Tag Archives: covenant

2 Samuel 8,9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58,59

My wife and I were watching a sermon on grace a few days ago and halfway through she said, “Isn’t this to simple?”  We dialogued afterwards and realized how glad we were that it was.

Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s reaction to grace?

David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 NRSV

Do I want that kind of grace, that kind of kindness – for sure I do – for I clearly am a fallen sinner in need of this kind of God’s grace – one who does not deserve it, could never earn it and would never be able to repay it.

My wife and I were also challenged in how we communicate grace to others – and we named a few people in our lives where that needed to be our focus.

For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4 NRSV

We affirmed that there definitely is a grace that needs to be exhibited in our communication styles for at some point we too have come from a place of joy received from the recovery of grace.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 16:62-63 NRSV

Yes, my wife and I had the same trouble most of us have – cannot talk about grace without talking about judgement. We both concluded that the all-important work of atonement was not overlooking sin, but our sin being covered by God’s marvellous grace.

O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.  Psalm 59:17 NRSV

With a bit of study, I found the Aramaic Bible translates that last part of this verse as, “and the God of my grace!” Yes, there my wife and I have found our joy as followers of Christ.

When I think of grace, I think of Your presence.  Wherever we may be found today and in whatever activity we may be engaged in, may we gather there with Your favour.  Lord, by Your favour, we mean favour us with Your grace, and with the love of God the Father, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

18The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19It is written in the Scriptures:

“I will cause the wise men to lose their wisdom.

I will make the wise men unable to understand.” Isaiah 29:14

20Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the philosopher of our times? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. 21The world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe it. 22The Jews ask for miracles as proofs. The Greeks want wisdom. 23But we preach Christ on the cross. This is a big problem to the Jews. And it seems foolish to the non-Jews. 24But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 25Even the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Even the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26Brothers, look at what you were when God called you. Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28And he chose what the world thinks is not important. He chose what the world hates and thinks is nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29God did this so that no man can brag before him. 30It is God who has made you part of Christ Jesus. Christ has become wisdom for us from God. Christ is the reason we are right with God and have freedom from sin; Christ is the reason we are holy. 31So, as the Scripture says, “If a person brags, he should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ICB)

The Cross.

The symbol believers look toward for redemption. The knowledge that God’s Son, come to earth in the form of man, willingly laid Himself down as a sacrificial Lamb, so that all mankind could be saved for eternity.

In one of my ministry school classes, we were encouraged to really study the Cross, to be CSI as it were-to get intimate with the bloody crime scene of our Savior’s death; to truly understand the lengths that Jesus went to because He loves us SO much.

My favorite biblical movie to date is The Passion of the Christ. It’s my favorite because the graphic portrayal of what happened that day over 2000 years ago. For the first time I truly understood the anguish, the pain, the suffering that Jesus chose to experience for me. The childhood pictures of a pristine Christ with a crown of thorns around His curly locks, nails in His very white hands and feet, and a thin line of blood in His side blinding me to the horrors of that day fell like shackles off the eyes of my heart.

The Cross…foolishness.

In no other religion, that I have studied, do the ‘gods’ sacrifice themselves for their people. In many of those religions, the ‘gods’ actually require the people to do heinous things to their own bodies. Things like walking across fire, leaving the feet with third degree burns, or putting metal hooks in the skin and pulling their god’s chariot through the village.

And, yet, Christ did what made no sense to the wisdom of man. He laid Himself down, humbled Himself, as low as a man could go, into death, a thief’s punishment, so that upon His resurrection, everyone could be restored into right relationship with God.

Nothing I can do makes me right with God, only Jesus revives my connection to Him. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to be sin-free, only my Savior makes me blameless before the Father. No matter how righteous I act, only Christ makes me holy. Only He redeems my life and makes it truly worthy.

Yesappa, Thank You for the foolishness of the Cross.

 

Blessings, Julie

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Leviticus 21-23; Hebrews 8

But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the lord,

when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel and Judah.

This covenant will not be like the one

I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

and led them out of the land of Egypt.

They did not remain faithful to my covenant,

so I turned my back on them, says the lord.

But this is the new covenant I will make

with the people of Israel on that day, says the lord:

I will put my laws in their minds,

and I will write them on their hearts.

I will be their God,

and they will be my people.

And they will not need to teach their neighbors,

nor will they need to teach their relatives,

saying, ‘You should know the lord.’

For everyone, from the least to the greatest,

will know me already.

