Posts Tagged ‘Risk’

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Risk and Reward © Image by Ross Cochrane using GetPaint. net

Matthew 19:28-29 – WHAT WILL I GET FOR FOLLOWING JESUS? Part 2 

And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT). 

Jesus says that … 

2. ETERNAL LIFE WILL ALSO BE A REWARD FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN UP EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW CHRIST 

The Apostles and all followers of Christ who are willing to pay that price know that it is worth the risk, whatever they go through; a hundred times better, even in this life, but the reward of knowing Christ is multiplied beyond this in eternity.  

He’s saying that some followers of Christ may lose possessions and even families through persecution, so the sacrifice is great. The risk is great. The reward in knowing Christ and honoring Him, however, is even greater. The blessings of this earth are precious but always held in the light of seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).  

When we come to Christ, we hand over everything to His rulership. Coming under His authority means everything we have is under new management. 

We know that no matter what happens in this life, we serve a sovereign God, who understands and who is working out His purposes in us and in the world, until Christ returns and this world is made new. Christ is pre-eminent for those who follow Him and life is full (John 10:10), beyond possessions and even relationships. 

The invitation of Christ is to trust in Him and the work He has done on the Cross in paying the price for our sins and then continue to serve Him. The by-product of knowing Christ and living under His rulership is great reward and life everlasting. 

In John 5:22-26 (NLT) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” 

John 17:3 says “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” 

Pastor Ross 

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Risks and Rewards © Image by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:28-29 – WHAT WILL I GET FOR FOLLOWING JESUS? Part 1 

He was a young man, with his life full of potential, blessed with riches, living a good life and gifted with leadership. Yet he went away from Jesus still young, rich, good living and a leader, but sorrowful, … and without eternal life. Jesus says it is impossible for the rich young man to get into heaven without God’s help.  

This gets Peter wondering. The first question that comes to Peter’s mind is “What about us?” So Peter says to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow You. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27 NLT). 

Jesus answers, “… everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT). 

  1. THERE WILL BE A HUNDRED-FOLD REWARD ON EARTH FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW CHRIST 

This reward is not specified but obviously superior to any normal reward. From the story of the rich young ruler, it’s obvious that the reward for knowing Christ is not necessarily based on being rich or being influential as a leader in the community or on being young and full of potential or even on living a life based on good values. Relationship with Christ brings reward beyond these outward things of life.  

The rewards or blessings are provided by God for those who follow Christ so that we can live the life for which we were created. We are spiritual millionaires! Why live as spiritual paupers? God’s bank account is limitless, and He has given those who choose to follow Christ direct access. 

What are some of these inward rewards that God gives to those who choose to follow Christ? Here are just a few… 

  1. Peace with God. The barrier I had between God and me is entirely removed and I can experience a relationship with Him. He accepts me and I have real peace on the inside. (John 14:27) 
  2. Sins are forgiven because the penalty for my sins has been paid when Christ died on the Cross and I trusted in His sacrifice for me (Romans 4:25; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24). 
  3. Access to God through prayer (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19–20). 
  4. Becoming part of the family of God, born again (John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23), a child of God (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26, John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 3:2), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10). 
  5. The resources of God to live my life (2 Peter 1:3). 

2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) says, By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” 

In Philippians 4:19 (NLT) Paul says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” 

6. A secure foundation on which my life is being built (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:4; Ephesians 2:20). 

7. God‘s love for me (Ephesians 2:4; 5:2). 

8. God‘s instruction in the Bible which teaches me how to live and make a difference in life (Titus 2:12) 

2 Timothy 3:16,17 (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. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 

9. Partnering with God, serving and cooperating with Him in His work, and being His ambassador (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 6:4). 

10. The Holy Spirit to guide me. I am born of, baptized with, sealed by, and indwelled by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5–8; Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; John 7:39; Romans 5:5; 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30). 

11. Not to mention the Fruit of the Holy Spirit which God gives to me in order to navigate the world in which He has placed me.  

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says, “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” 

It’s interesting that Mark adds that with all these benefits there will also be persecution of anyone who follows Christ. He mixes reward and persecution in the same sentence. Those who follow Christ are willing to pay the price. Someone said that the word “Faith” is spelled “R.I.S.K.”  

Every person has the opportunity to weigh up the risks and rewards of faith, just like the rich young ruler, but the invitation of God is always for us to give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him.  

There is a cost in following Christ, but the inward rewards and resources He provides while we are on this earth more than compensate, because they enable us to live the life for which we were created  

Pastor Ross 

Genesis 30:35-43 – RICH DAD RICH KIDS

Speckled Bark. Image by Ross Cochrane.

Speckled Bark. Image by Ross Cochrane.

