Week 41 The New Covenant and the Gift of the Holy Spirit

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 41

Scripture Readings: Hebrews 8-10

Key Scripture Verses: Hebrews 10:15-16 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts and I will write them on their minds.’”

Just today in Sunday school my class was discussing the beginning of the book of Hebrews and how the book starts off saying that God had historically spoken to the Jews through the prophets, and that he spoke again through Jesus who was God incarnate. We discussed how Hebrews establishes the superiority of Jesus over all others, including angels, and that He equates equally with God the Father and how Jesus brought a new covenant.

 In bringing a new covenant to the people, Jesus replaced the law which was the first covenant. No longer did the people have to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins, because Jesus was the last and final blood sacrifice. And because of his grace and forgiveness for sin, no more blood sacrifices were necessary—he paid it all on the cross.

At Pentecost when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to descend upon his disciples, he established a new way for people to know God and communicate with him.

Up until then, the Jews were able to know God through his creation, through prayer, through the scriptures and his law which was designed to protect them and keep them holy until the time came for the Messiah to come.

Today, we know and understand God through nature, through prayer, through his word, and through the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent so that He could always be with us and could be everywhere and with all who love him. Through the Holy Spirit, God has placed his will and knowledge of himself in the hearts of those who have accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus.

My husband Paul preached a sermon today about spiritual 20/20 vision and he cited verses from John 14 which speak of the Holy Spirit. John 14:17 says that “the world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” Then Jesus says (verse 19), “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.”

The Holy Spirit is within us, within our conscience, within our thoughts when we are in alignment with Jesus through our prayers and reading his word. His will is in our hearts and in our minds, as our scripture reading says.

To know the will of God, we ask. We ask. We pray. We read the scriptures and follow his commands. And we open our hearts and minds to listen to his soft small voice gently moving our conscience. If we truly seek the truth, we will find it.

May we have open minds to receive the answers to our prayers, to hear your voice, to heed your commands and follow you more nearly. Amen.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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