Unleashing the Power of Covenant
By Bob and Lynne Christensen
This is the key to
a satisfying, meaningful
and productive life!
BOB AND LYNNE CHIRSTENSEN
All Scripture references are from the King James Version of the bible unless designated.
Unleashing the Power of Covenant
Copyright © 2006 by Covenant Marriages Ministry
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Covenant Marriages Ministry, 17301 West Colfax Avenue, Suite 135 Golden, Colorado 80401
“And such as do wickedly
Against the covenant
Shall be corrupt by flatteries:
Bu the people that do know their God
Shall be strong, and do exploits.”
To our Lord Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God, through whom we are eternally privileged to be in covenant with God the Father
To all of our ten children, twenty-seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren who share God’s covenant with us, and especially to our dear and close daughter, Joan Johnson, who understands covenant as we do,
To all our co-laborers at TMJ Implants, Inc. and Covenant Marriages Ministries who have walked and labored in step with us as we have learned much more about God’s covenant with His people. We are particularly indebted to Mrs. Nancy Johnson, Vice President of TMJ Implants, Inc., and a dear and loyal friend for the past fifteen years. Because Nancy was talented and able to carry much of the TMJ Implants, Inc.’s load, this gave us time to write this book. We are also indebted to Amber Arnold, who proofread this manuscript and always has a smile;
To Lester and Debra Hardrick who have assisted us in covenant Marriages Ministry and whom we have more recently had the distinct pleasure of ordaining in the ministry of Jesus Christ for the work of the ministry.
And to our extended families and friends who have supported us through interesting, fruitful, and meaningful years of work and ministry.
Lastly, we are grateful to God for teaching us about His covenants in the context of our own marriage.
Foreword: Dr. Jerry Savelle and Pastor Billy Epperhart
Introduction: Having a Reason “Why”
ONE: God Has a Plan
TWO: The Nature of Covenant
THREE: She Shall Bring Forth a Son
FOUR: Covenants We Make with Other People
FIVE: Covenant Marriages and Covenant Friendship
SIX: Having the Mind of Christ
SEVEN: Genuine Love
EIGHT: Forgiveness Is More than a Feeling
NINE: Submission—A Matter of Equal but Different
TEN: Fulfilling Marriage Roles
ELEVEN: Being Part of a Covenant Community
TWELVE: Anticipation the Promised Blessing and Rewards
THIRTEEN: How Should My Life Be Different?
Appendix A: Covenant of Marriage Document
(The Christian Ketubbah)
Appendix B: Pastor’s Pledge
The Christensen’s new book, Unleashing the Power of Covenant, is an in-depth study about covenant and the kind of relationships God desires for our lives. The principles shared apply to all areas: our relationship with our Creator, with our spouses, with our employers, and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This book is highly insightful regarding the pressures and challenges facing the Church today and those who desire excellence (peace, love, and joy) in their personal relationships. They write, “Covenants are about life and God’s life-giving, life-blessing, life-extending power and promises.”
The truths shared in this book can provide you with a foundation for creating your own bit of heaven here on earth. I recommend it and encourage you to lay hold of its life-changing revelations. As your understanding of covenant increases, not only will your relationships be enriched, you will also be equipped to share and demonstrate the power of covenant with others.
--Dr. Jerry Savelle
In America today, the concept of marriage has become noting more than a disposable contract. The biblical principles on which the concept of marriage was founded have been discarded and thought of as obsolete. No longer do people cherish their spouse and strive to work out their differences. At the first sign of the slightest struggle, divorce becomes a viable option. Because of this, peoples’ lives are tragically changed, children’s lives are destroyed, and the very moral fabric of our society becomes ever more torn.
That is why I treasure people like Bob and Lynne Christensen. They have been a part of my church for several years. In that time, I have become connected with them and their vision to see the covenant of marriage restored to American family. What I treasure about Bob and Lynne is that they do not hide the fact that marriage is not always easy. They acknowledge that in any relationship there are trials and tribulations that make you question if you made the correct decision. However, what does not change is the fact that “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”
By revealing the principles of God-given covenant, Bob and Lynne illuminate the reader into the power of a marriage built upon the foundation of our Lord Jesus. Whether you are at a stage in your life where you are thinking about marriage or you are someone who has been married for 30 years, this book can reveal to you the Power of Covenant. Once you begin to understand the absolute intentions of God when you participate in a covenant, you can understand the intentions of God in your marriage.
You need to take the time to not only read this book, but truly take the times to digest the spiritual principles that are within. This is not a book that you can gloss over in a few hours to truly appreciate. This is a book that can become a compass for your marriage. Don’t miss out on wheat God wants to share with you through this book, Unleashing the Power of Covenant.
--Pastor Billy Epperhart
Trinity Christian Center
Having a Reason “Why”
One of the first questions many toddlers ask is, “Why?” is one of the last questions that recurs throughout our lives. We each ask ourselves, sometimes subconsciously: Why am I here? Why do I do what I do? Why do some things work and other things don’t? Why do some people succeed and others don’t? Why am I the way I am? There’s nearly an endless series of “why” questions we can ask, and often do ask – not only of ourselves, but of other people and of God.
Recently on a Fox News program, I saw the question posed. “Stay for the Kids or, Split for the Kids?” The question that was really being asked was, “Why stay married?” The answer is not related to the kids! The real answer is related to God. We stay married because God says we are to stay married. Period. The children benefit any time two married parents choose to stay married and walk in God’s ways according to the commands of God’s Word. That’s a truth you can count on.
Certainly one of the most elemental questions we can ask is, “Why obey God’s plan?” The answer is simple, but never simplistic. “Because God’s plan works!” God designed His universe to operate according to precise laws and principles. We never question many of them: the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, the law of cause and effect, and so forth. Laws governing the growth of plants, the nature of animals, or the pathways of the stars are rarely questioned. Natural laws are predictable and identifiable. The same is true for the laws that God established for the governance of HUMAN nature. His laws can be counted upon. They can be identified and obeyed. They work—not just some of the time, but all of the time. When we violate God’s laws related to human behavior, we are the ones who suffer.
“Covenant” is a principle—yes, a command-related “law”—that has been established by God as the foundation for ALL other human behavior that links God and man, and in countless cases, behavior that links human being with human being. It is the foundation for right behavior, including right actions but also including the human behaviors of right speaking, right thinking, and right believing.
When we build on a sure foundation of covenant, our lives last for all eternity, our marriages stand the test of time and circumstance, and our relationships with children and other family members and friends endure.
When we do what God tells us to do, confirmed by His covenant with us, then we enjoy a life that is satisfying, meaningful, fruitful, and productive. That’s God’s plan…and be assured of this…God always has a PLAN!
God Has a Plan!
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and
A light to my path.”
PSALM 119:105 NKJV
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor stands in the path of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of the scornful,
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he mediates day and nights.
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that brings forth its fruit in its season,
whose leaf also shall not wither,
and whatever he does shall prosper.”
PSALM 1:1-3 NKJV
I once saw a little placard that said, “Be assured! God has something up His sleeve besides His everlasting arm!” How true! God has a plan—He has a plan for this moment. He has a plan for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He has had a plan from the beginning!
Let the Scriptures speak for themselves…
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God’s plan is clearly spelled out as the beginning of God’s message to mankind. In the first chapter of Genesis we read:
About His own plan, God said, “It’s is very good!” (1:31)
In the second chapter of Genesis, we read about God’s plan for the relationship between mankind and the earth: God planted a garden and placed man in it to dress and keep it (Genesis 2:15). God told man that he could eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17)
We also read in the second chapter of Genesis about God’s plan for husbands and wives:
As husband and wife, man and woman were “one flesh” – one entity on the earth. They were formed on the same body—but with different natures, one fashioned of dust and the other of bone, but both made by the hands of God. They were intended to complement each other, work together, and have perfect union and communication, unashamed of their total vulnerability to each other.
God gave man and woman a shared mission: to subdue the earth, multiply, and replenish it. He imparted knowledge to man and woman as they walked daily with Him.
And then, an enemy in disguise as a subtle serpent introduced doubt into the relationship and the commandment. "Has God said?" The serpent asked, misquoting what God had commanded. "Do you think God really meant?" The serpent wished and.
Woman and men both gave into doubt in the foundation on which their lives had been established by God CRACKED. Disobedience appeared. The concept of promise was introduced. And the sad fact of ages is that those who disobeyed God and promises His truth build a foundation that is NOT God's plan. Such a foundation is subject to crumbling, not just some of the time, but inevitably all of the time.
If you want your plans and desires to be fully established, exceed, and indoor, you must make plans and have desires that are built upon what GOD has already established as His foundational design. Do things His way and enjoy a fruitful and meaningful life. Do things your way and read the consequences of failure.
Jesus placed strong value of continuing in the Word of God and keeping all the commandments. He said:
We must be in obedience to the Lord, without compromise, if we want to read the wonderful presence of the Lord in our lives and His blessing on all that we do.
What does this have to do with covenant? Everything! Covenant living, believing in the covenant that God has made with you, and obeying God in performing the covenant, is at the very heart of God's plan for your life, your marriage, your family, and all your important relationships on this earth. The "plan" of God is that you experience the fullness of blessing flowing toward you as you FULFILL your part of His covenant with you!
The Nature of Covenant
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and today received after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger all the land of Cannan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God." Said unto Abraham, Thou shall keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which he shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee, Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”
GENESIS 17:7 – 10
And to Jesus the Mediator of a New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh later things than that of Abel.
Whosoever believes in him Him (Jesus was parentheses should not perish, but have everlasting life.
A person can only begin to understand God's dealings with a man if he understands, and. The word "covenant" literally means "to cut" and it refers to an agreement that is bound by blood. It is the highest form of commitment a person can make with another person. It is a life and death agreement.
Perhaps most dramatic representation of the covenant in the Bible is associated with covenant God made with Abram (later known as Abraham). The 15th chapter of the book of Genesis tells us about an awesome night in the life of me from. The entire chapter is found alone, all 21 verses of it. As you read through the passage from Scripture, circle or highlight keywords or phrases that speak to you.
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your late great reward."
But Abram said, "LORD God, what will you You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!"
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one will come from your own body shall be your heir." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said him, "So shall your descendants be."
And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Then He said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you and the plan to inherit it."
And he said, "LORD God, how shall I know that I will inherit it? And quote
so He said to him, "Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Then he brought all of these things to Him and cut them into, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite of the other, but he did not cut the birds into. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold, were and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them 400 years. And also the nation they serve I will judge, afterwards they show come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace, you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."
And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there was a smoking oven and a torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:
"To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates, the Kenites, the Kenezzites, and the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Rephiam, the Amorites, the Cannanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites." (GENESIS 15 NKJV)
Note 3 things about this passage.
First, the covenant is initiated by God. God speaks to Abram. God gives instructions. God authorizes the terms of the cup. Every covenant in the Bible is initiated by one party, and "agreed to and quote by the other party, either by their words or by their deeds. In the covenants that are initiated by God, man's only response can be, "I choose to obey."
Second, there is the shedding of blood. From the beginning pages of Genesis, the shedding of blood was a sign that God was in total control of life and death. Man does not determine the origin of life, but does. Man has no authority to take or "and end of life, God does. Covenants are about life and God life-giving, life blessing, life extending power and promises.
Third, the covenant includes a promise that is for man's better fit. God's covenants are replete with blessing, often blessings; that come in miraculous ways.
Far More Than Contract
There are three ways in which a covenant, in the Bible sense, is much more than a contract or simple agreement:
No expiration date. A contract always has an expiration date or term, while a covenant is a permanent arrangement not limited by time
Not limited to a specific task or skill. A contract generally involves only one part of a person, such as the performance of a particular skill or a task. A covenant is not limited to a task or a part of an individual, it encompasses the total person.
No link to "performance." In a contract, my upholding in agreement that ends on the other person performing their part of the agreement, and vice versa. If you do where you were required to do, for example, then I will do what I am required to do. However, if you do not uphold your part of the contract, I do not need to upload my part. My performance is tied to you and way you do. The net result of this, of course, is that each person is constantly watching the "performance" of the other person. In a covenant, by contrast, performance is not based on what the other person does. What holds us in covenants are "vows,” words that are spoken. In covenant, a person is bound by their own word, Terry! It doesn't matter what the other person in the covenant does or doesn't do.
