Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “faith”

Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours

We are a people of covenant, a nation of covenants. Whether we buy or rent a house, buy or lease a car, even the contract you signed for your cell phone activation or for an internet provider is dependent on covenants. The list of covenants you or myself have signed goes on and on and covers most areas of our lives. Even to vote in an election which is a right guaranteed by constitution is under covenant, you make a statement of who you are and a promise to obey the election laws.

What is a covenant?

An old paper scroll with quill pen and inkwell

An old paper scroll with quill pen and inkwell

A covenant is a binding agreement; a contract which is guaranteed in writing under seal, and may include a clause as to performance under such contract. A covenant usually includes the action to be taken in which damages are sought for breach of the signed (sealed) agreement. Often a lawyer or notary public will place a seal as witness to the signatories.

What are Biblical covenants?

First we must understand that God is one God, from the beginning, now and always, God eternal. The same God in creation as to the peoples of the old covenant as to those of us covered by the new covenant, one God. In Biblical history we read of several covenants.

The covenant given to Noah which applied to all humanity and to all living creatures. God promised never again to destroy all life on Earth by flood. Genesis: 9:11 God created a rainbow as the sign of this “everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth”. Genesis: 9:12-17

The destroying ‘flood’ and the sign of the ‘rainbow’. Both hijacked in the ‘modern’ society and church. I will leave that commentary for another day.

The covenant of circumcision. Circumcision to be practiced on every male child to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and all his male descendants. They will be God’s people and “I will be their God”. Genesis 17:9–14

The Kingdom covenant. The Mosaic covenant found in Exodus: 19, is God’s promises contained in both the written Torah and the Oral Torah. In this covenant, God promises to make the Israelite his “treasured” possession among all people. Exodus: 19:5,6 God will build “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” providing they follow God’s commandments. This was a covenant under law.

A New covenant. Jeremiah 31:30–33, God makes a commitment that one day a new covenant, a new agreement between God and mankind will be revealed or written. What isn’t really explained is; does this new covenant replace the previous one or is it to be an extension to the old with a greater level of commitment to Holiness. One reason for ambiguity is because the Mosaic covenant applied only to the people of Israel, the Jews and converts to Judaism, where the new covenant is extended to all peoples.

In the Gospel accounts of “The Last Supper”, Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:18-26, Luke 22:7-23, where Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples, Jesus foretells His crucifixion and blesses the wine as the blood of the covenant. In translation, many have added the word “new”.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25;
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

What is important is Jesus words, “This cup that is poured out for you is the (new) covenant in my blood.” Christ Jesus has signed the covenant in His blood. Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom. Is this not a new realization of the old?
The replacement to the covenant given to Abraham is Baptism over Circumcision, now both men and women are independently covered. We are all God’s people.
Under the new covenant, God manifests his word to build; “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Under the ‘Moses’ covenant the ‘Kingdom’ was a rule by law. The new covenant is by rule of the “Holy Spirit” and the law is now written in our hearts. No one can claim ignorance of the Truth of God.
The transition from the old to the new was prophesied through Jeremiah. The transition from an earthly kingdom with an eye toward heaven to heavenly kingdom revealed on earth by His Church through Faith.

A point in law is that a binding agreement must be signed using the same ink, the same pen, as proof that both parties were present together and are each witness to the others signature. In like manner, since Jesus signed the covenant with His blood, by His death, so must each of us. How? By baptism. That is what our baptism is, our signature to the Covenant, our death. A signing by each of us unto death that we are in agreement with the covenant. Our old “man” is put to death. We are no longer as we were, sinners, ignoring God in our lives. As Jesus arose back to life, so then will we. Jesus became one in Spirit, a Spiritual reality, in confirmation of the covenant. By faith, we become born again in the Spirit of God.

Baptism Dove

the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” -Luke 3:21-22 The stained glass window art was photographed inside Saint Mary’s Church, Denville, NJ. Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar

Our lives, upon baptism, are to become one with Him in Spirit. We are now placed under God’s control not our own. God’s control, our acts of faith, are the visible confirmation to the world of the covenant between each of us and God. The law, or commandments are still in effect but, are manifest in Jesus’ words, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27.

Compare with the words given to Moses, Deuteronomy 6: 4-9,
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I welcome your thoughts on my views of the covenant.

PS; Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I do appreciate a lot of the art work in their cathedrals.

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Have We Failed?

This morning I received a link to “Losing Our Religion

This past week on U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) the Morning Edition journalists have explored religion and spirituality in the series Losing Our Religion. Today if we take time to listen to even a small portion of these broadcasts we may gauge our own awareness – and gratitude – for God’s presence in our lives.

