The Covenantal Nature of Love

First Samuel chapter 18 First Samuel 18

it's in the Old Testament in the

historical books go to Psalms and then

go left a few books and you'll get 1st

Samuel 18 and it's a book first and

second Samuel deal with King David among

other characters and as you know we have

been talking in recent weeks about the

idea of love what does it mean to be a

community of people what does it mean to

love one another for real not just in a

sentimental way but in a practical way

we walk through 1st corinthians and all

of those messages by the way are up on

the website you can there's a link there

to take you to a YouTube page where we

have those catalogued so I especially

would encourage everyone to listen to

sermons such as love is not rude now I'm

not saying you're rude but we should all

hear that message love does not delight

in evil but rejoices with the truth I

would want every member of this

community to hear that message these are

important seminole foundational messages

for us as a community of who we are of

what our spiritual church culture will

be but so I thought I was maybe moving

on from the concept of love but I think

I'm not quite done yet talking about

love so we're just going to keep going a

little bit and what I'd like to do is

look just briefly at a friendship in the

Old Testament famous friendship between

Jonathan and David the man who would

eventually become king david now next

week we're going to go into much more

detail about the dynamics of the

friendship and what it meant for them to

to love one another as friends we're

going to look at that much more detail

next week this week we're going to use

this as a launching pad for a particular

concept so we're going to read three

texts about this friendship between

Jonathan and King David and just so you

know Jonathan was the son of the king

that came before David he was the son of

King Saul he was supposed to be the next


but then God rejects all in his line and

chooses David and so you would expect

Jonathan and David to be enemies because

they're natural rivals but on the

contrary they become intimate friends

and committed to one another so we're

just going to read three texts about

their friendship and I'm going to ask

you two to try to figure something out

okay ready to do a little game here I

want you to look for a particular topic

a particular theme that is present in

every one of these texts okay you ready

to that First Samuel chapter 18 we'll

start with verse 1 2 3 it says after

David had finished talking with Saul

Jonathan became one in spirit with David

and he loved him as himself and from

that day Saul kept David with him and he

did not let him return to his father's

house and Jonathan made a covenant with

David because he loved him as himself

we'll go into more detail of that next

week skipping ahead to First Samuel

chapter 20 the next page for Samuel

chapter 20 verse 16 and 17 / Samuel 20

16 and 17 so Jonathan made a covenant

with the house of David saying may the

Lord call David's enemies to account and

Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out

of love for him because he loved him as

himself First Samuel 23 verse fifteen

through eighteen so next page first

samuel 23 well there's 15 18 now and

once you look for what comes up in all

three texts okay this is very tricky

very complicated First Samuel 23 verse

15 says while David was at whorish in

the desert of ziff he learned that Saul

had come out to take his life and Saul's

son Jonathan went to David at whorish

and helped him find strength in god

don't be afraid he said my father saw

will not lay a hand on you you

be a king over Israel and I will be

second to you even my father saw knows

this and the two of them made a covenant

before the Lord and then Jonathan went

home and David remained at whorish okay

now what did you hear in all three texts

the word covenant what I want to talk

about today is the coven ental nature of

love some of you are thinking what's a

covenant we'll get to that don't worry

but this for me is the framework in

which we should approach all of our

relationships let's pray together dear

God I pray that you would speak to us

today gotta thank you that you are a

covenant ill gotten you keep them lord I

thank you for the way you take care of

us and the way you have invested us God

with unique authority to make covenants

with one another and to love one another

in this way and that you honor the

covenants we make and so God I pray that

you would bless this reflection I pray

in Jesus name for simplicity for clarity

for anointing and God I pray that i

would live this out that we would live

this out amongst one another in our

homes and in all of society bless this

message speak to us Lord let the

Shepherd's voice be the one that your

people here in Jesus name Amen covenant

what I want to talk about today is that

covenants are written into the fabric of

creation itself just like we breathe air

if we're human we breathe oxygen in

order to be in relationship covenants

need to be part of that covenant oh love

Old Testament and New Testament God is a

covenant oh god I don't know what

Testament means ever wondered what does

Testament mean Testament means covenant

right it's a will it's the old covet

and the New Covenant the whole Bible is

about God's covenant to love for us and

how he calls us then to live that out

what I want to talk about today is that

loving people in a covenant away is part

of being human okay so let's start with

what in the world is a covenant what

does covenant mean what I'm going to say

is a covenant is a commitment we make

towards a person or a group that takes

God into account a covenant is an

agreement or a commitment that takes God

into account where I made promises to

you not just to you but to God who is

listening to those promises to and that

God then watches over how we behave in

our relationship towards one another a

