Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God's Covenant Love

I went to my Wednesday morning bible study today at my church, and as with any other bible study you don't always expect to have exciting new revelation.  You always hope for it but that isn't always the case.  Sometimes the information you hear is the same information heard a thousand times and it tends to become white noise.

When I sat in my chair and settled in to hear the study that was being presented by our pastor, Pastor Jon, I was expecting it to be that kind of day.  We are studying God's Covenant Love and my mind was already thinking of a dozen different directions this was going to go, a dozen places I have already been, and a dozen places I didn't want to go hash over one more time.  I didn't want to be bored and wonder, "why did I come again?"

Don't get me wrong, hearing about God's love is wonderful.  I am very grateful for it, more grateful than I can ever express.  But I want to hear something more, something deeper.  I want to learn!  Not just chew the same words over and over again, never really growing or increasing in my knowledge of who God really is and what does He really want, expect and require of me in my relationship with Him.

So, with a sense of dread I opened my ears to listen to what was taught, and with great joy I was surprised to learn some amazing things.  This covenant thing God has for us is pretty amazing and much deeper than most of us in the Western world can even fathom.  In our country a covenant is important, but not much more (if any) than a contract.  We make a covenant in marriage but how many people in this country break that?  That number is staggering, even amongst Christians where it shouldn't be.

But to God and the people of the bible, a covenant was something extremely serious, it was most of the time lifelong (sometimes generational), it was binding and unbreakable.  The basic covenant ceremony was very detailed and even gruesome in some ways (animal sacrifice, sharing of your own blood) because it was meant to drive home the point between two parties that the covenant being made, was serious, final and unbreakable.

A covenant brought together two parties and those two parties were now one, they shared strengths and weaknesses and because of that they were truly bound in a way nothing else could bind them.

Our Lord made covenants with us in the Old Testament, and we constantly failed our part.  But God never failed His.  Time and time again He would deliver us from our mistakes, our failings, our sins and give us great rewards and favor, even though we certainly did not deserve it.  But He made a covenant, and even though we did not hold our end up, HE held his up without reservation because HE promised and HE never fails a promise.  He never promises us something and doesn't deliver, ever!  Can we say the same?  Even with good intentions, we fail.  But He doesn't, EVER!

The New Testament is all about His new covenant with us.  And as with the Old Testament covenant, the Lord has held true to His part of the new covenant, and what a wonderful thing that is.

The Lord sent His only Son, the Son He loved, to come down here on earth to live amongst us and be tempted just as we are, only He lived a pure and holy life, one without sin.  He then sentenced His only Son to die a horrible and terrible death.  Why?  To cover your sin, to cover my sin, to make a new covenant with us so that we do not have to suffer a life without our Lord.

Jesus, the Son of God gave us the ultimate sacrifice that will free us of our bondage to sin.  Just like in the Old Testament in Genesis 22:8 when Abraham takes his son Isaac up on the mountain to sacrifice him to the Lord, Isaac asked his dad where the lamb is they were going to sacrifice and Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son."  And that is what He did.

Remember Abraham didn't have to sacrifice his son because the Lord provided a ram for him to use instead because of Abraham's obedience.  The same is true for today, the Lord provided the sacrifice for us and that was His Son's life (Jesus) on the cross.  Now all we have to do is accept His gift, ask for forgiveness, show true Godly sorrow and repentance by turning from our sin and following HIM!

What an amazing gift we have.  And how much more amazing when we realize how serious God takes His part in the covenant.  How serious will you be with Him, how serious will you take this covenant?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What kind of faith do you have?

Do you base your faith on what God does, or who He is?   Do you even know?  It is something we should all be aware of because depending on the answer we can have a totally different take on life.

For the longest time I based my faith in God on what He did "for" me.  Did He keep me safe?  Did He provide this for me?  Did He answer this prayer?  Did He, Did He, DID HE?!!!  When we have a faith like this it is easy to get discouraged and to feel as if the Lord has forgotten us, or thinks we are not worth His blessings or time. 

When we live a life of, did I or didn't I get what I want and how does that make me feel, we are basically saying, "I have faith as long as He does what I ask and I feel good."  That can be dangerous, God knows best!  He knows your future, and even though we may want what we want right now, He knows if that will be detrimental to us down the road.  What feels good now may feel horrible later.  Basing faith on the ups and downs of what did God do for me is a terrible roller coaster ride that will only end badly.

But if we live our lives with faith in WHO God is instead of what He does, what a freeing thing that can be.  True faith walks with the Lord for who He is, not what He does.  God wants you to grow and He wants you to have a relationship with Him.  He loves you and will take care of your every need, not want.  He does gives us things that we want because He loves to bless us, but only if they will be beneficial for us.  When we focus on who God really is and know without a doubt that He will take care of all our needs, we are then using real faith.  Faith that brings peace.  Faith based on love instead of works.