HEBREWS 11 [The Message]
32-38 I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.
39-40 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.
Audio Bible: Hebrews 11
Stirred to Live Out What I Believe
This particular chapter of Hebrews has always stirred me to deeper faith and resolve to live my life for God and to please Him in all I say and do and be as effective as I can be in living a good life, serving God and serving people. It inspires me and also shakes me to my inner core.
I read this “People of God Hall of Fame” and it is a hall of people who gave their all, even their very lives for the revelation of God they received and lived out. Dwell on that for a moment. They lived and they died, “living out the revelation of God they received.”
Are You Living Out the Revelation of God You Have Received?
Are you and I, “living in God”, in union with Christ, immersed in Him, He flowing in us, in that meditative, reflective, restful place, where our hearts beat as one? Where we are restful enough, peaceful enough, to hear the heart of Jesus for us? In that place of rest, connected Spirit to spirit, are you and I being nourished by God Himself?
This very morning, my dear wife Lori and I shared the Eucharist together, “eating His flesh” and “drinking His blood” (cf John 6: 53-58), and I was struck praying out loud those words, “eating” and “drinking” and “nourishing” as I worshiped God and “feasted” on Jesus. I realized that my union with Jesus is complete, and the only variation is in me. I realized this morning that I can limit the impact of Jesus. I can limit the words of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the efficacious work of his cross and redemption, and be in a state of “spiritual sleep walking” rather than “fully awakened in Christ”. THIS is what shook me up.
This is what caused me to have deeper reflection and self-examination. This is what some of the Church’s greatest mystics taught in their teaching on the disciplines and practices. This is all part of the examen of Ignatius of Loyala. Is my heart waxing cold? Why would I be “indifferent”?
The History of the Hebrew People & The Church is Replete With People Who Awoke
You can look at the history of our faith, and you will find those people, in they particular epoch in which they lived, that they experienced “awakening” and were deeply “shaken” and so shaken they were, that their intimate life with God was not only affected, but was the catalyst for the actions they took upon themselves to be about.
The inner transformation that came from that awakening drove them to deeper intimacy and union with God, so much so that many “burned” deep within. Journals, and writings from these periods of history describe that deep love for God and a desire and compulsion to do great exploits for Him, and to see the Kingdom of God manifest in the hearts of people, that in turn transformed their communities and nations. You know of these people, including all the once in this Chapter 11 of Hebrews, from Abraham through Moses, to David through all the prophets, to John the Baptist, all the apostles, and to our own day.
The Faith Hall of Fame in the New Jerusalem, is filled with martyrs of the faith, and people who gave themselves and all they had to serve God faithfully. Think of all the men and women of God who have served in the last 2000 years, from the Irish monks under the leadership of Patrick, who evangelized Europe in the Dark Ages, Augustine of Hippo, to the monastics of the Middle Ages, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Avilla, John of the Cross, Martin Luther, Ignatius Loyala, all the way to our own time. Shakers and movers and transformers and reformers. Each had a deep personal encounter with God that was nurtured through ongoing intimacy and union with Christ, and that fueled their actions and the ministries that broke out and released the Kingdom in the earth.
So this morning, in that shaking I am reminded of another portion of Scripture from Hebrews that speaks of “being shaken”.
HEBREWS 12 [The Message]
25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!
Today I am praying for you and for myself, to be awakened to the union we have with Christ Jesus. I am praying that I be more aware and conscious of this union, this restful state I have in Him, and that I enter a deeper place of rest, and listen to His voice and by His Spirit, move and do what He asks of me to be and do. I want to hear and I want to obey, out of a heart that is filled with gratitude, and a heart that out of longing desires to bring joy to my Savior, and being delight to His heart. I am so aware at this moment that He will shake all that can be shaken. All that will remain is what is of Him.
I do not want to be found wanting. I do not want to be found “asleep in the light”. I want to hear my Lord say, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” not just on that final day, but at the end of each day, as I reflect and meditate of the kind of day I have lived.
How about you?