The bible

The bible is like a book of vows for believers; those who have a covenant with God.
Like marriage is based upon love and devotion for each other and is made with promises, so a relationship with God has vows.
It’s basicly the vow to love each other and stay faithful, for better or for worse.
In good times and in bad times.
In sickness and in health.

God makes this vow to us too.
To stay faithful no matter what.
Even when we struggle to stay loyal to him, He never struggles to stay faithful to us.
He actually is faithfull to us even before we get “married” to him.
But when we get married “the deal is sealed”.
We get to take part of so much more of God’s goodness in our lives when we enter into a covenant with him. When we become believers.

When we marry God, or become his children or whatever analogy you want to use, our spirit becomes one with his Spirit.
We give ourselves to him and He gives himself to us totally.
In fact He already gave himself totally to us before we even said yes to him.
We just have to receive him.

We don’t become God because a creature can’t become it’s own Creator but we do become godly in the core of our being.
We only have to learn how to live from our spirit instead of our soul (our mind, will and emotions) that still is used to living a life that is contrary to God’s ways of love.
We have more selfish and impure motivations than we might realise.
God does not want to limit our fun but rather wants to increase it on the long term.
One of the ways God helps us doing this is through relationship with him.
The more time we spend with him the more we become like him.

Another tool He gave us to learn his ways of love is the bible.
When you unite yourself to God through faith you embrace the whole bible as truth.
Every law and instruction, every story in it, shows us the nature of God.
His goodness, his purity, his kindness.
All his promises toward us. His vows to us.
And yes also the way He eventually deals with people that haven’t surrendered to him.
You see it would not be love if God let evil (sin) continue forever.
See also “Choice”.

Thankfully He changes us from the inside when we become believers and although we are not under the law anymore like they were in the old testament/covenant (see “Instructions from God”) the instructions God gives us still lead to life if we obey them.
The bible says that with this new covenant God writes his laws on our heart.
It’s like He’s gives us a new conscience.
I’ve had it happen several times that I had a certain conviction about something without someone telling me this was the right thing and only later I found out this was actually in the bible.
However it may take time to develop this sensitivity and I believe that reading the bible helps us to become more connected to our spirit.
We don’t read the bible to impose outward laws upon ourselves.
Rather we read it to draw out the wisdom that’s already inside our spirit since the moment we surrendered our lives to God.

It’s also a good way to test if our current convictions are in line with God.
For me reading the bible is not boring. It’s not about gettig more knowledge in our head.
I read it daily and it’s like spiritual food.
It gives a measure of peace and it draws me closer to God.
Jesus himself is called “the Word of God” and that’s exacty what it feels like:
Like partaking of Jesus.
It’s a way of having relationship with him.

You have to keep in mind though that it contains a lot of symbolism.
Even the actual events it describes have a deeper meaning that always can teach us something for today for our current lives.
In order to understand this we need to meditate on what we read and ask the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer to reveal it’s relevance for us.
Since the bible contains two covenants with God, one old for the people that lived before Jesus died and one new for us today, you might want to start with reading the new testament.
Also it can be helpful to read books that explain the bible through additional information about the culture it was written in and other related events during these times that are not described in the bible itself. Books that can help us seeing the overall connection between the different parts.
We always need to look at the context in order to understand what was meant. Be careful not to take one verse and try to explain it without taking the context into account. What you read might only apply for a certain situation or a certain period and not be universal. So keep that in mind.

A modern translation of the bible I really like is The Passion Translation from dr. Brian Simmons.
It’s not finished but it contains the whole new testament and some of the old and it has many notes with valuable additional information and explanation.
With all commentaries you do have to keep in mind that the authors can make mistakes and often do.
So above all keep listening to the Holy Spirit inside your heart to confirm what others have written.
Another readable translation is The Amplified Bible.
It often gives multiple possible meanings of the original text since many words can have different meanings.
It may seem overwhelming to start reading a big complicated book like that but keep in mind you have the rest of your life to read and understand it and it always has more layers of meaning to it.
It’s like a huge treasure chest, or rather a large vault, that you will never exhaust!
Reading the bible is spiritual treasure hunting!
So have fun!

