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Gospel Shaped Character session 3 Derek Heibert

posted Mar 6, 2016, 9:47 AM by CallWalkObey Faith Community Church   [ updated Mar 6, 2016, 9:49 AM ]

Whats it mean to live out Covenant?

posted Sep 29, 2012, 12:24 PM by Jeremiah Seekins   [ updated Oct 27, 2012, 2:01 PM ]

Looking at the bible as a story that God is telling us, of the Great Romance. Revealing to us in covenant his love of us, His desire for us to be in intimate personal relationship with him. He pursues us with an unending forever and ever love, a love that never gives up, a love that seeks our best. C.S. Lewis said " love in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved." God says I love you and because of that love I will perfect you. 

This story is seen in the life of Hosea. Hosea was a minor prophet, not because he wasn't as important the major prophets, but because of the length of the book. Hosea was told by God to marry a whore. When I heard this story for the first time I questioned why would God tell Hosea to marry a whore? But as I read the story I realized that God was trying to give Hosea first hand account of the way the people of Israel have been Whoring against God. 
When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea,“Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” Hosea 1:2 

God wants to tell us a story. The story ultimate story. God is telling Hosea  I want you to experience the heartache that I experience. I want to you know the story that Israel is putting me/God through. God wanted to tell us a bigger story through the story of Hosea. God wants us to wake up to our sin, that's why he uses the word whore. God tells Hosea to marry a whore because God married a whore. God does not condone Sin, God confronts Sin.

So what is the story of God found in the Story of Hosea?
  1. The Whore continues to Whore
  2. God lets the Whore Whore
  3. God continues to pursue the Whore
  4. God redeems the Whore
  5. God wants us to Love him, and therefore he loves us
  6. The Whore loves God, and is no longer  a Whore

In the Story of Hosea like the story of God, the bride of Christ has returned to their life of whoredom. This is seen with Gomer, Hosea's wife. When Hosea married her, she was a whore. We do not know how long it took for Gomer to start up again, but from the text we might conclude that her second child was not Hosea's. 

In this story, we do not see Hosea forcing Gomer to not Whore. We do not see Hosea forcing Gomer to love him. No we see Hosea pursue and love his wife. We see God let the people of Israel go after other gods and lovers, but we do not see God stop them. Instead God is continuing to pursue their hearts “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.” Hosea 1:6

In this story we see God continue to pursue the Whore. Hosea continues to pursue his wife, to reveal to her that he is the one that loves her, he is the one that will supply for her, but she does not see it. 
For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink. Hosea 2:5 Even though Gomer goes after her lovers, Hosea does not loose heart, he may be hurt, but he like God has a heart for his beloved. And the plan is to one day for restoration of relationship. “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’ 11 Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel—when God will again plant his people in his land.Hosea 1:10

In this story we see God redeem the whore. Gomer has pursued her lovers, and she had thought they loved her, and she had thought they were taking care of her, but really it was Hosea the entire time, Hosea was providing her with food, wine and gold. Gomer did not realize that Hosea because he loved her wanted her taken care of, but eventually as she did not return, Hosea had to let Gomer carry the weight of her life choices. A tough love, because the lover doesnt ever want the beloved to suffer, but sometimes it is what is needed. Gomer no longer being taken care of by Hosea, eventually is used up by her lovers, they did not love her, they had just been using her. After they were done with her, she found herself in at the end of everything. We find her in the story at the slave market chained up.  And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a letheck of barley. Hosea 3:1,2 Here we see Gods plan to redeem us, to restore relationship. It is not Gomer, she cannot get herself out of this situation she needs Hosea. Likewise we cannot save ourselves we need God. And this is where God wants us to be, he says"I will heal their apostasy (stop believing in God); I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them." Hosea 14:4

In this story we see God wanting us to love him, and therefore he loves us. It is his love that make us love, and it is his faithfulness that makes us faithful. As we read this story we see Hosea always desiring for his beloved to love him back. We see Hosea pursue his wife. As a result we see Gomer respond eventually with love for Hosea.  I want you to show (steadfast) love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 God desires for us to love him, not to obey because that gets him to love us. He wants us to respond to his love, not try to be lovable. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. 2 Tim 2:13 God says because of who I am, I love you. 

