Excerpt for Covenant Relationships by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Covenant Relationships

by

Drs. George & Hazel Hill

Published by

Victory International Publishing

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2006 by Drs. George and Hazel Hill

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the authors.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Covenant Relationships
Copyright © 2006

ISBN: 978-0-9743265-4-2

Digital ISBN: 978-0-920567-54-8

Printed in Canada

Published by

Victory International Publishing





Dedication



Dedicated to the worldwide Victory Family of Churches, which has been built upon the foundation stones of covenant relationships for a God-given purpose, family, local church, or nation.

Thank you for being willing to pray together, stay together, grow together, and help build God’s kingdom together.

Thank you for being willing to follow us, as we have followed Christ, on a journey that has taken us all beyond forgiveness, offence and revenge; a journey that has brought us into the power, blessing, synergy, and supernatural accomplishments made possible through genuine covenant relationships.





Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: Covenant Keepers

Chapter 2: Becoming Covenant-Trusted Friends

Chapter 3: The Critical Need of Covenant Relationships

Chapter 4: Friends that Stick Closer than Brothers

Chapter 5: A God-Centered Covenant

Chapter 6: Covenant’s Restoring Power

Chapter 7: Real Covenant Requires Emotional Stability

Chapter 8: Covenant is not Covenant Until it is Tested

Chapter 9: Restoration of Apostolic Covenant Power

Chapter 10: The Apostolic Company

Acknowledgements

About the Authors

Books By Drs. George & Hazel Hill





Introduction



My wife and I have written this book to help people develop long-term, meaningful relationships. The Scriptures tell us that in the last days, just before the return of Christ, there will be a major breakdown in relationships.

You will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
(Matthew 24:9-12)

This book will help you understand how to overcome offence, deal with betrayal, go beyond revenge, to healing and possible restoration of friendships. The long-term benefits of healing and restoration far outweigh the short-term satisfaction of revenge. Covenant Relationships will also help you protect yourself against deception, stay free from resentment, follow after truth, and maintain a right heart attitude. Refusing a spirit of bitterness and keeping a right heart attitude will keep you moving in the right direction. Without good understanding of these things, covenant relationships and fulfilling God’s plan for your life will always remain elusive.

For the church to accomplish its God-given mandate it will require what I call apostolic companies – people who have come into a covenant relationship with God and one another – to work together to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Will it happen? Yes it will! Will you be a part of it? The choice is yours!

My wife and I have come into a covenant relationship with God and one another in our marriage of around forty years, which today is like the days of heaven on earth (Deuteronomy 11:21). We have also built the Victory Church Movement – now expanding around the world with thousands of local churches, schools, colleges, orphanages, and a host of creative outreach ministries – on the foundation stones of covenant relationships for a God-given purpose that is bigger than any one person, family, local church, or nation. We have learned many things in the process, and we have endeavored in this book to impart some principles and lessons from our own successes and failures that will enable each one of you to build more rapidly and effectively than we have. We hope you will be able to learn from our mistakes, build upon our successes, and go on to create great families, local churches, and movements that will help change the world and usher in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Go on, I dare you to read on and become part of a world-changing, history-making, God-loving, God-rearing apostolic team!

Dr. George Hill





Chapter 1

Covenant Keepers



Promise Keepers was an organization raised up by the Lord in the United States to challenge men not only to make promises, but also to keep them. Hundreds of thousands of men came together in stadiums all over the United States and began to declare:

We are going to be men of our word. We are going to keep the promises we have made to our wives, children, pastors, churches, and to our nation. We are going to be promise makers and promise keepers.

We need to get back to making a covenant with an understanding of what it really means. One major part of this involves being promise makers and promise keepers.

We must make good on our promises. We must return to the place where a handshake signifies an unbreakable agreement or bond. We must get back to the place that if we say we are going to do something, we follow through and do it no matter what. After all, if a person’s word is no good, how can they be trusted?

Thank God, we can count on Him to keep His Word. In fact, it is impossible for God to lie or contradict His Word (Hebrews 6:18). God thinks so highly of His Word that He has magnified it above His Name (Psalm 138:2). As Christians, we must make every effort to imitate our Heavenly Father and back our words with corresponding action.