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God’s commitment

A cross

With marriage comes commitment.
A covenant with God is based upon faithfulness.
Mainly God’s faithfulness though.
He is more faithfull to us than we even are to our own heart.
He loves us more than we love ourselves.
His faithfulness to us starts way before we say yes to him and commit our lives to him.

From the day He created us,
No even before
From the moment He fashioned us
in his mind
He was commited to us
Fully intending to stick with us
Regardless of any choices we would make
Not to stick with him

The ultimate way He showed us his love
His unwavering faithfulness towards us
Was through dying on a cross

Did you know Jesus was charged with treason?
That He hadn’t committed
Actually we are the ones that commit treason
To the King of the universe
When we deny God’s existence
And put ourselves on the throne of our lives

Barabbas, a criminal who did commit treason
Was actually released in Jesus place
Now that is a perversion of justice right?
Yet God had registered it precisely this way
It was a picture of how Jesus took our place

The innocent Jesus, the Son of God
Died in the place of sinful man
Died for you and me
We committed the treason
He was charged with

In God’s eyes justice was now fulfilled
You see we needed to know
The consequence of sin
so we would understand righteousness
so we would learn
what is wrong and what is right
(see also Justice and Forgiveness)

But God does not delight
in the death of sinful people
He still loves us deeply
And so Jesus died instead
He died in our place

First He descended from his throne
All the way down from heaven
Inside the belly of a woman
The size of a seed

Growing like a baby
Becoming a fullgrown man
Living in the same frame
That we all came to be

Pouring out his life
Teaching truth
Doing wonders
Healing many
Setting captives free
Living selflessly
For you and I

Contrary to what you might expect
Not everyone was so very pleased
With his helping out of others
With his setting people free

Leaders were outrageous
Jealous of his popularity
Plotting to kill him
The One that lived
For you and me

His own friend betrayed him
Faking friendship with a kiss
Surrendering him to soldiers
For a small price

Yet He surrendered willingly
Being more powerfull than they
Not struggling to resist
Being taken like a prey

Yet we have to remember
He did this
For you and I

They beated him mercifully
Mocked him beyond grace
Spitted in his face
Not even a servant
Was worthy of such disgrace

But remember
He did this
For you and me

They hung him on a cross
The beams of a tree
After being falsely accused
Of threatening Ceasar’s reign
Of pronouncing himself king

He never was a threath
His kingdom was not from here
He never caused a riot
Yet He certainly was King

He did this
For you and I

They stripped him naked
Took his honor
Beat him brutally
Treathed him
Like a criminal

But remember
He did this
For you and me

You see on that cross
He took our place
And He did it

He absorbed every sin
Every evil of mankind
All your wrongdoing
All my selfishness
My pride

We rose above heaven
We pronounced ourselves to be king
We said “there is no God
Except for me”

We took God’s place
Denied his existence
And put ourselves on the throne
That was only due to him

The one on the cross
Should have been
You and I

And yet He returned the “favor”
He willingly took our place
He took our seat of punishment
And gave life to you and I

He was declared guilty
So we could go out free
Now justice had been served
For you and me

On the third day He rose
Stepped out of the grave
“You are now innocent
You have been saved”

Now that is the commitment of God
That is justice in his eyes
The price for our sin paid
Atonement made

Living in covenant with God means to accept the price He paid for us.
To make us free from guilt.
It’s the only requirement for entering relationship with him.
It’s confessing our sin and admitting we are guilty indeed.

God is not after our perfect performance.
Yet He is after honesty.
A pure heart.
Right intentions.
Willingness to love and obey.
Which is all an expression of love.

He doesn’t require anything we can’t do.
But He does want our whole heart.
Not one that is devided.
Still worshiping other gods.
Everything in our lives that takes the place that only God should have is another god.
That’s like being married and having an affair on the side.

This can even be a relationship.
Or a child.
Things that in itself aren’t wrong.
But they shouldn’t take his place.
God is jealous for our whole heart.
Other things will never satisfy the way only He can.
He is fully committed to us.

And now He asks us to marry him.
To fully give him our devotion in return.
In return to his love for us.
Will you marry Him?
Will you marry God?

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A love letter

So this is what covenant with God looks like:
It’s to say yes to the One that loves you most and best.
To say yes to his proposal for being united with him forever.
To say yes to loving God.

