Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Him: The New & Better Covenant

Today's message from Pastor Rickey was so cool! He showed the relationship between God's Covenant with Abram and the new covenant fulfilled in Jesus! Over the past few weeks he has described Holy Ground as it applies to our lives from Genesis 12 and today expanded in to Genesis 15.

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon." Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
Genesis 15:8-11 (NIV)

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates"
Genesis 15:17-18 (NIV)

I don't know about you, but sometimes reading the bible can be a challenge to understand and relate to me. The Genesis 15 verses above explain God's Covenant with Abram, and honestly I never really understood fully what a covenant from old testament time meant. I am always eager to learn more than the words on the page, to dig deeper for the meaning, so Pastor's explanation as taken from the book "The Covenant" by James L. Garlow kept my attention. He shared that having a covenant partner was a good thing, like if one had bad crops and the other good crops, they were there for each other. Husbands and wives today are covenant partners, there for each other.

Elements of a Covenant Ceremony

1. Exchange of robes- back then your robe was your identity, people knew who was coming down the road before they saw their face based on their robe. Today I suppose we know our married friends as they drive down the road based on the vehicle we know them to own.

2. Exchange of belts- Think of a money belt. As covenant partners they combined assets. Combining of assets in a marriage to me is critical...we are equal, one is not more important or independent based on the amount in "their" account. My hubby has a spending account that I fund each time he gets paid with his budget, but this is more a managing tool of our expenses.

3. Exchange of weapons- Symbolizes if you want to get him, you need to go through me. Husbands and wives stand strong together, think of marriage vows..."Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Mark 10:9

4. Exchange of names- In old testament time they each took the others last name with their own. Marriages today the wife takes the husband's name, sometimes her own and his.

5. The sacrifice- Through the blood of an animal. As married couples we should humble ourselves and serve each other, sacrificing self and selfish tendencies.

6. The walk of death- They would mentally say as they walked between the two halves of the animal, let it be done to me as done to this animal if I break this covenant. My mom was divorced twice when I was growing up. Divorce is so painful for everyone involved. I pray for my marriage every day, for God to give us the blessing of a strong union, and to help us when we are weak, to rely on Him for strength, so that our family does not go through the pain of divorce.

7. Mark on the body- Pastor explained this was typically a mark/cut on the wrist, sometimes an image burned. Married couples have wedding rings to wear on their bodies.

8. Blessings and curses-

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Deuteronomy 28:1-4 (NIV)

However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Deuteronomy 28:15-18 (NIV)

I have to admit, this one I had a hard time thinking of how it related to a marriage. I know that I have read that children are blessings from God. This is not to say that a couple unable to conceive is not blessed...God has a plan for each of us, we need to trust Him and what He has planned for us. I do know that just from my perspective of our lives as husband and wife, when we are focused on Him and trusting His will, we are not stressed which is a blessing! However, when we forget to rely on Him, worry over controlling things, stress is indeed a curse!

9. Covenant meal- Fed each other first bites, what's mine is yours and yours is mine. My hubby was very kind to me when he fed me our wedding cake...until I smushed some on his nose!

10. Exchange first born son- With Abram, God did not take his first born son, but wanted to see if he would obey.

As you know, the old testament language didn't make people be good! But, when we realize all that Jesus did for us we want to be good, to not break his heart! My girlie has such a heart for the Lord, I love listening to her sing songs to Jesus! I have told her to remember when she makes a bad choice that hurts Jesus, that He loves us and wants us to make good/right choices.

You know what is really cool? Jesus is our covenant partner!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV)

Elements of a Covenant Ceremony Fulfilled Through Jesus

1. Exchange of robes- My rags of sin for His righteousness!

2. Exchange of belts- My belts of weakness for His belt of strength!

3. Exchange of weapons- We exchange enemies, we can pray in His name! Declare God's will over your problems! Declare it to be so!

4. Exchange names- He is the Son of Man and we are Christians! We are to be like Christ, His light shining through us!

5. The sacrifice- Jesus paid it all! He was pure and spotless!

6. The walk of death- Baptism is a means of grace to go away from the old you/life and be a new creation in Him! Remember that He died for us, may we do what is pleasing to Him!

7. Mark on the body- Jesus was pierced for us!

8. Blessings and curses- There are no curses in the new covenant! He is not mad at us! Jesus takes the curses and gives us grace!

9. Covenant meal-

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
Luke 22:17-20 (NIV)

10. Exchange first born son- God did fulfill his covenant with Abram and gave his son Jesus! Amazing!

So why does this new covenant matter to us? When you look at each blessing we gained from the new covenant we have so much to be thankful for! We are so loved by God! We are forgiven! We are made stronger through Him! Did you ever want to really please someone in your family or a teacher while growing up? We have the best reason to be good, to be better, Jesus!

When you pray, if you don't already, give Him praise for the wonderful blessings we have from the new covenant!

I know we are all online so much, so on my Facebook page I made a Things I Am Thankful For list! What do you do to help you have a thankful heart?

In Him,

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