A Better Country - Part 15


Derek Lamont

March 16, 2014


Disclaimer: this is an automatically generated machine transcription - there may be small errors or mistranscriptions. Please refer to the original audio if you are in any doubt.

[0:00] Now like this morning, if you'll look with me at Hebrews chapter 12, Hebrews chapter 12. And we're going to look at that section 1 to 13.

[0:11] It does kind of follow on from all the other sermons we've been doing in Hebrews, but I hope it also stands alone quite well if you're just visiting here with us for the day. But by way of introduction, I want to say a couple of things which you may be more likely to be aware of, have you, if you have been here as we've gone through.

[0:32] Because there's clearly in this chapter a reminder of a pattern that we follow when we're going through Hebrews, when we're going through this letter to this Jewish people, Jewish Christian people who are tempted, as we've seen before, to turn their backs on Jesus and go back to ritualistic religion.

[0:55] And you may have picked up already. If you haven't picked it up, and I would encourage you just to go home today and read through up to chapter 12 again, and you'll find it, it's very clear and it's very obvious and it's very helpful.

[1:07] And the pattern is in the first place, there's two things. The first place is that the writer is modelling the letter in such a way that he wants truth to change our behaviour.

[1:27] So he presents truth and then he says why that should make a difference to what we're doing. So he's saying truth's really important and truth's important enough to change the way we live as Christians and what we think.

[1:39] And he does that by using this link word that we've seen before, therefore. Okay, so it's at the beginning of chapter 12 again, therefore. That links what is gone before with what is going to come after.

[1:52] And basically what he's saying is that there's truth, therefore, because there's truth, this is how it should affect your behaviour. And that comes through, right through the book.

[2:03] This is the sixth, there it's hard to say, the sixth, therefore, that there is in this book so far. So there's a clear link right through the book from the truth that he wants to tell to how it should affect the way we live.

[2:16] Therefore. And these kind of, sometimes when you're reading through it quickly, you can get that picture. You can see where the links are and where the structure is. And so he's linking truth and action.

[2:29] So he says because, for example, in the previous ones he's saying, because we know that Christ is in heaven, because we know we belong to him, because he's given us his promises, because Christ is our great high priest, because it all comes from this amazing Old Testament pattern, because he's in a relationship with us, because he's gifted us life, because he loves us, therefore, let us, in this case, fix our eyes on Jesus the author, perfector, if he let us run with perseverance the race set before us.

[3:01] So we've got all these, remember I mentioned them before, the salad statements, the lettuce ones, there's all these lettuce that follow after the therefores, the truths.

[3:12] So that pattern comes through again. So let us fix our thoughts, let us hold on, let us be confident, let us have peace, let us draw near, let us keep together, let us keep worshiping, let us run with perseverance, let us fix our eyes on Jesus.

[3:25] So there's always these triggers, there's this pattern that happens. So there's the therefores because of the truth and therefore let us live in a certain way. And that's very important.

[3:38] If you look with me at John's Gospel chapter 8, Jesus says there in verse 32, to the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, if you hold on to my teaching, you really are my disciples.

[3:54] We've got the same thing here. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. So really what's happening here is that the writer to the Hebrews is saying, I'm presenting you with truth, and if you live in the light of this truth, and as you follow that truth, it will set you free as Christians, because the danger was they were falling back into enslavement and into ritualism, and they weren't allowing the truth of Jesus to set them free.

[4:22] So this great significant pattern is that propositional, objective truth, and the promises that stem from that are really important for us, because they trigger how we live and how we act, and there's a great link there.

[4:39] They mould our conscience, they govern our thinking. It teaches us how we should live. So the truth matters because it moulds and guides and governs our behaviour, because we're in a relationship with Jesus, and Jesus says, you know, if you follow my teaching, the truth will set you free, and this is freedom, absolute freedom.

[5:01] Not absolute, I don't mean absolute freedom, there's no such thing as absolute freedom, but there's freedom in following Christ that we are created to be in freedom with Jesus Christ. So the pattern is that firstly, let truth change your behaviour.

[5:15] So if we come to church, for example, and we listen to the sermon, and we give it marks out of 10, and then we go away and it makes no difference whatsoever to our lives, not because it's my sermon or anyone's sermon, whoever's here preaching from the truth, then we haven't grasped what it's about.

[5:34] God has brought you today so that His truth, and every time you open scripture, God has brought you to scripture to look at that so that it will mould and guide and govern and change and mature and develop and deepen and all these things in our lives as we allow it to change us.

