Sunday, 30 November 2014

Barren Sarah

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. – Hebrews 11.11

I have always liked the story of Sarah. I think most of us can identify with her. Decades before God and told her and Abram that one day they would have a son and from that son would come vast numbers of people, a nation to be to numbered with the stars in heaven and the grains of sand on the sea shore.

But decades had passed. They had become impatient and nearly wrecked things by taking matters into their own hands. And still, no son.

But one day two angels appeared. They told Abram that before the year was out he and Sarah would have a son. There were in their nineties now and knew it was impossible, or was it. Sarah heard it from the tent and laughed. ‘How am I going to have a baby?’

But eventually she ‘judged God as faithful’ because of God’s promise. And, as the Andrew Peterson song puts it:

Long after we are dead and gone
A thousand years our tale be sung
How faith compelled and bore us on
How barren Sarah bore a son
So come to Canaan, come

What a blessing it is that ‘barren Sarah’ bore a son because it means that our God is the God of the impossible. We know we can trust Him because He faithful to His promise.

If God can give barren Sarah a son, there is nothing in my life too hard for Him. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Not knowing

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11.8

Early in the great ‘Hall of Faith’ of Hebrews 11 we read about one of the really tremendous acts of faith. I find it especially challenging because of the two little words ‘not knowing.’

Genesis 12.1-2 gives us the background of this passage. Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.

When I put myself in Abraham’s sandals I can’t even imagine making the decision he did. I would be more like ‘What? You mean you want me to load everything up and take off with my family and move? And not only move You aren’t even going to tell me where to go? For real God?’

Not knowing is a terrible dilemma for me. I really, really like to know what is going on. I have a couple of great unknowns for my future that really scare me. I don’t know the future – but neither did Abraham. So what did Abraham do? Genesis 12.4 tells us. ‘So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him…

Abram just did it. He just obeyed God even though He didn’t know.

Abram did not know where God was leading or what God was doing. But His faith allowed him to follow. Oh for the grace of God in my life that I could trust even in those situations where I don’t know. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Without faith

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. – Hebrews 11.6

The Bible is not known for its impossibilities. It is more known for what is possible. 

But there are a couple of things. It is impossible for God to lie. And it is impossible to please God without faith. 

Works is the keyword for most religion. If you do this or don’t do that God will be happy. If you go to church or give or are a good person surely that will balance out against the times I mess up or do something wrong. In a way that makes sense.

But here we see that if there is no faith no matter how good we are or what kind of works we do God is not going to be pleased. Only Christ pleased God because though He never sinned, He still offered Himself as a sacrifice for all of our sins. Only faith in Him and His work will satisfy God.

That’s not to say that works mean nothing. Whereas it is impossible to please God without faith, faith that is without works is called ‘dead.’ 

Works cannot save without faith – but faith will always produce those works.  

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Now faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." - Hebrews 11:1-3

Here is the classic verse to use when someone says ‘what is faith?’ It is great that we can quote it, but what is it really all about? 

I think the first thing we must see is what faith deals with. Faith involves ‘things hoped for’ and ‘things not seen.’ So to start with we see that faith is faith because it involves intangibles and stuff that we can’t see with our eyes or reason with our logic. If we can see it or touch it or figure it out it is not faith. 

Faith is what gives those hoped and those invisible things reality. 

It is MUCH easier to depend on my stuff, or wish I had more stuff to depend on. The reason is obvious, I can see it. 

But I also see how everything I can see is temporal. It is all passing away. It is all fragile. None of it can be depended on because all of it will fail. If that is my substance I am walking on slippery soil. 

By if faith is by substance and my evidence, even if it is unseen, it is the only thing that is not going to fail. Houses and lands and properties and bank accounts and possessions can all disappear, but God will never disappear. 

This is tough for me. I have a couple of areas where my faith really struggles. As I read this I am challenged by where I put my confidence. Lord, I do believe, but I need your help wth my unbelief. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Don't lose your confidence

" Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:“For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." - Hebrews 10:35-39

I would be among the first to admit that some passages, especially in a book like Hebrews are hard to understand. We read about eternal redemption and eternal inheritance and then we read things about drawing back and falling back that seem to say we have to do something to maintain our salvation. 