covenant a covenant is an agreement in a

context that knows that it's not just

about me and you there is another who is

watching over us I am accountable not

just to you but to god there's a verse

where Jonathan says to David now he had

a real reason to make a covenant with

David we'll talk about this more next

week but after David becomes king what

could happen to Jonathan right Jonathan

knows God's going to make him King and

so he really wants to be sure that David

makes promises to him in the sight of

God so that he doesn't yeah okay so

let's read what Jonathan said to David

in First Samuel 2042 Jonathan said to

David go in peace for we have sworn

friendship with each other in the name

of the Lord saying the Lord is witness

between you and me and between your

descendants and my descendants forever

when we love people in a covenant away

it means the way I treat you is being

watched by God God is watching God cares

about what I say and do to you and that

means that it's a bigger relationship

it's a relationship not just with you

but with god as i connect to you so

covenants might be different right

some covenants may have economic

implications right you make a commitment

to pay a certain amount of money or

they're going to take the car away right

some of them are financial contracts

some of them might have family

implications or or affection or intimacy

into in terms of marriage covenants and

things like that some covenants are

conditional I and both parties need to

do their part some are unconditional

some covenants are bilateral some are

unilateral some covenants are good and

some are bad God makes it clear there

are some people you are not to enter

into covenant within a certain formal

way because it's only going to get you

in problems anyone ever signed a

document that afterwards you wished you

hadn't anyone gotten tangled up with a

business partner and later you're like

oops that was a bad idea bad covenant

God made it very clear to his people

when they went into the Promised Land do

not make covenants with the people in

that land they are they're just going to

drag you down so some covenants are

meant to be made formal some or not some

can be renewed I love it when when a

couple renews their wedding vows some

covenants can be revoked for whatever

for certain reasons if there are certain

violations some involve major

responsibilities that you're devoting

your whole life to a person and some are

much more limited in nature it's just an

arrangement or a commitment to do a

particular thing at a particular moment

there's different kinds of covenants but

what they all have in common is their

commitments that are made formally where

there are consequences where God is

watching or society is watching in some

way and that if the Covenant is not

fulfilled there's a problem so typically

a covenant has oaths and promises or

vows what I like to say to couples when

they're getting married before they say

their vows that a vow is a promise

you're not just making to the person but

you're making the God so your

faithfulness is not just to the person

but it's to God because you promised

both the person and God that you'll do

your part right so it's a it's that kind

of promise and it's a big it's a big

deal right anyone remember that if you

were married

once there you know what that's like do

you take this woman to be your lawfully

wedded wife to live together in the holy

estate of matrimony do you promise love

comfort honor and keep her and forsaking

all others to keep yourself only big

deal big promise big covenant that you

make in the sight of God now there's

other types of oaths and promises you

make right never sure if you've had to

give testimony in court you know before

you give testimony in court what do you

do raise your right hand do you swear to

tell the truth the whole truth and

nothing but the truth and do they still

say so help me God they still say that

right why because the whole idea could

take God out of the picture well then

who then what's the deal so even now

with everything they're trying to do our

society they can't do that because our

whole legal system is based on the

sacredness of an oath the sacredness of

a promise that you're going to tell the

truth and that we're going to use that

as evidence and so it's all based around

that the president takes an oath right

to preserve protect and defend the

Constitution of the United States and

his hands I'm the Bible still on the

Bible right it's still in a Bible you

know if they're making the the promise

right it's a vow I understand Sabharwal

lawyers take that do doctors take vows

we got some doctors floating around

doctors take vows of some sort that I

assume there's important stuff in that

vow I hope right I'll you doctors out

there that you'll do your best for us

right politicians civil servants we have

some police officers among us but I

won't point them out but police officers

take vows civil service exams

firefighters people who are serving

society make a promise that I will be

faithful to the community I'm serving

and it's an important promise it's a

promise they won't break because they

know or that they feel the importance of

because they're making it to God you

make a commitment you make a vow when

you sign a contract right you're signing

it and there are results if we violate

those vows right if we violate that

contract if you purchased a house or a

car there's all these scary documents

you have to sign

multiple times and there's people

witness and you sign it and there's

another one and another one another

you're like this feels really important

I'm starting to get nervous it starting

to get the feeling I can't back out of

this right yeah that's the idea it's an

important vow it's an important

commitment and there are consequences in

a covenant if the vow or the commitment

is violated there are our negative