You’ve got mail
Let me deliver it to you
Here it is

Beloved…(fill in your name)

I’ve looked at you with stunning wonder and desire
Since the day you were born
Since the day I first thought of you
You filled Me with such excitement
With such joy

Anticipating all the wonderfull times we would have together
Looking forward to see the sheer delight on your face
When I would give you gift upon gift upon gift
Love upon love
All the days of your life

The blessedness of childhood
Your first discovery of flowers
Putting your hand in running water
Dancing in the rain
Your first words
Your first smile
They filled me with so much joy

Your discovery of friendship
The thrill of having someone to share
The treasures and miracles of life with
It made my heart overflow

Finding the joy of giving
Nurturing a child
Or caring for the elders
Sharing freely
What others gave to you
Loving selflessly
Being a gift to others
Oh I have no words

My child
You mean so much to me
You are so beautiful
Don’t listen to other voices
Don’t let them drag you down
They are lying
You are truly a delight

Let me wash you with My blood
Erasing every stain
Enhancing your beauty
Cutting you the right way
So My light in you may be seen

My beloved
Will you marry me?

Yours forever,

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Love God

There is this amazing commandment in the bible God gives us.
To love God!
Have you ever heard of a god that commands you to love them?
Is it even possible to demand such a thing?
The answer is yes…
Contrary to what we tend to believe love is actually something you can choose.
Even when we don’t have warm fluffy feelings for someone we can still choose to love them.
Love is an action and attitude of the heart and not an emotion although often strong emotion accompanies it.

So why does God command us to love him?
Doesn’t everyone that’s above us order us to obey?
So why love?
Demanding obedience has often to do with power.
And without it there can be no order and peace of course.
Yet obedience can be done without love.
And who wants to be related to someone if there’s no love involved?
It can lead to peace but how cold if there are no affections attached to that submission.
Who wants their children to slavishly obey them?
Maybe some parents do but God surely doesn’t.
And God knows that if you truly love him you will want to obey him.
So He orders us to love!

I think this commandment shows us more than anything else (apart from the cross) the nature of God.
That God is love.
Jesus said that if we love him we obey him. Because obedience flows from love.
Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, denied Jesus when He was taken captive out of fear for his own life.
After Jesus rose from the death He didn’t tell Peter He was disappointed with him for flat out denying to know him.
Rather Jesus asked Peter if he loved him.
Of course Jesus already knew the answer.
He could see right into people’s hearts.
But Peter needed to know.
He needed to be reminded that he still loved Jesus very much.
He needed to know that God is not after flawless perfection but after our heart.
We may stumble but God doesn’t ask us “how did you do today? Did you make any mistakes?”
Rather at the end of the day He askes with anticitipation “do you still love me?”
So He can reply back to us that He still loves us too!

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Instructions from God

Part of a series of articles on living in covenant with God

The translated word law in the bible actually is the word torah and means instruction.
The law was given only to the jewish people who were in a covenant-relationship with God.
This doesn’t mean that God’s laws don’t apply to all people.
(anyone could join the Jews btw)
Many other nations received judgements from God throughout history because of grave sin but He only gave his written instructions to the people of Israel.
This showes me that the laws God gave were actually a sign of his involvement with people.
It was not about a God that wants to subdue us with sheer power.
He could do that without giving us commandments by just overpowering our will and turning us into robots. Puppets on a string that have no will of their own.
He did not have to give us laws anxiously hoping we would obey them. Like tyrants might do.
He doesn’t gain a sense of selfworth and power by our obedience.
He already is all powerful and does not need our submission to be reminded of that.

So what are these laws about?
I believe it’s all about relationship.
God’s laws are actually his instructions on how to live in love, peace and harmony with each other.
They are spiritual principles that teach us about cause and effect.
They are given to enhance our lives and not to oppress us and to limit our joy but rather to increase it and to protect us from hurt.

