Covenant Relationships by Pastor Don
Prepare to be blessed! This is a long study, but it did not seem right to break it into two parts. After writing about the pillar of the cloud for the Israelites in my last post, I went to Wednesday Bible study where Pastor Don talked about the covering that exists with a covenant relationship. I walked out of Wednesday Night’s Bible study so comforted and felt so secure in my covenant relationship with God that I cried with joy driving home.
Before the study began, we pray what petitions have come into the church. One of them was from a pastor in India. In your prayers, remember the Pastors who serve in India, the interior reaches where not many evangelists go. Life is very challenging for them. We sponsor two, Pastor Abraham and another Pastor whose name I do not know. But there are often attempts on their lives for teaching about God, and Pastors in the churches that Pastor Abraham has planted have been arrested, jailed, and terrorized for teaching about Jesus. Right now one pastor is sick and is asking for prayer. They are so strapped for money that thinking of going to a hospital is far beyond their budget, I suspect our church will collect for them. I often forget how blessed we are to be able to worship in the open, not fearing for our lives. The dedication and devotion and love for God for Pastors in India and other countries where Christians are persecuted is mind boggling.
Pastor Don differentiated between a Covenant relationship and a contract. A covenant relationship extends beyond all contractual specifications. To be in covenant implies a relationship. Marriages often fail because the couple goes into the marriage expecting it to be a contract, when in reality a marriage is a covenant.
A covenant relationship is long-lasting (those of God’s are eternal), and it is based on relationship. It is not based on what you do or don’t do. Under a covenant there can be contracts that affect where we stand in the relationship. Do we stay under the covenant or do we move outside the covering of the covenant? The covenant relationship stands without change, no matter what the person does. The only way a covenant relationship can be broken is if there is a change in the relationship and one person walks away from the covenant agreement.
Marriage is a covenant that lasts until death do us part.A covenant is based on a relationship and on the character of the person making the covenant. In a covenant, all that I am is complying with all that you are. A covenant is not just for part, but for all, for everything.
When a relationship is stable and you have a covenant agreement, you can trust that the other party is doing what is good for you. Pastor Don spoke of a person in the church that he sponsored and taught construction work. The relationship between them became a covenant relationship, so when Pastor Don needed to build a wing on his house for his mother, he asked this person to build the wing. The price he knew would be fair, and when the person changed the type of window in a room, Pastor Don knew that it was done because it was a better choice. In a contract, all details would have to be spelled out, and no changes made without prior consent, for often in a contract situation all that you can trust for is the terms of the contract. Covenants run deeper. Covenants are based on an ongoing continual trust. If one party of the covenant does something, the other party trusts that there is a good reason for the action.
When a person in covenant tries to reduce the relationship to a contract, than the consent is eroded, and the covenant relationship is broken for there is no trust.
A contract says that I trust you to do what I have specified, but I don’t trust you outside of the contract.
Your talent can take you to places your character can’t support you.
Pastor Don looks for people whom he can have a covenant relationship with. He was taught all the right actions, gestures, and procedures to build a large church family. But he prefers creating disciples, building relationships, and having a covenant relationship with the church.
Some pastors only have a contractual relationship with their members. When things go wrong, they leave the church or cause troublesome members to leave. There isn’t the commitment. People sense that, which may explain why churches fail and people are dissatisfied in church.
The things of God.
God is the patriarch in a covenant relationship, and He is eternal, sovereign, loving, forming a covenant with us in the Kingdom of Heaven and in the Kingdom of Earth. So often we are earthbound, and we forget the Heaven bound covenant.
Many people want to deal with God in a contractual basis, cutting deals with Him. God is a Covenant God. We come to God thinking, I pray this, so you must do this. What we forget is that there is more to a situation than we can understand in our natural minds. God does not want to hurt us, we have to trust that He has our best interests in mind when He changes how He responds to our prayer, or when He doesn’t allow us to have what we prayed for at that time. His covenant relationship with us is to benefit us.
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Pastor Don says, then He hits us with it, Isaiah 1:19-20 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 1:24-31 Therefore the Lord says, The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, and take vengeance on My enemies. I will turn My hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy. I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her penitents with righteousness. The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees which you have desired; and you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf dies, and as a garden that has no water. The strong shall be as tinder. And the work of it as a spark: both will burn together, and no one shall quench them.
