Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Like a Shepherd 1: The Covenant of Grace

In a perfect world I'd get a summary of the lesson from MOMs at First Pres Jackson posted each Wednesday afternoon. That is certainly what I'll try to do. These blog posts are limited summaries, so please know that recordings of our large group meetings are available in the First Pres Learning Resource Center. I do want to give credit to Joel Beeke and his book Parenting By God's Promises which is an invaluable resource.
Our title and theme for the semester come from Isaiah 40:11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs with his arms and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with young. As providers, protectors, companions, and lovers of the sheep we easily see why the role of shepherd is an apt metaphor for the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We as mothers take great comfort knowing that our Great Shepherd is tending us and our little lambs and He 'never slumbers nor sleeps.'  As mothers who often neither slumber nor sleep, we find assurance that Jesus, our Shepherd, gently leads us as we lead our young.
This weeks' lesson focused on God's work in the lives of Abram and Moses from Genesis 15, 17 and Exodus 2. Moses is born into hostile territory as the Israelites are under subjection to Pharaoh who has plans to do away with the multiplying Israelites. Work them to death and have the midwives kill all newborns. Yet the greatest threat to the life of Moses is still the greatest threat to each of our children, life and death apart from Christ.
We have the benefit of turning over a thousand pages in our bibles to know that Moses and his parents are listed among the trophies of God's grace in the great roll call of faith. There we also find Abraham who gives us the back story on the covenant of grace. Our scripture passages tell us the covenant of grace is a bond that God makes with His people and  is based on God's own decision, for His own pleasure, on the accomplished work of Christ. Through this covenant God offers salvation to His people as a free gift, binds Himself to His people forever, fills them with the Holy Spirit, and grants them eternal life. God's passing through the pieces says may I and my Son suffer death and destruction if I fail to keep my promise to you. We as believers are bound to this one true God, are to trust Him, love Him, forsake the world and its ways and are to walk in the way of godliness. This promise is for all believers and the children of at least one believing parent.
This covenant assures us that the fulfillment of God's promises to our children does not ultimately rest on our performance as parents. However, we are given the responsibility to see our children as they really are, tainted by original sin and in great need of the Savior. Sin must be dealt with and we are God's representative in the lives of our children to pray with and for them, to teach them the scriptures and doctrines of our faith, to bring them up according to the teaching and standards of the bible and to give them every opportunity to come to faith. Our children must make their own profession of faith in Christ. We as parents cannot do that for them.
God is under no obligation to save all or any of our children, though He generally works through families. Faith in Christ is a gift of God's mercy given to sinners. Ephesians 2:4-8. What can seem "unfair" to us is that God would give the gift of faith to some while condemning others to eternal torment. No, we condemn ourselves by the sins we willingly commit, so God is merciful to give the gift of faith to anyone, since what we all truly deserve is eternal separation from Him. God's ways, His thoughts and His purposes are beyond ours and we must choose to trust in His sovereign care for us and our children. Even on our "best" days, our sin and finite humanity keep us from understanding Him fully. What we can do is trust in His faithfulness and live in expectant hope for and before our children, listening to His voice on the pages of scripture more than we listen to the whispering voices of our fears and insecurities. This is how we are able to sing trust and "okay" for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and okay.
Now remember this is just a portion of the whole! If you have questions or concerns, please respond. Next week, Leading Lambs to the Shepherd. See you there!