When God made a covenant with the jewish people He was all in.
Fully intending to protect them and give them the instructions they needed for their well-being.
The same goes for us today.
Many of the laws God gave to the Jews don’t apply to us because many were symbolical and were fulfilled when Jesus came to the earth. Yet they still have meaning to us if we look at them closely at the background of the gospel. Then we can see the meaning of them and even can get a clearer understanding of it.
Other laws God gave them were timeless though.
They still apply to us today.
We need to study the bible and ask the Holy Spirit for understanding to discern which laws still apply and which were symbolic and don’t need to be literal carried out anymore.
However many jewish people still perform some of those rituals which can be a powerful reminder of what they stand for.
But it’s not a mandatory commandment anymore to obey them.
Also without having accepted Jesus these commandments (laws) have little meaning and become empty rituals.
The laws that you can be assured of to still count are the ten commandments but there are more.
It’s basicly the laws about moral living that still apply to us today.
(So not the laws about sacrifices, food and clothing.)

There is one huge difference though between the old covenant the Jews had with God and the new covenant we now have with him.
You see to for the Jews it was mandatory to strictly fulfill every law in detail in order to be in right standing with God.
In a sense this hasn’t changed. (keep reading to the end)
Righteousness still needs to be done fully in order for us to be accepted by God.

Read “Justice and forgiveness” about why this is important.

However just as the Jews were not able to obey them all neither are we.
Not because the laws were difficult or unreasonable but because it’s not possible to walk in God’s ways, to obey his instructions, without having him living inside of you.
He is our ability to do good, to be just.
We were not made with the ability to be righteous without him.
Thankfully God now considers all righteousness to be done through the death of Jesus.

The covenant the Jews had with God was based on 2 things: laws and blood.
Because God knew the people were not able to fulfill all his commandments (laws) He provided a solution to atone for their sins.
Now the blood may offend people but life is in the blood.
Therefore blood had to flow in order for their sin to be atoned for and forgiven.
Yet the blood of animals could never atone for the life of men.
That’s why Jesus, who became a man, had to die.
The sacrifice of animals was a foreshadowing of the life that Jesus would give for them.
In a sense all God’s instructions had to be done for them to be in rightstanding with God because the sacrifices were part of those instructions.
But as you can see that means that the covenant was still based upon the mercy of God.
It was not possible to become righteous through obeying laws.
You can only obey all God’s laws if you ARE righteous.
Now that’s where the difference between the old and the new covenant comes in.
When we accept Jesus sacrifice for us, his death in our place, God not only forgives us our sin based on the atonement through Jesus’ blood, but He also gives us his Holy Spirit inside of our spirit.

“ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26

The blood of animals could never make us clean.
We could never become the abiding place of the Spirit of God without being thouroughly cleansed first.
That’s what the blood of Jesus did.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

John 1:29

When we accept Jesus sacrifice and accept him as Lord over our lives we become so clean through Jesus’ blood that the Holy Spirit now attaches himself to our spirit and we become a whole new person.
Our spirit, which is the core of our being, our essence, is now made righteous through unity with God himself.
We can’t become holy (righteous) through striving hard to do everything right.
We become holy through unity with God.
And that enables us to live righteous and obey his instructions.
We still have to make the choice daily to obey him.
We still have the ability to sin.
We still have free choice.
But now that choice is truly free.
Because now we are not slaves of sin anymore.
Now we are able to live righteous if we live from a place of being connected to God.
Holy living is still not something we can do on our own.
It comes through living in daily relationship with God.

We have to choose to believe that we are now righteous indeed in order to apply this gift of righteousness God gave us.
The bible calles this “putting Jesus on”. Like clothing.
You don’t automatically stop sinning when you become a believer.
You have to intentionally put your trust in Jesus as your righteousness and not only as the One that forgave your sin. That’s only half (or less) of the gospel (good news).

Many believers never have gotten any further than receiving God’s forgiveness.
However the good news of the gospel is not just that we are forgiven of our sin, but that we are delivered from it.
Since sin always leads to destruction and is like a sickness that prevents us from living life fully the way God intended it for us to be.
Sin actually makes you a slave because it’s addictive and it takes away your free will to choose the way you want to live. When you start doing it you’re not able to stop doing it anymore.
Unless…unless Jesus sets you free.
That’s exaclty what the gospel is about.
Jesus did not come to limit our fun by giving some more instructions.
Because that’s what He did.
He actually gave us even more instructions than the laws the Jews already had.
However He showed us that it’s not about doing rituals on the outside but about loving from the heart.
And that’s what the whole law is about.
About how to live in love.
When God gives you a new heart you don’t have to anxiously strive the rest of your life not to break his instructions.
With the new heart comes a new desire and we’ll actually WANT to obey him.
Living righteous becomes our new nature. It’s flows from who we now are.
It’s the fruit of our faith. Not the requisite.