In a covenant, it doesn't matter if the other person hurts you, because your enemy, walks away, or if he or she becomes incapable of fulfilling their part of the agreement. YOU are still bound by the vows you made.
Covenant is all-inclusive and has no loopholes.
The Four Parts
of Bible Covenant
There are four part story biblical covenant. Each of them is vital!
Part one: Vow
Vows are words spoken to the Lord or before the Lord that invoke the presence and power of God. We see this in our courts of law when a person taking the witness stand puts his hand on the Bible and agrees to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, "so help me God" statement, with full belief that God not only shares the bow but WILL help the person fulfill it. Very importantly, about expresses not only an intention to `working to God's will and with God's help, but a deep commitment to follow through and perform ways stated. God's word says:
What we now becomes a soul binding statement. We must be very careful in what we now, stating our vows in clear terms without disclaimers or "what if's.” Do what you say... And say only what you WILL do!
Part 2: Alter
Every time a covenant is established in the Bible, we find that some form of alternatives build. We see that with no weight in Genesis 8 and with Abraham in Genesis 12. Both made a "boreal and quote (a reminder) of the vows they were making any form of an altar. The building of the altar added tangible and visible evidence or significance to them in inward and invisible commitment.
The first covenant in the Bible is one that God made with Noah after the flood. Here is what the Bible says:
Then God spoke to nowhere, saying, "Go out of the ark, you wind your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wife with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth; that they may abound on the earth." So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
Didn't know was built an altar to the LORD, and took every clean animal end of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings at the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in HIS heart, "I will never again cursed the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done." (GENESIS 8:15-21 NKJV)
Alters throughout the Bible are places of sacrifice, even, and surrender. In most cases, physical alters were built on down tops. An altar, therefore, was given "higher place." Even if we do not physically built an altar to establish a vow we must recognize that spiritually speaking, we are positioning our vow as the position of "very high priority." We are putting it above other things in our lives,, above all that is "normal" or "common" in the culture or in the natural flesh. A covenant relationship is not like other relationships that exist in the everyday hubbub of life.
Part 3: Sacrifice
One of the most profound stories of sacrifice is that of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham placed Isaac on the altar that he had built. We need to remind ourselves that this incident in Abraham's life comes AFTER God had established His covenant with Abraham, it is a supreme example of man facing his highest priority on the keeping of the covenant he has with God.
The purpose of an altar is sacrifice, and covenant always involves sex advice. In the Bible, sacrifices that involve lead or necessary to give sinful man access to a holy God. The blood sacrifice denotes that the person making the sacrifice is making the sacrifice is life and death matter. The greatest sample of this kind of stuff fights, of force, is a sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. He made it possible for us to receive eternal life. His death on the cross was an eternal life and eternal death matter!
When we make a sacrifice, we are in a position for God to move in our lives. We are giving our utmost, are all, our highest and best. We are then in a position to receive back from God Him utmost, His highest, and His best. Because of that truth, we can have a great sense of anticipation will we sacrifice on a covenant-based altar that God can and will respond to us in eternally beneficial ways and in ways that produce earthly blessings!
One of the great examples of this is that the prophet Elijah in a showdown battle on Mount Carmal. Elijah had challenged the prophets associated with the false god Baal to prepare an altar and sacrifice and see what might happen. Elijah, for his part, agreed to do the same. The Bible tells us:
And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took 12 stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, and to the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And she put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill for barrels, with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the word. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it their time. And the water ran from about the altar, and he filled the trench also with water. And he came up past the time of offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet, came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and now I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their hearts back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, “he is the LORD, he is the God, the LORD, he is the God." (1 KINGS 18:30-39)
Note that Elijah built an altar, offered a blood sacrifice, and then prayed with great acceptance see that God would act in a way that ONLY God can act! When we follow up the voicings of our vows with a life or death commitment to performing those values as our highest priority, we, too, can pray with expectancy!
Part 4: Token
The Making of a Covenant about was accompanied by a Token, or symbolic object, which serves to REMIND the person making the covenant vow that the vow has been made.
The covenant about that God made to know what was linked to an "token" we call a rainbow. The Bible tells us: "And God said, this is a token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:12-13).
The covenant about that God made with Abraham was linked to the "token" sign of circumcision. The Bible says: "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you" (Genesis 17:11).
When God called His people to leave Egypt, and He vowed to protect them and provide them as they obeyed Him, He insisted that they sacrifice lambs Thomas and take the blood of the Lamb and apply it to the doorway post and lintels of their home's. The blood applied with a token related to the sacrifice: "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:13).
When we make the vows with other people, very often an object or token is given as a lasting reminder of the vow. Perhaps the foremost example of this is a wedding ring, given as part of a marriage ceremony. The ring, given in the context of spoken vows, is a symbol of the sacrificial giving that they person is making in marriage. It is a "token" of a very important about that involves choosing to give up "self" for the benefit of the other person, through countless unselfish act of love, and devotion.
A company is more than a mutual from us.
It is more than an oath.
It is a pledge for ACTION that endures and cannot be broken by just one person in the covenant.
If you are in a covenant relationship with God on the basis of your having believed in Jesus as your Savior, then you can rest assured that God will be faithful to His covenant with you no matter what. He promises to be your God, and acknowledges you as His child, regardless of anything that might happen to you, or anything that you might do. The Bible tells us that we are "sealed" in Christ by the Holy Spirit. The covenant stands as a certainty throughout eternity.
Reflections on Covenant Living
"She Shall Bring Forth A Son"
... The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David,
and Jonathan loved him as his own soul...
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant,
because he loved him as his own soul.
1 Samuel 18:1,3 NKJV
In the first chapter of the book of Matthew, starting in a verse 18, we read about the birth of Christ.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being just a man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, aim, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take him to thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
From the beginning of time God had planned for the "perfect Lamb and quote whose blood would be shed on a cross for all of mankind. His blood would be shed in making a covenant with the Father with all who would it knowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In Isaiah 53:3-6, the prophesying about the coming Messiah is very accurate.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid him the iniquity of all of us.
We have already described the establishment of a true God covenant: as we saw with Abram, it requires the shedding of blood. To make a new covenant, and a better covenant, God required the shedding of blood from the perfect Lamb. In John 1:29, John the Baptist sees Jesus and says, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
Jesus was the perfect Lamb that came to be scouraged, die with sinners on the cross, be very, rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven just at the right hand of the Father to judge the living and the dead.
You see, without the perfect plan of the Fathers to redeem us from the takeover by the devil in the Garden of Eden, we would have no solution to our fallen nature. Whereas sin ruled by one man, redemption for by the second Adam, God's perfect sacrificial Lamb, for our sakes.
Even in the third chapter of Genesis, after the fall of man, God predicted the coming of the Messiah when He stated in 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and now shalt bruise his heel."
There was never a better time that our God was not prepared to make redemption possible for all of mankind from the fallen state they were in after the episode in the Garden of Eden.
Remember, as Jesus speaks to His disciples at the Last Supper the evening before He was crucified, He "took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament (the new covenant pose privacy in my blood: this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. And quote
Jesus was fulfilling all of the earlier testimony of the Messiah coming to redeem His people and to establish a new and better covenant for mankind with the Father, established by the shedding of Jesus’ blood.
In Revelation 12:11, the Bible tells us, "And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. End quote
In Revelation 12:12, the Bible tells us, "Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhibiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he know with that he hath but a short time."
In Revelation 12:17 it says, "And the Dragon (devil) was brought with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Again, in the Scriptures in Revelation we see the apostle John telling us that it's it's because of the Christian's knowledge of his or her covenant with the Father, through the blood of Jesus, and with the Word of God, that he or she is able to overcome the devil's attack.
When the Christian gets a hold of the promises made by God to His covenant children, he or she will understand the true meaning of Unleashing the Power of Covenant.
Reflections on Covenant Living
Covenants We Make with Other People
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
"trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. And quote
PROVERBS 3:5-6 NKJV
... for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
All human covenant making is rooted or grounded in the spiritual covenant making between God and mankind. Some human covenants are rooted in love, others are rooted in agreed-upon "service" one to the other. There is a spiritual quality to all covenants, however, in this regard: All covenants are binding and involve the presence and power of God as either a power in or as a witness to the covenant.
The Bible gives us a tremendous example of this human covenant making early in the history of the Israelites.
As the children of Israel entered Canaan-which to them was "the Promised Land”-they were tricked by a group of people called the Gibeonites into making a covenant. The Gibeonites sensed that they were bound for extermination, so they disguise themselves as people from a far-away land-even to the point of caring old water skins and putting on "used" clothing. They came to the children of Israel seeking not only refuge, but offering servitude. They entered into a relationship with the Israelites that was sealed with a vow sworn before God.
When the Israelites discovered that they had been tricked, they wanted to destroy the Gibeonites, but because they understood the nature and seriousness of covenant vows, they restrained themselves. The Bible says, "But all the princes and onto the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them" (Joshua 9:19).
Later, when the Gibeonites were under attack by the armies of five teams, they exercised their covenant right in calling upon their covenant "brothers, and quote the Israelites, to come to their aid. The Word of God tells us, "The five kings of the Amorites, the kings of Jerusalem, the King of Hebron, the King of Jarmuth, the King of Luchish, fixing of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp of Gilgal, saying, Slack not by hand from the servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. So Josh was descended from Gilgal, he and all the people were with him, and all the mighty men of valor." (JOSHUA 10:5-7)
Joshua in the Israelites were bound by covenant to fight for Gibeon-so they thought!
When you and I make a covenant with another person, that person's enemies become your Anthony's, and their friends become your friends... and vice versa.
When the Israelites followed through on the covenant they made, God got involved! The Bible says:
And the Form Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. And it come to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-Horon, that the LORD cast down gravestones from heaven on them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the side of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and down, Moon, in the Valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before or after it, that the LORD Harkins unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. (JOSHUA 10:8, 11-14)
What an amazing thing! God got so caught up with the covenant fulfillment of the Israelites that He not only sent massive hailstones from heaven, but He made the sun and moon standstill. The entire universe was "put on hold" for a day so that the Israelites might fulfill their covenant vows. And all of this for the ultimate benefit of the people who had once been destined for destruction and had "tricked" their way into a covenant relationship!
Through the years in my work as a pastor and evangelist, I have talked to people who don't feel "worthy" to be helped by God. They do not believe they can do anything for God or that God might choose to use them in any way. The wonderful thing about covenant is our feelings of “worthiness” nothing to do with God's vows on our behalf! God is in covenant relationship with those who believe in Jesus as Savior. God asked on our behalf whether or not we feel worthy of His actions.
Many times in the past we have suggested to those spouses who have questioned whether he or she has married the wrong person, "God can change hearts and give a couple one way and one heart. And quote there are a number of things that may influence the answer as a pastor, minister, or counselor may give. In the case of the tricky Gibeonites, the Gibeonites were the wrong people to be welcomed into the covenant relationship with the Israelites, but once the Israelites established covenant with them, there was no turning back. That is frequently true with the person who questions whether their marriage partner is the one God might have chosen for them to marry. Once the covenant of marriage has been executed, God can make that other person the right person. It takes practice and faith. Jeremiah 32:39 tells us, "And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and for their children after them."
Joshua 10:14 says, "The LORD offer Israel.” And Israel was fighting for Gibeon. The covenant relationship was such that when God saw Israel, He also saw Gibeon, all because of the covenant felt that been made between Gibeon and Israel.
And that isn't the end of Gibeonites. Many years later we find them again in the biblical record, this time doing "business" with King David. The Word of God says:
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites." So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel sworn protection to them, but solve had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah. Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, "What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD (2 SAMUEL 21:1-3 NKJV)
King David-with the Army and all the riches of Israel behind him-needed to ask the Gibeonites for forgiveness. Why Russian Mark God told them to do so!
And why was "atonement" necessary? Because a covenant vow had been broken, not by David but the previous king, Saul. That covenant was many decades old. Nevertheless, it "stood" in God's eyes.
We should take great courage from this example in the Scriptures. The lesson to us is clear: When we stand firmly committed in the covenant vows we have made, we unleashed the supernatural power of God to act on our behalf! And there's nothing God can't do or won't do for those who trust in Him and know their covenant rights and promises.
