Have I got a deal for you!

What is your normal response when you hear the words, “have I got a deal for you”? Do you immediately walk away? Disconnect the phone? Do you cautiously listen?

Jeremiah was given a difficult responsibility. It was a depressing time for Judah. They were on the verge of being destroyed and taken captive. God told Jeremiah to go the people and remind them, “have I got a deal for you.” Israel was a skeptical bunch, but God wanted them to have a truth to hold on to while they were in exile.

Jeremiah 31:31-37 is in the middle of God’s promises for Israel’s future comfort. Part of God’s promise includes the restoration of Israel as a nation. With this restoration will come the establishment of a new relationship between God and His people, Israel. This new relationship will include 1) a new beginning, 2) a new covenant, and 3) a new city. The following verses describe God’s new covenant with Israel.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Thus says the Lord,?Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The Lord of hosts is His name):

“If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord,?Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

Thus says the Lord:?“If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,?I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the Lord” (Jer. 31:31-37).

What will God’s new covenant with Israel be like?

1. Verse 33, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God’s new covenant will give Israel the inner ability to obey His righteous standards and enjoy His blessings.

2. Verse 34, Death of Jesus Christ. God’s new covenant makes provision for canceling the penalty of sin required from man through a once-for-all-time sacrificial Substitute.

3. Verses 35-37, Promise of the Father. God’s new covenant will forever preserve Israel as a nation.
One day, in the Millennium, Israel will be part of the complete fulfillment of this new covenant. Then Israel, as a nation, will acknowledge her sin and turn to the Messiah for forgiveness.

What about us? Do we get in on this new covenant? As God’s Church, we enjoy today some of the benefits of God’s new covenant with Israel because of our union with Jesus Christ. We are blessed—declared righteous because of Jesus Christ; being transformed in holiness because of the indwelling Holy Spirit; and eternally adopted heirs because of the Father. We are blessed!

*Blessed Lord, You have invited us to know You. You have redeemed all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ’s salvation. You have poured out Your Spirit to indwell us. You have made us partakers in a vast spiritual inheritance. We are blessed and sometimes we need to be reminded of these blessings so that we might thank and praise You, the Blesser.

The Last Stitch

Early 1980s. Among the many endeavors of the Women’s Missionary Fellowship was making quilts (mostly for Youth Haven Bible Camp in Kentucky and sometimes for others). L-R: Ina Orsburn, Monnie Dailey, Wanda Long, Nellie Rasmussen, Syble Hester, Mildred Moore.

In preparing for Monnie Dailey’s memorial service, I was looking through photos taken around the church. There is a photo of six ladies standing around a quilting frame. They were tying together a quilt that would go to Youth Haven Bible Camp in Eastern Kentucky, where children and youth could hear about Jesus Christ. What made that photo meaningful? Each of those ladies in turn laid down their scissors, needles, and thread in physical death after a life well lived. Until last week that circle was incomplete. In a figurative way, Monnie Dailey was the final stitch on their masterpiece.

A favorite verse of Scripture came to mind. If you grew up in Sunday School, you know it, too. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

As I looked at those ladies and that quilt in the picture, the phrase “for we are his workmanship” took on new meaning. We are God’s handiwork. He has made us what we are. We are like that quilt, a masterpiece not just to show but to be useful for Him.

Today, God is adding another stitch in who He is fashioning us to become with His final stitch from His handiwork we know as Monnie. You may not know that Monnie was the tenth of twelve children born to Marion and Ollie Shaw in Urbana, Missouri. Like the photo of ladies, Monnie is the last of her siblings to leave this earthly life.

You may know that Monnie has always loved people and especially her family. She has six children, eleven grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren. Monnie expressed her love for many years by sending birthday cards to many of the people that brought her delight. I often wondered if each of those cards was also sealed with a prayer for the recipient.

You may know that Monnie loved serving the Lord in ways that was helpful to others, like preparing food, serving, and cleaning up after others in the kitchen. She not only took delight in this behind the scenes ministry with those at the church but also worked eighteen years as the manager of the kitchen for the high school.

Does that make you wonder, “how could anyone find joy in serving ungrateful teenagers or scrubbing someone else’s dirty dishes?” The next phrase in Ephesians 2:10 explains how, “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Don’t skip over to the phrase “for good works” without first stopping at the phrase “created in Christ Jesus.” That’s Monnie—she was created in Christ Jesus. What does that phrase mean? Anyone “created in Jesus” is trusting their whole life, both earthly and eternal, on the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.

