(invited to preach at the local Methodist Church)
Is the word “Covenant” strange to you?
When you were baptised, the Lord took the initiative in your life. He made you a member of Christ, the child of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven. You promised – or your parents and God-parents did on your behalf, that you would be faithful and obedient to Christ and his Church all the days of your life. The Lord, for his part, received you as a potentially living, vibrant, spirit-filled believer. The Lord shed his blood on the cross for you, and you believed what he had done. So you were Baptised!
That’s the meaning of Covenant. It’s an agreement between two parents, initiated by God and sealed by the shedding of blood. Its binding unless one party breaks covenant and says “no”, but there are obligations on both sides. The prophet Jeremiah spells it out for us this morning; He looks back on many Covenant between God and his people (e.g. Ten Commandments) which they always disregarded and broke. Now, a new covenant is about to be made in the Future once again initiated by God himself: Its fulfilled in Jesus.
“I shall establish a new Covenant with the people of Israel and Judah…”
“I shall set my law within them, writing it on their hearts;”
“I shall be their God and they will be my people”
“All of them will know me”
Says the Lord, for I shall forgive them their wrongdoing and their sins, I shall call to mind no more”
There is to be a living ongoing relationship between believers and their God. Is that your experience? Having Jesus in your heart?
Jesus takes the cup on the evening before his passion and death, gives it to his disciples who all drink from it, share in it and Jesus proclaims; “this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, shed for many” So together we are the people of God, his consecrated Covenant People, his very own, his faithful, forgiven people who are in constant touch with the living God. That is our calling – our vocation- given by God Himself as His gift for the year of our lord 2010.
Sin and disobedience on our part can be repented of and forgiven by God because we belong to Him – the Lord – and He continually cleanses, renews, refreshes us. We are the people of the new covenant!! A people set apart to bring God glory in our lives! It’s a joyful, awesome privilege and responsibility and we all know that it’s all come about by Gods grace (his undeserved favour) because He (the Lord) has chosen it to be so.
Here we are this morning basking in the worth and light of His kingdom, we’ve come again to worship our creator, to meet with our fellow inheritors and the kingdom of God to prepare ourselves for re-entry into the world where we live – the Eastern Cape – where the evil one prowls around like a hungry leopard. Our job is to is to resist him in the Power of the Spirit, using the special armour of God in providing for us – the shield of Faith, the belt of Truth, the helmet of Salvation, the breastplate of Righteousness.
It takes an attitude of mind, a predisposition to engage evil in the power God gives us, for so often I am surprised and caught unawares because my naivety and self-centredness. This is God’s world not Satan’s! This is Gods World – Jesus and His Father are in control. Jesus our Lord and King has won the victory, and we are to live and work in His strength, to His glory, through sorrows, traumas, pains, joys and triumphs until the angels come to take us home.
“In the world you will have trouble” Jesus told his followers, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.
So what’s the next step for ordinary people like you and me? We need to step back in this Year of Grace 2010, step back and sit down to review our personal lives.
As God’s children of the Covenant Community
- What are we to continue doing?
- What are we to stop doing?
- We are to give God time to EMPOWER us day by day, more and more until we positively glow with the sacrificial love of God Himself.
Make time to meet with Jesus continually, allow Him to advise you, strengthen you, feed you, love you. Give God Time. Set time aside to be with him in silence. If there’s noise and bustle about you, make time to be alone with God, like Jesus, deliberately, faithfully, prayerfully, Joyfully, expectantly and lovingly. We are the people of Gods NEW COVENANT!!
If you are awake at 1am, 2am, 3am, consider your wakefulness as an opportunity to rise and be alone with Him. Be adventurous! Dress warmly and go out into your garden. Look at the stars, feel the wind, the gentle breeze, – see the moon and the clouds sailing by. Kneel down on the damp grass and praise your Creator. Watch the dawn break, Listen to the roar of the waves. Then crawl back into bed and sleep soundly to God’s Glory.
For there are exciting things ahead this year for the covenanted people of God. For example there are individuals’ whom God will place in your path to disciple, befriend, nurture and bring to faith in Christ Jesus.
“Hello! Good to meet you! – come with me to meet the Lord I worship on Sunday Morning! Meet God’s Saints-in-the-making too. “Come be changed from the inside by Him who loves making all things new. “I’ll meet you there – I ‘ll come and fetch you – I ‘ll introduce you around.”
Have you been baptised? “As a baby 68 years ago”….”OK!” Then I have good news for you – we’re part of the Covenanted Family of Christ Jesus who is our head, our leader, our facilitator and our friend. What’s that? – No thank you? – Not today? – Well maybe next week then. You’re going into hospital for a bypass? Then let me pray for you and ask the good Lord to keep his hand on you. Yes, right here now, in the shop!! …. There we go…..! I’ll be in touch, then Good bye”
You and I together, are living witness to our creator – God who lives in us, and loves through us. We’re not here at worship this morning to play religious games. We are here because we belong to the Almighty God who has covenanted with us in our baptism to live and work to His praise and Glory.
So may the Holy Spirit lead us forward into 2010 with grace and mercy as we bring Him glory moment by moment.
Now to God the Father who loves us and has covenanted with us,
To God the son who loves us and has brought us into the new covenant by shedding of his blood,
To God the Holy Spirit who loves others through us,
To the One, Holy, True God be all love and all glory
For time and eternity