David Acted on the Basis of Covenant
Consider the story of David and Goliath. David asked a simple question about Goliath, the champion soldier of the Philistines: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). In noting that Goliath was uncircumcised, David was reminding himself and all who heard him that as an Israelite, David was circumcised and his circumcision was a token of his covenant relationship with God.
David recounted to King Saul experiences in his past when God had protected him from enemies that might have destroyed him. He recounted how God had empowered him to defeat a lion and a pair. David noon at the very core of his being that nothing could interfere with God's sovereign plan. It was not a rash move but a bold declaration of faith-faith founded on covenant-that David shouted as he ran toward Goliath armed only with a sling and stones: "Bout comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied" (1 Samuel 17:45).
David did not battle with his strength. He knew the Lord of hosts. He knew his covenant relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He knew that he acted in faith on the basis of that covenant; God would act in a supernatural way!
We need the same revelation that David had. So many people attempt to live their lives, and live without their marriage vows and other covenant vows, in their own strength in their own way. They must recognize that God is with us-He is an integral part of the covenant vows we have made any time we have acknowledged Him as a witness to our vows, and HE will act in ways that are far beyond anything we might say or do.
Jonathan Acted to Fulfill Covenant
There is another tremendous example of acting on covenant. It's found in the life of Jonathan, the son of King Saul. In 1 Samuel 13 we read how King Saul recruited an army of 3000 men. The Philistines gathered 100,000 men to come against the maker force; in addition to the foot soldiers, the Philistines had 30,000 chariots and 6000 horse! (See 1 Samuel 13:2-five.) The Israelites knew they were badly outnumbered, and filled with fear, they retreated to hide in caves, pickets, pits, rocks, and the crevices of clips. As the day of battle approached, the army of Israel had only two swords, and no spares! (See 1 SAMUEL 13:6, 22.)
In the natural, there was no way the army of Israel was going to win. Jonathan decided at some his covenant relationship with Almighty God. He decided to take on the enemy with only his armor bearer and one sort. He didn't tell his father, King Saul, when he was planning to do. He just acted. He said, "Let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD to save many or by few "(1 Samuel 14:6). As the two of them went, they outsmarted the Philistines on watch and were able to take out about 20 of the Philistine soldiers.
Then... God acted! The ground begin to shake and the more the earth trembled, the more the garrison and the Raiders and it trembled. The armies of the Philistines began to run for their lives-all the way back to the Philistine territory a commission point the Bible tells us, "The watchmen of Saul watched and behold the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another." (See 1 SAMUEL 14.)
Note the lessons in the story-and especially that there was a PART that Jonathan had to play in this miracle.
First, Jonathan had to make a decision to trust God.
Second, Jonathan had to receive a plan from the Lord. The plan he discerned with a plan to make an assault on the garrison of the Philistines. He further discerned that the plan involved certain specifics regarding timing-the assault was to be at night-and actions of the enemy. (See 1 Samuel 14:8-10.)
Third, Jonathan confirmed this plan. He received encouraging confirmation from his trusted armor bearer, who also stood to lose his life if the plan failed.
Fourth, Jonathan acted.
God didn't do it all. Edison is Jonathan did his part, God stepped across the boundaries of time and space and entered the battle!
In fulfilling your covenant vows, make a decision that you ARE going to stand firm in your covenant relationship. Ask God to show you if there is any action that you want to take. Confirm His word to you by going to the Bible by consulting with trusted counselors who believe in God's Word. Then, take action. As you act, trust God to respond in ways that are truly miraculous!
Reflections on Covenant Living
Ask yourself these three questions:
"God, I know I am a sinner and that I am not in right relationship with You-but I want to be. I accept that Jesus died on the cross for my sake, and I acknowledged Him today as my Savior. I proclaim that Jesus rose from the grave and that He sits at the right hand of the father. I asked You to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse me of everything that keeps me from being in right relationship with You. Help me to live in a way that pleases in Your site. I trust You with all my life from this moment on and I open myself to receiving Your Holy Spirit to help me daily to walk in Your ways and bring glory to Your name."
If you pray this prayer with the sincere and humble heart, I have no doubt that God will hear your prayer and forgive you of your sin. God promises in His word, the Bible, that if you confess your sins, He will forgive your sins and cleanse you. (See 1 JOHN 1:9.)
Covenant Marriage, Covenant Friendship
The LORD has been witness between you and the
wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt
treacherously; yet she is your companion and
your wife by,. But did She not make them
one, having a remnant of this. And why
one? The godly offspring. Therefore take
heed to your spirit, and let them deal
treacherously with the wife of his youth.
MALACHI 2:14-15 NKJV
Covenants made between two individuals generally take the form of either a covenant marriage (22 people of the opposite sex) or covenant friendship (between two people of the same set). Although it may be theoretically possible to have a common friendship between two people of the opposite sex, such as friendship is extremely rare. Sexuality nearly always comes into play, eventually, indeed friendships between people of the opposite sex.
What is important for you to recognize at the onset of this chapter on covenant relationships that these relationships need to be taken very seriously. They are relationships in which God has been invited eager to be a participant boy with. In bringing God's presence and power to bear on the relationship, the degree of "pulling "is ascribed to the relationship. The relationship is a set apart, ultimately for God's purposes and so that the glory of God might be revealed to others who observe the relationship.
The Hallmarks of Covenant Marriage
People often refer to the sanctity of marriage vows, but many people, even Christians, do not seem to understand fully how seriously God regards the covenant of marriage. The Bible gives us these words of the Lord through the prophet Malachi:
And this time he done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with frame, insomuch that he regarded the offering anymore or receive if it with good will at your hand. Yet he's saying, Wherefore? Because the LORD has been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yeah is she like companion, and the wife of backup. And did not see me one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For that LORD, the God of Israel, stated that she hateth putting away: for one covering violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that he don't not treacherous. He have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet he's saying, Wherein have we buried him first, when he's saying, Everyone that do with evil is good in the side of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? And will (MALACHI 2:13-17)
when it comes to keeping balance, God does not want justification, or a "redefining terms. And he wants obedience. No intention, no compromise-but action.
King David noon his covenant life when he came to his marriage to Michal, daughter of King Saul. David had entered into a covenant marriage with Michal. He had "won” the privilege of working hard to be his wife in defeating Goliath. He had open for paid" the dowry price asked of Michal’s father-100 foreskins. In fact, David had paid double was so yes. (See 1 SAMUEL 18:20-25)
after David was forced to flee Saul's court, Saul gave Michal to Phalti, something he had no God ordained right to do (1 Samuel 25:44). When David became king of Israel, he sent for Michal. He knew that from a covenant standpoint, she was still his wife (2 Samuel 3:14-16).
We often stay in marriage ceremonies that what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. How true those words are! But seriously we must take them. Next line below is a document that we consider to be the essence of a biblical "Covenant of Marriage.”
Covenant of Marriage Document
In the early 1990s, the Lord impressed me, Bob, to prepare a "Covenant of Marriage and quote document that would spell out the covenantal words found in the marriage ceremony, and to establish a direction for a married couple as they walked out on their marriage vows. I saw that this document might be framed and placed on the wall of the couple's home as a daily reminder of their marriage bond. I also saw that it might be used as a covenantal premarital agreement and that it might have the same legal force and effect as any other prenuptial agreement. The document, horse, can also be a post marital agreement, as finding and any other written agreement; many couples have used it as part of a "reaffirmation of marriage vows and post-ceremony. The document is known in figure 1 on the following page and can also be found in Appendix A.
In many ways, the Covenant of Marriage document is similar to the Jewish Ketubbah.
For many centuries, as long ago at the time of the Jews’ Babylonian captivity during the seven centuries before Christ, an integral part of Jewish marriages was the preparation of a document called a ketubbah. The practice of preparing a ketubbah, often beautifully illustrated, is ongoing in some Jewish circles today.
In a ketubbah the bridegroom's financial and other obligations toward his bride are briefly recorded. The ketubbah is to be delivered to the bride before the marriage ceremony, and most definitely before the marriage is consummated. Should the ketubbah be lost or misplaced, a new one is with quiet before the husband can live with the bright for even one hour. This is how important the rabbis believed the document to be for a Jewish married couple. A sample ketubbah is shown in figure 2 on the previous page. We believe the Covenant of Marriage document, which the Lord instructed us to mass produce, is even more important today among Christians because of the leniency of no-fault divorce laws across our nation. This one document, when fully taught to the married or about to be married couple, could have a powerful effect in stopping no-fault divorces among Christians. And sadly, the rate of divorce among Christians is now as high as the rate among non-Christians, and in some states even higher-50% or more. I ask myself often, "Where are her Christian pastors who need to be using this godly weapon to safeguard our marriages and families?" (If you would like to receive a copy of this document, please contact our office: Covenant Marriages Ministry, 17301 W. Colfax Avenue, Suite 135, Golden, CO 80401.)
In addition to the covenant of marriage document, we have also prepared a Pastor’s Pledge for those pastors who are willing to take the bold but godly step of teaching, downswing, and admonishing husband and wives to uphold covenant marriage vows. The Pastor’s Pledge can be found in Appendix B.
The Hallmarks of Covenant Friendship
Beyond marriage, genuine covenant friendship, a friendship rooted in mutual love for the Lord Jesus and a mutual desire to keep God's commandments, can exist between any two people of the same sex. The nature of covenant friendship is described him Proverbs 18:1 to 4, we read that such a friend "stricketh closer than a brother.” A covenant friendship is a matter of choice, it is not a natural relationship, but a human to human relationship that has spiritual or supernatural that nation. Jesus called his disciples "friends." (See JOHN 15:15) In calling these close followers of His own friends," Jesus pointed out four things:
Vows of covenant friendship always bear the same descriptors. The friendship becomes a matter of our choice and free will. We choose to be a friend to the person in good times and bad, no matter what and what the other person might do or say. A covenant friend is a person to whom we choose to give our highest and best natural and spiritual gifts. We give to a covenant friend those things that we believe and know to be eternally beneficial. A covenant friend is a person to we provide assistance and wise counsel; always seeking to help the person obey God fully. A covenant friend is a person for we must be willing to die if a sacrificial death is required.
Covenant friendships are not be entered into lightly. Such friendships are spiritually powerful and precious before God, but they also require great spiritual responsibility, great commitment on our part, and great sacrifice.
Jonathan David had a covenant friendship. The Bible tells us that Jonathan loved David "as his own soul." First Samuel 18:3 – 4 tells us that they "made a covenant. And Jonathan gave his robe, his armor – even his sword, bow, and belt to hold the sword – to David as tokens of their covenant relationship. In doing this, Jonathan – son of King Saul – was saying to David, "Everything I possess is yours." Jonathan knew that David was destined to be King. He honored the anointing of God and David life.
A Matter of Deep Honor
At the core of both a covenant marriage and a covenant friendship is the concept of HONOR. In the Bible, honor is not only marked by deep at ration for how the person and how the person loves God and others – even though these are important aspects of honor. Honor is marked by deep respect for the relationship that GOD has with the person. Honor recognizes that GOD is at work in a person's life. Honor acknowledges that the other person is ALSO in a covenant relationship with God. And, because of that, the covenant is truly threefold: you, the other person, and GOD.
Trust God to work in the life of the OTHER person in your three-part covenant relationship, even as you trust Him to work in your life.
Reflections on covenant living
Having the Mind of Christ
offer to God thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
PSALM 50:14 NKJV
For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those
who fear Your name... So I will sing praise
to Your name forever, that I may daily
perform my vows.
PSALM to see 61:5, 8 NKJV
Are we to enter into covenant friendships with just anybody? No!
Are we to marry just because we desire a person? No!
The Bible speaks very strongly against Christians being “yoked” with unbelievers. God’s Word admonishes those who walk in the Light not to walk in darkness-there is no fellowship between darkness and light. (See CORINTHIANS 6:14 AND 1 JOHN 1:6-7)
How can we make wise decisions about covenant relationships? We must have the mind of Christ! The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, saying, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). What did Paul mean?
Man is triune being-made up of spirits, flesh, and soul. The spirit is the part of our humanity that seeks God and His ways. The flesh is the body, which reacts and responds to sensory stimuli and circumstances. The soul is the seat of the will, reason, and emotion. The apostle Paul was saying to the Philippians, “Let the will, emotions, and reasoning manifested by Christ Jesus be yours.” In other words, we are to make choices, express emotions, and have the reasoning patterns of Jesus.
