Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday, February 29th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 14-15, Psalm 90
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:35-38

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned[a]; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

The courage of faith isn't always to conquer the seemingly impossible.  Sometimes it's to continue in suffering.

"they refused to be released" implies that the torture could've stopped, if they had recanted.  But they didn't.  They would rather suffer torture to the point of death than deny their God.

And the thing that gave them courage was gaining a better resurrection - focusing on the future, considering eternity instead of this present and short life.

They endured physical torture, mental abuse and verbal mocking, death, destitution.  They endured.  Because of their faith.

And the world was not worthy of them.  What an amazing quote that is.
The world isn't worthy of those who have the courage of faith to suffer for Christ.

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  I LOVE that story.
They believed God could save them.  But they didn't know if He would.  And whether He would or He wouldn't was irrelevant to the stance they would take - they would not reject their God.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3 - emphasis mine)

That is the pinnacle of faith.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:39-40
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 16-17

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday, February 28th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 11-13
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:32-34

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Faith has the courage to conquer any struggle - no matter how humanly impossible it is.  Gideon and his army of 300 - he didn't have faith in his army, he had faith in His God and what He had promised, and he was victorious.

Just like Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel.

When God promises victory, He delivers victory, every time.

God sometimes even delivers unpromised victories.  Daniel's faith resulted in shut mouths of the lions; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's faith resulted in escaping the fury of the flames - here they believed in God's sovereignty even though He never promised them they'd survive.  But they had courageous faith anyway, and God honoured them for it, and glorified His name.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:35-38
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 14-15, Psalm 90

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 27th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 8-10
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:29-31

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Faith believes in God's promises.  God told the Israelites that He would part the sea for them to walk through.  Can you imagine how scary that actually would've been?  Yeah, sure the walls of the sea are there right now - but will they stay held up?!  Sometimes God needs to prompt our faith (with a rapidly approaching Egyptian army, for instance), but faith believes God's word and acts on it.

MacArthur (emphasis mine)...
Faith takes God at His word and is victorious. Presumption drowns. The Egyptians presumed and they drowned. Listen, if you're waiting for a ferryboat to live the Christian life, it'll never come. If you're waiting for calm water, it'll never come. You're going to have to walk through with it all piled up on both sides and believe God that it'll stay there cause the Christian life is a matter of believing God's promise. 

Faith is courageous.  And courageous faith conquers obstacles.

The wall of Jericho was one huge obstacle!  And the manner in which God told them to overcome that obstacle must've seemed ludicrous and embarrassing and likely even dangerous (are the people of Jericho going to shoot arrows at them or throw rocks down on them as they're walking around the city?).  But they had faith in God and demonstrated that faith by courageous obedience - and emerged victorious!

Rahab - now that is a lady with courageous faith!  Not only was she a prostitute, but she was a Gentile.  Not only a Gentile, but a Canaanite.  Not only a Canaanite, an Amorite - the very race God had marked for destruction.

MacArthur (emphasis mine)...
she was a member of a race that God had devoted to destruction; but that's how God's grace works. His mercy's open to all who will receive it; and God's race has always been wider than Israel, even in the Old Testament.

It took courage for Rahab to believe in this God of the Israelites.  She believed, against the odds, that God would destroy Jericho. She risked her own life to protect the spies. And she believed the spies when they promised to spare her life.  Amazing courage!

God honored that prostitute in Jericho, that Amorite. You know how He honored her? First of all, He honored her by salvation; but more than that, for our consideration at this moment, certainly not more than that in terms of eternal things, she became the mother of Boaz. Boaz became the husband of Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David. Rahab the harlot moved right into the Messianic line. That's God's grace.

God honoured Rahab's courageous faith.

She believed in a big God.  The "size" of our courage and strength is in direct proportion to our beliefs about the God we claim to follow. Who would have much faith in a teeny, tiny God?    The bigger our God, the bigger our faith will be.  And we have a great God. Our God is sovereign, loving, faithful, trustworthy and powerful. We can take Him at His Word. We can bank our lives on it.  The Hebrews 11 heroes of the faith did.  Will we?

Will we demonstrate the kind of courageous faith that God honours?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:32-34
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Numbers 11-13

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday, February 26th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 7
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:24-28

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

This passage makes it very clear that acting in faith is a choice.  Every day we are faced with choices - to choose good or evil, to choose the way of the cross or the way of the world.