Covenant Relationships Started with God

A covenant is an oath that seals the relationship between two people or parties. The Bible itself is divided into the Old Covenant and the New Covenant (also called Testaments). The words of the Bible are the basis of our covenant relationship with God.

The Old Testament sign of God’s covenant with Israel was circumcision. Blessings were pronounced for those who kept the covenant and curses for those who broke it (Deuteronomy 28).

The New Covenant is signed and sealed in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our circumcision is spiritual, that of the heart (the inner man) through the born again experience. The Holy Spirit is the witness of our covenant, and communion is prescribed to keep us ever mindful of this awesome covenant with God (Romans 2:28-29: 8:16; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Marriage between a man and a woman is a God-ordained covenant relationship where two become one flesh (Ephesians 5:31). During the wedding ceremony, the couple speak vows to each other in the presence of witnesses; rings are exchanged and worn as a sign of the covenant made between them.



Reasons for Covenant

There are three main reasons for entering into covenant relationships: protection, united purpose, and increased power.



Protection

The weaker seeks a covenant with the stronger for protection. In the marriage relationship, the husband is called to be the leader and protector of his wife and children. He is to guard his home from intruders (both spiritual and natural) who would try to drive a wedge between him and his wife or harm her or their children.

In the Body of Christ throughout the world, more and more small ministries and independent churches are recognizing their need to have the protection afforded through joining together in covenant relationship with churches that are solid in the faith and whose leaders are seasoned and proven in integrity and excellence in ministry. The Victory Church Movement, as a family of churches throughout the world, has made a God-centered covenant to love, help, and protect every church and its members.



Purpose

When two parties share and pursue a God-given purpose, they join their resources (time, talent, and treasures) so that they are able to accomplish more together than they ever could separately. Victory Churches of a particular Nation and Victory Churches International are working together to fulfill God’s purpose. We enter covenant relationships based on sincere love for the Lord and for people.

The heartbeat and driving purposes of this movement, Nationally and Internationally is:

Leadership Development, Church Expansion and World Missions.

The heartbeat and driving purposes of each local church is:

Evangelism, Discipleship and Mobilization. And the goal is to help each person find and fulfill the specific call of God on their lives.

Our ultimate purpose is to work together locally, nationally and internationally to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples who will:

1. Love Jesus and follow Him.

2. Love His word and obey it.

3. Love His church and be involved in it.

4. Love one, Win one and Disciple one.

The desire and motivation to do all of this is the direct outflow of our covenant relationship with God. “The people who know their God shall be strong and carry out exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)

When two believers, or groups of people, share and pursue a God-given Holy Spirit anointed purpose, not only are all things possible, they are probable (Mark 9:23).



Power

In Matthew 18:19, Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” When two people come together in agreement on a God-given purpose, they have potentially increased their power tenfold – for one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30).

Imagine what could be accomplished when hundreds, thousands, or even millions of believers agree together and move in harmony to fulfill a God-given purpose!

It is time for the church to rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit and use its God-given weapons against its common enemy “called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” (Revelation 12:9).

This is not a time of peace; it is a time of war. There is no such thing as peaceful co-existence between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. There will be no lasting peace until the Prince of Peace returns and sets up His kingdom of peace. Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). For this to be fulfilled it will require a focused, unified, passionate effort as we work together expanding Christ’s kingdom.



In Covenant relationships, there is protection, united purpose, and increased power!



The apostle Paul exhorted the church at Philippi:

Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, [may I] hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in on spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)

United action increases our effectiveness! Let us not just think about uniting and working together, let us do it for the glory of God and the coming of His kingdom of peace!

It is time for the church – the sleeping giant – to wake up and become the militant, miraculous, triumphant church God intended it to be!



Covenant Commitment

A covenant relationship involves much more than making a commitment. Covenant speaks of the strength of a commitment infused by the power of love that motivates the person making the promise to fulfill the vow, pledge or promise made. It also speaks of a strong alliance and teamwork, whether in a marriage between a husband and his wife or in the church where many members work together.

