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.

Humility values others

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been forgiven by God for SO many things that I have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone who wrongs me.

Pride causes us to hold a grudge, but God calls us to be humble.

Pride demands an apology.
It takes humility to forgive an offense.

Pride refuses to admit our own wrongdoing.
Humility enables us to sincerely apologize and seek reconciliation.

If you want to demonstrate true, godly love to your kids, apologize to them when necessary. It shows them that you value them more than your ego.  If you truly want to repair a relationship that’s gone wrong, show some humility.

If you want your relationships to thrive, resist pride.

Real love is powerful because it is selfless. The world’s love lacks any power because it’s all self-centered. When we put others before ourselves, we love like God loves us and it’s a game changer. Showing humility to others values them, just as God’s love for us gives us value.

What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Some of us need a new definition of love, based on God’s view, not the world’s.  The “love” that the world tries to sell us is fake. The world’s version of love is either just a really self-centered, emotionally driven feeling, or it’s all about lust and sex, or it’s some concept of the real thing that we’re told can’t really be obtained.

God’s love – real love – is so incredibly different than what most of us have experienced that it seems radical. The truth is, it is radical, and when we love others with the love of God we upgrade our relationships in a very real way.  First we have to understand God’s love for ourselves.

Maybe some of Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians doesn’t even fit your view of God, let alone your view of love. Take patience for example. Your past may have been led you to believe that God is anything but patient, but let me ask you a question. Would someone who is impatient keep sending prophet after prophet after prophet to send the same message over and over and over again to people who just won’t seem to listen? That’s the Old Testament.

Look at Jesus as an example of patience. He taught the stubborn and foolish disciples lesson after lesson, lowering himself so far below the honor He deserved. If God is willing to have this type of patience with us; this type of kindness and endurance, we can and should love others with this type of love.

Living stones

1 Peter 2:5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Where does God dwell?  Is He confined to the walls of a church?  Limited to operating on Sunday mornings?  Or is God’s house a spiritual one, made of living stones?

In the Old Testament, the Lord had the people of Israel construct a temple, that He might dwell among them there (see Exodus).  For generations, the tradition was that the temple was God’s dwelling place.  Jesus came and turned everything upside down.  On several occasions, Jesus made reference to destroying the temple and rebuilding it.  He did this to illustrate how He would be killed and rise from the dead.

He, the stone that the builders (religious leaders) rejected, became the cornerstone (foundation) to the Church.  Now we are the living stones that make up the Church, it’s no longer about a building, but a people.  The church is alive and continuously growing and being built up.  Each Christian is part of the priesthood and through their lives offering up spiritual sacrifices.  We have direct access to God.

We are the Church, the body of Christ.  We will bring about His kingdom, regardless of building or location.

Spiritual Disciplines – Worship

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

What is worship?  Is it simply a time of singing on Sunday morning?  Does it always involve music?Can one worship on their own, outside of church?

To be sure, God requires our worship (Matthew 4:10).  He wants our full devotion, our admiration, our time.  We all worship something.  We worship wherever we spend a significant amount of time, money, or affection.  Anything can easily become an idol, but God is clear that we are to worship Him alone (Exodus 20:3).

So how are we to worship the Lord?  We are to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength (Mark 12:30 and parallels).  In other words, we’re to love God with everything we have.  We must give Him priority in our time, our finances, our relationships, our activities, our thoughts, our affections, and so on.

Worship is required on more than just Sunday morning.  It is a full time task for the disciple.  To worship God is to focus on Him and to acknowledge His worth, to honor Him.  God is spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Worship in spirit takes place from the inside out. It is sincere, not done for show.  To worship in truth is to praise God for who He truly is, not as how we might like Him to be.

Pentecost

Acts 2:38  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Christ, the many promises of God to His people, the Jews, came to pass.  He encompassed all that God had chosen to reveal to man.  In the Holy Spirit then, all of the promises of Christ to His people, the Christians, were fulfilled.  Jesus had told His followers to go and wait for Him after He had resurrected and reappeared to them.  He promised if they waited they would receive power.

And so they waited.  They hid, really.  They were all together in one place on that day, the day of Pentecost.  And when they received the Holy Spirit they all were given the power to speak in languages they didn’t know, for the purpose of evangelizing to others in his/her own tongue.  Those who heard them were amazed that these uneducated men were able to speak many languages.  Some scoffed, some mocked…but they listened.

As they listened, the previously timid disciples who were in hiding boldly came out among them and preached the gospel.  Peter delivered a sermon that brought around 3,000 to Christ that day.  It wasn’t a “here’s how to get a better life” sermon, or even a “Jesus loves you” speech.  Peter simply pointed to the truth through events that had taken place and then let the conviction of the Holy Spirit do its work in the hearts of the people.  They heard it and were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).  Then Peter gave them a chance to respond, which they did.

The work of the Holy Spirit in believers on Pentecost is the same power He employs today in us.  Things may not always be so drastic as to see thousands of people saved in one moment, but His conviction in their hearts and His work in us to be bold in speaking the truth is still very real, just as it was for Peter and the eleven. He may not ever urge you to speak in tongues or to preach in front of a massive crowd, but He will empower you to do God’s will in whatever situation you do find yourself in.

To God be the glory.