Joshua 24:15 choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Faith is a choice.  God has given us the ability to choose.  And how, what and who we choose will determine our life's course - both now and in eternity.

Moses made some huge choices!

He rejected worldly prestige when he refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh.  He was Prince of Egypt!  And he rejected it in order to fulfill God's will for his life.

He rejected the worldly pleasures of sin.  Sin if fun - for a time.  Sometimes a long time, sometimes a really short time.  But the pleasure of sin always comes to an end - ultimately in eternity, but oftentimes much sooner than that.

In this section of his sermon. MacArthur has an amazing portion about sexual sin.  Here's just a bit of it (emphasis mine)...
I believe real love doesn't court sexual sin. You people say, "Ohhhhh, you know, we's so hard, because we love each other sooooo much." I always say, "Baloney. If you're doing that, you love each other too little, because if you really loved each other, you would never steal purity from the one you really love. When you do that, you don't love too much, you love too little. It's not the genuine stuff." And when a...when a guy comes to you, girls, and he says, "Oh, you know, I really love you. Man, you're the greatest. I really love you, and I wanna marry you. Now, let's, shooom, go to bed." Check it out. He doesn't love you. He loves himself way too much for you to tolerate. He's really saying, "I love me, and me would like to use you." That's what he's saying. Vice versa, same thing. You know, I mean, and you girls, you know, be pure about it. You know what Ann Landers said, "A lemon that's been squeezed too many times is garbage." She's right...Who wants it?...

I love the line - you would never steal purity from the one you really love.  That's amazing and so, so true.  That isn't true love - it's lust, plain and simple.

Moses also rejected the world's plenty - all the treasures and wealth of Egypt were at his fingertips as Prince of Egypt.  And he rejected it.  This doesn't mean that all Christians are destined to be dirt poor.  But rather we are to pursue righteousness and allow God to determine our wealth, instead of pursuing wealth as our heart's desire.

Moses had pressure on him that we cannot even fathom.  He had the right family name (by adoption), he had the best training Egypt's money could buy, he had wealth unimaginable, he had power, he had prestige. And he rejected it all.  The amount of faith it would take to do that is almost incomprehensible.  What a man of faith Moses was!

Pursuing fame, money, prestige and power is inconsistent with our faith.  God may choose to bestow those on a Christian, but they should not be our goals.  When our faith is genuine we will make choices that reflect the priorities we really have, not just the ones we claim to have.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:29-31
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 8-10

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday, February 25 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 5-6
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:20-23

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

By. Faith. Our Pastor has been doing a series for the last few weeks and one of the messages was about faith or as he called it "God memories - past". It is because God has been faithful in the past (flawlessly!), that we base our actions and it allows us to act by faith. It is what God has done in the past that prompted Isaac to bless Jacob and Esau. It prompted Jacob to bless each of Joseph's sons. It prompted Joseph to remind everyone about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and it was by faith that Moses' parents defied the law and hid Moses. God is always faithful and we can depend and place our trust in Him. Always.

Memories about God's faithfulness is what carries us through times of uncertainty. There will be times that do not make sense. There will be times when God seems to be distant. "Time does not diminish God's faithfulness" and He always comes through at the right time. It is our memory bank of God's flawless dependability and "He knows the right thing at the right time and it is good". By faith, we can know that God's way is the past and in the future.

You can hear the sermon about "Faith: God Memories-Past" by clicking here and then listening to the sermon on January 22, 2012.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:24-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 7

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, February 24th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 3-4.
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:17-19.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring[a] will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

MacArthur sums up Abraham's faith (and ours!) this way...
The pilgrimage of faith - separated from the world. The pa­tience of faith - waiting for God to work. The power of faith - doing the impossible. The positivism of faith - focusing on God's eternal promise and believing that it's guaranteed gilt-­edged. The proof of faith - obedience, self-sacri­fice. That's the pattern of faith.

The proof of faith is obedience and self-sacrifice.  That is what today's passage is about.  Abraham's faith was so strong, his faith in God and in His unconditional promise was so strong that he believed God would raise Isaac from the dead and so he was willing to sacrifice is son in obedience.

Do you and I have obedience like that?  Self-sacrifice like that?  Faith like that?

