All posts by Matthew J. Cochran

Matt Cochran's passion is seeing people's lives transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ. Having served in the Marine Corps in locations all over the world, Matt easily connects with people. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Studies and a Master's Degree in Discipleship Ministries. Above all else, Matt loves being a dad to Colin, Hank and Amelie.

Spiritual Disciplines – Solitude

Matthew 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone

In our busy world, one of the easiest disciplines to disregard is solitude.  We can become so busy or so immersed in this life that it’s actually uncomfortable to be alone in a quiet place.  We may feel like we’re wasting time or that there’s something else we should be doing.

We must not forego silent communion with God.  It’s in this time that we really hear from Him in our souls.  God admonishes us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and in this quiet He speaks.

Quiet time with God is not the time to plan out the day’s events or necessarily the time to reflect on past events.  It’s a time to speak to God, but minimally.  When we get alone with the Lord to spend time with Him, it’s mostly a time to listen.

We can hear from Him in a number of ways.  The Lord speaks to us through His Word, the Bible, He can speak to us through the Holy Spirit, or through a still, small voice, just to name a few methods.

The important thing is that we are listening and receptive.  He is knocking on our door, ready to come in and communicate, if we will just take time to let Him in.

He commissions

The Father

Matthew 9:38  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

We’re not only called by God, but we’re sent by Him as well.  He calls us to be what He wants us to be and He sends us to do what He would have done.  God can do anything He wants in this world because He is all-powerful, but He chooses to use people to carry out His purposes in most cases.  We have the privilege of bearing the commission of the Lord.

When considering what it means to be commissioned, it’s important that we realize it’s more than just being sent.  The word commission carries with it the authorization of the sender, and even the granting of power to perform the duties one is commissioned to do.  Our Lord does not just send us, He empowers us to accomplish every act and every goal. One who is commissioned acts on behalf of the one who sent them.

The one who sends us is the Most High God, the creator and sustainer of all things.  He holds the universe in balance and He is more than capable of giving us what we need to succeed.  If we make ourselves available to do what He calls us to do, He will send us and equip us for the task.  He will look after us.

Spiritual Disciplines – Sabbath

Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

We are commanded to set aside a day of Sabbath (Exodus 20:8) and yet this is one of the most forgotten or ignored acts in the lives of believers.  To many, grinding to a halt once a week seems impractical, maybe even impossible.  But God told us to do it, and even did it Himself to set the example.

Sabbath was made for us (Mark 2:27 and parallels).  We need to rest, both our minds and our bodies.  It doesn’t need to be legalistic.  Not everyone is capable of taking Sabbath on the same day of the week.  We need not follow the Mosaic Law on Sabbath, just to devote a day to rest and to God.  Sabbath is not about rules, it’s about taking the time to stop and listen to God (Psalm 46:10).

Sabbath is a gift to us. Not only do we get to recharge, but we get to regain perspective, hear from God, and reset our agenda.  Sabbath is the reset button we’re all looking for.  A time to re-prioritize, recuperate, and restart.

He calls

The Father

1 Corinthians 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We like to make much of what we do for God and what we’ve done to change since becoming Christians, but we leave out how much of the work was done by God himself.  Much of what we take credit for was initiated by Him and we merely carried out what He called us to do.  Let’s step aside for the moment and consider His calling.

God calls us into fellowship with himself through Jesus.  He wants us to be His.  He’s a loving Father who adores us and would have us all follow Him in love.  He calls us into good works.  He wants to see us do something with our faith, not just believe but show our love for Him by serving others and serving Him.  We’re His vessels here on earth to do His will, but it requires us letting Him have control of the wheel.

He calls us to repentance.  God wants us to seek after Him with a sorrow for the things we’ve done to keep us from Him.  We can’t serve sin and God, so when it comes down to it, He’s calling us to genuinely give up the sin and follow Him.  He calls us to holiness.  We can’t be perfect, but we can be in a right relationship with God through Christ.  Holiness and righteousness are His in which to cloak us and we receive them when we follow Him.  He calls each of us to ministry.  Not all of us will leave our careers and become pastors and preachers, but we all have a ministry in which God can use us to expand His kingdom and bring glory unto himself.

He’s calling even now.  There’s something tugging on your heart that you know you ought to do.  You read something in God’s Word that the Holy Spirit emphasized in your heart.  You are being called and your response does not mean that you are doing anything on your own.  Your answer to the call is out of obedience.

Spiritual Disciplines – Bible Study

Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

While it is true that pastors receive a word from the Lord and speak it to the people, it is equally true that they are human and therefore capable of error.  The best way to grow spiritually after hearing a message is to check it against the scriptures. Though man is errant, God’s Word is not.

Each follower of Christ must, absolutely must, spend time reading and studying the Bible individually. Church services, Sunday school, and Bible study are all great to attend, but they are intended as a corporate experience among the believers.  Private study of God’s Word coupled with prayer will yield personal results.

It is not enough to say that you believe everything the Bible says if you do not know what it says.  We must learn the context of the original writing to fully understand how a verse speaks to us today.  Many misinformed or uninformed Christians wander about with no foundational knowledge of the Bible’s principles.  False doctrines come about when well-meaning Christians interpret scriptures to support an agenda.

Personal time with the Lord, reading His Word is an essential part of a Christ disciple’s life.  God’s Word ought always to be on our hearts and on our tongues.  The Bible is a disciple’s playbook and we must learn from it in order to live according to God’s wonderful plan.  How amazing that our heavenly Father speaks to us though this text!  How can we  not study it everyday?

