Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Cross and the Covenant

The Bible is divided into two testaments, the old and the new, and into two covenants, the old and the new covenant. The central factor that divides the new covenant from the old is - THE CROSS!

The Scriptures tell us that ever since the fall of man into sin in the garden, God already foresaw His plan to redeem mankind from sin culminate completely at the cross long before Jesus came into the world. In I Peter 1:18-20 Peter writes that “knowing you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” John called Jesus, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

The slaughter of Jesus on the cross was already in God’s plan before He created the earth. The first, or old covenant that God made with Israel in the Old Testament was put into effect by the blood of animals and was called “the blood of the covenant.” (Exodus 24:8) Every time an atonement had to be made to cover sin, it would require another animal sacrifice. Thus, the old covenant was confirmed by blood.

The new covenant plan to remit the sins of the people was also confirmed by blood. Hebrews 9:12 says, “Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood...having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Verse 28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” This is God’s plan for us today.

When the blood of Christ is applied to our hearts by confessing our sins to Him and repenting of our sinful ways, Hebrews 10:17 says, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

The blood that Jesus shed upon the cross confirms the new covenant. Praise God that we are new covenant people!

Passover is so rich in meaning to us who are the redeemed of the Lord. We understand now the priceless privilege we have to commemorate the new covenant as we partake at the Lord’s table of communion. Our Lord reminds us of our communion with Him when He said, “When you drink of the cup, remember, this is my blood which confirms the covenant between God and His people!” 

- by Pastor Virgil Amundson 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Altar of Peace

It was dark days in Israel’s history when God had delivered them into the hands of their enemies because of all the evil that the children of Israel did in the sight of the Lord.

God used the Midianites to defeat Israel, to rob them of the new crops, take their stock, and cause them to hide in dens and caves. In Judges 6 we read of the Israelites crying unto the Lord in their distress and God was compassionate and merciful once again, saving them by raising up Gideon. God sent an unnamed prophet to remind Israel that He had brought them out of the bondage in Egypt and drove out their enemies and gave them their land.

God had not abandoned them and was still their God, but they had not obeyed His voice.

Gideon was hiding from Israel’s enemies in an abandoned winepress where he was threshing out a little bit of grain by hand so his enemies would not find him and steal it. God’s angel met him there and called him to be a deliverer for Israel against their enemies. As a sign to Gideon God sent a fire that came out of a rock to consume the sacrifice that Gideon had prepared for the Lord.

When Gideon saw the face of the angel, the Lord spoke a great peace unto him and told him that his life would be spared. Verse 24 says, “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah Shalom: The Lord our peace.”

These are dark days in our world today. So much of what is unfolding before us is the result of spiritual darkness and rebellion against the Lord God. Antichrist spirits are preparing the way for the coming Antichrist and beast system as found in Revelation 13 and 17.

In the midst of all the shaking and chaos, God still has a people who are called for His namesake. We are the people to whom God is saying, “I will be with you. I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, and you are mind!” Just as Gideon found his altar of peace in severe oppression from enemy nations, we also can allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts. Christ is our altar of peace. He is the peace of God who tells us to “let not our hearts be troubled.” He is a consuming fire and will one day judge all the nations and defeat Satan and his subjects permanently!

- by Pastor Virgil Amundson

Friday, April 8, 2011

Success in Duluth!

Linda and I were invited as guest speaker at Lakeview Covenant Church in Duluth last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The church was doing their first Missions Conference in its history. The church was founded in 1932 and is a solid congregation of over 600 people.

The invitation to speak came from their missions director Steve Salowitz, who is a friend of our congregation and a member of our Missions Conference. Steve is also a missionary with the Seed Company in Kenya and Tanzania in Africa. He served with Wycliffe Bible Translation while living in Tanzania for many years. His home and office is in Two Harbors, MN.

Since he and their missions committee were putting together their first conference there was some apprehension as to how many missionaries and how many church people would attend. Steve was hoping to have at least ten missionaries come to their first conference.

On Friday evening Linda and I attended a Chinese dinner at the church that was prepared by some Christian Chinese people who have their own worship service at Lakeview. It was a wonderful meal and we engaged conversations with several Chinese students who attend college in Duluth. They told us that many Chinese students are being saved through Christ and will be returning to China to share their faith with the people of China.

Friday and Saturday evening services were very well attended beyond Steve’s expectations and the amount of missionaries in attendance. The Pastor, Jeff Burton was also surprised and excited.

Our messages were full of examples of our own church success with our Missions Conferences and financial blessings over the past 25 years. It seemed to inspire the people! Sunday morning there were two services where over 600 people attended. The presence of the Lord’s Spirit had seemed to crescendo and there was a liberty to minister.

I received a phone call from Pastor Jeff Burton on Wednesday in which he shared his excitement that the totals from the commitments made during the conference exceeded $135,000. That did not include a vehicle that had been pledged. He told me that figure doubled what the annual church missions budget was for the year!!

The Lakeview Covenant Church had “cast their bread upon the waters” and they were already experiencing returns of a congregation that had become excited about investing in God’s Kingdom through their first Missions Conference! What a joy!

- Pastor Virgil Amundson