One thing that is neat is one of the ways God rewarded Abraham for his faith - He identified Himself as Abraham's God. The patriarchs honoured God and so God was not ashamed to be known as their God.  "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...."   I want to live my life in faith - being separated from the world, waiting for God to work, doing the impossible, focusing on God's eternal promise and living in obedience and sacrifice - so that God would not be ashamed to say "I am the God of Tammy". Can you even imagine that?!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:20-23
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 5-6

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday, February 22 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 1-2.
Today's scripture focus is  Hebrews 11:13-16.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Does anyone else find that the more you read the Bible and the more time you spend focusing on spending time with God, the more you look forward to heaven?

I don't think we should look forward to heaven so much that we don't enjoy our time here on earth, but I think I'm just starting to come to a place where I can long for a heavenly home in a way I was never able to before.  I never wanted to feel like an alien or stranger on earth.  I think before I was so immersed in all the things I have here that I didn't want to "lose" and there was hesitation, if not fear, of the unknown that happens after we die.  It's all well and good to say we have the assurance of salvation and we're going to Heaven, but it's still really difficult or perhaps impossible for us to have any comprehension of what that will really be like.

Reading my Bible and spending that time with God, making church a priority, getting involved in the children's programs at church, and really making a conscious effort to make Sunday a special day reserved for God and family have all been factors in adjusting my attitudes.  I still enjoy life here on this earth and appreciate all the beauty and amazing blessings God has given us here, but I am now able to say I actually look forward to heaven in a way I never really did before.

Anyone else?

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 11:17-19.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Numbers 3-4.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday, February 22nd

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 26-27
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:11-12

11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

Faith is powerful and can accomplish the humanly impossible.  Sarah was barren and old.  Abraham was old.  It was humanly impossible for them to conceive.  And yet Abraham believed God in faith.  He believed in the One who had made the promise.  I love that part.  And because Abraham believed, because Abraham had faith, not only in what he couldn't see, but that God could accomplish the humanly impossible, he became the father of millions and the "father" of Christ Jesus Himself.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:13-16
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 1-2

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday, February 21st

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 24-25
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:8-10

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Abraham was called away from an upbringing of idolatry and paganism, He was chosen by God to be the "father of faith", if you will, of all who came after him.God called him, and he left the life and lifestyle he knew, and followed God, not knowing where he was going.

Doesn't that sound like the life of a Christian? When we become Christians, we leave the old lifestyle we were living in, and we become new creations, and we embark on a journey with God as our Lord, not knowing where it will lead - but we step out in faith.  Like Abraham did.

But Abraham never received the actual land of the Promised Land.  He never owned it.  He lived in tents as a foreigner.  He waited a LONG time for just the promise of an heir to be fulfilled!  But he never saw the promise fulfilled in all it's totality.

Just like we live here on earth as foreigners.  This world is not our home.  We look forward to our eternal heavenly home, but we're not there yet.  Just like Abraham.  But we're wait patiently, in faith.

And v10 gives us the reason for Abraham's patience.  He was looking up, aware that heaven was waiting.  And so he waited, patiently, in faith.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:11-12
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 26-27

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday, February 20th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 22-23
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:7

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

From MacArthur's sermon Noah and the Obedience of Faith...(emphasis mine)
 No man comes to God by works but all men who truly come to God will give evidence of the faith that they have by the things that they do. And that's the distinction. No man reaches God by good works, nobody is good enough. But works will always be a result of having come to God....

the new covenant is not teaching something new, faith has always been the only way to God. The people in the Old Testa­ment believed God, it says of Abraham he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. All the Old Testament people listed in chapter 1.1, it says by faith Abel, by faith Enoch, by faith Noah, by faith Abraham, by faith, by faith, by faith, and He is just saying this is always the way it's always been. And so it's nothing new. It's nothing new. But it needs to be redefined because they have long ago forgotten it and drifted into a works system...

The record of Abel shows us the worship of God. The record of Enoch shows us the worship and the walk with God. And in Noah we see one who worshiped God, walked with God, and worked for God. So it just takes us another step. Progressive steps in the relationship of faith.....

Now the choice is the same for every man, you may live as if the message of God was of little value or else you may live as if the message of God was of absolute importance, the most important thing in the world.

