God's Covenant with Us; Our Covenant with God

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A reminder about the things that God has promised to us that He has committed himself to, but also a reminder of the duties and obligations that we have, just like Israel had duties and obligations.



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During this time of year there are, of course, many ways to study your Bible, as we think about the upcoming holy days and as we think about preparing for them. One of the many ways that may not often come to mind though is to read the stories of the Old Testament, not just for our children and not just, you know, teaching them about the Bible, but for ourselves. As Mr. Wasilkoff started in - and I'm not going to go there right now, but we will go to there later - the context of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 is that of watching for our spiritual condition and watching out for temptation. And it directly discusses - especially as you get to the end of the chapter, it discusses the Passover season. But it starts out as he read in the first few verses there about Israel's journey, and it continues on after verse 4 about the types of problems that Israel created for itself along the way.

But then in verse 10 of 1 Corinthians chapter 10, if you just kind of want to note that down, we have this statement:

1 Corinthians:10:11 And all these things happened to them as examples, and it is written for our warning, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

In other words, it's not just history for the sake of history. Those stories, the problems and the difficulties, the trials and tribulations that Israel went through, they are written down for us. And once again the direct context of 1 Corinthians 10 is the Passover season.

Now, if you've ever wanted to be taken on a historical rollercoaster, you can simply examine the story of Israel, either in the books, as we read today, in Numbers or in the books of Joshua, Judges, the Samuels, the Kings, the Chronicles. Israel as a nation hit bottom many times first spiritually and then, of course, physically. They forgot their covenant with God on, unfortunately, many occasions. And sometimes they forgot also God's promise to save them upon repentance.

Now, once they reached bottom and repented, most the time, after God sent a prophet or two or three, for many weeks or many months, they often had an official renewal of the covenant that they had made with God. I'd like to start off in Deuteronomy chapter 29, if you would, please.

Deuteronomy:29:1 These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.

So it wasn't the first time that a covenant was made, and Israel had already broken, in a sense, a covenant along the way.

V.2 Now, Moses called all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land - the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.

V.3 Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and the eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.

V.4 And I have led you these forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out upon your feet.

Let's jump over to verse 9.

V.9 Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

So the first part Moses was reminding Israel of everything that God had done for them and everything that God was still willing to do for them. But then he says, beginning in verse 9, but remember this covenant. Don't forget that. He said, why? So that you may do what you're supposed to do and that you may prosper.

V.10 "All of you stand today before the Lord your God; your leaders, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and all the men of Israel,

V.11 Your little ones and your wives - also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water -

V.12 that you may enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, and into his oath, which the Lord makes with you today.

Let's go to Joshua:24:11. Joshua here is also then reiterating what had happened in Israel's history, to be reminded of what God had done for them. And he said:

Joshua:24:11 You went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you - also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and Jebusites. But I delivered them into your hand.

V.12 And I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword and not with your bow.

V.13 And I've given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards, the olive groves which you did not plant.

God says I have given all this to you as a gift. You didn't even - barely did anything for it.

V.14 "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!

V.15 And if it seems evil to you today to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served which is on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

V.25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

And had the renewal of that covenant that they had originally made. Let's go to one other example. 2 Kings 23, beginning in verse 1. This is during the time of Josiah.

2 Kings:23:1 Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him.

V.2 And the king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem - the priests and the prophets  - of course by this time, the other tribes of Israel were already in captivity, so we're talking about Judah and Benjamin and some of the Levites - the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant - the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.

That's most likely what we know as the book of Deuteronomy.

V.3 Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all of his heart and all of his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.

Now, there are numerous other times in the history of Israel - some more formally stated, some less formally stated - of where a renewal of the covenant or a recommitment of the covenant or a reminder of the covenant or a refreshing of the covenant was made. Now, no matter which example you go to, there are two common factors. One is a rehearsing and a reminder of God's blessings, of God's promises and of God's interventions. That is a regular aspect of any renewal or reminder of any of the covenants that you would find in the history of Israel. Second major aspect is a reminder of Israel's duties and Israel's commitments, a reminder of Israel's duties and Israel's commitments. Because when you come right down to it, a covenant is a relatively simple thing. Both parties promise to do something. They commit themselves. They obligate themselves. They have duties. God has obligated Himself and has provided blessings and promises and interventions, and then Israel was reminded of their duties and commitments.

