Confessions of a Church:God’s Promises

The Psalm writer wrote:  Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received.   This is the word of God.  It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.   
 
Deuteronomy 8:1-10 “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
This is the word of the Lord.
 
As we peruse the pages of Scripture what we see are Covenantal promises made by God to His people, then varying degrees of fulfillment throughout the course of Israel's history. We see promises of land, an expanding nation, abundant food and prosperity, and the reality that Israel would be a blessing to all nations. We see promises that God would drive out all of Israel's enemies from before them, and that they would be blessed with rest from those enemies.
We see these promises fulfilled through Israel's deliverance from Egypt, God giving Israel a Law and establishing them as a people, and God blessing them with the land over the Jordan, a land flowing with milk and honey. Arguably, in terms of OT Israel, these promises peak under the reign of Solomon where we read “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers." — 1 Kings 8:56-58
 
We see God's promises fulfilled, yet within a few generations, the Nation of Israel finds itself split in two, apostatizing, and carried off into captivity by Assyria and Babylon. 
 
Salvation is of the LORD, and He alone. Yet God's monergistic plan of salvation and deliverance for Israel did not negate man's responsibility for obedience then, or in 2022. We read in the text today that God tested Israel in the wilderness "that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." He reminded them of His provisions: the manna, the clothing that did not wear out, protection from physical ailments, and then declared "Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him".
 
Because of their unbelief, the Nation of Israel became the natural branch which was broken off from the vine, with the gentiles being grafted in as wild olive branches, yet the conditions which God has placed upon the Church remain very much the same. Jesus says to His disciples in John 15: 10, 14- 
 
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
 
You are My friends if you do what I command you.
 
 
What does all this have to do with us this morning you might ask?
 
Obedience to the Word of God is not optional. We see in the text today that blessings accompany obedience to God's Law, and on the flip side, curses accompany disobedience, curses like being carried off into captivity and being broken off of the vine and cast into the fire. We know that obedience apart from faith avails us nothing but damnation, because we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works.
 
 
Yet just as God provided the manna from Heaven which they did not know, by His Word that they may live by it, we are called to live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. God's word is to be our food, and our obedience to it blesses us with life.
Jesus said as much in John 4: 31-34-
 
Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
— John 4:31-34
 
You see brothers and sisters, faith and the obedience to God's Law which follows from that is how we live out the idea that we live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God.
This is where abundant life is found.
This is where joy in the midst of trial is found.
This is where hope in a world gone haywire is found.
This is where your appetites are satisfied.
This is where peace in the midst of the storm resides.
Faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work, and works done in obedience to God's Law, being a hearer of God's word, and a doer, is how we can rest easy knowing that God is bringing us into "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you."
 
What might this look like in practice?
 
Jesus tells us in John chapter 15 that "These things I have spoken to you (regarding the branches which bear fruit and are pruned, those that do not bear fruit and are cut off and burned, and the necessity of obeying His commands and so proving to be His disciples), that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down His life for his friends."
 
Brothers and sisters, God is bringing us into a new era in the life of this Church. This building, it's location, and the expectations which accompany us as we enter into this new phase will challenge us as a body in ways we have not been challenged to date. The ways in which we minister to one another will increase, as will the ways in which we are tempted to sin, and will sin against one another. 
How will we respond? 
Will we feast upon God's word, walking in obedience to it, or will our preferences, individual appetites, attitudes, wishes, and desires lead us to bitterness, back biting, division, and ultimately, being broken off the vine and cast into the fire?
Will we view the challenge of mealtrains, cleaning schedules, work days, outreaches, fellowship meals, needy brothers and sisters, enemies knocking at our door, homeless folks wandering in off the streets, and disciplining ourselves and our children as blessings in the midst of a time of proving,
or will we grow bitter and grumble as the Hebrews did in the wilderness and were subsequently kept out of the promised land?
 
If you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to God our Father, Who loves us and disciplines us.
 
Heavenly Father,
Just as You called Abraham out of his pagan life to an unknown land and future, You call us to trust and obey. Father, Sovereign King Church is stepping out in faith as we move locations, going from a place of comfort and familiarity, to one rife with unknowns and expanded responsibility.
Please fill us with Your Spirit and enable us to say with King David that our cups runneth over. Please guard us from grumbling, strife, back biting, and unrighteous conflict.
Help us to be thankful for Your blessings and provisions, and to walk in obedience by every Word which proceeds out of Your mouth.  Help us to love one another, and to be a beacon of light in dark Jeffersonville.  Please forgive us when we trust in the modern equivalent of chariots and horses, rather than in Your only Son, Jesus.
In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.
Please stand and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:  
John 10:7-15  So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!

From the 03/06/2022 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.

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