[5:51] If we don't allow it to change us, we will become hardened to it, and they'll think, I've heard it all before. It's not deep enough, it's not new enough, it's not fresh enough, it's not vibrant enough, but we need to let the truth transform our lives, the propositional objective truth of God's word.

[6:07] Let the truth change your behaviour. That's the first pattern that we see in this book. And the other pattern that stems from these things, or stems from these words, is that we change in community.

[6:23] We change in community. So we have all these statements, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, let us, let us, let us.

[6:34] This is great leadership. This is great teaching. This is the best kind of teacher that comes alongside His people and doesn't say, you know, batter them down and say, you must do this and you need to change and you need to be like this.

[6:49] He says, we're in this together, and change is a community reality for us because we need each other's loyalty, we need each other's support, we need each other's strength.

[6:59] We don't need to batter one another down. We don't need to point out people's faults generally because we, people know their own faults. In friendship and in love, we come alongside people and we recognise that we are in this together and we point people to Jesus.

[7:15] Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. It's not that we just need each other. It's not just that we're a happy band of people together and we sing and we joy and everything's wonderful. And, oh, isn't it great being together?

[7:26] It's not just that. It's that together we focus on Jesus. So the aim is not just to be together and be a happy band, but it's to be together looking at Jesus and encouraging each other to look to Jesus and building one another up, to look to Jesus and to see that.

[7:46] Not relying on the people around us because we're all sinners and we'll all let one another down, but helping each other to look to Jesus Christ.

[7:57] That's really refreshing, isn't it? Sometimes the church is just a cauldron of, what is it?

[8:10] A cauldron of looking at what everyone else is doing in order to find fault. But it should be a place where we impill each other up and encourage one another to follow and look to Jesus.

[8:27] And here we're told to run the race with perseverance. We've got this picture of the race and to fix our eyes on Jesus. So the pattern is that we let truth change how we live and we do that change in community.

[8:45] City groups, friendships, prayer partners, prayer groups meeting together, coming together in worship, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. All these things we do.

[8:56] It's not just my private walk with God or at the top of Arthur's seat. However good and meaningful that might be for us to do every so often.

[9:07] We need one another and God has chosen to bring us together to help and encourage one another. So that's the pattern. Then secondly, and my main point here is that he gives us in this section two illustrations, which kind of intertwine a little bit.

[9:24] I'll not, it's difficult to completely separate them out, but they are different illustrations, but they do merge a little bit. So forgive my confusion there. Two illustrations to help us, what it means to run this race with perseverance that's marked out for us, this Christian walk.

[9:42] What it is to follow Jesus, to fix our eyes on Jesus, give us two examples. And the examples come in this context, which you know and we all know together, the context that the Christian life is a battle.

[9:56] It's really difficult. It's not just easy peasy, lenient squeezy. It's a tough battle. We battle with sin in our own heart, pride and selfishness and ignorance and arrogance.

[10:08] We battle with attractions outside of us, which would take us away from Christ entanglements that will move us away from following Jesus, from opposition, ridicule, from illness, from loss, from death, from grievous, all kinds of things make it difficult for us to be Christians.

[10:28] And this is an example, this is a, in this context he gives us these two examples, which help us to be fit, to run the race, to be holy, to be Christ-like.

[10:42] And the great thing is, it's not a self-help manual, because it all must be predicated on this truth, fix your eyes on Jesus. So it's all about pointing us to Jesus, but it's illustrations that help us to do that.

[10:55] Two illustrations, you know them already. You'll have already picked them out. They're very simple, they're very clear. One is a race, obvious. Probably a marathon race as opposed to a 100 meter sprint.

[11:08] There's one or two people have had a 100 meter sprint in the Christian life and died very young. But most people, for most people it's a marathon race. And we have that picture right at the beginning of this great cloud of witnesses, in a stadium, spectators, and there's this race, and that you get off, throw off everything that would entangle you and you run with peace.

[11:28] So that's the first example that we're given here. And I'll mention both of these, I'll come back to them. The second example is a loving parent.

[11:39] So the second section from verse, probably from about four, five onwards, it talks about the Lord's discipline and the Lord disciplining those he loves, and then goes on to say in verse seven, for what son is not disciplined by his father, and speaks about the love of a parent, a father who will discipline their children.

[11:58] So we have that example. So there's two examples, there's a marathon race, and there's also a loving parent. And both help us to think about running the Christian race.