This word “mind”-which comes from the Greek word “phroneo”-means to think or regard. We are to EVALUATE what we perceive and feel. We are to develop the understanding and wisdom that Christ displayed. We are to think about ourselves and other people as Jesus thinks about us and others. We are to evaluate opinions, statements, and deeds of others-and of ourselves-according to God’s Word, which is the way Jesus evaluated the opinions, statements, and deeds of others.
The Bible presents two clearly different and distinct ways of responding to the world. Below is the model that depicts the way a godly person responds:
The godly person perceives in his or her spirit what God desires. He directs his will to accomplish what God wants, calling upon His mind to be an alignment with God's Word (reason) and His emotions are subjected to the spirit, the outcome in the flesh is godly; the person will speak godly words and engage in godly behavior.
In sharp contrast, the model below depicts the way and on godly person response to life:
The ungodly person perceives only the sensory stimuli of the flesh. His will says, "I will choose to do what gives me pleasure." His emotions bow to what "feels good." His reasoning is focused on justification for self-gratification. And in the end, his life of self-fulfillment sends a signal to the spirit;
"I'm number one. Nobody else and nothing else matters... Including God."
The challenge before us is to be a godly person!
The Bible says:
Truly to become a "godly person," with the Spirit giving impetus to the soul and that the flesh, a person must be rooted in the Word of God. A person must read the Bible for a comprehensive and full understanding of God's Word. We must read the Bible until we have a solid understanding of each truth in the Context of the whole of God's truth. No verse stands alone. All verses are connected.
Then, a person must meditate upon, or contemplate, the Scriptures. Thinking often about the Scriptures, perhaps memorizing and rehearsing them in mind, causes a person to dwell upon and internalize the truth of God's Word. The more a person does this, the clearer the choices of life become. A person knows when something is in line God Word and when is it. A person knows when something is pleasing to God and subject to reward, and when it isn't.
The Word of God becomes the standard against which all thoughts, beliefs, words, and deeds are evaluated.
There is no substitute for knowing the Commandments of God Word – both the Commandments of the Old Testament and the commandments given by Jesus. Jesus said, "If ye keep my Commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fathers Commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (JOHN 15:10 – 11)
When we know the Commandments of Jesus, abide in them and in God's love, and keep the Commandments, we put ourselves into a position to be fulfilled and joyful!
To know is to mentally study, discern, and understand.
To abide is to "rest and quote and to accept fully that the Commandments are God's intended ways for us to live. To abide is to BELIEVE the Commandments are for us!
To keep it is to make the commandment such a mental habit that it gives rise automatically to behavior.
Developing the mind of Christ is not an onerous burden. It is the key to making wise decisions and reaping good consequences of life. It is the key to knowing with whom we should be in relationship, and how to live in that relationship.
Gaining Insight into What God Desires
Proverbs 23:7 tells us, "For as he think if in his heart, so is he." What we think about it comes what we feel, what we choose, and what we do. Our thoughts become who we ARE.
Can we truly understand the Commandments and develop the mind of Christ by dwelling upon God's Word until His Word becomes the habits of our heart and mind? Absolutely! Consider the passage below:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts to be which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace and your heart to the LORD. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name in the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God and up Father by him. (COLOSSIANS 3:12 – 17)
Let me ask you: Sandra do is your Nana ask
Are we, as godly people – set apart (holy) and loved by God – to be merciful or unmerciful? Kind or in kind? Humble or proud? Make (yielded to God) or resistant? Patient or impatient? Tolerant of other Christians or intolerant? Forgiving or unforgiving?
The answers are clear in the passage above!
Are we, as godly people, to love others and forgive them as Christ loved us and forgive us?
The answer is clear that the commission point
Are we to encourage other Christians around us to exhibit these character traits?
The answer is clear!
Are we to give thanks to God in every situation or circumstance of our lives?
The answer is clear!
The more we dwell in the Word of God, the more we have a template for what it is we are to do and be. The more we soak our minds and the teachings of Jesus, the more we automatically come to think and act in ways that are pleasing to God.
The apostle wrote to the Colossians: "Set your affection open parentheses exercise your mind was parentheses on the things above, not on the things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). He wrote to the Corinthians, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 bowsprit sees. We are to take charge of what we think and feel and "choose" – subjecting every area of our SOUL to the SPIRIT, which desires God's approval and guidance.
The promise of God's Word is that as we steep are thinking and feeling in God's Word, we WILL do what is right before Him. Philippines 2:13 promises us, "For it is God which worked if in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
We won't be in a position of feeling we HAVE to obey...we will be in a position of WANTING to obey because obedience brings HIS blessing and rewards.
Hebrews 10:16 relates all of this to covenant. It says, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the LORD, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them."
Our Teacher the Holy Spirit
It is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called "the Spirit of Truth," who instructs us and feels God's Word to our minds and hearts. (See JOHN 16:13.)
Very specifically, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would testify of Jesus (John 15:26). In other words, He would remind us and teach us what Jesus said and did, and therefore, when Jesus would say and do because the nature and character of Jesus do not change. Jesus further taught that the Holy Spirit would convict of sin and righteousness and judgment. In other words, He will make it very clear to us what is wrong, what is right, and how to determine what is wrong or right (John 16:8 – 11).
If you have any doubt about what Jesus would do or say in a specific situation, ask the Holy Spirit to show you!
If you have any doubt about whether something is right or wrong ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the path in which you should walk!
If you have any doubt about how to discern God's answers to you from His Word, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the insights you need!
The more we read and internalize the truth of God's Word, and the more we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit to apply and feels that Word to our individual lives, the more we find ourselves wanting what God wants. Our desires shift. We want only what is pleasing to Him and what will further His purposes for us and for others on this Earth. God Word tells us:
God is under no obligation to fulfill what we desire from our flesh. He makes no promise to give us everything that will gratify the last we feel, the greedy impulses we have, or the proud aspirations we may have for fame or power. God DOES promise to give us those things that are in keeping with His plan and purposes for the ages, and those are the things that we come to desire the more we seek to know His Word and to have the Holy Spirit instruct us daily in the choices we should make.
One of the most important decisions a person makes is this: "Whom shall I marry?”
There are other important decisions that can have equally profound consequences:
"With whom should I enter into deep friendship?"
"With shall engage in a business partnership?"
"Whom should I adopt to become a child?"
"With whom should I spend my time and on whom should I or our love? And what
Take those questions to the Word of God!
Ask God the Holy Spirit to show you the Lord's answer!
Earlier in this chapter I cited a passage from the Colossians about godly character. Here are the verses that come immediately to passage: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as if it the in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged… And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the LORD, and not unto men." (COLOSSIANS 3:18 – 21, 23)
If you are a woman who is considering marriage, ask yourself, And I truly it this man? Am I willing to trust him and make the final decisions in the customer my willing to show respect and honor, just as I respect and honor the Lord?
If you were a man considering marriage, ask yourself, Can I love this woman genuinely and completely, without any resentment or hesitation? Can I trust her to be the mother of my children and I give her sacrificially, just as Christ gave Himself sacrificially to the church? Am I willing to make her the focus of my affection, and to do my of most character, provide for her, and nurture her, just as Christ nurtures His beloved ones?
Are you willing to enter into a marriage with this foremost in your mind and heart: "I will relate to this person just as I relate to Jesus Christ?" Are you willing to follow Christ's commandments about marriage and about covenant, rather than the whims and fantasies offered by the world?
If so… Then God can and will give you the desire of your godly heart.
If not… Then you do not have the mind of Christ and will be subject to error and headache.
Reflections on Covenant Living
These things I command you, that
you love one another.
JOHN 15:17 NKJV
Many people are motivated to enter covenant relationships on the basis of love. Often, what they call love is much closer to last. In nearly always is an emotional feeling – a euphoria and passion that demands expression.
God certainly has nothing against love. The Bible tells us the very character and nature of God is love (1 John 4:16)
The Bible also tells us that love is the greatest thing in the world! First Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV) declares clearly, "Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." The Bible admonishes us to love God and to love others. Jesus said we are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (See MATTHEW 22:37 – 40.) John wrote, "He who loves God must love his brother also" (1 John 4:21 NKJV).
There are a few things the Bible teaches about love, however, that aren't as widely taught or known.
First, the Bible tells us:
Love is the attitude, the mindset, the "soul environment," the motivation, the perspective in which we are to exercise our obedience to God's commandments. Love means "working no ill" to other people. It means doing everything that build, promotes, edifies, courageous, and helps another person to be the person that God created him or her to be. Love means doing those things that help another person enter into relationship with Christ Jesus so they might experience forgiveness of sins and receive eternal life. Love isn't just a nice warm feeling. Love is potent! Love it is action! Love is DOING what is beneficial to others, now and for the sake of all eternity.
When we love another person, we love without regard to their sins, shortcomings, failures, flaws, or foibles. That's what it means for love to "cover" a multitude of sins. It doesn't mean that we are blind to their sin, nor does it mean that our love atones for their sin. No! Only the blood of Jesus can atone for sin. We must never be blind to what is wrong, regardless of who that erring person might be Erie it next line we are, however, to love with such loyalty, perseverance, and commitment that no matter what a person does, we continue to love that person and to believe for God's highest and best in his or her life.
That's The Way, God loves us.
And that's The Way, God desires for us to love others.
The Bible tells us:
There is absolutely nothing serve me or frothy about the kind of love God desires that we give to those with whom we have covenant relationships. Our challenge is to love those with whom we are in covenant, just as Christ loves us.
Three Types of Love
The Bible speaks of several kinds of love and each claim is related to covenant relationships in unique ways.
This is the word for "God's love." In the Greek, the word literally means "honor." It describes a love that goes beyond the limits of thinking and feeling. It is the love without limits and boundaries. It needs no rhyme or reason to be put into effect. It is love for love's sake. It is love because the person who is expressing this love chooses to honor another person with a bestowal of genuine, unconditional love. Agape love is the love of John 3:16, which says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten, That Was Soever Believe It in Him Should Not Perish, but Have Everlasting Life."
When Jesus Said "Love Your Enemies, Bless Them That Curse You, Do Good to Them That Hate You, and Pray for Them Which Despitefully Use You, and Persecute You," He Was Talking about "Agape" Love. (See MATTHEW 5:44.)
Agape love compels a person to make the first move and then, to continue to express love even in the face of rejection. All Christians are required to have and to nurture this type of love. It is love that is not always reciprocal, but it is the most potent force for positive change this world has ever known and can ever know.
A covenant relationship calls for this type of self-sacrificing, giving first love.
This is "brotherly love." The Bible has numerous references to this kind of love among Christians:
Agape love has no boundaries but brotherly love has limitations. It is extended to those who are in relationship with one another, either by blood or by mutual faith, cause, or purpose. It is a love that has mutually and reciprocity. It is love that is "shared.” Phileo love carries with it expectations of acceptance. We expect those whom we have phileo love to "like" us, to be open with us, and to engage in mutual activities and vulnerable communication with us. This love is developed by people who share a daily life. It oftentimes develops after a marriage ceremony. Genesis 24:67 tells us, "I six brought her (Rebekah) into his mother's Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." In our world, we often think that the formula is fixed: love leads to marriage. In many cases, marriage can lead to love.
This is passionate, sexual love. It is the most intimate physical expression of love, but it is often the most abused type of love. Eros is not intended for expression to a person of your same-sex. Nor is it intended for expression to a person of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. Eros is confined to covenant marriage.
Agape love is all – encompassing.
Phileo is limited to relatives and close friends.
Eros is limited in the Bible to one man and one woman.
The purpose of eros is the satisfaction of one other person: your spouse. It is not love that results in self-critical station; that's must. It is love that results in gratification of the other person in a two-persons-only relationship.
Agape tells us, "God so loved the world."
Phileo tells us to "love the brotherhood."
Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own, and not for
strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with
the wife of your youth.
As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her
breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be
enraptured with her love.
For why should you, my son, be enraptured by
an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms
of a seductress? (PROVERBS 5:-20 NKJV)
Eros is the fulfilling of the ”one flesh” concept God initiated. In the context of a marriage covenant, eros deepens a relationship between a husband and wife.
A healthy marriage will have a combination of all three types of love, but there is yet another love that is often overlooked when people describe biblical love. That love is “chesed.”
