Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Calling and The Inheritance

The letter of Hebrews is such an inspirational, moving and heart-pumping epistle. I was reading Hebrews 11 to 13 today for my devotional time, and the writer's exhortations stirred me. Very thankful to God, because this morning I just felt overwhelmed again by the next rush.

I think I've written about how I feel overwhelmed again and again. Not to say that I'm overwhelmed, but I do feel like wave after wave is breaking over me.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
Yeah, Tower Defence haha. Things like bug fixes. So I felt my confidence going down again. I think it's not so much lack of ability or strength, but my morale. But when I took time to pray in the Spirit and tell God about my situations and feelings and fears, I felt His peace settling down on my heart like a dove. Beyond all understanding, as usual. =D

So with that settled heart, I read Hebrews. "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." and "And so we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" These two promises reminded me that sometimes it's not so much about my own strengths or techniques... or even asking God to give me wisdom and understanding on how to understand the current situations. I realised then that God knows what I need most sometimes is neither wit or wisdom, but instead, courage and confidence to use what He's already given me.

Man, I felt really stoked after reading these promises. Massive morale boost! Reinforcements are here! The cavalry has arrived! Etc, etc.


Another thing that caught my eyes as I was reading aloud (you should try reading Hebrews 11 to 13 aloud - it was clearly written to be read out aloud!).

8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

The word 'inheritance' caught my eye. So checked out the NT Greek definition of 'inheritance':
1) an inheritance, property received (or to be received) by inheritance 2) what is given to one as a possession 2a) the eternal blessedness of the consummated kingdom of God which is to be expected after the visible return of Christ 2b) the share which an individual will have in that eternal blessedness

Was pondering over this word. Think perhaps we worry sometimes about what is God's calling for us... etc... but I think from what I understand so far, is that our callings are not an end in themselves... we are called to our inheritances. The New Testament is replete with mentions about inheritances and so on.

And in that same verse, the word 'called' has these meanings:
1) to call 1a) to call aloud, utter in a loud voice 1b) to invite 2) to call i.e. to name, by name 2a) to give a name to 2a1) to receive the name of, receive as a name 2a2) to give some name to one, call his name 2b) to be called i.e. to bear a name or title (among men) 2c) to salute one by name
I think it's a brilliant use of this word as it has an implicit but clear reference to Abraham's name change - the prince formerly known as Abram - done as a mark of assurance with regards to God's covenant promise.

Compare this to 'called' in Matthew 22:14 (the NIV renders it more specifically as 'invited') and 1 Corinthians 1:26 and Ephesians 1:18:
1) a calling, calling to 2) a call, invitation 2a) to a feast 2b) of the divine invitation to embrace salvation of God

After looking at the definition above, I think we're not just called to receive our inheritance too - we're also invited to come to the feast of the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride. I think from the way Jesus emphasised on the blessing of being invited... I think maybe God also wants us to remember that He didn't just call us to know our callings and purpose in life... He also called us to come enjoy Him, and enjoy life together with Him.

So we're called to at least two things I think...

But what about inheritance? I think ... all our lives here are but simply rehearsals for the REAL work that we'll get to do in heaven. Maybe what we do here on earth really echoes in eternity. That if you were, say, an obscure but faithful accountant, honest and full of integrity in all your ways... and died unknown but faithful to God... in heaven you'll get to handle true riches beyond your wildest dreams. Maybe if you were an ordinary farmer working hard on earth for the Lord... you'll get to be in charge of tending the fruit of the Tree of Life in heaven. Maybe if you were an unassuming civil servant, serving your nation and people in Jesus' name...

I don't know. It's all speculation here. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can know what God has prepared for those who love Him."

But if we do great things on earth here in His name... I guess for some of us, that's already part of our inheritance. Like the humble but courageous Japanese diplomat whom God used to save 4000 Jews. Or the unknown saints who stood up to confess Christ in front of Caesar - and in so doing, received a new kingdom that outlasted the "Eternal City".

Maybe those who love God... and are forgotten, like Lazarus the beggar, shall receive the fullness of their inheritance on the other side of eternity. Like how Lazarus the beggar received nothing less than a heavenly procession, grander than a state funeral, with angels carrying him to his Father in heaven, while the rich man just received a rich funeral on earth.

But I think all is not only on the other side of eternity. Perhaps the overflowingness of our inheritance even now is spilling forth onto earth as it is in heaven. To set the captives free. To heal the broken-hearted. To preach good news to the poor. To proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. To take the Good News to the nations. Whether saving lives or comforting the brokenhearted or giving hope to the poor:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
Even better - the building of the Church, the Bride of the Lamb, on earth. A new race of men - men who love one another as Christ has loved us. Men who are truly human.

Maybe this is just a morsel, a sneak peek, of our inheritance that is stored up for us in heaven. We are called, not only to a calling... but to an inheritance reserved for us in heaven - an inheritance that is so beautiful wonderful you can't even begin to understand it. And we shall see the face of God, like an astronaut able to take off his helmet in deep space for the first time, and see the Sun in all its full unshielded glory.

3Praised (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4[Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you,

5Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God's power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.

6[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations,

7So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed.

8Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy.

9[At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Inheritance. Such a wonderful thing. Thanks for bearing with me, but yeah, hope it encourages us who are seeking for God's calling upon their lives.

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