‘Don’t lose your confidence’ we read. The writer then goes on to explain that at the end of this ‘little while’ we will receive our eternal reward. We also read that the just will live by faith. That means that we don’t live by our works.

Then we see ‘if anybody draws back’ God has no pleasure in him.

So how do we reconcile the two. If our salvation is indeed eternal why does God warn about falling back?

The key is in the last line. ‘We are not of those who fall back into perdition, but those who believe to the saving of the soul.’

I think the answer is clear. God takes no pleasure in those who draw back, but those who have truly put their faith in Christ are not those who draw back. Those who are truly saved are not going to draw back. Those who draw back are those who never have truly believed no matter how they seemed all along.

That is not to say that no one ever backslides, but those who are truly saved are not going to reject their faith.

Our salvation is secure. It is eternal. And if we really have it we are not of those who draw away from it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Think about each other

" Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:23-25

Mary has a saying about going to church that I really like. She tells people, ‘We go to church because that is where we can be fed and encouraged, but we also go because we never know who may need us on that day.’

Going to church is not all about me.  It is not really about what church can do for me. We go to church, at least in part, for each other. ‘Consider each other’ the writer of Hebrews says.

Hold fast to your confession because God is faithful. His faithfulness means that our confession is what we hold on to - not our works or goodness or anything else.

With that settled our focus can be on others around us. One way we do that is to ‘not forsake the assembling or ourselves together.’

It is hard to put it any other way than to say ‘you really ought to be in church.’ Sure we ought to be in church because we need the preaching and the fellowship and the building up. But we also ought to be there because the rest of the church needs it and if we are not there we miss our chance to encourage and edify someone else.

And the worse things get the more we need to be in church to help each other out. We spend all week in the world, and that is what we ought to be doing. But we all need that regular spiritual boost and we all need to be there for others who need that boost as well.

It just makes sense. If we are Christians we ought to be around other Christians. We really do need each other. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Draw near

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." - Hebrews 10:19-22

Draw near to God. What an incredible thought. We are sinners. God is perfect and righteous and holy. We are defiled by sin. God is pure. We are flawed by sin. God is perfect in holiness.

How could we possibly hope to draw near to Him?

And even more amazing; how can we do it with boldness and confidence?

We can do it only by the blood of Jesus because His blood has sprinkled our hearts from an evil conscience and our bodies with pure water. We can do so because we are well and truly 100% redeemed by the blood of Christ.

We draw near because we have Jesus, as our High Priest interceding for us. And we can have the full assurance of faith that He alone is the one who allows us to draw near to our heavenly Father. In Christ we are clean. In Christ we are pure. In Christ alone we are made holy and righteous and perfect.

So in times of trouble let us draw near to Him through the blood of Christ and find out rest and peace and comfort there. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A new covenant

" “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”" - Hebrews 10:16-17

The word ‘covenant’ is something of an old fashioned word. It is not one we normally hear in regular use. A covenant is a solemn promise that is binding. God often established covenants with His people. Sometimes these covenants were conditional where God said ‘if you do this I will do so and so.’ Sometimes they are conditional where God says ‘I am going to do this.’ 

There is no ‘if’ in this covenant.  The if has already been sorted. God speaks to those who have already put their faith and He says ‘I will make a new covenant…I will put a new law in their hearts…I will write it in their minds…I will no longer remember their sins and lawless deeds.’ 

In this new covenant God puts His law in our hearts. The new covenant is not a promise of the Law and works – it is a covenant of grace. It is not a covenant of changed works alone, but a covenant of  a new  heart.  

The Old Covenant was based on man trying to keep in line with God’s law and failing. This new and living covenant is based on what God has already done by changing my heart and changing my mind. 

If it were me I would fail, but it is not. It is God who has done the work already. Praise God for what He has done. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Being sanctified

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. – Hebrews 10.10-14

I am amazed at how often this phrase ‘once for all’ is repeated. When Jesus said ‘it is finished’ it looks like He really meant it. Nothing more need to be done.

