Blessings? Sometimes it feels like everything is going wrong! Am I under a curse?
In this podcast, I share why we are blessed under the New Covenant and what the actual blessing is. Believe it or not, blessings are not defined as how much money or stuff we have. Find what the blessing is by listening.
How to understand the bible through covenants.
Understanding the Whole Bible by Dr. Jonathan Welton
In ancient culture, a covenant was between two parties, written out and was legal and binding. Then as the parties walked the covenant out, they would record the cannon, which was filled with history, art, music, poetry etc.
What we have in scripture is five major covenants between God and mankind.
The Mosaic covenant began in Exodus 20 on Mt. Sinai. Prior to the Mosaic covenant, it is interesting to note that not one time does the Bible tell us what will make God wrathful. Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood were due to God being grieved at the wickedness of mankind. Sodom and Gomorrah was a response to justice to the cries and prayers of the people.
With this in mind, Romans 4:15 makes sense. “the law brings wrath…” So as we read the Old Testament, we have to keep in mind the different covenants between God and the people.
And as part of the New Covenant now, we have to know the entire bible does not apply to us. Otherwise, we couldn’t eat shrimp and bacon! The Mosaic Covenant was not written to us. We can learn from them, but they are not for us.
This is imperative to understanding how to apply the Bible to our lives!
In ancient times 3 main types of covenants were common:
Grant covenant – greater and lesser party come into agreement. The greater party takes on all the obligations and the lesser simply received it. (Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic, New Covenant)
Kinship covenant – when two equal parties come together like a marriage. Both take on a small set of obligations. (Mosaic started out as this and later added the Vassal)
Vassal Covenant – greater and lesser party come together based on the greater one’s ability to destroy to lesser. Instead of destroying them, they offer protection in exchange for collecting taxes, or slavery or other. The greater had all the power and the lesser had to fulfill a large number of obligations.
What’s my part? What’s your part? What’s God’s part?
When I first received the message of grace I was in such awe over the gospel. It was like getting born again, again! The passion for my salvation returned and I wanted to shout it from therooftopss! You see I had been a bipolar Christian riding an emotional roller coaster with Jesus since I was first saved. When I’d spend time with Jesus and put him first in my daily life, I was sky high with Jesus! But as soon as I failed, even a little bit, I wallowed in self pity, guilty and ashamed of myself.
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t be good enough.
God’s expectations were just so high. I didn’t know why we were broke, when everyone else was so blessed. We were so broke, one morning, after my quiet time, I got up to pack a lunch for my kids, but realizing I didn’t even have crackers for them, I went back to my prayer closet and cried out on the floor for God to do a miracle. And He did! God put it on a couple of my friend’s hearts to buy groceries and filled my kitchen with Costco!
But even though I knew God would provide for me, where was the promises of the windows of heaven being opened? People would tell me the secret to blessings was to seek God first and tithe in every area of my life. And I was doing that, for years! When would I have a break through? Why was it working for others and not me?
So I kept trying. I kept trying to please God. I kept my 2-hour quiet time, but it only got worse. Still broke, with my marriage on the line, in desperation I went to a women’s bible study at church. They started teaching me about grace and would use this word, ‘righteousness’.
So I buried my head in the book of Romans for six months with this one question for God, “Am I really righteous regardless of my behavior?” And pow! There it was, “Abraham believed God and was credited righteousness.” It was by faith and faith alone! He didn’t have to do anything to be righteous except believe! It was a free gift!
This was my part: to believe! That’s it! I was so excited about this message of grace! Grace meant I was blessed regardless of my behavior, I was accepted regardless of my behavior, I’m already holy and forgiven and loved regardless of my behavior! Even if I didn’t tithed or ever gave a cent to the church, God’s blessing was available! My behavior had nothing to do with his favor on my life! Coming from believing I had to do something in order to be blessed, this rocked my world! I became a grace preacher everywhere I went!
