Sunday 11 May, 2014

Hebrews 12:18-24

18 You haven’t come to a mountain that can be touched. You haven’t come to a mountain that is burning with fire. You haven’t come to darkness, gloom and storm. 19 You haven’t come to a blast from God’s trumpet. You haven’t come to a voice speaking to you. When people heard that voice long ago, they begged it not to say anything more to them. 20 What God commanded was too much for them. He said, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be killed with stones.” (Exodus 19:12,13) 21 The sight was terrifying. Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” (Deuteronomy 9:19) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion. You have come to the Jerusalem in heaven. It is the city of the living God. You have come to a joyful gathering of angels. There are thousands and thousands of them. 23 You have come to the church of God’s people. God’s first and only Son is over all things. God’s people share in what belongs to his Son. Their names are written in heaven. You have come to God. He is the judge of all people. You have come to the spirits of godly people who have been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus. He is the go-between of a new covenant. You have come to the sprinkled blood. It promises better things than the blood of Abel.

In this passage the contrast between the old and the new is amazing.  It’s the difference between access and prohibition into God’s Presence. Even Moses was terrified by the fury of Mt Sinai the place where God’s Glory was manifested.

But now through Jesus our Mediator we have access to God by His grace. The city we come to witness is filled with thousands of angels, it is the church of the firstborn. Now there is no prohibition for we have full and unhindered access to God through Jesus Christ.

I so appreciated our Good Friday service this year, because it vividly expressed the enormity of what Jesus did for me on the Cross. Now by the blood of Jesus I have open access into the Father’s Presence.

Lord, I stand amazed with the huge angelic crowd in your Presence. I thank you that this passage emphasizes that there is no prohibition so I can come into your Presence and approach your throne with boldness.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Saturday 10 May, 2014

Hebrews 12:13-17

13 “Make level paths for your feet to walk on.” (Proverbs 4:26) Then those who have trouble walking won’t be disabled. Instead, they will be healed. 14 Try your best to live in peace with everyone. Try to be holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 Be sure that no one misses God’s grace. See to it that a bitter plant doesn’t grow up. If it does, it will cause trouble. And it will pollute many people. 16 See to it that no one commits sexual sins. See to it that no one is godless like Esau. He sold the rights to what he would receive as the oldest son. He sold them for a single meal. 17 As you know, after that he wanted to receive his father’s blessing. But he was turned away. With tears he tried to get the blessing. But he couldn’t get his father to change his mind.

What we have been reading about just prior to this passage is the discipline of God. We are being warned here about the need for God’s discipline to keep us on the path of righteousness.

I don’t naturally welcome discipline. Sometimes I can even forget that I need it. In my pride I can feel like I have it so together that I could never stray away.

When we read the story of Esau in the book of Genesis, it’s easy to feel superior like we would never be so silly as to sell ourselves short for a quick meal. Yet in reality we all have our areas of weakness and could easily give in to temptation if we are not vigilant to stay in the place where we can be disciplined and corrected.

May God help me to stay open to His discipline and also stay connected into a community of people that will help keep me accountable.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Friday 9 May, 2014

Hebrews 12:3-12

3 He put up with attacks from sinners. So think about him. Then you won’t get tired. You won’t lose hope. 4 You struggle against sin. But you have not yet fought to the point of spilling your blood. 5 You have forgotten that word of hope. It speaks to you as children. It says, “My son, think of the Lord’s training as important. Do not lose hope when he corrects you. 6 The Lord trains those he loves. He punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Proverbs 3:11,12) 7 Put up with hard times. God uses them to train you. He is treating you as children. What children are not trained by their parents? 8 God trains all of his children. But what if he doesn’t train you? Then you are like children of people who weren’t married to each other. You are not truly God’s children. 9 Besides, we have all had human parents who trained us. We respected them for it. How much more should we be trained by the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our parents trained us for a little while. They did what they thought was best. But God trains us for our good. He wants us to share in his holiness. 11 No training seems pleasant at the time. In fact, it seems painful. But later on it produces a harvest of godliness and peace. It does that for those who have been trained by it. 12 So lift your sagging arms. Strengthen your weak knees.

God wants us to be holy because it is good for us. As we grow in “right living” we grow closer to God and we reap a “peaceful harvest”.

It is easy to look at discipline as a negative thing, but in this passage we see that God’s discipline is a blessing – a provision to help us and strengthen us in our struggle against sin. It is God giving us momentary pain so that we can escape long term pain. Living God’s way has many benefits and blessings, so our Father, who loves us dearly, disciplines us for our good – so that we can enjoy the benefits of right living. It is not because he is a tyrant, forcing us to do things against our will, but because he is our Father and wants good things for us.