In this story we see the whore love God, and is no longer a whore. God had Hosea use the troubled situation that Gomer had gotten herself into. When there was nothing left for Gomer, Hosea went to her, and turned her valley of trouble into a door of hope. God does this again and again as Job 33 says. God brings us to the end of ourselves and there he whispers love to us. It is there that we respond to his irresistible Grace.  It is there that we are no longer a whore, but we become his bride. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. Hosea 2:14,15

Why did God do all of this? Because of his Hesed, because of his unending love for us. Kindness and faithful love (hesed) pursue me every day of my life. I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come. Psalm 23:6 Hesed is not so much a feeling as a decision of will. It is deliberate, it is a love that pursues the other. It chooses to love, and in so goes after the other. Rabbi Kamsler suggests that the best English word to use as a translation for HESED would be "loyalty." God chooses to love us, to remain faithful to us, he is loyal to us, as his beloved bride. God's story is that he loves us, and is inviting us into an imitate relationship. An intimacy that has only been experienced and shared among the trinity, is now our invitation. 

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Five major covenants in the Bible.

posted Sep 28, 2012, 5:30 PM by Jeremiah Seekins   [ updated Oct 27, 2012, 2:02 PM ]

Digging into the meaning of covenant, leads to the question, what are the major covenants in the bible. I wanted to look at them with the understanding that covenant is a bond of fellowship, a bond to relationship. It is in these conditional and unconditional covenants that God displays for us his desire for our hearts, his desire for our hearts to long after him. He desires hesed, as he said in Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love (Hesed) and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 

Before we jump to the five major covenants in the bible, I would like to clear up what the purpose of conditions in covenant do for covenant? Unlike a contract where conditions are agreed upon so that I can leave the contract. Conditions on covenant are designed such that inside of these conditions are where relationship grows. This becomes obvious when one observes a wedding. When the bride and groom say their vows, they are putting conditions on the covenant, and what do these conditions do? They define the covenant, they define how the relationship is supposed to work. With the marriage vows, we see till death do us part, to honor and obey, in sickness and health, etc... the vows are not ways to leave covenant, but ways to bring the covenant parties into a tighter bond of relationship.

God desires steadfast love from us, because it brings us into a tighter bond of relationship with him. His desire is for us to desire him. Jesus said that all the law and prophets hang on the greatest commandments, and those commandments are to love... God knows that if we love him, we will live life the way it was meant to be lived in relationship. Specifically in relationship with him, and with other people. So when God gives us conditions on His covenant, he is defining our relationship with him.

  • God makes five major covenants in the Bible
    1. Noah and his family.Gen 6:18; 9:9-17 through Noah God brings judgment of sin, and brings salvation by grace to the family of God and a new world free of sin and its effects.
    2. Abraham and his descendants.Gen 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:1-14; 22:16-18 Through Abraham, God brings blessing to the nations of the earth.
    3. Moses and the Israelites. Ex 3:4-10; 6:7; 19:5-6 24:8 Moses is God’s prophet who revealed the law to the people, allows God’s wrath to pass over his people because of shed blood, conquered the enemy pharaoh, redeemed the people from slavery, and journeys with them toward home despite their sin and grumbling.
    4. David and the kingdom of Israel. 2 Sam 7:8-19 Ps 89:3 David who is seated on the throne ruling as King, appointed by God. A king whose line is established for ever, and will bring peace and prosperity.
    5. The new covenant of Jesus and the church.Matt 16:17-19; 26:28; Luke 22:20

The first place we see covenant in the bible is with God an Noah (unless you are counting Adam... "Like Adam, they have broken the covenant--they were unfaithful to me there." Hosea 6:7

In Noah's time Man was desperately wicked all the time, but Noah found Grace in the eyes of God. Because of this Grace Noah was righteous and blameless in his generation. Noah preached the destruction coming, while proclaiming the means to salvation. A new life free from sin after the flood. 

