Sacrifices That Matter

Posted: September 2, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
– Hebrews 13:16

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What sorts of sacrifices do you make on a regular basis?

I don’t want to brag, but sometimes…
…I sacrifice time I could spend reading a book, so that I can watch tv.
…I sacrifice eating delicious vegetables, so that I can eat more dessert.
…I sacrifice going to the gym, so that I can sleep in.

However, some people make sacrifice that are more serious.

They sacrifice an evening out so that they can finish preparing for the upcoming exam.
They sacrifice their vacation time so that they can get closer to that promotion they want.
They sacrifice time at home so that they can work an extra shift to help pay the bills.

Whether they are major or minor, we all make sacrifices.

And here in Hebrews, the author writes about the kinds of sacrifices that please God.
Doing good.
Sharing with those in need.

In this single verse, we can see that the most important sacrifices that we can make,
are ones that we make for other people.

The times when we give our money to help someone in need.
The times when we give our time to be with someone who needs a friend.
The times when we give ourselves to make a difference in someone’s life.

These are the sacrifices that God wants us to make.

So today, as you read this, ask yourself:
What can I sacrifice for someone else today?
How can I do good?
How can I share with those in need?

Don’t wait until you’ve got everything together for yourself first.
Don’t wait until you’ve done everything that you wanted to do first.
Don’t wait until it’s more convenient to make a sacrifice.

Today, make a sacrifice to help someone else.
Make a difference in someone’s life.

Do good.
Share with those in need.

Because those are the kinds of sacrifices that matter.

Until I make a sacrifice that matters,
Pastor Matt

Allegiant To God

Posted: August 27, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
– Hebrews 13:15

—–

What are you allegiant to?

Your family and friends?
Your country?
Yourself?
The third book in the Divergent trilogy (see what I did there)?

To be allegiant to something means that you are devoted to it.
You are loyal.

In this verse from Hebrews, the author tells us that through our continuous praise,
we should be declaring our allegiance to God.

As we sing, we tell God that we are devoted to Him.
As we pray, we tell God that we are loyal to Him.
As we live, we demonstrate that we are allegiant to Him.

If you are allegiant to someone, then that means that they can rely on you.

If you are allegiant to your parents, then they will be able to trust you.
If you are allegiant to your friends, then they will be able to count on you.

And, while it is important for us to be the kind of person that other people can trust,
it is even more important for us to be dependable in our relationship with God.

If we are truly allegiant to God…
…then our faith will not regularly fade when life gets busy.
…then our relationship with God will not come and go in spurts of passion.
…then we will not only pray when we want God to give us something.
…then we will not only go to church when we have nothing better to do.
…then we will not only worship Him when we “feel like it”.

And so, as you think about your relationship with God, does the word “allegiant” describe your relationship with Him?

Are you devoted?
Are you loyal?

If not, consider spending some time in prayer – perhaps even right now – and ask Him to continually transform your heart, so that you will be able to love Him more, follow Him more closely, and be more allegiant to His name.

Until my allegiance for God grows deeper,
Pastor Matt

This World Is Not Our Home

Posted: August 14, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
– Hebrews 13:14

—–

Where would you call “home”?

Is it where you grew up?
Is it where your parents live?
Is it where you are currently living?

Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to stop focusing on the physical world around us.
We are encouraged to focus instead on eternity – on eternal life with God.

If this life is all that there is, if the physical world around us is the only home we will ever have,
then it would be right to spend all of our time, money, and resources on making this life as awesome as possible.

But if there’s something more, if there is something that lasts immeasurably longer,
then the only smart decision would be to prepare for that home.

And so believing in Jesus changes the way we live.
The priorities we have are different.
The interests we have are different.
The purpose and meaning we find in life is different.

Because it doesn’t matter if we work as hard and as long as we can, in order to have more money.
It doesn’t matter if we spend all we have, in order to have all of the newest and coolest technology.

Because, after this life is over, all of our money and possessions will be given away.
Some of it will be saved.
Some of it will be kept as heirlooms.
Some of it will be discarded as trash.

But, if we spend all that we have, and give all that we are, preparing for the life to come,
then we will truly find ourselves preparing to go home.

Not home to a building where the foundation will crack and the walls will break.
Not home to a big screen TV that will be outdated by this time next year.
Not home to a savings account that generates enough interest to keep us in stylish clothes.

But we will go home to our Father.
We will go home to our Saviour.
We will go home to our Lord.

And so, if we are able to keep our eyes on our true home, then no matter what happens to us,
we know that good things are in store for us.

We are able to face any struggle…
We are able to persevere throughout persecution…
We are able to hold on to our faith…

…because this world is not our home.

Until I further prepare for my eternal home,
Pastor Matt

Jesus Never Changes

Posted: August 12, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
– Hebrews 13:8

—–

I have gone through many stages in my life.

I’ve had shaggy hair.
I’ve had no hair.
I’ve had green and purple hair.
And now, it looks like my hair is never coming back!

I’ve liked rock music.
I’ve liked rap music.
I’ve liked country music.
I’ve liked pop music.

I’ve had good days.
I’ve had bad days.
I’ve had mediocre days.

I’ve felt full of energy.
I’ve felt exhausted.

I’ve been patient and gracious.
I’ve had a short fuse and a mean temper.

In both serious and humourous ways, I have gone through many different stages.

I have changed my attitudes and beliefs.
I have changed my opinion.
I have changed my mind.
I have changed.

Perhaps this is why the words found in Hebrews 13:6 are so powerful:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Jesus never changes.

Jesus doesn’t go through stages.
Jesus doesn’t make terrible decisions when His emotions are running strong.

Jesus never changes.

The Jesus that wept with His friends who were hurting (John 11:33-36),
is the same Jesus who cares about the struggles that we face.

The Jesus that empowered the lives of the first Christians (Matthew 28:18-20),
is the same Jesus who wants to empower you.

Jesus never changes.

You can trust Jesus…
You can depend on Jesus…
You can put your faith in Jesus…

Because Jesus never changes.

Until I allow the unchanging Jesus to change me,
Pastor Matt

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
– Hebrews 12:5-6

—–

When you were young, did your parents ever have to punish you?
Did you get grounded?
Spanked?
Forced to take a time-out?

Every single parent, if they are truly good parents, want to help teach their children lessons.
They want their kids to learn important guidelines for life.
They want to help their children find the right path in life.

And sometimes, to teach those lessons, it involves punishment.
It involves discipline.

If a parent never disciplines their child, then that doesn’t make them a loving parent.
That may actually show that the parent doesn’t really care about the child,
because they aren’t worried about how the child will turn out.

So there are times, when punishment and discipline, can actually be done out of love.

And this is the image that the author of Hebrews uses to teach us more about God.
God is our Father, and He loves us.
And, because of His love, sometimes He will need to discipline us.

Sometimes God will need to punish us.
Sometimes God will need to get rid of the things that are distracting us.
Sometimes God will need to take us from where we are, and put us back on the right track.

If God didn’t do this, then that wouldn’t mean that He was nicer.

Because if God just left us all alone, and never helped guide or direct us,
then that would be proof that He doesn’t care about us.

But He does.
God cares about you more than you can possibly imagine.
And He wants to help you find the path in life that you were created to take.

So there may be times in your life when God needs to get your attention.
There may be times when God needs to correct you.
There may be times when God needs to punish you.
There may be times when God needs to discipline you.

But, when those times happen, remember that God is only doing it because He loves you.
God is only doing it because He wants greater things for you.
God is only doing it so that you can grow up into who He created you to be.

Until I accept God’s discipline in my life,
Pastor Matt

Jesus Initiates

Posted: July 31, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
– Hebrews 12:2

—–

In your relationship with God, who took the first step?

Does your story go something like this:
“I was going through a rough time, so I decided to turn to Jesus…”
“I felt all alone, and so I gave church a try…”
“God was distant, and then I cried out to Him…”

Today I would simply like to challenge you with this one thought:
When it comes to the relationship between you and Jesus,
Jesus initiates.

In the relationship between you and God, He took the first step.
Before you invited Jesus into your heart, He invited you.
Before you prayed to receive the Holy Spirit, He prayed for you (Romans 8:26).

Sometimes, when we use phrases like “I found Jesus”, we almost make it sound like Jesus was the one who got lost.

But it was us.
We were lost.

Jesus found us.
Jesus came looking for us.
Jesus gave everything for us, long before we even thought about Him.

Jesus initiates our faith.
And that means that he will also perfect it.

You can be absolutely confident that Jesus didn’t initiate a relationship with you, just to leave you hanging.
Jesus didn’t find you, just to lose you again.
Jesus began the relationship between you and Him, and He will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

So take a step of faith towards God, knowing that He’s already running towards you.
Spend time listening to God’s voice, knowing that He’s already speaking to you.
Cry out to Jesus, knowing that He’s already listening.

Until Jesus continues to work on, and perfect, my faith,
Pastor Matt

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
– Hebrews 12:1

—–

This past June, I completed my first half-marathon with my father and sister.

Ok, so technically I wasn’t really “with” my sister, because she ran far, far faster than me!
But I did complete it with my father!

And so this is what comes to my mind when I read the above words from Hebrews that says:
“let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Because when mile 10 came, I needed to convince myself to endure.
When mile 11 came, I needed to press on, in spite of the pain.
When mile 12 came, I needed to force my legs to keep moving.

There was a race set before me, and I wanted to finish.
There was a race set before me, and I didn’t want to give up.

And in our, lives the plans that God has for us, in many ways, resembles a race.

Sometimes it’s a quick sprint, just a short burst of effort to get through what lies in front of you.
And other times it’s a marathon, where you need to dig deep and endure if you are going to make it to the end.

What race are you running?
What race is set before you, where God is calling you to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving?

And, what could you do that would help you run your race more efficiently and effectively?
Do you need to simply endure?
Do you need to strip off the sin that is tripping you up?
Do you need to remove any weight that is slowing you down (even if it’s not necessarily “sinful”)?

Whatever the case may be for you at this moment in your life, God is calling you to continue running.

Do not give up.
Do not throw in the towel.
Do not fail to complete the race.

Until I put one foot in front of the other, and continue running,
Pastor Matt