January 3, 2008

Why Hebrews?

The following is a letter addressed to the congregation at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church (and anyone else who may be listening in to our upcoming series in the book of Hebrews). For the rest of you, I hope it gives a little glimpse into a preacher's heart and mind; encourages you to pray for your particular pastor, congregation, and ongoing sermon series; and, perhaps, piques your interest to study Hebrews on your own (or with us):

This week we begin what I estimate will be six months worth of studies from the book of Hebrews. Why Hebrews? Well, I debated with myself about whether or not to tackle this book. It is awfully difficult sledding in some places. But, during the month of December, I really felt as if God were saying: ‘Study this book! It is worth the effort that will be required of you and the congregation.’

Now that ‘voice’ wasn’t an audible one. Rather, I felt that the Spirit was guiding us to winter our vessels in the harbor of Hebrews for a few reasons. One is simply because I have, personally, wanted to better understand this book for some time. Last Christmas, I was considering spending a few months’ quiet times meditating on Hebrews in the New Year. That didn’t happen. Now, by God’s grace, it will.

A second reason for studying Hebrews (I know this sounds silly) is because I found a really, really top-shelf commentary on sale for about 60% off! It’s AW Pink’s
An Exposition of Hebrews, in case you wondered. If you want to study along on your own, I’d recommend Hywel Jones’s Let’s Study Hebrews.

The third—and, by far, most important—reason for studying Hebrews is its content matter. I’ve entitled our series Jesus, Best of All because that is exactly the theme of this great letter! Just in today’s first message, we’ll see that Jesus is better than the prophets and better than the angels. And it seemed to me that we—and especially I—needed this message right now. How easy it is to “drift away” (Hebrews 2.1) from those things which are most important (those things which are best of all) – to let good things, but not the best things (busy-ness, hobbies, work, even religious activity) slowly push us out of the safe harbor where Jesus is, and out into the open sea where we float, often aimlessly, for days and weeks at a time without realizing we’re losing sight of land.

Hebrews warns us of the dangers of drifting. And Hebrews turns the tide of our affections and brings us back. Hebrews tethers us to the moorings of the cross and the person of Jesus. And we all need that, don’t we?

So let’s study Hebrews, shall we? And do me a favor – don’t forget to pray for me! I sense God’s stirrings as I prepare to begin this series. I can’t help but hope that, perhaps, a great breakthrough awaits. Would you join me in praying for that? Could you pick a time during the week, perhaps Saturday evening or Sunday morning to read through
the upcoming passage, praying for preacher and congregation as you go (see 1 Thessalonians 1.5-6)? Who knows but that God may do exceedingly abundantly more than we ask or imagine!

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