If we compare Noah to Jesus we see a lot of similarities. Noah is a shadow of Jesus to come. Jesus is a greater Noah. In Jesus time men were wicked, but Jesus found favor in the eyes of God, God says "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". Jesus was righteous and blameless in every situation. Jesus preached the Gospel. Jesus came to bring life and life abundant, a life free from the bondage of sin. 

Through Noah God brings judgment of sin, and brings salvation by grace to the family of God and a new world free of sin and its effects. In Covenant with Noah God promises that man would continue living. The sign of the covenant was the rainbow, and the terms of the covenant were to not murder. However it is clear from our generation that people do not keep this covenant. In the news almost every day we could find talk of murder. It is also clear that God is still keeping his covenant with us, for man still lives. Even though man doesn't keep covenant with God, God keeps covenant with man.

God said you will prosper and multiply, man will not be destroyed, and relationship will grow, and murder will destroy all of that. He said inside of these conditions is where Life and prosperity and relationship will happen. God is a promise keeper, but more so God continually purses the beloved. 

The second major covenant in the bible is seen when God seeks and calls Abram to himself. He calls him out of the land of his father, out of the land of Ur of the Chaldeans, the city that mostly likely where the tower of babel was. God called Abram to follow him.

Abraham was a shadow of Jesus to come, but unlike Jesus, Abraham and Noah were not perfect, and did not fulfill covenant. Jesus is a greater Abraham, and a Jesus is a Greater Noah. Abraham was a friend of God, Jesus was the son of God. Abraham obeyed God and was willing to sacrifice his son, Jesus died as our sacrifice obeying God. Abraham cut away the foreskin as a sign of the covenant, Jesus circumcises our heart, cutting away what is keeping us from growing in relationship with God. Abraham was counted as righteous because he obeyed God, Jesus was righteous and obeyed perfectly. Abraham Mediated with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus is always mediating for us at the right hand of God. Abraham was given a new name, through Jesus we are given a new life.

God made a couple covenants with Abraham, some conditional, and others unconditional. The unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham, was that he (Abraham) would have a son, that He (God) would give them Canaan, and he (Abraham) would be the father of many nations, and that through his (Abraham) descendant the nations would be blessed.

The conditional covenant that God made with Abraham is when circumcision happened. The sign of the covenant was circumcision, the conditions of the covenant were to be blameless, and the blessing of the covenant was as God said "I will be God to you". God was throwing the entire weight of himself into this covenant. He was implying the same thing that is implied when a man says I will be your husband. I will be everything that a husband is, God said "I will be God to you" This was huge, and I think we miss it most of the time. God says he will be our God, the creator of the universe says he will be God to us. For those of us who have responded to his invitation to be children of God. If we have confessed with our mouths, and believed in our heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.

However Abraham was not blameless, and did not fulfill covenant. God however keeps his promise, and continued to be God to him. God said inside of these conditions is where relationship will flourish.

The Third major covenant in the bible is seen with Moses and the people of Israel. God remembers his covenant he had made with Abraham, his covenant to give them the land of Canaan. God calls Moses in the desert, out of his hiding, to free His (God) people, and bring them to the promised land. Moses who had tried and failed to save his people, who feared for his life ran to the desert for safety. God is calling him to return to Egypt in order that God might fulfill covenant once again.

