Questions like this may bring up many quick positive responses. For me, I think of my parents or my wife for example. But the truth of the matter is that they may not be able to finish things or make them turn out as expected because they are only human. Things could happen beyond their control, like sickness or death – and, well, the task will remain in an unfinished state. As much as I expect them to keep their word, they are not all powerful. They have limitations.
This week’s theme for our series in Hebrews is Today…We Hope. When I think of the word hope in the English language it makes me think of dreaming or wishing something would go a certain way. When I was a kid I hoped that I would become a professional baseball player or at least a cowboy. As I got a bit older I hoped I studied enough for my geometry test or I hoped I would sit next to Shannon Erickson while I took that geometry test. Now I hope I don’t pull a muscle when I get up from dinner.
This type of hoping is not much more than wishful thinking or maybe trying to make things go my way with a limited amount of power over the actual results. We can all relate to this type of hope, but this isn’t what our text in Hebrews 6:19 is talking about.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
When God uses the Greek word translated hope to describe our relationship with Him, it directs us to a positive, encouraging and wonderful reality. To place our hope in God’s love and work is to place our confidence in an unshakable reality. Nothing is more absolute than the promises and attributes of God Almighty. He will not change and nothing can thwart Him from completing what He said He was going to accomplish.
Jesus put the finishing exclamation mark on the sentence of His plan when He rose from the dead. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, He declared to us that not only was He willing to die for us but He also possessed the authority to conquer anything that could try to remove His love from us. Jesus asked his disciples and us in the Gospels to trust Him with our lives. His disciples did that, but even they thought it was the end of Him as He died on the cross. But instead of being no more – Jesus rose to become forevermore! He will keep every promise every time. When we hope in Jesus our souls find their rest.
Enter at your own risk!
Beware of Dog!
If you read a sign with these words you will probably not feel that you should walk right in. These messages, in one way or another, make you feel unexpected or unwelcome. How very different these messages are than receiving an invitation in the mail or a friend walking up to you in the grocery store to give you a warm hug. I love when people make me feel like they want to be with me. In fact, I need to know that people want me in their lives. What a gift it is to be invited in!
Whether I am going to my parent’s home or picking up a cup of coffee at Holiday gas station I love being smiled at and made to feel like I am where I belong. It is also convicting for me to consider how welcoming or unwelcoming I am at times. In the busyness and demands of life, I can at times go through the motions of interacting in an uncaring way with the people God brings into my life.
One of the important qualities of God’s people should be that we are making people feel welcome. When I say that, I am in no way limiting it to the people shaking hands at the entrance of our church building before a Sunday morning worship service. I mean that as God’s people we are inviting people into our worlds, our time, our tables, our hobbies and our homes. We are expecting to bless people with a smile and a hug as we live out our days. We are consciously intentional to pour out love and hope to all the people we can, in all the ways we can, with all the time the Lord gives us.
When we live in this way we are reflecting our God. Jesus came to us and invites us to go through life with Him. This week’s theme Today… Draw Near comes from Hebrews 4:16.
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.
From God’s position of power, perfection and authority, He invites us to come to Him and receive all that we need. It is from that position of being cared for and filled up that we live. It is with the overflow of God’s peace and grace we serve the world. It is out of thankfulness that we give our lives to others. It is because we know who we are that we can love the people around us searching for the answers to life’s biggest questions.
As we draw near to God we are given the task to bring others with us. As we live confidently before our God and our neighbors; they will be loved by us as they hopefully come to believe that God’s invitation is for them as well.
Confidently in God’s Grace,
How is your hearing?
On the physical front, if you are like me, it isn’t as good as it was when I was younger. I can look back on my early years and I need to own up to the fact that I caused at least a portion of the deficiency in my auditory abilities. I didn’t take precautions that I should have with regard to chainsaws, lawnmowers, printing presses, fireworks and other extremely loud things that were a part of my daily life. I viewed ear protection as inconvenient, uncomfortable, claustrophobic and it just didn’t look good. Can any of you relate? Is there a spiritual life lesson here?
Even though my hearing is not what it once was, I am blessed to be able to hear my name spoken by my family and friends. I can wake up in the morning to the chirping of birds and the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. I can enjoy the laughter of the Bloomington Jefferson students at the table next to me at Caribou. It is nice to be able to hear!
Many of us take hearing for granted and we don’t do what we can to make sure our hearing continues. A number of people are deaf and “hearing” like me and most of you is not an option. I had a friend growing up named Lonnie and he was deaf. We spent many fun times together fishing, playing basketball and hanging out. Lonnie and I communicated in a “naturally modified” way that worked just fine. We heard each other with a little extra focus that didn’t really feel like “work” at all. With that in mind, how does God communicate with His people today?
As we continue our journey through the book of Hebrews this week, we land in the 3rd chapter. The writer of the book is calling us to listen to our God.
I have never audibly heard God speak, but I have “heard” Him speak to me many times through the Bible, the Church and the Spirit that lives within me. Therefore, the theme for this week is Today…We Hear.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t “protect” my ears well. How do we protect our “spiritual ears” so that we hear God? In Hebrews 3 we are told to not be like the Israelites at the time of Moses.
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness…
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
How do we keep our hearts tender towards God? What are activities and attitudes that assist us in hearing God in our daily lives? God is not silent – Hear Him Today!
Listening with you,
Pastor Nick Mundis