consequences we already talked about a

financial contract you make a promise to

make certain payments and you get to

keep the car no payment no car right

unfortunately this way it worked

employment you you make as you sign a

contract you will fulfill certain

responsibilities and you get paid a

certain amount no work no job right

there's treaties there's that there's

consequences now usually these things

are so important the covenants have

ceremonies that come with them or

symbols or signs you make a wedding vow

and you wear this little ring around to

remember oh yeah yeah you're married I

say that to recent newlyweds getting

your brain formatted around the time

around the idea that you're not single

anymore might take a while right you've

got to look at that ring and remember oh

yeah don't forget to call don't forget

you know you're married right it's a new

way of thinking so you have a symbol to

remind you of the Covenant you made

there's other types of symbols it can be

as simple as a handshake right it could

be much bigger than that right there can

be there documents you sign we talked

about in the old world in the ancient

world when there was a covenant between

two countries they would often build a

pile of rocks and name it these rocks

are a testimony that we made a treaty

don't break the treaty and then they

would sit down you know what they would

often do is there cover dental ceremony

they would have a meal together isn't

that beautiful you know where the word

companion comes from this is in the lot

you know companion means con with pan

pond bread I on breaking breaking bread

together so a companion you break bread

together you have a meal a covenant

Emile the Lord's Supper is a covenant Oh

meal that we have with God where we eat

together with God

show that we're in a covenant ill

relationship with him there's all kinds

of symbol in the Bible how about a

rainbow right God makes a promise to

Noah and says I'm going to give you a

sign that you won't forget and that I

won't forget there's a rainbow in the

sky and every time I see the rainbow I'm

going to remember I'm not going to flood

the earth again like God needs to remind

himself right it's really more reminding

us that God is faithful to his promises

baptism right different types of

ceremonies are covenantal ceremonies

they're meant to be unforgettable if

it's a very important covenant having a

wedding usually there must be witnesses

they're watching you make this

commitment so when you try to wriggle

out of it there's people there's a I saw

you you signed or I saw you I was dinner

right next to you the whole idea of

witnesses yeah I did get married till I

was in I was in my mid 30s when I got

married I was in a lot of weddings

before I got married a lot a lot of

weddings I do all kinds of money on

tuxes all just tuxes okay whatever it

wasn't till my own that I realized the

importance of the witnesses that there

is a feeling that people are watching

that this is a public commitment that

you're making that promise not just to

the person but also to God but also to

that person's mom and dad also that

person's best friend also to all these

random people who are watching

commitment public covenants symbols

signs promises in the sight of God in

the ancient world in the Bible times now

the reason I'm talking about all this is

because the Bible is all formatted

around this idea of covenants now I'm

talking about a lot of theology here so

I can ask you to buckle in and stay with

me it's going to be important okay for

practical implications in the old world

Kings would make contracts in a very

interesting way a great king a powerful

King would make contracts with those who

became part of his empire lesser kings

that would have smaller dominions and it

would usually start with something

called they would follow a very specific

format for their contract between

it would start with a historical

prologue where one King would talk about

all the reasons why it's a good idea for

you to enter into this covenant because

I'm a good king I'm a powerful King I

can protect you I'm Abba nificent King I

didn't destroy you when I could have if

they would say these kinds of things so

it is to your benefit take on viene

estado en este pack though it is to your

benefit to be in this covenant

relationship and then they would usually

move on to the expectations that would

be on the vassal state or the lesser

King there were certain laws or

commandments that they would have to

follow in order to be inappropriate

relationship with the leading King and

they would often write these laws down

on tablets are there any bells going off

for you of places where laws in the

Bible are written on tablets well that

would happen between two kings they

would write down those laws and then

there would be certain blessings if you

keep this covenant if you obey these

laws there will be blessings the leader

king will protect you he will provide

for you he won't destroy you all kinds

of things and then there are curses

covenantal curses if you violate it so

they would go through this whole thing

and there would be a ceremony and

sometimes they would do this ceremony to

ratify the Covenant that would be so

vivid that you could never forget it you

ever heard the phrase to cut a deal we

cut a deal they cut a deal right you

ever wonder where that comes from I

believe it comes from the Bible it comes

from the Old Testament world where you

know what they would do to ratify the

governor this is kind of gross okay I

hope you haven't eaten just recently

right they would take animals they would

slaughter them they would cut them in

half and they would form an isle of the

cut pieces all that you know entrails

all the stuff you know it's messy it's

meant to be messy right the animals are

all lined up and the lesser King walks

through the parts and says if I violate

the terms of this covenant may I be like

one of these