Here God is setting up the boundaries of the Covenant, but there are contracts in this covenant. Before Isaiah 1:18 God had entered a covenant relationship with Israel, and here he added contractual agreements. The Israelites had disobeyed God’s commands and did things God told them not to do. He removed his hand of protection from them, and allowed adversaries to purge the people, now He would restore them to covenant relationship. God wanted a covenant relationship with the people and they wanted to pursue a contractual relationship with Him. This caused them to fall outside of the umbrella of the Covenant.
What hides contracts and covers sins is the blood of Christ. God promises that though our sins are scarlet, they can be white as snow. When the people disobeyed God, they moved out from the covenant relationship, the relationship was still there, but the people had moved. God waited until the people realized that they needed to come back to the covenant relationship. Then He was there waiting for them to come back.
The church has a teaching in some circles that people can void the covenant by their actions. They talk about being backslidden and that salvation can be in jeopardy. But salvation is a covenant relationship not a contract. You can lose a contract, but you can’t lose your salvation. The covenant will stand, but you may, by your actions, place yourself in position to not be covered by God’s protection. You may open yourself up to oppression by satan. Anything that is not of faith is a sin. To imply that the covenant of salvation is provisional is implying that Jesus did not die for all our sins.
God in covenant with us has responsibilities. He wants to communicate with us. That is why in Isaiah he says, “Come, let us reason together.” He wants a relationship, so He talks things out with us. He shares the particulars of our contract, but assumes the covenant relationship. All His responses are yes and amen, He has to come through.
When we do not obey God, He sometimes has to suspend or delay a covenant answer because we have violated the contract. We step out from under His authority, and He cannot honor that. Yet, he has also put into place the process of repentance so that we can turn around and come back under the covenant. Of course when we violate the covenant, sometimes God’s responses can be delayed for years and years. We also get in trouble when we expect God to answer according to our timetable. God is above and beyond our time system. God also knows that we mess up, we all mess up.
Spiritual maturity is learning how to not back down to satan, and to trust the covenant not the contract. To trust God, not the lies of satan and the world.
Genesis 6:18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark–you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
While a lot of people messed around in the wilderness of the world, since they did not have a covenant relationship with God, they stayed in the desert. What if Noah or his sons or wives did not get into the ark? Would God have been obligated to save them? NO. A covenant requires a person to take an action. In this case the action was to go into the ark.
In our personal life, if we go from covenant with God to contract with God, it will cost you your life. (Physical and/or spiritual death).
Your character matters in a covenant relationship, a covenant has to be enduring, and we need to remember that marriage is a blood covenant.
Only God can keep a covenant, even though we fail on a contract. The church has a mistaken notion of repentance. Repentance does not depend on anything you do, but on God who is the one who cleans you from your sin. Repentance and asking God’s forgiveness gives God permission to clean you.
Jeremiah 3:22 “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.””Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God.”
God is the only one capable of, when we are backslidden, bringing us back into covenant relationship.
Genesis 15:18-21 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given the land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates–the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, he Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Notice the tense in the wording above, “I HAVE” it is done in the heavenly realm, even though it had not yet manifested on the earth. God’s covenant was set in motion the day that He spoke it.
Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,”Do not be afraid. Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
Abram was to not be afraid. God would be his shield. The thing about a shield is that if it is to protect you you have to stay behind it, under its covering. If you get out from behind the shield, you leave yourself open.
Genesis 15:2-4 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus. Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring, indeed one born in my house is my heir!” And behold, the word of he LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”
What did the God of the Covenant promise Abram, listen I will be there for you. Here Abram reasoned with God. Abram talked with God about his what his character and whole being was, and said that I needed to have an heir. In Covenant, God responded to the need of Abram, and would provide a son, in the right time. God and Abram had a relationship, and God responded to Abram’s need.
Exodus 31:16-17 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.
The Sabbath is for the Jews. There are some groups that insist that we, as Christians should keep the Sabbath, but this is a perpetual covenant for the Jews. We are the gentiles grafted in, and our Sabbath is every day with the Lord. When the Jews broke the covenant with God and did not celebrate the Sabbath, God sent them for 490 years into captivity to help them comply with the covenant. A covenant can’t be broken. As our relationship with God increases the very nature of God meets with the very nature of man. He is waiting for us to come back and get under the umbrella of His covenant.
Psalm 89:28-34 My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes. NEVERTHELESS, My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. (Pastor Don got all choked up when He read this, for the great love of God that this passage shows.)
