2 Corinthians 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
I’ve spent a good share of my Christian life learning about the “new covenant.” This is what I’ve learned: There’s a difference between confident and competent. Those two words are metaphors for “letters and Spirit.”
The “letter” does have power. It has the power to make you confident in what you know and that’s a good thing but not the whole story. That confidence can become a dangerous thing if you begin to believe that’s where the power of the letter lies.
The “Spirit” can use your confidence “—not of the letter but of the Spirit;” to build life-giving power into what you know. That makes you confident and “competent as ministers of a new covenant.”
The Presidential election is finally over! I suspect everyone can honestly say “that’s one for the books” and that’s true. It’s now become the reality of recorded history. Imagine future generations of high school students sitting in history class trying their best to stay awake as they are forced to study this one year in politics that kept us glued to the TV and up half the night.
Romans 13:1 is my challenge to accept another reality of an even older history that’s now the cutting edge of Plan Be.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The image of that sharp, double-edged sword makes being changed by the word of God sound so brutal…and painful. Here’s an idea to consider about how that sword might be working in you as you read.
Have you ever read a familiar part of Scripture and been surprised to find you see something new and meaningful you’d never seen before?
I think that’s the sword at work cutting up the Word of God into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces for you. Thats how it becomes the nourishment needed to reunite your soul and your spirit. That’s complete renewal that penetrates your bones, your heart and your mind. That’s God’s Plan Be.
Ephesians 5:18b-20 Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Don’t be tempted to skip right over that seemingly insignificant word “Instead.” It may surprise you to consider how important just that one word is when it becomes stand-alone Scripture. “Instead” is a word of promise that God’s options and really good advice are available.
Here’s the key. “Instead” is a very simple “word of God” with the power to separate circumstances from outcome.
“Instead” is Scripture that’s easy to memorize too! It’s not a rule or an ultimatum. It’s God’s reminder when the right choice counts, he’s provided an “Instead.”
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
• Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. KJV
Verse 14 was the designated one to read but on the way to it I read verse 4. I’ve been waiting for the neon sign from the Lord to say “this is what you should be reading every day.” I thought reading the Verse of the Day was just a good fall-back plan to avoid wasting my time while I waited. I missed the whole point! It’s not “what” I’m reading but “that” I’m reading.
Realizing that about waiting not being wasting time was a lightbulb moment but it was verse 4 that turned out to be a personal reminder. God is always working his Plan Be. Nothing is wasted. There was a period in the ’90s when it was popular to take a verse of Scripture and put it to music as a way of memorizing it. That’s how I learned verse 4 of this Psalm. I was surprised to find I could still sing the song after all this time.
It was God at work through this technique called a Mnemonic device; a memory technique to help your brain encode and recall important information…Scripture set to music.
Click to hear song:
Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
It’s interesting the Psalmist doesn’t presume to call it “my” salvation. He knows about that salvation. He remembers there was joy but that’s not his to claim right now either. There’s baggage here to be sure.
He’s been confronted with his sin of adultery. Nathan’s words have penetrated his mind. He’s finally come to understand his heart has fooled him into accepting his freedom to sin as a substitute for the support of that salvation. That changed heart prompts him to write one of his most beautiful prayers:
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Laundry! That’s what came to my mind when I read this. Remember, this blog is about finding faith in “daily” life. Laundry is a basic activity we all go through to “renew” a piece of soiled clothing and transform it into something presentable we’re happy to be seen in. Daily use takes it’s toll on laundry…and on our minds.
That’s why keeping up with laundry stains becomes a pretty good analogy for the renewing of the mind. It’s a before and after thing.
Is it just slightly soiled or badly stained?
Have you got the necessary stain treater?
Does it need pre-treating and soaking?
Does it need more treatment before going in the dryer?
Let your mind run with those few ideas…but remember this…Spiritual laundry is the mental image of your own before and after. Your proof of God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will” is that he’s changed your mind to be able to see him. You’re looking better than just presentable. You’re looking more like what he’s created you to Be.