Commitment says: “I will finish the task.”

Covenant says: “We will finish the task together.”

With commitment we open our schedules.

With covenant we open our hearts.

With commitment we give of our time.

With covenant we give of our lives.

Sometimes, due to a crisis or some unforeseeable event, we may be forced to break a commitment. This, of course, is understandable. However, many times commitments are broken on a whim: we change our minds; we would rather do something else; we no longer have good feelings toward the person with whom we made the commitment. Covenant demand that we go the extra mile – beyond our feelings and state of mind. Covenant requires three things:

1. Loyalty regardless of the circumstances

2. Truthfulness regardless of the cost.

3. Forgiveness regardless of the pain.



Jesus Committed Himself to Only a Few

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25)

The word “commit” here means, “to entrust.” Jesus did not entrust Himself to the multitude of people who came to see Him perform signs, wonders and miracles. Jesus certainly loved them, but He did not entrust His life to them. Jesus knew human nature and the fickleness of people’s hearts.

Take for example how many people become excited about what you are doing in the beginning, but over time lose interest. Jesus knew these things and that such people were in the crowds that continually thronged Him. He knew they were not trustworthy. He loved them and always responded to their needs – healing them, feeding them physically and spiritually, encouraging them, putting value into their lives, and pointing them to the Father in heaven. However, He did not entrust all these people with His life.

In fact, Jesus spent all night in prayer before He chose twelve men to bring close to Himself. He did not choose the twelve because He could trust them with His life right away, but because He saw the potential for them to become faithful, covenant-trusted friends and ministers. Jesus knew eventually He would be able to entrust His life to eleven of the twelve (since He knew Judas Iscariot would betray Him).

You may be a parent with a natural love for your children, but you would not entrust your life to your little six-year-old, would you? No matter how much you love him, you would not put your life in his hands. You have observed how he loves to zoom around the house, playing with toy airplanes and anything else that flies. You can see the potential that one day he might become a great pilot.

However, you would not put that six-year-old in the pilot’s seat of a twin-engine airplane and tell him to fly the plane while you just sit back and ride, would you? After he develops into a mature young man who has learned to be obedient, responsible, patient, and trustworthy (and, of course, after he has completed aviation school with flying colors), then you might be able to trust him with your life.

After three years of discipleship training, Jesus brought eleven of the disciples to the place where He could entrust His life and ministry to them (Luke 6:12-13). Finally, Jesus was able to say: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).



Jesus’ Close Relationships

Even among the disciples we can see that some were closer to Jesus than others. Of the twelve, three were brought into Jesus’ inner circle. Peter, James, and John were the ones Jesus took to the Mount of Transfiguration where they witnessed His transformation into His pre-incarnate glory and saw Him talk with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:2-3). It was Peter, James, and John who were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane during the final hours before He was arrested, falsely accused, put on trial, and crucified (Matthew 26:36-37).



Strengthening Bonds

It is important to realize that a covenant relationship will have seasons of difficulty and testing. Sometimes it may seem that there are very few moments of glory. It was the Lord’s brother James who wrote:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

No one likes difficult times, but if you persevere and work through them, you will experience the richness of God’s faithfulness and the strengthening of bonds between you and those who went through the trials with you. God will use these very experiences to equip you to build the strong relationships He intends. And this is exactly what it will take for us to become known as promise makers and promise keepers.



Remember, covenant requires… Loyalty regardless of the circumstances, Truthfulness regardless of the cost, Forgiveness regardless of the pain!





Chapter 2

Becoming Covenant-Trusted Friends



Stages of Development

Jesus took His disciples through four stages to bring them to the level of covenant-trusted friends:

From Strangers →

To Servants →

To Friends →

To Covenant-trusted friends

This is the same process that should take place in our relationships today.



Watch out for Strangers

The first time you meet a person, he/she is a stranger to you. Mo matter how gifted that person may seem or trustworthy he/she may appear, you should never entrust your life to someone you just met, nor whom you have just become acquainted with over a few months. You may have a great first impression, but without discernment you really do not know what kind of person you are dealing with – whether a diamond in the rough or just a sharp stone that, given the chance, will cut you into pieces.

