Covenant – Biblical Covenant Defined – Part 3

God made it.  He is eternal.  So is His covenant.

Genesis 17:1-2 – And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

For more than sixty years now, I have been a student of God’s Word, with more than fifty of those years in ministry.  I have learned the deep importance of studying the meaning of words so the truth the Lord is setting forth will not be lost in me due to shallow understanding.  Regardless of your place in life, five-fold ministry or layman, we should all study the Word of God deeply in order to show ourselves approved unto our Father.  Jesus said He would give to us the “keys of the kingdom.”  Jesus is the Door to the kingdom, and He’s not locked.  He has said, “Whosever will, let him come.”  But IN the kingdom are many things to which we can attain only through diligent study, learning, and growth.  In that we find the “keys of the kingdom.”  The study to discover Biblical definitions is one of those keys.  “Covenant” is one of those key words. 

In my personal study of that word, in my reading about that word from the writings of Godly men who were master linguists, I have discovered that “covenant” is not a mere agreement.  We can agree on many things that will never come to life-or-death decisions.  But when one enters into Biblical covenant, one has stepped into a realm that is truly life-or-death.  It is much more than a simple agreement; it’s about blood.   The word “covenant” implies a cutting of the flesh to produce the flowing of blood.  There are many examples of this throughout history, not just in the Bible.  And in ancient cultures, “covenant” was a matter of life-and-death.  If two parties entered into covenant with one another, there would be a cutting of the flesh, a mingling of the blood, an exchange of deeply symbolic gifts, and the taking of an oath of loyalty to each other.  Once the blood had flowed, and had been received by both parties, a pronouncement of blessing and cursing would happen.  The two parties would become equal owners of each other’s possessions.  What belonged to one belonged to both, to share equally as needed.  The strengths of one became the strengths of the other so that weaknesses could not be exploited by an enemy.  And if, peradventure, one of the covenant parties should break that covenant, the covenant having been initiated in bloodletting, the covenant breaker would now be punished by bloodletting; his own blood, his life, his death.  And in many blood covenants, if one party broke the covenant, his own off-spring, and far away as four generations, would be required to hunt the covenant breaker and slay him.  Consider the seriousness of blood covenant.  Selah!

Manna for Today – Genesis 17; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; Luke 21:33; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 1:3

Covenant – Biblical Covenant Defined – Part 2

Let’s settle on defining terms that can anchor our faith.

Genesis 171-2 – And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.Yesterday I began writing to you about defining Biblical covenant.  It’s really not that difficult to do, but we must remove ourselves from the constricting influence of religious speech and sanctimonious thinking.  I believe you know what I’m saying.  You can be having a conversation with a complete stranger about the weather of going fishing, and everything is going along well.  But let the conversation turn towards church, the Bible, or some doctrinal issue, that often the entire tone of voice and even the elocution of many people drastically change.  If you’ve been saved very long, you’ve probably encountered it, especially if you are in the five-fold ministry.  It would almost be humorous if it weren’t so serious.  That is generally a result of moving away from Biblical definition to religious mind-set and what might be called church talk.

I’m talking about Biblical definitions.  Consider the word “love.”  I’m talking about the God kind of love; what the Greek language calls “agape.”  In almost every conversation I have ever had with someone about the God kind of love, agape, at some point, usually very early in the conversation, feelings become one of the great focal points.  By feelings, I’m talking about emotions.  People describe it like a tub of honey (feelings of sweetness), an all-encompassing embrace of warmth (feelings of security), and there are many other expressions.  I’m sure you have heard many of them, perhaps even used some of them. 

But in truth, agape love has nothing to do with feelings.  Agape love, the God kind of love, is love that is based on the character of the lover, a love that never changes.  It doesn’t get deeper or richer as time passes.  We may perceive it as such, but that is only our revelation of that love growing within us.  The truth is, agape love never changes, just as God never changes.  And what is wonderful is that God’s Word gives us a very precise and understandable definition of the God kind of love.  Take a moment to read 1 John 5:3.  There we read, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”  It’s that simple.  It’s not about feelings, emotions, or anything close to that.  It is simple obedience to the Word of God.  In John 14:15; Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  Don’t try to make God’s words mean something other that what He says they mean.  Yes, feelings may come.  Yes, emotions may be stirred.  But feelings and emotions are never a measuring stick for God’s love, and sensory perception is never a measuring stick for God’s faith.  Selah!

