Monday, April 26, 2010

A COSTLY COVENANT

OK, I'LL RISK HONESTY HERE...I cannot read this week's passage (Genesis 17:1-27) without saying, "OUCH!" Circumcision of little 8-day old baby boys is one thing, but full grown men? "OUCH!"

God's covenant promise is backed by God's word to Abram, (now Abraham), but Abraham has a part to play as well is this covenant, there is a cost which must be enacted. Again, the cost will involve the shedding of blood, another act which points to the blood which will be shed upon the cross of Jesus Christ. This covenant act which Abraham takes upon himself, and which he performs on all the men under his care, is a visible sign of obedience. Obedience which cannot be stated in word alone, but through the visible and costly act of circumcision. The one who takes this mark shall never again be the same.

The male follower of Yahweh would forever carry in his flesh the mark of that relationship. A visible, though often hidden, sign of being a man of the covenant. As followers of Jesus, the Messiah, we are called to the circumcision of our hearts. The cutting away of the old, so that the new would develop. (Colossians 2:11-15; Galatians 5:6-11) A sign hidden from human eyes, but visible to God, and yet at the same time a mark which must be evident through the lives that we live. Whereas in the under the Old Covenant the act of circumcision was a expression and sing of faith, it is now faith expressed through love that is to be the sign. (Galatians 5:6)

I guess it all comes down to obedience. Obedience that is more than just some act of the flesh, but an obedience that bears forth the heart of God. For the obedience that God truly desires is that costly sacrifice of living out God's heart in our world. A heart that cares for the needy, the down-cast, the widow and fatherless. For as the LORD said through the prophet Jeremiah, the worship He wants is not that of word and promise, but of caring for those for whom God cares. (Jeremiah 7:1-11) I suppose this is again the living out of the very Image of God in our everyday lives.

The Covenant of Grace, though free to us (Ephesian 2:8-9) did not come cheaply, nor may be hold it as so now! We live under a costly covenant!
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Bears Repeating...

While studying for this coming week's message from Genesis 16:1-16, I came across this quote:

"When our hearts are too much set upon any creature comfort, we are easily put upon the use of indirect methods for obtaining it. Inordinate desires commonly produce irregular endeavors. If our wishes are not kept in submission to God's providence, our pursuits will scarely be kept under the restraints of His precepts.
"
Thank you Matthew Henry.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

THE AMAZING RACE

The Amazing Race logoImage via Wikipedia

MY FAMILY ENJOYS WATCHING THE AMAZING RACE on Sunday evenings as we partake of a light Sunday supper. We cheer on our favorite teams and wish we could visit the exotic places and be involved in the various tasks they must perform. Of course it all looks so much easier from our family room, and we might not think it so "enjoyable" if were were pressured by lack of sleep, unfamiliar surroundings and the constant push to come in first. The Amazing Race is also the amazingly tough race. It's not without plan and reason that "mandatory pit-stops" are written into the itinerary.

The Christian faith has been likened unto a race (1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrew 12:1) and therefore it is a good metaphor for our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. The problem arises, as I see it, when we fail to take the mandatory pit-stops. When we rush ahead at light-speed rather that God-speed. We can get so focused upon winning the prize set out before us, that we never slow down in order to check the map and regain our bearings.

This is, in part, what happens to Abram and Sarai in Genesis 16:1-16. God has promised the aged couple a son, a heir, and a family line that will out-number the stars that Abram can count. But when things don't happen as fast as they would like, rather than taking a pit-stop they rush forward on their own wisdom and ingenuity and leave in their wake broken relationships that will last for millennia.

As I read through the passage there are a few things that catch my eye, notably, when we rush ahead at our speed we leave broken relationships along the road, and our decisions can have both immediate and long-term negative affects. (Genesis 16:3-12)

The good news is that God's grace and mercy still operate in the midst ramifications of our poor choices. (Genesis 16:9-16)

I am sure that there is more that I could share, but another racer just when whizzing by me and I must catch up! Wouldn't want to be late, ya know!

Happy racing!
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FAITH UNLIMITED

THERE IS AN OLD HYMN, Standing on the Promises, that we sometimes sing at our church (Felton Bible Church). One of our previous song leaders would always introduce this hymn by calling the congregation to stand to their feet, because, "We can't be standing on the promises while we're sitting on the premises!" There's some real truth there!

The second verse reads,
Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail;
By the living word of God I shall prevail--
Standing on the promises of God.
As Christians we like to say that we stand upon the promises of God and yet when things are not turning out like we think they should we quickly turn to doubt. I suppose this comes from the brokenness of our nature. And as doubters we do not stand alone in the annuals of Biblical history; take the leading personality in our sermon text for this coming week, Abram. (Genesis 15:1-21 is the text at hand for Sunday April 19th, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise!")

In our text we see Abram doubting God's promised provision that Abram would become a mighty nation. The crux of the matter is that Abram is limited by what he can see, which is the barren womb of Sarai his wife. In another way Abram is looking down at the premises before him, while God calls him to look upward to the promises that will be numbered at the stars in the heavens. (Which by my estimation is a lot!)

As we read through the text a powerful reality begins to unfold, an unfolding which will not reach its culmination until the Cross of Christ. God tells Abram to recall the call he had given to him years before while Abram and family were still living in Ur. But this time when God restates the call he placed upon Abram's life, the LORD seals it with a covenant cut with blood. Where God's word should be enough, His WORD will become enough, and once again a covenant will be established and those who believe shall be credited with righteousness not of their own! (1 Corinthians 1:30-31, Philippians 3:9-10, Romans 3:22)

So, what kind of faith do I possess? That which is limited by what I see, or unlimited by trusting in God who sees?
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