians 5:2 and Romans 12:1-3 (NLT) says “Live a life filled with LOVE, following the example of Christ…” “…know God’s will for you, which is good and PLEASING and perfect.” 

4. I would have chosen someone with the POWER AND MOMENTUM of a DEMOLITION BALL in full swing but God chooses Jesus who has the SPIRIT OF GOD upon Him (Matthew 12:18), and the POWER OF GOD behind Him, giving me the example of how to live my Christian life. That’s why Ephesians 5:18 says that I am to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” and to exercise the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

5. On the football field selectors choose those who will SHOW-NO-MERCY but God chooses Someone TO PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO ALL PEOPLE. Justice is doing what is right before God and man (see Matthew 5:6). Jesus Christ shows me how to live and behave toward God and toward others, not just play the game. Micah 6:8 (NIV) says “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act JUSTLY and to love MERCY and to walk HUMBLY with your God.”  

God bless you Church. Jesus was chosen TO BRING HOPE TO A BRUISED AND BROKEN WORLD, as He died for me on the Cross and paid the PENALTY for my sins. The game is still AT HALF TIME and there is still time to be selected for the TEAM. I don’t have to sit on the bench. CHOOSE ME! The final trumpet is yet to sound and Christ will be proclaimed VICTORIOUS. WE WIN!

Pastor Ross

Part 5 – Matthew 12:14-21 – HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!

Bruised Reed!

As I talked with Nancy that day she said, “I pray to God every night and ask Him why He has been so unfair to me. Why did He leave me alive?” She is an elderly woman suffering the results of a stroke. She said “My Mother died of a stroke. Why didn’t He take me too, instead of leaving me like this? It is so unfair. Why is God so unfair?” Where is the JUSTICE of God when you end up with a stroke instead of dying in the process? How am I supposed to answer that?

In obedient response to Jesus a man with a deformed hand in Matthew 12:13 reaches out and is HEALED. Nancy blames God for NOT HEALING her and then NOT KILLING her. The Pharisees blame Jesus for HEALING on the Sabbath and they want to KILL Him (Matthew 12:14). Others gladly receive healing and restoration (Matthew 12:15). It seems God can’t please anyone! TO CARE OR NOT TO CARE – that is the question.

In Matthew 12:15 Jesus HEALS ALL THE SICK among them. How cool is this! My grandson would not have had a cold or tonsillitis if he had been there. My friend Fred would not have trouble walking because his arthritis would be gone and Alice would be able to breath properly again. Amelia would stretch out her stroke affected hand and not dribble food from the right side of her face.

So WHERE IS HE NOW? Do all these people somehow happen to be in the wrong century and the wrong country and is Jesus still in the “have LIFE TO THE FULL” business or is it now the “LIFE WHICH IS CRUEL” business? Has He CHANGED His purpose? Is He now into STROKES! Perhaps a few “RANDOM ACTS OF BLINDNESS, arthritis and dementia”?

What about Nancy? She would say to God “HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!” I can’t help but take that one step further and ask why is it that Nancy can be so insistent about not including God in her life and then blame Him when things go wrong? Is God TAKING IT OUT on Nancy? Or is it Nancy who is being UNFAIR? What would it look like if God was really fair according to our standards?

In Matthew 12:20 (NLT) a prophecy from Isaiah about Jesus is given. It says “He will NOT CRUSH THE WEAKEST (or BRUISED) REED OR PUT OUT A FLICKERING CANDLE. Finally He will cause JUSTICE to be victorious. And His Name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

So let me get this right. Why did He come? He came for a number of reasons but essentially He comes to give me HOPE in a world that is BRUISED by injustice and pain. He comes to heal, not to break the “BRUISED REED”. He comes to RESTORE my life when I am hurt and crushed by life’s experiences, discouraged to the point of giving up, and depressed to the max. He comes to encourage me when I am weak and my motivation for life is a “FLICKERING CANDLE”.

