Blessing comes to us as we trust and are obedient to God s covenant!

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1 This devotional is the 6 th in a series as the ministry enters a time of transition. Be blessed as you support this ministry during this critical time of change. Jeremiah 31:31-34 This Old Testament Lesson from the prophet Jeremiah is one of the most significant passages in all the prophetic books and possibly in all of the Old Testament. God is making a promise through the prophet that for us, has already come to pass. The time is coming, declares the Lord, When I will make a new covenant It will not be like the old covenant I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. Sometimes I think we forget the significance of What is a covenant? A covenant is not some contract. A contract is an agreement that is worked out between two parties. A covenant, on the other hand, means a binding pact between God and God s people. A covenant is something that God initiates, and stipulates all the provisions. We people have the freedom to choose whether or not we will accept or reject it, but we don t have the choice of offering alternative plans or conditions. Blessing comes to us as we trust and are obedient to God s covenant! In Jeremiah, God is saying that He will initiate a new covenant. He will put His law in the minds and write His law in the hearts of those who choose to allow Him to do so and to those people who allow God to do this: God will be their God, and they will be God s people. In Genesis Chapter 17 God initiated the first covenant between Himself and Abraham and all of Abraham s descendants. And the sign of the covenant was this: You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and you, the Lord tells Abraham in Genesis Chapter 17. Circumcision was an outward sign that signified who God s people were and who were not God s people. And although the descendants of Abraham were able to keep the sign of the covenant between them and God they were unable to keep the written covenant which is the Law. Over and over again they failed to be obedient to God. Over and over again they failed to trust God. Over and over again they broke the commandments of God.

2 I remember, as a kid that I would get really mad at my parents and yet I loved them so. I would throw a fit over nothing, and maybe even wish they were gone. Then, after I cooled off, I would feel so bad. And I would vow that I would never do that again. But, whether it was within the next couple minutes, later that evening, the next day or the next week sure enough I would find myself doing the same exact thing all over again. I couldn t control myself. I needed some other power. I needed God to change my heart. I needed to be able to tap into the Holy Spirit. I suppose that this is something similar to what the Israelites found themselves dealing with as they tried and tried and failed and failed to follow the law of God. Although they had the outward sign of circumcision to show that they were God s chosen people, inwardly they were unable to keep the Law of God. Therefore, there was the need if God was going to save us sinful people there was an absolute need for a new covenant. And this new covenant would not rely on following a set of rules and regulations which were written on stone tablets. This new covenant would not require that those who choose to follow it must make a sign in their flesh, such as circumcision, in order to show other people that they are set apart. This new covenant would begin within a person and move outward, instead of coming from the outside and staying on the outside. This new covenant would be available to all people not just to the Jewish people This new covenant would make it possible for people to know God in a very real and personal way And this new covenant would enable people to be forgiven once and for all! This new covenant would involve a circumcision of the heart, because the sign of this new covenant would be a changed heart. As Paul writes in Romans 2: circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. And this circumcision of the heart is a process this changing of the heart is an on-going, life-long process that begins when we take the first steps in

3 trusting Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of our hearts, minds our very lives. I grew up going to church and being active in the church, and my faith was real and it was strong. What I had learned and knew to be true though came through sermons. First, we must decide to follow the call of Jesus Christ on our lives and then we must learn to live into that calling by trusting God to put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts, study and learn His Word. God is the One Who changes us from the inside out. We cannot change ourselves. God doesn t call perfect people to be Christians. He calls ordinary even the least of the least to trust Him to be Lord of their lives. There were Gentiles, women, tax collectors, leper s, children, and the list goes on and on. The perfecting part. That s God s job! And that takes a life time. As I read before, from Romans Chapter 2, the Apostle Paul tells us that the Circumcision of the Heart is something that the Holy Spirit does it is not something that occurs by trying to follow the written law or trying to be a good person, or trying to do enough good stuff so that God will accept us into the Pearly Gates. For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith It is a gift of God not by works. No amount of trying will change my heart or your heart. We must learn to trust God to fulfill His new covenant in us as He promises He will and this new covenant is summed up in the most famous Gospel passage in history, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 We could paraphrase that for our lesson today to say: For God so loved the world that he made a new covenant with the world by giving his one and only son. And the new covenant is this: Whoever believes in him will receive a new mind and a new heart I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

4 Do you find that your religion is working for you or are you working for your religion? Does your faith bring you down load you down with guilt and with burdens that you cannot possibly carry or does your faith make your burden lighter? Does your faith make you a more happy person or a more miserable person? Does your faith give you freedom or shackle you with chains? These are some questions we might want to ask ourselves as we ponder what it means to have God circumcise our hearts. In our Old Testament passage for this morning we see that God Himself has decided, through Jesus Christ, to bring about the necessary change in our inner natures which will make us capable of obedience to God s will for us. God Himself, through our faith in Jesus Christ, is the One Who sets His law within us and writes it on our hearts, that is, our minds and wills. The Old Covenant was written on stone. But in Jesus Christ, God s writing material is the heart of those who believe. Is God changing your inner nature? Thinking back have you made any progress in becoming more the person God desires you to be over the past year or two or three? Is God changing your heart, your mind and will? Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, Jesus came riding into town. Are you going to be ready when He comes back to town? Do you find that you are able to love others more deeply and more honestly without a great deal of effort? Do you find your perspective on things moving in a kinder, more patient, more forgiving, more generous way? If not please ask Him to! If so, God is using your heart as writing material!!! God is changing you!!! You are a work in progress, but a work of God, no less therefore you are invaluable you are treasured beyond measure! Jesus Christ went to the Cross in order that God might write His message of love on your heart and make you the person He knows you can be!!!

5 In Deuteronomy 30:6, we are told this: The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live. This is no new idea! This has been God s plan all along. Therefore, as the hymn reminds us: God sent His Son, they called him Jesus; he came to love, heal and forgive; he lived and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. Because he lives, I can face tomorrow; Because he lives, all fear is gone; Because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living just because he lives. It is my prayer for each of you that this is your heart song. Amen

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