[12:12] Now the marathon race is a great example, it's tough, isn't it? It's tough in preparation. You can't generally speak and just breeze into a marathon race and run 26 miles.

[12:23] You need to prepare. Our mental attitude is really important in a race. Good to have an inspiring coach to help us. We need discipline and self-denial. I never forget the, this isn't a marathon, but it's a race, Steve Redgrave, who was the great British rower, and watching a programme about his preparations for the Olympics, or Chris Hawley, I think I've mentioned him before, a programme about his preparations, or Andy Murray, I'm reading a book about his journey to Wimbledon, and the amazing, remarkable human commitment that they gave to their sport, and the self-denial, the friendships that they were not able to keep up, the focus, the loneliness, the diet.

[13:06] All these things were tremendously significant and energy-sapping in their lives. And then maybe particularly, these entanglements, you know, these legitimate things, things that most people their age would enjoy normally.

[13:24] But then, actually, before the race, there's that very specific time where they get rid of anything that would entangle. So you see, you see in Boalt, or any of these doing, you see the 100-metre, or even a marathon, and they've kept warm, and then just before the race starts to strip off their tops, and then they take off their tracksuit bottoms, and they put them all in a big box.

[13:46] So all they have is they're down at the basics, and the swimmers at the Olympics are the same. Fill a box with all the things that they've kept warm, and the headphones, and everything else that they've used to distract them.

[13:56] And they're ready, then, for the race. And then they come in, there's this great crowd, inspiring them on, and in the race, they've got to be single-minded.

[14:08] They've got to keep their eye on the finishing line. They've got to be aware of the race, and the runners, as well as the finishing line. And if all of this is relevant, maybe I'm just going away in the fancy.

[14:21] But some of it, for example, years and years ago, I remember as a small boy watching a famous race, a long-distance race, where they had a pace maker because they wanted to make it a really fast race. And the pace maker went so far ahead that he went on to win the race, because he didn't give up.

[14:36] And he was just kind of nobody, in terms of the famous runners. Because all the runners were watching each other, and the big shots were kind of vying for position. And this guy was legging it half a circuit ahead of them.

[14:49] And he said, wait a minute, I'm going to win the race, and I keep going. And he did, because the runners had taken their eye of what was happening around them. And they let their instinct take over sometimes, if they struggle or if they hit a wall.

[15:05] If any of you have run a marathon, he says, pretending he has, which he hasn't. Then you might hit a wall at a certain time. And at these points, your training, your instinct, will come in. So that is the marathon race.

[15:16] I'll come back to that, talking about the gospel. The second example is the loving father, really from verses five right through to 11, which where he talks about discipline and hardship in the Christian life, and he relates it to your upbringing.

[15:32] And saying, well, that's what happens when we grow up. Now, I guess the loving father, loving parent can also be a coach. So there's a bit of mixing in there between the two analogies. Judy Murray being an example.

[15:43] But our loving parents here, and your loving parents, if you have loving parents, they discipline you, because they trained you and loved you and wanted you to grow up for living in the society in which we live.

[15:59] They were building foundations. And in the early stages, that was sometimes harder than other times in life. Sometimes there was a teenage angst and all that that makes it difficult.

[16:09] But we want to teach them about how to live in community, how to live in family, how to live in a home, how to take responsibility, how to relate to one another, how to be forgiven, how to forgive, how to recognize the importance of God and Christ in home and in church.

[16:26] And where that is so important and so significant, to correct them and discipline them in love, to care for them, and to show them where they're going wrong.

[16:37] Kids know, children know, that love brings with it parameters. And they know that actions have consequences. And wrong actions have consequences and need to be disciplined.

[16:48] And moral guidance in the home is tremendously significant. You know, can you think of how appalling it is to see situations where parents have no interest in disciplining and loving their children in that way.

[17:03] And the children go wild. And the children are in control at an early age. OK. Two very easy examples for us to grasp hold of.

[17:14] How do we apply these examples in this particular chapter? Very simply, in two ways. Yeah.

[17:24] First is, in this battle, which is the Christian life, we need discipline. We need to recognize that discipline is an important part, not just of the reality of the battle that we're living in as Christians, but recognizing this is how God works in our lives to bring us closer to Himself, to draw us into fellowship with Him, and to be able to endure hardship when we recognize it's part of living.

[18:00] Otherwise, he says in verse 3, we'll grow weary and not unloose heart. That gives a picture of hitting the wall and just flopping and giving up. Halfway through the race, just collapsing.

