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.

Light of the world

John 1:4-5  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus Christ has always been.  There was never a time when He was not in existence.  He made all things, to include us, and He holds all things together, including our lives.  One day, He stepped down into this world, our world, from the perfection of heaven in the darkness.

But because Jesus is the light of all the world, the darkness could not overcome Him.  It didn’t stand a chance against the Son of God.  He is the true light and in Him is found grace and truth.

Can any darkness exist in a place where light shines?  Can any aspect of life remain dark where Christ is Lord?  Apply this to your life.  Submit to the lordship of Jesus, committing all areas of your life to Him, and He will prevail.

*This devotion first appeared in September of 2010.

One new Man

Ephesians 2:15-16 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

One of the amazing effects of Christ’s work on the cross to save us is the unity that comes through reconciliation. He didn’t just die for me and He didn’t just die for you, He died for us and He prayed before His work was completed that we would be united (John 17:21). He accomplished what He set out to do, and that included bringing us all under the banner of Christ.

The initial work was to unite Jews and Gentiles, but today there are continued effects in that people of different backgrounds and denominations can still be intimately united by the gospel as we’ve all been reconciled to God and to each other.  Jesus didn’t just earn us peace with God, but also peace with our fellow believers.

We don’t always see this in practice, but it grieves the heart of God to see His people fighting amongst each other. He didn’t reconcile us to himself and adopt us all into His family so we could fight like we’re enemies instead of brothers and sisters. It’s ok to disagree, but it’s not ok to disregard what God intended to unite us.

 

He is our peace

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

Jesus Christ not only brings peace into our lives through ending our hostility toward God, our separation from Him, and our bondage to sin, He himself is our peace. He bring us peace because there is no other way.

When we read things in God’s Word such as “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), or “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), and other such reminders, it’s hard not to have peace.

Next time you find yourself anxious, fearful, feeling condemned, or without peace, just think about what’s been done for you. Think about the victory that’s been won by Jesus to reconcile you to the Father. Think about your adoption into His own family.  There you’ll find peace. In Him you’ll find peace.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Christian, what did you do to get into God’s family? Did you earn your way in? Buy your way in? How were you able to go from being dead and in sin to being alive and free from sin? No, you didn’t raise yourself from spiritual death. You didn’t earn your way to God. Your reconciliation to Him was purchased by one thing only. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What a beautiful thought that we’ve been brought into the family of God as His adopted children by no work of our own. Generally, we tend to reject the notion that we can get something for free. The saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a popular one. We’re skeptical that anything in this world can be free of charge.

But our acceptance into God’s family? That’s not something we could earn even if we tried our very hardest. The only way to get that is to through the blood of Christ. It’s not for sale. The choice is take it for free or don’t take it at all.  It’s bought and paid for, earned by the One sinless person who ever lived becoming sin in our place.

We’re no longer strangers to God, no longer enemies. We’re now His children, loved by Him, protected by Him, and cared for by Him, not because we did anything to earn His love, but because He first loved us and chose us to be His. We were lost, not Him. We didn’t find God, He found us, and rescued us.

Once separated

Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We all have a story to tell and in every one of our stories there is a part where we were separated from God. The one thing that can ever separate us from Him is sin and since we’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23), we can all be guaranteed a time of isolation from the Lord.

That time of being apart from Him, when we weren’t His but the world’s, we were captive to our own sinful natures and without hope. God loves us too much to leave us in our sin and that’s why He sent a Rescuer, a Savior to reconcile us with himself. Even while we were dead in our sin, God did this for us. He chose to save us when we had no hope. He could have left us to our own devices, but He didn’t.

As we think back on our stories, it’s important not to forget the time we spent apart from God. It causes us to more fully appreciate what it’s like on the other side, as His children who have been adopted into His own family. It also helps us to appreciate that there are still lost people out there who have yet to hear the good news that a Rescuer was sent for them. It causes us to take action for their sake.

We are His workmanship

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Each and every one of us is special because God created everyone differently. In each of us He put a unique personality, specific traits, and He even gave us each a purpose of our own.

Ultimately, we’re all on the same mission, working towards the same goal, to life up Jesus and glorify the Father, and to bring people to a saving knowledge of Him. Along that journey, though, we all play different parts. You have a task that only you can do. I have one that only I can do. God empowers us to do exactly what He’s called us to do.

He’s given you a set of talents that are yours alone. They’re not to be used for your own gain, but for His purposes. He gave you your talents and you purpose in life before He even created the world. Before time, you had a mission. Before the world was in existence, you were equipped. Then God formed you and set you apart. Live with the knowledge that you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared beforehand.

By grace you have been saved through faith

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The blessings of God never quit. His grace is something that’s just too good to comprehend. And when we look at the fact that even our own salvation is of Him rather than being based on our own merit, it’s  hard to believe.

It’s so hard to believe, in fact, that some people outright reject the notion that salvation is a free gift and they try to earn their way into God’s favor. It doesn’t work that way though. He has offered eternal life as a free gift through His Son. He’s so adamant about the fact that we can’t earn our salvation that He makes mention of it multiple times throughout His Word. God means for us to know that He gives this gift freely.

We cheapen the gospel when we try to add to it. When we make it Jesus + works or Jesus + _______________, we lost sight of the great cost that was already paid to earn our salvation. Jesus went through great lengths to reconcile us to God. Grace provides us the chance to accept that.

The immeasurable riches of His grace

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Many of God’s blessings that He reveals here on earth are a taste of things to come, a shadow of the real thing. This is the case when it comes to His grace. We experience grace during this life and it’s beyond our comprehension. We can try, but we’ll never grasp the lengths the Lord goes through to extend grace.

But one day it will all become clear. What we see now as in a dim mirror will one day be clear as can be (1 Corinthians 13:12) and what we only understand in part we’ll understand in full. If God’s grace is so amazing now, just imagine fully understanding it. Just imagine the mystery that God is waiting to make known.

One day, all that remains hidden will be revealed in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), the One in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19).

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Seated with Him

Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

There are many things for God’s people to look forward to in the future, but there are also some amazing promises for the here and now. The thing is sometimes we can’t recognize the difference between what’s waiting and what’s in front of us.

We have a tendency to look at verses like Ephesians 2:6 and assume that it says we will be seated with Christ once we die and get to heaven. But it doesn’t say that, does it?  It says He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him when we were saved. If this is true, then what does it mean for us right now?

In context, we have been made alive in Christ and now share in His preeminent glory. We share in His victory, as it is now our victory. Keep in mind that our enemies are not of flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). They’re spiritual, and here we see the relevance of the fact that we were raised up with Him, and seated with Him in heavenly places. Christ has conquered all sin, death, and evil spirits and therefore so have we.

More than conquerors

Romans 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In Christ we will prevail against any attack that comes against us because we are more than conquerors.  A conqueror will take on the enemy and claim victory, maybe even winning every battle he ever faces.  But one day, like everyone else, he’ll die.  All of the victories cannot stop death from coming for him.  All the battles won will be forgotten.

But in Christ we don’t fight temporal battles with little lasting impact.  When we fight on God’s team we fight eternity-centered battles.  Though it may not seem like relying on God to get us through the emotional effects of coworkers insulting us because of our faith could have anything to do with eternity, the underlying truth behind the fact that God is with us in everything we face for His sake is undeniably eternal in nature.

We are more than conquerors because we belong to the One who conquered death itself.  We’ll live on with Him as victors, having been glorified in Him.

———-  Are you fighting any battles right now that you need victory over?