Turn with me, if you would, to Matthew chapter 6. Early on in His ministry Christ admonished us to not forget that - those two basic pillars of our relationship with God. Reminder of God's blessings and promises, of course, is intended to impart hope and to impart faith. And, of course, a reminder of the duties that we have are intended to impart focus that we don't get distracted, that we don't turn to the one side or turn to the other side, as is often mentioned in the scripture. Matthew 6 and beginning in verse 22, Christ brings that out in a different way.

Matthew:6:22 The lamp of a body is the eye. Therefore if your eye is good - actually, from the Greek it can also mean focused  - your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad - or if your eye is unfocused  - your whole body will be full of darkness. Therefore if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

V.24 He said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Israel tried often to serve more than one God. They had their focus split. They got sidetracked. They got derailed. God says you can't do that. Then he says, in beginning of verse 25, reminds us of who is looking out for us. He says don't worry about your life, what you're going to eat, what you're going to drink, what you're going to put on. Is life not worth more than that? Look at the birds of the air - and we're starting to see more and more birds come out, so that's a good thing. But he says, they don't sow, nor do they reap, and, yet, God feeds them.

He says, aren't you more important than any of them? He says,

V.27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

V.28 So why do you worry about clothing ? He says, "Consider the lilies of the field."

V.29 He says, " Even Solomon wasn't as arrayed as one of those."

V.30 He says, " If God is going to take care of those things, how much will He take care of you? Oh, you of little faith?

V.31 He says, " Therefore do not worry, 'What we shall eat?' 'What we shall drink?' 'What shall we wear? '

V.33 He says, in verse 33, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all those things will fall into place.

He says keep your focus on the covenant agreement that you have made with God, that we have made with God.

The Passover and the Passover season is all about God's promises and His love to us through Jesus Christ. He offered His only Son so that we might have a chance at something better. And that should, of and by itself, be tremendously encouraging to us, even in the face of trials and uncertainties that we all have.

But the Passover as well is also about your duties before God, promises that we made to God and commitment that we made at baptism. It should be - not only is it the reminder and the anniversary, if you will, of the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but it is also - even if it may not fall on the exact same day, should be a reminder of the commitment and the covenant we made with God at baptism. It's a two way street. And there are some vitally important things that we agreed to.

So what I would like to do in the time remaining is like Israel did on numerous occasions. I would like to take us through, if you will, a reminder or a refreshing, a renewal, if you will, of the covenant that God made with us and that we made with God. And, essentially, we're going to do it in the same way that was often done in Israel. I'd like to remind us about the things that God has promised to us that he has committed himself to, but also a reminder of the duties and obligations that we have, just like Israel had duties and obligations.

Now, before we come to those two main points or those pillars, if you will, I would like to discuss something that I believe is important in this context. When the ministry counsels somebody for baptism, one of the things they emphasize is that this is a covenant between the person being baptized and God. It is not between the person and the minister and God. It is not between the person and mom and dad and God; person and best friend and God, anything in regards to that. It is between the person and God alone.

When I counsel people for baptism, I tell them I'm there to, you know, serve them, to help them. I'm there to serve God and do what I'm supposed to do in that regard. But the actual covenant is between the person and God.

Now, there's a couple of points to reminisce. We are not responsible for somebody else's life or sins. We are not responsible for somebody else's life and sins. That person is not responsible for ours. Since we're not responsible for somebody else's life or somebody else's difficulties that they go through, let us not become distracted from our covenant with God through sometimes their words or actions. We are told to - or we are not told to examine our neighbor during Passover season. Let's not forget that, however, since we are responsible for our own life and our own sins, and no one's going to take responsibility for that.

