Sunday 11 March, 2018

Hebrews 6:13-20

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”[a] 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Wow, what an incredible passage of scripture to reflect on. I read of the certainty we can have in God being true to His word. His word to bless us, and multiply us, His children, throughout the earth. God wanted us to be so certain of His word that He has taken an oath.  It is not very often that I take oaths. Sure, I make promises – to finish the work, to do the washing, to cook dinner. But I don’t make these into oaths! An oath is serious and significant, lifting the bar to its highest place of personal guarantee. And this is exactly how God treats His word guaranteeing it by oath!

This gives me great hope, and strong confidence, when it comes to God’s plan and intention for me, and for us, His church. This passage calls me to hope, and hold onto hope, no matter what my circumstances look like, or the churches circumstances look like, today. God has made an oath to us that He is building the church, blessing us and multiplying us, no matter what!

Thank you Lord for your word, your word that fills me with hope today. Help me hold fast to this hope that you give through your word, such that I will continue on living boldly for you and see you fulfill your promise to bless and build your church today! Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Saturday 10 March, 2018

Hebrews 6:9-12

9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Hebrews is a book about living the Christian journey, from beginning to the end. There is a clear theme throughout the book of continuing on in faith, practical living faith. The most well know metaphor for this is used later on in Hebrews 11.. running the race strongly to the end.

In this passage we see one such exaltation, to keep on keeping on. Here the Hebrews are being encouraged to keep on loving.  To keep on loving others as long as life lasts (verse 11). So that they will see Gods promises and the things hoped for come to pass. And so that they would not become spiritually dead.

This passage follows one (at the beginning of chapter 6) about maturing in faith. When we mature in faith we not only mature in our understanding but also in our being and in our doing. We mature in loving; loving more faithfully, more consistently, more widely, more graciously…  We never get past love. We are loved and we need to love others from the beginning to the end of our Christian journey. Because love characterises the Christian life journey.

This is the greatest commandment; Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, understanding and strength.  And love your neighbour as yourself. Mark 12:32

Right now three things remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. John 15:13

Jesus, help me to love and keep on loving others. I want to love more truely and more fully. Help me to love others as you love me. May my life be characterised by your love, and may I grow more in capacity to love with each day.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

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Friday 9 March, 2018

Hebrews 6:1-8

6 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Jesus is constantly wanting us to mature.  His desire is that we would leave behind childish behaviours and become mature so that we can reproduce disciples. This passage challenges me on where in my life am I not mature?

Where do I revert back to my ‘old’ fears, my ‘old’ mindsets, my ‘old’ lack of understanding, my ‘old’ responses and my ‘old’ lack of faith.

What does maturity look like?

For me – it is the capacity to keep walking no matter what comes across my path – with the character of Christ and the resolute HOPE, FAITH AND LOVE in the WHO God is – in His character, His love and His commitment to me.

We are told that THREE things will remain – FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE.

If your struggle is FAITH – then I encourage you to TAKE A STEP OUT IN FAITH this year.

If your struggle is HOPE – get to know WHO God is – WHO Jesus is – that you can trust Him implicitly.

If your struggle is LOVE – reach out to someone in the love of God and make a commitment to walk with them this year.

Jesus, we so need your Holy Spirit to become all we are made to be.  Help us Lord in the moments of struggle, in the moments of battle to find you in the midst.  Help us to see you afresh and commit our ways to be who you have called us to be.  Help us to love you and others more, to trust and place our hope in you afresh and to step out in faith knowing that you are good.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Thursday 8 March, 2018

Hebrews 5:1-14

5 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” 6 And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

As I read this passage, I sense that the writer is frustrated with his audience at the lack of spiritual understanding. There is an expectation that they would be able to understand the difficult things, but they couldn’t. Instead of being teachers of the Word, they still needed teachers. Because of this, they didn’t know how to do what was right, or even recognise the difference between right and wrong.

All believers start the journey of faith needing milk, but that is only for the start and not the diet for the rest of our lives. As hard as it is to eat solid food, we feed it to infants because it is right and healthy for them, for their growth.

When we read the Bible, we will find passages that are difficult to understand, and we have a choice. Either we skim over it because its too hard or we meditate on it and seek to understand and become skilled in recognizing right from wrong.

There are no short cuts to maturity.

Holy Spirit, I ask that as I read the Word, that you will teach me to know the difference between right and wrong, and more than just knowing, but to live it.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Wednesday 7 March, 2018

Hebrews 5:7-10

7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus prayed heartfelt, fervent prayers and there were tears as he pleaded to God. He meant every word he prayed. His prayers were not out of a sense of obligation or ritual but because he knew the one he prayed to, His Father, who could answer those prayers.

Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered on earth. Jesus submitted himself to the Father by continually obeying at each occasion and this lead to him being considered fully mature before God.   This maturity made Jesus the perfect high priest for all mankind.

We too learn trusting obedience through the things we suffer or go through today.   Funny, it’s not the good or easy times in life where we learn trusting obedience! It’s the tough, often very uncomfortable, times when we see God come through so powerfully when we are completely dependent upon Him. The more dependent and trusting upon God we become the more mature in Christ we are.

