Saturday 31 March, 2018

Hebrews 11:29-40

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Faith. I know I need it. Clearly it’s helpful and has an impact on the lives of those in the Old Testament.

But do I really understand what it is? Do I really know how I can get more?

I know that Christ taught that if I have faith the size of a mustard seed, then I can move mountains. If I haven’t seen any physical mountains move recently, does that mean my faith is that small?

At the beginning of this chapter I read that faith is the substance of thing hoped for, the assurance of what is not yet seen. If I don’t feel assured of something, does that mean I don’t have faith for it?

While I know that faith is essential for me to be able to walk my life with Christ and to grow in intimacy with God, but I am finding that the more I learn about faith throughout my life, the more I realise how much there is to learn!

Lord, this journey of faith is one of adventure! Thanks for always encouraging me along the way and for giving me relationships with people along the way so that I can learn, grow, and follow their example in faith.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Friday 30 March, 2018

Hebrews 11:23-28

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

What a fascinating passage. Moses chose to forgo immense privileges, share oppression with Israel, saw suffering as better than immense treasures, and trusted God for his protection. All this, Hebrews tells us, by faith. I have not often thought of forgoing privilege, and sharing oppression, and choosing suffering, as acts of faith. Such choices in our culture today would seem ludicrous I feel. Yet in God’s Kingdom plan, however, this is not only a possible choice, but can be the faith choice!

Instead of seeing faith as the way to get the privileges of heaven, and push breezily past oppression and suffering, I’ve come to see faith differently as a result of this passage. Faith is just as much about being given power by God to go through oppression, go through suffering, and forgo easier paths. I’m thankful there are seasons like this, as well as seasons of breakthrough. But when the call is to go through oppression, I can, by faith!

Lord, I need faith from you. The faith you supply enables me to go through seasons of oppression and suffering with strength just as much as the faith you supply will enable me to triumph when the time is right! Thank you for your provision, amen!

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Thursday 29 March, 2018

Hebrews 11:17-22

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

‘It was by faith…’ I wonder if my name was added into this passage what it would say? We have the advantage of knowing the whole story but each of these men were ordinary enough in their day. And didn’t know how their story would end. A childless nomad desperate for an heir, who it could be said made some iffy choices in his family relationships. A man whose sons competed for his attention, resulting in strife in his family, another a farmer who didn’t learn from his fathers mistakes and whose children turned on each other as a result. Lastly a guy who had every reason to be bitter against his family and the means to exact revenge. But despite their flaws ALL these men knew and worshipped the living God. The lives these men had were messy and imperfect (reminds me of me!).

It was this relationship with God that overcame the issues, with faith. These men were all confident in the God they knew (personally). They all knew that God is God, no matter what their personal circumstances were. They couldn’t see the finish they just knew that God was in it with them. If these guys with all their problems could keep their focus and see things through with their Faith, then maybe given I believe in and know the same living God, maybe I can make it too. These men probably didn’t start with faith for the big picture. Their little steps of faith were like brush strokes. God used each act of faith, each brush stroke to create the big picture. I want to be like these men- confident in the God I know personally, intimately. I want to trust God each day, every step, and let him create the painting that is my life. I am excited to think what might be listed against my faith. How about you?

Heavenly Father I thank you that you never leave us. I thank you Father that you love me and go through all things with me. Help me Father to put my faith and trust in you. Help me Father to know you. Help me Lord to take the step of faith you are asking me to take today. In Jesus name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Wednesday 28 March, 2018

Hebrews 11:8-16

8 By 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. 9 By 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. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

I’m struck by two things about Abraham and his faith.

He trusted God for big things.

He lived in the land that God promised, but it would be generations before his descendants would possess it. But he was looking beyond that to the Heavenly home God was building for him.

He had a son with Sarah. It would be many generations before his descendants would be counted as nations. But he was looking beyond that to his descendant by whom all nations would be blessed: Jesus.

It says he had this extraordinary faith because he “believed the one who made the promise is faithful”. He knew God’s character because he knew God. He knew God because he walked with him. And I know his faithfulness too.

And I’m struck that the things Abraham did were only a tiny part of the enormous things God was doing. Yet God gave him an extraordinarily significant part, as a gift.

I’m in no way necessary to what God is doing, and the part he has given me is only a small piece of the enormous things he is doing now. But he gives me significance in the part I have. He gives me the greatest significance as his son.

Father stretch me, stretch my understanding of how great the things you are doing are; how great your faithfulness is; and the enormity of the blessing of the part you give me in them.

Written by David Cornell

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Tuesday 27 March, 2018

Hebrews 11:4-7

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

“…. anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (V6 Msg version) This verse has jumped out at me. These men of faith all believed that God existed – before He showed up in their situations.

So many want to only believe that God exists after He has answered what they are wanting or after a situation has been resolved. They want Him to prove Himself first & then they will believe.

These men of faith & those that follow in the rest of the chapter give us a different path to follow. It’s quite a simple path, there is no magic formula, they believed in Gods existence, they believed in what He told them, that He cared for them and their situations and I need to do the same. Faith believes He exists, knowing He hears me, has my best interests in mind, has purpose & place for me & ultimately cares more for me than I do for myself.