I was reminded on T.V. the other day about Flip Wilson, where he said, "The devil made me do it." Guess what? We can't even pawn it off on Satan. What we do is our responsibility. We are told to examine ourselves.

All right. Let's discuss God's promises, deliverance, which is our hope and faith. Let's go to Romans chapter 5. And again, you know, one of my main purposes of, you know, talking about these - or this topic today is we all live busy lives, and there's any number of things going on either in the world around us, in our personal lives, at work, in school, within our families, and obviously we have to address those issues. We pray about those issues. We do our part in those issues. But sometimes it's important that we put some of those things just on the shelf for a little while and remind us of what God is doing with us and what our duties are before him and fellow man are.

Romans:5:6 It says here, For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

V.7 It says, For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man somebody would even dare to die.

V.8 But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

V.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

V.10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

So while we were enemies, while we were sinners, Christ made a commitment, His part, towards us. And it says that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world. So even well before we even existed in that - in that regard. In other words, God took the first step. God took the first step. We didn't take the first step.

This is the blood of the new covenant which frees us from sin and from death. The wine that we all drink at Passover pictures thIsaiah The blood on the doorpost in Egypt pictured thIsaiah The scarlet cord hung from Jericho that provided escape for Rahab and her family also pictured this blood.

Now, think about this for a moment. God was willing to pay the biggest price that has ever been paid for us collectively, but also for each one of us individually. That is what God thinks of us, not because of our righteousness, of course, but because of His love. That is an incredible - and it should be an incredibly encouraging thing.

You know sometimes as we go into Passover and we think about examining ourselves, we can be filled with a little bit of discouragement, maybe even a whole lot of discouragement, maybe a little bit of dread and foreboding. But it should be a time of encouragement, because this is what God has done for us, because of His great love for each one of us individually and, of course, His love for us collectively.

Let's go to 2 Peter 3, and let's see another promise or something that God has committed himself to. So even before God knew if we were ever going to do our part, God did HIsaiah Jesus Christ did HIsaiah And, of course, not just for us sitting here today, but as we will read - go on from there in 2 Peter:3:9.

2 Peter:3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Now, this shows us two things: First of all, as we know, God has a plan for all mankind of those who will agree to it and submit themselves in that way. But secondly, notice here, that he is longsuffering towards us. He is patient towards us. He knows we're going to slip and fall. He knows that we're going to go into one ditch or go into the other ditch or find a great big sinkhole, you know, sometimes in our life. We're going to get to an example about that here in a little bit.

But God, one of the things that he has promised that we can take to the bank, one offer, the things He has committed Himself to doing, is being longsuffering towards us, being patient. And He is patient. He is extremely patient with Israel, as we heard today already, and He is patient with us. And He has promised us that patience.

Let's go to another promise. Ephesians 1. I hope, as we're going through some of these promises, we will think back through our lives individually or collectively, just like Joshua, Moses, Josiah, or any other number of other prophets and kings did with the nation of Israel, and think about, you know, how did these things actually happen in our lives? What are actual examples of where God did obviously show incredible patience for me and was longsuffering, or, as we read in Ephesians:1:7, was willing to forgive?

Ephesians:1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

And in Hebrews:10:17. We're not going to go there, but God talks about forgetting our sins. So He has promised through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to forgive and to forget, to forgive and to forget. He's also promised to help us forgive and forget. We are told we need to - as we've heard in a message already here a week or so ago - about needing to forgive others. But He also talks about, in Hebrews, that He is willing to - that, through Christ's sacrifice, cleanse our own conscience.

Now, we can get past our sins and our trials and our problems and where we stumble. So, again, we need to be thinking about how has God helped us with that? How has he done that for me personally? Let's go to another promise or commitment or part of the covenant God has made with us in Romans 8.

Romans:8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

V.6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

V.9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not HIsaiah

V.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Through the Holy Spirit God promises to live His life in us, if we don't quench the Spirit, as it talks about in other parts of scriptures. But notice verse 11.

V.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, or which dwells in you.

V.12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors - not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

And it talks about bearing those deeds of the flesh.

