Wednesday 30 April, 2014

Hewbrews 10:26-31

26 What if we keep sinning on purpose? What if we do it even after we know the truth? Then there is no offering for our sins. 27 All we can do is to wait in fear for God to judge. His blazing fire will burn up his enemies. 28 Anyone who did not obey the law of Moses died without mercy if there were two or three witnesses. 29 What should be done to anyone who has hated the Son of God or has said no to him? What should be done to a person who treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that makes him holy? What should be done to someone who has made fun of the Holy Spirit who brings God’s grace? Don’t you think people like that should be punished more than anyone else? 30 We know the One who said, “I am the One who judges people. I will pay them back.” (Deuteronomy 32:35) Scripture also says, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 135:14) 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

What a stern warning believers are given in this passage of Scripture.  If you’ve tasted the forgiveness and grace of God through Jesus and continue to deliberately sin you will face the judgement of God.  There is no nice way of putting this truth.  Jesus sacrificial death on the cross for your sins will be rendered useless if you continue to deliberately sin.  God speaks about a pay back for this ongoing deliberate sinning.

I am reminded not to take Jesus sacrificial death on the cross for my sins lightly.  If I continue to sin and do life my way repeatedly it’s like a slap in the face to God. It’s making a mockery of the Christian faith basically.  True repentance requires a change in behaviour and lifestyle.  It is important to note that this passage is dealing with believers who know they are doing the wrong thing over and over again. Sin is serious.  So serious that Jesus was put to death for the sins of all mankind.  If your conscience is pricked by a particular action or it doesn’t sit right or you know something is just plain wrong then seek God’s forgiveness and help to change.  By ongoing deliberate sinning we risk searing our conscience to the point where we no longer think something is wrong when it is.  God does not want to judge us that’s why he warns us.

Dear God, help me to never take for granted Jesus death on the cross for my sins.  Help me to keep an honest and up to date account with you in relation to my sin.  Amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

 

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Tuesday 29 April, 2014

Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Brothers and sisters, we are not afraid to enter the Most Holy Room. We enter boldly because of the blood of Jesus. 20 His way is new because he lives. It has been opened for us through the curtain. I’m talking about his body. 21 We also have a great priest over the house of God. 22 So let us come near to God with an honest and true heart. Let us come near with a faith that is sure and strong. Our hearts have been sprinkled. Our minds have been cleansed from a sense of guilt. Our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have. The One who promised is faithful. 24 Let us consider how we can stir up one another to love. Let us help one another to do good works. 25 Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope. Let us do it all the more as you see the day coming when Christ will return.

In the Old Testament, Israel and the priests could not enter the most holy place. Only the high priest can get into the Most Holy Place once a year and never without the shedding of blood for himself and the sins of people.

After Jesus died on the cross for our sin, we can now have the confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus. A new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.

The life of a new way to the most holy place is like:

  1. Draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance of faith
  2. Hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful
  3. Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds
  4. Not giving up meeting together
  5. But encouraging one another

The challenge of this passage to me is:

  1. Do I fully understand the cost of the new way to the most holy place?
  2. Do I live in a new way (with Jesus) or still on my own way?

Dear Lord, thank you for your love — dying on the cross for my sin. You bring me a new life with hope. Draw me close to you as I walk with you day by day. Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Monday 28 April, 2014

Hebrews 10:11-18

11 Day after day every priest stands and does his special duties. He offers the same sacrifices again and again. But they can never take away sins. 12 Jesus our priest offered one sacrifice for sins for all time. Then he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time, he waits for his enemies to be put under his control. 14 By that one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The Holy Spirit also gives witness to us about this. First he says, 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts. I will write my laws on their minds.” (Jeremiah 31:33) 17 Then he adds, “I will not remember their sins anymore. I will not remember the evil things they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:34) 18 Where those have been forgiven, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Imagine what life was like under the old system of dealing with sin. I do something wrong, someone tells me about it, I feel guilty because I want to be right with God, I get a lamb or goat for my sacrifice and take it to my Priest. He slaughters the animal. I feel free for a moment – maybe a day or two. I sin again. The whole process starts over.

