||2014-08-12 11:25:29, 조회 : 1,988, 추천 : 283
| Chapter 12 – Renewing in God’s Covenant|
Hello to another wonderful day to further our study of God’s covenant. Today we will continue by going over chapter 12, Renewing in God’s Covenant. As usual, the author starts us off with verses, coming from 2 Chronicles 15:12.
“Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all
their heart and with all their soul.”
The author begins by telling us of the state of the current churches. It seems that churches have now become something of a shopping mall. Not literally buying clothes and things we might buy at a shopping mall, but that people come to church to provide for their own needs. He speaks of the members just coming, saying their greetings to one another, and that’s all they may do. He says they all have their own groups and programs, their own activities without any thought of the mission of the congregation.
However, we see that whenever a church is based on felt needs and self-interest, then it undermines the larger purposes of God who has called us to be distinctive people and declare His Excellencies to the world. People were coming to church whenever they needed, but if they did not, they would not come at all. This is inconsistent with the Christian’s calling to deny self in the service of God. Also, this did not provide a foundation for growing in the grace of the Lord. So it is necessary to make a covenant renewal before God.
We, as the covenant community, need to declare our faith and restate our commitments before the Lord, so that we might stand united in purpose, outlook, and conviction as we live for Christ each day. So in this chapter, we will discuss on renewing God’s covenant, some advantages of renewing the covenant, and to recommend a format for proceeding as a congregation in renewing covenant with God.
Several times within the Old Testament, we see God’s people being brought together under a leader to reaffirm as well as renew their commitment to God’s covenant. Moses did it in Deuteronomy; Joshua also did it at the end of his life. During the reigns of Solomon, Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah, the people of Israel were assembled to renew their vows to the Lord under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. And every time the Lord seems to have honored their commitment and provided His blessings to His people once again. Although each of the commitments to God were all unique in the way, there were some common elements.
One, there was a convening of the leadership to assess the situation and make preparations for leading the people into covenant renewal. During these times the key spokesman guided the leadership in a review of God’s covenant and of His faithfulness to that covenant, and considered the ways and the extent to which people had drifted from His plan for them.
Second, the people were convened as one assembly. The importance of all the people being united was a key element. This was to be a public activity in that all the people were expected to participate. During the assembly many different things had occurred. Among the things that had occurred, there was the reciting of God’s covenant faithfulness. Sometimes it was done in prayer or it was through a song or another form of joint declaration or confession. But the important part of this was to remind the people of God of His unfailing faithfulness to all that He had promised them, and to set those promises before them once again.
Also, there was the confession of sins and a call to repentance or renewal. Usually it was the leader who would act on the people’s behalf on this part of the exercise, but it can also be implied that the faithful and attentive people were also praying along side the leader.
Yet another part of this service of renewal involved the consecration of leaders. Those who would be responsible to help lead the people in fulfilling their vows to the Lord were put forward and consecrated. This would show the people that the leaders stood behind the action being taken and should be submitted for the blessings of God that they anticipated.
Also, this exercise also involved some means of declaring the people’s intent to be renewed in God’s covenant. There were people doing a lot of various things to seal the nation’s common resolve before the Lord, such as sacrifices, confessions and rituals, and written and sign documents.
Lastly, a general season of celebration followed many of the exercises in covenant renewal, with the people sharing their homes and goods with one another and generally rejoicing together in the hope of God’s blessing.
We may have some doubt if this can be erupted today, but this is not anything we should fret over. There are still, even at this time, many benefits that grow to a congregation of God’s people. One is the opportunity for congregation-wise focusing on the excellence and greatness of God.
An exercise in covenant renewal can help the congregation to refocus on the proper objects of faith, namely, God himself. Through various means and ways the congregation can begin to reflect on the many great things that God has done for us and in our life as a whole. It can be most helpful in reorienting the faith of a church toward a more perfect vision and greater devotion to God in His greatness and holiness. And this is the ideal desire that every Christian should have. To see God more clearly is to love Him more completely, and to love Him is to serve Him, denying self and seeking to care for others with the same comfort and love that God has shown us.
Related to this, an exercise in covenant renewing provides for an opportunity for rehearsing the promises of God before His people. We must remember that God leads His people by promise, offering His grace freely to those who obey and follow Him. An exercise in covenant renewing can be a source of great blessings for both leaders and people. It reminds the people to keep the promises of God and the richness of His love for them and the blessings that come through obedience.
