Summary: God pursues people through the making of covenants. Sermon focuses on how Christ fulfills the covenants.
Covenant: God Pursues
Rev. Brian Bill
December 17-18, 2016
Some of you may know that many years ago I had the privilege of serving as one of Ray Pritchard’s associate pastors. Ray is my ministry mentor and most of what I know as a pastor I learned from him. Around 10 years ago Ray formed Keep Believing Ministries, an internet-based ministry that focuses on equipping and encouraging people to keep believing in Jesus. I’ve been serving on the board of KBM since it started.
Keep Believing is one of Edgewood’s Go Team monthly partners and Ray will be preaching at Edgewood January 14-15. Ray and his wife Marlene are in the Ukraine where he is teaching the Book of Daniel and the Book of James to next generation leaders. Ray has written 27 books, including Anchor for the Soul. KBM has given away over 800,000 copies of this book to prison and jail ministries, to Pregnancy Resource Centers, to military personnel and outreach ministries all over America. The people of Edgewood have handed out more than 4,500 copies in the last three years!
KBM is in process right now of having this book translated and printed in Spanish! Since there are over 69 million Spanish speakers in America alone, we can’t wait to see how God uses this gospel book for His glory and the growth of His kingdom among the Hispanic community.
Here’s the backstory. KBM works with Moody Publishers to get the price down as low as possible. Are you ready for this? By taking out all profit and royalties and using a less expensive paper, we can translate, print, store and ship these books to ministries for only 75 cents a copy!
We are making the Spanish printing of Anchor part of our Christmas Offering this year. Half of what comes in will go towards the Hispanic Community Center in inner city Fresno through the work of our Go Team partners, Manuel and Kim Contreras. Taking the other half of what’s come in so far (about $9,000), Edgewood will be able to provide over 6,100 copies of Anchor in Spanish!
I can’t wait to see how much will be given by the end of the year – last year the generous people of Edgewood gave over $50,000 to help purchase the mobile ultrasound van for Pregnancy Resources. Beth and I have been saving for the Christmas offering and we’ll write our check before the end of the year. Can I encourage you to do the same? A gift of $150 means $75 will go to Fresno and the other half will purchase a box of 100 books! Some of you can’t give that much and others can give a lot more. Simply mark “Christmas Offering” on your check or select “missions” if you choose to give online.
The English copies of Anchor are currently stored and shipped from a warehouse in Pontiac, the community we lived in before moving to the QCA. The next shipment of 100,000 English Anchors and 50,000 Spanish copies will be stored and shipped from a storage facility in Moline. Gary Pinger and Don Nugent are heading this up for Keep Believing.
We’ve been learning in our “Christmas: From Creation to Consummation” series that it’s helpful to see the whole story of Scripture as God pursuing people who have been running from Him and ruining their lives in the process. We’ve moved from the creation of the world to the creation of Adam and Eve. We also looked at the linkage between the opening verses of Genesis and the opening verses in the Gospel of John. Last weekend we learned that if want hope in order to cope we must hold onto the past promises of God, we must lean into God’s present provisions and we’re to look forward to future fruit.
Today we’re going to retell God’s salvation story, utilizing the major covenants to do so. After all, properly understood, the Bible is not about you, or about me, it’s all about God. He’s the hero in the story. In 2 Kings 23:2, the Bible is called the “Book of the Covenant.” Properly understood, the Old and New Testaments are really first and second Covenants. In fact, the word “testament” is Latin for Covenant.
God’s response to our rebellion is to reach out in relationship by making covenants. Covenants address the catastrophe of the Fall, and they all point to Christmas and the Cross. Someone has defined a covenant as a “life-and-death relationship with God on His terms.” There’s no bargaining or negotiating. God conceives the covenant and He confirms it.
Let’s go back to our relationship with Moody Publishers. When we work out all these details for every printing, Keep Believing and Moody sign a contract. In order for there to be no confusion this contract is very specific, covering every possible contingency. According to an attorney friend, a contract is “an agreement between two or more parties creating obligations that are enforceable by law.”