So what should my response be to the Lord’s discipline? Firstly to recognise it and thank him for caring enough for me to correct me. Secondly to accept his discipline and humbly confess my sin, and grow in strength is resisting that one next time.

Lord, thank you for disciplining me. Help me to be humble enough to learn the lesson you would have me learn, and to always grow closer to you. Amen

Written by Megan Cornell

2 replies
  1. David Newton says:

    Another awesome passage!
    Charles Stanley a pastors and prolific author has always said that hardship which is used by God as discipline will only ever last as long as it is needed to achieve it’s purpose. — I must be a slow learner!
    Thanks Megan & Andrew

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Thursday 8 May, 2014

Hebrews 12:1-2

12 A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us. 2 Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I am not alone. Thousands upon thousands have walked this road of faith before me. They have trusted God through trials I can only imagine. They have trusted God and seen His faithfulness to each of His promises.

My Saviour was impacted by the enormity of ‘The Cross’. He wept tears of blood for he knew the pain (physical and spiritual) he would have to endure. He did not want to bear that cross.

But He did.

He saw past the cross, he saw past the pain and shame. He saw joy, the reward for all who follow the will of the Father.

His Joy is my salvation. His joy is His Kingdom being filled with souls bought back from death and given eternal life. His Joy is His Father.

Heavenly Father, I see the joy of eternity with you and your people. I rejoice at the thought of that day. May I always see past pains to the joy set before me. I am surrounded by witnesses who testify that my faith is not in vain. I will receive that joy!

Written by Andrew Mellor

3 replies
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Amen to that Andrew. Life here on earth is nothing compared to our real home in heaven.

  2. David Newton says:

    I like these verses. When the pressure of life is really on it is not possible to remember lots of scripture and when endurance is required your determination sometimes needs refueling .
    When life is good ‘fix your eyes on Jesus’ with thankfulness. When life is tough and feels like great storms are upon you ‘fix your on Jesus’ and his great sacrifice. Remember Matthew 14:30 when Peter looked away from Jesus and towards his circumstance his faith diminished.
    Thanks Andrew!

  3. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks Kim and David. Yep, this is one of those nitty gritty passages that gets to the heart of pain and hope. It is awesome that our hope is even better than we can conceive!

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Wednesday 7 May, 2014

Hebrews 11:29-40

29 The people had faith. So they passed through the Red Sea. They went through it as if it were dry land. The Egyptians tried to do it also. But they drowned. 30 The people had faith. So the walls of Jericho fell down. It happened after they had marched around the city for seven days. 31 Rahab, the prostitute, had faith. So she welcomed the spies. That’s why she wasn’t killed with those who didn’t obey God. 32 What more can I say? I don’t have time to tell about all the others. I don’t have time to talk about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. I don’t have time to tell about David, Samuel and the prophets. 33 Because of their faith they took over kingdoms. They ruled fairly. They received the blessings God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions. 34 They put out great fires. They escaped being killed by the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became powerful in battle. They beat back armies from other countries. 35 Women received their dead back. The dead were raised to life again. Others were made to suffer greatly. But they refused to be set free. They did that so that after death they would be raised to a better life. 36 Some were laughed at. Some were whipped. Still others were held by chains. They were put in prison. 37 Some were killed with stones. They were sawed in two. They were put to death by the sword. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats. They were poor. They were attacked. They were treated badly. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains. They lived in caves. They lived in holes in the ground. 39 All of those people were praised because they had faith. But none of them received what God had promised. 40 God had planned something better for us. So they would only be made perfect together with us.

We have a long list of heroes of faith, who are models for the faith I should have. Each of these people believed God for something they could not see, something that God had promised but had not yet happened.

Many saw what they trusted God for. Israel saw the Egyptian army destroyed within hours, the walls of Jericho fall in days, Rahab saw her rescue within weeks. Others saw God act within months or years.

Others endured the most dreadful things, but did not see what they hoped for within their lifetimes. But God remains faithful. We have seen what Jesus did to secure that promise. We have seen their reward continue to unfold, though they did not. The eternal life he bought is certain, paid for, but is yet to come in its fullness for them, and for us.

It can be really hard when the things we ask God for, the things we believe he has promised, do not happen in days, or weeks or even months or years. It can be really hard when we pray for things like healing for someone, and they die. What’s gone wrong? Is it my lack of faith?

God had a better thing at a better time for those heroes of faith (and also for us). And they are truly heroes of faith because they kept on believing in God’s faithfulness and goodness right to the end of their lives here.