And then when I see Him for who He is I can’t do anything but care for others also. I am able to put Thessalonians 5:11-14 into practise “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another … encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NASB95)

I prayed with Nancy that day, that God would show her His purposes for her life as well as heal her. I assured her that God wasn’t into giving people strokes or into killing them. That was more the kind of thing Satan would do, not God. In John 8:44 Jesus says that Satan “… was a murderer from the beginning…” (NLT). In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.” So Jesus makes it clear that His purpose is not to TAKE something from us that we have, but to RESTORE something to us that has been stolen.

Will Nancy be healed? I don’t know. I don’t have the full picture of what God is doing. I do know that I can experience life to the full as I know Jesus personally, whatever circumstances I face. “He will not break the bruised reed” (Matthew 12:20). I have HOPE in Him.

God bless you Church as you make a choice to respond to God and come under His authority rather than blame Him for what goes wrong. I can see a distorted picture of Him through the glasses of my circumstances and sin, or I can seek Jesus in my pain and begin to see Him for who He really is. In Him there is always HOPE.

Pastor Ross

Part 3 – Matthew 12:9-14 -DEFORMITIES OF THE HEART AND HAND

Gnarled Root System

Yesterday, with the encouragement of my wife, I got rid of some THORNY WEEDS growing like trees in the back garden. The thorns were now like razor sharp nails and so it was difficult to get to the roots without punctures, scratches and a bad attitude. I knew that if I didn’t get to the roots, they would just grow again so I used the MATTOCK. A mattock is a hand tool similar to a pickaxe, particularly suited for digging. Unfortunately, I am not! It took forever to dig around the roots and pull out the bulbous, deformed hand of the root system with it’s disfigured fingers reaching out insidiously in all directions.

Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) warns us “…Watch out that no POISONOUS ROOT OF BITTERNESS grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” There are some poisonous thorny people Jesus has to deal with in Matthew 12:9. RAZOR SHARP in their responses to Jesus and just as destructive. The CLAWED FINGERS of their law system are DISTORTED AND MALFORMED and particularly difficult to uproot. It is not at all surprising that Jesus uses a man with a DEFORMED HAND to illustrate what needs to be done if ever they are to be healed of their DEFORMED HEART.

I notice in Matthew 12:9-10 (NLT) that it says that “Jesus went over to THEIR synagogue, where He noticed a man with a deformed hand. “THEIR synagogue”. Nice point, Matthew. Not the place where God chose to reveal Himself, but where THEY chose to do THEIR religious rituals and make THEIR rules and regulations.

But this verse also says something about Jesus. He didn’t back away from weeding God’s garden. He meets me on my turf. He confronts me about my LEGALISM in the place where I am more DEFORMED ON THE INSIDE than this man’s withered hand, in the synagogue of my own making (Sorry but I couldn’t help but make the analogy).

The man with the deformed hand is probably not allowed to enter the synagogue because of his disfigurement, yet the fact that he is here perhaps gives me the clue that he is in some way looking to God for help. He happens to be in the place where Jesus is – a good place to be if you are looking for healing. Nevertheless healing is often appropriated in the midst of a SPIRITUAL BATTLE.

The Pharisees could see that Jesus noticed this man and so with their THORNS BRISTLING they ask Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping He would say yes, so they could bring charges against Him.) 

There’s all sorts of reasons that I can raise as to why Jesus can’t heal me when I am DEFORMED on the inside, as these Pharisees were. I can be so concerned with maintaining my RELIGIOUS APPEARANCE that I miss the fact that I need healing of my SPIRITUAL DISFIGUREMENTS. When I am so wrapped up in myself and my legalism, and I don’t even notice the needs of others, that’s when Jesus confronts me with a question to counter my MISSHAPEN AND MALFORMED thinking.

In Matthew 12:11-12 (NLT) Jesus says, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” 

Later on Jesus encapsulated the essence of the commandments of the law by saying, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

What He says to me is “Do you value your religious rituals more than you value people?” Do I put some of my TWISTED AND WARPED ways of thinking in the way of showing COMPASSION to others? What are my PRIORITIES?

