There are many different times that different people in the Bible confess their true faith. At the beginning of Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son. We see Abrahams’s true faith when he doesn’t protest or complain. He just does what God told him to do. I for one am very jealous of his faith.
As Abraham was stretching out his arm to slay his son, an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven telling him to stop. Then, they heard a rustle from behind them and it was a ram. This shows us that God is with us and He will always provide a way. We just have to have faith like Abraham. I hope that we can all grow our faith in the near future and fully trust in Him.
-Nik Ransom (youth who attended reFUEL: North last month, and son of one of our writers two weeks ago)
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Take a moment and think about what you love most in life. Would you be willing to give whatever it is if God told you to? Would you give it up with or without hesitation?
Abraham is known as a man of great faith. Why? What does James have to say about Abraham in the New Testament? (James 2:14-26) Is it possible to have great faith without action/deeds/obedience? How can we practice growing our faith?
Re-read the account of Abraham willing to sacrifice his son Isaac while knowing what you know of God’s sacrifice of His son Jesus. What similarities do you find? What differences? What does this say of God’s sacrifice and love for you?
When children finish high school, and they go off to college or to live on their own for the first time, those frenzied final weeks before leaving are usually a flurry of activities. To-do lists are checked off and then added to, last minute shopping trips become a daily occurrence, and packing everything needed seems an impossible task. Finally, the day arrives, and the slightly panicked parents are often confronted with this stark realization: did I prepare them sufficiently for the challenges they will face in life? And so ensues final reminders, gentle warnings, and many sentences starting with “Don’t forget,” or “Remember.” The parents want the best experience for their children at college and in life.
The writer of Hebrews also desires the best outcome for his dear readers, his spiritual children, as he finishes his letter. Of course, that best outcome is eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Thus, Hebrews 13 concludes with straightforward instruction to reach this prize.
Consider the direct instructions found in verses 1-7, and the reasons WHY these instructions are important.
“Keep on loving each other as brothers”
“Do not neglect hospitality to strangers—(WHY?)—”for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are badly treated—(WHY?) – since you yourselves also are in the body.”
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; – (WHY?) – for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.”
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; – (WHY?) – for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you.”
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; – (WHY?) – considering the result of their way of life, imitate their faith.”
Verse 17 goes hand in hand with verse 7. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, – (WHY?) – because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Hebrews 13:8 can be a stand-alone statement and beloved promise, easy to memorize (and it should be) and underlined in your Bible.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
What an assurance to us that Jesus has not changed and will not change—he is our Savior and coming King. Perhaps the writer felt a plain statement of our basic hope was warranted after his beginning list of directives.
Building on that simple reassurance, verse 9 warns the early Christians and us today, not to “be carried away by varied and strange teachings,” just as parents might advise their departing children—stay true to your foundation, the principles of your upbringing. It is firm, it is solid, it will keep you grounded.
Now, remember our reading from Hebrews 10 a few days ago.
“But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,waiting from that time onward until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:12-14)
Continuing in Hebrews 13, verses 15-16 should be OUR response for this sacrifice.
“Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Our Salvation Gift from God:
Jesus—ONE SACRIFICE for all time
CONTINUAL SACRIFICE of
As the end of verse 16 says, “for with such SACRIFICES God is pleased.”
The writer concludes with a benediction or ending prayer in verses 20 and 21 that sums up his thoughts in this chapter.
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, that is, Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
This prayer serves as the perfect final reminder for young adults off to college, and for each one of us.
In Judges 17 we meet Micah’s mother. She promises a certain amount of money to God but holds back most (17:3). She built an altar and disgraces herself by not giving everything to God. Fast forward to the New Testament where we meet a woman who meets Jesus and takes her most treasured possession, her perfume, and pours it on Jesus’ feet. The comparison is stark. On one hand, you have Micah’s mother who holds back and on the other hand, you have a woman who lavishly gives everything at Jesus’s feet.
We all have things that we value and take great care to keep. At the beginning of John 12, we see the thing Mary considered precious — a bottle of expensive perfume. This perfume was not just a fragrance to Mary. It was worth nearly a year’s wages. Mary wasn’t just saving this perfume for a special day. This bottle was her financial security.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).
In an act of love, Mary poured her perfume onto Jesus’ feet. She knelt to the ground and washed His feet, ignoring the opinions of others. Mary gave radically. She gave not knowing if she would be able to live through the day but trusting Jesus anyway. She gave with such extravagance that the disciples told her she had given too much.
To put Mary’s situation in today’s terms, it would be like going to church next Sunday, feeling called to give, and tithing your entire year’s salary! Yet, this is the same way God gave to us. He gave His best when He gave us Jesus. God not only calls us to radical faith, but He also calls us to radical giving.