Moses was a shadow to come, like Abraham and Noah, but unlike Jesus, Moses Abraham and Noah were not perfect. They did not fulfill covenant. Jesus is a greater Moses, Jesus is a greater Abraham, Jesus is a Greater Noah. Jesus fully fulfilled covenant. Moses was a deliverer from slavery, from Pharaoh a false god, Jesus freed us from slavery of Sin. Moses lead the people to the promised land, Jesus is bringing us to the Kingdom of Heaven. Moses gave them the law, Jesus fulfilled the Law. Moses delivered the good news that God would deliver them, Jesus delivered and was the Gospel. Moses saw the affliction of the people, Jesus became man, and dwelt among the afflicted. Moses acted as savior under his own strength, Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit to endure the cross to save his beloved. Moses was a mediator for the the people of Israel, Jesus is the mediator for all mankind. God was with Moses, revealing to the people the truth of his words, and the truth of the promises. Jesus was God with the people, and revealed the truth of His words. Moses shed blood of a bull to cut covenant, Jesus shed his blood to fulfill covenant. Moses was used by God to fulfill covenant, God had remembered his covenant with the people, his promise to give them land. God used Moses to bring his people to the promised land, Jesus came that we might have life, and life abundant.

God through Moses expounded on his covenant he made with Abraham to the people of Israel. The sign of the covenant was the ark of the covenant, the conditions of the covenant were to keep the commandments. The blessings of the covenant were that they would be His treasured possession, a Holy nation, a kingdom of priests.

God expounded on the original covenant saying that not only will I give you the land, but if you love me, you will not experience miscarriage or still birth. He expounded on the original covenant saying that if you love me, not only will I be God to you, but you will be my treasured possession. Off all the nations of the earth I choose you. Of all the ladies I choose you to be my wife. Did the people of Israel pursue God, and keep his commandments? No they broke covenant, but God keeps his promises. God said that inside of these conditions is where relationship is free to grow. Even though the Israelites did not keep covenant God kept covenant.

The fourth major covenant we find in the bible is the covenant made with King David. God has been pursing the people of the world since the dawn of time. With Kind David we see a man who has responded to the great romance seen in God, in the pursuit of man. David a man after Gods own heart, a great king, and man of great faith having responed to Gods love for him, and loved God back. This David is the same David who broke covenant with God, the man who took a census of the people, a man who took another mans wife, and killed that man. David was a shadow of Jesus to come, but unlike Jesus, David did not fulfill covenant. Jesus is a greater David, Jesus is a Greater Moses, Jesus is a Greater Abraham, Jesus is a Greater Noah.

David was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel. Unlike Saul who the people chose, God chose David because of his heart, not because of his image. God looks at the inside but man looks at the outside. The bible says that there was nothing special physically about Jesus. However there was everything special about Jesus' heart. Jesus pursued God in everything. David had a heart after Gods, Jesus heart was Gods. David was a shepherd, Jesus is the Great Shepherd. David was king, Jesus is King of Kings. David lead the people of Israel, Jesus leads us, and is an example for us. David respected authority, and was humble to the authority even when the authority should have acknowledged his right to the thrown. Jesus said give unto cesar what is cesars. Jesus king of kings, appoints the rulers of the earth. David had his mighty men, Jesus had his disciples. David fought in the battles, Jesus won the battle.

God Made a covenant with David, one that stated his descendant would remain on the thrown. A promise that even if his son broke covenant He (God) would keep his promise to David. This covenant was made from Gods heart to Davids heart. This covenant is seen fully fulfilled in Jesus who sits on the thrown of David. This promise is seen being remembered by God as he once again reiterates it to Zerubbabel. God says to Davids descendant,

“‘On that day’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Haggai 2:23

God remembers his covenant with David, and speaks to Zerubbabel, he says you sit on my hand as a symbol. It is through Zerubbabel that Jesus is born. God fulfills covenant fully, not only keeping his side, but also through Jesus God fulfills our side of the covenant. Jesus said he did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. 

The fifth major covenant and the covenant promised to us from Jeremiah 31, is the covenant made through Jesus , the greater David, Jesus the greater Moses, Jesus the greater Abraham, Jesus the greater Noah. Jesus the fulfiller of covenant. 

There is a question asked I have heard asked. And it says, "Why did it take so long for God to give us the law?" From creation to the flood was about 1500 years. From the flood to the law was 800 years. Why did it take about 2300 years for God to give the law?