whatevers that just things didn't go too

well for them it's a covenant it's a

self curse almost saying may I keep this

covenant or may I be like one of them so

it's a very severe thing unforgettable

and it's meant to shake them up a little

bit now this is going to become

important because God has this kind of

ceremony with Abraham at one point in

the Bible we're going to talk about that

a little later so there are covenants

now we see as I'm talking about this

laws a special bonded relationship the

whole Bible is about God entering into

this kind of covenant with the people of

Israel with Moses and there's a

historical prologue I am the Lord your

God who brought you up out of lead a jip

tout of the land of slavery you shall

have no other gods before me and God

gives them Commandments why just so

they'll obey a bunch of rules no so that

you will be my people and I will be your

God God is marrying his people he's

making a covenant with his people they

become one and it's a conditional

covenant if they violate the Covenant

and worship other gods they're going to

lose that privileged relationship

they're going to lose the land their

temple destroyed deported and that ended

up happening is you read the Bible so

God is a covenant Oh God a God who makes

promises and keeps them a God who makes

promises that are two way with people

you know it was even like that without

him and Eve wasn't it God blesses them

with the garden he puts them there he

provides for them but it was not

unconditional in the day you can have

this beautiful garden will have this

intimacy but there is one particular

tree the tree of the knowledge of good

and evil that's the one tree I don't

want you eating from right in the day

you eat of it you shall surely die

there's a covenant there's an agreement

that obviously is violated God makes

commitments I'd like you to go with me

to Genesis chapter 12 and I'd like you

to look with me at the Covenant that God

makes to Abraham it's the beginning of

it it goes on and on but Genesis chapter


says the Lord had said to Abram go from

your country leave your country your

people in your father's household and go

to the land that I will show you and

there are promises I will make you into

a great nation and I will bless you I

will make your name great and you will

be a blessing I will bless those who

bless you and whoever curses you I will

curse and all peoples on earth will be

blessed through you so Abram went as the

Lord had told him and he took his family

with him he was 75 years old how about

those promises I will make you into a

great nation and I will bless you anyone

attacks you and curses you I will curse

them I will fight your battles you give

up i will make your name great you'll be

famous through you and your descendants

all nations on earth will be will be

blessed God promises Abram of future a

destiny protection greatness provision

all kinds of blessings but it doesn't

come without something that Abram has to

do it's a two-way covenant right what

does Abram have to do for all this to be

fulfilled he's got to believe and go God

tells him you've got to leave home

you've got to leave your people your

father's household and go to the land

that I will show you he didn't even know

where he was going but he had to trust

that God was a faithful covenant Oh God

that God would fulfill his promises and

so Abram went God is a covenant to God

he enters into these relationships with

people throughout the Bible but there

was something that people had to do to

keep their part and if they didn't keep

their part there were consequences I

mentioned God's promise to the people of

Israel that if you you know I'm the Lord

your God you'll have no other gods

before me the first and most important

commandment and then he explains the

terms of the Covenant God gave them a

land he gave them a temple he gave them

his presence but he said if you violate

this covenant and worship other gods you

will lose everything I've given you and

you'll be deported to another land and

they were for

70 years God let their enemies defeat

them so God is a covenant Oh God and he

takes his covenants seriously that he

makes and we need to take his covenant

seriously too but there's another type

of of covenant that God makes and that's

what I want to talk about and then i'm

going to start bringing it home to how

we love one another some are wondering

okay what does this have to do with how

i love people and it's the Covenant it's

the concept of grace grace covenants see

all of these other covenants were

contingent on obedience God makes

promises and in order for those promises

to be fulfilled you must obey the rules

that God gives but God in His grace also

makes away so that even when people

violate the terms of the agreement he

picks up the penalty for them in other

words they don't do what they're

supposed to do there are consequences

and God finds a way to suffer those

consequences so that people can still

experience the blessings that were

promised remember how I talked about the

Covenant where they would separate the

animals and they would cut them right

and all the the person would walk

through God told Abram one night I want

you to take animals cut them put them in

pieces form an aisle and in the middle

of the night there was a deep darkness

that fell over Abram he fell into a deep

sleep and then he kind of has this

trance and he wakes up and he has a

vision he sees a flaming fire pot with

sort of a pot with with smoke coming out

of it remember I made that though I

won't repeat I was teaching this to my

kids once and my daughter was asking so

there was so God was smoking pot or

something kind of like no it was a

smoking pot God was a smoking pot any

what and thankfully she doesn't know

what that means but there's a smoking

pot that appeared along with a torch of

fire so there were two columns a column

of fire and a column of smoke and Abram