And I will forgive their wickedness,

and I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:8-12

Leviticus is full of rules – do this, do that, don’t do this, etc. – all designed to keep the Hebrews, priest and layman alike, on the straight and narrow; all designed to steer people toward righteousness. No matter how hard they tried to uphold the law, they failed, falling back into sin and unfaithfulness. The only way to be redeemed is through sacrificial offerings and feasts of worship.

God gives a clear picture through the Mosaic law that it’s impossible to live up to everything He asks; it can’t be followed and obeyed perfectly. Though God temporarily turned His back on His people, He never left them nor forsook them. He had a plan; a plan to draw us back to Him.

His plan, a new covenant, sealed with Jesus’ blood and my belief.

The new covenant allows me to be in relationship with God. The new covenant restores me and allows me to be forgiven, cleansed, and pardoned forever from my sins. It simplifies 613 commandments and refines it – love God with all my heart, soul, and mind and love others as I love myself – imprinted on my heart by God’s hand rather than being carved into stone. It allows me to experience God, know Him in a different way and helps move me toward a life of walking with God in the cool of the day like Adam did in Eden.

I am God’s and He is mine.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Psalm 68, 69; Romans 3

So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Romans 3:3-4a (MSG)

If some Jews were not faithful to him, will that stop God from doing what he promised? No! God will continue to be true even when every person is false. Romans 3:3-4a (NCV)

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar… Romans 3:3-4a (ESV)

I think about God’s faithfulness often, especially when I am feeling alone. In the Word, it reminds me that God will never leave me nor forsake me. He will be consistently in my life staying true to His promises for the world as a whole and true to the promises He has made specifically to me.

What I love about this verse, is that it speaks directly to God’s unswerving, never-changing character. It reminds me that He will always be reliable. He can always be trusted and believed. He will always carry out the things that He says. He will uphold His side of covenant, whether or not I am successful at keeping mine.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Romans 3:23-24

Throughout the history of Israel, men and women alike have abandoned God through sin; they have turned their backs on His goodness, His righteousness to follow their own lusts and impulses. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, turned away and sought pleasure in his sin. But, in spite of his sin, God still chose him, used his blood-line to the change the world forever through Jesus Christ, fulfilling His promise that one from the house of David would always sit on the throne, and offering the gift of grace and salvation for all who believe.

One of the places that I have been struggling is the day to day aspects of disciplining my children. I try so hard to be a demonstration of God’s faithfulness to my girls. But, over and over, I fall into sin, quickly becoming impatient, getting frustrated, and losing my temper. I feel like I have failed, until I grasp that God remains faithful. Even though I didn’t quite get it correct, He is right there beside me moving me back to a place of love, helping me through the toughest moments, strengthening me and giving me more self-control.

What I am realizing, is when my daughters see me in the process, even though they may not fully understand what they are seeing yet, they are witnesses to God’s faithfulness in my life. And, I am able to show them that even when they do something wrong or make a bad choice they see faithfulness in my actions toward them. They will come to understand that just like God, I will not quit, I will not let go, I will hold tight to them and be steadfast in my love.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for being true to Your Word, Your promises. Thank You for being unswerving in Your love for me. Help me to be a better demonstration of Your faithfulness to my children, so that they will seek You, seek Your goodness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 27-28; Matthew 9:18-38

…a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples…When the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. (verses 18-19; 25)

…a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (verses 20-22)

…two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David”…and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened… (verses 27-30)

Matthew 9:18-30

I believe that the stories in the gospels are only tiny glimpses of all the miracles that actually took place during Jesus’ life. And yet, the testimonies that were written down for history stand out not necessarily because they were ‘bigger’ miracles than any other wonders He performed, but because these people were willing to do whatever it took to get what they needed, regardless of how other people might judge them.

A powerful man, a ruler who would have typically sent a servant to do his bidding, humbled himself before Jesus believing for his daughter’s life. An ‘unclean’ woman, one who bled for 12 years reached out, grabbed Jesus’ clothes trusting that a simple touch would heal her. Two blind men cried out, loud voices shouting relentlessly for mercy, contending for sight.

Need motivates a willing-to-do-anything attitude; it offers a dose of faith, an ounce of hope. It bolstered boldness and gave these individuals courage to approach the Throne of Grace set before them. God’s response was to choose these people, to say ‘YES’ to their needs. He blessed them, healed infirmities, and redeemed their lives.

