Tuesday 28 September, 2021

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.

Are we not creatures of habit? Our regular coffee order, our personal idiosyncrasies, our likes and dislikes that make our lives seem safe, comfortable and familiar. It is a narrow line however between routine and complacency .

Do I treat my relationship with God the same way? It’s too easy to fall into spiritual routines that are comfortable and familiar but which require almost no deep personal response from me. Before Jesus there was an established routine in place via the priests that ‘bought you time’ with God. Jesus changed everything, vs 14 and vs 18, these passages show that the old routine was out the door. We need to consider the enormity of what Jesus’s death and resurrection mean for us. How can we not respond and live our lives afresh and renewed everyday? I do not want to take everything that God has done for me for granted.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for all that you have done for me. Lord give me fresh eyes for my relationship with you and fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit today.  In your great and holy name, I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight


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Monday 27 September, 2021

Hebrews 10:1-10

10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’” 8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jesus gasped, “It is Finished” as he hung on the cross. This statement has become an eternal declaration over humanity: ‘the power of sin and death is broken, forever!’ His gasps came at the end of an earthly life of selfless obedience to his heavenly Father. This was the kind of sacrifice God was looking for all along. Through Jesus’ once for all sacrifice, forgiveness won the day. Forgiveness reigns and speaks louder than condemnation, forever! Once for all. All people, all sin, all time.

I am forgiven, I am set right, I am a child of God. To achieve this, nothing less than the very life of Jesus was needed. To keep this, nothing more is needed than to embrace Jesus and what he has already done for me. This means dropping anything that would encumber this embrace.

Jesus, I embrace you and thank you for changing my identity forever, my sins are forgiven and remembered no more!  Teach me to let go of attitudes and desires that encumber this life-giving embrace.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Sunday 26 September, 2021

Hebrews 9:23-28

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The Jewish Christians who first heard Hebrews were longingly looking back at the tabernacle and the system of sacrifices. But these were only symbols pointing forward to Jesus. He’s the reality they were pointing to. He deals with the sin that separates us from God once and for all. Symbols could never do that.

Rather than looking back, we have our eyes focussed on the future. We have already been saved by Jesus death, but we also “eagerly wait” for Jesus return (v27 in the NLT), and the completion of all things and the fullness of our salvation. We have already been saved fromsin by Jesus death. We look forward to the fullness of eternal life as God’s children that we are being saved for. In place of hopeless nostalgia, we have hope for the best future ever.

So how does that hope change me today? How much of that hope will I pass on to other people?

Jesus, thankyou for the salvation you have already bought for me. Thankyou for how your resurrection life is playing out today. And thankyou for the hope you give as I eagerly wait for the fullness of salvation when you return.

Written by David Cornell

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Saturday 25 September, 2021

Hebrews 9:15-22

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. 16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Jesus has brokered a new deal for all people. Whatever the Old Testament may say, Jesus has reshaped and renegotiated the ultimate terms of salvation in the world. In many ways, same as it ever was (eg. it requires serious stuff like blood shedding and sacrifice) but is changed now that Jesus’ sacrifice was a perfect human sacrifice – the most extreme kind of sacrifice crossed with an innocent sacrifice.

The layers of metaphor are numerous and the descriptions complex – but I am encouraged not to be put off by this density. I capture in my imagination the key images, ‘ransom’, ‘sacrifice’, ‘inheritance’, ‘covenant’ and ‘forgiveness’ and let them dance in my mind. Perhaps instead of logic, our natural capacity for poetry is better suited to absorb the significance of this passage in its first reading? The fuller, systematic, importance of this passage can come to me later, but for now Jesus is reshaping the very structure of forgiveness in my imagination just as it is eternally shaped in my heart.

Jesus forever!

My Jesus. Thank you for turning the universe upside down with the most wonderful and at the same time strangest of happenings with Jesus as the sacrifice to end all sacrificing. I am free of debt too because of you Jesus. Debt free forever!

Written by Sam Stewart

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Friday 24 September, 2021

Hebrews 9:11-14

11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians who followed Jesus as their long-promised Messiah, but following Jesus was beginning to make things very hard for them. They’re thinking it might be better to go back to the comfortable way things were before. Ironically, these comfortable “safe” old ways – the temple with its daily sacrifices – would soon be destroyed (in 70AD).

This passage draws some stark contrasts between Jesus and the way things were. What Jesus does is what fundamentally changes everything, not what we do. He brings us into direct relationship with God himself in the place of his actual presence, not just into symbols of his presence (like the tabernacle) that are made by people. Jesus achieves once and for all what the endlessly repeated sacrifices could not. Only his blood truly cleanses us deep down to our hearts. Our actions bring death, but Jesus brings us into relationship with “the living God”.

Jesus changes everything. This includes changing us. Jesus calls us into a relationship, but it’s not a passive relationship. He sets us free to serve the living God (v14). Jesus transforms our inadequate actions into precious service of God. We become free to please him, to work with him in what he’s doing. Faith in Jesus is not passive dependence but active participation with him.

Holy Spirit, what are you doing today? I want to play might part in whatever it is. I want to serve and please you today.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 23 September, 2021

Hebrews 9:1-10

9 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. 6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

The writer to the Hebrews explains the FIRST COVENANT with God.  He explains the inner workings and describes the Temple in Jerusalem it’s layout, the ceremonial requirements and how the High Priest was the only person ONCE PER YEAR to enter the Holy of Holies offering sacrifices on behalf of the peoples’ sins (their sin) – v 9: “yet these were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper”.

