Sunday, June 1, 2014

A New Covenant

"Good morning! Thank you for being here," Pastor Shannon exclaimed as he welcomed us this morning. "We worship a great God. This is where we begin to focus our energy, minds and hearts on worshiping the God who created us, redeemed us and sustains us. Today we’re going to reflect on this New Covenant."

1. We need to gather our softball team together. First game is Tuesday.
2. The youth will meet next week at 9:00 a.m. to go innertubing. Will be meet at church, and will be back at 2
3. Ladies Day… call Paula if you are coming so we can know how much food to have on hand
4. VBS starts two weeks from tomorrow… This year’s “Family Night” will be Thursday that week at the Grand Lake Community Center, 6-7 p.m. Also need a volunteer who is good with photos and computers to make a slide show. And finally, we need people who can help drive kids to and from VBS. Prayer support is always welcome.
5. Ruth Ann is recruiting people to give blood for the bloodmobile. Sign up in lobby. June 22 will be the day of the event.

Darlene ushered us into worship with a gentle medley beginning with I Surrender All. After worshipping in song we worshiped with our giving. Then turned to the Lord in a time of prayer, lifting our needs to Him.

A New Covenant

Sometimes we have a need to step back from our busy lives and activities in order to reflect on the character of God, as I want to do this morning. Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you...."

Nowadays, we are more familiar with contracts. But the word covenant is more than a contract. It is more like a parent-child relationship, unconditional in nature.

If there's a new covenant, there must have been an old covenant. Outlined in Exodus 24, "This is the blood of the covenant...." A covenant that recognizes the cost of sin, established by blood, and the price of the agreement. There the Law was handed down. But the history of the Old Testament is about the failings of the people of God with regard to the laws of God.

Brad illustrated the way he breaks his own covenants with himself, using the illustration of his intentions to eat better after having high cholesterol. In the same way, we fail to keep our promises to obey, despite our own intentions within ourselves.

Jeremiah observed that this old covenant wasn't working, and pointed to a future covenant in which God would give His people a new heart. "I will put My law in their minds and on their hearts." It would be a day when God forgives His peoples' wickedness. The New Covenant will deal with internal matters, not externals.

God's promise was to re-shape our interiors. Paul writers in II Cor 3:3 that the new work will be by the Spirit, in our hearts.  Instead of obedience being a work of fear, it becomes a work of love.

The New Covenant is not a set of laws hanging on a wall. It is a promise of a greater intimacy of God, and God does it. It's God's nature to want us to know Him, not just know about Him.

Jesus said, "I have made God known, and I will continue to make God known."

Finally, the New Covenant offers a different kind of forgiveness. In the Old Covenant, sins were covered, but not forgotten. The New Covenant: "I will forgive and forget." God says when we confess our sins they are gone.

It's not because our sins don't matter. They do matter because they separate us from God, and from one another. It cost Him His own blood. It is costly love, but because He is God He is able.

This is the promise of the New Covenant that Jeremiah wrote about. Centuries of failure followed until one day Jesus appeared in human history. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and to make possible a life-giving relationship with God. Jesus paid the penalty necessary for our sins to be forgiven forever.

After becoming His followers we sometimes get it right and discover the joy of living as Jesus' disciples. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try or how committed we are, we will stumble and fall. It's in those times that we can discover the hope of living as His disciples.

The God who invites us to this table is the God of a New Covenant. He's a God who loves you and me so much that He just couldn't sit back and watch as we stumbled along. He needed to take action, to do something. And so, the night before He died on a cross to pay the price for that New Covenant,  on that cross, Jesus 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 22:19, 20)

At this we shared in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

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