When warned about things not yet seen
When God told Noah to build an ark, Noah didn't see any water - he didn't live near an ocean, he didn't see it rain (it had never rained on the earth before!).  He had no physical reason to believe God.  But he still believed, by faith, and moved by fear.
in holy fear
The word fear may give you an erroneous impression that Noah acted under the influence of fright, but the Greek word means to reverence. He did it because he reverenced God's word. And God told him to do it.
By his faith he condemned the world
Noah preached judgment - for 120 years, every time he chopped down a tree, sawed a plant, drove a spike he preached that judgement was coming, find refuge in God.  For 120 years!  With NO response!  Can you even imagine that?  That kind of faith?!  It's incredible.  I doubt after a week of seemingly unanswered prayer - nevermind 120 years!

Here is a very cool quote from MacArthur's sermon...

Watch this, this is a point that just thrills me. Look at verse 21 of chapter 5. "And Enoch lived sixty and five years," just a kid, "and he begot Methuselah," he had a son. That's great. Now you say - What's the significance of Methuselah? Well, his name is significant. Listen to this, his name means - when he is dead, it shall be sent - hang on to that one, that's worth at least a quarter, when he is dead it shall be sent. Isn't that an interesting thing to name your son? When he is dead it shall be sent ... in -that name is divine revelation. It was as though God said to Enoch, - You see that baby, Enoch, that baby you just had? The world will last as long as he lives. Are you with me? The world will last as long as he lives. For when he is dead, then it shall be sent. What shall? The great deluge in destruction that came. So the world was to last as long as the son of Enoch lived.
First Peter 3:10 says this; 3:20 says; "The long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." What was God waiting for? He was waiting for Methusaleh to die. And God said - I'm not going to send judgment, by, the very name of Methusaleh, until he dies. How long did Methusaleh live? Longer than any man in the history of the world ever lived. Does that tell you a little bit about God's grace? Does it? Nine-hundred and sixty-nine years. So, before you impugn the justice of God, look again. He was so merciful. It should impress us to know that His grace is that way. What an exhibition of mercy. He waited almost 1,000 years for men to change. They only went further and further and further away. 
Isn't that incredible?!

and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
The only way to receive righteousness is by faith.

Do you want to be like Noah?  I do!

We're living in a world that's awaiting judgment, just like Noah.

I want to have a faith that obeys no matter how inconceivable or incomprehensible God's commands are.  I want to have a faith that rebukes wickedness.  I want to have a faith that established me, in the sight of God, as righteous.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:8-10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 24-25

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday, February 19th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 19-21
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:5-6

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Enoch pleased God, he lived by faith, he believed God, he sought God.  MacArthur has a very interesting sermon on Enoch - I didn't know we knew so much about Enoch from the few verses about him in Genesis, Hebrews and Jude!

To please God, we must believe that He is, and that He is the God that He claims to be.  Like Enoch did.

We must seek Him with our whole heart, believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.  Like Enoch did.

We need to walk with God - in reconciliation, as a new creation, cleansed of our sin and dedicated to living in holiness, surrendering to Him as Lord of our lives, enjoying spiritual fellowship with God, by faith.  Like Enoch did.

We need to speak the truth as well.  Enoch preached (see Jude 1:14-15) judgment of God on sinners because God told him to and he believed Him (he never saw the judgment, he never saw the flood, he certainly never saw the final judgment still to come, but God told him and he believed Him).  He didn't just keep his faith in his heart, he put it on his lips.  We need to speak the truth, like Enoch did.

And what happened as a result?

By faith he was taken into the very presence of God.

May we live like Enoch!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:7
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 22-23

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday, February 18th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 16-18
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:4

4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

God has always intended works to be the result of salvation, not the way of salvation.

From MacArthur,

he wants to show the Jewish reader particu­larly and all men for that matter, but particularly the Jewish reader, the Hebrews that they have always been related to God on the basis of faith, that they never had a works system. That faith has always been that which pleased God, and of course the statement, "The just shall live by faith," is a quote from Habakkuk, one of their own prophets who said that. And so he wants to re-establish in their minds the character of faith and the absolute nature of faith by which a man comes to God. So he does it by defining it and then by giving illustrations from the history of Israel of men of faith.
Now the first example of faith was Abel....
In Abel we see a man worshiping, bringing a sacrifice, beginning the life of faith. And you never begin the life of faith until you come on the basis of sacrifice, right? Even today we don't come to God and just say, God I'm deciding to walk with You. Like the song says, I'll walk with God da- da, da- da, da- da. Well that's a nice sentiment. The only way you'll ever walk with God is when you come to God to begin with on the basis of a sacrifice, and the only sacrifice that opens up the way to God is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Abel illustrates that, he came to God and worshiped through sacrifice. 