If I can continue to believe when my patience runs out, if I can continue to believe when He’s doing something different (and better) than I envisaged, if I can continue to look for his faithfulness even beyond the end of this life – that is true faith. He remains faithful and good – even when I find it really hard.

Father, please give me spiritual eyes to see that your promises are certain even when my physical eyes can’t, and the courage to go on believing when circumstances tell me to give up.

Written by David Cornell

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Tuesday 6 May, 2014

Hebrews 11:23-28

23 Moses’ parents had faith. So they hid him for three months after he was born. They saw he was a special child. They were not afraid of the king’s command. 24 Moses had faith. So he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. That happened after he had grown up. 25 He chose to be treated badly together with the people of God. He chose that instead of enjoying sin’s pleasures for a short time. 26 He suffered shame because of Christ. He thought it had great value. He considered it better than the riches of Egypt. He was looking ahead to God’s reward. 27 Because of his faith he left Egypt. It wasn’t because he was afraid of the king’s anger. He didn’t let anything stop him. He saw the One who can’t be seen. 28 Because of his faith he was the first to keep the Passover Feast. He commanded the people of Israel to sprinkle blood on their doorways. He did it so that the destroying angel would not touch their oldest sons.

What an encouraging and yet intensely challenging list!

Encouraging because it details what can a life lived “by faith” looks like… Refusal to be ruled by fear, willingness to live under oppression and suffer for the sake of Christ, looking ahead, keeping your eyes on the one who is invisible and leading others to live by faith.

What’s challenging is that if I claim to live by faith – this is what it looks like! I have to admit as I read this passage I am confronted and I don’t have to go very far down the list. There are areas in my life where I have chosen to be ruled by fear – instead of being ruled by faith.

Encouragement can be explained as “putting courage in” – so my prayer today is Lord “put courage in me” today and where fear has ruled – I need your help to stand on Your word and overthrow fear – so that faith can rule in my life.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Monday 5 April, 2014

Hebrews 11:13-22

13 All those people were still living by faith when they died. They didn’t receive the things God had promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a long way off. They openly said that they were outsiders and strangers on earth. 14 People who say things like that show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 What if they had been thinking of the country they had left? Then they could have returned to it. 16 Instead, they longed for a better country. They wanted one in heaven. So God is pleased when they call him their God. In fact, he has prepared a city for them. 17 Abraham had faith. So he offered Isaac as a sacrifice. That happened when God put him to the test. Abraham had received the promises. But he was about to offer his one and only son. 18 God had said to him, “Your family line will continue through Isaac.” (Genesis 21:12) Even so, Abraham was going to offer him up. 19 Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. In a way, he did receive Isaac back from death. 20 Isaac had faith. So he blessed Jacob and Esau. He told them what was ahead for them. 21 Jacob had faith. So he blessed each of Joseph’s sons. He blessed them when he was dying. Because of his faith he worshiped God as he leaned on the top of his wooden staff. 22 Joseph had faith. So he spoke to the people of Israel about their leaving Egypt. He gave directions about his bones. He did that toward the end of his life.

Abraham believed and obeyed God when he did not know when God would fulfill His promises (Heb. 11:13–16).  None of the patriarchs saw the complete fulfillment of God’s promises, but they saw from “afar off” what God was doing. In life “the important thing is not what we live in, but what we look for” Dr. George Morrison, a great Scottish preacher, once said

I love that these men and women of faith lived in tents, but they knew a heavenly city awaited them. God always fulfills His promises to His believing people, either immediately or ultimately.

I find myself comforted by this passage, particularly when my timing is being challenged and I am left – in faith – for a week, a month, a year or more.  I find myself needing to gaze at heaven – in certain hope of my future – irrespective of the current situation whether trial or triumph!

Father – help me to keep my eyes on You and heaven that I may truly experience Your goodness in all things – even the trials!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Joyce Meyer has always said ‘faith demands unanswered prayers’.
    What that means is if all prayers were answered immediately there would be no need for, or opportunity to exercise faith.
    I have had significant challenges in the realm of ‘unanswered prayers’ even to the degree that I am avoided by some Christians because my circumstance does not fit well with their beliefs.
    I enjoy listening to Pastors that embrace faith without avoiding the reality of unanswered prayer. Thanks Richard!