V.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

V.15 You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

And so another commitment or part of the covenant God has made with us is to live in us through His Spirit, and that we can have that relationship with God the Father.

Now, did God have to promise all this? No, He didn't have to, in a sense. Of course, out of His love, He did, in that sense. These promises, though, are alive and well. But are they unconditional? Are they unconditional? God's love is unconditional. But are these promises unconditional? Well, no, they're not. Because we have a covenant with God. We have a contract. We have a commitment. God is showing His absolute willingness and faithfulness to do His part. There's no question with that, just like there was no question in ancient Israel with that. And He did what He needed to do or what He promised to do before we even knew what was happening, literally. But God does not take away our free will. He does not take away any human beings' free will.

Let's go to a couple more promises in Hebrews 4, beginning in verse 14.

Hebrews:4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

V.15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but who was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

V.16 Therefore, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We are promised to have that mercy, to have that grace, which means God's favor in more ways than just simply forgiveness, when we need it. But Jesus Christ has been through what we have been through, and, therefore, He promises and says, I will help you.

Now, let's go to 1 Corinthians 10. I'm sure this is on your list of chapters to read sometime during the season, and it is an excellent chapter all the way through to read. I'm just going to read here just a couple of verses. He talks about, beginning in verse 5, that with most of them God was not well pleased. And actually enumerates a number of the stories that we heard in the first split sermon today. But then he warns us, he says, you know, in verse 12,

1 Corinthians:10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

V.13 No temptation has overtaken you except as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you're able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

And so we do know that we have struggles and trials that come upon us. But here's another wonderful promise from God, and I'm sure all of us can think back on times in our life where that has definitely taken place. God did not allow the trial to go beyond what we could handle.

Philippians 1:6, we won't go there, but we need to be reminded of what it says there, that He who has begun a good work in us will finish it. In other words, just like with Israel, there is no question about what God will do. God will do His part. And in Israel the leaders and the prophets reminded Israel on several occasions what God had performed for them, enumerated many details. And from time to time, it's important that we step back and recall everything that God has done for us, either with regard to these specific promises or many others that He has committed Himself to.

Let's go to a couple of examples now in the New Testament, Matthew 8. It's not even the realm of possibility that God would ever waiver from his commitment. Waiver is sometimes what we think in our minds. Will God really forgive me? Will God really help me through? Well, yes, He will. But we have to be 100% sure of his promises. Now, here's an example of an individual who is 100% sure of God's promises, and he did not waiver. Matthew, chapter 8 and beginning in verse 5. That's not what I want. Where did it go? I need the story of the centurion. You know, it would help if I'd go to Matthew chapter 8, not John chapter 8. John chapter 8 is also a very good chapter. I highly encourage that you read it, but I now want to go to Matthew. Thank you.

Matthew:8:5 Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with him,

V.6 saying, " Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."

V.7 And Jesus said to him, well, "I'll come and heal him."

V.8 And the centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, my servant will be healed."

He said just that's it. He said, I know your promise. I know your love. You say the word. I've done my part. I've let you know. You say the word, it will be done. It's not even a question in my mind. You said from a man under authority having soldiers under me, I say to this one, "Go," and he goes and another, "Come," and he comes. And Jesus heard it, and he said, "Such great faith I have not even seen in Israel."

You know, for this centurion - of course, his servant was healed. Jesus didn't even show up at the house. He just healed him. But for this centurion, the covenant and God's promise was a relatively simple thing. I do my part, and there's no doubt that God will do hIsaiah

Now, let's see if I can get this one right. Matthew 14. I'm going to get there ahead of you, so I know if I'm on target. Yes. Matthew:14:25 we have an example of where he wasn't so focused. Now, I'm not going to read the, you know, example of Peter walking on water at least for a little while before he started to sink, and I'm not bringing this up to pick on poor Peter. You know, there's a number of examples. Peter must have been an interesting character, by the way. A number of examples in the New Testament about Peter and his enthusiasm. But in this particular case, he didn't exactly keep his focus, and he saw Christ walking on the water. And in verse 28,

Matthew:14:28 Peter said to him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.

