Hebrews Part Two
Series: Paul’s Letters
Hebrews 3:1-6 ESV
Hebrews 3:7-11 ESV
Hebrews 4:1-7 ESV
Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
Hebrews 5:5-9 ESV
Hebrews 5:11-14 ESV
The title of today’s lesson, Heavenly Calling refers to our personal heavenly calling that every believer has on his/her life. A Heavenly Calling is how God communicates with each of us individually. I firmly believe that through our gifts we can know how God speaks to us.
I personally believe that every believer has the ability to connect to God.
Some folks have told me that God does not speak to them. I have told many people that God does speak but it may not be like what they expect. Or, they haven’t been taught how to listen. It’s also very helpful when we use our spiritual gifts to listen. Being uncertain about how to hear God is not their ‘fault’. Most of the time it means they haven’t been trained to find and use their gifts.
Often, connecting to our gifts opens doors we are not aware are there.
Hebrews 3:1-6 tells us, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”
Knowing our place in God’s house helps each of us connect to our heavenly calling.
Knowing our gifts gives us confidence in who God created us to be.
Knowing our gifts often requires we are aware of our ‘not knowing’ so we can give God time to teach us.
The importance of resting in God and listening to God plays a huge part in our awareness of how God communicates with us.
Having said that, I must explain that finding our way to resting in God is different for every person.
I find rest in God in the silence and I need silence to hear God.
That does not mean that every person must sit quietly to hear God. That’s because God can speak in myriad of ways. To an extreme extrovert it may look very different that it looks for an extreme introvert.
I fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, but because I had the blessing of working with a wonderful Spiritual Director for many years, he helped me find my way.
You can ask God to show you the way. Ask God to show you your way.
We learn from Hebrews 3:7-11, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
One really important concept to learn is to listen and believe what God tells you,
Allow me to explain.
When I was twenty years old I wanted to hear God, but when I heard something I dismissed it. I didn’t believe. I continued to pray to ask God to speak to me and help me to listen. I continued to dismiss what I heard. I’m not sure what I expected but it could be that I thought God would sound like the voice of God in the movie The Ten Commandments . Because I continued to fervently pray, God found a way to get the message to me.
When I was twenty years old an older gentleman I met in a church approached me one Sunday. I had been told that God spoke to him. Without telling him my story, he told me to trust the voice I’m hearing as the voice of God. I asked him how I’d know that. He smiled and said, “were the words something you knew or had thought before.” I thought about it and I said, “well, no”.
Then he said, “were the words wise?”
I realized they were wise words.
“So” he said with a smile, “God’s words are wise and good. They direct you. They often tell you things you do not know but have been praying about. Trust God.”
From then on, when I heard something wise that I had not thought about before but had been praying about, I trusted the words.
I’d been told that when we give God time and attention God will communicate with us.
Over the course of time I came to believe resting in God was important. I sought to learn about God’s rest. I wanted to learn and I prayed about it. God sent me people who were wise teachers. At one point I attended a church that had a school of listening prayer. It was a large church that was part of a mainstream denomination and they really listened to scripture.
In Hebrews 4:1-7 we are told, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath,‘They shall not enter my rest,’”although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
So, who enters God’s rest?
Simply put its those who believe and listen. Those who believe and seek God. And those who are obedient to God. Those who give God their time.
When I was younger I didn’t believe. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God really, it was that I wasn’t sure God would speak to me. Then, God sent me someone older and wiser who told me to trust God and believe.
We also need to remember that Jesus is the High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us, ”Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Trust God as you listen.
We learn from Hebrews 5:5-9, “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”, as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”
Finally, do you remember the older gentleman who told me to trust God? When he spoke to me he wasn’t accusing me or even warning me. He was gentle to teach me.
In Hebrews 5:11-14 we are given clear direction about receiving solid food. “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
The wise man told me I was ready to receive solid food and I need to receive what God had for me. His words were a great blessing to me and I took his words as a gift from God.
Spiritual Practice: Listen
Rest however you rest. That doesn’t mean you sit in a dark room by yourself. You may sit as the sun rises. You may be fishing. You may sit on a crowded subway. However you rest, take time to listed. Trust God who is able to communicate with you.
In God, Deborah