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.

Fully surrendered

A disciple

Romans 12:1  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

What does God want from you more than anything?  Does He want your money?  Your time?  What is it that He’s after?  The answer can be summed up in one word, and you may not like it.  God wants YOU.  He wants all of you.

Some genuine Christians who have trusted in Christ as their Savior have never made the decision to surrender their lives to His lordship.  They have not turned over their lives to Him in complete abandon.  But this is what He calls every believer to.  He doesn’t expect us to receive salvation and then go on living our lives as usual.  No, a disciple is one who puts aside their own desires in exchanges for Christ’s.

But some will never do this because they think the cost is too high.  They think they’ll have to give up too much.  Maybe this is you.  Maybe you think handing over a blank check to God is terrifying because you don’t know what He’ll do.  You fear that surrender to His will means He’ll make you marry someone you don’t love or He’ll send you to Africa.  But the truth is, when you surrender, you gain His desires in your own heart.  You want what He wants.  It’s no longer about what you have to give up, but about what you gain.

Have you fully surrendered your life to God, Christian?  Are you a disciple or just a believer who thinks life is about your own happiness?  God doesn’t care for lukewarm Christians (Revelation 3:16), so we should all pay attention when He says to present ourselves as living sacrifices.  That means something…and it’s not optional.

Demons’ view of God

Angels and demons

James 2:19  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

You believe in God.  Good.  But is that enough?  Even the demons believe in God.  They believe in His existence, because they know without a doubt that He exists.  But do they surrender to Him?  Do they get to live in His presence?

How about you?  Do you just believe in God or do you surrender to Him?  It’s not enough to believe in the existence of God, as we see by the fact that even His enemies believe.  Belief that there is a God falls far short of the gospel.  In order to live in the presence of God, we have to put our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  This is where the demons fail.  They believe there is a God, but they don’t trust in His Son for salvation.  They try to be gods themselves.

Trying to work our way into heaven instead of taking on the righteousness of Christ is trying to be God.  It’s trying to put ourselves in His place.  If we do this, we’re no better off than the demons, who believe in God but shudder at the very thought of Him.  What separates angels and demons?  Not belief, but faith.

The origin of demons

Angels and demons

2 Peter 2:4  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

How could a perfect God who is incapable of evil create demons?  Why would He even do such a thing?  The fact of the matter is some angels, the heavenly beings God created to carry out His plan, were rebellious and would rather gain power than serve the One who created them.  Because God is just, those angels were cast away from His presence, and we now refer to them as demons.

But before we bid them good riddance, let’s take note of what their sin really was.  The rebellious angels wanted to be like God, as did their leader Lucifer.  Their arrogance cost them.  But what did the first humans choose in the Garden of Eden?  Rather than obeying God, they wanted to be like Him by knowing good and evil.  They chose the same sin as the demons.  And so do we.

Every time we choose our own preferences and comforts over what God wants, we’re choosing to be in the place of God.  Aren’t we?  Think about how many sins start with pride as their root cause and then boil down what pride really is.  Pride in our hearts is the desire to be like God rather than submitting to Him.  If God didn’t spare angels for doing such a thing, what makes us think we deserve exemption from His judgment? Thank God for His grace!

Angel worship

Angels and demons

Colossians 2:18  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind

Do you believe in angels?  Sometimes we get mixed up in what we (and others) believe about the existence of angels over what we (and others) believe about God Himself.  The Bible is very clear that angels are real, but they are not meant to be the focus of our attention.  They’re just the messengers. (Revelation 19:10)

The truth is, however, we can start to think more about angels watching over us (as evidenced by so many bumper stickers) than we think about our heavenly Father who watches over us.  It’s He who sends the angels to guard us. (Psalm 91:11-12)  They’re just doing the job they were sent to do.  So why do we stop short of worshiping God for how He loves us and worship instead the means by which He shows us?

Idolizing angels isn’t a new concept.  Apparently it was a big enough issue to cause Paul to bring it up in his letter to the Colossians.  He warned them about only following sound doctrine and staying away from teachers who say that the way to God is through self-deprivation and angel worship, as well as going on about visions (but that’s another whole subject for another series!).

The point is that God alone is worthy of our worship.  It’s right to believe that angels are real and that God uses them to carry out His plans, but it’s not ok to worship the messenger rather than the Sender.  To God alone be the glory.

Of angels and marriage

Angels and Demons

Mark 12:25  For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven

How are angels different from humans? How is it that we’re “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5)?  The impression we get from the Bible is that angels and humans are quite different, but how?  And why?

Angels were all created by God with specific reasons in mind.  They are sent out as messengers, protectors, and even warriors.  They fulfill God’s will in a different way that we do.  When speaking to some religious people of His day, Jesus compared resurrected humans to being more like angels than what we are here on earth.  We will no longer marry, as marriage is an earthly institution with purposes that are unnecessary in heaven.  Our heavenly bodies will be free from disease and injury, much like angelic beings.  We will be made whole in our new bodies, there will be no more sinning, no more hurting.