Here is another aspect of His ‘once for all sacrifice.’ Once and for all Jesus was already perfected us for His glory. That is signed, sealed, and delivered and it can’t change because He has already made us perfect in the sight of God.

But at the same time note that we ‘are being sanctified.’ In theology we speak of our positional perfection, but also our progressive sanctification.

All through life we are being sanctified as we grow in grace and in our Christian lives. This is the outworking of our ultimate perfection.

That God that I am already perfect in Christ and that He is progressively making me the man He wants me to be. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Waiting for His coming

" For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." - Hebrews 9:24-28

Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon…

These words are part of a popular gospel song. When I was first saved back in the early 70’s there was a lot of preaching about the second coming and there were loads of songs being written. Books were written with all kinds of ideas and scenarios about the return of Christ and the rapture and such.

We don’t hear a lot of preaching like that. There isn’t a plethora or new rapture stories being written. Though. I must admit, Hollywood is getting in on it. I guess we have to expect that. With all the stories about guessing signs of His coming I think people have wearied of it all.

The reality though is that despite all the hype, and resultant dullness, Jesus is still coming back again. We don’t know when. We never will until He comes again. I look forward to that day as much as the apostle John did and as much as St Patrick did when he wrote that he was ‘waiting for the eminent appearing’ of our Saviour.

One day Jesus will return and our salvation will be complete. We will be delivered not only from the power of sin but from the very presence of sin. Our souls today look forward to our total salvation as we struggle in this world today. He is coming again to fully deliver us. How exciting that prospect. No matter how hollywoodised it may be there is a Bible truth that Jesus is coming. Let’s not lose sight of that real and wonderful prospect.

While we are waiting lets be faithful in our service for Him. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Eternal redemption…Eternal inheritance

" Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption….And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." - Hebrews 9:12-15

Eternity is a tough concept to grasp. Since we are time bound beings we can’t really conceive of how eternal eternity is. All we can say is that it goes on forever.

And that is enough for this passage. It answers the questions of ‘how long can my redemption last?’ and ‘how long is my inheritance good for?’

The answer to both of those questions is ‘forever.’

I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. My redemption is forever because once I have been redeemed I can never again be ‘unredeemed.’

The inheritance Christ gave me is also forever. It does not fade away and it is not preserved by me. It is preserved by Christ. My inheritance is in Christ and it cannot be cancelled.

I am glad that my redemption is accomplished. Praise God that my inheritance is sealed. Praise the Lord that they are both eternal and cannot be ended. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

He offered Himself

" Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" - Hebrews 9:12-14

The Old Testament sacrificial system served its purpose. It made us all aware that we are sinners in need of a Saviour. The sacrifice of goats and  calves was grand in picturing the need of a sacrifice. But it fell short – it could not provide redemption. Only the blood of the Son of God could do that. Christ, threw the eternal Holy Spirit offered His spotless self to God in order to give us a clear conscience from serving dead works to serve the living God.

That is a lot is take in from one little sentence.

I only want to focus on a couple of points.

First is the marvellous phrase ‘He offered Himself without spot.’ Though the Jewish and Roman officials thought they had power over Jesus they had nothing. They could have done nothing to Him on their own. If He had not offered Himself no one could have taken Him. He laid down His own life for us a ‘greater love hath no man than this, that he lays down His life for his friends.’

That’s an amazing concept. That the Son of God would lay down His own life for a sinner like me is overwhelming. He offered Himself, knowing what was to come. What an awesome Saviour.

The second part is for me. How do I respond to what He has done? Why did Jesus offer Himself?

He did it to cleanse my conscience from dead works.
He did it so that might serve the living God.

Since I know that I am freed from the binding of a system of works the second step is about what I can do now – serve the living God.

Jesus offered Himself up for us so we can serve Him. Romans 12.1-2 calls on us to offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice for Him. What are we offering in response to His offering? 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Remember no more

" For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”" - Hebrews 8:12

Wow! I mean really wow! That is all I feel like I am able to say about a verse like this one. When I think about the pre-salvation Roger and I even think about Roger today it is hard to imagine that God’s love could be so great that He could make this promise to me. I can’t forget my sins – how could a Holy God choose to no longer remember my sins. 

God says a couple of amazing things here that make it clear how He could do it. 

‘I will be merciful to their unrighteousness’
‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’

There is nothing I could do to deal with my own unrighteousness. I am totally at the mercy of God. But in Christ He provided that mercy. Christ paid the price for my  sin and His mercy overcame the depth of my sin the to point where He not only forgave my sin but He chose to no longer remember my sin. He buried our sins in the deepest sin and separated us from them as far as the east is from the west. When God sees me now He sees Jesus standing in my stead. ‘Because the sinless Saviour died my sinful is counted free. For the Just is satisfied to look on Him, forget my sins, and and pardon me.’ 

God choosing to forgive my sin is amazing. God choosing to forget is beyond my comprehension. 

And as a result of His forgiving and forgetting my sins are well and truly gone. Praise God my sins are gone!  

Gone, gone, gone, gone
Yes, my sins are gone!
Now my soul is free
And in my heart's a song!

Buried in the deepest sea
Yes, that's good enough for me!
I shall live eternally
Praise God, my sins are
G-O-N-E, Gone!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Once for all

For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. – Hebrews 7.26-27

I am amazed by the words that we have a High Priest who ‘was fitting for us.’ How could a holy and harmless High Priest who is higher than the heavens be suitable for us? That doesn’t seem to be logical. 

I am unholy, harmful, defiled, a sinner, and earthly. 

Jesus is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and higher than the heavens.

How can they ever come together? 

I certainly can do nothing about it. 

But Jesus could and did. He robed Himself in flesh and blood. He veiled His deity to make Himself fitting for us. He chose to suit us because we could never suit Him. 

And He did it once for all. He gave Himself once, when He was done it was finished. Nothing else needed to be done. 

And it did it for all. 

Philip Bliss put it as well as it can be expressed. 

Free from the law, O happy condition!
Jesus has bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the lw and bruised by the fall,
Grace has redeemed us once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it!
Once for all, O brother, believe it!
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall
Christ has redeemed us once for all.

Now we are free, there's no condemnation!
Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
"Come unto Me", O hear His sweet call!
Come and He saves us once for all.

Children of God, O glorious calling!
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saved to the uttermost

Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. – Hebrews 7.23-25

The concept of eternal security in salvation is something that has been hotly debated since the very beginning of church. I am sure that I can be accused of presenting a view here from my own personal bias, but it seems to me like this verse is pretty clear about who does the saving and who does the completion of salvation as well. 

Human priests could only do do much. They offered their regular sacrifices as their duty required. But priests were limited because they themselves were mere men and because, at the end of the day – they died. When they died their service was over. That just makes sense. 

But Christ is different because He is the High Priest who lives forever and never changes. Because He is alive today and sitting at the right hand of God interceding for me He is the One who saves me to the very, very end, or, if you will, the uttermost. 

Keeping myself saved can’t be up to me. Jesus saved me forty years ago and that salvation was not temporary. It was forever, to the very very end. He has secured an inheritance which cannot fade away. 

I thank God that He saved me to the uttermost and it is not up to me. May I life a live that reflects His eternal salvation to the world around me. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

On the other hand

" For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." - Hebrews 7:18-19

On the one hand the Jews in the Old Testament did have some hope. Their hope was in fulfilling the Law that God had given them on Mt Sinai. When we look at it there really isn’t much ‘hope’ there because people learned pretty quickly that they could not keep the Law and therefore there was just a ‘I hope I am good enough attitude.’ And in that there really is not much hope. 

The hope in the Law was weak and unprofitable. It could not make anything perfect. 

But, on the other hand, there is a better hope. 

On the other hand, there is a bringing in of a better hope. And through that hope and that hope alone we draw near to God. 

That hope is the assured hope that cannot fail. Our hope is in Christ and in Him alone. If my hope were in my works or my spirituality I would be in a mess. It would surely fail. But with my hope in the sinless Christ it can never fail. That is my anchor. 

