Sunday, May 17, 2015

Spirit Savvy Network ... Cultivating Covenant Connections

by Dale Shumaker

6. Cultivating Covenant Connections
Within bonding, loving relationships is where the power is.

A seed in the soil, a child at birth, an idea in inception, requires proper nourishment to become healthy and fruitful. As two or three agreement connections develop, a covenant connection emerges. It also needs nourished. Without cultivating this connection, the Spiritual value of it never grows up to be what it can be. It's within a covenant connection that all the superb wisdom and miraculous powers displayed by Jesus, also becomes self-evident through those who live in Spiritual connection.

What does it take for this to happen? Many times a mission, vision from God seems big, a Magnificent Mission. Although, what's remarkable is that the path of your mission includes many small, seemingly insignificant steps. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4). What will grow up to be magnificent, in many cases, starts small. And it may stay small for a while, although it is building as you may not see all that is happening in the Spiritual realm during its formative stages.

The magnificence of the mission is that small activity grows, then combines. It becomes bigger over time, gets more involved over time, and comprehensive over time. As you meet and share, don't overlook the small, obvious things you can do each day. These small acts keep multiplying in Spirit. It may be just a word you share, a gesture you give, or a smile to someone that makes the difference in a person's day.

Mission is very much about the everyday common things we do. The small acts of each day. Its magnificence is to a great degree within the common parts of the day, what seems insignificant becoming significant.

In the daily mini-encounters, where we express love, bring encouragement, live out the "agreement" aspect of the connection fertilizes and continually seeds the mission. We are like small flower seeds blowing in the wind wherever we go. The dandelion flower spreads quickly as the wind blows the tiny parachute-like seeds across a field. From these small seeds, bright yellow flowers spring up everywhere and eventually cover a field, saturating it with rich-looking yellow flowers. What is bland turns brilliant and cheery.

The agreement connection matures. A covenant connection emerges. The small, cheery things we do in our relationship with a person is the daily fertilizer enriching the connection in Spirit.

In review, the 2 or 3 agreement principle has these components. When enacted in our lives, we can expect the manifestation of God's Spirit in Power being demonstrated in what we believe and hope will happen.

The 2 or 3 Agreement Principle.
1. When just two or more people join in thought and action,
2. When they connect Spiritually, make contact in person, or through some other communication means (phone, email, internet video, etc.),
3. On behalf of Jesus and His Magnificent Mission for us...
--In a state of love that considers others more important than themselves
--Sharing in thought and ideas and respectfully considering other's thoughts, feelings and personal gift/callings
--Serving each other in the Spirit of Jesus serving others versus trying to get from others, or selfishly using others for one’s own gain.
As we blend these ingredients together,
we can expect... unexplainable power to be working on behalf of our Magnificent Mission.
This is the master formula... that creates miracle, Super-natural power to drive our mission.

When 2 or 3 in agreement mature into a covenant connection, we will see this happen. Consequently, cultivating a covenant relationship is essential. The challenge we face is from lifestyle time constraints which prevent this process from coming into full bloom.

The more this is nourished and strengthened, the mightier the evidence of it will be. The greater the impact we will see it having in our lives.

Covenant is a dynamic word. What does covenant involve? Covenant is an agreement so strong it cannot be broken. God made a covenant with mankind to never destroy the earth again by a flood. The Scriptures say God will not go back on His word when He makes a covenant promise with His people. In Romans 11, it says God's Gifts and call are irrevocable. He does not take back the gifts He has given us for completing His mission through us. In a relationship it is personal commitment binding in agreement. Jonathan had a covenant relationship with King David. His love for David was so intense he would do anything to protect David. Even die for him to protect him.

In Spirit, covenant is bonding. Look at molecules. One bonds to another to form a substance. When bonding does not take place they serve no function and are of no value. Its life comes from the bonding of two molecules. Then they bond again with another bonded element. This progression is the formation of all matter in physics and the activity of biological cells.