is there and God appears to him by the

way where else do we see a column of

smoke and a column of fire when God took

them out of Egypt he appeared to them as


pillar of fire in a pillar of smoke so

Abram is watching this and then God

makes promises to him your people will

be enslaved but I will take them out of

slavery I'll bring them to this land I

will give them this land and then

something amazing happens the the fire

the smoking pot and the burning torch

move through the pieces now can you see

how that is a shocking thing never in a

treaty or a covenant would the greater

King walk through the pieces it was

always the lesser king who would walk

through the pieces saying if I disobey

you can do this to me well God said I'm

going to do your part of this deal I'm

going to keep your part of the Covenant

and God Himself passes between the

pieces as if to say if the Covenant is

violated God is saying may I be broken

and bleeding as a consequence now the

covenant between God and Abram and then

God and Moses a little later is violated

and what happens to make it possible for

us to be forgiven the Bible says the

penalty of sin is death that is the

consequence of sinning of breaking the

eternal covenant with the eternal God

death and God says I will take the

penalty of your disobedience on myself

Jesus when he was at the Last Supper

said this wine is the this is the cup of

the New Covenant in my blood jesus said

this is my covenant my body broken for

you it's broken separated for you God

took the curse for us God enters into a

covenant with people that has an element

of grace grace means that God shows

favor on you even though you don't

deserve it grace means God doesn't just

give me he doesn't just not give me what

I deserve the punishment but he even

gives me the good I don't deserve but it

doesn't come without a cost

there needs to be death and sacrifice

God is a coven mental God now here's

where I'm going with this our

relationship with God can be based on

the assurance that God is faithful that

God makes promises and God will fulfill

those promises I can count on him no

matter what even if I am faithless God

remains faithful because he cannot deny

himself even when I sin and blow it God

is still there for me God made promises

you know I discovered something when I

was reading in Jeremiah chapter 31 about

the new covenant listen to this about

the new covenant you don't have to turn

there but Jeremiah 31 says the days are

coming declares the lord when i will

make a new covenant with the people of

Israel with the people of Judah it won't

be like the Covenant I made with their

ancestors when I took them by the hand

to lead them out of Egypt because they

broke my covenant though I was a husband

to them declares the Lord this is the

Covenant I will make with the people of

Israel after that time declares the lord

I will put my law in their minds and I

will write it on their hearts I will be

their God and they will be my people no

longer will someone teach his neighbor

saying no the Lord because they will all

know me from the least to the greatest

declares the Lord for I will forgive

their wickedness and remember their sins

no more and you know what's something I

noticed afterwards in the next part of

the text it says this it says this is

what the Lord says he who appoints the

Sun to shine by day who decrees the moon

and the stars to shine by night who

stirs up the see that its waves roared

lord almighty is his name only if these

decrees vanished from my sight declares

the Lord will Israel ever cease being a

nation before me isn't it amazing that

Israel is still a country after 5,000

years it's still there most nations from

5,000 years ago no longer exist Israel

still exists God is faithful to his

covenant no matter what he will come

through for his people maybe you are

someone who is painfully aware of the

ways you have failed

I hope we all are because none of us is

perfect we all have sinned and fall

short of the glory of God we can know

God is faithful to me not because of

anything I have done because I have

broken the Covenant but God is faithful

to keep my end of the Covenant for me he

is a faithful God he is a coven until

God just like he put the rainbow in the

sky and said I'll never flood the earth

again God says I am with you I will

never forsake you God is a covenant till

God now here's where I'm going with this

all right jesus said some amazing things

to his disciples after he washed their

feet and talked about the Covenant in

his blood jesus said in the same way I

have loved you so also you are to love

one another just like God is a coven

ental God and keeps his promises and it

shows grace we are to love people

covenant alee firmly in the sight of God

with a sense of commitment and sacrifice

we owe every person what the Bible calls

a debt of love listen to this in Romans

13 8 it says no let no debt remaining

remain outstanding among you except the

continuing debt to love one another for

whoever loves others has fulfilled the

law I owe you love I owe you love I have

a continuing debt to love you two love

each person that God has put in my life

now some people don't believe this

because they never signed a contract to

love right as some people you never

signed a contract saying I promise to

love Greg except for one of you you know

there's one of you that did that but not

another the rest of you whoever's behind

the Contras saying I have to love you

you know there's an interesting dialogue

that God had with a man named Cain the

beginning of the Bible you know the

story Adam and Eve cast out of the

garden they have two sons Cain and Abel

there's jealousy between them God is

pleased with Abel's offering not with

canes he's jealous he invites him out to

the field kills him God comes to Cain

and says Kane where is your brother Abel

how does Kane answer anyone remember the

answer what am I my brother's keeper I

