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Riverview, Queensland, Australia
I am a retired church pastor exploring the dynamics of life in Christ in this exciting world.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Hebrews: Take Care


While the Letter to the Hebrews contains some amazing statements regarding the humanity, divinity, life and ministry of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, it also contains much practical advice for its readers then and now.

The pages to be added to this blogspot list the sermon series developed to look into these ‘practical’ statements and is a guide to the thought flow of the writer, the Apostle Paul, throughout the letter.

As you have just read, I have named the Apostle Paul as the writer. This I have done for the following reasons:

• There is a great deal of historical evidence to support this view

• The authorship of this letter was not challenged until the development of ‘inductive criticisms’ in recent times.

• Most importantly it is a little indifferent to preach on a passage and say ‘the writer says’, or ‘as it is written by someone unknown’.

Let me illustrate:


Just thought I would write to you a short letter to encourage you in your faith and life and bring to you some practical advice for living in an ever-changing world. As you know we received the basic principals of life from Jesus and although you may have heard differently from others I would like to reassure you of ‘the truth’ you have received from us and the veracity of the arguments for the humanity, divinity and Glory of Jesus Christ the Messiah, Prophet, Priest and King of Creation.’


How much ‘weight’ would a letter like this carry to a people who did not have the Internet, 2000 years of biblical theology, extensive biblical libraries and a degree or two in Theology?

Not much really.

We could bring out the sledge hammer of ‘the authority of the Scriptures’ [which is true by the way] and beat you over the head with it and then tell you that you have to listen to this anonymous letter and consider what it says in your faith and life and but, would you listen or just turn off.

Would it not be better to say, OK there are today those who challenge the historical authorship of this letter by the Apostle Paul for various reasons but for this series of talks we will make this letter personal and use the Apostle Paul as the author. This way Paul becomes the writer to you personally so that as you read this letter it comes to you as a personal note from Paul to you.

If you believe that it was Barnabas, Mark, Timothy or another fine, just substitute ‘that’ name each time I say the word Paul, but whatever you do make this letter personal, personal to you and your life and faith in Jesus Christ. That makes it more than authoritative (which already it is) it makes it both personal and relevant.

We all need to take note of what Paul says, for his advice is timely and relevant to us today as it was to his original readers. Therefore, in looking at the Letter to the Hebrews, the following sermons have been entitled ‘Take Care’, the phrase ‘take care’ occurs in Hebrews 2:13 and several times in the letter. It is this concern that Paul has for his readers that this series seeks to reveal.

The sermons make note of the preceding argument prior to the exhortation as set down by Paul in which he lays the foundation for his exhortation and the gives us the reasons as to why we need to heed his advice.

Throughout the letter key words and phrases like; since, therefore, so that, let us, make every effort etc., contain Paul’s exhortation that apply his argument ‘theology’ to the issue or situation that he is addressing.

I pray that you may enjoy the following talks and ‘Take Care’ to apply the words of Paul to you life and faith.


Rightly so many outlines of the Book of Hebrews concentrate on the superiority of Christ over angels, priests, man, and Christ as God’s supreme revelation to man.

I. Christ’s Superior Revelation (1:1 – 4)

II. Christ’s Superiority over Angels (1:5 – 2:18)

III. Christ’s Superiority over Moses (3:1 – 4:13)

IV. Christ’s Superiority over Aaronic Priests (4:14 – 7:28)

V. Christ’s Superior Sacrifice (8:1 – 10:39)

VI. Plea for the perseverance of Faith (11:1 – 12:29)

VII. Conclusions (13:1 – 25)

Looking at the list above we can see that the exhortations Paul gives to the Hebrews fit into these ‘blocks’ of theological and doctrinal truths about Jesus Christ. That is, Paul builds his case for the exhortations by demonstrating the superiority of Christ, and what he has done for us, which then forms the foundation for his key word, phrase or exhortation;

I: We must 2:1

II: Therefore 3:1, 4:1, 4:14, 6: 10:19,12:1, 28,

III: Since 2:14

IV: See to it 3:12, 12:16, 25

V: So 3:7 10:35

VI: Let us 4:11, 6:1

VII: Remember 10:32. 13:37

VIII: Make 12:14

IX: Keep on 13:1

X: Obey 13:17

It can be seen that the exhortations are centered on two sections in the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapters 1 to 6 and 10 to 13. The exhortations in the first section, Chapters 1 to 6 are based on Christ Superiority as a Man; the exhortations in the second section, Chapters 10 to 13 are, based on Christ’s superiority as our Redeemer.

The discussion in Chapters 7 to 9 therefore establishes Christ Jesus’ credentials and right to be the Saviour of the world. Generally the exhortations in the first section center around our need of faith and perseverance, and the exhortations in the second sections centre on our need of salvation and assurance.

It is the purpose and aim of these sermons then to focus on the exhortations in their context, both in their relation to Christ and the world in which the Hebrew Christian lived.

A key theme that develops from this approach to Hebrews is Paul’s transition from our relationship with God in and through Christ (Chapters 1 to 6) to our relationship with one another in Christ in our Christian fellowship (Chapters 10 to 13).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Perception is Reality

Perception is Reality

This prayer, reportedly from Billy Graham is challenging. Some of the metaphors we would agree with but our customization into the consumerism of today makes some of them rub against the soul.

