Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Following Jesus brings peace into one’s life even in the midst of great difficulties. His peace passes all understanding. It is real and it is really wonderful!
However, I don’t see lives saturated in God’s peace when I observe normal Christian life today (including my own). I see overwhelming stress. I see anxiety. I see financial pressure. I see maxed-out schedules. I see people who are tired and weary. Jesus said in John 10:10 – I have come that they might life, and have it more abundantly. Does this match up with that bold claim?
God desires that we might have life, and He desires it to be full. He wants us to be overflowing, but not overloaded. He wants us to have meaningful, fulfilling, lives filled with His Presence – life itself. However, you and I tend to fill our lives with more than we can actually handle or accomplish. We fill our lives up until there is no margin.
Margin is essential for abundant life. Margin is the space between our limits and our capacity. It’s breathing room. It’s that reserve for the unanticipated. It’s that place for the surprises. It’s that place between the “abundant life” and deadly lives.
Margin is allowing extra time to get to an appointment. It is having money left at the end of the month after you pay your bills. It’s coming to the end of your day and having the emotional energy to play with your kids. It’s having enough time in your schedule to be able to get a good night’s rest. It is that place where God often meets us.
But too often, because of the choices we make, the debts we take on, our lack of trust in God, our desire to succumb to cultural norms, and allowing technology to control us, our lives end up with too much. We have too much to do, too much debt, and too much demand for our time and limited resources. We end up in chaos, being overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, physically debilitated, and SPIRITUALLY dead.
Is this the way God wants us to live our lives? Is this the witness He wants us to have to our unbelieving friends? It’s time for us to take a serious look in the mirror and examine ourselves and the priorities we have for our lives. We are not only wounding the cause of Jesus; we are hurting ourselves!
Richard Swenson, in his book, Margin, writes: “Overload is not having time to finish the book you are reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security.” Psalm 90:12 says: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The wise person has margin in an overloaded and stressed out world. What would it look like to create margin in your life?
We have a God that loves us so much, and God’s love for us is expressed to us through His “covenants”. Also, God’s “covenants” reveal to us His grace and faithfulness. In today’s message, we will discuss God’s Covenant with Noah. A “covenant” can be defined as an “oath or promise of God”. In a Biblical covenant: 1) God establishes the Covenant; 2) God always implies that “I am your God, and you are my people” – God desires a personal relationship with us; and 3) God sets the covenant’s terms and rulers.
In Genesis 6:5-22, the corruption of humanity, through mankind’s sin after the Fall, became too much for God, and He became sorry that He made mankind. From Genesis, we know that God “grieved in His heart” because of human evil, corruption, and violence. However, Noah found favor in the eyes of God. Noah was righteous and blameless, and Noah “walked with God”.
After destroying all humans and all other inhabitants of the earth, except for Noah, his family, those animals that Noah collected for His arch, God “blessed Noah in Genesis 9:1-29; and God established His covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:9-1:10,11-13: “’Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you . . . that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’". Therefore, this covenant is not only with Noah and all other living things on the earth; but God’s covenant with Noah is with us too! The “rainbow” is a sign of this covenant between Noah and all humanity; and this “rainbow” is, also, a sign of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
In 1 Peter 3:18-21, the Apostle Peter relates Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, which is a redemptive covenant for our salvation, to God’s earlier covenant with Noah: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .". In this text from 1 Peter, we learn that our “baptism” represents our Salvation through Jesus. Like Noah and his family, we have been saved “through the water” not “by the water”. Therefore, “baptism” is another covenant between God and all humanity, through God’s Grace, to save mankind from itself if we accept God’s Grace. God does not see us, now, in our sin like humanity’s evil of Noah’s time; rather, God sees us through the eternal (like the “rainbow”) “Justifying” covenant blood of Jesus.
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13).
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): Genesis 6:5-22; Genesis 9:1-29; 1 Peter 3:18-21; Psalms 28: 1-9.
WEBSITE LINK TO DR. BEACH’S SERMON VIDEO: https://awordfromthelord.org/video-archives/
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