don't remember signing a contract that

saying on my brother's keeper is that my

responsibility don't to watch out for my

brother yes he is your brother it

doesn't have to be an explicit covenant

it is an implicit covenant it comes with

the very nature of being a brother that

you are responsible for him you have a

duty to love him as opposed to the

opposite of killing you see there are

covenants that are implicit that you

never signed a document but you're

responsible anyway right I have the

honour sometimes of accompanying people

to their naturalization ceremony when

they become citizens praise God we have

many immigrants in our church I'd say

this group is about half immigrants some

of you have had the experience of going

and becoming a citizen and there's a vow

they have you take remember some of you

had to do it it's kind of a scary Val

you're promising really to fight wars it

sounds good but part of it is i abjure

or i renounce political loyalty to other

nations in favor of my loyalty to this

nation now they're having people make

that promise so that if there's a war

with the nation you came from you won't

fight for the right you could see why

that is right so let's say I've never

taken that vow I was never a naturalized

that I was just born in Connecticut kind

of blurring right is Connecticut run in

Connecticut there's no palm trees no

beaches no Connecticut House but I never

took a vow promising to be a citizen but

I am one by birthright praise praise the

Lord now does that mean because I never

took that vow that if there's a war and

I just decide you know say we go to war

with I can't take a country because

everyone's here from somewhere i went

there any country we're not from let's

say we go to war with canada i know we

got a few random canadians floating

around but I

say that lets say we decide okay war

Canada we really want we really want

that what's that Island were in of Green

Gables you know prince edward island we

want Prince Edward Island for our own

vacation spot we go to war with them and

let's say i decide i really like canada

I is it ok I never took the oath can I

go fight for Canada right you put but I

didn't sign anything there's an implicit

covenant by being a citizen you are

automatically responsible for certain

things well here's where I'm going with

this by being human it comes with your

humanity that you are and I am my

brother's keeper I have an implicit

covenant with each person on the face of

this earth when I encounter a human

being I am responsible to love that

human being but even my enemies like

didn't either with what did Jesus say

about the enemies shall love your

enemies pray for those who persecute you

bless those we are called till then now

some people ask that question but wait a

minute you know Jesus brought this up

again he said you shall love your

neighbor as you love yourself and there

was a lawyer in the crowd I don't know

if we have any lawyers among us but

there was a lawyer in the crowd said I'm

supposed to love my neighbor well I live

on a big street got a lot of neighbors I

don't like some of my neighbors who

exactly is my neighbor no now why does

he ask that question is he really

concerned about because I really want to

love my neighbor now why does he ask

that question he's trying to get out of

it by saying that how do you define who

my neighbor is he can't really defies

the person one house over two houses

over the whole street is the whole town

because you can't define it well then

I'm off the hook I don't really have to

do anything you know what Jesus does he

turns it around on him he tells a story

remember the story Jesus tells that

lawyer it's a story of a particular

person who was on a trip going to some

Jericho of course he was on the road to

Jericho he gets beaten up he's left for

dead he's mugged a priest and levite

passed by and ignore him and

hated despised Samaritan walks by and

has mercy on him takes care of him

brings him to the hotel washes his

wounds pays for them even when he goes

on business as I'll cover anything else

that happens and then at the end he asks

who was a neighbor to the person who was

beat up as well as the one who had mercy

on him but wait a minute that wasn't the

question he asked the question wasn't

who can I be a neighbor to the question

who is my neighbor Jesus says you're

asking the wrong question you're looking

to get a run away with the minimum to

get out of it to find a loophole Jesus

saying it should be different it should

be looking for opportunities to be a

neighbor any person God puts in my path

at that moment is my neighbor now you

can't take care of everyone in the world

of course we could take care of a lot of

people who can do a lot of good if we're

asking the right questions if we're

saying God who can I help who can I love

who can I serve today not just here but

in other countries of the world what can

I do and when a person is willing and

says to whom can I be a neighbor God

will pour out the the riches of heaven

on those people to be an amazing

neighbor to people they may be never

even met before who can I be I know I'm

in covenant with people I my brother's

keeper and I have a responsibility in

the sight of God to love people because

God loved me in that way he loved me

with grace he loved me covenant alee

okay now I want to talk about this a

little bit though because when I say

that you are in covenant with all people

I'm not saying that all of your

relationships with all people are

exactly the same right right everybody

is my neighbor but not everybody is my

wife amen it's pretty important to get

that straight folks pretty important

because there are some people who take

care of everybody else except the one

you've actually promised but

or you know just gotta get our even

within a family there are levels of

responsibility with levels of covenants

that we've made and that's okay the