It is crucial that you seek the Lord, stay in the Word, and watch and pray to know the true nature of people before you entrust your life to them (Matthew 26:41).

A person should never get married to someone without first completing the process of going from strangers, to servants, to friends, to covenant-trusted friends. A girl may be desperate to get married. A guy comes along and she runs to her mother, “Oh, mama, he’s the most wonderful person in the whole world. He’s just about perfect.”

Mama asks, “How long have you known him?”

Daughter says, “Two weeks.”

Mama shrieks, “Two weeks? Child, he is a stranger! A stranger!”

Girls, listen to your mothers. If you open up your heart to a stranger, you could become terribly wounded. Just because a guy is handsome and perhaps drives a nice car, or even if he has a great resume, it does not mean you should open up your heart and reveal your innermost self.

In other words, be careful whom you open yourself up to. Remember one of the primary cautions of all wise parents, to “Beware of Strangers.”

I have seen many pastors and their wives severely crippled because they opened their hearts too quickly to an associate, who in turn abused the relationship, much like Judas did with Jesus. It was as though a knife was thrust right into their hearts. If God does not heal their emotional wounds, they may very well end up being ineffective in ministry for the rest of their lives.

In fact, there are pastors and pastors’ wives unable to open their hearts and make a commitment to their congregation. There are members of congregations who find it difficult to open their hearts to the leaders. Many times these inhibitions are because of past betrayal, or perceived betrayal.

Once you entrust your life to a person, you place yourself in a vulnerable position. When you share intimate things with people, you are exposing your heart and placing yourself in a position to be either helped or hurt. You must, therefore, ask the Lord to reveal to you if this is a person you want to get to know better or whether you should simply cut the cord, at least emotionally. Of course, that does not mean you should stop praying for and ministering to him or her as directed by the Holy Spirit.

Once again, Jesus took his disciples on a journey that began with them as strangers, to becoming servant-hearted, to being friends, and then towards securing a covenant-trusted friendship. A process like this helps to protect us from the devastating effects of coming into close relationships with the wrong people.

It was only after their friendship had matured that David said to Jonathan, “You have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you” (1 Samuel 20:8).



Embrace Servant-Hearted People

No one can make you a servant. Servanthood is an act of the heart, an act of the will, of the person serving. People can make slaves out of you, in which case you serve against your will. However, only you can make yourself a servant.

Even though He was equal with God throughout eternity, Christ Jesus made Himself of no reputation. He took on the form of a man and made Himself a servant of mankind (Philippians 2:5-8). Because He did this, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (9-10). When you humble yourself, God will exalt you in His time, which is always the right time for you to be most effective for His purpose (1Peter 5:6).

Some people serve for the wrong reason. They think: “If I serve, and serve, and serve, eventually I will end up being the boss. After I become the boss I will have people serving me, and I will not have to serve anymore.” That may be the world’s mentality, but true Christianity is totally different. Jesus corrected that kind of wrong thinking when His disciples disputed amongst themselves over position and power:

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whosoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

As a pastor – a shepherd of God’s flock – my life is not my own. I do not make decisions based just on what I want to do or what my wife and family want to do. I try to follow the Great Shepherd and lay down my life for the sheep. The more responsibility you have, the more you must take into consideration how your decisions affect everyone else. This is being covenant-minded. This is being responsible.

When some men marry they consider their wives full-time personal servants, whose job it is to be at their beck and call, ready to serve and pick up after them all the time. This is wrong thinking. When you are covenant-trusted friends, as husbands and wives are supposed to be, you should serve one another in love and in reverence for the Lord. Therefore, my wife serves me, and I serve her – out of love, not obligation.



Servanthood is an act of the heart, an act of the will of the person serving.



I did not make Hazel my servant. She did not make me her servant. We have chosen to serve one another in love. Out of love, we have become covenant-trusted friends.

Of course, when I first met Hazel, she was a stranger. We had to become acquainted with one another, interact with one another, and build trust. It is the same with a church family.