To be continued

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Part of a series of articles on living in covenant with God

We have seen that many of the laws in the old testament have a symbolic meaning and were fulfilled in Jesus.
One of these laws was that the jewish people who lived in covenant with God had to take a day of rest every week, called the Sabbath.
It was so important that people who didn’t keep it and worked on it had to be killed.
In the natural this doesn’t make sense but it wasn’t just about giving your body the required rest it needs. Although we do need it.
The sabbath was a picture of the work that Jesus had finished doing for us. His death on the cross.
This shows us the importance of accepting Jesus sacrifice on our behalf and that we cannot have eternal life without it.

Even as believers though we often still live from a place of trying to earn God.
We may not try to earn his salvation but we tend to try earning his approval of us.
Like we could pay back what He did for us.
But key part of living in covenant with God is that you enter his rest.
It means that we cannot earn forgiveness or anything else from God.
It’s all a gift.
It means that you don’t have to live your life in constant effort and anxiety worrying whether what you do is enough. For God or others.
Whether you are enough.
God already declared that you are.
In Jesus we are made complete.
We were never meant to be complete without him.

I had a dream last night in which I entered a recreation park.
I realised I had not brought my bading suit with me and so I thought I couldn’t do the attractions since there was a lot of water.
However at the entrance they told me I could partake in any outfit I wanted. I only needed to have a hammock with me.
As a matter of fact I actually had something in my hands which I assumed to be extra clothing because the fabric was the same as the fabric of my pink short dress with flowers. Which didn’t seem to be very practical.
The attendants at the entrance though assumed it was a hammock so I was allowed to enter.
It wasn’t after I was awake a bit later that I realised that it was the same thing: my clothing is my hammock. Meaning that what I wear is what gives me rest.
I’m not speaking of clothing in the natural here but about a spiritual garment we can put on and that gives us rest if we wear it.

The bible says that if we accepted Jesus sacrifice for us then Jesus is our righteousness.
It speaks about putting him on like clothing.
If we keep trying to please either God or others we don’t live in rest.
We are always striving and never satisfied. We never know when we have done enough.
We never feel truly loved the way we are right now.
We always feel we have to do something more in order to be accepted.
The point of my dream was that I already had what I needed although I thought I didn’t.
I thought I could not partake in the fun because I didn’t fulfill the requirements. Not realising that it wasn’t about what I had done but about what I was wearing.
If we wear Jesus by faith then we are accepted.
We are pleasing to God when we accept Jesus offering for us.
That’s the only ground on which He accepts us and is pleased with us.
Through our faith in him, not our works.
Although a natural fruit of that faith will be good works.
But it’s all through his life inside of us.
We can’t do anything good without him.

In the bible it talks about a parable were there is a wedding feast. However one of the guests was not wearing the required festal garments and therefore he was thrown out.
We can only enter God’s kingdom if we wear Jesus.
You can’t marry him without wearing clean pure festal garments.
When we give our lives to him we receive a new heart that is pure.
However if we keep trying to live holy in our own strength we will never succeed in that.
We have to put our trust in Jesus and believe that He is our righeousness.
That we are not accepted because of what we have done but because we accepted Him who took our place on the cross and now we are accounted as righteous.
His righteousness is our garment, our covering.
Hiding every sin and shame.
But also his righteousness enables us to live holy, in God’s ways.
His Spirit lives now inside of us.
Don’t try to live your life without him in your own strength.
Only through him, by being in relationship with him and by leaning on him and trusting him, can we live out the righteousness we already have received and that already has been accounted to us.
It’s all a gift.

We get to rest in him, knowing that we fully are accepted and his blood atoned for all our sin and mistakes.
Knowing that we are united with him in spirit and therefore we are holy as He is holy.
It’s his ability in us. Not our own.
We only have to believe this and stay in communication with him. And He will finish the work He already began to do inside of us.
Until then Jesus blood is enough for our atonement and there is nothing, no sin, we can do to undo the shedding of his blood for us.
It’s enough, and because of that we are enough.