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbour's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honoured values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Prayer

Ipswich Central Presbyterian, Queensland, Australia: 12/10/09
Elder: Alan Johanson
Prayer: Thanksgiving and Confession..

Shall we come now to God in our prayers of Thanksgiving and Confession? Let us pray.

“Eternal God and ever loving heavenly Father, having expressed our joy of worshiping together in the words of the Hymn that we sang as our opening hymn, we come now to thank you for all that you have done for us, and in deed do each and every day. As the Psalmist has written, ‘Your blessings are new every morning.’ And Lord as we bow in your presence this morning, help us to know and appreciate more fully the wonderful way in which you care for us.

Heavenly Father we thank you for the things in life that we so often take for granted; for food and shelter and for the freedom that we enjoy, especially the freedom to worship you.

Lord we give thank for the fellowship of believers, that in Christ Jesus we are heirs of your great kingdom. We thank you for the brothers and sisters that we have in the faith with whom we enjoy, and have enjoyed in the past, fellowship and friendship within you Church throughout the world. Lord for all those “kinsfolk” that have been Christian Fathers and Mothers and Brothers and Sisters to us over the years, we give you thanks. Especially Lord, we thank you for their fellowship and friendship; their prayers and encouragement; their and help and guidance, and their concerns and care for us.

We would also give thanks Lord, for preserving our land, Australia, from the terror of war, the tyranny of oppression and the ravages of famine. We give thanks for the ease of life, the freedom of democracy and the enjoyment of modern living.

We thank You Father for the diverse beauty of nature around and about us. For the warmth of the sunlight that nurtures it all, for the moon and the stars that demonstrate to us the vastness of your creation, and for the rain that falls and creates new life and gives promise and hope to those who toil to produce our food.

We thank you Lord, for work and its rewards and for times of relaxation and leisure. And especially we thank you, for the love of family and friends and all the comfort and joy they bring to our lives.

And Father, for the hard times; the things in our lives, that so often, we can not understand and find hard to bear, we thank you that in such circumstances, we are able to recall the promises given in your Word. We give thanks Father for all the comforting words that Jesus spoke. Words such as the verses at the end of Chapter 11 of St Mathews Gospel “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,” Lord your word gives us such comfort and confidence when life hurts, and that comfort in you brings us through our trials and tribulations, stronger in our faith and with a greater realization of our dependence on you. Help us Lord, we pray, that as we face the various trials and hardships of this life here on earth, to trust you more fully; to cling more closely to your Word. Your Word that assures us that “you are with us always”, and that “You will never leave us nor forsake us”.

Father again we thank you for your Word as it is written in the Bible. We thank you that it so accessible to us. We give thanks that we are able to gather regularly and have “The Good News” explained to us. Lord we thank you for those amongst us who have the gift of teaching and the knowledge of your word and are able to impart the truth to us.

Gracious God, once again we thank you for the assurance of salvation. For Lord your Word tell us, that we have “A sure and certain hope”; That we are heirs and joint heirs of the salvation that you have provided, if we put our trust in the redeeming work of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

We are grateful Father for the truth of the Scripture that tells us, that “He who knew no sin was made sin for us” and that he who died in our stead, arose again for our justification and lives with us, forever more as our comforter, mediator and friend. For this your work of grace we give thanks.

And so Father, we thank you for the abundant grace which meets us anew each and every day with forgiveness, peace and power in Jesus Christ your Son. We thank you that through His life and death and resurrection that you have provided our salvation.

So Father we come in the name of Jesus our Saviour and seek forgiveness for the times when we have been ungrateful for this wonderful love; this gift of redeeming grace, and for all the times that we must have grieved you by our indifference and selfishness. And Lord for the times that we have been so caught up with our earthly pursuits that we have neglected to include you in our daily lives; for when we have neglected to read your Word and to fellowship with you in prayer, we seek your forgiveness.

Father we confess that sometimes we have spoken in haste and said unkind things for which we have not sought forgiveness from those whom we have wronged, nor have we sought forgiveness from you. Forgive us now we pray, for such neglect.

And Lord, we confess that we have thought unkind thoughts. We have neglected to help those in trouble, and we have not taken time to speak a word of kindness to those in distress for these sins, forgive us O God.

And Lord as we each confess, now, in the silence of our own hearts, those things that we know are unworthy of our high calling in Christ Jesus, we ask that you will touch us afresh. Father we recall the words of the old hymn that we know so well and we pray them now “Breathe on me breath of God, Fill me with life anew, that I might love as you have loved, and do what you would do”.

And Father for the times when we have felt so out numbered or dominated, by those who don’t know you, that we have hidden, as it were, the light of Christ from them, for fear of ridicule or rebuff. Lord for our weakness, and ineffectiveness, we ask your forgiveness and we pray that you will give us confidence to witness for you, in spite of what might seem great odds. And Lord, we pray, that through our efforts that your Church here on earth may grow and that those with whom we associate may be saved from the peril of not knowing you as Lord and Saviour.

All these, our prayers, we ask it in Jesus name and we pray as He taught us saying :-

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.]