When I first met the members of my former congregation in California, they were strangers to me and I was a stranger to them. In fact, many of them had been hurt in the past, so it was necessary to earn their trust.

Over a period of time, after building a relationship with the church, those that were hurt became strong and secure enough to the point where they wanted to serve. They came to me and asked how they could help to build the church; more importantly, they asked where specifically I would like them to serve. At this point, we were serving one another.

Indeed, true servants serve without expecting anything in return. They are not looking for recognition and applause. They simply serve and help because they want to see the Body of Christ built up. They want to see the church blessed. They want to see people encouraged.

Servants do not serve because it is convenient. The people who show up early on Sunday mornings and do all the pre-church, behind-the-scenes work do not do so because it is necessarily convenient. They do it because they have become servant-hearted. No one forced them to become servants. They chose to lay down their lives to serve the Body of Christ.

Eventually, a servant becomes a friend. That is when you realize they are not in it just for what they can get out of it – unlike people with lots of money or powerful positions, who often ask, “Why do people want to know me? Why do they want the relationship? Is it the gazillion dollars I have in the bank? Is it because they can use me to get up the corporate ladder? Why do they want to be my friend?” It could be a blessing that most of us do not have those kinds of problems with the friends we have. You can see that servant-hearted people want to be your friend just because they like you.

In time, faithfulness and true character will be revealed. You will come to the place that you will know the heart of those who labor among you (1 Thessalonians 5:12). And some of these people will become real friends to you.

President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” A true servant is not seeking primarily what you can do for him, but looks for ways to bless you, your ministry, or your church. Servants do not seek recognition or compensation. They do what they do because they believe in what you as the leader are doing, and desire to use their gifts and resources to help you accomplish your God-given vision. Of course, in actuality, they are not your servants at all; they are God’s.



Becoming Friends

Friendships often develop with very little effort on our part. Sometimes we just naturally gravitate toward certain people. We like to be around them. We like to do things together with them.

As time goes by, true friends will speak good things into each other’s lives. There are no ulterior motives with either party. Friends are not envious of one another; they want the very best for each other. They seek always to comfort, encourage and build up their friend.

They may not always see eye to eye. Sometimes they disagree, but they never stop walking in love and humility. Even a disagreement between them may prove to be a blessing, because, now, each has an opportunity to see things from a different perspective than what he or she had before the disagreement. At the end of the day, they remain friends.



Covenant-Trusted Friends

True covenant relationships are deep, open, and honest. They are friendships of the highest degree. At this level, the parties have entrusted their lives to one another. They are stuck together, as it were, like glue. They are in this relationship for the long haul – in good times, in bad times; in stormy weather and pleasant weather; during feast and during famine.



True friends want the very best for each other.



When both parties mutually commit and entrust their lives to one another, these relationships are richly rewarding and mutually beneficial. Again, you must carefully and prayerfully choose those with whom you will come into this deep covenant friendship.



Some Close to You May Betray You

Of the twelve disciples that Jesus chose to be part of His ministry team, one was a betrayer. Jesus had on one side Judas Iscariot and on the other side John the Beloved. Both men were close to Him, both served Him, both had a level of intimacy with Him. However, their motives for serving in His ministry were different. John, who at the last supper laid his head upon Jesus’ bosom, served Him out of a pure heart of love and devotion. Judas, on the other hand, betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Almost a thousand years earlier, King David wrote:

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng. (Psalm 55:12-14)

And in verse 20 David wrote:

He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has broken his covenant.

David was speaking prophetically about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. It was Judas who put his hand against Jesus when Jesus was at peace with him. Jesus broke bread with Judas as an act of friendship, or better yet, as an act of covenant friendship. When He dipped the bread into the wine and gave it to Judas, Jesus was reaching out in peace (John 13:26). Yet Judas put forth his hand against the one who was at peace with him. He broke covenant.