We see it in the weather. Water evaporates from the ground. Forms clouds. The vapor collects to form water in the clouds and comes to earth as rain.  Hydrogen, a gas, plus oxygen, a gas, when bonded form water, a tangible matter.  The same is true in Spirit. When two people bond in Spirit, what they ask for comes into being. Two people bonding in Spirit form a living water of Spirit in their lives.

Thus, Believer plus Believer, Spirit plus Spirit create a tangible result.

Although, the bond needs to be nurtured. As in any seed planted, the young plant requires nurturing. If not it becomes weak and dies, or just withers and never bears the fruit or function it is made for. In studies of biology we find vitamins and minerals strengthen the bonding process to create stronger cells. We are healthier and can do more. This is the case in a covenant relationship. As we nourish this bonding, it grows into a potent, penetrating power within everything we do.  As we nurture the relationship, the bonding produces Super-natural strength.

Our focus then? ... nurture this bonding in our relationships. Nurture and Cultivate Covenant Connections... first with your close agreement partners, then with others practicing the two or three agreement principle.

The Spiritual principle is... to the degree you develop the bond and cultivate a covenant connection with someone, is the degree you will see the Spirit of God in power at work in your life at ever increasing levels, depths, distances, and heights.

The bonding agent is the Spirit, Jesus, the Christ, who joins in where two or three come together in His Name, for His purposes. (Matthew 18, Colossians 1)

To stimulate this bond, to cultivate cemented Covenant Connections,

Do This.

Remember, small is big. Every day, think of something you can do or say to encourage your agreement partner, build their faith, so they know someone really cares about them and supports them.

The small meaningful things we do each day boosts and builds on the other. It demonstrates love, care and support. As the Apostle James said, we need to show our love by our actions. (see James 2)

Daily consider putting into practice the following with your agreement partner(s). It can be small, but thoughtful, insightful, considerate.
1. Share a Scripture. It may be something that is bringing a fresh insight of meaning to you.
2. Share a thought. It can be from a devotional you are reading, a blog, a story, or something that just popped into your mind.
3. Share some good news. When something good happens to you it encourages others as well. Your agreement partner is there to rejoice with you.
3. Pass on an idea. As you get ideas related to what your agreement partner is doing, be sure to pass them on. Do it in a way that they don't feel like you are telling them what to do, but sharing something to consider.
4. Give a gift. Giving as a kind gesture is always a relationship builder.
5. When you run across something important to the other person, get it for them, pass it on, or let them know about it.
6. Help with a project. We all have an ability in an area that can strengthen your agreement partner. Lend what you are good at to enlarge others.
7. Share something you got in prayer for the other person. So many times in prayer we get ideas, thoughts, strategies. Ideas that come to you during prayer may very well be God's voice speaking through you. Be sure to pass on thoughts you get especially when doing your devotions, in prayer, or Bible readings.
8. Put others first and do something that helps, encourages, opens doors, keeps the person going. When praying, ask God what he wants you to do in answer to a person's prayer, or needs.

The above is mostly about communication. We have tools to make this happen more than ever... phones, text, email. Stay in touch, even if it is just a minute or two at a time. The short communications done frequently several times a day are many times more effective than having longer meetings. It is a balance of the two. It is good to meet, if possible once a week, but equally important to stay in touch between meetings. And consider phone meetings, if a week gets busy and you can't meet in person.

Pray together. Share Scriptures (in person, or by phone, text, email). Prayer and the Scriptures are the two very paramount areas which build covenant relationships.
Praying and reciting Scriptures to each other incites the Spirit in your interactions. You will get ideas almost every time you do this... if not during the prayer, but shortly thereafter. Again, these thoughts may be God's ideas through you... see them as being important. And it may seem like a small thing to you, but a big thing to the other person. Always report, as soon as possible, ideas, answers, developments. As you pray, you will see more and more miracles, unusual developments that only God can do.