From his previous sermon...
 You know there's nothing at all in the text to indicate that Abel was any better than Cain? They were both sinners. The only thing that obtained righteousness for Abel was he did what God told him, Cain didn't. That's the only difference. That's the only thing that changes any man's relationship to God, it's not how good you are, it's not that you're better or worse than anybody else, it's that you came to God on the terms that God set down, that's all He asks. Abel was as much a sinner as Cain but he believed God and he obeyed and because of that faith was counted to him for righteousness and God accepted him. You see it's that kind of faith that enables God to move in on our behalf and make us righteous. Do you know that true faith is always obedient, do you know that? Always....

what is Abel saying to us? Three point sermon. Number one, man comes to God by faith not works, did you hear him say that? Point number two, man cannot follow reason and ignore revelation, he must abide by God's standard and obey it. Point number three, sin is severely punished for the one who doesn't obey. So Abel is the preacher, and he preaches a timeless sermon, and it says in effect just what the Holy Spirit wanted the reader's of Hebrews to hear, "The just shall live (what?) by faith."

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:5-6
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 19-21

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday, February 17th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 14-15
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 11:3

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

The physical universe was created by God, at His command.  It was not made out of anything visible, but rather out of the invisible - God's power.  Believers accept this by faith.  We did not see it.  But we know it because God said in His Word that it is true.

According to MacArthur,
we've seen a definition of faith, it gives a present reality to a future fact, it furnishes enough conviction so that you bet your life on it, it secures the blessing and the approval of God and it enables you to understand what the philosophers and scientists of the world cannot understand, it enables you to perceive the things that are not open to the senses.

Creation truly is above the logic of man to understand.  We simply can't understand or explain it logically beyond a shadow of a doubt.

It takes faith to accept evolution, it takes faith to accept creation.  But creation is God's account and therefore, I believe what He said, and accept it by faith.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 11:4
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 16-18

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday, February 16 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 11-13.
Today's scripture focus is  Hebrews 11:1-2.

 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

Verse 1 has to be one of my most favourite verses.  

Some people refuse to believe in God because they can't see Him and they feel that putting their faith in Someone they can't see or hear or touch is ridiculous,  and therefore they refuse to believe that the world was created by Him... but because they have to find some explanation of how the world came to be without God, they choose instead to believe an unprovable theory that requires every bit as much blind faith as belief in creation and God does.  Does anyone else find that strange?  It comes down to choosing where you place your faith, not whether or not to have faith.  

I don't pretend for a second to understand the science involved in attempting to prove or disprove evolution.  Truthfully, I'm actually not that interested in it.  I do know, however, that nothing has ever been conclusively proven to uphold evolution.  Therefore, it must be admitted that belief in the "big bang" or any other theory of how the world and everything in it came to be is based as much on faith as is special creation by a Supreme Being.  

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that not only is faith being certain of what we do not see, but also being sure of what we hope for.  What do those who put their faith in science have to hope for?  

Do we, as Christians, keep in mind what we hope for?  Or do we allow ourselves to become so immersed in the present world that we forget about that we have to look forward to?

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 11:3.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Leviticus 14-15.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday, February 15th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 8-10
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 10:35-39

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 very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Yesterday we wrote that the first deterrent to apostasy was to remember.

The second deterrent to apostasy is the promise of a reward.  Don't get trapped into looking at the present with all it's problems and get stuck there.  Look back and remember how wonderful the stirrings of the Spirit were, and look ahead to how wonderful it will be for all eternity.  Have patience, and go on to full belief and live by faith.

Christ offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice and only left us with two choices - accept Him or reject Him.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 11:1-2
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 11-13

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 5-7
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 10:32-34

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face 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 sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

These verses are a deterrent to the apostasy we wrote of yesterday.   The first deterrent is to remember.  Remember when they first heard the gospel and considered it, when they were even willing to be insulted and persecuted along with the true believers, when they sympathized with those in prison.

Most people interpret these verses to be encouraging Christians to remain strong in the faith, but MacArthur interprets them to be encouraging those on the verge of apostasy not to reject Jesus, but rather to remember when the Spirit was drawing them to Jesus.  I think MacArthur's interpretation is correct - based on what we've been learning in our study of Hebrews so far.

Tomorrow's scripture focusHebrews 10:35-39
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 8-10

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday, February 13th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 1-4
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 10:26-31

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, 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.