Bible says for this reason a man will

leave his father and mother and cling to

his wife they'll become one flesh

primary this person is my number one

loyalty but we're to honor our mother

and father so that will live long in the

land and if we don't honor them were

worse than an unbeliever so there are

different responsibilities with even

within a family right you know often

we'll talk about this now even though we

have to give a hundred percent to take

care for those of you that have children

or taking care of kids that you've

adopted or that you're watching out for

we are responsible we're responsible to

take care of children because they can't

take care of themselves but the number

one person in your heart and affection

should be the spouse that's number one

the kids who comes like and ill get me

wrong I'm not say that your spouse is a

grown-up they should be able to feed

themselves I'm not saying that you don't

take you do take care of them but it's

we go through this every year when our

anniversary we ditch our kids for a

night so that we we steal away it's now

it's winter its snowy it's sub-zero and

we usually go to Maine so it's not like

we're you know having again it's not

like we're at a beach so yeah but for a

night and every every year is the same

thing those that look from the kids as

we're dumping them with great bachata

and gchat Grandma and Grandpa and

Japanese we're ditching them they're

there they're just and they're giving us

those puppy-dog eyes how can you do this

to me don't you love it's like mommy and

daddy got out of this it's hot okay now

I'm talking about marriage a lot but in

other relationships we have different

levels of relationship and God cares

about it Jesus himself had different

circles of intimacy with people right

there were the multitudes but he also

had the 70 that he sent in a special way

he had the 12 that he chose within the

12 he had three that he was especially

close to and I get the impression that

within the three he was close as friends

with John does that mean that Jesus

doesn't love me because I'm part of the

multitudes no not at all as a human

though there had to be circles of

intimacy so we're not talking about

everything being exactly the same

towards everyone but there is something

that is exactly the same towards your

spouse and your employer and the person

that you just bump into in the elevator

at work every single one of those people

is a human being created in the image of

God and you have an implicit coven ental

responsibility before God to love that

person in some way and God is watching

that's the same it revolutionizes the

way we see our different relationships

it can revolutionize how you approach

your job because you're responsible not

just to work for your boss but to love

your boss didn't isn't that taught about

in the book of Colossians serve your

boss as if you're serving who Jesus

himself she'd love you but in your job

how about the client you serve let's say

your job is to fix cars I hope you fixed

that car as if it were your mother's car

do you love your clients do you love the

people you work for now here's a toughy

sometimes okay love your boss that's a

that's a real tough one loving your

clients I think most people although

it's not so easy to work with the public

view work did a cash register people are

obnoxious to you right they don't see

you as a human sometimes they just see

you as you worked at a cash register

people just feel like they have a right

to be obnoxious to you called to love

each person across that's amazing it's

like how can that be it's even harder

though to love your coworkers how about

that one when there's office politics

and dynamics and they're difficult

they're out to get me there are two stab

me that happens with all of us in any

work setting there's toxic stuff there's

politics i am called coven entally to

love my coworker also doesn't mean i

can't look for a new job it took if you

could look for a new job if it's awful

but I'm just saying that we approach the

people around us in society as well

right how about our leaders we are

called i'm going to say not just to

honor we are called to love our governor

our president our mayor our selectmen

police fire department all to love them

and honor them pray for your leaders and


in those roles are called to to love

those they serve and God will hold them

to account there in a covenantal

relationship with society when they fail

that relationship God will deal with

them with that injustice how do we treat

people in society the Bible talks a lot

about the fatherless the widow the

Sojourner among you we are responsible

as we jesus said I was hungry and you

fed me I was sick and you took care of

me I was in prison and you came to visit

me trade know that you were visiting

someone in prison you're visiting Jesus

himself because you are covenantal

irresponsible to that person we should

view and it's an awesome thing when I

know that every person that comes in my

sphere God is watching and God cares

about how I treat them I'm covenant God

takes our covenant seriously in the Old

Testament when they would make covenants

they would use a phrase they would see

they would say may God deal with me be

it ever so severely and then they would

fill in the blank if I don't do XY and z

there's a feeling of responsibility you

know God has given us as human beings an

awesome power to make promises and keep

them and even if we make sometimes not

so smart promises by keeping them we

honor God you know there's a case in the

Old Testament where God has explicitly

commanded the people do not enter into

covenant with the nations of the

Canaanites that I'm going to do well

there was one Canaanite nation that knew

they were in trouble they were called

the Gibeonites and so they tricked the

Israelites and what they did they put on

old clothes they had moldy food and they