It’s almost as if Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad, has been reading God’s business plan for Jacob. I can almost hear him saying to Jacob, “Sooner or later you will have to learn that the moral lesson of your rat-race work-life demands that you become more an entrepreneur than simply an employee. Putting wealth into Laban’s hands with little or nothing to show isn’t what is intended for you. You are intended for blessing, and to be a blessing. You were not destined for exploitation by a greedy and corrupt uncle.”

God invites Jacob, and me, to take the risk of faith rather than be pushed around by life. He always has! We stay where we are unless we make opportunities by taking a risk. But not just any risk. A blatant opportunist who has taken careless risks all his life, Jacob is about to develop a faith literacy and be schooled in honesty rather than take the path that comes so easily to him – deceit and taking advantage of others.

Jacob is working for his uncle to pay off a 14-year-old debt, accumulated by the acquisition of his wives through a shonky business deal. He has no asset base for financial security. Jacob’s assets are not to be found the vague promises from a deceitful man who won’t pay him a wage.

How do you build your asset base? Kiyosaki would say “Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income producing real estate, notes, and royalties from intellectual property.” Jacob chooses stock because it’s all he understands and he’s been in bonds to his uncle for far too long. He’s still taking notes on royalty and intellect as God invites him to come under His authority and wisdom. God will awaken the financial intelligence inside him, although His method is a little unorthodox.

In order for him to secure all that God plans for him he has to have new ideas. He is still teachable, so he takes a course on faith – buys the latest videos and books, attends the seminars on what God is saying – well OK, maybe not videos, books and seminars, but he knows that he will have to own God’s promises rather than simply wait for Laban to pay him.

His assets are his faith and his family, so he starts to develop a plan for investing in the secure promises of God, minimal risk to Laban, but maximum opportunity for Jacob and his menagerie of wives and children. Honest accounting and investing; he hasn’t tried that before. So he makes a new deal with his uncle – “I’ll look after your flock of plain coloured animals but keep any new-born speckled animals to build my own flock.” His uncle agrees. Plain coloured animals normally produce plain coloured animals. How can Laban lose?

But then Jacob gets weird… Although this seems such an odd thing to do I can only suppose that God is in it… Jacob strips away some of the bark of tree branches and exposes the inner wood in stripes and places them in the drinking troughs as if this will make a difference in producing striped and speckled animals? (Genesis 30:37-39). Now I’m tempted to say Jacob has reverted to superstition, but I know, God does some weird things with branches and rods and staffs (Exodus). A branch makes an axe head float in 2 Kings 6. Moses’ staff becomes a snake in Exodus 4:14 and was used in other miraculous events. Aaron’s rod budded and was included in the ark of the Covenant as a reminder for faith (Hebrews 9:4). God used a bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness as a symbol for expressing healing faith (Numbers 21:6-9).

Does God use the chemicals from the stripped branches in the troughs to change the DNA of Jacob’s breeders? I doubt it. If nothing else, these branches serve as a symbol of faith for Jacob and a witness to Laban, even if it doesn’t do anything for the sheep. Could it be whenever Jacob sees them he prays for speckled sheep? When the sheep look at them they ignore them, drink the water and mate and do what sheep do. There’s no magic or superstition here, just an opportunity for the outworking of a miracle.

So Jacob becomes very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, male and female servants, and many camels and donkeys, even if they are a motley bunch. You won’t find “Stripping bark from branches” in a chapter of any of Robert Kiyosaki latest get rich books. In Genesis 31:5 (NLT) Jacob says “… the God of my father has been with me.” (see also Genesis 31:10-13). 

Philippians 4:19 NLT invites us to understand that “… this same God … will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Rich Dad Rich Kids.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – THE PERFECT WIFE OR A DOMESTICATED DOORMAT? – Part 6

Perfect Wife or Doormat?

The Formula in the 50′s FOR THE PERFECT WIFE get your work done, have dinner ready for your husband, look good for him, minimize any noise before he arrives at the door after work, be happy to see him, don’t greet him with problems and complaints, don’t complain if he is late for dinner, make him comfortable, listen to him and make the evening his (Was this designed by the PERFECT WIFE OR A DOMESTICATED DOORMAT?)

Now picture this scene found in Genesis 24. Abraham sends his servant with 10 camels and a sizable fortune in gifts to find THE PERFECT WIFE for Isaac. He asks God for a SIGN so he’ll recognise who is the right girl. The sign? The girl who not only gives him water to drink from her jug but also offers to water his 10 camels will be the one. Rebekah makes such an offer. This is like having someone offer to fill up 10 EMPTY TRUCKS with petrol. It’s going to take a long time. But so far so good. She seems like the perfect wife for Isaac (not to mention that it will save him watering the camels).