But it’s important to note that we will be like the angels in heaven, not angels.  We don’t become angels when we die, contrary to some cartoons.  We will still be distinct from the angels, carrying out our own tasks different from theirs.  We will worship God forever like the angels, but not as angels.  We’ll be coworkers, so to speak, serving God however He directs us.  Nothing will be done in vain.

All created by God

Angels and Demons

Colossians 1:16  For byt him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Have you ever wondered where angels and demons come from?  You picture the stuff that’s in the movies with the spiritual realm at battle, angels on one side and demons on the other…but when did they come into being?  Have they always been there?

A biblical truth to hold onto when it comes to anything is that God created all things.  All things, to include the spiritual beings that are all around, in heaven and on earth.  God’s messengers, the angels, were created by Him to do His will.  Likewise, demons were created by God, but they chose to disobey Him and were cast out of heaven.  Though evil, they were still created by God.  How does that change the way you think about demons?

Just as we were created with purpose, angels were created with specific tasks and attributes as well.  They have characteristics different from those of humans, but they are nonetheless created beings of God.  They reside in heaven, out of heaven, and anywhere that God sends them.  It’s worth taking a deeper look at what angels are and what they are not before forming our view of them.

The power of the gospel

Witness

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,t as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

How can I lead someone to Christ through my witness?  It’s intimidating to think about someone’s salvation hinging on whether or not they submit to Christ based on our testimony about Him.  But when we focus on our part of it, we lose sight of the fact that it’s not up to us to convert souls.  Our job is to witness for Christ, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to get people to respond.  We’re not ultimately responsible for the decision made.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power for salvation.  It’s not  in what we say, it’s in the power God has given through the work of Jesus on the cross that people are saved.  Sometimes even if we mess up the message completely, a person will still respond to the gospel.  It’s that powerful.

But we’re not off the hook in the work that needs to be done.  Yes, salvation is found in the gospel and a person’s response to it, but they won’t hear the truth if we don’t present it.  They can’t respond to the Good News if it isn’t delivered.  Our lives are lived as a witness and our testimony is given so that people may know the gospel and all it means for their lives.  The gospel is the power, but we’re the conduit by which that power gets plugged into souls.

Share what you have learned

Witness

2 Timothy 2:2  and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Your life is a sermon.  Whether you want it to or not, the way you life exemplifies to others what God is all about based on how you seem to view Him.  But there also comes a time when we must use words to share our faith with others.  Our personal testimonies are a powerful witness to all God has done in our lives.  But there’s more.

Not only should we share what God has done in and through us, we can and should share with others all that we’ve learned about Him.  This might be through books or through the Bible itself, but it might also be what we’ve been taught through a mentor in the faith or a close friend who is a strong believer.  Taking what you’ve learned and applying it is a huge part of walking in fellowship with God, but sharing it with others is a step in the direction of good fellowship with people.

Fellowship with God and fellowship with people are both products of sharing our faith and knowledge of God with those around us.  We can be sure that God is all for us spreading the word about Him.  We’re commissioned to go and make disciples in all the nations.  Fulfilling this commission requires a great deal of witnessing, both through actions and through words.

A city on a hill

Witness

Matthew 5:14  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

What if I won’t want to be a witness for Jesus?  What if I just want to belief in Him and not have to tell others anything?  The reality is, whether you want to be a witness or not, you already are one.  If we had seen a traffic collision take place but tried to tell the police officer that you didn’t want to be a witness, it wouldn’t matter – you already are one.

Even when you choose not to share anything out loud with anyone, the way you live your life is evidence of your faith…or lack of it.  For those who don’t learn about God through church or other intentional means, your life is how they gain knowledge about Him.  Sounds like a lot of responsibility doesn’t it?  But it’s something every Christian is called to.

We’re the light of the world.  We’re the keepers of the secret to lasting joy and hope – but the secret is for everyone.  A shining city on a hill can’t be hidden, and neither can our lives.  What we do and what we say show the world what we think of Jesus and we bear witness everyday.  Let’s let our light shine in a way that draws others to want to know God.

Be prepared

Witness

1 Peter 3:15  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

As a Christian, you have something that people are going to want.  If you’re walking out your faith as a devoted follower you’ll have joy that can’t go unnoticed.  People who are curious about the hope you’ve found are going to ask you what makes you different. Are you ready to give an answer?

We’ve got to be ready at all times, in season and out of season, to give a testimony bearing witness to all God’s done in our lives.  Truth be told, no greater sermon exists than the testimony of someone whose life has been changed by the Savior.  If you regularly take inventory of all God has done, praise Him for it and thank Him for it, you’ll be ready when someone wants to know about your Lord.

Take note of the fact that Peter took the time and effort to include a few words at the end of this passage that weren’t just thrown in there.  Cautioning people to go about witnessing with gentleness and respect was intentional because it can be tempting to get defensive when someone approaches us, especially if we’re caught off guard.  The more prepared we are to give testimony, the more likely we are to react with even emotions, with gentleness and respect for the person asking.  What’s your story?  What is God doing in your life?