You can determine what kind of person I am by my PRIORITIES and by what I do with the OPPORTUNITIES I have to show compassion. I can equally see what kind of person you are by your priorities and the opportunities you use to show compassion. That day Jesus is not only wanting to heal a deformed hand but SPIRITUALLY DISFIGURED HEARTS. Instead the Pharisees look for opportunities to kill Him (Matthew 12:14).

In Matthew 12:13 (NLT) Jesus says, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was RESTORED, just like the other one!” Jesus doesn’t just give me perspective by His WORDS but also by His ACTIONS. He demonstrates the truth of loving God and loving people. He encourages me to reach out to Him and in that very act I am HEALED AND RESTORED.

God bless you Church as you reach out to Jesus and as He brings healing to the DEFORMITIES of our hearts and enables us in turn to reach out with our hands to others with a compassion that makes a difference.

Pastor Ross

Part 4 – Genesis 20:1-18 – BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT! 

It’s not my fault! I didn’t do it!

Part 4 – Genesis 20:1-18 – BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT! 

“IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT!” I remember my protests fell on deaf ears and I was made to go to my room without dinner until I confessed. My mother insisted that it was me, probably because of the lie my sister told her. I don’t even remember the crime I was accused of but I do remember vividly the confusing and frustrating feeling of being innocent and yet paying the consequences for someone else’s sin. There were plenty of things I did do wrong, but that day I was INNOCENT!

I guess the king in Genesis 20 knew what it was like to bear the penalty because of someone else’s sin, only the consequences for him were a little more serious than being sent to your room. 

If this was a movie the REAL STAR in this SOAP OPERA SCENARIO in Genesis 20 is NOT THE BEAUTIFUL 90 YEAR OLD BEAUTY QUEEN – SARAH. It’s not the BIG BUSINESS TYCOON with a LYING PROBLEM – ABRAHAM (He lies about Sarah, telling everyone she is his sister not his wife). The real hero is the UNDER-DOG who gets caught up in a LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE by mistake – ABIMELECH. Abimelech, probably thinking that he can form an alliance with Abraham who is a wealthy man, decides to take Sarah into his harem. Abimelech may be the CO-STAR in this movie but he deserves the Oscar. 

When God speaks to him in a dream and says that he is a dead man for taking Sarah into his harem, He says “Lord, I’m INNOCENT!” He wakes up in a cold sweat and immediately gives Sarah back. ABIMELECH is the man with MORE INTEGRITY AND CHARACTER than Abraham! HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THE BELIEVER THAN ABRAHAM THE LIAR!  

But there is no escaping. Not only does he have the death sentence hanging over him, but the only one who remains pregnant in this story is Sarah. Every other women in the camp becomes infertile as God takes His hand of grace off them and sin begins to threaten future generations big time. 

Now let’s get this straight – Abimelech DIDN’T SLEEP WITH SARAH, so what’s the big deal? Why do these women remain INFERTILE when Abimelech made an HONEST MISTAKE? IT ALL SEEMS UNFAIR! What is going on here? Why are the consequences are NOT REMOVED immediately when Sarah is returned? THEY HAVE NO FUTURE OR HOPE.  

That’s the power of sin. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Despite the fact that I declare my innocence, without Christ in my life, the sentence sticks. 

In this case, ABRAHAM IS THE CULPRIT! The perpetrator of this mess? And it all starts off with A MINOR SIN which escalates to something which threatens future generations. 

Abraham finds himself on the end of ABIMELECH’S REBUKE and rightly so. Unlike my sister, Abraham makes a series of CONFESSIONS which must have been humiliating for him but which are so honest and heartfelt, they change the course of the whole closing scene.

God obviously forgives Abraham, because He uses Abraham to pray for Abimelech’s tribe to be HEALED. Abraham caused all the trouble so God uses him to REPAIR THE DAMAGE. Kind of POETIC JUSTICE. Even so Abimelech pays a high price for his inadvertent sin. 

Like Abimelech, Jesus knew what it was like to bear the full penalty for someone else’s sin, only he paid the price completely by dying for us. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says “He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

Like Abraham, I am praying for your complete healing on the inside. I am praying that you would be restored and made right with God, though Christ. God bless you Church as you place your trust in Christ alone for your salvation. 

Pastor Ross