He created

The Father

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Any discussion of God the Father has to begin…in the beginning.  God existed before there was time and then, He created time.  This is confusing to almost anyone and we won’t spend much time discussing eternality, but the basis of discussing God is the creation of time and all things in existence.  Before He spoke it, it didn’t exist.

Clearly, Jesus played a role in creation. Colossians and the Gospel of John make that very clear.  But God the Father has the authority to speak things into existence, and so it was with the creation of the world.  He spoke, and there was light.  He spoke and there was night and there was day.  He spoke, and His words were so powerful that whatever He said happened.  Now why is it again that we question whether God is powerful enough to help us in our lives?

There was nothing but Him, and then there was what He created.  That’s pretty simple, yet it’s so incredibly complicated. How did God exist from eternity if nothing else existed?  How did creation take place?  Was it a big bang?  These are honestly mysteries that aren’t going to be answered easily. We can never know everything about God, but we do know this, our Father set the universe in place, and all things hold together because of Him.  We can rely on Him for all of our lives’ issues.

 

Spiritual Disciplines – Fasting

Matthew 6:17-18 But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Many churches and individuals begin the new year by fasting and praying for spiritual renewal and awakening.  Fasting is a wonderful discipline and it’s sometimes misunderstood.  It’s important to understand what fasting is and what it’s not.

Spiritual fasting is not a diet, or at least that’s not the main purpose.  One may lose weight on a fast from all food or become healthier on something like a Daniel fast, but the purpose is connection with God.  Even if the reason behind your prayer and fasting is related to health and healing, make the spiritual communion with God the primary focus of your fast.

A fast is not something to be done in order to look spiritual or to get attention.  Jesus warned about pride in association with fasting and public prayer.  Don’t fast for the attention it may bring.  There is no reward for fasting with selfish motives.  If possible, don’t make an issue of the fact that you’re fasting.

A fast is sacrificial.  Not all fasts call you to give up all food.  Some don’t even deal with food, but rather abstinence from activities like TV watching or a break from any contact with sources of news.  All fasts require some sort of sacrifice.  Remember when it gets hard that it’s not meant to be comfortable.  In our hardship, we are drawn closer to God.

A fast is personal.  Even if you’re fasting as a group, you should be connecting with God personally during this time.  If someone else decides that they can’t go on with the fast, continue on.  Don’t judge them for their personal decision, but don’t allow their change of plans to excuse you from your connection with God.

A fast is planned.  It’s not recommended that you jump into a fast without laying out a purpose, and end date, preparing your body, and praying.  Give yourself some time to plan your fast. Some people even like to consult with their doctor before starting.

Fasting is effective.  Various passages in God’s Word point out the power that is in fasting and prayer.  However, it should be noted that fasting does not guarantee answered prayer. (2 Samuel 12)

Preparing for glory

2 Corinthians 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

From the day we’re born, we’re dying.  We grow, we learn, we love, we laugh, we experience all of the things life has to offer.  But we all reach and end to this life.  Praise be to God that this life is not all there is!  We have something wonderful to look forward to – life eternal.  This life is momentary, but the life after this one is never-ending.

All of the hardships we face here, they’re building us up, conforming us into the image of Christ, from one degree of glory to another.  Sanctification takes place in this life, the Holy Spirit doing His work in us to make us what God intended us to be.  We endure all that there is here for the reward we receive later when sanctification ends and glorification begins.

We carry with us the death of Christ. We die as a reminder both of the fact that sin brought death into the world and a testimony to the fact that Jesus saved us from eternal death.  We live forever with Him because of what He did on the cross.  His death spared us ours.  His resurrection gave us a brief glimpse of what’s coming for us.  What we face here is nothing compared to the glory we’ll see on the other side.  It’s all just part of the journey.

Who is the Holy Spirit? Holy

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own

The Spirit is holy. I know that seems obvious from the name Holy Spirit, but don’t gloss over it. We’re warned in Scripture not to believe every spirit, in fact to only trust the Holy Spirit, which is why God sent Him to live in us.  Holy means “set apart” or “sacred,” so while there are other spirits that exist, the one true God is the Holy one.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:1-4

If He’s Holy, and He lives in you, then you are a temple. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He lives in you, speaks to you, guides you, prompts you, comforts you, and empowers you. You have the power to overcome anything that you face because you walk in the Spirit. Embrace that and be confident that God is always with you. Don’t ever doubt His presence.

  • Do you treat your body as the dwelling place for a completely holy God? Are there any sins you need to repent of, as they have abused His holy sanctuary?

Who is the Holy Spirit? GOD

1 Corinthians 2:10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

In discussion of the Holy Spirit, we can’t glance over the fact that He is God, as though everyone knows this. Understanding God is so complex that we can’t make any assumptions.

The Holy Spirit isn’t a force, but a relational being, part of the Trinity- One God who eternally exists as three distinct persons – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – who are each fully and equally God and in eternal relation with each other. The Bible equally declares Father, Son, and Spirit to be God. None are more important than the other, though each person of the Trinitarian God serves a specific purpose and has a specific role.

“Persons” does not mean human beings. Only Jesus became human. Person means that each member of the Trinity thinks, acts, feels, speaks, and relates because they are persons and not impersonal forces. We can’t control the Holy Spirit because He has His own will. We can’t fool Him or hide from Him because He possesses all of the characteristics of God- omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, etc.

The Holy Spirit will never act contradictory to God because He is God. He won’t lead us in any way that would go against God’s will, because it’s His will.

  • Do you ever fall into the trap of seeing the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force instead of a person? How have you tried to “harness” Him instead of having a relationship with Him?
  • Do you treat the Holy Spirit as God, or do you treat Him as lesser than the other two persons of the Godhead? How can ensure to treat Him as such?