distributed according to His will

God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. [Hebrews 2:2,4 NET]

The subject of miracles and spiritual gifts is one that has been debated for many years. Some believe that such things ceased when the canon of scripture was completed. Others see miracles in the ordinary events of life like the birth of a baby. Most of us pray for them when we are in impossible times.

My views on these things have changed over the years. I still believe in miracles but think they are rare. In contrast I do not think that spiritual gifts are all that rare. Especially if we are open to to seeing such gifts with new eyes. I have often sensed the Holy Spirit working in the oddest ways.

I have felt the presence of God. That oneness with Him has changed me. It has given me eyes of compassion and words of encouragement. I have felt my heart break for a friend in marital troubles or one with a cancer diagnosis. These transformative things seem to be a part of his will for me.

Forgive me Lord for wanting what you give more than what you are. Fill me afresh.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.

an Antidote for Spiritual Drifting

We must give our full attention to what we were told, so that we won’t drift away. [Hebrews 2:1 CEV]

The spiritual walk is an intentional effort. It requires our full attention and engagement. No one has ever drifted to their workplace or arrived by accident to their desired destination. The spiritual life is a disciplined journey. Consider what the apostle Paul writes to Timothy:
"discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things ... for the present life and also for the life to come."
Spiritual disciple does to our heart what physical training does to the body. By taking in good things we nourish our heart. By doing good things we exercise our heart. As in the physical these things take time and effort. No one grows or gets strong over night. It is why need to be spiritually disciplined.

Help us Lord to develop disciplines that grow and strengthen our inner being.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.

the Prostrating posture of Worship

“Let all God’s angels worship him.” [Hebrews 1:6 NIV]

Worship is a fascinating concept. In modern times the concept has become one of song, jubilation and praising with our voices. In this verse the Greek word proskynéō is rendered 'worship' by most translators. It can also be translated: "to kiss the ground when prostrating before a superior".

Mostly, I think that we have lost the concept of prostrating ourselves before God. My sense is that the word conveys meanings like submission and humility. There is a reverential posture that is communicated when we read about someone prostrating before God. There is also a sense of prayer in it.

That said, I think that the word may communicate too much of a physical perspective. Many who prostrate the body have not done so with their heart. In truth worship is always always always a matter of the heart. Prostrating our heart to His. Bowing our will to His. Worship is so much more than music.

Lord. We come. We bow. Let your kingdom come in us. Let your will be done.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.

a Creator of creators

In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth [Hebrews 1:10 NIV]

What comes to your mind when you hear the word foundation? I think of a house being built. Everything rests on the foundation. Jesus speaks of this idea when he compares building our lives on either the rock of his words or on the shifting sands of own ways. The foundation is the most important part of a structure.

Yet the foundation is not the whole thing. Isn't it interesting that God lays a foundation and we build on it? This speaks to me of a divine imagination. Surely God could have done more than lay the building blocks of creation. Yet he chose to involve us in the creation of offspring and other parts of his earth.

That said, this may not resonate with some who imagine God to be doing more than building foundations. Some imagine God to be in control of every part of the building process. These do not see the wonder of creation that I do. I mean really, is it not wonderful to see God as a Creator of creators.

I want to build on divine foundations Lord. Inspire me to create new things.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.

Do angels serve because they love?

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? [Hebrews 1:7,14 NIV]

What goes through your mind when you hear the word angel? Perhaps you think of images from a movie or from the bible? Have you ever considered that angels can take on different forms? The word angel can also be translated messenger. It seems logical that such messengers could appear in human form.

Is it not interesting that angels are referred to as servants? Not surprising to me that these spiritual beings serve God. Yet the idea that they serve believers is quite wonderful. All things seem to be created to serve. In some sense service is a thread that runs through all of creation. Serving is love in action.

A thought comes to me that I have never had before. I wonder if the angels serve because they love? Are there angels who do what they do because they love us? Is their ministry to us simply an expression of their love? In serving are they not providing us with a heavenly example of what it means to love? I think so.

Teach us Lord to connect the dots between loving and serving.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.

You are my Son

For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus:
     “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.”  [Hebrews 1:5 NLT]

I love what theologian John Gill says about this verse: "Christ is the Son of God, not by Creation, nor by adoption, nor by office, but by nature". Unlike the angels, Jesus existed before anything was created. He laid aside such an existence when he was born. Even in that he showed us the humble nature of God.

The gospel accounts testify of this nature. With each step he took. With every word he spoke. Jesus testified of the true nature of his Father. When tested by religious experts he showed a heavenly wisdom. He taught us the nature of love as he embraced the leper and healed the sick. He was God incarnate.

And with his last breaths he revealed the true nature of God. He forgave. He encouraged. And he endured. He never gave up. He revealed to us what it is like to be God's child. So with this in mind, I invite you to live fully into your inheritance. To live in such a way that God's nature is revealed to others.

Teach us Lord to walk in such a way that your nature is manifested in our lives.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.

Elevated above the Angels

This Son of God is elevated as far above the heavenly messengers as His holy name is
elevated above theirs. [Hebrews 1:4 VOICE]

The One who the angels proclaimed is greater than the angels. This is the central focus of the remainder of this chapter. In the following verses the writer alludes to the idea that the Son is God himself. It is in this context that the Son is greater. In a sense only the Creator can ever be greater than the created.

In truth there are but two distinctions: Creator and created. Yet humans tend to rank our existence based on lineage or rank. It seems to be important to some to feel superior to others. This is temporal thinking. It does not recognize the common fate of all things. Death levels the playing field. It comes to each being.

So the question is this. Will we, the created, accept the rule of the Creator or will we rebuff his reign? Will we acknowledge His holy name or will we proclaim our names above his? It is a simple concept but one that is difficult to live out. We often forget who we are. We forget that the Creator has created us to love.

Remind us again Lord that we are wonderfully made to love and serve you and your creation.

... this devotion is part of a series about the book of Hebrews.