It can also help us to locate the people of God in God’s covenant faithfulness through the ages. The leaders would remind the people of how God had been faithful to His Word throughout the generations. They showed the people that God was as good as His word. What He has done for past generations, He is willing to continue to do for those who followed faithfully now. When we come together to renew covenant with the Lord, we should briefly examine God’s faithfulness throughout all the ages up to our own. We should also talk about His faithfulness on other parts of the church today. Most Christians don’t really see God’s hand working throughout our world today, but this can be an excellent opportunity for them to vision the hand of God at work. They can also take time out to reflect with one another on how God has worked in their lives and in those who are close to them. This is a great opportunity to really appreciate for the faithfulness of God and to expand our love for Him.
The exercise of covenant renewing can also be used to consecrate church leaders for service. Their contribution may be great or small, but each of them is important to the ongoing work of the church. During this exercise, it would be appropriate for the individuals to be identified, recognized, and set apart unto the Lord for their service. Apostle Paul tells us to hold selfless servants in high esteem, even to render them public honor for their service. Thus we are on good ground, if we acknowledge and dedicate to the Lord those who give so much of their time in the service of the Lord as leaders of our congregation. This is really appropriate during the time of renewal covenant.
The exercise of covenant renewing also gives the local congregation an opportunity to update its mission and reaffirm its convictions before the Lord. In the exercise of covenant renewing it might be possible to set forth the church’s confession in the form of affirmations and denials specifically directed to the current intellectual and spiritual environment. Furthermore, we should use such a time to set forth specific church ministry plans designed to speak of the challenges of today. Thus the people would feel as if they’re being led and equipped more effectively to take their place as members of the congregation.
During the exercise of renewing covenant, the church can also expect to enhance the unity of the church and its visible oneness in the community. It can actually bring them together before the Lord in a way that may not have been possible at other times. There is the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of love and fellowship between church members in an exciting and deeply spiritual way. If the exercise can be held at a public building, it can also show the oneness of the body of Christ in the community, and the actual unity of the church will be strengthened.
Finally, the exercise in renewing covenant provide a unique advantage for the church to push the life of the congregation and the celebration of God’s goodness out into the neighborhoods of the community. As we have mentioned before, there were celebrations, so if celebrations were to be held and were open to our neighborhoods, it would become a great opportunity to show the reality of the body of Christ and to discuss the nature of our mission with the people around us.
So we can see that there are many opportunities and advantages that can be gained from a church in exercise to renew the covenant. However, if used often it can make the covenant renewal seem a bit meaningless. The author suggests to us, as well as that is what he does, to do it once a year, though it may vary for each congregation. The important thing is that church leaders stay mindful of what is going on in the church or any changes in the environment beyond the church or church ministry, and that they face the challenges of the moment.
The author also provides for us some suggestions on how we can proceed in a exercise of renewing covenant with the Lord. First, church leaders should gather for a season of assessment, planning, and renewal. The purpose for this gathering is so the leaders are brought together in order to achieve oneness of mind and heat as they prepare to lead. During this time a great deal of prayer, reflection, discussion, and evaluation should be given to consider the state of the church and the changes in the environment. Also, coordinators of this leadership should seek to provide formats that will encourage maximum participation on the part of all the leaders. And unless church leaders are able to arrive at singleness of mind and heart, it is not likely that any real renewal will spread to the congregation.
The second step in renewing covenant is to call the people of the congregation together as a community for the purpose of renewing covenant with the Lord. This should be both public as well as personal. Announcements should be told couple weeks in advance, as well as church leaders reaching out to specific members of the church and urge them to attend. This will allow for the church members to see the seriousness of the church leaders as well as the church as a whole.
As for the actual exercise of renewing covenant should be planned as a special time of gathering and worship before the Lord. While this could be held during a normal service, it is more desirable to have a separate time and to emphasize the special nature of the exercise as well as to focus specifically on the activity of renewing covenant with the Lord.
The final step in the exercise of renewing covenant is the sharing of fellowship and mutual encouragement in the homes and neighborhoods of church leaders. This will be used for time of fellowship, refreshment, reflection, mutual encouragement, clarification, and prayer. Much of this time can be informal, however it is of the best interest to also make it carefully planned. During the time, the church leaders would want to review the aspects of the church’s mission and statement of faith. They should also remind the people of upcoming ministry plans and activities. The meeting should close with a season of prayer.
An exercise in renewing covenant, carefully planned and executed, can help a congregation to know more of the blessings and power of living in God’s covenant. And as importantly, it will enable them to be the source of blessing to the neighborhood, the nation, and to the world.
So to conclude the final chapter of “I Will Be Your God” by T. M. Moore, I hope that you have been able to understand the concepts of this chapter and that you also remember and have kept the concepts of the last 11 chapters in your heart as well. I also hope that you have benefited greatly from these summarization and that it has helped you to walk straighter on the path to God. Thank you!
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