As you read the bible and you view it through the story God is revealing through the lenses of covenant you it becomes a bit clearer why it took God so long to give us the law. God has been pursing man since the dawn of time, but man has not been pursuing God. This is seen in the times of Noah when men were desperately wicked all the time. God had given them 1500 years of absolute freedom, but man did not pursue God. So God gave us a fresh start, free from a world of Sin. Man still did not pursue God. 300 years later He said if I call you out and am God to you will you pursue me. Still man does not pursue God. 400 years later God says if I give you things to do in which to pursue me will you, man still did not pursue God. 300 years later God calls chooses David to shepherd the people. 

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand Psalm 78:70-72

God says if there is someone to lead you will you pursue me, and now as soon as the leader no longer pursues God, the people no longer pursue God. God shows us through the story of history that Man does not pursue God , that God pursues man. And in the fifth Covenant God says

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31–34

God says he is the one who will fulfill covenant, He will give us a heart that desires him, he will give us the ability to pursue him. We love God because he first loved us. We love because he loves, we are faithful because he is faithful. God tells Moses ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. Exodus 31:13 It has been God plan since the before the foundations of the earth the Jesus would fulfill covenant. God tells Moses that He (God) will fulfill covenant, that He (God) would be the one to make you holy. God did not say be holy of your own power. God says I will make you Holy, and this is through the redeeming work of Jesus.

God has been revealing to us his plan to save us, and this is seen throughout history as God has continually pursed mankind in covenant relationship. The purpose of covenant was to address the problem of the human race and of the entire created order. Across the Old Testament echo the promises and relationships in the covenants that will redeem God’s people and restore God’s sin-alienated creation to himself. `

* It is important to note that covenants themselves do not solve the problem, but they do point to Jesus who does.*

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We Desperately need to understand Covenant.

posted Sep 27, 2012, 8:26 PM by Jeremiah Seekins   [ updated Oct 27, 2012, 2:02 PM ]

I grew up hearing about covenant, and its importance. Usually, I heard it in terms of how its not a contract. It didn't really have an importance in my heart. I just thought of it as another christian word. However, now I am starting to understand that there is so much more to it, than a christian word. 

I am starting to understand that God has been revealing his heart to us, his heart for me, and all of mankind through covenant. The simplest way that I can describe covenant is that inside of covenant, both parties agree that no matter what, they are going to keep their side of the deal, even if the other side does not. In other words when covenant has been cut (the symbol of binding the covenant), there is no leaving covenant. It is a deliberate choice to bind ones self to the other.

This is the way I would describe covenant to a child, but I feel like it leaves much out of the word covenant. Said this way it is easy to contrast against contract, which is nullified if the other party doesn't keep their end of the deal. Contract and covenant do contrast very well, when it comes to the idea of why you do something. Why do we enter into contract? Through the lenses of economics we have contracts because there is something that we desire, and we can achieve it through contract. Contract could be said to be selfishly motivated from both sides. There is something that the other has, that we would like access to, and such we bargain our things or services to get our desire. 

Covenant on the other hand is love driven. Covenant starts with the desire for the other persons well being. Yes we desire to be in relationship with that person, but mostly inside of covenant there is a desire for the best for that person. CS Lewis said that love demands that we commit ourselves to one anther, he said,  “Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved.” It is because of Gods love for us that he initiates covenant with us. 

God has loved us before time began. In revelations we are told of the plan for Jesus Christ to die for us, a plan that was decided before the foundations of the world were created. God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us while we were yet sinners... while we were enemies of God. God looked through time, into eternity and saw that no one would choose him, and so because he loved us so, he pursed us. God is after our hearts, he is wooing us with his Glory, with humility, with unfailing love. This pursuit of us is called Hesed. David uses it in his Psalms "Kindness and faithful love (Hesed) pursue me every day of my life.  I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come."  Psalm 23:6 Hesed is not so much a feeling as a decision of will. It is deliberate, it is a love that pursues the other. It chooses to love, and in so goes after the other. 

