Saturday, March 5, 2016

A New Openness to God

A New Openness to God                                                      3/6/16

Hebrews 10:19-39


F-1.0404 Openness

In Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all creation, the Church seeks a new openness to God’s mission in the world. In Christ, the triune God tends the least among us, suffers the curse of human sinfulness, raises up a new humanity, and promises a new future for all creation. In Christ, Church members share with all humanity the realities of creatureliness, sinfulness, brokenness, and suffering, as well as the future toward which God is drawing them. The mission of God pertains not only to the Church but also to people everywhere and to all creation. As it participates in God’s mission, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) seeks:

a new openness to the sovereign activity of God in the Church and in the world, to a more radical obedience to Christ, and to a more joyous celebration in worship and work;

a new openness in its own membership, becoming in fact as well as in faith a community of women and men of all ages, races, ethnicities, and worldly conditions, made one in Christ by the power of the Spirit, as a visible sign of the new humanity;

a new openness to see both the possibilities and perils of its institutional forms in order to ensure the faithfulness and usefulness of these forms to God’s activity in the world; and

a new openness to God’s continuing reformation of the Church ecumenical, that it might be more effective in its mission.


Are you Open to God?  Today, we talk about a new openness to God.

OPEN Definition

Adjective   Allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space, not closed or blocked up

exposed to the air or to view; not covered.


Antonym:   closed, shut


Verb   move or adjust (a door or window) so as to leave a space allowing access and view.

In our relationship with God, the definition of “open” is very helpful:

Do we allow God access into our hearts and souls?  (He already has it, for the record, Psalm 139 teaches us this…but from a human perspective). 

Have we closed God off from any part of our existence?  Heart, mind, soul, strength, words, thoughts, deeds?

Have we lived with an understanding that everything we are is clear and known by God?  Nothing is hidden.  Nothing is covered up.  The Spirit of God can transform the heart that is exposed before God.

When open is used as a verb:  Do we move our hearts and minds toward God, so that God can help us see more clearly?  Do we let our perspectives be opened to how God looks at the world, existence and life?

The Book of Order calls for a new openness to God.  It calls us to make sure we are always letting God have first place in our lives.  Not second, not third, not last or left over.  First.  It calls us to display openness to the Lord in four specific ways:
·       Openness in our relationship with God.

·       Openness to how we see the community of faith

·       Openness to looking at how we structure ourselves for effectiveness in God’s kingdom

·       Openness in how we relate to God’s work throughout his Church


Are you closed?  Or are you open?  What is the Holy Spirit saying to you in this moment?  Closed?  Open?

Is our spiritual life reflected more in the Pharisee, or the tax collector?  Before God’s presence, do you feel entitled or self reliant?  Or humble?

 The Letter to the Hebrews gives us Biblical thought on Openness to God

 What does Being Open to God Mean?  Vs 19-25

 What is the Alternative to Being Open?  Vs 26-31

 Recalling when we have been open to God in our past.  Vs 32-39

What Does Being Open to God mean?  Vs 19-25

Jesus has opened the door for you and I to have a right relationship with God the Father.  The imagery from Israel’s Sacrificial system is drawn upon here.   In the temple, the curtain separated people from the Most Holy Place where God dwelt. The high priest would offer the animal sacrifice, whose blood was an atonement for the sins of the people..  Some of the blood is sprinkled throughout the temple furniture to remind all of the cost of sin.  Water was always present to wash and make clean after the sacrifice.

Christianity teaches us that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice for our sins.  It is the blood of Christ that allows us into the Holy Place to meet God.  Jesus bodily sacrifice tears down the wall of separation that distanced humanity from God.  Jesus is the priest, who rather than offering a sacrifice of an animal, offers himself. Jesus, our high priest then speaks on our behalf before God. Our hearts are cleansed by the sprinkled blood, and allow us to be pure, washed clean.

The imagery of Christ as sacrifice shows us the open door to the Lord.  Being open is being in a right relationship with God.  Our life is rooted in Jesus Christ.  He is the Lord.  He is our Savior.  No one else, including ourselves, can rescue us from the stain of our sins.  In Christ, we can have confidence, that Jesus has opened the way. We can live life sincerely, and with assurance from God.  In Christ we can draw near, we don’t have to be distant anymore.  In Christ, we can have hope, and hold onto that hope without swerving or wavering.  In Christ, we can encourage our family of faith.  In Christ, we should never give up on one another, and not give up the practice of being together. 

Is your spiritual life confident in what Scripture says Jesus did?  Is your life sincere, assured because of God’s promises?  Are you open, or closed?  Do you have hope?  Do you encourage one another?  If you are open to God, these descriptions should be true of you.

What is the Alternative to Being Open?
Closed.  Verses 26-31 provide us with caution.  The sacrifice that Jesus made is the utmost serious and important event.  And to toss it out, or disregard its meaning for our lives has a costly consequence to our faith.  The author tells us if we deliberately keep on sinning and ignoring God after we have claimed Christ as Lord, that “no sacrifice for sins is left”.  May these not be haunting words for us:  Do not trample on Jesus Christ.  Do not treat as unholy that most holy sacrifice of Jesus.  Do not insult the spirit of grace.  It will be a terrible thing for you if you do.   The paragraph in Hebrews is not written to unbelievers, but believers who have discarded Christ. 

Recalling when we were open.  Vs 32-39
Presumably, there have been times when you’ve felt open to God, that you’ve felt close because you walked with the Lord.  Don’t forget those times.  What was it about those seasons in your life that was different?  Has it been so long that you can’t remember?  Maybe you’ve never been open to God?  Today, is the day that can change.  The righteous shall live by faith.  And faith doesn’t shrink back.  God takes no pleasure when your faith shrinks back and is destroyed.  He takes pleasure in those who have faith, and rewards them with salvation. 

If you can’t remember a time when you were open to God, and you want to be, then let today be the first day. Find out today what God’s will is, do it today, and then do it again tomorrow.  And then do it again the day after that.  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what God has promised.”

 Are you closed?  Or are you open?


Matthew 7:21, Mark 3:35, John 6:40,  John 7:17, Acts 20:27, Acts 22:14

Romans 1:10, Romans 8:27, Romans 9:19, Romans 12:2, II Corinthians 8:5

Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 5:17, Ephesians 6:6, Colossians 1:9, Colossians 4:12, I Thessalonians 4:3-5, Hebrews 2:4, Hebrews 10:36, James 4:15,

I Peter 2:15,I Peter 4:2,I John 2:17


As well as when Paul references this phrase in his introductions:

I Corinthians 1:1, II Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, II Timothy 1:1



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