The wonderful thing about Jesus is that he can relate to suffering because he suffered. Jesus probably suffered more than most people. We have suffering, at some level, in common and that is why Jesus is considered the perfect high priest or bridge to God. He can relate! He continued to trust God through it all and sets us an example to follow.

Dear God, thank you for Jesus. Help us to obey and trust you as he did. Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Tuesday 6 March, 2018

Hebrews 5:1-6

5 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” 6 And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Jesus is the G.O.A.T.

The writer of Hebrews describes the role of the holy priest in Old Testament times. A representative of the people to God. A compassionate (gentle) leader, performing sacrifices that cover both his and the people’s sins. The priest doesn’t select himself, the priest is called by God to the holy office. Jesus was called to that priestly role just like in the Old Testament traditional culture. The Hebrew writer also references Melchizedek, an (old) Old Testament Priest who was outside of the typical traditional system. This characterises Jesus as both a traditional priest in the Israelite sense and a ‘super-priest’ in the cosmic sense.

Complicated?

Here comes a cricket metaphor: Don Bradman was not only the greatest batsman in his day, he is possibly the greatest batsman of all time. The same is true of priest Jesus. Greatest in his day, greatest of all time. Jesus is the GOAT priest: Greatest Of All Time.

Thank you Jesus for your holy priestly nature. Thank you for your sacrifice for me – for being the mediator that has negotiated new eternal life for us. May I be able to live in the light of your holy example. Amen

Written by Sam Stewart

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Monday 5 March, 2018

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus understands me and what is going inside me – my thoughts, my feelings!! What a powerful, loving, encouraging truth.

Jesus has access to Our Father and He spent time here with us getting to understand how frustrating, sad, happy, joyful, ordinary, special, disappointing, inspiring, tiring, successful etc etc life can be. So He knows both sides. He campaigns on our behalf with Our Father from a place of friendship and understanding. We just need to ask for His help.

Our Father wants to bring grace and mercy to each of us. He does that through Jesus. We just need to build our relationship with Jesus and to ask for His help. This is something He wants to do – something that brings joy to Our Father – it is not something we have to beg for.

Remember to ask. Remember to believe it is true. Jesus understands all of the feelings life brings to us and He wants to help with all of them.

Dear Lord thanks so much for arranging a way where You understand how we get ourselves all tangled in emotions, where You have a way to help us and all we have to do is ask. You will respond. Help us to remember to ask. To speak to You. To engage in conversation with You to work out what we should do next. Thank You.

Written by Therese Manning

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Sunday 4 March, 2018

Hebrews 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

I often think of the Bible as a source of encouragement and hope; a place where I can hear from God and a tool to help experience His presence and rest. It is those things but perhaps I’ve missed something. Perhaps it’s more than that. This passage makes the Bible sound more like a weapon and a surgical instrument rather than the pillow I’ve been using it for. And it’s a weapon to use on myself – not just on other people.

Have you ever thought something or done something but you knew your heart wasn’t in it? That deep down there was a lie lying there, way below the surface – below what people see? That’s where I need surgery and the Bible is the tool to get in there.

God has already been there of course. He’s seen that place in me. The question is will I read the Bible in such a way what will allow God to operate on me and remove, once and for all, all that is offensive and wicked and wrong?

Oh Lord God, help me have the same attitude as David did. That as I read your word you will “see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me along the path of everlasting life” Ps139:23-24.   Amen

Written by Boudy VanNoppen

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Saturday 3 March, 2018

Hebrews 4:1-11

4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

This passage awakens my mind to the rest that I have in following Jesus. It can be so easy to approach each day focused on the things before us – whether that be school, study, work and all it encompasses, raising and caring for children/family, meetings, expenses, health challenges etc. – all these things can so easily distract us from the life of faith and rest that God promises us. But He so clearly calls us to obey Him and enter His rest (vs 1). I believe in doing this, the things our minds can be consumed by, become less about us and more about how we can fulfill what He calls us to.

In the Passion Translation of this passage, verse 3 says, For those of us who believe, faith activates the promise and we experience the realm of confident rest!” I love the way this translation reminds us that it’s through our faith in God, that we can experience confident rest in God and the eternal future with Him that is before us.

Lord God, I thank You for offering me rest in You. Please help me today, to focus on You in all that’s ahead of me and put my faith solely in Who You are. May I experience rest in You, as I choose to listen, obey and follow Your ways. Amen.

Written by Laura Samperi

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Friday 2 March, 2018

Hebrews 3:7-19

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit’s instruction is about ‘today’. It’s not a question of, ‘Did I listen yesterday?’ Or, ‘Will I listen tomorrow?’ God is interested in what I am doing and choosing right now. Am I as ‘present’ focused as God is?

If I hear God’s voice today, or sense the Holy Spirit prompting me today, will I harden my heart, or will I obey? There is no third option, I am choosing one or the other. Is my heart turning away from God, in unbelief, or am I turning toward God and believing Him?

God, where I am tempted to turn away in unbelief, please help me to perceive that I have a choice. Help me to choose belief in your goodness and greatness, no matter what I feel. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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