I have to go to an old song again to express my thoughts about my hope this morning. 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

 On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
 All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
In Him, my righteousness, alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Friday, 14 November 2014

We have an anchor

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6.17-20

Just the other day the ESA successfully soft landed a probe on a comet 500 million kilometres away. It all looked good, but before things settled down there was a problem. The harpoons that were designed to anchor the lander to the comet failed and it bounced 2-3 times before it landed precariously to the rock. As I am writing this they are still not sure the anchors are going to hold. Because the probe was not properly anchored they don’t really know where the probe is.

This is a clear picture of what happens when there is no anchor. A lack of stability can be ruinous. This doesn’t just apply to probes on comets 500 million kilometres away. It also applies to people here as we live our spiritual lives. If we are not clinging to our anchor we are going to bounce all over the place and it’s going to be hard for us to figure out exactly where we are spiritually.

But we do have an anchor. Our anchor is based on the promise of the immutability of the counsel of God who cannot lie. He is our strong consolation and He is our eternal secure hope. He is steadfast and secure and there is no need for us to be bouncing around all over the place.

I love this old hymn about that anchor. I miss it. I am not sure a whole lot of people even remember it anymore. When I read this verse it immediately comes to mind. There is no way that I could put it as clearly as this song. Enjoy and be blessed.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Saviour’s hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.

It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.

It will surely hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill our latest breath;
On the rising tide it can never fail,

While our hopes abide within the veil.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Don't get lazy

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. – Hebrews 6.11-12

This is one of those verses that make me think that Paul is probably the writer of Hebrews. It sounds a lot like ‘don’t be weary in well doing’ and ‘be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord because you know your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’

I like what it says. I like the encouragement that it gives. I like the challenge it presents. It says ‘don’t give up’ and ‘stay at it’ and ‘others have been through it all before.’

God knows that we need instruction when things get old and tedious and not much is happening. It is easy to keep going when things are exciting and we are seeing results. No one gets lazy or slothful or sluggish then. How can you when everyone is excited.

But when things are not going that well it is quite easy to get weary and tired and sluggish, and it is easy to get lazy when we have an attitude of ‘what’s the use.’

But we really can’t afford to get lazy, even when we get discouraged. When we get discouraged it is just the time to remember all those who have gone on before us and stayed at it till they inherited all of God’s promises. They ought to motivate us to move on. 

Don’t get weary in doing good
Always abound in the work of the Lord
Don’t get lazy

The instructions are pretty clear. Just trust God, remember those who have gone before, and stay diligent to the end. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

He does not forget

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. – Hebrews 6.10

We have been in this ministry for a long time now. We have had our good days and our bad days. We have had our ups and our downs. We have had great excitement and long sluggish spells. Everything is fine during the good times. But in the not so good times it is easy to see only the negative. At those times it can seem like nobody sees what we are doing, and it can even seem like we have been forgotten. We have even visited a supporting church who didn’t know who we were. It gets discouraging when it seems like ‘nobody’ reads our prayer letters. We are a little church in County Kildare and it can seem like ‘nobody’ knows who we are.

Of course this is all a matter of perspective. Our recent trip to the States reminded us that people do still love us and do still care and don’t forget us.

But in those days it is important to remember that even if everyone really did forget us there is one who will never forget.

God does not forget our labour of love. He does not forget as we serve each other. He does not forget as we do these things in His name.

We don’t serve for the world’s recognition. We don’t serve to be remembered or thought about. We serve because we love each other and because we do in His name alone. And we serve each other in love we can be assured that God does not forget what we are doing.

This is such a great blessing and encouragement. We are not forgotten. We just keep on loving God, loving each other, and ministering to the needs of each other.

God will never forget. Praise His name. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  – Hebrews 5.12

A key part of Christian living in spiritual growth and progress and service. God did not save us for us to sit still and stay stagnant. As we grow we are to become involved in the great work of teaching and sharing and edifying. We need to get to the point where we start to give and not just get.

We have been involved in watching our children and now many our grandchildren grow and develop from birth. Even now we have a nearly unbroken succession of 15 descendants at various ages of growth from a 35 year old son to a five month old granddaughter. It is interesting to watch children grow and develop in various ways.

All of them, without exception, have started their lives  needing one food. All they needed was milk. As time goes on they start to eat semi-solid foods. Then they grow on to ‘real foods’ and get to the point when they can eat and enjoy almost anything. Eventually they all get to the point where they can help to feed the younger babies their food.

It would be a tragedy if any child just stopped at the point where they only took in milk and always had to have someone there to feed it to them.

And it is just as tragic when believers never move beyond the baby stage where they need someone to bottle-feed the milk of God’s word.

We must move beyond that. We must get to the point where we not only move on to feeding ourselves on the meat of the word but to the point where we can begin to teach others.

No one is born as an adult. We all need to grow and we are going to vary in our growth. But if we stay spiritual babies there is something wrong. It is time to start growing up. It is time to start feeding instead of being fed. It doesn’t mean we all have to preach or even teach Sunday School or whatever, but we all need to grow to the point we can start helping others to grow as well.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  – Hebrews 4.14-16

This has always been one of my favourite pictures of Christ. I already mentioned that He came and took on flesh so that He could help us through of trials and testings. Here we see again that He came as such a High Priest that He can sympathise and understand all of our weaknesses.

But it is the last point I want to look at today.

Because He has been through all of that for us, and because we know He has. We really can know that He knows what it is to suffer and to go through difficulties. We don’t have to wonder is He can really understand.

I like this a lot. When I go to talk to someone about something I am much more comfortable if I know they can understand. It is even better when know what it is like to go through what I am going through. When I face a struggle I can be comfortable and confident and bold in the knowledge that Jesus was ‘is all points tempted as we are’ and that He did not sin. He understands. He veiled His deity in a robe of flesh so that He could know what it feels like and I could know that He knows what it feels like.

And the result? I can obtain mercy and I can find His grace to help in times of need. He is there. He has been through it. He understands. And He will help me through His infinite mercy and His amazing grace.

If only I could learn to trust Him to do what He says He will do.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Nothing hidden

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4.13

Do you remember way back to the very beginning of scripture? Do you remember the first thing Adam and Eve realised after they sinned? Since creation they had walked with God in the garden and there was no shame in the nakedness. But when they sinned they realised that they were naked before God and they were ashamed.

I think that is a clear picture of what Hebrews is talking about here. There is nothing that can be hidden from God. That means that God sees everything. He doesn’t miss anything.

While we know as believers that Christ has already paid the price for our sin, it is a terrible thought to remember that God sees all that we do. Beyond that He sees all that we say and He sees all that we think. It is all wide open before Him.

It is easy enough to hide our sin from the eyes of others. We know where to hide. We know how to change the channel. We know how to close the programme. We know all kinds of  ways to cover our transgressions.

But all these things are naked and open before God.

Can any of us say that there is nothing that we have said or done or thought in the last few days that we would not have done if we knew that it was open to God? The sad thing is that He saw it all.

Please Lord, remind of this powerful truth every time I am tempted to sin against you.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

God's living scalpel

For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4.12

The word of God is ‘quick’ and powerful. I like the old King James word ‘quick’ even if we don’t use it any more. It is just kind of a neat word that I wish we still used.

I remember when I was a child, before we knew how deadly mercury was, playing with mercury from a broken thermometer. It seemed almost alive by the way it moved and acted and clung together and broke apart. It was sometimes called ‘quicksilver’ because it acted like living silver.

Anyhow, enough of my old fashioned thinking.

The word of God is alive. It is not just some dead book, but it moves our hearts and acts on our spirits and changes our lives.

The word of God is powerful. It has the power to totally transform lives.

But I want to look at just one section today. Look here are the last part.

The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Here I see the sword like a surgeon’s scalpel.

It is God’s word and His word alone that can cut through all the excuses and reasons and fleshly thoughts to get to the real heart of the matter. It is the one thing that can cut through all the excess and get right to the heart of the matter.

