Humility & Baptism (Luke 3:15-22)

As always, it was an immense privilege to be able to share with God’s people at my church this weekend. I share below a recording of the message which I hope you enjoy.

A dove

Here is the text from Luke 3 for your reference:

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:15-22 NIV

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire Luke3:16 #NIV #Bible

This Sunday at Church: Pray for churches you know looking for a Pastor

Another great suggestion to share with you this Sunday, and I really do encourage you to pray for any churches you know that do not have a pastor at the moment.

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Pray for churches you know looking for a Pastor. In 2021 I was guest speaking at a…

This Sunday at Church: Pray for churches you know looking for a Pastor

This Sunday at Church: Praying for your Church’s Outreach Effort

I often share from this wonderful series on a Sunday. Today’s post is particularly powerful so I really do encourage you to give it a read.

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Praying for your church outreach effort.  It might mean someone’s eternity with …

This Sunday at Church: Praying for your Church’s Outreach Effort

Sent One (Titus 1:1)

This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. 3 And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

Titus 1:1-3 NLT
A sign sending you the right way

In yesterday’s post – A Slave of God – we thought about Paul’s opening words in the letter of Titus. Today we continue on that same line.

Paul identifies himself not only as a slave of God, but also as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is an apostle? There are a few different definitions actually, and the one most commonly used is to describe the group who first took the Christian message into the world. These were mainly the disciples of Christ, and of course, Paul himself. Many of them had seen the Risen Lord.

One definition I once heard is that apostle means “Sent One.” I like that, and it has always stuck with me. Hence the name of today’s post I suppose!

If Paul is indeed a “sent one,” then what has he been sent to do? The NLT translation makes it abundantly clear. He has been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen.

In many respects, all who minister in God’s Word are called to do this. Whether you write a blog, pastor a church or teach a small group, you are proclaiming faith to God’s people. A proclamation is a public announcement of some kind, and in this case, an announcement of the Good News of Jesus.

Sometimes when I sit and write a blog post, it is not easy. I read the Scripture, think about what God might want me to say and often tie myself in knots. Proclaiming faith is not complicated however, and nor should it be. It is not something that only top theologians can do, nor do you need a doctorate or ordination. I’m not against such things I hasten to add, but let us not disqualify ourselves from stating the simple truth of the Gospel to the world that desperately needs it.

If “apostle” means “sent one,” then where is God sending you? #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

I cannot gloss over the little note that Paul adds. He is proclaiming faith to those God has chosen. This touches on the theology of sovereignty, and makes us ask if it is God’s choice, does that remove our own freedom? You often hear people talk of “free will,” but you will not find that phrase in the Bible itself. While there are choices we can make, we must ask ourselves what really drives them. Without straying into philosophy here, what makes you decide to choose option A over B? If you lived a different life, experienced different things or happened to be born in another part of the world, would you still choose A over B? Hard to say…

The point is, when we are trapped in sin, we cannot choose God. As fallen and sinful creatures, there is nothing in us that wants anything of God. In order for us to be saved, He must choose us. Indeed, God did so before the foundation of the world. If we follow Christ, then we are the elect, and God has adopted us into His family. We can claim no credit for this, but instead rejoice in the truth that God did it all for us.

Is God sending you to proclaim faith to His people? That may not mean you boarding a plane and travelling to some far off land, as God’s chosen people might be just around the corner. If God sends you, then proclaim faith in your words and deeds. Do not say the words and fail to live the life.

Proclaim faith with your words and deeds. Do not preach the words and fail to live the life #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

Still more to come on Titus 1:1 another day! God bless you

A Slave of God (Titus 1:1)

This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. 3 And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

Titus 1:1-3 NLT
Chains

Over the last couple of months, I have been thinking about the letter of Titus, and primarily focussing on the first chapter.

This letter is one of the pastoral epistles, and is written by Paul to a man named Titus. I need give you little more introduction than that, as I think the text itself is largely self-explanatory.

Paul, as is his custom, gives his name and then a brief description of himself. The first thing he says is “a slave of God.” It is all too easy to just skim over these words and move into the “meat” of the letter, yet we often miss important things if we do so.