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Sunday 4 May, 2014

Hebrews 11:8-12

8 Abraham had faith. So he obeyed God. God called him to go to a place he would later receive as his own. So he went. He did it even though he didn’t know where he was going. 9 Because of his faith he made his home in the land God had promised him. He was like an outsider in a strange country. He lived there in tents. So did Isaac and Jacob. They received the same promise he did. 10 Abraham was looking forward to the city that has foundations. He was waiting for the city that God planned and built. 11 Abraham had faith. So God made it possible for him to become a father. He became a father even though he was too old. Sarah also was too old to have children. But Abraham believed that the One who made the promise was faithful. 12 Abraham was past the time when he could have children. But many children came from that one man. They were as many as the stars in the sky. They were as many as the sand on the seashore. No one could count them.

The stories of faith in Hebrews 11 are a great place to be inspired and to get motivation. Abraham and Sarah really hung in there. They believed what God told them even when it took so many years to come to pass, even when it was hard or considered impossible.

It’s easy for us to look at a situation and see all the problems, all the impossibilities, in seeing it come to pass. It’s how we are taught to analyse a problem. It’s a useful approach to making sure any strategy we develop to achieve a goal is covering all the contingencies. But it can rob us of motivation and energy if we stay in that place. Abraham said yes first to what God asked of him and then he worked out how to make it work. He was willing to give things a try. Something we all need to be.

Lord thanks so much that we have people who have gone before us who have demonstrated such faith in You. Help us to remember these people and to learn how they remained faithful to You.  Help us Lord to grow in our faith and to be willing to give things a go when You ask.

Written by Therese Manning

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Saturday 3 May, 2014

Hebrews 11:4-7

4 Abel had faith. So he offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. Because of his faith Abel was praised as a godly man. God said good things about his offerings. Because of his faith Abel still speaks. He speaks even though he is dead. 5 Enoch had faith. So he was taken from this life. He didn’t die. He just couldn’t be found. God had taken him away. Before God took him, Enoch was praised as one who pleased God. 6 Without faith it isn’t possible to please God. Those who come to God must believe that he exists. And they must believe that he rewards those who look to him. 7 Noah had faith. So he built an ark to save his family. He built it because of his great respect for God. God had warned him about things that could not yet be seen. Because of his faith he showed the world that it was guilty. Because of his faith he was considered right with God.
1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Hebrews 11 is about the true meaning of ‘faith’.
    The Greek word ‘faith’ is ‘pístis’ which simply means ‘to believe’, ‘to trust’ or ‘to be convinced’ that something is true. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith in these broad terms but Hebrews 11:6 defines a special type of ‘pistis’ which is ‘faith in God’. Whenever faith is mentioned in the Bible it is this special type of faith it is referring to. Furthermore this ‘true faith’ has some very special qualities.
    True ‘faith’ is a gift from God to us which we return to God. First we believe in the existence of God but not just that He exists but that ‘we believe that He is who He says he is’ and second we respond to this through obedience to what he says to us.
    Hebrews 11:6 is clear that God rewards ‘true faith’. Both Cain and Abel believed in God because they both offered sacrifices to God however only Abel was obedience to God’s instructions regarding sacrifice. Both believed but only one was obedient.
    This leads me to wonder how many times I have said I believe in God but have acted disobediently.
    Thank you God for the gift of faith in our lives and that your grace may leads us into greater levels of obedience. Amen

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Friday 2 May, 2014

Hebrews 11:1-3

11 Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see. 2 That is what the people of long ago were praised for. 3 We have faith. So we understand that everything was made when God commanded it. That’s why we believe that what we see was not made out of what could be seen.

Wow, what a passage to blog on!  And it’s hitting me right where I’m at.  In verse 1 the writer gives us the complete definition of Faith and then he follows his definition with 2 examples if what he means – something near in the ancestors and then something a little further away, … creation of the Universe!

Two words stand out to me – sure and certain in verse 1. I started to think about my hopes – am I sure and certain about them or just so so – that would be nice?  I am sure and certain about the writers 2 examples, the ancestors faith, that he goes on to talk about in the rest of the chapter, and I am sure and certain that God created everything (Gen 1) – the Universe is just too intricate and amazing not to be (eg. Louie Giglio – Presence Conference).  But what about my faith in what I hope for, the things yet to be seen?  Am I as sure and certain – do I have the faith that God is there in my circumstances in my hopes?

The writer of Hebrews is encouraging his readers that God is there with them and to raise their faith in Him by two things that are already certain.  Same for me.  God is challenging me to raise the bar to be more active with my expectations/my hope of things not yet seen to that of sure and certain – to do this I have to engage the spiritual realm where God is – there is no other option.

Father, thank you for your timely challenge to me in this passage – to raise my faith bar in You – to engage even more in Your realm – to trust You that things that I don’t yet see, you are in control of, to bring into being.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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