Yesterday we saw the choice of faith, hope and love.

Today the choice is to walk away from Jesus, despite knowing the truth.  According to MacArthur (emphasis mine)....
the unforgivable sin of knowing the truth, having full revelation, professing to believe, then getting over it and walking away. And the Bible calls this kind of a person an apostate. It's the sin that becomes worthy of the severest Hell. To know everything there is to know about the gospel and to identify as a part of it, manifestly or visibly, and then to walk away, never having really been saved, that is to become an apostate. And for the sin of apostasy, there is no forgiveness. You say, well, how do you know when somebody's done that? You don't. Only God knows. And ours is not to speculate as to who's an apostate and brand them thus and leave them alone. Ours is to pray diligently and faithfully for every individual as far as we know and allow God to determine who the apostates are. That's not for us to determine. Only God knows. Don't you ever make the judgment, either that the individual knew everything in the first place, and thus reacted against full knowledge, or secondly, that his rejection is final. Only God knows that.

Ours is to pray.  Diligently and faithfully.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:32-34
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 5-7

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday, February 12th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 39-40
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Therefore, brothers, 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 in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly 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 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

After about 10 chapters of doctrine about the identity of Jesus Christ, the writer of Hebrews wants a response. Let us draw near through faith, let us hold fast through hope, and let us consider each other in love.  Faith, hope and love are the three features, or evidence, of the salvation response to the gospel message.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:26-31
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 1-4

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday, February 11

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 36-38
Today's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:15-18

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.

I. Will. Remember. No. More.

Wow. What would it be like to "remember no more"?

My son has been struggling with lying. It's hard as a parent to try and discourage lying as a habit when it seems to happen a bit too often. Last week, we caught Kaden in a lie and it was impossible for me to bring up previous offences. I don't want lying to be a habit, I don't want lying to become easy, and I don't want to be in a constant place of mistrust with Kaden. However, does reminding Kaden of all his previous failures in this area make him more likely to lie again because he believes that we consider him a liar anyway??

Years ago, Conrad and I took a parenting course and it told us to proclaim in words what we wanted to be true and that saying it can make it happen...a self-proclaiming prophecy if you want to call it that. Instead of the negative association with this label, the parenting course said to use it in a positive way such as "wow! we have such a great family" , "You play so well with your brother and sister" , "You are so great at cleaning up" , "You share so well" etc. etc. etc. I believe that the opposite happens far too often and it becomes true...such as "Kaden, you are always lying", "I can't trust you", "Can I believe what you are saying?".

As this verse says, I want to forgive in a way that "remembers no more" to give Kaden a clean slate and a fresh start just like my Father has given me for the times I have failed. The many, many, many times I have failed. I am thankful for the times that God has revealed Kaden's untruthfulness and how it has allowed a swift response to the offense. I need to remember to allow the punishment to cancel to debt and let it go. I need to start training myself to send messages that "I believe you Kaden", "I know you are telling me the truth", "I am so glad that I can trust you" and truly begin to "remember no more".

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:19-25

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ex 39-40

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday, February 10th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 33-35
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 10:11-14

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 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Jesus' job of being the perfect sacrifice is done!  And He signified that it was done by sitting down at the right hand of God.

And when Jesus died, He dealt a deathblow to His enemies - over Satan and all the fallen angels, and over all who reject Him. Death is Satan's greatest weapon, and Jesus completely destroyed it.

It was a one time act, and it was the most magnificent masterpiece of all time.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:15-18
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 36-38

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday, February 9 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 30-32.
Today's scripture focus is  Hebrews 10:5-10.

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, O God.’”[a]
 8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 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.

Wow, this passage is so clear and concise and to the point.  Sacrifices and offerings were necessary in the meantime, until Christ came, but no more.  One ultimate sacrifice paid our penalty and made us holy, by the will of God and the obedience of Jesus.  

I've been marveling at that a lot lately.  Jesus knew what was required of him, and he came to do it and he DID do it, but as I think of him in the Garden of Gethsemane and the prayer and the blood sweat I realize he must have dreaded it terribly and been in anguish over the prospect when the time was near, but he still said "Here I am, I have come to do your will," and he was obedient.  Makes some of the things I struggle to be obedient about seem pretty dumb.