What woman are you like? Are you giving everything to the Lord? Ask yourself how you can be more extravagant in your giving. What’s holding you back from pouring your security out at Jesus’ feet? How do these verses show us that we can trust Him with what’s most precious to us?
Is there anything in your life you have not given to God?
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 17-18 and John 12
If you are anything like me, you like to have all the answers. When we read a book like Hebrews, one of the difficult realities is that it doesn’t offer a lot of answers on first glance. We don’t quickly see the author, and even upon careful inspection the answer isn’t apparent. We don’t know to whom it was written or when it was written (an author would make these questions a lot easier to answer). It brings up a few stories and images that are strange; not the first stories we are drawn to in the Old Testament. Without this book, the story of Melchizedek, King-Priest of Salem, would be a strange incident in the story of Abraham. It still IS a strange story, but it would be one we wouldn’t look at as much. Hebrews frustrates me because it makes me ask more and more questions without giving me all the answers.
But, there are very few books that have a stronger theme than Hebrews. The theme of Hebrews is simply this : Jesus is GREATER than ANYTHING ELSE in ALL CREATION! Read Hebrews 1:1-4. What does this tell us about Jesus? Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Jesus Christ is the heir of all things.
Jesus Christ is the one through whom the universe is made. (Made with Jesus in mind and for him.)
Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory.
Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God’s character.
Jesus Christ purifies the world and then sits down at God’s right hand.
I reiterate those words and want you to pay attention to them because JESUS IS GREATER.
Hebrews 1-2 is all about how Jesus is greater than the angels. While we understand this intuitively, in the time of Jesus, angels were the ones through whom God gave the Law. This meant that they were not only the beings who continually stand in the presence of God, but who are essential for the salvation of God’s people. Then, we are shown how Christ is greater than Moses, the Law-giver and prime prophet, in Hebrews 3-4. Moses is not a small figure. He is the central human figure of the Exodus story, which is the central narrative of the Jewish people. In Hebrews 5-6 we get the beginning of truth that Christ brings about a New and Greater Priesthood, based off his own sacrifice. The priesthood interceded to God on behalf of his people, offering sacrifices to show their love and devotion to God. Jesus is greater than any who gave the Law, because the new Law he gives, he also fulfills. Jesus is greater because he is worthy of more honor because he obeyed God in everything as a Son should. JESUS IS GREATER!
If we want to focus on one last set of passages, look to Hebrews 4:15-16. This book is difficult to work through. It will take work for you to read over the next few days. But you do not have a high priest who doesn’t understand hard work. This year has been extremely difficult. But you don’t have an advocate who doesn’t understand your sufferings. Christ knows EVERYTHING you went through. He knows the temptations, the failures, the pains, the struggles of human frailty. And yet he was able to overcome. In our weakness, Christ can make us stronger. We can see God’s throne as a throne of grace rather than judgment. We receive mercy from God who sits on the throne, and we receive grace from Christ at his right hand. That is the beauty of the truth that because Jesus has been raised, JESUS IS GREATER!
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Hebrews 1-6
One of the sayings that I sort of cling to in my life is, “You get out of life what you put into it.” I find this can be helpful in those moments where Netflix or a nap can be much more appealing than doing homework, reading a book, folding laundry or any of the other responsibilities we have in this life. Even though some of those things listed like folding laundry or reading a book I can really enjoy and get a sense of accomplishment from doing those things. In a way doing things like taking naps or watching Netflix are just easier and don’t require any brain activity from me. For instance there can be a temptation to just read devotions and not actually read the Bible on your own. This is because reading a devotion, which is an already processed thought is easier than having to read and process the Bible on your own.
Now, is reading devotions great? Absolutely. Devotions are great because you can see what God worked on in another person’s heart and that is pretty cool to be a part of. I love writing these devotions and hope they add to your spiritual growth and help you understand God better.
You may be wondering why I wrote two paragraphs about putting an effort into life and what I really think is the principle at work here is sacrifice, and that is what Genesis 22 is really about.
In Genesis 22.1-14 is a story about sacrifice and commitment to God and I don’t think it is necessarily in the way that we think. Right now, you should go read Genesis 22.1-14. My next paragraph will wait for as long as they maintain the rights to the domain name. Haha
I’m glad you are back. What Abraham was about to do here is crazy. He was willing to offer his son, that he had waited 25 years for and had at 99 years, because God told him to. Abraham could have so easily rationalized disobedience away by saying “There is no way that I am going to harm a child.” But Abraham decided to obey God despite all reservations that he had. One of my favorite verses as a teenager and even now is Matthew 6.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Abraham didn’t treasure his child more than he treasured God and IT SHOWED in a big way. He held nothing back from God.
You may be getting a mixed message at this point. I’m not telling you to give all your stuff away or to sacrifice your brother or sister as a burnt offering. That would not bless God. What I am telling you is that if you live your life holding nothing back from God, you will reap the reward from that. The same principle applies to how much work and effort you put into your spiritual growth.
If you want God to really change your life cut Netflix out of your life for a month and instead spend that time with your head in a Bible and see what God does in your heart and how he changes you.
If you really want to serve others and see God do something through you then commit yourself to that and go do it. Make it your center point! Go help others in whatever way you can. Look for ways to serve others and give your life away to them.
The reason that Abraham is the father of our faith is because he held nothing back. After this story Abraham received a promise from God that his offspring would be as the stars in heaven and sands on the seashore and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Abraham got out of life what he put in. Abraham was used by God through this promise because Abraham was completely devoted to God.
I know there is a better life. When our lives are completely focused on God, something changes. I want to say this to you and hope you take it to heart. I know what being sold out to God is like and it is uncomfortable and can be really hard but the reward is life altering, it’s God glorifying and it’s kingdom strengthening. Our sacrifices don’t go unnoticed by God and they will come to fruition and it isn’t always how we expect it.
Do not take this as me telling you that you can make God do things but rather God honors the sacrifices that we make in our lives for him. He in turn wants to bless us and help us. Do not do any of things that I mentioned unless you really want to do them. God doesn’t want just sacrifices. He wants our hearts behind the sacrifices that we make and, honestly, that is the key to love. When your heart and actions combine into one that is true love.
So often when we pray for ourselves or for others, we are concerned about certain specific things that are happening in the present moment of our life or their life. This is okay, because sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by a situation or weakness in our life, that we want immediate help. We fall on our faces or knees and plead for help in this particular situation or with this particular weakness, but never see the whole picture. That’s because we are human, after all. We often can’t see past the present moment. We want to put patches on what is torn or broken. We feel the pain right now, we experience the embarrassment of a sin and hope no one else notices, or we share in part with another in their present experience. All of that is well and good as we plead for ourselves and intercede for others. But then a new day comes, laced with all the same trials, tribulations, and temptations of life all over again and we look for another patch.
That was the life of a priest before the time of Christ. Before a priest could do his job of offering up sacrifices for the sins of others, he first had to take care of his own personal business—his own sins, his own cares, his own violations. So, each day, as he lit the fire to begin his godly work, he took inventory of the sins of his people and his own sins (Hebrews 7: 27). Day after day, moment by moment, his mind raced with all these shortcomings. His job was difficult and exhausting.
Then Christ came and became the high priest, and He holds this position permanently and forever (Hebrews 7:24). He was after-all, “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7: 26). Not only that but “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27). The daily grind of fire building, killing a sacrifice, inner-searching, and finally offering up prayers ended. Jesus paid it all.
That does not mean we do not pray for others or ourselves. Indeed Peter says that we are to be “a royal priesthood” (I Pet 2:9), meaning we are to pray for others. But unless and until we accept without question and wholly the atonement of Jesus in our lives, the daily grind of being a priest will continue for us. We will never get out of that cycle of embarrassment, regret, remorse and the need to pray for that “daily patch” to cover our sins along with the sins of those for whom we pray.
Jesus lives to make intersession for us (Hebrews 7:25), He prays for us continually. It is because of His intercession that we can do our work of intercession for others. It is all possible because Jesus has saved us to the uttermost. No daily patch needed. Jesus saves us totally and at all times. Once we believe this as a little child of God, and we draw near to God through Him, He is able to save us to the uttermost! (Hebrews 7: 25). Then, with full assurance of our own atonement, we can put our full energy into praying for others which is our greatest work.
“But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”
2 Corinthians 8:7 ESV
“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”
2 Corinthians 8:12 ESV
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV
Wow. Pause and read this again. So very powerful. Let’s let this one sink in.
“And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.”
2 Corinthians 8:19-21 ESV
Throughout 2 Corinthians 8, it is evident that this chapter is explaining the collection that Titus was sent to receive for the Lord’s people. In starting out today’s reading, I decided to highlight a few key verses (as listed above) to read before we move onto a deeper discussion.
So often in this life, I feel as if it is ingrained into our society to accumulate more and more so that we may be perceived as the richest, having the most glamor, and being considered high in status. Many popular songs today even send out the message to seek after selfish ambitions– more money, more things, seeking after unhealthy relationships, and the list goes on and on. However, it was so refreshing to dig into this chapter today as it speaks truth onto the matter of, not only having, but also giving. Moreover, this chapter highlights the importance of recognizing what you have, and with responsibility, using a portion of it to present it as an offering unto the Lord with willingness. I love that Paul writes about the importance of being diligent and being invested in your faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and love, but also writes that presenting an offering is indeed an act of grace.
