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God Interrupts Our Plans to Enact His Own

Hebrews Series Message One


I'm a planner. Anyone else?


I like to think through my days. What's the plan? What are the goals? How great is it going to feel when everything goes my way?


There are times we can plan out everything perfectly. Check off all the desires. Make the expectations clear. Do our part.


...and then someone else comes along and ruins it all in a breath.


From running late to prom because the hairdresser overbooked herself to friends changing the plan on what movie to see at a moment we don't have access to our phones, we all experience this.


And if we're on our best behavior, then there are times where we can plaster on the smile or let it roll off because we know we shouldn't feel as upset as we do.


But if you're anything like me, this is one of the hardest moments to move past. I know in my head that I'm overreacting. I know in my head that nothing significant has changed and that I need to move forward. In countless situations I adapt with no problem! So why at other times do I feel my body freezing up? Why do I feel my mind spinning as it tries to comprehend the dominos that are falling because of one change in the day? What has caused my equilibrium to shift so significantly? Why can I not move on in this moment?


One season in my life strikes me as the time in which things went most awry despite all of my careful planning.


I worked at a summer camp in college (would recommend), and after my first summer on staff, I was asked to take over working with the directors to develop a four-week discipleship program at the camp. I spent a year meeting with them, workshopping ideas over baskets of chips and salsa. We talked through ideas and problem solved imaginary issues. I fought for a vision I felt compelled by and ultimately wrote the curriculum the program used.


I spent a year of my life going all-in with this program. My heart, my mind, my energy. I was personally invested.


But no amount of investment could change the fact I was only 20 at the time, and insurance mandated that drivers of camp vehicles had to be 21 or older. So began the search for a 21+ male counterpart to run the program with and drive the van of teenagers on outings and expeditions.


Like a girl dreaming of superhero, I then spent six months thinking through my ideal partner for this program. I hope for someone deeply spiritually mature, a good teacher, a clear communicator, a godly leader, someone who comes up with ideas to better the plans we had and make this program awesome.


I was sure that was not too much to ask.


Then one snowy afternoon in early January, I get the text from my boss.


“We found the guy! He was a missionary kid growing up, he’s a Christian Ministry major, he’s 21, he’s gonna be awesome. Here's his phone number so y'all can talk about camp and work through the curriculum.”


I am thrilled! This is the guy! And not two minutes later, my phone buzzes again.


It's the guy! He's telling me how excited he is to work at Camp and asking me if I need anything from him in preparation for the summer.


We are off to a great start.


"Yes!" I tell him. "Let me send you the curriculum so you can read it and be prepared to teach. I'm also open to feedback on it."


and he says...


Nothing.


No feedback. No communication.


Weird. But whatever. College is hard. We will work hard through orientation to get prepared and be sure we are on the same page.


Summer comes. We get to Camp, and he rolls up and pops out of the car with a goatee and wearing a beanie.


Sooooooo not what I was expecting. But whatever.


Then I'm trying to chat with him and get to know him since we’re gonna be working together all summer. And he’s like…


Silent.


I’m trying to be nice but internally I'm wondering, “Have you ever had a conversation in your life?”


Then I ask if he read through our curriculum since he’s gonna be teaching half of it. And he’s like...


“No.”


This is where my eye begins to twitch. A perfectly crafted plan that's about to come crashing down makes its first creaks, suggesting its instability.


He then brands a letter journal with a custom brander... upside down.


And he pays no attention to me when I'm walking him through our schedules and responsibilities.


And any time it's his day to teach he looks at my like there's an alien growing out of my head.


And as our students asked spiritual questions it became clear he didn’t have any idea what he was talking about.


We argued all the time. 


I'm feeling like I have done absolutely everything in my power to communicate the vision and goals of this program, and it just hits a wall and falls to the floor because he doesn’t care. He’s here to have fun.


We butted heads like a Hallmark movie, and I was ready for him not to get his job back the next summer because I was coming back for the same role and did not want to work with him again. 


After everything I had poured in to the program, that was my summer! Disaster. Frustration. Being undermined by someone who didn't care.


This program was my baby, and his poor performance was going to come back to reflect on me which felt so unfair. 


It was not what I wanted. It was not what I planned. 


We're starting a five part study in Hebrews, and at this moment in history when this book opens, the Hebrews (the Jewish Christians) are feeling that same way. 


They are experiencing firsthand that sometimes God interrupts our plans to enact His own.


Because they had a plan for the Messiah, and Jesus was not it.


This tension, frustration, and disappointment I’m feeling at Camp when my idea of the perfect partner and the perfect summer goes out the window day one—that’s the feeling the Jewish Christians are having.


We’ve heard of the Old Testament and the Old Covenant, and in that system, God chose a specific people: the Israelites. In order for the Israelites to be in relationship with God, they had to obey the Mosaic Law—that’s just the law of God that was communicated to Moses at Mount Sinai. When they broke the law, they had to have priests go into the tabernacle—which was the dwelling place of God—and offer sacrifices to pay for their sins. 


This went on for half of human history. For half of all the time people have been on the planet, this is what God required from people who wanted to be in relationship with Him. When God needed to communicate, He would appear in a vision or send a word to a prophet who would then proclaim it. 


Hundreds of years into this process, the Jews are awaiting the promised Messiah. They think He’s gonna be a political ruler. He’s going to come in with bells and whistles and popularity and trumpets and bring freedom! They’ve never fathomed that God would choose a different plan. They’ve got a great idea about how their freedom will be brought about and about what their Messiah is going to be like. 


But. Then. Comes. Jesus.


Jesus was unexpected. 


So the author of Hebrews writes to call out these differences and celebrate them--because while they were married to their idea of the Messiah, Jesus was far better than anything they had ever before experienced.


