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 – Prayer

Matthew 6:6,7  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

Simply defined, prayer is talking to God.  Even as Christ followers, our lives can sometimes get so busy that we simply don’t take the time to talk to our Lord.  This is a great mistake.  In order to grow spiritually, we must be conversing…mostly listening…to God.

In our fast food culture, things come quickly and we can’t stand the thought of actually waiting.  We have access to so much “on-demand” that it’s hard to just be still and listen to what the Lord has to say.  But we must if we are going to learn His will.  Prayer, coupled with Bible study, is one of the most important disciplines in the daily life of a Christ follower.  Without reading God’s Word and communicating with Him, how are we to know who He is and what He requires of us?

Some may say that they just don’t know how to pray.  Jesus gave us a great example in Matthew 6:9-13.  We call it The Lord’s Prayer, but really this is a format, a template, of how we are to pray.  This is not simply a prayer to be memorized and uttered.  No, this is a blueprint for how our prayers should be.  Does that mean that God does not hear us if we pray outside this format?  No, God knows all that we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).  He is not so strict on this format that we would never hear from Him if we prayed differently, but we should attempt to keep the principles of this prayer in place.  Thanksgiving, praise, petition, repentance, seeking guidance.  It’s not a magic formula, but a guideline.

The Lord is not interested in repetition and memorization.  He wants our hearts to turn towards Him.  He desires our attention and our praise.  We make a great decision when we choose to include prayer as part of our day.

Made alive

Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

If you hadn’t noticed, the Apostle Paul was particularly eager to point out to the Ephesian church in his letter that Christians had been made alive. Though we were once dead spiritually, the Father caused us to have life through the Son.

When something is mentioned this much in one letter, it must be worthy of paying attention to. Of all the blessings God gives, the one that’s most important is life in the Spirit. Without life there would be no other blessings. What good would it do to talk of God’s promises if we were not awakened spiritually to experience them?

The Lord gives many gifts, free of charge, but they begin with Him bringing us out of our spiritually dead status into a new life that allows us to see, hear, and feel Him at work. In His grace He saved us. He kept us from eternal death by making us alive.

Because of His great love

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

God loves you. You’ve heard that before, right?  If you’re like me, you’ve heard that statement thousands of times over the course of your lifetime. But the thing is, many of us hear that God loves us and just let that pass over like it’s nothing. There may be nothing more significant, ever.

The Creator of all things LOVES you. He created you because He loves you. He shows you mercy because He loves you. He showers grace upon you because He loves you. The blessings never end.

When you and I were walking as dead men, He made us alive AND adopted us into His family through Christ Jesus. And He did that because of His great love. Don’t ever let that pass by you. Let it sink in. In fact, right here and right now, take some time to really meditate on that. GOD LOVES YOU.

Children of Wrath need a Father

Ephesians 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

The people of this world, those haven’t yet been redeemed by adoption into God’s family, are just walking around like dead men. They have no more control over themselves than a newborn infant does. The are slaves to sin, led around by their own passions, unable to choose what’s right.

Those of us who have been made alive with Christ used to be like those lost souls. We were children of wrath, destined for destruction. That’s the bad part. The good part is that God rescued us and He’s willing to do it for them too.  They’re all around us, sheep without a shepherd.

When Jesus looked out on the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd, He took pity on them (Matthew 9:36). This should be our response too. We can’t look past the people who surround us that are so in need of what we have. We have a Rescuer, a Redeemer, a Savior. We’ve been made alive even though we didn’t know we were dead. How can we not help the others who are lost find this life?

The Walking Dead

Ephesians 2:1-2  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

What did you do to make yourself be born into the world? Most of us would not argue against the truth that we had nothing to do with our physical birth. It was as out of our control as anything can be. Why do so many of us, then, think that we had anything to do with our own spiritual birth?

When you’re dead, you’re just dead. There’s nothing that a dead thing can do to make itself come to life; that can only be done supernaturally. We were all once dead, even though we walked as someone who was living. We lived and breathed physical life, but spiritually we had no pulse. We could only follow the course of this world, led around by the rest of the walking dead. We were slaves to sin.

That is, until God made us alive. Yes, He made us alive together with Christ, that we might be His people. This is true if we’ve put our trust in Christ and we’ve been adopted into God’s family. Notice all the passive language. We’ve been made alive – passive. We’ve been adopted into the family of God – passive. We were chosen – again, passive.

The dead can’t raise themselves, physically or spiritually. We can no more choose to wake up from spiritual death than we can choose to be born from our mother’s womb. We have ever so much to be thankful for, and spiritual birth is among the greatest gifts we could ever receive. God’s grace is unfathomable.

Head over all things

Ephesians 1:22-23 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Who’s your king? Is it some person on this earth who is in authority over others? Is it a President or a CEO?  While these people may have power and may lord it over you, there is One who is truly over all things and He doesn’t exist to oppress you. He loves you.

Jesus Christ was placed in specific authority over the Church, even though He rules over all. The Church, that’s all of us who believe, serves as the body of Christ, living out His mission on this earth. His authority over us is not to control us or to hurt us, but to empower us and strengthen us. We’re better with Him in authority than we’d be without Him.

What about you personally? Is Christ head over you? Have you placed yourself under His authority? Are you living for Him or for your own agenda? It is a far better thing to submit to the King of Kings than to chase after our own desires and live as our own gods.

Name above all names

Ephesians 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Who is the most powerful person you’ve ever known? Think of the most authoritative and influential person you think has ever lived – now multiply that times infinity and you might start to get the picture of just how much higher Jesus is than any other human being.

He’s above all rule, above all authority, above all power, above every dominion on this earth, and He is above every name that is named. Forever. There will never be another person to walk this earth who compares to the God-man. His is the name by which we can/must be saved (Acts 4:12). His name is greater than all others and it is to Him that every knee will bow, on heaven, on earth, and below the earth (Philippians 2:9-10).

This is the one who we have on our side. What could ever oppose us that He can’t handle, that He doesn’t have dominion over? Simple: nothing. He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), surely He has your life within His sight and He’s capable of taking care of you. Put your trust in Him. He’s the only one worthy of it.

Seated on His right

Ephesians 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places

When Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, He eventually went back to His rightful place – seated at the right hand of God the Father. Why does this detail matter to your life or mine though?

The Bible is full of symbolism and not one single symbol goes by without deep meaning. It is significant that Jesus was seated on the right hand of the heavenly Father. It shows that He is equal to the Father – He is God. It shows that He is active, and not passive, in ruling. It shows that all power and authority belonging to God is Christ’s. Still, why does that matter for us?

The thing is, if Jesus had only died for our sins, then we’d still be forgiven, but He didn’t end His work by dying. He rose from death and conquered sin and death. He went back to His place in heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come to dwell in His followers (John 16:7), giving us power and authority (Acts 1:8). He went to be seated on the right hand of the Father to mediate on behalf of you and me (1 Timothy 2:5), acting as our advocate. It matters where Jesus is and what He’s doing right now!