I once conducted a funeral service for a young man from our church who died of cancer. When I arrived for the service, I was told the young man’s mother was the only surviving member of a family of five. Her husband had died three years earlier and her two other sons had also died. This was her fourth funeral and the third son she’d had to bury.
I grew up in New York, but when I was in high school my family moved to east Texas. During my first year there I wasn’t known as Gary but as “Yankee.” The longer I kept my New York accent, the more puzzled looks I got, along with a question: “What did you just say?”
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The term “covenant” plays an integral part in the Christian faith. Yet in all my years I have never heard a preacher or teacher adequately describe the significance of “covenant” in a Christian’s life. The Bible itself is divided into two Covenants (or Testaments), Old and New. Throughout the Old Testament, God makes one covenant after another with humankind. What are all these covenants about? More importantly, what do they have to do with us today?
We all have a calling from God on our life. Maybe the Lord gave you a dream related to your calling and you started out strong. You could actually see that vision being fulfilled, but then an obstacle came along - an impossible circumstance - and it derailed you. You lost momentum and soon you were off track altogether.
Consider the great testimony of King David: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust” (2 Samuel 22:2-3, my italics). He said of the godly, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).
The Bible makes clear that, sadly, only a small percentage of God’s people in any age have ever truly trusted him as their deliverer. As you look around at believers today, how many people do you see operating with such peaceful trust?
In John 2, Jesus enters the temple for an act that would signal the beginning of his public ministry. (His earlier miracle at Cana, turning water into wine, wasn’t a public declaration.) What takes place next is quite dramatic:
In the Old Testament, high feast days in Jerusalem were an incredible event. Three times a year, Israelites from across the land journeyed to the temple in Zion to take part in the feast days. It was the most religious thing the people could do. The priests likened it to “coming near to the face of God,” or “drawing nigh to the Lord.”
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’” (John 2:1-5).
I believe it has never been more important for the church and the world to know the real Jesus. By “the real Jesus” I mean the only source able to satisfy every human need and longing, every desire to be loved, known and accepted, every hope to have a life of value, worth and purpose.
These things aren’t found in the world. Our culture is fully focused on American Idol-type fame, telling us we’ll be satisfied by money or good looks or popularity. We know differently as lovers of God—that our deepest desires can’t be satisfied by anything but Christ.
When the Lord came to earth to dwell among us, he had a very specific purpose, one that was formed prior to the foundations of the world. Born in Bethlehem, Jesus came with the mission to teach us of the Father, to do mighty works, to rescue us from sin and to free us from all bondage.
That kind of Savior would naturally draw the attention of this world’s ruling powers. Despite all the deadly obstacles thrown at him by man and by Satan, Jesus was able to accomplish his purpose. We see this dark opposition at the very outset of his story: