Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
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
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
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
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
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.
Year after year, festival after festival, faithful worshippers of the one true God would sacrifice valuable animals and agriculture. But when would it be enough? When would God be satisfied, when could I be confident that God and I were on good terms? I couldn’t.
But this is why the arrival of Jesus is good news. The rituals were only announcements, signs that God was going to do something better and complete. Jesus offers himself, the perfectly obedient Son of God, as a sacrifice once for all.
God is satisfied, we can be confident we are on good terms with him. Jesus was the final sacrifice, and three days later he proved it by raising from the dead.
God, you and I are good, because I don’t bear the weight of my sin. Jesus bore it for me once and for all.
Written by Andrew Mellor
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.
I grew up going to church my whole life, but looking back I can see that as a child and teenager, I really didn’t understand much of what the Old Testament was about. When I heard about the ancient priests offering animal blood sacrifices to deal with sin, I was left wondering what that was all about.
As I grew older and left school, I was fortunate enough to do some focussed study to learn more about the Bible. I learned about how amazing and intricate were these rituals and the specific imagery that was designed to point us to the ultimate blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, dealing with the penalties of sin once and for all.
More recently I completed the C3 Bible College online course, and found the subject on the Old Testament to be especially helpful to further my understanding. Right throughout the Old Testament, God has deposited messages and narratives preparing the world for the coming of Jesus to help us understand what His sacrifice and death means for us.
I’m impressed with how far in advance God worked to prepare us for the coming of Jesus, and with the level of detail involved in bringing about His plan of saving the world. This gives me great confidence in a) God’s planning abilities, and b) in how much He loves us that He would go to so much trouble!
Thank You God, that we matter so much to you, that You would put in so much effort and ultimately so much personal pain to restore us to relationship with You. And thank You that I can rest in your amazing planning abilities.
Written by Shelley Witt
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 it’s 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.
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
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] 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[b] 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,[c] so that we may serve the living God!
For most of us today the rules and regulations of the Old Testament seem out of place and without relevance. These sometimes-peculiar rules were part of a contractual arrangement God established with the Jews. People who have studied the laws of the Old Testament in detail have found sound practical reason for these rules to exist however as verse 9 indicates some rules were ‘illustrations pointing to this present time’.
More than any other book of the Bible Hebrews links the Old Testament to the New Testament. It was written to Jewish believers to help them understand the New Covenant and Christ’s fundamental role in its creation.
What I find most interesting about historical covenants is they were often established between two ‘vastly unequal’ parties to give the weaker party confidence the agreement would be upheld. So is the case for Christians under the New Covenant with God. Christ’s crucifixion on the cross guaranteed the penalty for our misdeeds is ’payed in full’ result in us having a clear conscience before God. Without a clear conscience it is impossible for us the serve the living God with ‘pure motives’.
James 3:2 says ‘We all stumble in many ways’.
So today is a great opportunity to consider ‘do I have a clear conscience before God’ and if not take the time to meditate on the sacrifice Christ made for you. A truly thankful heart has the power to unlock the depths of God’s love for you!
Written by David Newton
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.
Paul’s audience was very familiar with the system that was in place for the Jews to worship God. I know that we come to our faith experience with different cultural eyes to those original readers, but I am challenged as to whether or not I treat my faith experience as if I am really part of a new agreement between God and mankind, or whether I act as if it is the same old system the Jews embraced.
What I mean is this – when I come to be in the presence of God, am I letting others do all the work for me? Do I participate only as an observer, happily letting those I think are more spiritual or more in tune with God, or whose ‘job it is’ to do all the connecting? Or am I engaged in worship. Do I actively seek out the Presence of God, knowing Jesus has made it possible for me to connect directly with Him? Do I do this every day or do I just save it up for Sunday?
We are so blessed to be living out our faith in a time when we are able to freely and directly come before the Father because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. We have direct access to God 24/7, not just once or twice a year when someone else does something on our behalf. The cost for the spiritual freedom we have was great indeed. I want to embrace that freedom to worship as often and as fully as I can.
Father God I thank you for the freedom you have given us to worship and to know you. I am sorry Lord if I have taken our relationship for granted. Thank you Jesus for all you have done for me. Help me Lord to reflect your glory in all that I do and in who I am. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
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 heard someone say recently that reading the Book of Hebrews is a great way to understand the fulfilment of the Old Testament in the New Testament. Reading this passage, I can certainly see how this is true. Here we see that God has thrown out the Old Covenant that He had made with His people, replacing it with a New Covenant. The Old Covenant was a series of laws, written on tablets, that were so thorough and in depth that they were essentially impossible to keep. In fact the very purpose of these laws was to show the people that they weren’t able to save themselves through their own actions – they needed a saviour, Jesus.
This still holds true for us today. Even as I have followed Christ for many years, I find that it can be very easy to slip into the habit of trying to do or be ‘good enough’ in order to feel like I am doing my part as a ‘good Christian’. Of course, ultimately I can’t ever be good enough on my own, no matter how hard I try – like the Israelites in the Old Testament, all my efforts do is point to my need for a bigger, perfect saviour. I love that verse 10 tells us that in this New Covenant, God has written His laws on our hearts and our minds. No longer are they etched on cold stone tablets, rather they are written into us that we would know who God is and what He has called us to, and we can have faith that He will enable us to live obedient lives towards Him. It is this obedience to what He has called us to that is far greater than our feeble attempts at being good enough for Him.
God, thank you that you provided a way for us to know you and that you desire to know us. Help us to rely on you for our salvation, never getting caught up in the trap of trying to be ‘good enough’’. Thank you that you help us to be obedient to all that you have called us to. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
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. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
Dressmakers use a paper pattern to make a dress, so that all the bits will go together in just the right way.
God gave Moses a pattern for the tabernacle, so that it could be built in just the right way. And the tabernacle was just a pattern for what exists in Heaven (Hebrews 9:23). It was full of a rich set of symbols to help us build the right concepts.
The priesthood and the system of sacrifices were a pattern to help us understand who Jesus is (the ultimate bridge builder between God and us) and what he did when he died (the ultimate sacrifice which really does cancel out my sin).
The pattern of sacrifice by the earthly priesthood is hopelessly inadequate at dealing with real sin and restoring relationship. (Like a paper dress pattern would be hopelessly inadequate to wear to a party.) But Jesus achieved what the law never could. (Romans 3:20)
God gave that pattern to help us to understand Jesus and what he did more than a thousand years ahead of time. That’s a long time.
But it seems to have taken that long to even begin to understand – enough to accept the gift he bought for us. Even with an eternity with Jesus in Heaven, I suspect I won’t be able to fully understand how great he is, the enormity of what he did, and the unfathomably huge love that caused him to do it. (Ephesians 3:18)
Jesus, I just stand in awe at even the little I know about who you are. I love what you did for me. I’m so glad that you and your love are so much greater than anything I can conceive. And yet you make yourself known to me. You make the way into relationship with you so easy, even I could receive it.
Written by David Cornell
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.
The writer of Hebrews is continuing to show us that Jesus is superior in every way to the old covenant. He alone has brought in a new covenant, He was the sacrifice for our sin, once only and for all time, He only was holy, blameless and pure. Jesus is the new high priest who in himself meet the requirements of sacrifice, so that we can all draw near to God forever and eternally.
Lord Jesus I am more than aware of my weaknesses, failings, re-occurring issues, short-comings … Sin. Thank you for your never-ending sacrifice for me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
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.
“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.”
What a profound couple of verses. What was previously used to appease the guilt of our souls had proven to be too weak, incompetent to do the job so God inaugurated another way, a better way was introduced – Jesus – by which we draw near to God.
The longing for God is universal – if you study every civilisation from the beginning of time you will see the quest for the eternal – to know and experience God’s love. Most of these result in religion where we make our best efforts to appease the deity of our choosing. Jesus turns this on its head – he is the all sufficient sacrifice in whom we need to place faith for our acceptance by God to be real – to be transformative. Christianity is such a better hope – we don’t have to work to appease God, Christ has paid that price, we now live in love with Him a totally different take of life itself – thank you Jesus!
Father help me to live as you would have me to live – in your grace and mercy not in effort to appease or be approved but in love with You.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
7 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
This seems to be written to some people who were having trouble fitting Jesus into what they knew (or thought they knew) about God. He had given them a priesthood as intermediaries between them and God. So how could Jesus bring them to God if he isn’t a priest?
It’s so easy to do the same thing: How do God’s miracles fit into my rational world? How does God as creator fit with the evolution I was taught? How does God as healer fit with what I know about medicine?
My understanding needs to fit around God, not God fitting into my limited understanding. God would be entitled to say to these Hebrews “If I make my son a priest and a king, that’s what he is.” But in His typical loving grace, he makes provision for their stubbornness thousands of years before.
Abraham only meets Melchizedek once (in Genesis 14). Even though he has just defeated 5 kings, Abraham recognises that he should submit and give a tithe to this priest king, this king of justice and king of peace, this picture of Jesus. And in his submission, he frees these Hebrews from the prison of their thinking to see the truth of who Jesus is. (You have to love Abraham!)
So where am I prevented by my “understanding” from seeing the truth about Jesus? Like Abraham, I need the humility to submit when I unexpectedly find God’s provision to set my thinking free.
Father, give my mind the humility and freedom to see you as you are.
Written by David Connell
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
I recently visited the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. It is a huge shrine to the memory of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, and is the most visited site in Tokyo due to its cultural importance to the Japanese but I think also due to its beautiful woodland setting. It is undergoing restoration and a luxurious copper roof is being installed. The craftsmanship by the skilled metal workers is amazing. It is a labour of love to the Emperor and Empress, and is being built to last.
When the writer of the Hebrews talks about the builder being so much greater than the building, he is worshipping God, the builder of his household of believers. Jesus, God’s Son, is over God’s house (v6).
What I especially love is how this passage speaks of the plan of God to build his household, his people. A plan that stretches back through time, when God chose Moses his faithful servant to lead and witness to his people, lovingly forgave his people over and over, blessed them with prophecies, right up to Jesus, who is his faithful Son. God’s people are not a random collection of like minded people, but the fruit of his plan, lovingly built by him.
V6 tells us what characterises those of God’s household – perseverance. Perseverance in faith that Jesus died and rose again, and perseverance in hope – that in believing in him we will also be with God in his household forever.
Dear Jesus, I am the beneficiary of God’s plan to build his house, his church. I worship you, my head, and ask that you keep building us today into your glory on this earth, to share your love and faithfulness with our friends and all people who you love. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
This morning I took 15 minutes to really reflect and meditate on this collection of verses. This is something that I am aware that I don’t do often enough- I have a great habit of reading three to five chapters of the bible each day every day, but there is something different about spending the same time on a shorter section of scripture and I am realising I need to work out how I can do both!
As I pondered on the significance of these verses, I realised how poorly equipped I am to truly understand the gravity of what is written!
Firstly, it says that Jesus is a high priest in service to God. I am so far removed from first century Hebrew culture that, even if I understand the role of the high priest as it is written in the Torah, I still can’t really fathom the spiritual and emotional significance that the high priest had in Israel.
Next, it says that he made atonement/sacrifice/propitiation (depending on which translation you read) for our sins. In my comfortable 21st century Australian existence, I don’t really have any true experiences to understand what this kind of sacrifice is. I have read the bible dictionary on these words and my head can explain them to my heart, but we just don’t really do atoning sacrifice in our society all that much.
And finally it echoes Hebrews 4:15 and suggests that Jesus can really identify with every single one of us because he has suffered in the same way and been tempted in the same way. My tendency though is to assume nobody can really understand me, because i am unique and nobody has the same set of experiences as me. I think this is a common feeling amongst people today.
But the weight of this passage is huge! The only way I have even begun to appreciate it, is because I had the privilege of being able to get up early, watch the sunrise and spend a longer moment reflecting on God’s word.
Lord help me to make your word a priority, not just digesting it in large amounts, but also appreciating it in smaller nights for longer.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
My humanity is not something dirty in God’s eyes. On the contrary, in Jesus becoming fully human, our humanity is affirmed in the most profound of ways – God has embraced humanity in making us his children.
Jesus connects me with the Father who is in heaven, the Creator of all things. Jesus calls me a brother and makes me a son of God. God loves this human and has adopted me into his family.
My God, my Father, how rich is your love for me. I am no dirty human. I am a redeemed human, made fully human, like my brother Jesus. I am loved by my eternal Father and declared forgiven of all guilt. I am a son and I carry on my Father’s business.
Written by Andrew Mellor
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 8 and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
This is quite a powerful statement – “You crowned them (humans) with glory and honour and put everything under their feet.”. This flies in the face of current popular thinking that we are a product of evolutionary chance, with no Creator to bestow on us power, purpose and meaning.
This passage tells us that we are created with Position and with Purpose.
Our Position is one of honour amongst God’s creation. We are crowned (like royalty) with glory and honour! Of course, we don’t always live up to our honourable potential, but it’s comforting and encouraging to remember that God views us like this. We are very special to Him, unlike any other part of His creation.
Our Purpose is that God has called us to rule over this world. Although we don’t yet see everything under human jurisdiction, we have been given a very special job to do as His chosen ones to partner with Him to look after this world.
I am very grateful for God’s gift of Position and Purpose in a world that is trying to take God completely out of the picture.
Father God, we desperately need to hold on to these truths. Help us, especially to teach this to our young people, because these are the only things that can give us true meaning in this world.
Written by Shelley Witt
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118