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Sequel to Covenant

We talked about how being in covenant with God means we don’t live for ourselselves anymore.
Now that may not sound like a good deal to many of us but think about it.
Where does all the strive and even war come from?
It’s because people live for themselves.
It’s because they put themselves above others.
Because they deem their own wellbeing more important than that of others.
But who is going to stick up for us if we don’t?
God always is.

And yes sometimes He might ask us to sacrifice our own comfort and desires for the sake of others.
Yet sooner or later, either in this life or the next (in eternity) we will harvest a reward for our selfless loving.
You have to ask yourself if you are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of love and peace.
If you put your own wellbeing above that of others it will result in strive but it will also leave you empty.
It does not make sense to our natural mind but it is actually proven that selfless giving is very satisfying.
More even then having a paid job it gives joy and satisfaction and a sense of purpose and meaning when we give without expecting something in return.
(not even expecting a “thank you” because then you still do it for what you get in return)
We were never made to live for ourselves and provide anxiously for our own needs.
Yes working is good but if it’s all about you it will never satisfy.
God is our prime provider and even a job and the ability to work comes from him.

I do have to ad a warning here.
We are not supposed to carry all the burdens of everyone around us.
Yes it is our privilege to help others when we can but you don’t have to do that in your own strength.
It really requires the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer, to discern in what way we can help others.
You can simply ask him if you’re not sure and He will show you.
Sometimes it may require a sacrifice but you have to realise that you are as valuable as they are and God is not in the (ab)using buisiness. He cares about your needs as well and if helping others is at the expense of your own health it may not be your place to help them.
Maybe you can help by finding help from others for them instead. And maybe all you can do is pray for them. And maybe you can’t do anything at all not even praying.
We have to be willing to serve and yet also be willing to release others in God’s care and be mindful that if you help them it’s still because God cares for them and enables you to help.
It’s always a partnership with God. We are not the Savior of the world. He is. Yet He enjoys working through and with us. But we should consider it a delight and a privilege and not a burden.

Part of the covenant in the Old Testament was to give the first part of the harvest to God. (the temple, the poor also got some of that)
Translated to this day it would mean we give money to the church and christians (or christian organisations) because in the new covenant believers themselves are now the house of God.
It also talks about tithing in the old testament which means you give 10 percent of your income away to God. The new testament does not mention tithing specifically but it does urge us to give from what we have according to what we can give and sometimes even beyond, trusting that God provides for our own needs.
The same goes here as what I wrote above. There is a place for giving beyond what we seem to be able to spare. But we are also allowed to take care of our own needs. God is perfectly able to provide for the needs of the whole world and wants to include us in this, doing it through us. Yet we do not need to be in lack because we give to others.
Sometimes we can give away what we need or desire for ourselves but again I would say you need the direction of the Holy Spirit for what that would look like in your own life. What amount and what things does He prompt you to give?
Keep in mind that God is every person’s provider even though He might use you at times to provide for someone else’s need it still comes from him. He is their Provider and not you.
Tithing is usually a good place to start though even if in the natural it seems impossible you can affort it.  
And of course if we truly have his heart we also give to nonbelievers. You don’t ask a hungry person if they believe in God before giving them food.
The tithes were meant for God’s house but God’s house (believers) is supposed to use part of that to take care for those in need.

You may be thinking “no way I’m doing that” and it’s not a requirement to become a believer but it is a good way of keeping yourself from living all for you.
Also it is a good way to put your trust in God instead of yourself, since naturally speaking you might not be able to afford to give 10 percent of your income away.
However giving is like sowing seed. When seed comes up it is multiplied.
So you can expect a harvest bigger than what you sowed when you give.
It may or may not come back to you in the form of money (often it does btw!) but you can be assured that you will receive blessing because of it.
In the old testament it says that when you tithe (to God’s house) God protects you from the destroyer.
So this can influence many areas in your life.
It’s basicly a guarantee for blessing!

