Revisiting Our Covenant Relationship
Martin Luther is attributed by many as saying: “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Whether it’s our marriage or ministry, there exists a tendency to minimize the importance of putting our agendas on hold and revisiting the foundation of our relationships—we’re too busy!
After Israel defeated Ai, they had a lot of land left to conquer and could have perhaps used the momentum to push forward quickly—which seems like a logical military strategy. Yet Joshua had them come to Mount Ebal (some 20 miles out of the way, no small task for over a million people), build an altar, sacrifice to the LORD, and re-read the Law. This was what the LORD had commanded prior in Deuteronomy. Joshua gives us the purpose behind this:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8 ESV)
God did not want the law to be learned because He is some insecure taskmaster, but so Israel’s way would be prosperous and successful. You and I live under the covenant of a better Moses (Jesus), and a better law (the Law of Christ). And God would still have us revisit the covenant, even if it means putting our plans on hold. In fact, Scripture indicates that we’ll often have to drop other things by faith in order to prioritize God—it is expected of us:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)
God could have easily cleared out the promised land on His own (remember the flood that covered the earth? — same God), but was less concerned about a physical dwelling than with shaping a people to be called after His name, so much so in fact, that God was content to remove them from the land when they neglected the covenant.
It’s important to take time and remind ourselves of what God has already said and promised— what He expects of us and what we can expect of Him. This gives us direction, power, and focus for the battle ahead. In the same way Israel reflected God when they maintained covenant relationship, so we reflect Christ when we do the same. When we make the time to maintain covenant relationship we are in a position to be used and blessed by God because our lives will reflect His glory to the world.
One of the strongest things a married couple can do is reread their wedding vows. This puts the present situation in perspective while renewing love, devotion, and energy. For your devotional time this week, in addition to Joshua 8:30-35, here are some foundation sayings of Jesus to block out time for and revisit:
- Mark 12:30-31
- John 3:16-21
- John 15:5
- Matthew 5:14-16
- Matthew 16:24-25
- Acts 1:8
Stand Firm in Your Convictions
From: Intouch Ministries
Like the Bible’s heroes of faith, we must stand firm on our spiritual convictions.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
A person of conviction feels certain that his beliefs are true. However, it’s often the case that the things people believe are based on the current conditions or situations of their life. Then, when circumstances change, their convictions do as well. In other words, it’s not uncommon to find someone go back and forth on issues that require a firm resolve.
Contrast this wishy-washy approach with the mindset of the devoted followers of God described in Scripture. Despite many years of unfair treatment, Joseph didn’t waver in his commitment to the Lord (Gen. 39:1-9). Daniel was a righteous man who earned the trust of foreign kings in an idolatrous land by standing firm in his beliefs (Dan. 6:8-28). His friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego also refused to compromise their beliefs despite the threat of death. As a result, their resolve caused the king to recognize the Lord as the one true God (Dan. 3:13-30).
The godly convictions of these biblical heroes withstood the changing winds of opinion and the persuasive arguments of opponents. Unshakeable trust in God and His Word is what grounded their beliefs. Today more than ever, we need men and women who stand firm against philosophies and ideas that threaten the church. Will you commit to be bold for the Lord?
Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons
Preaching for the poor
“The poor have the gospel preached to them.” Matthew 11:5
Suggested Further Reading: Amos 7:10-17
There was a tinker once, who never so much as brushed his back against the walls of a college, who wrote a Pilgrim’s Progress. Did ever a doctor in divinity write such a book? There was a pot-boy once—a boy who carried on his back the pewter pots for his mother, who kept the Old Bell. That man drove men mad, as the world had it, but led them to Christ, as we have it, all his life long, until, loaded with honours, he sank into his grave, with the good will of a multitude round about him, with an imperishable name written in the world’s records, as well as in the records of the church. Did you ever hear of any mighty man, whose name stood in more esteem among God’s people than the name of George Whitefield? And yet these were poor men, who, as Wycliffe said, were taking to the preaching of the gospel. If you will read the life of Wycliffe, you will find him saying there, that he believed that the Reformation in England was more promoted by the labours of the poor men whom he sent out from Lutterworth than by his own. He gathered around him a number of the poor people whom he instructed in the faith, and then he sent them two and two into every village, as Jesus did. They went into the market-place, and they gathered the people around; they opened the book and read a chapter, and then they left them a manuscript of it, which for months and years after the people would assemble to read, and would remember the gospellers that had come to tell them the gospel of Christ. These men went from market-place to market-place, from town to town, and from village to village, and though their names are unknown to fame, they were the real reformers.
For meditation: Wycliffe’s translation of the text was “Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel.” A small percentage of Christians would be regarded as great in worldly terms (1 Corinthians 1:27)—only a tiny fraction of preachers would be so described. Are your preachers suitably honoured and supported by your church (1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17,18)?