Also spelled as “hesed” in some reference books, this Hebrew word refers to the type of love that is INSIDE covenant relationships. It is often translate as “loving kindness,” merciful kindness,” or simply “mercy” or “kindness.” Read a few verses that reflect what God’s Word says about this wonderful expression of love:
Chesed is God’s unfailing love, a love that never weakens but is always present and never diluted. It is the mercy a parent has when he or she looks upon a child, even though the child is weak and vulnerable. Chased is love PLUS loyalty and mercy. When we are determined to be faithful to our covenant vows, our love goes beyond feelings to become a love that is a “decision” or “choice” to extend mercy and kindness in all situations, at all times.
The extending of mercy and kindness to others is a central teaching of Jesus, who is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew as saying:
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (LUKE 6:32-36 NKJV)
How difficult it is at times to show mercy
and kindness when we have been shown NO mercy or have been treated in a very
unkind manner! And yet this is what
Christ commands us. His words are not a
suggestion-they are a command. We are to
love even when the object of our love is unlovable! We are to do
good” to our enemy, even when that enemy is a beloved spouse, child, parent, or friend. We are to pray for those who persecute us and show kindness in word and deed to those who have set themselves up against us.
Countless marriages in our nation seem to portray a picture-perfect love…on the “exterior.” The truth is, countless marriages and families are seething on the “interior” with anger, bitterness, and resentment. Spouses often say and do unkind things to one another. Perhaps the most unkind stab to the heart is to have a spouse file for a divorce and reject the marriage and at times, the entire family. The response of love that Christ commands is a selfless response, a response that extends mercy and kindness even in the face of the most cruel insults, criticisms, and hateful actions.
“But what about situations of abuse?” you may ask.
Abuse is not rooted in love. It is rooted in a need for “power.” The abuser is often acting out of deep-seated resentment and hatred, which may have festered for decades or from early childhood. Abuse is persistent hurtful behavior and there is abusive situation. That dose not mean, however, that a person has a “release” from a command to love. The abuser may have become “as an enemy, “ but if that is the case, then the abuser needs to be treated in the way Jesus commanded: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (MATTHEW NKJV)
Note the four specific things Jesus commanded:
Love, bless, do good, and pray-these four response to negative, hateful, or abusive behavior can be done “at a distance.” You do not need to remain in harm’s way, nor are you required to keep your children in harm’s way.
There is no substitute for mercy.
There is no equal to love.
You can chose to be an agent of mercy and love even if you are mistreated or rejected.
The Connection to Covenant
Love is what we DO to fulfill covenant. Love is ACTION. Love is GIVING. Love is SERVING. Love is HONORING. Love is SACRIFICING. Love is expressed to God in WORSHIP.
Love is the supreme act of obedience that unleashes God’s power and presence in a covenant relationship.
Reflections of Covenant Living
Forgiveness Is More than a Feeling
Forgive, and you will be forgiven
LUKE 6:37 NKJV
Most Christians know the prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples, often called The Lord’s Prayer:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed to they name. They kingdom come. They will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (MATTHEW 6:9-13)
What many people generally overlook, however, is that Jesus chose to elaborate on only one point of that prayer. The next two verses say:
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will you Father forgive your trespasses.” (MATTHEW 6:14-15)
In other gospel accounts we have these statements of Jesus on the subject of forgiveness:
Jesus was extremely serious about forgiveness. He commanded His followers to forgive. Other New Testament writers echo His teachings:
If we were to summarize the teaching about forgiveness in the New Testament, these would certainly be among the major points”
Forgiveness was at the very core of Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of heaven. One of Jesus’ most famous parables dealt with the matter of forgiveness:
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he head, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, LORD, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owned him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took his by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but wet and cant him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow serveants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was worth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses. (MATTHEW 18:23-35)
One of the interesting this about unforgiveness is that it is nearly always linked to one or both of these two things: personal pride or deep anger.
There are times when a person may become delusional and think that he or she has no fault whatsoever in any situation , or at least, in a particular situation. The truth is, there’s always some degree of error on the part o of both parties in an argument, even if the error is an error of judgment, discernment, or faulty perception. There’s absolutely NO benefit in a person ever saying, “I’m entirely right and the other person is entirely wrong”-in saying such a thing, the person THINKS he is right is actually wrong! There is a great benefit, on the other hand, a person saying, "Please forgive me of my fault" even if the person has done very little to contribute to the disagreement or problem.
A preacher once asked, "Do you want to be right or be in right relationship?" The answer should always be, "I want to be in right relationship." This certainly does not mean that a person should live in denial or sweep sin under the carpet. Some things need to be discussed; some things need to be changed or adjusted any relationship Erie it sin may need to become best and new patterns of communicating and behaving toward each other may need to be established. The important thing, however, is not the determination of who is right or wrong, but how the relationship might be mended and strengthened.
Jesus taught: "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eyes,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye." (LUKE 6:41 – 42 NKJV)
Don't wait for the other person to ask forgiveness. Take the initiative. Choose to forgive and to seek forgiveness.
A second underlying factor that often occurs in cases of unforgiveness is deep seated anger. The anger may have fester for so long in the person's soul that it has turned to deep resentment or bitterness, and at times, even to the point it out right hatred. Anger is nearly always the result of something a person perceives to be an injustice. If you believe you have been wronged, go quickly to the person who has offended you and say so. The person may not have intended wrong; the entire "issue" may be a misunderstanding. And if the wrong was intentional, at least you will have confronted the behavior, voiced your concern, and expressed your feelings of offense.
If the person offers to make amends or apologizes, quickly except those amends for that apology. If the person does NOT admit fault or refuses to see your point of view, do it Jesus recommended to His disciples: "Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet" (MATTHEW 10:14NKJV). In other words, don't let any of the persons words of insults, ridiculed, self-defense, self-justification, or criticism clean to you. Walk on! Don't harbor and nurse the offense in your heart. Don't replay the words or behavior over in your mind, rehearsing the hurtful moments and in doing so, engraving that pain on your heart. Let it go commission point.
"Release" is really what forgiveness is all about. It's opening the clutches of your heart and releasing a person into the care of the Lord.
It's normal human behavior to be angry from time to time. Anger is a normal response to injustice. It is NOT acceptable before God to STAY angry. Harboring anger is neither healthful nor helpful. The Bible tells us, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:26 – 27). Channel your anger into positive actions and positive expressions. Like your anger direct you toward making good changes and establishing new and godly habits. The Bible also tells us, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and a guard, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even ask God for Christ's hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31 – 32).
Excuses for Unforgiveness
Through the years in our experiences of marriage counseling, we have heard a number of excuses offered as justifiable reasons for unforgiveness. None of them is truly a "good excuse"!
Devastating consequences For Failing to Forgive
Nothing good comes from a failure to forgive. Those who have an unforgiving nature nearly always show signs of:
These emotions are increasingly being linked in scientific and medical research studies to both emotional and physical ailments. Don't be a victim of your own seething emotions!
Forgive us is not erasure. Rather, it is interesting that in justice, hurt, pain, or offense to God and looking for God to exact justice on our behalf. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the LORD" (Romans 12:9).
Keep in mind, too, that God does not "erase and quote sin. He demands atonement or "payment" for sin. That payment was made by Jesus through His sacrificial death on the cross. For those who have accepted and acknowledged Jesus as their personal Savior – the Lord has written next to each of their sins the words "PAID IN FULL." Those words are written in the "ink” of the blood of Jesus.
The Connection to Covenant
To enter fully into a covenant, you must be free of all other soul ties, including ties of unforgiveness that bind you to another person. To fully receive God's forgiveness, you MUST forgive others, and then forgive yourself.
Furthermore, you are not FREE to receive back into your hands the blessing God desires to unleash to you as long as you are holding tightly onto another person with bitterness, resentment, anger, or hatred. God does not bless the unforgiving heart.
Reflections on Covenant Living
Do not delay in seeking and receiving forgiveness.
Be quick to forgive.
Be quick to ask forgiveness.
You'll be amazed at the difference forgiveness makes in your relationships.
Submission – A Matter of Equal But Different
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
GALATIANS 3:26 – 28
But I would have you know, that
the head of every man is Christ; and
ahead of everyone in is the man;
and the head of Christ is God.
1 CORINTHIANS 11:3
One of the most helpful models we ever seen about submission is the one depicted below.
Now for the explanation! God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit are equal members of the Godhead. All three are completely God. The mystery of the Trinity is just that – a mystery Erie it is true nonetheless. God is triune. There is complete harmony in the Godhead. The three are one. Jesus said to His disciples, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9 NKJV). Next line when it comes to authority, however, God the Father had the authority to SEND Jesus to this Earth to reside with mankind, and Jesus, after His ascension back to heaven, SENT the Holy Spirit to reside in those who would accept Jesus as Savior. Jesus was always in submission to Is heavenly Father. He made no claims to act on His own, but rather, He said, “He said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (JOHN 5:19 NKJV). The Holy Spirit, in turn, does only what Jesus did do and desires to do in us and through us. As Jesus said of the spirit, "He will testify of Me" (John 15:26 NKJV).
Jesus submitted to the Father. The Holy Spirit functions in submission to Christ.
The apostle Paul described this beautifully in writing to the Philippian Christians:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be will with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. (PHILIPPIANS 2:5 – 9)
Submission is about "service." It is about yielding decision-making and direction setting. It is about yielding the authority and responsibility of leadership. And the truth is, every person is called to submit to SOMEBODY.
To the Lord
All Christians are called to submit themselves to the Lord, fully and completely. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice only, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, as you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (ROMANS 12:1 –2 NKJV.) These verses are about "submission”– about yielding our physical bodies to practical service, and about yielding our minds and hearts to spiritual worship.
When we submit to the Lord, we are acknowledging that He has authority over us and responsibility for us. We submit to Him the "honor and glory" do His name. We yield to Him all right to guide our lives, even as we trust Him completely to guard our lives. We faithfully serve Him because He lovingly provides and cares for us. James 4:7 says clearly and succinctly: "Submit to God."
To Legal Authority
The New Testament also calls upon Christians to submit to legal authorities. We read in 1 Peter 2:13 – 16, "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the King as supreme or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God" (NKJV). We read in Hebrews your team: 17, "Obeyed them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
To One Another
The New Testament also teaches that Christians are to submit to one another in the church. The apostle John also called the Corinthian Christians to submit to the representatives that he had sent to them, "and to everyone who works and laborers with us" (2 Corinthians 16:16 NKJV). Paul wrote to the Romans that they were to "he kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another and quote – in other words, yielding to others rather than insisting on your own way if that meant bringing disharmony to the body of Christ. (See ROMANS 12:10 NKJV) Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. …be filled with the spirit…submiting to one another in the fear of God and quote (Ephesians 5:17 – 18, 21 NKJV). As the Spirit leads, we are to submit to His leadership, and since the spirit works through people, we are to submit to those through whom the spirit is providing direction and counsel.
The Bible teaches that children are to submit to their parents – honoring and obeying them, trusting them for provision and protection even as they yield to their decision-making and guidance. The Bible teaches that slaves are to submit to their owners – again, honoring and obeying them, trusting them for provision and protection even as they yield to their own decision-making and guidance.
So often people think that submission is related only to marriage. In truth, submission is required every person and the PURPOSE is so that all things might be done in an orderly way for maximum effectiveness and blessing. Submission is not intended to be a burden. It is intended to produce a flow of love and respect and relationships.
Husband and Wives
In referring back to the model at the beginning of this chapter, we see that the submission in marriage is under the "shelter" of God’s own example – a horizontal equality of being in the hierarchy of leadership/authority/responsibility. Husbands and wives are equal before God in their spiritual identity. Both men and women are expected to trust Jesus as their personal Savior and be filled with the spirit. Both men and women are gifted by the Holy Spirit – functioning fully in all gifts of the spirit, both those listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. Both men and women are to be shown honor and respect as beloved children of God.
We also see that it is under the "shelter of God's own example" now wives are to submit to their husbands when it comes to leadership role in the home, both spiritually and practically. The husband has authority and with authority comes responsibility them: a major element of his responsibility is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. The wife yields to her husband the honor and respect that is due him as the provider and protector of the family.