Father where my faith has waned, where my doubts have overwhelmed me, where I’ve only believed you care after you have shown up, forgive me. Help me to keep Jesus, – his death for me, his resurrection for me – which is the reality of your existence, central in my life.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Monday 26 March, 2018

Hebrews 11:1-3

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

There has been much debate over many years about the conflict between science and the Bible.  Some have walked away from God because they did not grasp the truth of this verse “By faith we understand”.  It is an interesting phrase and it is pivotal to the life of the Christian.  This is not to say that experience, experiment and research do not bring realms to our understanding but for the Christian our worldview starts with the concept of God, not the concept of science.  When we first apprehend God and allow God to be the foundation of the way we approach life then understanding for the Christian begins.  If we regulate God to the practice of religion, not to all elements of life, then we develop a dichotomy, a dualism in life, which ends up meaning that we do not allow God to influence our whole being and universe.  But if we understand by faith – that is allow Christ to be the core of our thinking.

When Christians confess Hebrews 11:3 they are confessing Christ and that through faith we understand – we allow Christ to form and transform our thinking.  I love that in knowing that God has created all things, that is if we follow the path of faith, we will find that science confirms our faith.

Father, may we first and foremost be people of faith and through faith in Jesus apprehend the marvels of Your creation!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 25 March, 2018

Hebrews 10:32-39

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of a couple of very important things.

Firstly, we should never believe that we are the only one experiencing struggles and hardships. Every believer will at some point experience these. And the reason is simple – we follow Christ. We learned about him, believed in him, and chose to follow him. That puts us in opposition to the world.

Secondly, that we should hang in there because we also learnt of the prize that awaits us, the promise made by Christ – the forgiveness of sin, restoration with the Heavenly Father and eternal life, and that’s just a start.

So, while today’s struggles are hard, don’t forget the past, because we are still here, they were not our end. And in our struggles today also remember the promise that waits for those who don’t give up, because it’s worth it.

Father, I know there are times when I have wanted to quit, and I thank you for the believers who encouraged me through those times. I thank you for the promises that you have made to all of us who don’t give up, so I choose again today, to keep my eyes on you, following you, because you are worth it.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Saturday 24 March, 2018

Hebrews 10:26-31

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I don’t think we take sin seriously. In our western, affluent culture, where we are faced daily with greed and pride and selfishness and media saturation, opportunities for small compromises are everywhere. Sin is epidemic. On the surface we don’t need God so we live as if we don’t need God.

But this passage rocks me to the core –

If I continue in sin there is no sacrifice that will cover it. v26.

Continue in sin and I’ll face the same fiery fate as God’s enemies. v27

Deliberately continue doing the things I know are wrong is like stomping on Jesus and insulting the Holy Spirit. v29

When will I take this seriously? When will I fall on my knees and cry out in desperation to God “please forgive this rotten sinner”? When will I fully appreciate that the blood that Jesus shed on the cross should have been mine and would have been had Jesus not stepped in at the last moment? When will I throw up my hands in surrender and worship and, once and for all, completely abandon my life to the one who paid everything He had to save it?

Holy Spirit, please do your amazing work in me and convict me anew of sin in my life. Quicken my heart to hear and respond – I never want to insult you or trample on the precious blood of Jesus shed for me.   Amen

Written by Boudy VanNoppen

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Friday 23 March, 2018

Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswerving to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In considering this passage, would I describe my faith as confident, assured and unswerving? Am I recalling to mind the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice? Am I perceiving myself each day as cleansed by the blood of Jesus, no longer guilty in God’s sight? Am I finding my hope each day in the fact that what God has promised, He will do?

God, thank you that Jesus’ sacrifice is enough for me. Please help me to fully enjoy the confidence, assurance and hope offered to me in Jesus. Help me to grasp that your promises are for me, and for those around me. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Thursday 22 March, 2018

Hebrews 10:11-18

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies 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, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

This week, as I write, the Rev Billy Graham has died. I heard him speak at Randwick Racecourse in 1979 when I had only been a Christian for about a year. He spoke a confronting a powerful message on forgiveness – available to everyone who repents, loves Jesus and declares him Lord. He spoke about the depth of God’s love, that even someone as evil as Adolf Hitler could be forgiven by God.

The writer of Hebrews makes it clear in this passage that our forgiveness was bought by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The new covenant described here, which guarantees a new intimacy with God (v16) and the complete and effective forgiveness of all sin through Jesus’ death (v12,14).

Don’t go back to the old way of sacrificing he says in effect, that never dealt with sin. Jesus’ sacrifice did what all those sacrifices could never do – it achieved atonement of sin.

His sacrifice is free to all. As Jesus himself said at the Supper with his disciples, this is a covenant sealed in his blood “for you and for many”, including for all future, and past sin.

We should never put conditions or limitations on this complete forgiveness. God doesn’t.

Dear Jesus, I’m in debt to you for the sacrifice you made when you died on the cross. You freed me from sin, with its guilt, and regrets, and made me new. There is no turning back, and your Holy Spirit guides me everyday.   Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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