March 3, 2012

Jesus Made a New Covenant Based on Love

·         Readings begin with the Covenant of Abraham and end with the Covenant of Jesus we celebrate in The Eucharist
·         Need to understand the meaning of a covenant with God
·         Need to realize that the bottom line is a love relationship
·         Lent is a good time to examine our own relationship with God – more than tokenism - like giving up chocolate

1.    What is a Covenant?
a.    A special type of agreement with God - God initiates
b.    Both parties promises to do something
c.    Abraham had to “walk before me faithfully and be blameless” (Genesis 17.2)
                                            i.    Love God - loyalty to one God vs. many gods
                                           ii.    Love others - good behaviour towards others
                                          iii.    Notice it is all about an attitude of the heart
                                          iv.    Pharisees / Teachers of Law substituted rules
d.    God provided land, children and prosperity
                                            i.    Can see in the history of the Jews – prosperity

2.    Covenant of Jesus show love by ‘denial of self’
a.    Clarifies the depth of love expected – put God first
b.    Beyond warm fuzzies
c.    Like most people I tried to ‘balance’ this – and failed
d.    Does not mean self-hate – love God & love self
e.    Does not mean self-punishment – denial of love
f.      Means on the really big things do it God’s way

3.    Covenant of Jesus - love by ‘taking up our cross’
a.    What is our cross?
b.    Our cross is the thing that immobilizes / kills us
c.    Addictions can be like a cross
d.    Destructive behaviour can be like a cross
e.    Sinful behaviours can be like  cross
f.      Identity lies planted in our hearts
g.    Fears and guilt that can immobilize us
h.    We can be a prisoner to false religious beliefs
i.      We are challenged to pickup & move our cross
j.      Become free of the power of our cross

4.    The Covenant of Jesus requires us to “follow Him”
a.    What does it mean to follow Jesus?
                                            i.    Do what He did?
                                          ii.    Follow the teachings he gave?
                                         iii.    Live our lives as He lived His?

b.    Jesus modeled love as self-denial
                                            i.    Probably liked working as carpenter
                                          ii.    Probably wanted to have a family life
                                         iii.    Probably feared rejection, pain & death
                                         iv.    Chose to give what He wanted up
                                          v.    Chose to put what God asked first
                                         vi.    Modeled self-sacrificial love for us
                                       vii.    Put our need for forgiveness first

c.    Jesus took up His Cross and followed God
                                            i.    Cross of Fear? Doubts? Temptations?
                                          ii.    Overcame what could immobilize Him
                                         iii.    Followed Divine rather than human wisdom

5.    GN = God gives us forgiveness of sins and spiritual life
a.    Readings remind us God considered Abraham “righteous” because he trusted in God (Romans 4.22)
b.    Like Abraham we can’t walk “blamelessly” before God
c.    We need a way to be forgiven so we can stand in the presence of God now and after we die without guilt
d.    God accepts our faith in the death of Jesus on the Cross in our place, as restoring us to right relationship

6.    Covenant of Jesus is based on a new love relationship
a.    We have to read the Bible and know about Jesus
b.    Relationship is based on personal experience
c.    Our relationship grows as we pray and follow Jesus
d.    It is what is in our hearts that counts – not what we do
e.    Can know about God in our heads and do all kinds of good works – but still not really love God
f.     Need head knowledge as well as heart knowledge

The Good News is that if we love Jesus in our hearts, this love includes us in the new Covenant of Jesus by the grace of God!

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