As I meditated more and more on grace, I got bitter toward the church. Why didn’t you tell me about this wonderful grace? Why have I been trying to be good enough all these years? Why did you tell me I had to do all these things to be blessed? The hairs on the back of my head stood up in anger toward the church and the pastor. I couldn’t go to church anymore.
Isolated from the church and mad at the pastor, I got depressed. The only prayer I could pray was, “God complete the good work you began in me. I have nothing left.”
One day in bitterness, I was complaining again about the church and the leadership and heard Jesus wisper to me, “Dana, those people in the church, and the leadership, that’s my bride. And I love them. I love them with all their spots and blemishes and wrinkles.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. If I was forgiven of everything I had ever done and will do. Could I extend that same forgiveness to the church? Was it possible to stop complaining about others in the church? Was it possible to love when they were unlovely? Just like Jesus did for me? Could I walk in honor of the bride? Lay my life down for her? Even if they didn’t understand the grace I understood?
If the bride is the glory of her husband, the church is the glory of Jesus.
It is the one avenue Christ said he would reveal himself to the world. It is the one institution Jesus set up. All through the New Testament, Paul is building the church and putting it in order. He laid his life down for the church. Can we do the same? Is it possible to love the bride? Can we love without a grudge? Can we stop judging each other in the church?
Jesus gave this one command to the church:
John 13:34,35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)
I’m sorry if pastors and church people have hurt you. I’m sorry if your church is not perfect. Will you join with me today and make a decision to honor the bride of Christ? Will you love like Jesus loved? Will you lay your life down like Jesus laid his life down? What if the body of Christ embraced the church like Jesus, and loved her with all her imperfections? Would the world take notice and want to be a part of something so loving? A place of complete acceptance? Will you be the change we need in the church today?
What’s God’s part?
2 Peter 1:3 & 4 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
God has already done His part by providing a way for us to have a relationship with Him! He already proved His love for us! He already gave us the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
What’s my part? I’m a Pastor, and It’s my job to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
What’s your part? To do the work of the ministry which is: to believe in Jesus Christ, to stand against the enemy’s lies and to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. If we only do these three things, it will advance the kingdom of God on this earth because every human desires acceptance, love, and to make a change in this world.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV)
Joseph was like us. Many say he was a type and shadow of Jesus, and yes I can see that. But I can see even more that he was like us. Joseph had dreams, literally. God gave him dreams of his future. In his day, people gave more weight to dreams than today.
Much like me at 17, he was arrogant, and his brothers hated him. In their own insecurity, they wanted to kill Joseph, but instead, they sold him for money.
Joseph carried the favor of God on him. Well if he had so much favor than why did he end up in slavery, and in jail for so many years? Why were all those bad things happening?
Have you ever wondered why so many bad things are happening to you? Ever questioned the favor of God on you?
I believe Joseph spent a lot of time meditating on God and obtaining His wisdom. Gen 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love.
You can tell He has a relationship with God by his response when Pharaoh retrieves him to interpret his dream. “I’m not the one who can tell you what your dream means, only God Almighty can do that.” He’s humbled by this point.
When Joseph reveals who he is to his brothers, He says, “I am your brother whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves. God sent me here to preserve your lives.
Joseph had all the power to pay his wicked brothers back and they knew it. They feared what would happen. They already felt God was punishing them.
But instead, he forgave them. He received love from God, and extended it to his brothers. He loved them without a grudge. They didn’t deserve forgiveness. They didn’t even ask for forgiveness. Joseph offers forgiveness and says don’t be angry with themselves.
Jesus said the only way the world will know He (Jesus) is real, is by our love for one another. Only when the church, the body of Christ comes into unity and love will they know God loves them too.
When Joseph sends them home to get their father he says this, “Don’t quarrel about all this along the way.”
He knew the nature of people is to complain and blame.
Today, I believe Jesus is saying the same to us. “Please don’t quarrel, or complain or hold grudges.”
He took all that for you. He forgave you, can you extend the same forgiveness? All your sins are wiped clean; can you wipe the slate clean for your loved ones? For your brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, leaders, friends?