As I listened to the broadcast, the following Bible verse kept coming to mind.

II Thess 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

The verse depicts a departure from faith in Christ! I am struggling with this because the falling away described in the broadcast is not a falling from Christ but a rejection of religion, not just of the Christian faith but of all religion. Perhaps it is a good thing in that the hypocritical nature and apostasy of the established religions is not being ingrained into the youth of our nation. Then there is still time and a way to reach them with the true Gospel message.

This I know to be true, if our sons and daughters are not coming to faith in Christ, we, the Church, have failed them.

I believe that one who has been born again by the Spirit of God would be so led by God to bring his children into the Faith in God. That be the case then, there must be many who are members of the church, baptized by water only and hold a false profession of faith. Their children turn from the truth through false prophets who come in Christ’s name, but are preaching a false gospel.

Matthew 24:10-13 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

It’s just a red box

It’s just a red box.

In many big cities the streets are always full of people. People coming and going, from all sorts of countries – they’re tourists, immigrants, ex-change students, business men…In such cities as these it is also common to find artists in the streets – clowns that make the passers-by laugh or musicians that attract listeners with their beautiful melodies. In the centre of Madrid, in Sol, one can also find a group of people and a red box. Read more…..

I find this story quite unique, well unique among the Christian community. Not only of this young lady willing to profess her faith in public, but that her faith grew firm in Pakistan, a country where one would expect just the opposite.

Of Rights and Obligations

As a Christian, which comes first, my rights or my obligations?

In almost all democratic nations, within their respective constitutions there contains a clause, almost always within the first paragraph, which reads something as follows, “We are a Nation under God”. The constitution will then list the “Rights” of citizens within that nation, whether it be in the constitution itself or a Declaration of Rights and Freedoms, as in Canada or a Bill of Rights, as in the USA. Every country pre-ambles these rights as “Inalienable and/or God Given”. I have yet to find a democratic country which has a “Bill of Obligations”. I have yet to find a list of “Rights” in the Bible even though biblically we are given many obligations, particularly once we become “a people of God”.

Even the greatest liberty man can receive, salvation, is not a right but, a gift of God. We are not born with it, just the opposite, we are born into sin, into captivity, into death. There is no way we can even earn it.

Ephesians 2:8
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”

There seems an audacity among many a Christian, even politicians that they will defend the rights of the voters even to quoting scripture out of context to do so. One oft times quoted verse used in a social services context is 2 Thessalonians 3:10;
“….this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

There is no defense of a person’s rights in Paul’s message, just the opposite. One must first read the preceding chapters to understand the verse.

2 Thessalonians 1
3 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;”
11 “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:”

2 Thessalonians 2
3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
10 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:”

The chapters can be summed up in these verses:
“your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth”
“the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power”
“because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
“God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”

Is not Paul’s letter, 2 Thessalonians, basically an testament on Jesus teaching as given in Matthew 25: 34-40 KJV
“34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

James 2:14 KJV
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

Just as you did unto others, you did it to me.

This is the Christian’s obligation of which he/she will do, not under compulsion of the law, but willingly as a work of faith in love of the truth as given to us in Christ that the Father be glorified.

Perhaps the closest the Bible comes to expressing a persons rights is in Jeremiah 22: 13-16 and Proverbs 31:8-9 where it is basically stating that a legitimate people/government will uphold the rights of the poor and vulnerable.

All Christians, all persons, should hold to be true that human dignity can only be protected and a prosperous, healthy community be achieved if others rights are protected and our individual, personal responsibilities are met.

Of our obligations we are given:
Leviticus 25:35 KJV
“And if your brother becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you; then you shall help him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with you.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV
8 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Isaiah 1:17 NIV
“learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 KJV
“6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

The main work of the Church, the reason for the Church, is to glorify God by doing the works of Christ who came to comfort the poor and the meek, deliver the underprivileged from their plight, show mercy to the persecuted and be a light to God’s salvation.

Christmas Wind

Psalm 104:4 – Hebrews 1:7
To Him who makes His angels winds
and His servants flames of fire.
Refines His gold the earth His kiln,
in flames ever reaching higher.
His servants consumed to do His will,
His Word as fire their commandment still.
To all who hear He calls His bride,
in His kingdom He yearns to be by her side.
Repentence turns one’s heart Lord to thee
fuels the flame that drives back the dark.
Oh Lord revive that fire within me.
Faith the tinder and love the spark.

Merry Christmas – May you allow Christ to be your celebration this joyous season.

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