They are entrenched in hundreds of years of ritual and expectation, and Jesus throws that out the window.


The religious leaders had good intentions, right? They aimed to uphold the Law in preparation for the Messiah.


But.


They became so corrupted by their own expectations that they rejected the very Messiah they were preparing for. 


How easy is it for us to do the same thing?


We set an expectation and act according to whether or not our plan is what ends up happening.


The writer of Hebrews starts there. He needs to show the Jewish Christians how Jesus is superior to everything they have previously known. And he starts like this: 


“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave Him is greater than their names.”

Hebrews 1:1-4


These are four verses in our Bibles, but it’s one long sentence in Greek. It’s a cohesive idea and description of Jesus with the main point being that in Jesus, God has given a final word and fulfilled what He set out to fulfill with the sacrificial system.


Even as we look at verse one, the writer is emphasizing Jesus’ role as communicator.

 

Before Jesus, God had used prophets (and angels) to communicate with His people. They had rulers like kings and judges. These revelations came sporadically and over a long period of time. This was what the Israelites had known throughout their history.


At this time, the last word from a prophet of God was 400 years ago. After an entire history of sporadic messages, God seemed to stop talking to them.


So they’re waiting for the next prophet, and they are following the laws of old. They are adding extra laws because God is being silent and they want to be extra good.


Then. Came. Jesus.


That really threw them off. He didn’t talk like a prophet. He confused them because He wasn’t what they thought a prophet would be like, but He also was not what they expected of their Messiah!


And not only that, but he’s changing the story!


Now we have a single spokesperson who is not just relaying the Word of God but who is God Himself. He speaks with authority, and He speaks with finality. He came with the redemption message that we needed and delivered it once and for all. Rather than sending the created, God came as the Creator in human flesh.


I'm going to re-read verse 3:


"The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven."


The very character of God.


This word character--in Greek, it conveys the idea of representation. This would be like a stamp that is pressed into coins to give them their image. 


Jesus is literally the exact impression, the true embodiment of God as He really is. We could not get a picture closer to who God is than what we see in Jesus. 


But that's not the only place the Hebrews got caught up. Hundreds of years of sacrifice to receive forgiveness of sins and now the new guy says, "Nah, you're good," and that's that?


Sacrifice was how they knew they were forgiven, how they knew they were doing the right thing.


Now they have to just take someone’s word for it? That they aren’t even sure is a prophet? Definitely not thinking He’s the Messiah?


But that’s the gospel message that the author is trying to make clear here. Jesus came to speak the Word of God as God Himself and completed what was necessary all along for the forgiveness of sins. Only when He had accomplished that did He return to heaven.


Verse four:


“This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave Him is greater than their names.”


In other words, the author is saying, “You Hebrews don’t have to cling to the sacrificial system. You don’t need the law anymore. God has inaugurated a new plan—a new covenant—and it is better and superior to and more complete than anything we have seen yet."


He’s like, “I know you guys had this great idea of the Messiah and how He would come and all, but that isn’t what happened, and what happened is better than all we could have dreamed! Don’t miss it!”


Because God interrupted their plan for the Messiah and enacted His own, we get to be a part of that redemption story.


The fact that you pursuing a relationship with God through Jesus is a relationship thousands of years in the making. God orchestrated a system of redemption for the Israelites, and when Jesus came He looped us into that story.


The guy I worked with that summer who I thought had ruined all my plans and my reputation and my program?


His name was Caleb Welborn. 


I had one idea. God had another. 


God interrupted my plans to enact His own.


And I ended up with a relationship far beyond what I could’ve imagined.


We have our plans and we want them to go our own way. But what if I had gotten what I wanted that summer?


What if Caleb had been fired and I had never seen him again and I got a new coworker?


That would’ve been my perfect plan. But then I would’ve missed what God’s plan for me was.


And my fear is that we would be so consumed with wanting to see our own plans work out that we would miss or reject God’s plan. That we would have an idea so strong that when God brings about His plan, we don’t even recognize it.


So here’s what we’ve gotta do: It’s so clear in Hebrews 2:1:


“So we must listen carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”


I want you to consider these things:


  • What plans in your life might God need to interrupt?

  • How might you respond to the idea that God wants something different for you than what you currently want for yourself?


This verse talks about drifting away, but I think we feel stagnant more often than we feel like we’re drifting away. We don’t feel like we’re rebelling against God. Maybe we aren’t rejecting or turning from God explicitly.


But drifting away in this passage means more than active denial and rejection of the gospel. 


Think of a river. It just flows. The water is not being strategic about where it’s headed and at what pace and with what current. It follows the law of gravity. It’s impacted by the quantity of rain and snow. It literally goes with the flow. 


This verse is describing us like the river.


I cannot convince you to follow Jesus. I don’t need to; that’s not my job. I am supposed to tell you what the truth is and teach you how to be a disciple, but it is the Holy Spirit’s job to transform you. 


So I want to ask you this:


Are you willing to let the Holy Spirit step in and do an internal work of transformation? Or are you so consumed with your ideas that you’re holding your plans with closed fists? 


Here’s what I mean:


Sometimes we become so caught up in our plans because they seem good to us. They might even be “godly” plans, but we are looking so narrowly for the exact representation of our vision that when God’s plans come they slip right by us. 


It feels difficult to comprehend that God might want to do something different than what we want because of how good our plan is.


But.


God loves you enough to ruin your plans sometimes.


God is always willing to step in for you.


1 comentário


Judy Gray
Judy Gray
20 de jan.

I feel blessed to have watched that relationship develop! God bless and keep writing.

Curtir
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