He discovers a number of things about Rebekah at the well that day. She is BEAUTIFUL, SINGLE. She is CONFIDENT, WARM AND FRIENDLY despite the fact that he is a stranger. She calls him “lord” which was a way of showing RESPECT. She has a SERVANT HEART. She’s THOUGHTFUL, CARING, CONSIDERATE, SELFLESS, willing to go the EXTRA MILE to help out. She puts the needs of others before her own. She’s a FITNESS FANATIC (Carting all that water would keep anyone fit). She’s STRONG AND HEALTHY. She is definitely NOT AFRAID OF HARD WORK. She’s FLEXIBLE with her time. She is there to get water for her family but she goes out of her way to help someone else first.

Apart from this she has FAITH IN GOD and she is HOSPITABLE. She invites him to stay with her family

Genesis 24:26-28 (NLT) says that the servant “…bowed low and worshiped the Lord.” As far as he is concerned, God has answered his prayer. He gives her some EXPENSIVE JEWELLERY including a nose ring and Rebekah runs home “… to tell her family everything that had happened.”

What would you do if your DAUGHTER COMES HOME LATE, wearing expensive jewelry and raving on about a man she has just met that evening? I’d be a little suspicious if it was my daughter and I’d want to get rid of the man. Not Rebekah’s brother Laban. He’s the head of the family but he is also a business man so when he SEES THE JEWELLERY that Rebekah is wearing all of a sudden this servant becomes HIS BEST FRIEND. In Genesis 24:31 he says “Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?”

Just before the evening meal the Servant explains how he asked God for a sign and that he thinks that Rebekah is God’s choice for Isaac. He lays it on the line “Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.” (I knew a girl once who said she knew that it was God’s will that she marry a friend of mine. Strangely, God didn’t tell him too and he ended up marrying another girl). Is this man being EMOTIONALLY MANIPULATIVE or has he really heard from God?

Laban and his father Bethuel believe in God and when they hear of how the servant received a sign from God, they say, “The Lord has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.”

The servant lavishes the family with a FORTUNE IN GIFTS. What is this? Human trafficking, SELLING YOUR DAUGHTER? Rebekah hasn’t had a say in any of this yet! What is she? Some KIND OF DOORMAT OR OBJECT OF EXCHANGE?

By early the next morning, it looks like the deal has changed however. Laban has been talking to Rebekah’s mother and they say “We want Rebekah to stay with us at LEAST TEN DAYS, then she can go.” Abraham’s servant is straight with them. He says “Don’t mess me around. This is God’s will and we’ve made a deal.” Actually he says “Don’t delay me. The Lord has made my mission successful.”

“Well,” they say “we’ll call Rebekah and ASK HER what she thinks.” IT’S ABOUT TIME that Rebekah actually gets to say something about their plans for her life! Ever felt like God loves you and EVERYONE ELSE has a wonderful plan for your life? So they call Rebekah. Oh, by the way Rebekah, “Are you willing to go with this man?” they ask her.

Rebekah is no doormat. She’s INTELLIGENT enough to make up her OWN MIND. She’s heard everything the servant said and she is ASSERTIVE AND DECISIVE. She makes a decision immediately based on what she has heard. What would you have said? She replies, “Yes, I will go.” She is quick to recognise that God is in this and that this is her opportunity to fulfill her GOD GIVEN DESTINY. She doesn’t insist on staying an extra 10 days like her family requests. Just as well! Major spanner in the works if she had said “NO. I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE AND I’M NOT MARRYING ANYONE!”

Sometimes people say that CHRISTIANS ARE JUST PASSIVE DOORMATS who follow GOD’S RULES AND REGULATIONS MINDLESSLY. I don’t follow Christ because I HAVE TO. I follow Him because I WANT TO. He has won me over with who He is and what He has done for me on the Cross. There’s a difference between CO-OPERATING WITH GOD and being a DOORMAT. I have a CHOICE.

Rebekah is a RISK TAKER. Faith is always a risk. GIVING YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST is always a risk. Some people say “FAITH IS BLIND because it involves taking a risk. FAITH MAY BE BLIND BUT IT ISN’T DEAF! Faith comes when we HEAR what God has to say for our lives and then we CHOOSE, by an act of our own FREEWILL, after receiving His revelation of Truth, to step out and act upon it without knowing what the future holds. Rebekah courageously takes a step of faith by her willingness to give up her life with her family and go with this man to a land she has never seen, to marry a man she has never met. I like this woman of faith. It is no wonder that Isaac falls in love with her.

Although everyone else seemed to have a plan for her life, Rebekah listens and responds to what God is saying to her and makes a decision that changes the world. She doesn’t know it but this decision will impact the future as God fulfils His promises. One day Jesus will come from the line of Isaac.

Rebekah encourages me NOT TO BE A DOORMAT to my circumstances or to other people. God bless you as you COOPERATE WITH GOD’S PLAN for your life today and in doing so LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL and make a difference in the world.

Pastor Ross