But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 3Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing…” Genesis 27:35-36

Generations before, Jacob also acted out audaciously. Though his dealings with Esau are typically viewed as cunning and dishonest, presented opportunities enabled him to receive inheritance and blessing essential to the fulfillment of his destiny. And rather than chide him for his deceit, God’s response was to show himself to Jacob in a dream. God chose to re-establish the covenant He first made with Abraham. God promised Jacob the land and spoke increase over his offspring. God assured Jacob that through him (by Christ’s eternal blood sacrifice), all of the families of the earth would be blessed.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:12-15

I look at my own life and I can honestly say that my experience of relationship with Him is most transformed when I seek the person of Christ with desperation. Those times when I come boldly before Him, I receive the grace and mercy I need most in all circumstances.

When I take time to put my focus directly on Him, when I stop multi-tasking God and single-mindedly pursue His heart, He blesses me abundantly. When I shower Him with gratitude, praise, and worship, He gives me beauty for ashes and replaces my sadness with joy. When I do whatever it takes to have more of Him, He strengthens me in times of weakness, He heals my infirmities; He liberates me from bondage and offers me true freedom in Him.

Yesappa, Thank You for saying ‘Yes’ to me, for meeting me wherever I am, whether I come to you every day or I come to you in the midst of juggling responsibilities. I ask for an extra measure of boldness in approaching Your throne, as a daughter and as a co-heir. Help me carve out more time to seek Your face, to focus solely on You without distractions. Increase intimacy in our relationship and make all our time together quality time that touches Your heart and does miracles in mine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:12-15

I gave birth to my precious daughter Serah two mornings before. We were both doing well, but the crazy surge of post-partum hormones was making me an emotional basket case. I spent much of the night crying, uncomfortable and lonely, and feeling foolish for being so miserable.

It was the second time I had given birth while my husband was on the other side of the planet continuing ministry in India while I was on baby furlough (we are still praying for the finances that will enable us to apply for the visa he needs to visit the US again). My parents and my oldest daughter were in Maryland and wouldn’t be coming to the hospital until later in the day. And, the girlfriend who stayed with me overnight the first evening had to leave the afternoon before.

Though it was peaceful without the hustle and bustle of visitors and trips to the NICU that I experienced with my first child, that 24 hour period felt a little too isolated for my liking. I was feeling lonesome and deserted. I wanted someone I loved to be there, to sit with me, to care for me.

Aware of bitterness knocking at the door of my heart, I prayed. I laid my heart open for my Heavenly Father to see, unveiling the sadness, the loneliness. I cast my cares at His feet and asked for serenity I knew only He could give.

At that moment, I looked out of the window of my room. Hovering over the bridge rainbow-juliet2912leading to City Island in the midst of the Susquehanna River was a double rainbow. I had just enough time to grab my phone and snap two pictures before everything disappeared. The second, faint arc vanished even before the camera app opened.

In those same flashes, I heard God’s voice whisper promises into my ear. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are never alone.” He used this double blessing as a reminder to me of His covenant, a bond sealed with the blood sacrifice of His Son. It ministered to my need.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11

When I think about Jesus being alone in the wilderness for 40 days, I can only imagine how He felt. I would have been shattered, my heart susceptible to temptations, my mind willing to believe the lies that the enemy hissed. I was on my own for a day and I was a wreck, even with my newborn in the room and the hospital staff in and out every few hours.

Jesus stood strong, and even though His body was weakened, He KNEW that He was not alone. He held on to the Truth. The Word of God fortified Him. Those Words gave Him the strength to withstand His test and the might to send the enemy away. And when the enemy left, the angels tended to Him and gave Him what He needed, just like God did for me when He painted His rainbow in the sky.

Yesappa, Thank You for always being there for me; and for reminding me of Your presence and Your promises in the midst of my struggles. Thank You for ministering to my heart and giving me peace. Help me remember to stand strong in You when the enemy comes against me. Bring Your Words to my mind and help me use the Sword of the Spirit to prevail. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)


Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Numbers 5; Psalms 39; Song of Solomon 3; Hebrews 3

Numbers 5
Every time I read about “The Law”, I am overwhelmed by it.  It is so much to know and remember.  It makes me realize how as humans of “The Fall” we are so far from what we were created to be.  Then I remember the grace and mercy of Jesus’ sacrifice that saved me from The Law and brought me to a new covenant, a better covenant.
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”  Hebrews 8:6
Praise you Lord for the grace and mercy that You brought to us through the Cross.  Now we have a new covenant; a better covenant; one of freedom from rules and rituals.  Blessed are we!
Kathleen (guest on 66 Books)

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