October 7, 2021
Jo Alison Lobertini
Tennessee Valley District
Hebrews 3:7-19 (Common English Bible)3 Therefore, brothers and sisters who are partners in the heavenly calling, think about Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 Jesus was faithful to the one who appointed him just like Moses was faithful in God’s house. 3 But he deserves greater glory than Moses in the same way that the builder of the house deserves more honor than the house itself. 4 Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant in order to affirm the things that would be spoken later. 6 But Jesus was faithful over God’s house as a Son. We are his house if we hold on to the confidence and the pride that our hope gives us.
Respond to Jesus’ voice now7 So, as the Holy Spirit says,
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 don’t have stubborn hearts
as they did in the rebellion,
on the day when they tested me in the desert.
9 That is where your ancestors challenged and tested me,
though they had seen my work for forty years.
10 So I was angry with them.
I said, “Their hearts always go off course,
and they don’t know my ways.”
11 Because of my anger I swore:
“They will never enter my rest!”[a]
12 Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God. 13 Instead, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called “today,” so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception. 14 We are partners with Christ, but only if we hold on to the confidence we had in the beginning until the end.
15 When it says,
Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts
as they did in the rebellion.[b]
16 Who was it who rebelled when they heard his voice? Wasn’t it all of those who were brought out of Egypt by Moses? 17 And with whom was God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it with the ones who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And against whom did he swear that they would never enter his rest, if not against the ones who were disobedient? 19 We see that they couldn’t enter because of their lack of faith.
DevotionSomething that always surprises me is when people in the Bible, who had direct and physical contact with the power and miracles of God, still turned away from him and fell into disbelief or denial. How could this happen? Seeing is believing, isn’t it? Over and over, this plays out, generation after generation. The author of today’s verses wants to make comparisons to a group of people who had over 40 years of divine intervention and miracles to rely on. However, they still rebelled, complained, and fell away from their faith. The people Moses led out of slavery in Egypt saw or heard about Moses’ interactions with Pharaoh, and lived through the plagues the Lord sent on Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea on dry land, their clothes never wore out, they drank water from rocks, were fed manna and quail, and they saw the glory of God, day and night, in an alternating pillar of fire and cloud. And yet…
…they had stubborn and unfaithful hearts. How then are those of us who have not had these 40 plus years of daily experiences to keep our hearts open and faithful? We are called to encourage each other every day, “as long as it’s called ‘today’” so that we stay connected with each other and with God’s love for us. We are to help each other, build each other up, and do our best to keep each other strong and confident in our faith. This does not mean we won’t struggle or have times of doubt. It means that each and every day, we need to be connecting and uplifting each other, so that not one of us is left to struggle alone. There are so many ways to accomplish this connectivity. We can pray for each other, serve each other in mission, join classes and small groups, or teach Sunday School. There are always ways to support each other.
These verses tell us this is important so that we do not “become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception.” That phrase is mind blowing. My thesaurus helps me to understand that sin deceives us into becoming numb, inattentive, oblivious, indifferent, tactless, and inconsiderate to God. Do your own substitution of these words for “insensitive” and see which ones speak to you. When I think about this, I can begin to see how faith and belief can be worn away, daily, if they aren’t built up and supported. We need each other to remain thoughtful, perceptive, searching, caring, receptive, aware, and sensitive to God. How often do we need to do this? Every day we call “today.”
PrayerDear heavenly Father, thank You for offering us love beyond what we can ever imagine and for sending Jesus to teach us about Your heavenly love. Please help us to encourage each other and to support each other daily. May we always be sensitive to your presence. Amen.
Jo Lobertini is a native east Tennessean and a member of Middlebrook Pike UMC. She attended the University of Tennessee, and is a member of the UT Wesley Foundation board. She has two adult children, 3 grandchildren, and a wonderful husband, Paul ...