Manna for Today – Genesis 17; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; Luke 21:33; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 1:3

Covenant

One of the great foundational stones for Biblical accuracy is definition, Biblical definition.

Biblical Covenant Defined – Part 1

Genesis 17:1-2 – And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

To prepare a culinary work of art, you need to follow the recipe.  The recipe defines the ingredients, measures, and timing.  To build and architectural masterpiece, you need to follow the blueprint.  The blueprint defines the materials and procedures.  To rightly divide the Word of Truth, God’s Word, the terms we use in the sowing of the seed of the Word must be accurately defined.  Without accurate definitions, we do not have a walk of faith, but of presumption and foolishness.  Biblical covenant is never a matter of guesswork.  It is entering into a binding agreement with Jehovah God on the basis of what He says, and to do so with full understanding of the benefits of obedience and the repercussions of failure to comply.  Our heavenly Father is a faithful God, never failing in His Word, always clear in what He says, leaving no room for failure to understand.  A statement I have used now for decades in describing Father’s commitment to and upholding of His covenant is, “If God said it, that settles it.”  My friend, that’s the end of the story for me.  If God said it, that settles it.

As I have already written, God does not leave His people in a state of questioning regarding His will for His people.  He always defines for us the terms He uses.  I understand the tendency of people to want to use words they seem to understand to define Biblical terms, but in many, if not most, cases, such definitions stray from what the Lord meant precisely.  I hear all kinds of definitions for the term “faith.”  But none of them match the clarity, and certainly not the accuracy of what Holy Ghost inspired in Hebrews 11:1.  Take the time to read God’s definition of faith, and then, be bold enough to stick with it, despite any opposition.  There were read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  There it is – clear, plain, simple, and completely accurate.  Study it for yourself.  Read the Words.  Allow Scripture to define Scripture.  Keep it as simple as possible.  It may take you some time, and may require some energy, but the outcome of properly defining Biblical terms is well worth your investment.  As we continue in our study, we’ll examine more Biblical terms to lay the foundation necessary for accurate understanding of God’s Word in our lives.  Selah!

Manna for Today – Genesis 17; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; Luke 21:33; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 1:3

The Year of Covenant


When God makes covenant, it is forever.  Amen!

Covenant

Genesis 17:1-2 – And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

In order for a covenant, a truly Biblical covenant to exist, the agreement that is made must be made with a cutting, a separating between two pieces of flesh, and from that cutting, there must be the flowing of blood.  That is why covenant is often referred to as a blood covenant.  In our modern, high-tech, fast paced world, such a thing is considered to be uncivilized.  That is one of the reasons that modern Christianity has lost so much of its power.  It has become, at least in the minds of many religious people, an idea of something good that is come upon by some carnal, or natural means.  My friend, such thinking is completely unbiblical and offers no basis for substantive Christianity.

This year, upon which we have just entered, will by no means be the first year of covenant in the mind of God.  In the mind of our heavenly Father, our God Who changes not (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), the covenant we will examine was in place before the foundation of the world.  Before heaven and earth were created, before all that exists in the earth was created, before man was formed from the dust of the earth in the garden of Eden, before God breathed into man the breath of life, God’s covenant was already established.  It has not gone away.  It has not been nullified or voided.  On the contrary, it has been activated, acted upon, lived, and fulfilled, but never removed or taken away.  As we approach the time for the coming of the Lord for His church, the fulfilling God’s covenant will be seen in greater and greater measure.  Father has established the standards for that fulfilling, and they will be met.  I believe 2022 will be the greatest manifestation of that work that has ever been witnessed.  Selah!

Manna for Today – Genesis 17; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; Luke 21:33; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 1:3

Take a Walk – Part 14


Here’s a walk from which one should never retire in this life.