V.29 And Christ said, "Come." And Peter came out of the boat, and he walked on water to Jesus.

V.30 When he saw the wind was boisterous, he was afraid, and he began to sink.

Now, what happened to Peter? He didn't keep the single and simple‑minded focus on doing what he needed to do, of just walking towards God. Our covenant that we have made with God at baptism is to walk towards God. It's as simple as that. Now, I realize it's not easy. I'm not saying it's easy. But it is as simple as that. But Peter got distracted. He said there are waves. Now, again, I'm not doing this to pick on Peter. I'm doing this to make a point. In verse 30.

V.30 He said, "Lord, save me!"

V.31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

My point here is that even in our times of weakness, even when we get distracted by the waves and the storms, we should still call out to God, and God's hand will reach out and God's hand will save us.

What is our duty to God through Jesus Christ? Second main area I'd like to talk about. In a different sermon that I give, I sometimes ask the question: "If we don't enter the kingdom of God, who's responsible? Who moved? is the question. Is God responsible? He allowed certain trials to come upon us. Is Satan responsible?" Like I said, Flip Wilson, "The devil made me do it." How about your brother or sister in the faith? Is it just the circumstances that happened? Is it the church? Is it the ministry? No, it would be my fault if it was me. It would be your fault if it was you, because we have not done our part. We always know God will do HIsaiah But somehow we gave up.

Let's go to Isaiah 59, beginning in verse 1. Isaiah reminds us that, you know, God's hand is not short. And it says,

Isaiah:59:1 The Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.

He says that's not the problem. He says,

V.2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

V.3 For your hands are defiled with blood, Your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.  

V.4 No one calls for justice, No one pleads for the truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.

You know, if God is not blessing us, you know, sometimes we have to ask the question: Who moved? Who moved? And it's not God who then moved.

Galatians 6. We know the scripture. It says God is not mocked. God is not fooled. God is not deceived in any way. What we sow that which - that's what we're going to reap. So the question arises then what have we committed ourselves to sow? What have we committed ourselves to sow at baptism?

Well, let's go back to Romans chapter 6. The time of the Passover and the time of the Days of Unleavened Bread is - should be a tremendously encouraging time for us because of everything that God has done for us, through the sacrifice and the life and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the same time, we need to ask ourselves tough questions, because God says if you would judge yourselves, you would not be judged. So it is also a time to ask the hard questions, and that's what we also do during this time. Romans 6, beginning verse 1.

Romans:6:1 What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin that grace may abound?

V.2 Certainly not! How should we who died to sin live any longer in it?

He said that - I mean, that's what we committed ourselves to at baptism. We put that old man to death.

V.3 Do you not know that as many of us were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

V.4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.

We do not stay in the water. But that old man, that old person, that old way of life that we had been following, that should stay there. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

V.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

V.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

V.12 Don't let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey in its lusts.

V.13 Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

We have committed ourselves to doing that. That is the commitment we made at baptism, be crucified and buried with Christ. So we have to ask ourselves tough questions. I have to ask myself the same tough questions. Are we making excuses for old habits and for old sins? What steps have we taken to get those things out? Are we walking in newness of life, as it says here? Or is the dead man performing a self resurrection? That happens. That happens.

Let's go to Luke 14. Undoubtedly you read this scripture as you were counseling for baptism.

Luke:14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate  - or as we understand it, does not love less his father, his mother, his wife, his children, brothers and sisters - we could probably add a few other things in there. Hobbies, whatever else. Our job. Well, actually that is in there. You know, I should just read the scripture as it is - his own life also - e verything that goes with that - he cannot be my disciple.

In other words, if God is not truly first, then we are not a disciple of Jesus Christ. However, we said at baptism God would be first, therefore we are a disciple. But we need to be reminded of these things.