This Easter I want to think deeper about what Jesus did on the cross and how my response to Him should change. I do something wrong and feel guilty. I come before God empty handed – just humbly confessing my sin because I long to be right with Him. He looks at the cross and sees the debt is payed by Jesus. ‘You’re free’ He says. But then He goes and gives me His Holy Spirit. He washes me and makes me perfect v14.  He fills my heart and mind with His word so I know how He wants me to live v16.  He forgives my sins – plural, ie all of them, past, present and future v17. He says no more sacrifices are required. You are clean!

Dear Heavenly Father, I am in awe of the immeasurable love You have for me.  By sending Jesus to die as a sacrifice our sin I am completely clean, guilt free. I can enjoy an unbroken friendship with you for all eternity starting from today. Thank you with all my heart. Amen

Written by Boudy vanNoppen

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    It has always amazed me the contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. This contrast is reflected in our Old and New testaments of the Bible.
    The ‘old’ is highly technical and very complex with many, many rules and regulations. The ‘new’ is highly relational. There is only one rule. Jesus pays for the consequences of my stupidity.
    If properly understood there is only one response. ‘Gratitude’.

    Thanks Boudy, I always enjoy your observations!

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Sunday 27 April, 2014

Hebrews 10:1-10

10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming. It is not the real things themselves. The same sacrifices have to be offered over and over again. They must be offered year after year. That’s why the law can never make perfect those who come near to worship. 2 If it could, wouldn’t the sacrifices have stopped being offered? The worshipers would have been made clean once and for all time. They would not have felt guilty for their sins anymore. 3 But those offerings remind people of their sins every year. 4 It isn’t possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 So when Christ came into the world, he said, “You didn’t want sacrifices and offerings. Instead, you prepared a body for me. 6 You weren’t pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am. It is written about me in the scroll. God, I have come to do what you want.’” (Psalm 40:6–8) 8 First Christ said, “You didn’t want sacrifices and offerings. You didn’t want burnt offerings and sin offerings. You weren’t pleased with them.” He said that even though the law required people to bring them. 9 Then he said, “Here I am. I have come to do what you want.” He did away with the first. He did it to put the second in place. 10 We have been made holy by what God wanted. We have been made holy because Jesus Christ offered his body once and for all time.

As I read the book of Hebrews, I try as hard as I can to put myself in the shoes of the audience – Jews who have their whole life and through their whole culture, seen God and their sin through the lens of His holiness and their need to constantly sacrifice animals to Him in order to make themselves right.

While there must have been many things about Christ’s fulfilment of the law that must have been confusing to a first century Jew (and still are today!), this passage in the book of Hebrews spells out in a beautifully constructed argument, how Jesus became the once-and-for-all sacrifice.

I can imagine it being incredibly appealing to think that there was no more need for the ritual slaughter of animals, and to some extent, I can imagine that it might have seemed a bit too easy!

My experience though is that it is one thing to accept the work of the cross and the sacrifice of Christ, but just as the Jews had trouble giving up their own cultural practices, we too have trouble in seeing that his sacrifice is indeed sufficient. In our own ways, we keep trying to work for our own salvation by almost bargaining with God at times.

Whether it is the attitude of “I’d better go to church this week to make myself right with God” or “If I give generously of my time or finances, then God will accept me” or even “I know I am not perfect, but at least I am not as bad as…” we all have a tendency to try to work our way into heaven.