A Life-long Journey

1 Corinthians 10:1 & 4 – Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the had to walk, and that walk was for a lifetime, not a short journey.  They walked from Egypt to the Red Sea.  They walked across dry ground with the Red Sea being parted.  They walked from the Red Sea to the Jordan River, though it took much longer than the Lord desired.  They walked across the dry river bed of the Jordan with the waters parted.  They walked to and fro through the promised land conquering and driving out their enemies from before them.  They walked, traversing their promised land for their lifetime, until they turned form the Lord and fell captive into the hands of their enemies.  My point is this, they walked for a lifetime.

Their captivity in Egypt is a type (and shadow) of life before being born again, living under the dominion of Satan.  Crossing the Red Sea is a type of the new birth, where the past is washed away.  The journey from the Red Sea to the Jordan River is a type of the journey from the new birth to the baptism in Holy Ghost.  Crossing the Jordan River is a type of the baptism in Holy Ghost.  Walking in the promised land, battling and driving out enemies, is a type of living the redeemed life of victory in Jesus in this present life, and growing in Him as we build the kingdom of God in the earth.  The thing that is common in every element of this lifelong journey is walking; it is our spiritual walk that should never end in this life.

I was a slave in Egypt; a sinner without Jesus.  Then I heard the delivering words in my Egypt and came to my Red Sea moment, my point of decision, and chose to come through the blood of Jesus and begin my journey to my promised land.  Due to the teaching, and in many cases, lack of teaching, my time in the wilderness was 12-years long.  At that point I came to another major decision encounter.  I chose to step into my Jordan and cross into my promised land, my personal encounter with and baptism in Holy Ghost.  And for the past 50 years of my life, I have walked in my promised land.  I have fought battles against enemies that needed to be defeated and pushed out of my life.  I have experienced times of invasion when enemies of my soul have come to “steal, kill, and destroy.”  In those invasive times, I have fought the enemy to drive them back so I could continue in my promised land in peace, health, and prosperity.  I still fight today, and the victory is still mine as I walk with the Lord.  Take your walk.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1:1-6; 1 John 1:7-9; Daniel 3:1-30; 1 Corinthians 10:1-22; John 10:10

Take a Walk – Part 13

To reach the dead, you often have to go where they are laid.

To the Graveyard

John 11:16 – Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

I am sure that most Christians are at least somewhat familiar with Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus was a day’s journey from Bethany when He was told of his sickness.  But because it was a day’s journey, by the time the word got to Jesus, Lazarus was already dead.  Jesus knew this by the Spirit, and still tarried two more days before beginning His journey to Bethany.  Just before beginning His journey, Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus had died.  When He started the journey, they knew He was not going there to mourn or put flowers on the grave.  Jesus was going to Bethany on kingdom business.  Being aware of the tension that existed among the religious-minded leaders around Bethany, many of His disciples probably expected trouble.  That’s why Thomas made the statement, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”  Keep in mind that while there were many places Jesus could go in Bethany, His first stop was going to be the graveyard, a place of death.  When you consider that a large number of people want you dead, one might question the wisdom of going to the graveyard.  Just a thought.

But in this case, Jesus had spoken.  He said Lazarus had died, but that he was asleep, and He (Jesus) was going to awaken him.  So, Thomas, along with the eleven, went with Jesus, believing what He said.  There are times, my friend, when we walk with the Lord, that we must believe what He says, though at that moment there is no physical evidence to confirm it.  That is called faith.  Hebrews 11:6 declares that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  If you can perceive it with your five senses, you don’t need faith for it.  It is when you cannot perceive it with your physical senses that you must stand on your faith, and that’s precisely what Jesus’s disciples did in this case.  I am sure they did not know all that would transpire, nor did they have any idea how it could all come about, but Jesus had spoken.  Is your faith such that when Jesus speaks, you respond with obedience?  When the Word of God establishes a truth, do you embrace it with you whole heart?  Do you follow where Holy Spirit leads, regardless of circumstances.  Is your walk with Jesus such that you go wherever He leads?  I pray you answer is “yes.”  The Word is still the Word, Jesus is still Lord, Holy Spirit is still our Teacher, Guide, and Leader, and the Lord is still moving among His people.  Be prepared to take a walk.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1:1-6; 1 John 1:7-9; Daniel 3:1-30; John 11:1-44

Take a Walk – Part 12

Learn to listen as you walk.