V.27 Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

There's certain burdens we bear in order to put God first, and we could all enumerate any number of them. And He talks about counting the costs here as well. Well, we counted the costs. And verse - and we said yes. He said - we said yes to building this building, to be a part of the building, even though we cannot meet the costs on our own, of course. It talks about that as well.

V.33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.

And this time of year is an excellent time to review are we forsaking that which we have, what is necessary in order to follow God?

Let's go to another chapter in Luke here, Luke chapter 9. It doesn't have to do with Luke chapter 9, but in another scripture, one of the, you know, concerns that Christ talks about - I think it's with the sower and the seed - is that the cares and the things that we do in daily life can actually choke out our focus with God, because we all have a lot of things to do. We all have a lot of good things to do. It's not that you can point to any of the things that we have to do, and say they're bad or evil. It's just sometimes they just simply choke out the time, and we find ourselves running short on prayer time, running short on Bible study time. So we have to take care in that regard.

Luke:9:23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Similar to what we read.

V.24 Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

In other words, he says, if you're giving up certain aspects of your life in order that you can more fully follow God, then eternal life is yours, and God has something absolutely wonderful planned. We can't even begin to imagine.

Let us go to verse 59, same chapter. Luke tended to write long chapters. Actually, Luke did not write long chapters. Chapters came later.

Luke:9:59 Then He said to another, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."

V.60 And Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God."

Now, he wasn't saying here, you know, don't take care of your family. He was saying don't make excuses.

V.61 "Lord, I will also follow you, but let me go and bid them farewell who are at my house."

V.62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the ploy, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

We cannot afford in any way to spiritually look in the rearview mirror. Now, we can learn the lessons of things that we go through in life that we should do. No question about that. But we can't be looking back. And he talks about that in a different location. Remember Lot's wife. We cannot look back on the old life that we have given up and say, "Oh, how great were the leeks and the melons and the fish that were in Egypt." That was disastrous for Israel when they did that.

Matthew chapter 7, we've committed ourselves to not looking back. We've committed ourselves to loving our own life less. We've committed ourselves to bearing any burden, to taking up our cross and following God. We've committed ourselves to keeping that old man dead and to be walking in newness of life which God has promised to help us with.

Matthew 7, beginning in verse 13, it says here, here's another thing that we've committed ourselves to doing. He says,

Matthew:7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

V.14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and few be that find it.

We've committed ourselves to traveling the road less traveled. We've committed ourselves to walking that narrow path, to going up the steep mountain.

Acts 14, verse 22, we won't go there, but it says we have to endure much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God. We've committed to doing that as well. We made that commitment at baptism.

Let's go to James chapter 1. Remember when you were a little kid, or maybe you have little kids now, or you had little kids at some point and you told your son or your daughter - or if you were a little kid you told your parents - you know, your parents said you could have this if you do that. And time came along to have that particular something - maybe it was a special ice cream or desert or whatever the case may be, and you went to have it, and guess what? You hadn't done what you said that you would do. And what happened? The "buts" started. "But, but, but, but, but, dad. But, mom."

I don't know what your parents said after that. My dad would say, "No if, and, buts or maybes." Okay. If he said that once to me, he said it a thousand times. Okay. "No if, and, buts or maybes. That was the agreement." It was as simple as that. "Clean your room, you get that" Clean your room or do this chore. Do your chores, you get to go out to a movie or, you know, whatever the case may be. You know, sometimes we just to put aside the if, and, buts or maybes. We've committed ourselves to doing certain things. Let's do them.

One of them here is in James:1:22. It says here,

James:1:22 But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.

V.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he's like a man observing his natural face in a mirror.

During this time of year, we're supposed to be looking into that mirror. We're supposed to be looking into the Bible. But if we don't do, then we're going to be like this person who looks into the mirror, he observes himself and goes away, then immediately forgets what kind of man he was. It's well and fine to read the Bible. But if we forget the reflection that we have seen off of those pages and we don't do what we read, what good is it?

V.25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work.

Now, it's interesting it starts off talking about doing the work, looking into the word. It finishes by saying doing the work. Well, God is doing a work in us, isn't He? He is doing a work in us. But He can't do it by Himself. We have committed to being a partner with God of the work that He is doing in us and the work that He is doing with this whole world, one step at a time, according to His plan.