I can reason and argue with other people. I can even rationalise my actions to myself. But I can never argue with the word of God because it cuts right through to the real issues. It is the discerner of my real thoughts and intents.

May I learn to let God’s scalpel do its work in my life. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

There is a rest

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.  – Hebrews 4.9

I think we all get tired. This old life gets tiresome and all we want to do is to stop and rest. I like this study of the various rests here in Hebrews. I am not going to look at all of them, but just this concept that there is a rest for God’s people. 

What kind of rest are we talking about? We are talking about that wonderful, peaceful, amazing, eternal rest that we are going to see one day. One day all of the trials and pressure and deadlines and expectations are going to finally be over and we are going to finally get to take off our shoes, put the kettle on, and sit back and rest. 

Have you ever been really, really tired. I mean the kind of tired that all you want to do is get home, take of your shoes, kick back in your chair, have a cuppa tea, and then just relax? I love that feeling of rest. The work or the trip is done and now it is time to just take it easy. 

Well, that final day of rest is coming for the believer. No more clock to punch. No more deadlines to meet. No more pressures from the boss. No more fighting the world, the flesh, or the devil. No more sorrow and no more pain (including no more toothaches). No more cancer. No more death. 

Just blessed rest. What a day that will be. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Lest any fall short

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. – Hebrews 4.1-2

We looked a few days at those professed believers or are not possessors of real faith. He we have another look at those who seem to be a part of the body of Christ, but have never fully put their faith in Him. They are part of ‘us’ because they seem to be a part of the church.

Here the writer of Hebrews tells us why he is so persistent in sticking to this theme. There are some to whom the word of God was preached, along with everyone else. They would hear all about the eternal rest God was promising, but they did not profit them. They have so far fallen short of it. And the reason is simple – their hearing was not mixed with faith.

Some folks may be reading this who have been a part of things for as long as they can remember. They have always been in church. They have heard the word since they were children. Years may have passed and one thing is still missing. They may have never mixed faith in with their hearing.

For those in that situation all those years of church and preaching are not going to have any profit. The salvation that is so close is in danger of slipping away.

Let’s be sure that our hearing has combined with faith so that we do not lose out on the profit of eternal salvation. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Consider Jesus

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honour than the house." - Hebrews 3.1-3

There are loads of things out there clamouring for our attention. Ads ask us to consider this product or that product or this price or this benefit or whatever.

Then we have all kinds of things we like to consider. People in America yesterday were asked to consider various parties or politicians or platforms or programmes as they went to the polls for midterm elections. We like to consider the news or sports or various theological viewpoints. There is more than enough for us to consider.

Most of those things are not bad – they are fine and they are a part of daily life. But they are not the most important thing consider. There is something, or someone I should say, is worthy of all our consideration.


There are loads of reasons here to consider Jesus.

He is our Apostle
He is our High Priest
He was faithful
He is counted worthy of glory

I think this is the only time we hear of Jesus referred to as an apostle. I do know that the meaning of apostle is ‘one who is sent out.’ In that regard we need to consider our worthiness. We were worth Jesus being sent to earth for us.

We need to consider Jesus as our High Priest who lives today to make intercession for us. As our High Priest Jesus came to earth and went through trials and testings so that we could know that He knows what it is like when we go through hard times.

We consider Jesus because He was faithful to all the tasks He was sent to do. He was obedient even to His death on the cross. He was faithful all the way to the point where He could say ‘it is finished’ and then sat down on God’s right hand.

We consider Jesus as worthy of all our glory. There is nothing for us to glory in in ourselves anyway. Let’s consider as the One and only worthy of glory.

In all we do let’s remember to consider Jesus. In every decision we make let’s make sure that we consider Jesus.

Consider Jesus. Look to Him. He is worthy. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Able to help

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.  – Hebrews 2.17-18

Jesus taking on human form was really a big deal. Hebrews spends a lot of time talking about it and it is mentioned in a few other places as well. That one act accomplished a lot more than we might think about at first glance.

Most importantly of course is the fact because sin entered into the world though one man only a man could deal with the sin issue.

But there are other great truths.  