came pretending like they come from far

away and they asked Joshua to make a

covenant with them Joshua forgot to pray

the way he normally did they didn't seek

the Lord and they entered into a

covenant with them and then the next

week they discover wait a minute those

were Canaanites I'm were supposed to

make war on them we're not supposed to

make agreements with them but God said

not anymore you made a promise to them

you need to keep it

now hundreds of years later there was a

king king Saul Jonathan's father will

come back to that who made war on the

Gibeonites and God even hundreds of

years later remembered know you made a

promise you're violating it and so

because of that famine on the land God

takes our covenant seriously when we

interact with people coven entally when

i know i am going to treat this person

with love because god loves this person

and when I do it unto them I do it unto

God God is with us he is our witness

when I approach a person coven entally

and I say I am this person's brother and

I am my brother's keeper when I say I am

this person's neighbor and I will be a

neighbor to this person God is

witnessing now in order to witness

something by definition the witness is

present when we love in this way God is

present Jesus is there witnessing and

watching us god is love if we live in

love we live in God and God in us this

is how to cultivate intimacy with God

very often we talk about fast and pray

and read the Bible we're big believers

in that I hope you fast i hope you pray

i hope you read the Bible but loving one

another is the most powerful thing you

can do horizontally speaking to

cultivate the anointing of God in your

life when we love one another coven

entally God's power flows through us and

gives us the ability to do it wisely

powerfully and even with spiritual gifts

I really believe that when there is an

attitude of love in a community and

there is proper prayer and faith that

powerful miraculous gifts are unleashed

and I believe that is what God wants for

us here I'm going to invite the

musicians to come on up but I invite you

we talk about renewing vows in a wedding

or renewing a contract each of us has an

implicit covenant or responsibility to

the people around us I'm going to invite

you as we close this prayer time to

renew your covenant with God and with

the people around you

now this may have hit some very

sensitive chords because you may have

experienced some pain and some covenant

ille relationships god bless you some

covenantal relationships you've been in

know that God is a God of grace that he

is with you that he is there to empower

you to love your neighbor as you love

yourself we can do this guy's we can do

it we won't do it perfectly but we can

do this with God's power and Jesus can

shine through us as we do so I'm gonna

invite you to stand with me and let's

pray and we're going to pray and just

renew this sense of responsibility

before the Lord next week we'll talk

more specifically about Jonathan and

David but here it's just the idea that

goes behind a covenant ille relationship

and friendship god I thank you that you

are a coven ental god I thank you God

that your love for us is not just

sentimental God that it's not just

feelings but that you promise to be

there for us in the good times and the

bad times when we are pleasing to you

and also when we do things that

displease you I think that you have made

a promise to be our God and to forgive

us through Jesus Christ thank you that

you are a covenantal god and lord I pray

in Jesus name God that you would

revolutionize the way we view the people

around us God that we wouldn't just see

them as part of the scenery or it's just

or even worse as dangerous contaminants

to be protected against but that we

would see each person as a human being

made in your image to whom we are

responsible in your sight god I pray

that we would love people because of you

and through you and by your power and in

the name of jesus lord I pray in Jesus

name that you would help us especially

in the relationships where there is much

pain and maybe we've had to even

withdraw to protect ourselves in

different ways god I pray that even in

those complicated situations

that our heart could still have a

posture of love and forgiveness even in

the midst of the complexity of the evil

around us Lord father I pray Jesus that

you would enable us God to show love in

every level of the relationships of our

lives Lord God for our family for our

friends for the people in our church but

also God for the stranger God also for

the people who are far away and who are

suffering god I pray that we would be

before you as we love them and as we do

god I pray that you would be present not

just to witness what we're doing but to

empower what we're doing that you would

give us wisdom to love that you would

give us power to love Lord God and the

ability to love I pray God that this

church would be a coven ental community

Lord God it would be a place of profound

security God because we know that you're

our God and that we can count on you but

I pray also God that it would be a place

where people feel secure because they

know they can count on one another Lord

God they know that people will be

faithful to one another Lord because of

you I pray that this place would be a

refuge Lord Jesus a community into which

people can come and let down their guard

and find healing because love is in this

place because of you the people could

come as they are God with all their

brokenness with all their complexities

even with their prickly edges God and

they could experience grace because you

have kept both ends of the Covenant for

us Lord God let your love rain in this

place God that we would love because you

first loved us God that we would love as

Jesus loved us Lord don't let it be let

it be Lord send your spirit in your

power so that this could become a

reality in our lives in Jesus name Amen