Our first row is complete! Take a look (click on the picture to find out about today’s calendar piece):
December 6th | Freedom from Fear
Bible Background: Throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for covenant is Beriyth. The root (main idea) of Beriyth is Barah and suggests cutting (Arthur, Kay. Our Covenant God: Living in the Security of His Unfailing Love. Random House Digital, Inc., May 27, 2009). It is important to realize that Beriyth is not always translated into English as “covenant”: sometimes it is translated as a “solemn promise” or a “permanent promise”.
Bible Study Question: In what way was the covenant with Noah (Genesis 8) accompanied by cutting and how was Jesus cut for us (see Isaiah 53:1-5; John 19:34; 1 Peter 2:24)?
Today’s Main Idea: God didn’t have to choose a rainbow for the world to remember His covenant. In fact, God didn’t have to make a covenant at all. He chose to make a covenant with us so He could obligate Himself to us (Arthur, Kay. Our Covenant God: Living in the Security of His Unfailing Love. Random House Digital, Inc., May 27, 2009). Obligate means “to bind, to commit”. Through covenant, God bound Himself to His words and committed Himself to keeping them. We can’t control God, but God gave us His Covenant so we could have a hold on Him: Covenant is God’s handle that we can grab on to! God made a covenant with Noah to free him from fear. And that’s why God makes a covenant with us: to free us from fear too, just like the verse from 2 Timothy.
The Flood was God’s angry judgment against a sinful world. Today, Jesus is our Ark . Just as God kept Noah and his family safe from the flood in a big boat called the Ark, in Christ we are safe from God’s rightful anger against the destructiveness of Sin in His formerly perfect world. As with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, sin leaves us naked and vulnerable, open to attack. As more and more people eschew God in favor of secular humanism, modernism, or moral relativism they are unwittingly making themselves vulnerable to the same spiritual force that deceives–with the intent to kill, steal, and destroy–the whole world. The Devil is capable of bringing destruction through human agencies (like government or the media), spiritual agencies (demonic experiences) and nature (natural disasters); he is limited ultimately by God who offers us shelter, healing, and restoration and turns evil against itself so that in the end, more good is accomplished. When tragedies and disasters hit, we have a tendency to blame God for not preventing them; we fail to realize that often our communities have stepped outside of God’s protection and provision. Covenant with God is the only guarantee that when storms come–and until evil is cleansed from our planet by a Final Judgment, those storms will keep coming–we will be safe in Him. It is also the resource we need to suffer alongside those who don’t know God and invite them to the same freedom from fear that we have found in Him.
Application. Christmas can be a scary time! It tests finances, relationships, and our own ability to create (or recreate) the experiences we most long for this Season. Some fears are small: will we get the cranberry sauce right? Will my family like the place settings? Some fears are large: how can I enjoy Christmas if my abusive father comes to visit? How can we pay our credit card debt? Fear is only healthy if it helps us fight or run away from an immediate danger (like an exploding turkey or a gunman in a Santa suit); long term it can bring the worst out of us and taint an otherwise blessed occasion with stress and paranoia. Most unhealthy fears come from wrong information or a lack of information; the Bible gives us the information we need to be free from fear. His promises to protect and provide for us apply to those who are in a covenant relationship with Him through Jesus; even if we have to face negative experiences like confronting a family member or going through bankruptcy, He will guide us through it and help us to overcome adversity as we TRUST Him. This Christmas, whenever you are afraid, try to find a Bible verse or two that talk about the problem you are facing and commit them to memory; or, write them on cards and put them in a place you look at frequently. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real: reminding yourself what God’s Word says is a way to keep what is truly real before you so the false evidence looks puny in comparison. Don’t deny your fear, but make sure to give all your worries to Him in prayer–with thanks for everything He has already been faithful to do for you–and He will guard your heart with His peace! Remember He has obligated Himself to you through Christ. He will keep you secure in Him.
Prayer: “Father God, thank You for obligating yourself to me with your Covenant. Knowing that I have a hold on You helps me to trust You, so I won’t be afraid. Please protect me from harm and help me not to let fear control my life. In Jesus’ Name; Amen.”
Family Activity . Take a blank mug and paint a rainbow on the handle with ceramic paints. Write “God” on the front of the mug, 2nd Timothy 1:7 on the back of the mug, and “Covenant” on the handle. Whenever you are afraid or think that God is far away from you, make a lovely hot drink, pour it into your “God mug” and relax. Remember, because of Covenant you have a handle on God and freedom from fear!
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