Take action based on your prayers. As you pray together, encourage each other to take action on the ideas and thoughts each gets when praying. Tell your agreement partner what you are doing and when, so they can continue to pray for you as you do it.  Be sure to report to each other how it went.

Short and frequent communications are vital as they infuse life into your connection.

The manner in how we interact is vital as well.  Ephesians 4 guides us on this... be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of each other. In every conversation think of the other person and what he/she is attempting to say. Seek to understand. Ask questions until you understand, and summarize back to the person what you thought you heard. Give the other person a chance to re-express it, if you didn't quite get it as the person intended. Share an example of what you heard them say. Before offering a thought or idea, make sure you give the other person ample time to express what he or she really feels, so they are communicating accurately what they think.

When we do this we enhance understanding and avoid communication breakdown, which can happen when we respond too soon to what a person is saying, without really understanding what they really meant or felt.

Jesus said to love is to give up your life so others may live. In Covenant Connections we put others first, and many times in sacrifice of our own life. When what you do is out of your way, an interruption to your life, costs you something, is a true expression of love you have for the person, this super-glues and fortifies the covenant connection.
As we sacrifice something in our life, for the benefit of someone else instead of our benefit, the strength of that love becomes an unbreakable bond. The might and magnitude of love is released.

Doing as Jesus did, to give of our life so others may have a better life, is the epitome of what covenant connection is. The utmost power of the Most High becomes visible. People were amazed at the love Jesus' Believers had for each other. Living this way in Covenant Connection, we can amaze them again.

Love reciprocates in pleasantly surprising, immeasurable ways. (see Romans 12, Luke 6, 9)

Consider This.

In Ephesians 2 it says that together we are His dwelling place, His place of existence. In the Old Testament, God was in a physical temple. Then with the advent of Jesus, The Spirit has come to live in us. We are now the temple, physical dwelling His Spirit chooses to reside in, as we allow Him to.  When we are together, in covenant relationship, we are the place that His Spirit dwells. Colossians goes on to say that Christ lives in us, both individually and together. We are truly one in Spirit.  As One, what we ask for is given.

What we see in physics when molecules bond, a material substance is formed, we see the same in Spirit. As we bond in Spirit, the invisible comes into being, material substance is formed. For this to happen, just like a plant, it needs to be cultivated, fed, and exercised regularly. How do we feed each other?

In Ephesians and Colossians, the Apostle Paul guides us in the Spiritual ingredients that build up and strengthen the Covenant Connection.

He says be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving in the same manner Christ has forgiven you. Replace your old nature with His Spirit. Do not tell lies, but the truth. Don't steal, but be productive so you can contribute to those in need. Avoid using foul or abusive language, instead let everything you say be helpful and for the good of others. Always encourage people, so your words lift them up and don't put them down. Get rid of all bitterness, anger, harsh words and slander. Be a joyful and inspiring person to be around. (see Ephesians 4)

As this is cultivated, blended into how we relate, the relationship welds into a bond that can't be severed. Faith with love is the power. This is love in action. What you set out to do will get done... only as our relationships are enriched through love, being kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of each other.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the Colossians to eliminate from our lives what destroys relationships. Live out what boosts relationships. He compares the two. Some things lurk in you that you get from the world's self-destructing practices. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality and impurities of life, lust and evil desires. Don't be greedy and crave the things of the world. Subdue anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and vulgar talk. Tell the truth, and don't make up things just to make you look good.

Instead, be a person who is kind and considerate, merciful, humble, gentle with gracious speech. Be patient with others and tolerant of another person's faults. Forgive others and above all live in love. Love is what binds us together and builds the bond that nourishes a covenant relationship. Live in peace, and settle disagreements quickly. Don't sacrifice a relationship just to win an argument and be right. It is better to win in binding a relationship, than to win in making your point (especially when something is not that important).

