Tuesday, February 3, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 21

Sigh...last week there was way too much going on in the house, and I got behind on my preparations for this week...so you got a day off yesterday! But I'm back today and hope I do better.

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Day 21 Protecting the Covenant Community

There are not many human instincts stronger than the desire to protect our loved ones.

  • Husbands and fathers are fearsome and formidable forces when their wives or daughters or sisters are in danger.

  • The seemingly superhuman power of a mother when called upon to rescue her child is well documented—from lifting huge objects to jumping great distances to savagely attacking a predator.

  • The wrath of a mother bear protecting her cub is legendary….

Well, our heavenly Father and Big Brother have taken protection to an entirely new level.

On Day 9 we looked at God’s love expressed in Christ’s covenant-making sacrifice to adopt us into his family. Well, today we are going to look at the second part of that sacrifice—the protection God provided for when (not if) we break covenant.

Remember, a blood covenant that was broken was punishable by death—and only your death could release you from responsibility to keep its terms. In the Old Covenant, God allowed innocent animals to suffer the death penalty instead of the guilty human.

This was part of God’s mercy and commitment to reconciling relationships—not just being right! It was also setting up the model of amazing mercy that God would supply in the New Covenant.

When Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, died on the cross, he completed two covenant sacrifices in one: the oath-taking sacrifice for covenant making, and the oath-breaking sacrifice for covenant breaking (sin).

In order to protect us from the consequence of death for our sins, God allowed Jesus to take our punishment for when we fail to keep covenant faithfully. God knew we would not be able to obey perfectly, as Jesus did. So, he asked Jesus to pay the price—once and for all—for everyone who would accept God’s offer of adoption (yet would fail to live up to God’s expectations).

That is how Jesus showed us the perfect example of hesed—by willingly serving, submitting and leading with love, grace and mercy. He died on purpose so we could live with purpose.

So that means we have responsibilities for protecting our adopted church family from harm, too.

The Apostle Paul scattered over 50 commands for this kind of protection in his writings. We call them the “one anothers” – the Greek word is allelon. It would be time well spent to check out all the allelon passages!

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:18 through 3:10. While you’re reading, look for situations where protection was needed. Who needed protection—and from what or whom? Who provided protection?

Keep Breathing!

Three weeks finished—wow! When you invite God to fill you today with the Holy Spirit so that you will be able to remain on target and faithful to God’s purpose, thank him for Jesus’ sacrifice—which protects you from the death penalty when you break covenant. (That’s why it’s called amazing grace!)

Take John’s words to heart when he says that no one who lives in Christ keeps on sinning. Realize that you’ve been asking for the Holy Spirit to help you keep covenant this week.

You’ve been getting stronger every day—can you feel it? Don’t give up—you are over half way there!

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