The order of leadership in the home is clearly stated in the Bible:
God's expectations For Husbands
The word "husband" literally means "house bond." The husband is the one who holds the household together. He is the "glue." Very specific expectations are held out for husbands in the Bible:
In several places of the New Testament, women are admonished to "learn" from their own husbands; men in Bible times were better educated and received more instruction about the Scriptures. Women were expected to learn…but especially to learn from their husbands. Next line to be a priest means to "stand in the gap" for another person spiritually. It means to intercede for that person in times of trouble or travail. That is the role a husband is challenged to feel. The Bible says, "I would have you know, that then head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). In Ephesians 5:23 we read, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body." The husband as priest is the one responsible for making sure the family attends church and honors God in all things.
God's Expectations for Wives
Just as the Bible old out expectations for husbands, so the role of wives is clearly defined.
Note that there’s nothing that keeps this woman “housebound.” She invests in real estate. She runs a farm. She provides beautiful clothes and wonderful food for her family. She has employees. But perhaps most important of all, “the heart of her husband doth safely trusts in her.” She speaks well of him, does good for him, is a good steward of what he provides, and she is a wife highly supportive of her husband’s leadership role in their community and church (which is what it means for her husband to be “known in the gates”-the leadership center of the town, and to “sit among the elders”-the leadership of the worship community).
Responsibility Is Linked to Authority
In all areas, when we deal with submission we must recognize two key principles. First, those who are in authority have responsibility for those beneath them, and vice versa. As long as a parent is responsible for a child, for example, that parent has authority over the child. As long as a person has authority over another person in the workplace, that employer or supervisor has a responsibility to provide adequate working conditions and compensation for the person. In a marriage, the husband is responsible for his wife and therefore, he has the top position of "authority" in the family. He is responsible for his decisions to God, who is in authority over him. There's tremendous responsibility that comes when a man holds the final spiritual authority in the home, or when the man is responsible as the "final word" on key decisions and choices. A wife is to respect the weight of responsibility, and to honor and respect her husband for assuming responsibility. Second, we need to recognize that affection and respect flow in both directions, but the core needs of love and respect are different in a husband and wife. A wife NEEDS the affection of her husband – she desires his emotional support and expressions of love. A husband NEEDS the respect and honor of his wife – he needs to know that he is appreciated and valued. When a husband gives genuine love, he nearly always find that she receives respect and honor in return. When a wife gives respect and honor, she nearly always finds that she receives tender love and affection in return.
Husbands are to exert authority, take responsibility, and provide leadership WITH LOVE.
Wives are to ask for respect and honor WITH LOVE.
The Connection to Covenant
Covenant functions according to assigned roles and a flow of authority and responsibility. In our covenant relationship with God, God does His part and we do our part. We cannot do what God has done and is doing and will do for us. We cannot save ourselves – spiritually or in the natural. We cannot give ourselves life, or eternal life. We cannot accomplish anything without God's help and paper. In like manner, God desires for us to obey and serve Him, but in giving us free will, He has chosen never to FORCE us to obey Him or serve Him. Obedient service is our part.
When each party fulfill the specific roles defined by the covenant that governs their relationship, the covenant is not only firmly in place, but all of the power of the covenant can be manifested.
If you were not expecting all of the blessings that you know God desires for you in your covenant relationship of marriage – or in your covenant relationship with other family members or friends – checked out your willingness to submit and to fulfill the roles that God's Word assigns to you.
Submission is a crucial factor in unleashing the full power of covenant in your life!
Reflections On Covenant Living
Do whatever is necessary to bring your own behavior into line with God's Word!
Fulfilling Marriage Roles
“He that is greatest among you shall be
Your servant. And whosoever shall
Exalt himself shall be abased,
and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying,
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the misdst of them, and said,
“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall
not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this
little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
In the last chapter, we touched on the basics of submission and the critical truth that for the full power of covenant to be unleashed in a person’s life or relationship, lines of authority and responsibility must be firmly in place. In this chapter, we take a look at three aspects of our roles as husbands and wives that are often the most problematic in a marriage. We are dealing now with the practicalities of life, not pie-in-the-sky theory. Our goal must always be to understand our spouse-to learn and gain insight into why a spouse does the things he or she does.
We are going to look specifically at
A New Understanding of What It Means to Provide
Husband and wife very often have very different perspectives in this area. Husbands often say to their wives, “I am providing for you and the family-what else do you expect?” Wives respond, “You give me things. I want YOU.” The gap at times can seem very wide indeed.
Unfortunately, men tend to confuse “living” with “life.” Men, for the most part, are goal-oriented and task-oriented. Most husbands firmly believe that one of their main purposes in life is to provide a “living” for their family. When a man says, “I provide and work hard,” he often is saying, “I have accomplished my goal, I have done what I am supposed to do.”
Provision, however, is not limited to the outward trappings of a house, food, clothes, or a new minivan in the driveway. Provision also means “providing” a degree of spiritual and emotional nurture. It means providing a godly atmosphere and establishing godly order in the home.
Let’s look at the matter of provision from a woman’s perspective. A woman is concerned primarily with relationships, not tasks. Her security lies in her family and friends. When a man puts his focus primarily on achieving goals and acquiring and providing “things,” it is very easy for him to push aside relationships at home, very often because he has come to take them for granted. He has “accomplished” his goal of acquiring a spouse, and perhaps a goal of adding children to the family, and his pursuits turn outward to external goals. The wife, however, yearns not so much for the ”things” her husband is providing-and usually, she is appreciative of those things-but for deep emotional times with her husband. She yearns for a “life” with her husband, not just the material tokens of his making a “living.”
Yes, husband and wife very often have very different perspectives in this area. And it is this difference in perspective that gives us hope!
Peter admonished husbands to dwell with their wives “according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife” (1 Peter 3:7). To what knowledge was Peter referring? The knowledge that women are different from men. Why gain this knowledge?
Not to manipulate or coerce, but rather, to understand and adjust! Note that Peter quickly added that husbands were to give honor to their wives-in other words, they were to come to appreciate their wives and give consideration to their needs.
Here is a very sobering statistic: A husband who is constantly absent from the home, for whatever reason, is the number-one reason women give for having extramarital affairs. Why? Because a woman is made for relationships and if she is not getting enough attention from her husband, she will seek attention elsewhere. She will gravitate toward a man who makes her feel special and who desire to be with her. Husband, she will seek attention elsewhere. She will gravitate toward a man who makes her feel special and who desires to be with her. Is this right? Absolutely not! But having this knowledge gives a man an opportunity to adjust his behavior. What can be done? A husband can choose to make time for his wife. He can set aside one evening a week or just to be with her-no newspaper, no television, no trips to the hardware store. Do things that the wife enjoys doing. Why? Because a wife needs her husband to provide this degree and type of relationship.
Be wise! Try this, husbands. See what doing this as a habit can mean to your marriage.
Manager, Not Dictator
Some husbands assume that because they are biblically to be the “head of the home, “they must intimidate, give orders, and issue demands to their wife and children.
At no time in the Bible does God call upon a man to be a dictator. Rather, a husband should see himself as the “manager” of the family. He sets direction, establishes guidelines and parameters, and voices a vision for the family. The best managers manage with understanding, not brawn.
A good manager understands the strengths and weaknesses of those for whom he is responsible and over whom he has authority. A husband is wise to gain this understanding about his wife and children. Learn the gifts of each person. Make a plan for your life together that calls upon the strengths and abilities of each member of the family, and that also compensates for the weaknesses and inabilities.
A good manager delegates. I know one man who said, “The more I delegate to my wife, the happier we both are. In many marriages, that likely is true. Many women are better money managers than their husbands. In other cases, men are better at certain chores often associated with women, such as cooking or cleaning up the kitchen.
Every good manager knows that part of his role as a manager is to instill morale in his “team.” Do this in your role as husband! Develop and nurture those around you, especially in spiritual matters. Encourage each one to develop his or her talents to their full ability. Help their giftings of God to reach full bloom. Be quick to offer praise and encouragement to each member of the family. Let your children see you express affection, nurture, praise, and encouragement to your wife.
When a man sets a godly direction for the family and functions as a nurturing manager rather than a shouting dictator, a wife responds! She usually is very quick to get on board with her husband’s vision for the family and seeks to help him in any way to ensure that their home and family function according to godly principles. It is far easier for most women to “augment” the vision her husband sets for the marriage and family than to “lead” or establish such a vision, especially if the husband is an ungodly man.
Pray that God will give wisdom to set the right course, and to help you as a husband develop your abilities and well as those of your wife and your children. That is a prayer that God seems to delight in answering.
The word “honor” in the New Testament usually means to “esteem.” It means to value someone to the highest degree. When you value something, you care for it with tenderness and care. When you value a person or a relationship, you speak to that to that person with consideration, politeness, and courtesy. Sarcasm, derision, and criticism have no place in a marriage or in a family. Remove that tone of voice from your communication repertoire! Remember that your Christ-honoring wife has been bought with a price: the blood of Jesus. If your wife is not a Christian, recognize that you have a special role to play in modeling Christ-like behavior before her so she will want to accept Jesus as her Savior and follow Him as her Lord.
Never take your wife for granted. Remember how you acted during your courtship days. You spent time with your sweetheart. You were thoughtful and considerate. You may have been extra nice and even “mushy” in order to win her as your wife. The truth is, you need to continue to act as you did in your courtship days if you want to keep her as your loving, adoring wife. You have not truly “won” her heart unless she adores you in the same way-or-more-after fifty years as she did during your first fifty weeks as a couple!
Too many men are so competitive and goal-driven that they allow themselves to become bored after they get married. Proverbs 37:7 says, “Almost anything is sweet to a starving man, but when he is full, even honey nauseates him.” That’s the way some men act after they marry. They begin to look for a new challenge, a new goal, a new conquest. The woman ends up feeling rejected and abandoned. She also feels betrayed. From her perspective, the sensitive and romantic gestures that were made during courtship were a signal of the ongoing character of the man she was marrying. The last thing she ever saw herself as being was a “goal to be attained”!
What must a husband do? Continue to pursue his wife as an object of his desire. Continue to instill romance into the relationship. Continue to make his wife feel special. The Bible says a godly wife has “value” that is “far above rubies.” Don’t dismiss your wife’s abilities, personality, or personhood. In truth, she has depths and facets to her that you haven’t discovered yet, and that will be increasingly tre the longer you are married. If you continue to look for the depths of richness in your wife, you will discover that you never reach the end of them. She will always surprise you with new qualities and expressions of affection and wisdom!
Mutual Submission to Almighty God
A real key to developing a strong, vibrant, and satisfying marriage is for both husband and wife to have a keen awareness that EACH person in the marriage is required to submit to God. James 4:7 tells us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Resisting the “Distractions and Detractors”
To “resist” the devil literally means to take a stand against or to put yourself in opposition to. It means resisting all that the enemy would set up as temptations, distractions, or detractors. To resist is an active verb. You don’t need to launch an assault, but rather, do whatever it takes to oppose the work of enemy forces against your life and your marriage. Sometimes “resisting” means turning off the television and refusing to go to movies that portray adultery, fornication, and violence in positive ways. Sometimes it means refusing to go to certain places. Sometimes it means canceling a subscription to a particular magazine, or cleaning offensive materials from your bookshelves. Sometimes it means giving up a habit- perhaps the habit of drinking alcohol, or the habit of answering or using vulgar language, or the habit of going to the lake on weekends instead of to church. Sometimes it means getting into godly counseling so you can learn what is “good” to do, not just what is “bad.” Do what it takes to establish purity and godliness in your home and in your relationship!
Submitting to God’s Best
To submit, in very practical terms, is to “give in.” It means to yield what is “good” to what is “best”! It means to give up your rights to another-to “yield the right of way” when it comes to an intersection of decision-making or choice-making. To submit means to look for God’s BEST way, even if that is not a person’s preference. Always call upon each other to desire and pursue the very highest, purest, and best way of life that God has for you as a couple and as a family.
There’s a common phrase in our society that says a person should at times say, “My way or the highway. “ the Bible approach is one in which a person says, first and foremost to God, “Not my way, but Thy way.”
Submission goes against the grain of our culture, which strongly advocates that every person “look out for number one!” The Bible tells us, however, that the person who readily submits is the person who gains the most. Read what God’s Word says:
When we submit ourselves to God we need to recognize that we are putting ourselves into positions for two things to happen – very often the first before the second. We are putting ourselves in a position of giving up self, and putting ourselves into a position to see and adopt God’s vision for our lives.