You don’t think you have anything valuable to offer? Think again! One of the best parts about presenting the Lord with an offering is that you do not have to have a lot to be able to give/carry out an act of ministry, contributing to the furtherance of the kingdom. An offering for one person may look completely different than an offering for another person and that’s okay!
Ask yourselves, “What do I have to offer today?”
Maybe it’s: time, a financial donation, investing in others, offering words of encouragement, acts of service, praying for others, etc.
There are several ways that you can contribute!
My biggest take away from this chapter is that we have a God who sent His only son to sacrifice everything on our behalf to pave the way to eternal life. It is my hope that we can present our lives as an offering to God and let His work truly come to life within us! We have the chance to do something very special to honor God and further His kingdom unto others. Are you willing to be a part of it? With grace, I encourage you to present an offering to God– today, this week, this month, this year, or all the above. Whatever that may look like in your life, seek after it. Let’s set our selfish ambitions aside and really focus on the things that matter. My friends, you are so loved! We serve a good good father. Have a great day and be sure to join back again tomorrow for our next daily devotion!
When I think of the old testament versus the new testament, one of the differences I tend to think of is law versus faith. In the old testament, the people were under the law, and judged by the law. Then in the new testament, Jesus changed things up so that we could be saved by our faith, with his sacrifice. No longer were people required to perform sacrifices under the law.
Is that the right way to look at it though? I’m not sure because I still find scripture that makes comparisons which lead me to the same conclusion. However, in Romans 4, Paul talks about Abraham being credited by faith. Verses 2 and 3 say:
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ “
Paul goes on to say that David also talks about blessings that are separate from works, or in other words, by faith. Verses 7 and 8 say:
“ ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will nottake into account.’ ”
So, how do I get this to fit with the laws and required sacrifices and such that were required for forgiveness in the old testament. While the laws were all required to be followed, there had to be faith included with it for it to please God. I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:17 as I am talking about the law of the old testament versus faith and grace in the new testament. It reads:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
So, with our forgiveness coming through faith, it does not mean the law has been thrown away. Instead, it means this is the perfect fulfillment of the law.
Why is this important to us? Verse 16 says:
“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”
We are all descendants through the faith of Abraham. We can also have our faith credited as righteousness. What a wonderful blessing this is.
Many of us have had to endure hardships because we chose to follow Jesus. Some of us have had to lose friends and family relationships, and endured verbal attacks. There are people all over the world who are being put in prison and literally risking their life to follow Jesus. So the big question for most people is, “Why?” Why do we choose to risk it all to follow this person who we believe rose from the dead? What do we get out of it?
This was the question that Peter asked Jesus also in Matthew 19:27. He asked, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” It makes sense that we are concerned about what our reward will be. We ask the same question before taking a new job; “What do I get out of this?”
Jesus’ answer for Peter should excite us all. Jesus promised them “100 times more” than what they gave up in the coming Kingdom of God. Whatever they had given up, they would receive even more! They would also get immortal life as well! What terrific promises that we have been given by the son of God!
Today’s devotion is simply supposed to encourage you. No matter what you have had to endure or give up to follow Jesus, the reward in the end is so much greater. You will have immortal, perfect life (John 3:16), you will have no more sickness or sorrow (Revelation 21:3-4), and you will get to see your loved ones again who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). What more could we possibly ask for? Jesus has promised us everything we can dream of if we choose to suffer now, just like he did. So be encouraged today that you have a tremendous, indescribable reward waiting for you when our king returns!
In the first chapter of Ruth we see a beautiful example of Ruth choosing her allegiance wisely. Some may think at the surface level, Ruth stayed with her married family for provision and protection. However, Naomi was a widow—poor, needy and vulnerable in the culture. Especially during the time of a famine in a foreign land. The most advantageous move Ruth could have made would have been to weather the famine, stay in Moab and remarry therein ensuring her safety and security. Naomi even encouraged her to do so in Ruth 1:8-9. However, Ruth remained steadfast in her loyalty to Naomi and the God she had come to know when she became one with her husband and family so many years before. Ruth makes a bold declaration after her sister in law Orpah leaves saying to Naomi,
“But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17 HCSB
Ruth returned to Bethlehem as a Moabitess. She faced the possibility of being rejected and ostracized in a culture where she is not of the same heritage in Israel. Ruth takes this risk to lay hold to her loyalty to her family and God no matter the outcome as she goes alongside Naomi—who has lost all provision and security. What we can take away from Ruth’s example in this first chapter is the willingness to forsake all else as we follow God. Today it is common that we may have to renounce titles, friendships, status, position etc as we pursue a dynamic relationship with God. We are called to live differently and that is not without sacrifice. What may God be calling you to renounce as we die to self and commit our lives to knowing Him more deeply and allowing Him to love us fully?