[18:11] That's the visual picture that these words give of just giving up. I can't go on. It's hopeless. And he says, so that you don't do that to recognize that this is what the Christian life is.

[18:24] So today, you'll go from here. And you'll be tested. You'll be opposed. You'll be ridiculed. You'll be tempted. You'll be amazed at the darkness of your own heart, at the depth of sin that's there, as it will be exposed at times.

[18:39] And you'll realize that so often, you're kept from utter and complete degradation because of the parameters of society around you and because of your family and other things there. And you'll have competing desires.

[18:51] And you'll have opposite attractions and your ambitions that will distract you and will entangle you and will keep you from Christ. Some of them may be in their own way legitimate.

[19:02] They might not be aversion. But they will be things that will keep you from Jesus Christ. And Jesus is saying in this passage, because he's speaking to a people who are struggling with opposition and persecution, keep going.

[19:19] I will use this to draw you closer to myself. There's a reason behind these things. It's so easy to forget for us when things are going badly and difficult in our lives.

[19:31] It's so easy for us just to give up and to think that God's abandoned us. He doesn't care anymore. It should be easy and life is great. Grace is not cheap and he's saying here, I love you.

[19:43] I'm your father. I care about what's happening. And I want you to recognize this is part of belonging to Jesus Christ. Verse 3 says, consider him Christ who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you may not grow weary and grow hurt.

[19:58] If Christ went through these battles and he was perfect, how much more are we going to go through both battles from outside but also internal battles with our own hearts?

[20:09] And the writer is saying here, it's not just about starting well. It's not just about having a few days of prayer partners and then just getting fed up and giving up. He says it's about persevering. It's about keeping on going.

[20:21] It's not just about having a good couple of years in the Christian church. And then when everything goes pear shaped, just walking away and giving up the Christian faith. He's saying, stick with it.

[20:31] Have a right mindset because there will be difficulties. And God is using that because he loves us and he's molding us and he's changing us and he doesn't want sin and it's cancerous effects to overwhelm us.

[20:44] And he will deal with that in our lives. One of the fruits of the spirit that we often forget because we think, oh, those things, fruits, love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and all these beautiful things that make us so adorable.

[20:57] It's self-control. You know, we think of the spirit leading us and taking us into places and being wonderfully free and easy and being led as God will guide us.

[21:10] And yet he says one of his fruits is self-control, knowing that discipline, dealing with sin and pride, making us fit to be his followers.

[21:22] Remember that when God, I mentioned this last week, I think when we pray about sins, it's not, we blame God as well, God isn't taking away that sin in my heart.

[21:33] And he's saying, I might not take that desire away, but I will give you the strength and the courage and the ability and the power and the freedom to resist it.

[21:43] Very often it's not really about God, it's about what we want. And if we think and allow ourselves to be stripped deep down, it's because we want these things that they're not being taken from us.

[21:54] We want them more than him. But he's doing this, why is he doing it? Why is there discipline? Why is there hardship? Because he says in verse 11, no discipline, of course. It's not about being pleasant, is it?

[22:05] It's not about just having this terrible attitude that you know, bring it on. But rather he says no discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful later on, however, have perspective in the midst of battle and in the midst of difficulties, in the midst of opposition, in the midst of illness, in the midst of trial, later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

[22:31] So God's molding us, he's training us. Do you find that offensive? The idea of God taking our lives and training us in righteousness? He does it because he has started this great work.

[22:44] He's, as we will see, he's the author and he's the perfecter. And how is he gonna perfect? He's gonna do it by dealing and training us in righteousness by his grace and by his power.

[22:57] So we need discipline. And the second thing is, we also, is we need tactics. We need tactics in this Christian life, this race that we're living, this race that we need to run, that's marked out for us, that God knows the end from the beginning of this race.

[23:16] Remember that, you're not coming today and looking forward and thinking, I wonder what God, I wonder what the future's gonna hold. God knows. That's what gives us confidence and grace. But we need tactics in this race as we listen to him.

[23:27] The first, and I'll just go very briefly, one is get rid of the entanglements and the sin that so easily besets us. That's what these let us statements are as we run this race.

[23:39] The tactics are that we need to recognize that we are people of change. If you're coming in here, if I'm coming in here thinking, I'm gonna be the same for the next 20 years coming to St. Columba's or the last 20 years, then again, we've lost sight of what the gospel is about.

[23:57] That we are to be those who are seeing what's happening in our lives and applying it spiritually and saying, God is dealing with me and he wants me to get rid of the entanglements that are keeping me from growing as a Christian.