Giving Up Self
First, each person must be WILLING to give up self. There’s nothing easy about giving up self. Laying down personal pride is difficult. There’s a degree of suffering in giving up YOU want in order to do what another person wants, or what God wants. If you want the rainbow, however, you sometimes have to put up with the rain. Read what God’s Words say:
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who won his own self-bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
No matter how good a marriage is, there’s always some amount of “hardship” because marriage requires a person to give up self to some degree, in some ways, in order to experience a higher and better “mutual” life that is pleasing to God. Giving up “self” is difficult-pride is deeply engrained in most of us.
The writer to the Hebrews said, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)
We need to trust Jesus as our role model to show us HOW to sacrifice our desires and our self-centeredness for the sake of our spouse, and for the sake of having the kind of marriage God desires for us to experience.
Openly acknowledge to each other that you EACH are ultimately in submission to God.
Encourage each other to obey God and to seek God in all things.
Praise God together.
Read God’s Word together.
Build a life of mutual submission to the Lord.
This leads us to a second aspect of mutual submission…
Adopting God’s Vision
Second, each person must have a strong sense of God’s “vision” for their marriage.
Just as we need to keep our eyes upon Jesus as the author and finisher of our lives and our marriage, we also need to keep our eyes on the goal when we hit a hard time. People generally are more willing to engage in sacrificial behavior if they have a ”cause.” Make your cause having a “witness for Christ” in this world. A godly marriage is one of the best examples of God’s love you can ever display to those who are unbelievers. A good marriage is a “cause” worth sacrificing for!
What is it that others admire about a godly marriage?
When people see a husband valuing his wife and esteeming her, they know intuitively that this is godly behavior. When people see a husband and wife truly enjoying their relationship, building on strengths and pursuing mutual goals rather than fighting over their differences and ridiculing weaknesses, they recognize this as godly behavior.
What is true for those looking from the outside-in on a marriage s doubly true for the children who are part of the family. Developing a good marriage for the sake of your children and grandchildren and generations in the future is a good “cause”!
The Bible tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).
If you don’t have a vision for your marriage, ask God to impart one to you!
Can you see your children standing in heaven with you?
Can you see your children having good marriages?
Can you see your grandchildren growing up in godly families?
Those are godly visions!
Can you see the Lord using the two of you to win the lost and to help people who may be hurting in their marriages or family life? That, too, is a godly vision!
Some couples benefit by writing down a “vision statement” for their marriages. Work together to write down what you believe God has for you as the “destiny” of your marriage. Having such a statement becomes a tangible expression to which you can refer from time to time.
Talk openly with each other about your vision for being a loving, God-honoring, Christ-following, Bible-believing couple. Encourage each other to stay focused on the vision.
The Connection to Covenant
Covenant living requires that a person be willing to:
If a person refuses to pursue an increasing understanding of what it means to live in a covenant relationship with another person, especially a marriage, that person is “presuming” that he is doing things God’s way when in fact, he may be doing the exact opposite of what God requires. You cannot experience the fullness of blessing that God desires for your marriage if you are playing by rules that are your rules and not God’s. Discover His rules and play by them. That’s critical to having the full power and blessing of a covenant unleashed in your life and family!
If a person chooses to do a godly thing but to do it in an ungodly WAY, his success is highly limited. God not only expects us to obey Him, but in obeying Him, to manifest His character. Choose God’s methods. Also choose to do things in a way that manifests the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (See GALATIANS 5:22-23) God will not unleash the full blessing of His covenant upon those who seek to manipulate or control others, he is manifesting pride-and God hates pride. He will not unleash the fullness of His blessing on those who are proud.
If a person has not vision for what might be done as a reward for fulfilling a covenant, that person will have very little motivation for engaging in the learning, changing, and self-giving required. God unleashes FULLY the blessings and rewards of covenant living on those who have a vision for God’s kingdom being established on the earth, one life and one marriage at a time.
Be willing to LEARN what it means to be a godly spouse.
Be willing to adjust the WAY in which you treat your spouse…
Be willing to sacrifice your selfish ambitions and desires…
Embrace God’s vision for your life and marriage…
And you WILL be in position for the full blessing of God.
Reflections on Covenant Living
Ask God to free you of misconceptions and anger related to submission. Ask Him to reveal to you what is holding you back from submitting completely to Him. Ask Him to help you submit.
Being Part of a Covenant Community
And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was
a prosperous man, and he was in the house of
his master the Egyptian. And his master saw
that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD
made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
And Joseph found grace found grace in his sight, and
he served him: and he made him overseer over his house,
and all that he had he put into his hand.
And it came to pass from the time that he had
made him overseer in his house,
and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the
Egyptian’s house for joseph’s sake, and the
blessing of the LORD was upon all that
he had in the house and in the field.”
One of the most famous statements in English literature begins, “No man is an island.” The truth is, not only is not person an island unto himself or herself, but no married couple and no family is an “island.” We need other people and other families, in a broader community setting, if we are truly to become a “covenant people.”
Billy Graham once said, “Our world has become a neighborhood instead of a brotherhood.” Neighborhood consists of people in a specific locale, but without common origin, purpose, traditions, or a shared life. Brotherhood consists of people with a common origin of life who are engaged in a common purpose and share a life of common traditions, beliefs and goals. The body of Christ-the church-is intended to be a BROTHERHOOD.
We read in 1 Peter 2:17 this simple statement: “love the brotherhood.” As Christians we are bonded together as brothers and sisters. We have a common origin. We are related by virtue of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which gives us a “shared bloodline.” We have a common enterprise or labor: doing the will of God to establish His kingdom on this earth. We have common beliefs, the parameters of which are the Holy Scriptures. We have a life of common traditions aimed at loving, discipling, and edifying one another.
The power of church that truly reflects brotherhood is reflected in the book of Acts:
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (ACTS 2:41-42)
The early church in Jerusalem shared a common life- learning together, both from Scripture and from the gifts of the Spirit imparted to them, sharing meals together, and praying together. They were not simply individuals who had entered into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, but were a body of people who had entered into covenant relationship. They were a covenant community.
Covenant communities part revivals. They reflect the love of God and the multifaceted gifts of God in a way that no one individual or one family can. The world is longing for what covenant communities offer. The very presence of gangs on our city streets tells us that people long for “brotherhood,” even ones that exact a high price for membership.
People who live as a brotherhood do not have casual relationships, but rather, they develop deep relationships marked by faithfulness, loyalty, and openness with one another. To enjoy genuine brotherhood, a person must be willing to be vulnerable to others, and to help others who are vulnerable to them and seek their protection, counsel, or help. Those in brotherhood relationships look out for others in the brotherhood. They know the weaknesses and strengths of each member and build on the strengths and protect or compensate for the weaknesses.
In our experience as marriage counselors and marriage encouragers, we have discovered that many people have felt shunned by churches because they have experienced divorce or separation. They are made to feel “lesser than” because they have failed or lost. It’s time for the church to wake up and recognize that true brotherhood requires that every person in the CHRISTIAN brotherhood be honored and esteemed because they are blood-brought by Christ Jesus and filled with God’s Spirit.
It is the responsibility of the brotherhood as a whole to help a person heal, recover, and be restored. Whenever possible, it is the role of the brotherhood to help bring about a reconciliation in a broken relationship, including a broken marriage. We must never assume that “things just are the way they are“. We must work to make things better- to be agents of healing and to believe with tose who are hurting or broken that their lives can and will be made whole again.
Remind yourself of what God’s Word says:
From the beginning of time, men and women have balked at the concept of being responsible for “caring” for others. Cain asked this question after God confronted him about the fate of his brother Abel: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We seem to have a built in resistance to wanting to care for others or be responsible for their well-being. Even so…God requires this of us! Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you are not your brother’s keeper, you will be your brother’s killer.” God is always pleased when we act and speak to “build up” or “heal” others, even if we are clumsy in our attempts or awkward in our words or behavior. God sees the heart and He honors our desire to give ourselves away to the benefit of others who are in His body, as well as to others who are not yet claiming Jesus as their Savior. When God is pleased with our motives and deeds, He enters into the situation and does what only He can do: create a miracle that has eternal benefit. We may not be skilled at reconciliation, renewal, restoration, or making others “whole” –but HE IS!
We need to trust God to use us as clay vessels through whom He can pour His Devine love and power.
Choose to “Belong”
What are the practical ramifications of God’s call to us to live in brotherhood? We must be willing to be part of the body of Christ at all times and in every way that presents itself to us.
Don’t just join a church and attend occasionally, or even every week. Get involved! Get involved! Get to know the people. Share your life with others in that church and allow them to share their lives with you.
Don’t sit on the sidelines. Participate! There’s SOMETHING you can do to benefit the whole. It may be greeting people at the front door, teaching a children’s class, providing childcare for the infants, ushering, or sweeping the floor. God will honor your efforts and expand both your capacity and role over time.
Don’t pretend to be perfect. God knows you aren’t. You know you aren’t. Your spouse knows you aren’t. You might as well admit to others that you aren’t! Usually it is as you share your struggles, failures, and hurts-and also the ways in which God has helped you get through your struggles, helped you to overcome and turn around your failures, and healed your hurts-that you find yourself being of genuine help and encouragement to others. The more you are vulnerable to you.
Seek a place where the people are committed to following Christ, believe the Bible to be true, and desire to live in covenant relationship with one another. Ask the Lord to lead you to the precise place where you can be of maximum service, and then serve there until He directs you otherwise.
The Connection to Covenant
Earlier in this book we discussed three of the foremost covenants in God’s Word: God’s covenant with Noah, God’s covenant with Abraham, and the covenant between David and Jonathan. Note two very important things about each of these covenants.
First, in each case, God called one specific person to take very specific action, with consequences that extended far beyond that person and his immediate family.
Noah was to build an ark. After the rains came, the flood waters covered the earth, and the earth eventually dried to the point where the ark could “land,” God instructed Noah to leave the ark, to build an altar, and to sacrifice on it. The Lord responded to Noah with a tremendous covenant promise never to destroy the earth again by flood, and He said that while the earth remained, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night would not cease. (See GENESIS 8:15-22.) This promise, however, was not just to Noah. It was also to Noah’s “sons.” God said to Noah AND TO HIS SONS, “I establish My covenant with your and with your descendants after you…for perpetual generations.” (See GENESIS 9:8-12) Noah and his family were expected to be a covenant people. The covenant was not unleashed just to this immediate band of eight people (Noah, his wife, and three sons and their wives). It extended to countless others!
Abraham was called to walk out a land that he did not know and God made a covenant with him that the land would belong to his heirs. The covenant ceremony was profound and Abraham was deeply shaken by it. God spoke to him and said, “To your descendants I have given this land” (Genesis 15:18). The descendants of Abraham were to be a covenant people.
David and Jonathan entered into a covenant relationship. It was a relationship between two families. Jonathan said to David, “You shall not only show me the kindness of the LORD while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” David replied, “Let the Lord required it at the hand of David’s enemies.” (See 1 SAMUEL 20:14-16) David later took care of Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son who was lame. (See 2 SAMUEL 21:7.)
Covenant promises are not individual and isolated. They are expected to encompass families…and beyond families, group of families.
Second, in each case, God called His people to covenant in order to BLESS them. Noah’s descendants were blessed with life. Abraham’s descendants were blessed with land and the provision related to land. The purpose of having the land was to EXTEND the blessing of God-to have a home base from which to bless all the nations of the earth. In the covenant between David and Jonathan, Jonathan’s descendant was blessed with protection and emotional connection.
Jesus, in His covenant with us, extends the same blessings! He does not want us to hoard His blessing, or limit it to our immediate marriage, family, or local church. He expects us to reach out continually to others to extend the blessings of the covenant for beyond our immediate lives and lifetimes. Jesus calls us to LIFE-a new life, an abundant life, an eternal life. Jesus blesses us with material provision to make possible our spiritual outreach to the lost. Jesus calls us to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual protection and ongoing connection, relationships, and fellowship with other believers.
The full unleashing of the covenant blessing is not only to you, but ot you and others with whom He calls you to enter into brotherhood.
Reflections on Covenant Living
Anticipating the Promised Blessings and Rewards
And Jesus said unto them, “Verily I say unto you,
that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration
when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve
tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken
houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or
wife, or children, or lands, for my names’ sake,
shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit
everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last,
and the last shall be first.”