To See Clearly

Luke 24:32 – And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

For days now I have written to you concerning walking with the Lord.  From time to time, Sharon, my bride, and I will take a walk in our neighborhood.  We could walk silently if we chose, or even each of us walk alone.  We could enjoy the fresh air, the sounds of animals, and the sounds of a family fill community, but it is so much better when we walk together, and especially when we talk as we walk.  As simple as our conversations usually are, they are quite refreshing.  Communication, not just speaking words, but listening to what is said, and choosing to hear what is said, makes communication quite an enriching source of energy.  If you don’t already do it, you should try it some time, especially with someone who hold high significance with you.

Of course, when you’re walking with Jesus, you don’t always see Him, and even if you do, there are times as in the walk of two disciples on the road to Emmaeus, that His identity is hidden from you.  It can be amazingly astounding what Jesus can say to you at times when you don’t even realize it’s Him speaking to you.  It can come through a walking companion, something you see as you walk, or a thought that enters your mind, seemingly random in its content, but will ultimately shake your world.  So, whether His voice comes to you as you walk in one of these manners, or some other form altogether, I urge you to prepare your heart to hear His voice so that when you hear it, it does not seem to you to be simply a sound of nature, such as thunder.  That happened, you know, in the Scriptures, when Father spoke audibly to over His Son, and though some heard and understood, many thought it had thundered.

The beauty of walking with the Lord is that as He walks, He will talk to you, and that quite directly.  There are some ministers who declare God doesn’t talk to them.  To such a one who says that, while declaring himself to be a member of the five-fold ministry, I would give little, if any, heed.  My friend, our Lord still speaks to us; by His Word, by His Spirit, through men and women of God, through signs and wonders, and even through His blood, for the blood yet speaks.    We are living in a time when hearing from the Lord is an absolute necessity.  We must learn to hear and recognize the voice of the Lord when He speaks.  And one of the greatest places to hear His voice is when you walk with Him.  May your heart burn daily.  Take a walk.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1:1-6; 1 John 1:7-9; Daniel 3:1-30; Luke 24:13-25; Hebrews 12:26

Take a Walk – Part 11

Keep walking with the Lord, even if it looks like you’re walking in circles.

Around the City

Joshua 6:3-4 – And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

The children of Israel had finally crossed Jordan into the Promised Land after wandering 40-years in the wilderness.  Moses was gone from the scene now, and Joshua was the new leader.  He had instructions from the Lord concerning Jericho, a mighty walled city that was completely shut up to invaders.  And what were his instructions?  To walk.  Now that seems simple enough, doesn’t it?  On day one, the two million (and more) Israelites walked around the walled city of Jericho without uttering a sound.  I can only imagine the eerie silence, not only among the Israelites, but those of Jericho who watched.  I can only wonder how much time it took for that many people to make the walk.  On day two, the same thing occurred.  Then again on days three, four, and five.  By the end of the walk on day six, the tension must have been reaching a peak.  The silence from Israel had remained in effect, and I am sure the tension within the gates was enormous. 

Then came the seventh day, and with it, a change in the service order.  On this day, there would be seven silent trips around Jericho, and then the priests would blow the ram’s horns, and the people would charge up into the city over top the walls that had fallen down flat.  What a marvelous sight to see!  The great walls of Jericho, so high and so thick no army could penetrate or overcome them, fallen down flat.  And all that was required for this great sight to be seen was to walk with the Lord in silent obedience to what He had commanded.

I have no doubt in my mind that rushing over the fallen Jericho walls was both exhilarating and rewarding to the children of Israel.  I am sure they enjoyed the great victory on the seventh day and all the spoils of war it brought.  I am likewise certain that their celebration, including exuberant worship of the Lord, was passionate and joyful.  But what I still question is what was going through their minds during seven days of silent walking over the same ground, again and again.  Allow me these concluding thoughts.  It’s easy to shout when the victory is plainly laid before you.  It’s easy to shout when everyone around you is shouting in joyous victory.  But when you must walk in desert heat and dust, day after day, step after step, silently, following the instruction of the Lord received days earlier, it requires endurance, patience, and steadfast commitment.  Walking can be the hard part.  Take a walk.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1:1-6; 1 John 1:7-9; Daniel 3:1-30; Joshua 6

Take a Walk – Part 10

It is so easy to understand when you don’t try to complicate it.