The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. (Psalm 55:21)

Jesus knows what it feels like to be betrayed by someone close. “On the same night in which [Jesus] was betrayed [He] took bread…” (1 Corinthians 11:23). Jesus dealt with the betrayal immediately by partaking of the communion elements, thereby taking His eyes off the one who hurt Him and, instead, looking to His heavenly Father who could help Him. By doing this, He gives us an example of how we are to respond when someone betrays us.

When someone close to us betrays us, it definitely hurts emotionally, and it certainly is a big disappointment. However, if we immediately release forgiveness to the betrayer, turn the matter over to the Lord, and continue to walk in love towards that person, we will come out victorious. The Word says to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). It is quite possible that in the end the betrayer will come to his senses and repent. Our job is to pray, and the rest is up to God.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

Judas’ underlying motives were different than John’s. All John wanted was a close, intimate relationship with Jesus. He was willing to lay down his life for the Lord. He was willing to serve and follow Him. Judas, on the other hand, had an agenda.

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him. (Matthew 26:14-16)

We can see that money helped motivate Judas to betray Jesus. The Scripture says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).



Discerning Good from Evil

We have to make every effort to know the difference between a Judas and a John in our lives. If we come into covenant-relationship with a Judas-type person, we can end up deeply hurt. It may take years for us to recover and to reach out and love again. When God wants to bless you, He will send a person into your life. When the devil wants to destroy you, he also will send a person into your life.

How do we know the difference? We must pray and study God’s Word so that we can have a spiritual mindset. Then we will be able to see beyond the exterior and discern who is godly and who is not. This is what the Bible means when it tells us to have our senses exercised so we are able to discern the good from the evil (Hebrews 5:14).

You can love all people with God’s unconditional love, because “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). However, there is a difference between loving people and entrusting them with your life and the intimate secrets of your life. You can love them, reach out to them, encourage them, and put value into them, even if they are treacherous, untrustworthy or unfaithful. You can love them because your loving them is not dependent upon them, but on you and the godly love in you.

Nevertheless, when you reach out to love people like this, you had better make sure that you keep your shield of faith up. You had better make sure that you have on your breastplate of righteousness, and that you keep it on, so that if negative words, criticism and even betrayal come, you will not become wounded or crushed (Ephesians 6:12-18).



Don’t Let the Devil Isolate You

The devil’s strategy is to divide and conquer. He wants to separate you from your family, your family from other families, and your church from other churches. You must realize that isolation is the first step to devastation (Judges 18:27-28). As members of Christ’s Body, when you are isolated you are out of alignment with the rest of the Body. Joints can only supply when they are hooked up to one another (Ephesians 4:16).

The devil tries to lock you up in your own private little cell, where nobody knows what you are going through. Then you begin to think no one has ever experienced what you are experiencing, no one has been tempted the way you are being tempted, and that you are the only one who has ever been in such a mess. However, the Word of God says:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

It is both sobering and comforting to know that other people go through similar temptations, test and trials as we. It is of great assurance to know that God will not allow any of us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. He is faithful and will always provide the way of escape.



The Power of Agreement

The one mistake the devil made when he put Paul and Silas in jail was that he put them together in the same cell (Acts 16:24-26). These two knew the power of unity and agreement that Jesus had declared in Matthew 18:19, “…that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” They had been severely beaten with rods for preaching the gospel, but instead of having a pity party, they had a praise party. They agreed to keep their joy and magnify God. In response, God sent an earthquake into their prison that caused the prison doors to fly open and the chains to fall off every prisoner. The jailer and his whole household were saved. This was the exciting and dynamic beginning of the first European church at Philippi, in Greece.

God still knows how to send earthquakes! He wants to come with an earthquake into whatever prison, confinement or limitations you may have in your life – just like He did for Paul and Silas – so you can be free to fulfill everything He has planned for you.

You are not the only one who has been hurt, betrayed, or gone through difficult times. If you are still hurting today you do not have to hurt alone:

God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psalm 68:6)

There are people in the Body of Christ who understand what you are going through because they have been through something similar and have come through victoriously. They will love you, pray for you and support you when you open yourself up again, become part of a good local church family, and begin to develop covenant-trusted friendships.