One of the important things we must always recognize about the promises of God in the Bible is this: The promises are for those who are in covenant relationship with God. The blessings and promises of God are not for those who are in rebellion against Him.
To those who ARE in covenant relationship with God, the promises are a wonderful “consequence” of the covenant being in full effect. When we obey God in fulfilling our part of the covenant, we put ourselves into a tremendous position to receive His miracles and blessings.
On the next several pages you will find a sampling of the many promise of God that are yours if you are in covenant relationship with the Lord. These are promise that God has said He will unleash into your life!
Note that some of the promises and blessings. Our part must be fulfilled before God will do His part. The good news is that we CAN do what is required of us. God never asks us to do anything that He does not equip and enable us to do:
There are countless other promises of God in the Bible. As you read and study God’s Word, circle or highlight in some way those promises that seem to speak directly to you. Note if there are any “if…then” conditions associated with the promise and if so, ask yourself, “Am I doing my part?”
Memorize key verses of promise so you can recite them to yourself as you go about your daily routine and especially as you face crisis times or difficult situations in your life.
Perhaps most importantly, read and speak the promises of God aloud. Why do this? Because what you HEAR has even more impact on your faith than what you read. God’s Word says about itself, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV). The Lord places great importance on our speaking, or “confessing” what we know to be true. This applies to all areas of what we believe. Romans 10:9 tells us, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him form the dead, thou shalt be saved. “ God takes very seriously what you speak. He asks that your “yes” be a simple “yes,” and your ”no” be a simple “no.” He tells us that we one day will give account to Him for our words. God is looking for people who will tae their words seriously, especially the covenant vows they make.
It seems to be harder and harder in our society to find people who say what they truly mean,, and who will follow through and DO what they say they will do. Be a person who speaks only what you are committed to doing, and then follow through. That is essential to covenant living!
Don’t look for loopholes in what you read or speak.
Quote God’s Word accurately.
Set your heart and mind to obey what you read in the Bible and to apply it directly to your life.
God does not expect us to be perfect. Certainly there are countless examples in the Old Testament especially of people who were far from perfect but who were used by God nonetheless to do profound things. What God does desire and expect from us is that we will seek to obey Him. God is looking for people who are teachable, humble, willing trust Him, and who will turn to Him daily and seek His guidance and His help.
Abraham, who is called the father of all who have faith, was far from a perfect man. Even so, he had this one overriding quality to his life that set him apart as a genuine “friend” of God: he put God first. Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will save it” (MATTHEW 10:39 TLB).
Keeping our word…
Putting God first…
Obeying God in all things…
These are vital keys for unleashing the fullness of God’s blessing into our lives.
Ultimately, our words define our destiny. What we say shapes our attitudes. Our attitudes give rise to our behavior. Our behavior forms the habits that direct us to make choices and decisions. Our choices and decisions create our future. Choose to speak the Word of God at every opportunity. Make it the foremost message you give to the world.
And then, act to OBEY God’s Word with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. As you do, God’s power and presence WILL be unleashed toward you and you will receive such a blessing you will hardly be able to contain it! (See MALACHI 3:10-11.)
Reflections on Covenant Living
How Should My Life Be Different
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea,
And in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (ACTS 1:8)
Because we as Christians are filled with the Holy Ghost, we are commanded by Jesus to live our lives not as citizens of this world but as followers of Jesus Christ who was able to overcome all of the deception and wiles of the devil.
That means we will always seek God’s best for our lives, our marriages, our family, and every undertaking we walk in.
Too much of the time we have been led to believe we have no power over the many attacks of the devil in our lives or the evil circumstances which befall us.
Not so, according to His Word:
“There is no weapon which coms against you that will prosper.” (ISAIAH 54:17)
“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (JOSHUA 1:5)
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt have good success. “ (JOSHUA 1:8)
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (REVELATION12:10)
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their lives unto death.” (REVELATION 12:11)
Too many times the Christian has been taught and has believed that he has no power over the works of darkness. He has blindly accepted the fact that divorce, biblically known as covenant breaking, was all right, inevitable. How many times have we seen the sign in front of the church, “Divorce Recovery,” and rarely see the sign, “Marriage Recovery”?
Unfortunately, in today’s society, we are succumbing to covenant breaking, not marriage recovery or covenant keeping. God says divorce is an abomination to Him. If that is so, is He not able to help the Christian uphold his covenant promise?
What do you mean that “Abortion Is Legal? That is not so in God’s kingdom. We have not recognized our covenant position and rights with God, and consequently we have gone astray.
God gave Adam and Eve rights in the kingdom and only through the deception of Satan were those rights and powers temporarily broken. That was never God’s plan for mankind. He wanted a people who would spread the Garden of Eden over all the world. On the sixth day after God had made the earth, and all that lived thereon, He said it was very god, His creation.
When Jesus was sent by the Father to make a better covenant for those who believed on Him, He restored His kingdom on earth and again put the earth in the hands of mankind. It is precisely because of our better covenant with the Father, made by the precious blood of Jesus, that we do have all power over the kingdom of darkness. But if we do not know that we possess those covenant promises found in His word, we will live below our God-given rights.
Let’s do exactly what God told Adam and Eve. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (GENESIS 1:28).
This change of direction will not be instantaneous, but if we are to live in the fullness of what God has planned for mankind, we must change. “Let this mind be in you which was in Jesus Christ.”
Second Corinthians 4:3-11 says:
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the LORD; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the LORD Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
In Psalm 103:2-5,8 (NKJV) we are reminded to not forget all the benefits of being in His kingdom: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD is merciful and gracious; slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.”
When you and I begin to understand the desire of God to make our ways straight and to fill our lives with His abundance, we can’t help but make a difference in this hurting world.
Should we choose not to see the unleashing of His covenant promises in our lives, we then will see the words found in Daniel 11:32 unfold in our lives. Daniel 11:32 stated, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
In verse 35 the Word goes on to say, “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.”
Those of us who have made Jesus Lord of our lives, have the opportunity of seeing the unleashing power of covenant spring forth in our lives…if we will just realize the Word of God is filled with power to be lived in our lives.
We can be overcomers in all that we undertake if we allow the Holy Spirit of God to function in our lives, moment to moment.
Over the past 23 years Lynne and I have undertaken to live in the covenant blessings that God has provided through the atoning blood of our Savior. We pray you too have learned of this marvelous path in the kingdom of God.
Reflections on Covenant Living
If you are married or if you are anticipating marriage in the future, consider memorializing your covenant words with a Covenant of Marriage document.
Covenant of Marriage Document
(The Christian Ketubbah)
WHEREAS, our Heavenly Father has entered into an everlasting covenant with both of us; and
WHEREAS, in light of our understanding of your covenant is “an unconditional promise and commitment to perform a vow regardless of the other person’s performance” and what we intend to make as covenant vows in addition to our previous marriage vows will expand the foundational promises and commitment to our marriage; and
WHEREAS, we the undersigned bride and groom futher believe in the sanctity of the marriage union and that such is a covenant relationship ordained by God and we further recognize and acknowledge that “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16) and “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6); and
WHEREAS, we are executing this document as a physical expression of the covenant of marriage in which we have previously entered an of the eternal invisible bonds and spiritual union which now bind us together;
______________________________(husband) and ________________________
(wife), do hereby intentionally, deliberately, and with full capacity enter this covenant as the written expression of the covenanted relationship of our marriage. Further, it is our intention that this written covenant be given full and complete recognition in all courts having jurisdiction in these matters, having the same legal significance as any valid understanding and agreement in the eyes of the law.
THEREFORE THE TERMS OF THE COVENANT ARE:
If for some reason we are still not able to resolve the dispute with the use of mediator(s) from our church, then we both agree to submit to binding arbitration with a panel of three Christians mature in the faith as selected and agreed upon by us, or if agreement cannot be reached, then by appointment by the mediator(s). The arbitrators must agree in principle and practice to the letter and spirit of this covenant. No arbitrator is acceptable who would in any way recommend or counsel toward separation and divorce. According to Amos 3:3, the arbitrators must walk in agreement with this covenant. The arbitrators shall render their decision in accordance with the process as contained in Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-7. We hereby confer jurisdiction on the said arbitrators and submit ourselves to that jurisdiction to enable them to render a final decision in this matter with full and complete authority. We agree to abide by the decision reached in arbitration. We understand that we are voluntarily forfeiting our right to seek redress in or through the courts. We further agree that the decision of the arbitrators cannot and will not be appealed.
FURTHERMORE, we realize that the no-fault divorce laws give jurisdiction to decide marital disputes to the courts of the various states and that potentially either spouse can seek divorce without cause. Further, the courts are limited by the laws as to the relief that they may grant in such a situation. We therefore would request any court which might for any reason acquire jurisdiction over our marriage to recognize the validity of the covenant of marriage agreement as binding, just as other types of such ante nuptial or postnuptial agreements, and to refuse to accept jurisdiction, abate any such action, and require the parties to proceed thought the steps for dispute resolution, as outlined above. We further release any such court from implementing or applying any divorce law to this marriage relationship or contrary to the covenant, expressed herein.
BE IT KNOW, to all who read this document of our commitment to the Word of God and our trust in a loving Heavenly Father. Be it further known that we affirm that there is no problem or difficulty so large, no wall of separation so thick, or valley of disappointment so deep it cannot be overcome or bridged by our 1 Corinthians 13 love for one another.
WE BOTH AGREE that neither party will unreasonably withhold his/her consent or agreement where such may be herein required.
IN CONSIDERATION, of the promises and other good and valuable consideration flowing from our marriage relationship, this covenant and mutual agreement be bound as one flesh for as long as we both shall live, and was entered into before the Living God and the witnesses listed below on the :
___________day of the month of____________________, in the year of_______
Copyright 1996 Covenant Marriages Ministry
As the pastor of _____________________________________________(church)
I, ________________________________________________(name), desire to accurately handle the Word of Truth as a workman who has no need to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). According to 2 Timothy 4, I pledge myself to preach the Word in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction. I believe the time has come when some in the body of Christ have turned away from the sound doctrine pertaining to covenant marriage and that divorce has so easily become an option in the lives of some believers.
God ordained covenant marriage in the Garden of Eden when He created man and took woman from his side to be his wife. I also recognize that Satan began his attack in the Garden of Eden upon God’s covenant with man and upon the covenant between the husband and wife. With that attack and man’s disobedience a curse came upon all mankind. Jeremiah 11:3 says: “Cursed is the man who disobeys the word of this covenant.”
I believe Satan has never ceased from his attack or in any way diminished his efforts to destroy covenant and thus the sanctity of marriage. It is my desire to see the enemy defeated, the curse of divorce broken, and the church once again teaching “one man for one wife for life” without divorce being an option. Therefore, I pledge myself to be actively involved in teaching covenant marriage to all age groups for the purpose of seeing divorce trends changed for this generation and ultimately annihilated for all future generations of believers.
For all members who will enter into covenant contracts of marriage, and specifically with regard to the covenant contract of marriage between the undersigned husband and wife, I further pledge myself and the ministering leadership of this church to uphold binding arbitration and mediation as defined in the contract and as taken from God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 6, utilizing the services of ministries like Covenant Marriages Ministry to strengthen our efforts. Should our best efforts within our framework of leadership not bring total resolve to marital conflicts, we will encourage and implement the Matthew 18 principle of seeking resolve by involving the church body as a whole. Let it be clearly understood that the ultimate goal of our efforts as a church and as leadership within the church will be to foster and insure forgiveness, healing, and restoration with a spirit of love governing all.
Concerning that which the enemy has meant for destruction, we now take authority in the name of Jesus Christ and turn it to God’s glory as we once again see covenant marriages holding a standard of Christ’s love for His bride, the church!
Pledged and signed this ________day of _________________________20______
Printed Name:______________________ Printed Name:____________________
Other Books by the Author
The Seagull and the Pigeon
Standing in Love
Satan, You’re Not Stealing My Marriage
Why I Chose to Believe in My Marriage Healing
Miracles Along the Way
When You Say I Do…God Says I Will
Turning Earthly Profits into Eternal Rewards
Run To Win
Unleashing The Power of Covenant
BOB AND LYNNE CHRISTENSEN
COVENANT MARRIAGES MINISTRY
17301 WEST COLFAX AVENUE, SUITE 135
GOLDEN, CO 80401