“Sermon from May 11, 2014: Jesus, The Son of God”
by Dennis Gulley
Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.
May 11, 2014
I said in the last post that I would follow up with a post on what the idea of covenant means to you an me today. Well, while we may not be a culture that sees covenants in the same way as Abraham did, we enter into them all of the time. Contracts are covenants. If you have a cell phone, then you have entered into a covenant with your carrier. If you own a home then you have most likely entered into a covenant with a your mortgage holder. We covenant, or enter into a relationship in a formal nature all of the time.
In the cases mentioned above the covenants are not always seen as equal. They usually exist because we want something that the other person has or can get us. We sign our lives away to enter into these relationships so we can get something that we want.
We, if we call ourselves followers of Christ, are in another form of covenant, the New Covenant. This covenant is made available to us through the blood of Christ shed on our behalf on the cross. This covenant is one that restores us to our intended relationship and communion with God our Father.
In this case we are offered a chance to covenant with the one person that holds the key to the one thing that we really need, not just something that we want or desire. This covenant brings the eternal life that we lost through our rebellion of sin.
There is another difference with this covenant is that it is not made by one stronger to hold us the weaker in a state of ownership, but rather it is as the covenants of Abraham’s day when a covenant made in between a stronger party and a weaker party made the two equal. Yes, when God made the covenant with Abraham, He made Abraham equal to a child of His, with the right to all of the resources of the Father.
With this agreement came the right to speak differently to each other. Abraham could now argue with God and beg Him for things, Abraham had a right to ask for the full resources of God the Father, as a dearly beloved son.
We too, as part of the New Covenant, have the right to the full resources of God. The goal of this should not be for our own gratification or wealth, but to have the heart of Christ in the garden when He prayed to the Father:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Seeking the will of the Father should be the driving force of how we ask for and utilize the resources of the Father.
When is the last time you begged the Father for resources to make His will on this earth a reality? Maybe it is time to start.
You may be reading this
post for no other reason than the title.
They are interesting words for sure.
They may not mean much to you and me, but to Abram they meant the world. In Genesis Chapter 15 we read the following
interaction between God and Abram:
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
am your shield
very great reward.”
Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my
estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You
have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir,
but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the
sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So
shall your offspring be.”
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of
But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
In this passage of the story God is revisiting
Abram and He once again is promising to bless Abram. Abram who is still childless, though years
before God promised to bless him with children, begins to bargain with
God. But God makes it clear that He is
the one in charge and powerful enough to bring about His promises. In verse one He says “I am your shield.” This word for shield actually means
“sovereign”. God is saying I am in
charge, I, and I alone, am God.
Then why was Abram so excited that God asked
him to get a heifer, a ram, a goat, a dove and a pigeon? Because Abram knew that God was preparing for
a covenant ritual. Abram was from a
covenant culture and he knew the process.
A covenant was not just a promise or a
friendship. It was not a business deal
or an agreement, no it was an act of grace.
You see a covenant was usually entered not by people on equal terms, but
people who were very unevenly matched, a greater and a lesser, a strong person
and a weak person, a rich person and a poor person. The covenant made the two parties, not only
equal, but in a sense one.
Listen to what Pastor and author Mike Breen
says about this:
“Now, it’s a Covenant making society, a Covenant making culture. So when people
heard this for the first time they understood what was going on. They
understood that there were two leaders. There was a greater leader and a lesser
leader, but both represented the identities of those whom they represented. And
the greater leader confers by grace, upon the lesser leader, the capacity to
come into relationship. You see, here is the greater conferring upon the lesser
a relationship. Here is the stronger conferring upon the lesser the right to
relationship. So Covenant has always been crafted in grace. It’s always required the initiative of the great one. It’s always required the initiative of the strong. And God, the strong one,
confers grace upon the weak Abram, the right to relationship.
But there’s more than that. It’s not the relationship that
a slave would have with his master. It’s not even a
servant who is free to do their own kind of stuff. It’s not an employee. It’s the relationship of
oneness. And the best way we can express that is in family language. They
become one. God confers
upon Abram this astonishing gift which is that he is now one with God and can
meet God eye to eye and though God remains the greater and the stronger and can
speak to God as if he were one. Isn’t that
amazing? It’s absolutely astonishing.”
This Covenant that God initiates with Abram is
a gracious and sovereign act. This is a
major part of God’s Upper Story. In my
next post I will deal with what this means to us in our Lower Story.
The words in the title of this post are words from a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, as well they make up one of the most simple and yet most profound theological truths known to man.