When we make every effort to live in peace and have a thankful spirit, it cements our connection to the Spirit and to each other. Jesus said (Matthew 5) those who bring peace will be blessed and will be called the children of God. (see Colossians 3)

As a general rule, always think the best and believe the best for the other person. Be slow to judge and quick to encourage where needed, always forgive when necessary. A big hurdle in human nature is the one where we judge a person about something too quickly. It is better to be patient, think the best, learn more and try to understand.

There are times though we may disagree with a person in some point of view. In the case of major Spiritual principles we need to make a stand. Although, in most cases it is better to show love and tolerance, not letting the difference of opinion be a cutting knife that severs a relationship. A Covenant Connection moves above this. Praying together brings the Spirit in to build a bridge over what could be a chasm. (see Romans 14 and 15)

Vigilantly protect the Oneness you have in Spirit. Guard it as Sacred. Being One in Spirit is the most Sacred act and attitude we have for Kingdom Power.  It's the heart of cultivating Covenant Connections.

"Neither natural love nor God's Divine love will remain and grow in me unless nurtured. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained through discipline." (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

Scripting the Movie.

The stories in the Bible have within them awe-inspiring storylines for movies. All the elements of a dynamic drama are there...  action, intrigue, conflict, resolution, unexpected conclusions. Many movies today are made about epic events in the Bible because of the drama and their insights to life. A few examples include:

When David was chosen to be the next king of Israel, the person closest to him was Jonathan. They made a covenant agreement between them, to always be there for the other. It is recorded that Jonathan loved David very much, even more that a man could love a woman. Their love was like a brotherhood pack. They sacrificed for the other. Jonathan gave David his clothes and military garb. When Jonathan's father, Saul the King, was trying to kill David, Jonathan warned David so he could escape. Their loyalty was so committed, they considered the other's welfare more important than their own... indeed, a true covenant relationship, a Covenant Connection. (see 1 Samuel 18)

It was said that John was the disciple that Jesus loved. Jesus was very close to John. When on the cross Jesus instructed John to take care of His mother, Mary, as if she were his own.  During Jesus' life a family asked him to come and save their child who became seriously ill and died. The crowd mocked the couple for asking Jesus to save their child, when she was already dead. The mourners were already there weeping and wailing. Jesus asked to see the child and he allowed only John, Peter and James in her room with him, along with the little girl's parents. He took the child by the hand and she opened her eyes and sat up. Here Jesus showed the significance of when two or three unite in faith. He took the disciples with Him who believed in Him the most. It was a Covenant Connection. (see Luke 8)

One time Jesus went up on a mountain. While there He was transformed into an angelic being as He met with Moses and Elijah. John, Peter and James were with him again. As Jesus' inner circle, His Covenant Connections, He shared some secrets of His Kingdom only with them. He entrusted some information of His Spiritual status to His trusted inner circle of covenant connections.  (see Matthew 17)

Covenant Connections were in the center of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples after Jesus went to heaven. As the disciples, a small group of about 120, came together united in heart and mind, the Spirit of God inundated them.  After this experience they walked around with the same Spiritual prowess as Jesus. They met together frequently, even sharing food and belongings. Sacrificing, loving, giving to others were the common practices among them. Their love was so deep-seated among each other that "what is mine is yours" was a living credo, caring for each other so that no needs existed with anyone. It was a community of Covenant Connections rooted in Spirit. With the Spirit circulating among them, they saw themselves as One. (see Acts 1, 2)

All the characteristics of a Spiritually loving community, mentioned above from Ephesians and Colossians, are our example of how to relate with each other. For it to be a living part of our lives, it takes deliberate attention with the constant encouragement, support and reminders from our agreement partners.

A Covenant Connection, starting with just one Believer bonding with another Believer, releases the power of the Holy Spirit. It's cultivated by living in His love in action, being One in Spirit with God and each other, and living out your Magnificent Mission.