What path will you choose?

Genesis 24:57-58 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.”

Sometimes in life we’re given a choice.  A path is laid out before us and we have the choice either to walk down that path or to take our own path.  Which way we decide to go can change our destiny and affect many others.

We often hear “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” because those men were called by God and given a promise.  But the very same God also called Rebekah to take part in fulfilling the covenant He made.  When Abraham’s servant left Canaan to find a wife for Isaac, he found Rebekah because he had prayed for God to show him which young woman had been chosen.  Yet the choice of whether to go with the servant was left up to Rebekah.  Though her family and the servant believed God’s hand was in all of this, they let her decide.

With three simple words, “I will go,” Rebekah made a choice that would have a profound impact.  It was through Rebekah that Jacob and Esau would be born, two men who were critical to the plans God had.  Her obedience to God was more than she could have even known.

What path has been laid before you?  What way has God called you to follow in obedience?  What might happen if you choose His way over your own?  There’s only one way to find out.

 

This devotional is derived from a sermon message by Matthew J. Cochran.  Listen to the sermon here:

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Joking aside, let’s give thanks

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Have you ever been around someone who said or did something that just seemed really out of place for who they are or what they are? For instance, a Catholic nun smoking a cigar while drinking a shot of whisky would seem different from what’s expected.

Followers of Jesus are held to a higher standard of conduct when it comes to things that come out of our mouths. Filthy talk, dirty jokes, or crudeness are just out of place among believers. Sometimes we’ll have to be in situations around other people who conduct themselves in such a way, especially if we hope to lead them to Christ, but we need not get in on the dirty jokes.

It’s so tempting, though, to join in when people are having a good time and making inappropriate comments; isn’t it? The choice we end up having to make in such situations is to be what God has called us to be rather than being popular among the people making the jokes. It can be a tough move to make, but it’s always worth it to obey the Lord.

There are several reasons to keep our talk clean, and we won’t go into all of them, but one is that we have so much to be thankful for that we have better ways to spend our time than wallowing in filth. Instead of making crude jokes, give thanks to God. Instead of bringing others down, life them up. The family of God in Jesus Christ is set apart. Our words (or lack thereof) should make that apparent.

Leave behind sexual immorality

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 

Sex sells, so so the saying goes. Everywhere we look there is some sexual temptation being thrown in our faces. We, as Christ followers shouldn’t give in though; right?  Right? See, that’s just it. Many who name themselves among God’s people have bought into the lie that sexual sin isn’t so bad. The truth is — it kills.

Today in the American Church we’ve glossed over sexual immorality as though it’s just part of life, not really a sin. Sins are things like murder and cheating on your taxes. Sex is just sex, no matter who it’s with or whether it’s in a marital relationship or not. It’s a lie and we’ve bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

We even convince ourselves that Jesus never talked about sexual immorality or that the Bible never condemns certain things. Who are we fooling? It’s all right there in black and white. Sexual immorality is sin and it’s not to be part of the lives of believers. This is one thing that we must absolutely be free from because it kills our relationship with the Lord. It comes between us because, when you boil it down, sexual immorality is idolatry; it’s putting something else before God.

This isn’t intended to beat you down. If you find yourself in the midst of sexual sin the last thing you need is condemnation. The truth is that Jesus paid the price to win victory over your sin and even over your temptation to sin. You don’t have to feel condemnation and you don’t have to struggle against this sin. You just have to claim the victory that’s already yours in Jesus Christ.

Love like God loves

Ephesians 5:1-2  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

There are many difficult mandates given in the Bible, none more impossible than the command to be imitators of God. How could fallen, sinful human beings possibly imitate a holy, perfect God?

This may seem like a setup for failure, but that’s far from the truth. God knows very well that we can’t be perfect and He’s only asking us to pursue following His commands with His help, not on our own. Anything He’s asked us to do is something He’s equipped us to do.

It’s interesting how important the theme of love is in God’s Word. So many of the laws and rules boil down to loving the Lord and loving other people. It would seem that there is no better way to imitate God than to love. Maybe there’s not even anything God wants us to do more than He wants us to love. To do so is a “fragrant offering and sacrifice” to Him.

We don’t try to be like God in order to gain favor with Him, we follow in His footsteps because we already have favor with Him as His adopted children. We don’t love Him and other people because we want to earn our place with Him, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we’re responding to that epic love in the only way we can. We won’t do it perfectly like only He can, but we’ll be honoring Him by doing it.

We owe it to each other to forgive

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

If I asked you why Jesus had to die on the cross you would likely mention forgiveness. It’s true, the only way we can obtain God’s forgiveness is through a relationships with Jesus Christ. He paid for all of our sins, past, present, and future. But still we hold on to grudges against the people that have caused us harm.

How can we accept the forgiveness offered to us for every single bad things we’ve ever done and will ever do without being willing to show the same grace to people who do us wrong? Haven’t we done worse to God and yet been granted a pardon?

How arrogant we are when we hold onto the grace of God for ourselves and don’t pass it along to others. May we have eyes to see how wrong it is for us to do such a thing, how much it goes against God’s will for us. Who do you need to forgive right now? Have they really done something so much worse to you than you have done to the Creator who not only forgives you but does so through the sacrifice of His own Son? We owe it to each other to forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us.