Maturity is Essential

The key principle behind effective covenant relationships is that we must mature and grow in Christ-likeness to the point that we will not hurt one another. We need to listen when a covenant friend is speaking into our lives, especially when he warns us to watch out for certain things. If we refuse to hear a covenant friend, the devil takes notice and will send someone to try to wreak havoc in our lives. An enemy will expose your faults and talk about your problems to everyone, not to help you, but to destroy you. A covenant friend will speak into your life because he loves you and wants to see you strengthened, helped, and restored.

Jesus desires to take us from being strangers, to becoming servants, then to friends, and finally to becoming covenant-trusted friends. We start by humbling ourselves and cooperating with the Holy Spirit who will then begin working in us to become servant-hearted.

When we serve with the right motivation, then God raises us up to the place of being a covenant-trusted friend to whom He can reveal His secrets. The Bible tells us that Jesus did not share some things with His disciples because they could not handle them at that particular time in their lives (John 16:12). As they continued to grow and mature, however, He was able to enlighten them more and more.

The Lord desires for His Body to have closer, deeper, and more honest relationships with one another. Then we can share even the most intimate things and be able to both give and receive love and support. God wants us to first come into covenant with Him; then, out of that covenant with Him, develop God-centered covenant relationships with others.



Built on Faith that Works by Love

Covenant relationships do not happen overnight. There are testings and provings that we must go through. For instance, Simon Peter ultimately became a trusted apostle, but when Jesus was arrested Simon Peter denied knowing Christ. Jesus had foretold this happening, when He spoke:

Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. (Luke 22:31-32)

Jesus was saying, “Simon, Satan wants to blow you away. He wants to have you; he wants to express his desires through you; he wants to scatter your life like chaff. But I have prayed especially for you that your faith would not fail. When you become stable and mature, help, encourage, strengthen, and put value into your brothers.”

The strengthening of the Church Body – our brothers and sisters in Christ – will always be the result of a covenant relationship with God. The Bible says, “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11:32). The people who know God intimately will be strong in Him and thus able to do great things for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do” (John 14:12).

We have a covenant with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Our covenant with the Lord is worked out in practical ways through our relationships. How we treat our family, friends, and foes is a direct reflection of the strength of our relationship with the Lord. As Jesus said:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you may also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

The proof that we are indeed disciples of Christ is that we have love for one another. A love for God develops within us a healthy kind of self-love, which in turn enables us to love all people. The Bible says to love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Some people have such a terrible self-image that they hate themselves. Consequently, if they were to love you the way they love themselves, you would be in big trouble.

As we continue to mature in our covenant relationship with God, we will be changed from glory to gory into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). The more we become like Jesus, the harder it becomes to offend us, the quicker we are to forgive, and the easier we are to love. Having the love of God formed in us is the ultimate goal of the believer and the foundation for solid covenant relationships with others.



How we treat our family, friends, and foes is a direct reflection of the strength of our relationship with the Lord.





Chapter 3

The Critical Need of Covenant Relationships



For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

God is ever watchful. His eyes run to and fro across the whole earth – across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Central America, South America, the Middle East, Asia, the South Pacific – looking for someone who has a loyal heart towards Him.

Loyal means to be devoted, faithful, dependable, trustworthy, honest, and truehearted. A loyal person does not desert you when the going gets tough. He is loyal regardless of the circumstances. He is truthful regardless of the cost. He is forgiving regardless of the hurt and pain.

A lot of people have been hurt in covenant relationships, especially in North America. With divorce statistics so high, no doubt numerous people have been hurt in marriage. Others have been hurt in church relationships. Still others have been betrayed by those they considered friends.

Oftentimes, people open their hearts and enter into covenant relationships too quickly. As a result they are terribly wounded and many find it difficult to enter into a covenant relationship again.

I believe a lot of hurting, wounded people are sitting in large churches. They are actually hiding out, not wanting to be discovered. They really do not want to get to know anybody and certainly do not want anybody to get to know them. They enjoy the praise and worship, and the sermon, but when the service is over they are gone. Some of these people might make an occasional commitment to do a task if asked, but they have no intention of getting deeply involved. For them, a covenant relationship is out of the question.


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