It was in a moment of deep despair that these words struck deep to my heart. It was about 3 and a half weeks after my mother had passed away unexpectedly. Joanne, the girls and I were in Oregon and I was spending every waking moment preparing my mother’s house for sale. This was a big project that could have been featured on an episode of “Flip This House”. After three solid weeks of extreme home makeover I hit the wall. Hands bloody from trying to scrape 3 layers of linoleum off of the kitchen floor and becoming more and more aware of the fact that I was in way over my head I got in my mother’s car and drove away. I drove the old country highway that I used to drive as a young man when struggling. As I drove I cried out to God for help and then just as those words came off my lips the words of this song came on the radio.
A we begin our journey through “The Story” over the next year at LFC it is good to be reminded at the outset that all things in this universe are under God’s masterful plan. Creation of all things comes from Him and in and through Him they are held together. In Him alone can we find hope, purpose, healing and redemption. That is why we have been given the Bible, to tell us of a creative God who now seek to redeem all things at the greatest cost, His own life.
Over the next 10 months I will seek to blog a few times a week to add further thought to our study of “The Story: The Bible as One Continuous Story of God and His People.” I hope you will check back and keep up with the thoughts.
Here are the lyrics for the song “God is God and I Am Not. I hope you enjoy them:
And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don’t know
And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust
God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting
God is God and I am man
So I’ll never understand it all
For only God is God
And the sky begins to thunder
And I’m filled with awe and wonder
‘Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I
Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass
Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through
Him and from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone.
I am excited that we are on the verge of our big journey at Fellowship. This journey is the one year journey through “The Story”. We will be looking at the one continuous story of God through the Scriptures.
In this study we will learn to see our Lord as a God who is always on Mission and that he calls us to live as a missionary people of a missionary God.
We will see the whole of scripture as an unfolding story of God and his work to redeem his people.
I will be blogging twice a week through this adventure. One post a week will be around the idea of our Missionary God, and the other will address the issue of us as a missionary people.
Waiting is hard. No
one likes it. We get anxious…we get
antsy and we get agitated. We get
frustrated and even sometimes angry when we have to wait. It is not fun, and yet it is a standard part
One of the things that stands out to me as I read the Bible
is just how much time passes in the stories – particularly in the Old
Testament. We read these stories, many
times with a certain familiarity, and even if we don’t know how they end, they
are so condensed that within a page or two a problem has been resolved, or God
has spoken further encouragement, or victory has been won. When you know the end as you read the
beginning the problems faced by the characters become far less…real. Oh we can engage and get some sense of the
character’s stress or fear or hurt, but we know it all turns out in the end, so
there’s nothing to worry about! But real
life doesn’t work that way, and it didn’t for the characters in our Bibles
either. We read the story and gloss over
weeks or years or decades or sometimes even CENTURIES all in a verse or two.
This week we read the story of Joseph, a man who honored God
all through his life and got nothing for his devotion but pain and
hardship. He was betrayed and almost murdered
by his own brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and imprisoned, and at
each turn he still honored God and sought to obey him. Sure, we know in the end he became the Second
to Pharaoh, rich and powerful and saving everyone, but that came literally
DECADES after his brothers first betrayed him.
Year after year he must have wondered what he did to make God so angry
with him…why again and again as he did good he found only evil and hurt.
The Bible tells us that God was with him and blessed him at
each turn, but it must have been hard to see those blessings on the slavers
caravan or in the Egyptian dungeon. Head
of the prisoners is still a prisoner, and Joseph did not know if his situation
would ever change.
It did, and God brought him out into an incredible position
and saved many people through him, but Joseph did not know this, and had no way
of counting down the days to his freedom.
He was trapped, and as far as he knew always would be.
Which makes the final aspect all the more amazing and
important – he STILL honored God. Even
when Pharaoh asks him to come interpret his dream there is no promise of
freedom. Joseph could have said, “What
has God ever done for me…I’m going to save myself!” and tried to take the
credit for interpreting Pharaoh’s dream.
But no, he says, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer
he desires.” Joseph, facing perhaps his
only shot at freedom if he makes himself look like a magical dream interpreter,
gives God the glory. Unbelievable.
Does our relationship with God rely on good gifts from
him? Or can we give him praise and glory
and honor even when things are hard…and even if we can’t see the light at the
end of the tunnel. Joseph did…I hope I
saw that God is all that matters, no matter what was happening in his
life. I pray that God would help me to
see that truth too.