God, help us to truly live in the knowledge that we are accepted how we are, and give us the power and blessing to be able to change to become more like you.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Saturday 26 April, 2014

Hebrews 9:23-28

23 So the copies of the heavenly things had to be made pure with those sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be made pure with better sacrifices. 24 Christ did not enter a sacred tent made by people. That tent was only a copy of the true one. He entered heaven itself. He did it to stand in front of God for us. He is there right now. 25 The high priest enters the Most Holy Room every year. He enters with blood that is not his own. But Christ did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again. 26 If he had, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now he has appeared once and for all time. He has come at the end of the ages to do away with sin. He has done that by offering himself. 27 People have to die once. After that, God will judge them. 28 In the same way, Christ was offered up once. He took away the sins of many people. He will also come a second time. At that time he will not suffer for sin. Instead, he will come to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Two phrases in this text are powerful for me. Christ came, according to my TNIV translation, to “once for all…do away with sin…” Add to that, Christ was sacrificed once to “take away” the sins of many. There is such a sense of finality, and clear and force-able removal of sin in these phrases. Sin is not something Jesus came to leave hanging around. Sin is not a reality that Jesus was content to leave traces of. Jesus came to wipe sin away, completely. It is challenging to think this through, because I know that I still sin. As do all human beings, around the world. And yet Jesus has done away with, and taken away, once for all, our sin. There is clear tension here for me.

In reflecting on this text and the tension between my experience and this text, I realize a few things. God’s vision for the world is a world without sin. Jesus has made that way possible. Only through faith in Jesus can I hope to one day live that vision completely when He returns to bring salvation. And so, my expectation towards my sin, and the sin in this world, has to align with His vision for me and the world. My expectation must therefore be to do away with all my sin. My expectation must be that Jesus will take away all my sin. These verses stop my expectations from lowering to – sin is inevitable and will always continue in my life and the world. These verses actually turn that expectation on its head. I must instead apply this passage with perseverance to all of my thinking and living. I must renew myself everyday in the expectation that Jesus has done away with all sin, and therefore already has the power to do away with my sin. Where the expectation of sin is still embedded in my thinking and living, this passage will break the power of my expectation that sin is the norm, and replace that expectation with the confidence that Christ’s power has already overcome my sin, and thus gives me new life and the confident expectation of salvation.

Lord, help me live with one clear, overriding, and ever-present expectation – that just as you have done away with and taken away all sin in your death upon the Cross, so you will personally apply the power of this completed work to ever area of my life that is yet to conform to this reality, and so bring salvation to me.

 Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Friday 25 April, 2014

Hebrews 9:11-22

11 Christ came to be the high priest of the good things that are already here. When he came, he went through the greater and more perfect holy tent. The tent was not made by people. In other words, it is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by spilling the blood of goats and calves. He entered the Most Holy Room by spilling his own blood. He did it once and for all time. He paid the price to set us free from sin forever. 13 The blood of goats and bulls is sprinkled on people. So are the ashes of a young cow. They are sprinkled on people the Law called unclean. The people are sprinkled to make them holy. That makes them clean on the outside. 14 But Christ offered himself to God without any flaw. He did this through the power of the eternal Holy Spirit. So how much more will his blood wash from our minds our feelings of guilt for committing sin! Sin always leads to death. But now we can serve the living God. 15 That’s why Christ is the go-between of a new covenant. Now those God calls to himself will receive the eternal gift he promised. They will receive it now that Christ has died to save them. He died to set them free from the sins they committed under the first covenant. 16 What happens in the case of a will? It is necessary to prove that the person who made the will has died. 17 A will is in effect only when somebody has died. It never takes effect while the one who made it is still living. 18 That’s why even the first covenant was not put into effect without the spilling of blood. 19 Moses first announced every commandment of the law to all the people. Then he took the blood of calves. He also took water, bright red wool and branches of a hyssop plant. He sprinkled the scroll. He also sprinkled all of the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant God has commanded you to keep.” (Exodus 24:8) 21 In the same way, he sprinkled the holy tent with blood. He also sprinkled everything that was used in worship there. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be made clean with blood. Without the spilling of blood, no one can be forgiven.

The first sentence says that, “the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come.” I am very familiar with the fact that Jesus is our high priest, but I don’t think I have really thought it through in detail.

Having recently been to Pompeii I can visualise the people of the first century AD worshipping the pantheon of Roman gods. The city was scattered with temples and people regularly sought the favour of the gods through offerings and sacrifices. The hope of these people was that the gods would bestow good things on them. Priests had an important role in this society, helping the people have access to the gods and the power and provision they believed the gods possessed.

