Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sermon Notes March 29, 2009

Drawing from the text in Jeremiah 31:31-34

"Starting Anew"

Jeremiah reminds us that God does make covenants, and start over, with the former things held intact. There is something new being done in each generation. We are upon that new generation. We have come through some great Visions here at Ojai UMC. "To be a Methodist Church in the Ojai Valley"; "To be a church that rebuilds"; "To be expanding the preschool". God is still acting, and still using the people he has called to Ojai UMC at this time. 

I am greatly appreciative of the learning I had in seminary about Covenants. But, I have to admit I needed to bring my "cheater notes" with me this morning. I tend to feel that knowing someones name needs to hold a more prominent place in my mind than the various types of covenant found in the bible and their meaning.

The Biblical Covenants 

To understand the Word of God accurately one must become familiar with the eight BIBLICAL covenants. They fall into two classes:


A covenant which guarantees that God will do His part when the human requirements stipulated in that covenant are met.


Distinguished from a conditional covenant by the fact that its ultimate fulfillment is promised by God and depends upon God's power and sovereignty for its fulfillment.

Here is a cursory outline of them:

1. The EDENIC covenant (conditional), Gen. 1:26-31;2:16-17

Made with Adam in which life and blessing or death and cursing depended on the faithfulness of Adam. Adam and Eve failed, died spiritually and physically and their sin plunged the whole human race into its pattern of sin and death.

2. The ADAMIC covenant (unconditional), Gen. 3:16-19

Here God declares to man, after the fall, what his lot in life will be because of his sin. It includes the promise of the Redeemer.

3. The NOAHIC covenant (unconditional), Gen 9:1-18

Made with Noah and his sons after the flood, introducing human government to curb sin, the normal order of nature reaffirmed (Gen. 8:22; 9:2) and the permission for man to eat the flesh of animals. Also His promise never to destroy all flesh again by water.

4. The ABRAHAMIC covenant (unconditional), Gen. 12:1-4;13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8

This covenant is one of the great revelations of God concerning future history. Abraham would have numerous posterity, personal blessing, his name would be great, and he, personally, would be a blessing. Through Abraham would come a great nation (Israel) and through him (via that nation) all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Messiah). Through Abraham's descendents (the Jews) came the prophets of God, the writers of God's written Word (the Bible) and Christ/Messiah according to the flesh.

5. The MOSAIC covenant (conditional), Ex. 20:1 - 31:18

It is contained in Exodus but amplified in many other portions of Scripture. It was given through Moses as its mediator for the purpose of governing Israel's (national) relationship with God. It was mainly made up of (a) the commandments, the express will of God, (b) the judgments, the social and civic life of Israel, (c) and the ordinances. It was temporary and would terminate at the cross of Christ. Though it had gracious elements it was basically a covenant of works. It could not impart life to the sinner in Adam (Gal. 3:21) but it served as a tutor which would lead those who were under its jurisdiction to the only One who could impart LIFE (Christ Jesus, Gal. 3:24).

6. The LAND covenant (unconditional), Deut. 30:1-10

It is erroneously called by theologians the "Palestinian Covenant." However, the Bible does not recognize the land by that name. It is the land of Israel because it was divinely covenanted to Abraham's descendents through Jacob (Israel). It is an unconditional promise regarding Israel's final possession of their ancient land.

7. The DAVIDIC covenant (unconditional), 2Sam. 7:4-16; 1Chron. 17:3-15

God promised David an unending, royal lineage, throne, and kingdom. Though God reserved the right to interrupt the actual reign of David's sons for chastisement, the perpetuity of the covenant cannot be broken. The Abrahamic covenant guaranteed the nation and the land. The Davidic covenant guarantees an everlastingThrone, King and Kingdom connected to that people (the Jews) and the land. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, is the rightful heir of this promised Throne (Matt. 2:2; Lk. 1:32-33) and on it He will reign over this literal, promised, earthly, future Messianic Kingdom from Jerusalem at His second advent.

8. The NEW COVENANT (unconditional), Jer. 31:31-40

It is a new covenant with Israel in contrast with the old (Mosaic, "which they broke," Jer. 31:32). Christ Jesus is the Mediator (in His blood) of this new covenant which was inaugurated at the cross and is described in Scripture as, "enacted on better promises" (Heb. 8:6). The Mediator of this covenant has become, for all mankind, "the source of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9) to all who obey Him; as well as the cornerstone and Head of the Church (Eph. 2:20-22; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23) which is being built during this dispensation; individuals called out from both Jews and Gentiles alike. Ultimately and literally, this new covenant with its unconditional and eternal blessings will be established with NATIONAL Israel at Christ's second advent to earth.

Written by: Gary Nystrom

The story is as old as time. If not for God renewing a covenant with each generation we would not even be here as Methodists today. Consider the covenants God has made with others in history

The Heart of Servants

A graduating student at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, had

just received his appointment from the bishop. He was grousing and grumbling

because the appointment didn't fit what he felt he deserved. Another

student, in a loving but unsympathetic way patted him on the back and said,

"You know the world is a better place because Michelangelo didn't say,

'I don't do ceilings.'"

He lifted up Jesus for his friend to see because he understood that To Serve Is To Follow.

And if you stop to think about it, that's the spirit of servanthood. The

world is a better place because a German monk named Martin Luther didn't say, "I don't do doors."

The world is a better place, because an Oxford don named John Wesley didn't say, "I don't do fields."

Go from the beginning of the Bible to the end, and you will see over and

over again the story of men and women who had servant hearts, minds and

spirits. And the world is a better place, because:

Moses didn't say, "I don't do rivers."

Noah didn't say, "I don't do arks."

Jeremiah didn't say, "I don't do weeping."

Amos didn't say, "I don't do speeches."

Rahab didn't say, "I don't do carpets."

Ruth didn't say, "I don't do mothers-in-law."

David didn't say, "I don't do giants."

Mary didn't say, "I don't do virgin births."

Mary Magdalene didn't say, "I don't do feet."

John didn't say, "I don't do deserts."

Peter didn't say, "I don't do Gentiles."

Paul didn't say, "I don't do letters."

Jesus didn't say, "I don't do crosses."

(footnote: By the way I find it humorous that I am in a Lectionary study group, and for all the shared information in that group, this is the first instance of pulling the exact same piece out for illustration, even if we did use it differently. Thanks for making me laugh Steve.)


The goal then for us today is the same as the goal was for God as conveyed by Jeremiah.

       "I will put my law in their minds 
       and write it on their hearts. 
       I will be their God, 
       and they will be my people.

 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, 
       or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' 
       because they will all know me, 
       from the least of them to the greatest," 

So then the goal is that we would make God known. We will not have to teach our neighbor, because God will be known in our actions. We remember the old camp song "They will know we are Christians by our love". The question we have to answer is how we are going to love the WHOLE community of Ojai, with the gifts and graces we already bring to the table. 

I had hoped that the Vision would be clear by this Sunday; that the hopes and dreams you have shared with me and each other in our Visioning groups would lead us to a whole Vision. I am aware at the reading of this text, that we are exactly where we should be. Jeremiah says that God is making a new covenant with Israel. As God's people today, we are in the same place. God is making a new covenant. Our part of the contract is our Vision statement. In the making of our Vision God's will becomes clear for the actions we are to take going forward.

So, I am committing to you that we will review what we have gotten, with a group of people from within the church, and we will confirm a Vision for the church. The goal is to have that laid our before us for Easter. It is at Easter that we affirm the resurrection. We will also affirm the resurrection of Ojai UMC at that time, with a clear and concise Vision statement.



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