[24:12] So he's saying, be single-minded. You know what I said about the marathon you need? The mental attitude is probably more important than anything. And you know these guys that don't win Wimbledon or don't win a trophy? It's not often to do with ability ultimately, which is very important, it's to do with their winning ability, the mental attitude they have and the ability to overcome defeat and opposition.

[24:32] And so spiritually, our mental attitude is very important. So you come today and I come today and Christ is our Lord. He's our sovereign King, he's our God. And we need to think about what is taking up all our time.

[24:46] Are we wasting time? Are we distracted by a million and one different things that keep us from Jesus? Legitimate may, though they may be in their own right. Are we harboring in our private life secret sins that nobody in the public domain will know about and everything's fine and well?

[25:05] This is our daily reality, that we are to get rid, let us therefore get rid of the entanglements in the sins. Two different things really, everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, let's deal with that.

[25:22] So that focuses your life today and it focuses mine. It says that there's something bigger than just listening, something more important than just knowing the truth.

[25:33] It says we take that truth, the pattern of this book and we apply that truth because of this. Because he's our loving father, remember he will discipline us.

[25:44] If he doesn't discipline us, we are bastards. That's what he's saying, that's what this truth says here. We are illegitimate children that we have no place. He loves us so much and every parent here knows how much we love and care for our children.

[25:58] And that's what he's doing with us and it may seem hard. Hardest thing, you know, you know what we said as parents, this is hurting me more and it's hurting you. And it sometimes probably wasn't the case as parents because we were sinners and we'll fear then we're falling.

[26:14] But with Christ, that's true. He loves us and he disciplines us for our good and because he cares and wants us to bear this harvest of righteousness and peace.

[26:26] So we get rid of there. Then of course we, in this run, we persevere by fixing our eyes on Jesus. I just love that injunction, that command for us.

[26:41] It's so important and earlier he talks about fixing our thoughts on Jesus, you know, because what it does is it moves away, that moves the ultimate responsibility away from looking like other Christians or being a really great church or following the example of other people and says, for all of us, let's get together and look towards this best coach of all, this coach who knows us and who has been there.

[27:05] You know, he's been there for joy set before him and endured the cross scorning at shame. He's run the race and he's run the race so that we can be empowered to be forgiven and walk with him and run the race ourselves.

[27:18] You know, that's why we can soar on wings like eagles. We can run and not be weary. We can walk and not faint so that we can, as we say in verse 30, make the level paths for our feet because he's empowering us and he's there and we fix our eyes on him.

[27:33] That's great. You know, we often look to one another, don't we? We look to people and that's absolutely right. You know, we see people, we admire people, we look at people.

[27:46] And so God says, I'm giving you a people, I'm giving you a person, I'm giving you Jesus. Who we can see, who came in the flesh, who became a human being, who is incarnate so we can fix our eyes on him and understand him.

[27:59] It's difficult sometimes to fix our eyes on a spirit. God is spirit, eternal and unchangeable, infinite. Sometimes hard for us so he says, don't fix your eyes on Jesus who you can see and who has done what he has done.

[28:12] Great coach. And he says, I will be there for you and I will give you the strength you need and I will take you through all that will threaten to make you stumble and fall because I've defeated it on the cross.

[28:28] Jesus Christ is there. And that is great, isn't it? We rely on each other, we love each other, we lean on each other as much as we, it helps us to point to Jesus.

[28:41] Isn't that good? So don't in your Christian life, make people dependent on you because you become the savior figure. I need lots of people dependent on me.

[28:53] You know, because I'm so, I'll point, I'll show them how to live. That's just a Messiah complex. We don't need that. There's plenty of that around the world. We need people who will have people leaning on them and we will say to them, look to Jesus and we encourage one another to look to Jesus and it's not about us.

[29:12] It's about Jesus Christ, but He will use us, fix our eyes on Jesus. That's the best, isn't that best advice I can ever give? It's the best advice you can have and it's the best, the only advice you need.

[29:25] If you're stumbling, if you're falling, if you're grumbling, if you're finding fault, if you're wanting to give up, if you're complaining, if you're moaning, if you're jealous, if you're critical, if you are broken, if you're guilty, what you need is not a better community.

[29:46] It's not a better theology. You need a better vision. You need to fix your eyes on Jesus and focus on Jesus Christ.

[29:58] That's why we've done 750, because it's about focusing our lives and one another on Jesus Christ. Fix your eyes on Him.