Jesus is our high priest, He enables us to have access to the power and provision of the living God. He has supplied the necessary sacrifice Himself, such that we can have the good things of relationship with God, forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Every time we draw upon God’s strength, we offload our worries and burdens on Him, we cry out for His wisdom, we rest in His love and we trust in His provision, all of this is only possible because when Jesus went to God on our behalf and asked, “How much will this cost?” God replied, “They can’t afford it. But I will accept your payment in their place. Are you prepared to die for them?” Jesus agreed to pay that price.

God, please help me keep remembering the link between Jesus as our high priest, His sacrifice, and the good things that I daily enjoy that He purchased on the cross. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Thursday 24 April, 2014

Hebrews 9:1-10

9 The first covenant had rules for worship. It also had a sacred tent on earth. 2 A holy tent was set up. The lampstand was in the first room. So were the table and the holy bread. That was called the Holy Room. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Room. 4 It had the golden altar for incense. It also had the wooden chest called the ark of the covenant. The ark was covered with gold. It held the gold jar of manna. It held Aaron’s wooden staff that had budded. It also held the stone tablets. The words of the covenant were written on them. 5 The cherubim were above the ark. God showed his glory there. The cherubim spread their wings over the place where sin was paid for. But we can’t deal with those things more completely now. 6 That’s how everything was arranged in the holy tent. The priests entered it at regular times. They went into the outer room to do their work for God and others. 7 But only the high priest went into the inner room. He went in only once a year. He never entered without taking blood with him. He offered the blood for himself. He also offered it for the sins the people had committed because they didn’t know any better. 8 Here is what the Holy Spirit was showing us. He was telling us that God had not yet clearly shown the way into the Most Holy Room. It would not be clearly shown as long as the first holy tent was still standing. 9 That’s an example for the present time. It shows us that the gifts and sacrifices they offered were not enough. They were not able to remove the worshiper’s feelings of guilt. 10 They deal only with food and drink and different kinds of special washings. They are rules that deal with things outside our bodies. People had to obey them only until the new covenant came.

There couldn’t be a clearer contrast than that between the ‘new’ and the ‘obsolete’ in this reading. The ‘new’ is permanent, the ‘obsolete’ is temporary and yet they are interwoven by the Holy Spirit. Even with the many rules and regulations of the old covenant, the Spirit had not ‘disclosed’ the way into the Most Holy Place, the place where God lived.

In order to come into the Presence a person needed to be made holy, and that alone was enough to indicate that ‘external regulations’ were not enough, they merely applied ‘until the time of the new order’.

How privileged we are who have embraced the new order created by the blood of Jesus Christ. If we look back to 8:10 we immediately realise that the new plan of salvation is the unique gift of God. We can’t earn it; we can’t claim any credit for it; we are totally dependent on the grace of God through the ministry of the Spirit. We have to admit that any comparison between the old and the new is futile! As the ‘Message’ puts it, “God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust”.

Thank you my God that you made a new and permanent way through the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the gift of faith which empowers me to embrace this new way and to come into your Presence without any of the legalistic rules and regulations of the old covenant. I acknowledge with joy the freedom we have in Christ!

Written by Keith Bennett

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Wednesday 23 April, 2014

Hebrews 8:8-13

8 But God found fault with the people. He said, “A new day is coming, says the Lord. I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel. I will also make it with the people of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their people of long ago. That was when I took them by the hand. I led them out of Egypt. My new covenant will be different because they didn’t remain faithful to my old covenant. So I turned away from them, says the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will make with Israel after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds. I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God. And they will be my people. 11 A man will not teach his neighbor anymore. And he will not teach his friend anymore. He will not say, ‘Know the Lord.’ Everyone will know me. From the least important of them to the most important, all of them will know me. 12 I will forgive their evil ways. I will not remember their sins anymore.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34) 13 God called that covenant “new.” So he has made the first one out of date. And what is out of date and getting older will soon disappear.