One of them is here. One of the reasons Jesus came in the flesh was that He could help us out in hard times. He suffered all sorts of trials and difficulties. He got tired. He got hungry. He never owned a home. He was rejected by His own people. He was denied by one of His closest friends. At the end He was abandoned by the men who knew Him the best and loved Him.

He went through all that – and yet He went on the cross. When His friends couldn’t even stay awake to watch for Him and pray He did not give up. He stuck to His purpose. I don’t really understand the idea of Jesus being ‘tempted’ but in some regard He faced temptation like we are.

So He understands when we are tested and tried and tempted. Of course, being God He already understood, but because He came in the flesh we can know that He knows and He is able to help us through our worst hardships and testing and trials and temptation.

God is ready and able to help me – what better help could I ask for? 

Monday, 3 November 2014

A merciful and faithful High Priest

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.  – Hebrews 2.17-18

We get to read a little bit more here about how and why Jesus took on flesh and blood and became like us. By the way, that kind of sacrifice still amazes me. We are all looking forward to heaven. Jesus chose to leave it to come to earth to dwell among and be our Emmanuel.

He came to be made like us, so that He could be our High Priest. And He was not like any other High Priest. They were all men. They were all flawed. There could all make mistakes. And all they could do was to offer temporary sacrifices.

But Jesus was different. He is a High Priest who was full of mercy. That in itself is a blessing. He is the High Priests whose mercy never runs out and whose mercies are fresh every morning.  I am glad His mercy never runs out because I am always in need of fresh mercies.

Our High Priest is faithful. He can therefore be counted on to always be there. He has promised to never forsake us and His faithfulness is a great comfort.

Then we read the wonderful blessing that He made propitiation for our sin.

Where we would we be without our merciful and our faithful High Priest?  

Sunday, 2 November 2014

To release us

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  - Hebrews 2.14-15

Physical death is the ultimate problem with flesh and blood. Our bodies get old and at the end, no matter what, our flesh is going to die and fade away into dust.

Death is a powerful captor. It is a great bondage. The fear of death is the ultimate fear. I watched a special one time about euthanasia. I remember one elderly lady who had chosen the option to go to a country that allowed people to take their own lives with assistance. At the last moment she couldn't do it. She said that life is just too precious to let it go. In a case with world exposure a young woman with brain cancer had scheduled her death in the US for Saturday, but on Friday she cancelled it. She just said there was still too much to live for. Death doesn’t appear to be the friend she hoped for.

The fear of death is indeed a powerful force. It is a scary thing to think about. But because of what Jesus did we are no longer in bondage to the reality of death.

Death may come today, or tomorrow, or five years or twenty years from now. But I don’t need to spend the time I have left in fear of what death will bring. Jesus has sorted that out. And though I am too limited by my earthly vision to look forward to death – I certainly need not be afraid. 

Death has been crushed to death and now life is mine to live without fearing the day it rears its head. I know what is beyond. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

He shared

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  - Hebrews 2.14-15

I am sitting here typing away and getting a little frustrated that it is becoming obvious that I need yet another update to my glasses. The limitations of living in flesh and blood are bothersome. Don't get me wrong, I am glad that my heart beats and my lungs works and I am pretty healthy and able to get out and walk every day and all that. Saying that, flesh and blood can be a bother. I was up all night last night with a toothache. Now, that is not that big a deal in the eternal scheme of things – but it sure is a pain at the moment.

Why would anyone choose to take on flesh and blood if they didn't have to do so?

And that is what Jesus did for us. From the glories of heaven Jesus chose to veil His deity and take on all the problems of flesh and blood. He chose to subject Himself to hunger and thirst and weariness and getting dirty and all the rest. He didn't have to do that - so why did He?

Jesus shared in our flesh and blood for one reason only. He had to become flesh and blood so He could die and He had to die to defeat Satan, the one who has the power of death. And because He did that Satan is defeated. As foretold way back in Genesis Satan bruised Christ’s heel, but Christ crushed Satan’s head.

The God of heaven loved me enough to take on flesh and blood, and then die in that flesh and blood so that He could defeat the one who is the cause of death.