Take Up Your Cross

Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

In the Mark passage in our Manna for Today, we can examine the precise Biblical requirements for the 100-fold reciprocity principle to come into full effect.  It is truly simple, but so many people have their eyes on the return that they miss the journey to its revelation.  The steps of that journey, of that walk with the Lord, are unveiled completely in our Text for Today.  I encourage you to open you eyes to the simple truth.

Step one is to establish the amount the Lord wants you to give.  In today’s case, it was all he had.  Jesus told him to “sell whatsoever thou hast.”  That meant everything.  Step two is to determine where the Lord desires you to sow it.  For this nameless rich young ruler, it was “to the poor.”  Then we come to step three.  For this rich young ruler, it was to “take up the cross, and follow Me (Jesus).”

Step one is just that; one step.  Likewise, step two is just one step.  Those two steps are not so difficult.  If God desires you to sow a certain amount towards a particular work, He well knows how to convey that desire to you.  It is step three where the work begins, for it is at step three that the walk begins.  Jesus commanded the rich young ruler to follow Him.  Jesus was never and never will be at a stand-still.  He was and is always on the move; forward, onward, upward.  Forward – He never turns back.  Onward – He has an eternal destination.  Upward – He always wants His people to grow up into Him. 

One might say, “But Jesus said to take up the cross and follow Me.”  And that is precisely what Jesus said, but the simple fact remains, you can’t follow someone by standing still.  To follow someone requires movement in the direction the leader is going.  In the simplest of terms, if I am following you, then we are traveling in the same direction, in the same way, accompanying each other.  I am not tracking you from a distance.  I am following you in close order, sharing the same route, eating and drinking together, conversing one with another, and seeing things from the same perspective.  And if I “take up the cross” to follow someone, that means we share in the same work, the same burdens, the same battles, and the same blessings.  It is the same blessings that Jesus called the 100-fold return.  Take a walk.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1:1-6; 1 John 1:7-9; Daniel 3:1-30; Mark 10:17-31

Take a Walk – Part 9

Would you endure the heat of a long-term walk?

In the Fire

Daniel 3:24-25 – Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

One of the great joys in walking with the Lord is that no matter what the atmospheric or natural conditions are about you, when you’re walking with the Lord, the only covering you need is present.  It is His glory.  Take a moment to read our Text for Today once again.  What was it King Nebuchadnezzar saw when he looked into the fire after it had cooled enough for him to come near enough to see inside? 

First, he saw “four men loose.”  They were not bound as the Hebrew children had been when cast into the fire.  And miraculously, there were not three men, the number cast into the fire, bur four.  And interestingly, while he saw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nigo whom he knew personally, it seems that it was the fourth person in the fire that primarily grabbed and held his attention.  That was the fourth man.  And of the fourth man, Nebuchadnezzar said, “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Second, Nebuchadnezzar noted that they were “walking in the midst of the fire.”  You see, nothing of the fire, its terrible heat, its choking fumes, its consuming of all the oxygen, was bothering them.  And the reason was, they were walking with the Lord.  When you’re walking with the Lord, you don’t need a hat, coat, gloves, boots, mask, or fire-retardant clothing.  His covering is all you need.

Allow me to ask you a question.  There is something here even greater than the fact that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nigo were not touched by the flames.  It is this; Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, he saw the Lord.  So, here’s by question.  When you are “going through the fires” of life, do the people around you, especially those who mean you some harm, see the Lord walking with you in the fire?  We should not a very important point here.  The three Hebrew children had made their proclamation of faith concerning the issues before them BEFORE they were thrown in the fiery furnace.  They had already told the king they would not bow to him, and that if he threw them into the fire, their God would deliver them.  They also told the king that if he recanted his threat to throw them into the fire, they would not bow to him, even in thanks for sparing their lives.  It was their testimony BEFORE the fire that revealed the Lord’s presence with them IN the fire.  Give your testimony BEFORE you find yourself in the flames.  The flames are real, and they are coming.  Make sure the Lord is walking with you in the fire when you take your walk.

Manna for Today – Psalm 1:1-6; 1 John 1:7-9; Daniel 3:1-30