Are you ever surprised by your own weaknesses?  I find myself falling into some old bad habit and it often catches me by surprise. I somehow feel like by this stage in my life I should have overcome all of my failings and be perfect. Of course, in reality that level of perfection is not any more possible for me than it was for the people of the Old Testament.

How grateful I am to God for the new covenant that He has made with us, which is not dependent on my perfection. He reaches out and forgives in spite of our weaknesses.

As we are coming up to Easter, it’s good to be reminded just how much this cost God and how we owe our very lives to Jesus.

May I never forget the scandalous grace of God who has shown me mercy and not justice, and He remembers my sin no more.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Tuesday 22 April, 2014

Hebrews 8:1-7

8 Here is the point of what we are saying. We have a high priest like that. He sat down at the right hand of the throne of the King, the Majesty in heaven. 2 He serves in the sacred tent. The Lord set up the true holy tent. A mere man did not set it up. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. So that priest also had to have something to offer. 4 What if he were on earth? Then he would not be a priest. There are already priests who offer the gifts required by the law. 5 They serve at a sacred tent. But it is only a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. That’s why God warned Moses when he was about to build the holy tent. God said, “Be sure to make everything just like the pattern I showed you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40) 6 Jesus has been given a greater work to do for God. He is the go-between for the new covenant. That covenant is better than the old one. It is based on better promises. 7 Suppose nothing had been wrong with that first covenant. Then no one would have looked for another covenant.

In the Old Testament – the High Priest was able to go into the most sacred part of the temple – to intercede on behalf of God’s people. He presented the sacrifices on the alter – he mediated for them – dealing with God so they could receive forgiveness for their sin. V6 begins.

But now… The writer is telling us things have changed – the old way of doing things – has been superseded – not just by a new way – but v6 tells us… Jesus is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God based on better promises.

Come on – that sounds good.

In fact is sounds great! The old way – based on keeping the law and seeking forgiveness through the High Priest – by continual sacrifice – is done. The new way – is Jesus.

Lord help me remember the old way is gone – I am not chained to and constrained by the letter of the law – But now…You are the way to know God, You are the way to live free from sin and guilt and You are the way to the God’s promises.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

1 (reply)
  1. logos215 says:

    Bible scholars often talk about types and shadows. This is when a story or object in the old testament symbolically represents something which is a much greater truth revealed in the new testament. v5 confirms this relationship between the old and the new testament is true.

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Monday 21 April, 2014

Hebrews 7:23–28

23 There were many priests in Levi’s family line. Death kept them from continuing in office. 24 But Jesus lives forever. So he always holds the office of priest. 25 People now come to God through him. And he is able to save them completely and for all time. Jesus lives forever. He prays for them. 26 A high priest like that meets our need. He is holy, pure and without blame. He isn’t like other people. He does not sin. He is lifted high above the heavens. 27 He isn’t like the other high priests. They need to offer sacrifices day after day. First they bring offerings for their own sins. Then they do it for the sins of the people. But Jesus gave one sacrifice for the sins of the people. He gave it once and for all time. He did it by offering himself. 28 The law appoints men who are weak to be high priests. But God’s oath came after the law. The oath appointed the Son. He has been made perfect forever.

Jesus has been appointed our perfect high priest forever. He will never die, leave or forsake us. He does not need to offer sacrifices because he has sacrificed himself once for all. I think it is fantastic that we do not have to continually atone for ourselves before God. Jesus did it once, and that was enough.

Another thing I love about this passage is that “Jesus always lives to intercede for us”. What a privilege! Not only has Jesus died for our sins, but he continues to plead with God on our behalf throughout our lives. It is such a comfort to know that he is doing that. It increases my faith as I pray. It is also comforting to know that Jesus knows much better than I do what is best for me. Sometimes I might ask for the wrong thing. But Jesus will always ask for the right thing.

Father thank you so much for your plan of sending us a “high priest who truly meets our needs”, – Jesus, who is holy, blameless and pure”. Lord Jesus thank you for dying for me, and for living to intercede for me. Amen

Written by Megan Cornell

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