[30:08] Focus your attention on Him, like the runner running the race towards the end. You fix your eyes on the things He speaks about here, about heaven, about victory, about patience, about His grace, about His strength and all these things.

[30:21] Fix your eyes on them. Focus your attention on them. That is how we will grow and how we'll develop. It's an old story, isn't it? I wish I had something new to say, but I don't, and I'm glad I don't at the same time, because this is where we channel what we do.

[30:40] We need the tactics of taking responsibility, getting rid of our entanglements and sin. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, that's what He says here. And the last thing that I want to mention, just briefly, within this tactics section, and with that we'll close, is appreciate your surroundings.

[30:57] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, and that's looking back to the examples of the previous chapter, the great, well, we debunked it last week a little bit about them being great heroes of the faith, because they're just broken and fallen, just like us, it's Christ who kept them.

[31:18] But appreciate your surroundings. And the idea is of this runner who's exhausted and who is tempted to, having hit the wall, just to give up.

[31:29] And there's this roar from the crowds, keep on going, don't give up, and you know what you've heard athletes saying that, or sports people saying that? Well, I was kept going with the crowd, the crowd enabled, this is the roar of the crowd, kept me going.

[31:42] And that's what it's been spoken of here. The writer to the Hebrews is saying, look, you've got a cloud, a cloud, and a crowd of spectators just like you, who have finished a race.

[31:57] Ordinary Abraham, ordinary Moses, ordinary Rahab, sinners saved by grace, who have finished a race, and who are at God's right hand, and they're there and they're cheering you on today.

[32:12] I don't know what that looks like. I don't know exactly what that means, but what is happening is that they're saying, look, if I can do it, so can you.

[32:22] Put your own name in there. You know, if Abraham could do it, with his lying and his cheating and his deception, and if David could do it with his adultery and his pride, and if Rahab could do it with their prostituted background, if these people could do it in the strength of God, well, so can we.

[32:41] And they're saying that today, if we can do it, you're not alone, don't lose heart. You might have thought they would give up, but they haven't, they've kept on going. And may that be an encouragement to us, that there's lots of people, not just from this cloud of witnesses in Hebrews, but right through two millennium of Christianity, since Christ, who have done it.

[33:02] Ordinary people, people who grew up and were born in Edinburgh, or in the Highlands, or in different parts of the world, who have kept going because Christ kept them. Why? Because Christ is the author and the perfecter of our faith, and He's done it.

[33:17] But He wants us to remember our privilege of life, and the privilege of getting rid of sin, and the privilege of knowing the truth, and allowing the truth to set us free.

[33:32] And I just say in conclusion, if you're not a Christian today, are you afraid of becoming a Christian, because it will turn your life upside down?

[33:44] Are you afraid? Because you think it's too tough, I'm gonna have to swim against the tide. Can I encourage you not to be deceived?

[33:58] The alternative of not coming to faith in Jesus is vain and empty, and is governed ultimately by death, and destruction, and separation from God, and from life.

[34:15] Rejecting Christ is the greatest destructive act that you can ever do. And He empowers you, and will give you the faith, and loves you more than you can ever imagine, to enable you to keep going.

[34:35] I hear many people saying, I don't think I can become a Christian, I don't think I'll be able to keep it going. He says, I'm the author, I'm the perfecter.

[34:48] Fix your eyes on me. I mean, let's pray briefly. Father God, we ask and pray that we would be able to fix our eyes on you. We thank you that your gospel is no self-help manual, nor is it about our abilities.

[35:04] So we come today because we recognize that very often we stumble and fall. Very often we fail, and very often we take our eyes off you. But we rejoice that you forgive us 70 times seven, which means relentlessly as we come back to you.

[35:20] And you love us, and you're a loving Father, and you have gifted us faith, and you will help us persevere, and enable us Lord to hold on to that, and to love you, and to work through the entanglements and the sins that so often make us stumble and fall.

[35:39] And may we take responsibility for them, and for the deception of our hearts, and may we turn to you for hope, and for forgiveness, and for a future.

[35:51] We thank you for how relevant this old book of Hebrews is to our modern Christian walk, and we pray that we would be transformed by your truth.

[36:02] And we ask for the spirit to be poured out in our lives, so that that may be the case. So help us now together as we return thanks, and praise, and song to rejoice in you, and to be free from the desperate burden of pleasing others, or doing things in our own strength, and needing to be at the centre of life, or needing to be messiahs ourselves to others, and let us simply fall at your feet in worship.

[36:42] Amen.