Let's go to Hebrews chapter 12. We have a responsibility towards God. We have a responsibility towards each other. We have a responsibility to fulfill the role which God has given us in the body. It should be an active role. Now, it's going to be different for every person, and sometimes it does depend upon our physical condition. But nevertheless, we can have an active role in what God is doing. And we need to make sure that - well, there's no such thing as a Christian who's just along for the ride. That's - there's no place in the body to be just along for the ride. We have to be an active part of the body of Christ.

Hebrews:12:1, and here we read,

Hebrews:12:1 " Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses  - and, of course, that just talked about the faith chapter in Hebrews 11 - let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us.

We told God we would lay aside every weight. Sometimes the weights we have to lay aside aren't necessarily sin, as we already mentioned. Now, sometimes they are sin, and He says lay that aside as well, of course. But then He says we have to run the race with endurance. You know, God has a lot of patience for us. We need to also have patience with, you know, the fact that it's going to - it's a marathon race. I don't know if any of you have tried running long distance races. You certainly do not start off in a sprint. I've tried that one time. It did not work out so well. I was a sick puppy dog for a while. You have to run with endurance. You have to be doing the things along the way that keep you going.

V.2 Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross  - He endured that because of the joy that was set before Him, the vision of that joy that He had in front of Him   - despising the shame, and he sat down at the right hand of God.

V.3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and discouraged in your souls.

Now, we do get discouraged. It does become wearisome. And so what are we supposed to do? Look straight ahead, as the centurion. I think it was probably Cornelius, but that's just my opinion. He looked straight ahead at Christ when he was asking for his servant's son to be healed. Or Peter, who did exactly look straight ahead at Christ as the waves were coming and lapping at his feet. But He says look to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. And then he reminds us, you know.

V.4 You haven't resisted yet to bloodshed, striving against sin.

He said, you know, we're not quite there yet. And we need to be doing that, that we resist unto blood or unto great effort, is the context that is being meant there. That we resist and strive against sin, just like Jesus Christ strove against and had to endure the sinners against Him. He didn't have to strive against sin in that way, because He was perfect, but He strove against the sinners, and lest we also become discouraged.

I'd like to finish up in Philippians, if you would, please. Chapter 2. I'm going to touch on a couple of verses in chapter 2, a couple of verses in 3 and a couple of verses in 4.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and with trembling.  

We've committed ourselves to doing that. Verse 13 shows what God has committed Himself to do.

V.13 For God works with you both to will and to have that desire, and to actually do.

God helps us to have the will, the desire, and to actually do his good pleasure.

Let's go to chapter 3, beginning in verse 13. Paul says here - he takes the right perspective. He says,

Philippians 3:13 I don't count myself to have apprehended. He says, I don't count myself to be home free in terms of my spiritual journey. He says, but here's what I do. I forget those things that are behind, and I reach forward to those things which are ahead.

V.14 I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

He says I don't consider my journey at an end. He says I don't consider myself home free, but I do move forward. I do look to Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of my faith.

Chapter 4, beginning verse 11. These same things that we have read, this is what we've committed ourselves to, because we've committed ourselves with God's help to living by the word of God. In verse 11 then, chapter 4.

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak with regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

V.12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned to both be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer need.

And he says simply why? Says,

V.13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Paul was proactive. He was sober minded. He sought the goal. He knew what he had to do, and he knew what God would do for him and with him.

So, again, I would encourage us to read and learn the lessons from physical Israel, the stories from physical Israel during this time. Now, physical Israel, of course, as a nation eventually failed. They forgot their covenant that God had made with them and that they had made with God. Yet, once again, as we've seen in many examples today, God still has a plan and a future for them, and that's the same plan and future that He has for us and that we're experiencing right now.

So Passover is an annual reminder of promises and of duties and of covenants. Let us be reminded of our covenant and of God's commitment to us and of our commitment to God.

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