I put the word “nevertheless” in caps because Pastor Don asked us to underline this word in our Bible. We do God a disservice by treating Him as if He has human tendencies. He doesn’t know how to fail, He judges us worthy, and will not break His covenant. He doesn’t change what He speaks over us. He is faithful. He doesn’t know how to not be good, and He found a way for us to get back to covenant relationship with Him.
Isaiah 42:6 I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles.
God sent His Son, Jesus – the Messiah, as a Covenant to the people. As a sign of His covenant, He gave us Jesus Christ as a guarantee of His covenant, to seal the Covenant. His sacrifice, the shedding of His blood, sealed the Covenant.
This speaks of the covenant, but it is a bit obscure.
Zechariah 11:7-8 So I fed the flock for slaughter, in particular the poor of the flock. I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bonds and I fed the flock. I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.
Pastor Don pointed out Beauty and Bonds, and the fact that the soul abhorred me. Then continued reading.
Zechariah 11:9-10 Then I said, “I will not feed you. Let what is dying die, and what is perishing perish. Let those that are left eat each other’s flesh. And I took my staff, Beauty and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples.
Beauty breaks the covenant, when a party abhors the other party, that can break the covenant.
Zechariah 11:11-12 So it was broken on that day. Thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to hem, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages, and if not refrain.” So they weighted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
You can’t build a covenant on the basis of a contract, just because people come into agreement and speak of it. This prophesy speaks of Judas, who was in a covenant relationship with Jesus and broke it for thirty pieces of silver. He turned His back on the relationship with Jesus. God wants relationship with us, but if we abhor Him, He will give us the desires of our heart, and not force us to have a relationship with Him. Judas chose to abhor Jesus.
Some churches preach to attract people, but they do not help people to have the covenant relationship with God. In some churches you can go and have all the niceties of religion, the sermon, the choir, the prayers, the fellowship, but not have a covenant with God. There can be hypocrisy in the church. Some people feel that the Northeast is rather devoid of a spirit for God, but God will one day make a move here, only He can do this. We have to be ready, willing, and able to do. Right now there are still too many people in the church caught up in the flesh, and they need to place their hearts on what the Lord tells them to do.
A question was asked about vows. A vow is a contract, not a covenant. Jesus told us to have our yes be yes and our no be no, but not to make vows and promises. God’s memory is long (eternal), and He will remember the vows we have made and broken, and it is written down what we have said, every idle word. So we have to be careful what we promise. A covenant is not dependant on a vow, it is based on who God is, not what we do for Him.
Luke 22:20 Likewise He also took the cup after super, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
When we take communion we are actually reminding ourselves of our covenant, remembering what Christ did for us. We can take communion and remember the healing covenant of Jesus, for by His stripes we are healed. Healing is a covenant with God. When we see the Passion instead of just focusing on the wounds He received for us also remind ourselves, “My goodness look what He went through for me to be healed.” This is guaranteed, established, God wants us well. Depression is not permitted. We go through the valley and come out.
Galatians 3:17-18 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.
Nothing you do or say makes God’s promises to non-effect. Do not get caught up in the belief that your actions affect the covenant relationship. Jesus said that nothing can snatch us from His hand. God gave us a way to return to the covering of the covenant when we mess up.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What brings us back into covenant, His cleansing of us. If we do not confess our sins, the Holy Spirit will keep bringing them into our remembrance until we do confess.
Hebrews 8:6 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.
After the Abrahamic covenant which is the mercy of God, we now have a covenant with Jesus which is the Grace of God.
God gave us grace, the ability, the empowerment, and we do it with God’s help, so God gets the glory. All of the new age movement and self help books, and prosperity books on the secular shelves stole the principles out of the Bible. But people who are under Covenant relationship with God will, in the right time, obtain a greater reward.
What the world wants is the PRINCIPLES without the PRINCIPAL and HIS PRINCIPLES. We can do well just with the principles, but if we are under covenant with God, he brings into being at a rate you establish, and one that you will not fall from.
A question was asked about the sabbath.
Hebrews 4:4-7 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.” and again in this place, “They shall not enter My rest. Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today.” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”
Hebrews 4:9-10 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we can enter the sabbath rest anytime we want, every day, every moment. What time is there that we shouldn’t worship God? Shouldn’t give Him praise? etc.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
FOREVER AND EVER.
We then went to the altar to pray and reestablish our covenant with God.
Praying you are blessed and fulfilled,
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