He goes on later in the chapter to explain that Jesus once and for all was the perfect sacrificial lamb (perfect blood – God’s blood) to take away the sins of the world forever.

It was all ceremonial – a human expression of trying to solve the sinfulness of the human heart…….BUT CHRIST. 

What I love about this letter to the Hebrew Church is that it explains what most people would know, but never have seen.  He cares in this letter to describe the small details: “consecrated bread”, “Aaron’s staff that had budded”, etc.  Verse 8 becomes the key – the Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning.   

The curtain separating the Holy of Holies had to be torn at Christ’s death.

Centuries of religious duties now broken by the death (Matthew 27 v 50-52) and resurrection of Christ.  Hallelujah.

Lord Jesus, I so thank you for revealing yourself to me, for washing me clean and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.  Breakthrough for all people who sit under the Law of Religion and reveal yourself to them.  Allow them to live free, knowing you personally and understanding how much you love them.  Amen

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Wednesday 22 September, 2021

Hebrews 8:7-13

7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

I’m a fan of true crime podcasts, and one thing I’ve learnt is that criminal masterminds usually retain power by making themselves unknowable to those who work for them. To be knowable is to be vulnerable. 

But God, creator of the universe, has made Himself knowable. In the Old Testament He made Himself knowable through designated leaders, priests and prophets. In the New Testament He made Himself knowable in the person of Jesus – God Himself on earth in human form. Now He makes Himself knowable to the world through His Church, the body of Christ, us! 

In the temple of the Old Testament only the designated High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and make atonement on the people’s behalf. In the New Testament when Jesus died the curtain to the Holy of Holies was ripped open, opening it up so that all may enter it and know God directly! And now God is knowable through us – we are mini-Holy of Holies, walking around with the living God inside of us, knowable to anyone we come into contact with!

Lord thank you for making yourself knowable and for coming to earth with vulnerability of a baby. Help us this week make you knowable to those around us. 

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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Tuesday 21 September, 2021

Hebrews 8:1-6

8 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

I love how this passage affirms that Jesus is our High Priest who serves from a position of authority. There is no one else who has set the example that Jesus did, no one else who offered the gift that Jesus has, and no one else who has sacrificed as Jesus did. The sacrifice of Himself to atone for our sins in this new covenant is an incredible gift! I am in awe of this blessing and undeserved favour.

Our human standards are simply not good enough. In fact, this passage declares that they are an imitation, a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven. Through Jesus, and His ministry, we have been gifted better promises.

How does this then challenge me? In knowing that Jesus is the high priest of the new covenant, I can rest in the fact that the Lord is in control. We can take comfort in knowing that our faith in Christ is built on a solid foundation for our lives. This leads to a sense of peace in knowing that the new covenant is established on better promises!

Lord, we thank you for the superior gifts and sacrifices you have made. We thank you for your immense and unconditional love for us. May we humble ourselves to you in wisdom, the High Priest of the new covenant, and echo your love as your hands and feet in this world. In your precious name, Jesus.
Amen

Written by Sven Bessesen

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Monday 20 September, 2021

Hebrews 7:23-28

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

I believe, one of the most challenging things that a Christian can explain to non-believer is that Jesus is living, alive and I have a relationship with Him. That I can pray to Him and that he speaks to my life and my heart. Some people may believe that Jesus was a person that was alive more than 2000 years ago and died and there is no way that He could be in contact with anyone. 

Others may believe that the church is an ancient place, a place of ritual and routine, not a place that is contemporary, dynamic and truly alive. Whereas, I emphatically believe that Jesus lived, died and rose again and lives forever (Amen!) and that He has a permanent priesthood (v24). He is able to save completely those who come to the Father through Him, because He always intercedes for them (v25). When Jesus has interceded for me in the past I can hardly even speak about it. The ways that Jesus has addressed the concerns and needs of my heart in those exact moments has been so incredibly personal it has often made me speechless. How could He have known what I needed at that exact moment? How was it that He went before me to manage everything that I was to face so that I was not alone?

It is truly because He made me, He knows me. I am His. 

Dear Jesus, thank you for your permanent and alive Priesthood. Thank you that you make a way for us to have a relationship with you and that you intercede for us. Help us to understand that you are a loving God that is always wanting us to be near you and to learn from you. 

Amen

Written by Susannah Ware

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  1. Claire Moore says:

    How mind blowing is it that this high priest who has been exalted and made perfect forever intercedes for me! He cares for me personally and wonderfully. This isn’t the usual way a priest is perceived. Thank you God for the depth of your love and sacrifice for me

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Sunday 19 September, 2021

Hebrews 7:11-22

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

This passage of Scripture explains the shortfalls of the Levitical priesthood and the much awaited introduction of a new, perfect priest for all time – Jesus.  It was also the beginning of people relating to God more intimately by a new agreement called the New Covenant.

A priest is essentially a bridge to God and Jesus was and is our perfect and permanent priest.  How fortunate are we to be able to confidently draw near to God through Jesus!  This was not always the case under the law or old covenant arrangements where relating to God was done indirectly by a priest at a distance.  It was not a personal or intimate relationship with God like new testament believers or Christians today experience.  God has also declared that Jesus is a forever priest so we can be sure that our relationship with our Heavenly Father is secure into the future and eternity.  The perfect life of Jesus has made this possible as he is both priest and sacrifice. A truth we forever need to be grateful for.

Dear Lord, thank you for sending Jesus as our perfect and permanent priest for all time.  Thank you that I can have a personal relationship with you because of this.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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