Monnie knew for certain long ago that the day she was to die physically she would go to heaven. Do you have that same assurance that you will go to heaven when you die or would you say you’re still working on knowing for sure? It is fair to be unsure because, as long as we are in this life, God is still making us what we are to fully become. While you are searching He is adding a stitch here and there to the fabric of your life, to lead you to Him.

How did Monnie become so confident of where she would go when she died? Monnie knew the answer to a very important question. Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” What would you say?

Monnie believed that Jesus is God and the only sufficient sacrifice to cover, remove, and forgive her sin. Monnie was only trusting who Jesus Christ is and what He has done in order to be in a right relationship with God. He is the only acceptable answer to the question “why should I let you into my heaven?” Jesus is asking us—He is asking you that same question. Are you trusting Jesus Christ as Monnie did, as the Bible explains?” Come to Jesus.

Here comes the Judge

Did you ever ask or has it ever been asked of you, “Who made you the judge of me?” or “What gives you the right to judge me?”

Asaph was a leading Levite musician in the Temple. In Psalm 50, he presents a vivid picture of a court-room scene. The judge is present. The witnesses are ready to testify. The accusation against the defendant is clear. Because of the imagery and the content, it is a little difficult to imagine this psalm was sung in the Temple worship service. Continue reading

Milestones, part 4

Read Milestones, part 3

Jesus saith unto him, …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. —John 14:6

It appears the last milestone had part of its information chiseled out. Fortunately, the next marker was not vandalized. The third milestone said, “the wages of sin is death.” While the information that sign gave is accurate (and got us to the next milestone), by itself it was incomplete. What further direction should have been given? Continue reading

Milestones, part 3

Read Milestones, part 2

Jesus saith unto him, …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
—John 14:6

We made our way in record time. But the directions on this milestone are no better, it appears to be even worse. We didn’t make a wrong turn, did we? The first milestone pointed to a principle. We are not our own but indebted to our Creator. The second milestone revealed a problem. Without exception everyone, all of humanity, desires and choses to act contrary to our Creator’s will. The Bible calls this “sin.” The time to trust our guide is when we are unsure, otherwise we could wander from the path and possibly never find the right way again. What does this milestone say?

Milestone Three – Romans 6:23a
“For the wages of sin is death…”

The third milestone points to a fatal Penalty: Death. What is death? Death is the result of sin. Death is a consequence of possessing a sin nature and having actually disobeyed God. Death is physical. Physical death is a separation of the soul from the body resulting in the termination of physical life. Death is also spiritual. Spiritual death does not mean an end of existence. The soul, our spirit, lives forever. Spiritual death is far worse than physical death. Spiritual death is a separation of the soul from God and His presence. It is an eternal consequence of sin.

In physical life everyone enjoys a measure of God’s presence. For example, He sends rain without discrimination. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as God? He sends rain on your crops to sustain physical life. Are you unsure who really is the Creator of all that exists? He doesn’t wait for you to figure it all out, He waters your crops, too. Maybe you are one who denies the reality of any deity. Whether you believe He is there or not, you also receive rain and therefore are a recipient of His presence. But, after this life, spiritual death will result in being separated from even the measure of God’s presence that everyone currently benefits from—forever. That’s harsh! Despite this danger…,

Some demand answers, “Why am I responsible?” Others try to use persuasive arguments in hopes of changing God’s mind. “I didn’t ask to be born.” “It’s not my fault that someone else disobeyed God first.” “God is not being fair!” “Everyone should stand or fall on their own merit.”

Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin. Because God is himself perfect, he demands absolute perfection from His creation. The Bible talks about God’s perfection as “righteous,” “just,” and “holy.” When His will is disobeyed, God acts justly (in a fair way) toward every offender. Many people refuse to accept the truth that “I deserve (physical and spiritual) death because of my sin.” The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not only physical death, but eternal death as well!

Those on the only road to God know because of their offenses against the Creator they are already as good as dead and unable to do anything about their condition or their destination.

We are “the walking dead” and it is a long, uphill hike to the next milestone.

Read Milestones, part 4

Milestones, part 2

Read “Milestones, part 1”.

Jesus saith unto him, …no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. —John 14:6

These milestones are very helpful in guiding our walk on the right road and keep us headed to our final destination. A wrong turn here would be disastrous.

Milestone Two – Romans 3:10-11, 23
“As it has been written, ‘There is none righteous, no not one! There is none that understands, there is not one that seeks after God.’ … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory [what pleases or makes God happy] of God.” Continue reading