Pastor Steven’s Message

     13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or
to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is
the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null, and the promise is
void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there
       16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on
grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law
but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us,
17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence
of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence
the things that do not exist.
       18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many
nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He
did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good
as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the
barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
       20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew
strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was
able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as
righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his
sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who
raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our
trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Here’s What The Message Says…

13–15       That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would
possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It
was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then
entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing
everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that
eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an iron-clad contract!
That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-
nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able
to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s
promise at that—you can’t break it.
16       This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God
and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives
as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who
keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham
is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He
is our faith father.
17–18       We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like
a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’
t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as
father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a
father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead
to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless,
Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t
do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of
peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
19–25       Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This
hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s
decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking
cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready
for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said,
“Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not
just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and
believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless.
The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

What’s It All Mean?

       God is a God of the Covenant. He is a Covenant Maker and He is a Covenant
Keeper. A covenant is an agreement, a promise that involves trust and responsibility
for each party involved. Fortunately for us, a covenant with God does not depend on
our ability to keep the covenant, and that’s a good thing because we are weak and
more than capable of falling away from the covenant in our weakness.
       If it were up to us to remember the covenant God makes with us, the covenant
would be long forgotten by now… but it does not depend on our memory, but rather on
the infinite, unchangeable memory of God. God remembers… always. And His
remembering us is the basis for our security.
       We must recall, when God made the covenant of the Passover with Israel, He
did not say, “When you see the blood on your door frame, I will pass over you.” No!
God said to Israel, “When I see the blood on your door frame, I will pass over you.”
Likewise, the covenant we have with God through Jesus Christ, our Savior, is only
possible through His work on the cross, not ours. Thankfully, through Christ, the
New Covenant is made and the prophecy of Hebrews 8:12 is fulfilled: “For I will be
merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember
no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
       When God looks at us through the covenant He made with us through Christ,
all he sees is the pure, righteous, cleansing blood of Christ! By choosing Jesus, we
fulfill our part of the covenant and God, always faithful, keeps His part by forgetting
our sins and remembering them no more!
       This Lenten season, examine your heart and mind and discern whether or not
you have entered into the covenant relationship with God the only way you can enter it
- through Jesus Christ - believing on him and accepting him as Lord and Savior. In
the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

By His Grace,

 Pastor Steven †

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