God not only loves us, but he deliberately peruses us, he has decided that we would be his. This is called the great romance, and the great romance is revealed in Gods decision to enter into covenant with us. Hesed is deliberate, it is not a passive love, it is an active love. Yes God loves us unconditionally, and yes we are loved because that is who God is, love. But more than that, God makes the active choice, decision, to win our hearts, to be ours for all eternity. He chooses covenant with us, to bind himself to us forever. Hesed chooses to love, and in so goes after the other.  Rabbi Kamsler suggests that the best English word to use as a translation for Hesed would be "loyalty." God does what he says he is going to do, he chose us to be in an intimate relationship. He has been proving his love for us ever since, and even before that. God is loyal to keep his word. And since we continue to leave God, God goes after us. In order to win our hearts God pursues us.

God chooses covenant with us, and in so doing he reveals that he wants to be in relationship with us. Remember Covenant simply put is a bond of friendship, and God chooses us to be friends. More than that though God chooses us to be family. God uses covenant to represent his deliberateness in choosing us, he uses covenant to reveal how serious he is about pursing us, he uses covenant to reveal his plan to redeem us. Covenant is more than not being a contract that is nullified if one party doesn't hold up their end of the deal. Covenant reveals Gods Hesed for us, and reveals how serious God loves us. God is loyal to do what he says, and he said that he is the one going to sanctify us. "Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you." Exodus 31:13

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Why God Creates Stories

posted Sep 27, 2012, 8:21 PM by Jeremiah Seekins   [ updated Oct 27, 2012, 2:01 PM ]

This came from Young Life campaigners and was adapted into weekend retreat series. One can find more campaigners talks at

When I was younger, my brother Levi and I would watch the star wars trilogy over and over.  We loved those movies. In fact I can still watch those movies again and again. There is something about them that grab my imagination. There is something about a good story that grabs us, it does more then just interact with us, it tugs at our hearts, it is calling from our hearts, eternity. There is something universal about stories. 

Stories are everywhere, they are how we communicate, they are how we introduce ourselves, they are how we learn about history, they are how we dream about the future. A good story is timeless.  John Eldredge says it like this "Might it be that we have been given our longings for love and adventure for romance and sacrifice as a kind of clue, a treasure map to the meaning of Life itself?"

What makes a great story? There are several points that I would like to make, but if I were to have to choose one, I would choose "Relationships". In the beginning of our story we find God in Holy Trinity. "He has always been Trinity--Father, Son, Holy Spirit. God has always been a fellowship. Our whole Story began with something relational. Human personality didn't just happen, it came not from something impersonal, but from something very personal, very relational." J.E.

God's eternal personal intimacy inside the trinity reveals to us, information about our nature. We after all were created in God's image. We are created relational just as God is relational. "From the Heart of the universe come our beating hearts. From this Fellowship spring all of our longings for a friend, a family, a fellowship--for someplace to belong." J.E. We all desire to be accepted, to be loved, and to be invited into a fellowship. We want to know that love is more than the broken emotions we see in life. Divorce is devastating to children because it destroys the belief that love is strong enough to overcome any difficulty. Divorce is devastating because it ends the story. We all desire to live in a story, were love doesn't die, where it overcomes anything. We all desire to be in that relationship, to be a part of that love. Divorce is devastating to children because children would much rather know that their parents loved each other than that they loved them. We need to know that love is real that it endures. That a world of love is planned for us and waits for us, and that we can count on it.

Here is the truth, Love, true love, it is supposed to endure everything, it is supposed to overcome, it is supposed to handle anything and everything. But love doesn't always look the way we think it should. Love is harder than we know, and softer than we thought it was. Love is bigger, more massive, and intensely intimate. This love is Gods' Love. God is doing whatever it takes to get our attention. He is perusing us, wooing us, trying to win our hearts. However there is an enemy in this story. Lucifer the most magnificent angel, has gone rogue. "(his) heart became proud on account of (his) Beauty, and (he) corrupted (his) wisdom because of (his) splendor." Ezekiel 28:17 Pride entered Lucifer's heart, he wanted the story to be about him.