Do you struggle with obedience?  Some people feel, or seem to feel, that once they've accepted Christ that's all they need to do.  There's no more to it than that.  They can go on with their life the way it was, because they were pretty good people anyway, and when they die they'll go to heaven.  Accepting Christ as our saviour may be the only way to get to heaven, but it is only the first step of the journey as a living, growing member of the family of God.  Jesus said "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."  The first step is accepting God's gift of forgiveness and salvation, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it and no way to work our way in, but if that sacrifice that Jesus made for us is worth something to us, and if we truly want to be a shining light for God, we must have a relationship with Him and we must be obedient.  

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Hebrews 10:11-14.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Exodus 33-35.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday, February 8th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 28-29
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 10:1-4

1 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 If it could, 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 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

The sacrifices of the OT could not give people full access to God, the veil always remained - until Jesus died and it was ripped from top to bottom.  (I love that!)

However, the system was still valuable because it was, at least, a shadow, pointing people to God and to the hope of salvation.  It was also valuable because it was a constant reminder of the seriousness of sin and of God's holiness.  And it maintained an external fellowship with God, covering sin.

But the sacrifices could only cover sin, they could not remove sin.  It's impossible for the blood of animals to take away sin - if that worked, there would've been no reason for Jesus to die.  The the blood of animals was not enough.  The death of Jesus was the requirement for our salvation.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:5-10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 30-32

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday, February 7th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 25-27
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 9:23-28

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary 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 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

We know Jesus was the better and perfect sacrifice because when it was done He was able to enter into the presence of God.  And the sacrifice never had to be repeated.

Jesus did away with sin - not just my sin, not just your sin, but sin as a principle.  He did away with sin!

He appeared on the cross as our sacrifice, He appeared in heaven as our mediator and intercessor, and He will appear again to take us home.

He had to die in order for His will to take effect, He had to die because forgiveness demands the shedding of blood, He had to die to be our substitute in judgment.

He took my place.

Thank you Jesus.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 10:1-4
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 28-29

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday, February 6th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 22-24
Today's scripture focus is Hebrews 9:16-22

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 commandment 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.

The writer of Hebrews tells us the reasons the Messiah had to die. First, His will demanded it.

According to MacArthur

A will is not a bargain between two people. A will is something made out by one person, and the other person either takes it or leaves it. 

And so He is saying here, God has promised an inheritance. And that inheritance depends upon the death of the one who made it, in order for it to be received. That's a simple truth. And that's really all He's saying. A will cannot operate until the one who made it dies. Therefore, Jesus had to die. He had to die to release the legacy of God to men. The kingdom of heaven is bequeathed to all believers. Such is God's will and testament. And Jesus' death released it to our possession. And some of it is ours now, and it will be ours in its fullness when we go to be with Him. So the first reason for death, then, is simply that. Testament demands death.

Even the first/old/Mosiac covenant was ratified with blood (the Abrahamic covenant was too for that matter!).  Which means the second/new covenant also needed to be ratified with blood - the blood of Christ.  There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

A beautiful thought from MacArthur...

when you put these things all together, they have to allow for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had to die to release His will. He had to live to make it operate. He had to die to ratify the covenant. He had to live to keep the terms of it. And so the resurrection is implied in all of it.

Here he just says it all straight out (emphasis mine)....

You can't enter into God's presence by being good. You can't enter into God's presence by being a fine citizen. You can't enter into God's presence by going through religious mogus. You can't enter into God's presence by reading the Bible, by going to church, by being a member, by thinking sweet thoughts about God. The only way you'll ever enter into God's presence and into participation in the new covenant is by the death of Jesus Christ and your faith and belief in His shed blood on the cross in your behalf. That's the only way. That's the only access.
God set the rules. "The soul that sins, it shall die." And then God, in grace, moved right back in and provided a death substitute. Jesus' death is the only thing that satisfies God, you see. Because He requires death. And all over the Old Testament He splattered blood in order that they might be constantly made aware of the fact that bloodshed was the only expiation for sin.
Forgiveness is a costly, costly thing.

God did not just forgive glibly - His character prohibited it.
He cannot break the moral laws of His nature. He cannot violate the moral laws of His universe, and He built into His universe the fact that sin demands death, and, finally, He's the one that had to pay the price. And He paid it.

Forgiveness is a costly, costly thing - and Jesus paid it for me.  And how many times am I guilty of sinning, knowing that God will forgive me when I repent?  How many times have I stomped on the grace of God?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Hebrews 9:23-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 25-27