Keep reading, more will follow about living in covenant with God.
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So what does a covenant with God look like?
Or marrying God (Jesus his Son), or becoming his (the Father’s) children.
Becoming one in your spirit with the Holy Spirit.
Sounds confusing? There is only one God though
but He has multiple aspects we will keep exploring for eternity.
Read also “God with us” about the three persons of God.

Covenant with God is available for all people yet it’s not something to do lightly.
Just like you don’t get married on a whim.
You don’t say yes to Jesus if you intend to divorce him when things get tough.
The reverse is true as well.
He doesn’t ask you to marry him and then divorces you when things get difficult.
When you struggle with your faith. When you struggle with trust.
Even when you become unfaithfull He doesn’t.
It’s permanent were God is concerned.

But what does this covenant with God look like?
Obvious the comparison with marriage only goes so far.
The bible speaks about the words of the covenant and the blood of the covenant in the Old Testament in Exodus.
In the New Testament changes were made to the covenant yet the essence wasn’t changed.
The Old Testament gives us a clear understanding of what this covenant looks like.
It was an agreemant between God and the people of Israel that extends to all of us.
It was never exclusive for the Jews.
Anyone who wanted to join them could!
The same goes today.
God choosing a people for himself shows first of all that He is the one that chooses us and not we him.
It also shows that it’s personal and exlusive like marriage.

All are welcome to take part of this covenant.
God chose us all.
God is not limited to marrying one person like we are.
He is not limited by space and time.
Yet you can’t marry him and have other gods on the side. So that’s the exclusive part.
If you say yes to Jesus you have to agree to the covenant terms.
Just like in marriage you agree to stay faithfull.
And you might stumble and receive forgiveness,
but your intentions need to be absolutely pure.
No one marries someone knowing they intend to have an affair now and then.
That’s just not going to work.

So what are the terms?
In the Old Testament, which is the old covenant, the jewish people had to be circumcised.
A part of the foreskin was cut of by the men.
In the New Testament which is the new covenant this is not necessary anymore.
Because it was symbolic of something that now takes place in our lives when we accept Jesus and submit to him.
It was a symbol of them being set apart from all other people that didn’t worship God.
It distinguished them from others and showed their commitment to him.

When we accept Jesus sacrifice on our behalf our life changes.
When we say yes to him, like in marriage, we don’t live for ourselves anymore.
We share our lives with him and live for him.
We live to love him and honor him.
To spend time with him and enjoy his presence.

Marriage was never meant to be a place we go to where our need for love is met.
Only God has that ability.
Rather marriage is meant to give us a safe place and environment were we can express the love that’s inside of us. It’s a place to give, not to take.
Now God is both our Husband and Father.
The Father gives us all the love we need. And Jesus does that as well.
Marriage among people is only a reflection of the unity we can have with Jesus.
It’s never supposed to be a replacement.
Rather it’s something that was meant to flow out of the love and unity we have with God.
To express his love inside us and share it with others.

Circumcision is symbolic for being crucified with Jesus.
Our flesh, our sinful nature, our selfishness, died there with him.
When Jesus died on a cross He basicly said:

I love you more than my own life.
You are worth dying to me.
You are worth suffering and pain so I can have you
and be with you forever.

Being crucified with him means that when Jesus died we died.
It means that because of Jesus death God considers the penalty for our sin to be paid.
In his eyes we died with Jesus and therefore our debt is erased.
Our sentence is served.
However just as Jesus showed us how much He is willing to do for us, even suffering,
it also is a picture of how we die to self.
We in turn say to him:

I am willing to lay down my life for you.
I don’t live for myself anymore but now I live for you.

And out of that love for him flows loving others more.
It’s not our own ability though to lay down our lives for God and others.
It’s because we died with Jesus that we now are able to love selflessly.
God gives us a new heart, a new nature when we accept Jesus.
His Spirit now comes living inside of us.
And now we can actually live with people in harmony.
Without biggering and fighting all the time.
Because that’s the result of putting ourselves first.
Now we are able to put others first and therefore we can live in peace.
And the interesting thing is that if we all take care of others first then everyone’s needs are met.
Without having to demand and fight for it but from sheer love.
But also we need to keep in mind that God always provides our needs even if others don’t and therefore we can affort to love selflessly without having to be afraid to be in need ourselves.

To be continued….

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