God because of who God is, deserves all of the praise. God because of who he is, is the center of the story. The Story is about God, and the story will bring Glory to God. God created us to be in relationship with him, he invites us into the intimacy of the trinity, to engage in what only God engages in, not to be gods but to experience the personal fellowship that is God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are invited into the Great Romance. And because Lucifer, now called Satan, desires the story to be about him. He, Satan, is coming after us. He wants to destroy our hearts, because if he can destroy our hearts, then he destroys our ability to enter into the Great Romance that is the the Holy Trinity. Satan wants to destroy everything that is of God. CS Lewis said “one of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe-a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death, disease, and sin... Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created and went wrong Christianity agrees... this is a universe at war.”

The Great Romance is where our story and God's Story intersect. It is where our hearts are connected, thats where we desire the best for the other, and we pursue them such to win that chance to give them the best. God is inviting us into something that only the trinity has, angels do not have that relationship with God. They see God for who he is, but they don't get invited into the secret places as one of them. God invites us to participate in the same way he participates.... its beyond comprehension. But that is where the story gets complicated. Love complicates things. It complicates every life. God's problem is not that God is not able to do certain things, God's problem is that God loves. Because of love, God gives us the dignity of freedom, to choose for or against him.

However we did not choose God, He invited us into fellowship, and we betrayed God. However it was our choice, despite God's extravagant generosity, we had to reach for the one forbidden thing. Like Lucifer Pride has entered our hearts. Pride is the opposite of how the trinity lives. Pride is self centered. Pay attention to the movements of your own heart in a single day. Most of the misery we suffer on this planet is the fruit of the human heart gone bad. "Most of the religions concur that if we are truly honest, we’ll confess that we have it in us to be the Beast, the wicked stepsister, Scrooge." J.E.

"The kingdom has been overthrown. Paradise has been lost evil holds sway or is gather at the borders of the land ready to make its final move. Frodo barely makes it out of the shire with his life and the ring of power. The Nine Black riders cross the river on midsummer's eve and are hunting down the little hobbit with deadly intent. The future of Middle Earth stands on the edge of a knife." The whole world is under the control of the evil one 1 John 5:19 "The hour is desperate “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope” J.E. There is hope, every great story is hoping for not just any rescuer, but one who loves the distressed. God is that rescuer, he has been sharing his painful epic, of his pursuit of mankind. First with Noah, then with Abraham, and then with the nation of Israel. In all of these God is looking for a people who will turn to him from the heart, to be his intimate allies once more.

Rescuing the human heart is mission impossible, but Jesus took on that mission. The devil has no intention of letting us walk away. He seduces us, deceives us, assaults us-whatever it takes to keep us in darkness. God says “I long to be gracious to you. you are precious and honored in my sight. because I love you. but you are the offspring of adulterers. you have made your bed on a high and lofty hill, forsaken me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide. you have been false to me. (Isaiah) God says I will answer you according to your idols [your false lovers] in order to recapture your heart. (Ezekiel) God is filled with the jealousy of a wounded lover.

Jesus sets aside his glory, clothes himself with humility, and sneaks into the enemy camp, under cover of night, to whisper words of love to his own; “I have come for you.” This is after all, a love story. "We are born in love, by love, and for love," as Gerald May has said, From the laughter of the Trinity we came, and to the laughter of the Trinity we must return. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:7) God created us in freedom to be in intimate fellowship, he will not give up on us, not only does he desire us to be his allies, but much much more.

This is all a story, some might call it an epic. Where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name... that is the fairy tale of the Gospel, with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales. which is that the claim made for it is that it is true. That it not only happened once upon a time but has kept happening ever since. J.E.

There is more to this story, but If I kept going, this already to long post would be impossibly long. Just look at my notes on this, its ten pages, with 43 points, and many more sub-points. Therefore I leave you with this, do you know this longing for relationship, the longing for a love that is more real than anything you have experienced. Why is it that we have these yearnings in our being, if there isn't something to satisfy that feeling. “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis. We have these desires because we desire the love and intimacy promised us at the dawn of creation. We desire God himself.

Look here for the Sermon notes.
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