This word “slave” is often translated as “servant” as it is more acceptable to our modern ears. Slavery, historically, was a dreadful thing and people treated as commodities in most cases. Paul is a servant indeed, but I wonder how he would feel about swapping out the word “slave” for “servant?” I suspect Paul might prefer the former. I would wager that Paul would be a glad slave of God.

If I had to be a slave, then I would gladly be the slave of our gracious God.

If I had to be a slave, then I would gladly be the slave of our gracious God. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

As a slave, we live entirely to please our master. We surrender everything that we have, our freedoms, our privileges, our belongings, and all that we are, to the one in charge over us. To be enslaved to a sinful human master is terrifying and dreadful, but when we come under the Lordship of the unendingly good God of the Bible, there is little distinction between slavery and servanthood.

What price can be put on a human life? Slaves are purchased for but a few coins, as no amount of money can equate to the cost of a person’s freedom. God had indeed purchased us, but not in earthly currency, but in the shed blood of His Own Son – Jesus Christ.

God is without sin, and therefore neither under its curse nor liable for its penalty. He is perfect and holy. We cannot begin to fathom this, in our limited human state, tainted by sins effects. His purity exceeds ours by unimaginable degrees. I say all of this to remind us that if God is indeed that holy, then we cannot comprehend the cost of giving up His Son on our behalf. The price He paid for us is beyond reasonable, and is only explained by the magnitude of His love.

When we look at it like this, surrendering our lives to Him seems absolutely nothing in comparison. It makes me a willing slave, if that is not a contradiction.

What do slaves of God actually do? Earthly slaves prepare meals, clean house or clothes, and run errands for their master. Slaves to God are not required cook or clean, not for their Master at least, so what do they actually do?

This letter, at least in part, will help us answer that question. Paul gives instructions about what an elder or deacon should be like, and even if we are not called to such an office, we can still conduct ourselves in like manner.

Slaves of God put their Master’s needs ahead of their own #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

In conclusion, slaves of God put their Master’s  needs and wants ahead of their own. Slaves do not gossip when their Master wants them to encourage. Slaves do not steal pens from work or surf the web all day, but instead work hard to please their Master and use their pay to give to the work of the Gospel. Slaves do not watch things they shouldn’t on TV, nor should they give in to the temptation of temper, bad language, pride or selfishness. Instead, they serve the Lord with gladness, devoting themselves to prayer and Bible study, and living a life distinctly different to the rest of the world.

Do we do this perfectly? I certainly do not! And I’m humbled by my own words. If you do, then let me know your secret…

Still, we strive on, pressing towards holiness in the strength of God, and we rely on Jesus to change us one day at a time into His likeness.

Slaves have no choice, and for the Christian truly transformed by encountering Jesus, they have little choice either. We cannot comprehend the depths of the Good News without surrendering all we have and are to our wonderful Father.

More on Titus in the days to come, and hopefully we’ll get to the end of verse one! Have a blessed day!

This Sunday at Church: Pray for your church’s future guest speakers

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Pray for your church’s future guest speakers. Last few years it seems its been …

This Sunday at Church: Pray for your church’s future guest speakers

This Sunday at Church: Letting your pastor know you appreciate the years he’s devoted to ministry

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Letting your pastor know you appreciate the years he’s devoted to ministry. …

This Sunday at Church: Letting your pastor know you appreciate the years he’s devoted to ministry

This Sunday at Church: Repenting of sins from the previous year (RB)

It is good to start the new year with a clean sheet and a fresh start. Jim’s first post of the year, on his This Sunday series, shows us one way that we can do that.

I hope you enjoy reading it, and have a great Sunday, and indeed, a great New Year!

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Repenting of sins from the previous year. I think the Christian life means …

This Sunday at Church: Repenting of sins from the previous year

Going for Godliness #SundaySuggestion

This year begins on a Sunday so I am kicking off the year with a Sunday Suggestion.

One of the most popular posts of last year was – Go for a Goal – which was another Sunday Suggestion. I could launch 2023 with a similar theme, but I am sure you will hear enough about New Years’ Resolutions in the coming days. Instead, let me ask you – how ought you to live your life as a Christian in 2023?

Peter, in his second letter, talks of the end of all things. He says this:

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives

2 Peter 3:11 NIV

Peter instructs that as all things will end one day, we ought to live our lives in holy and godly ways.

These words are in reference to the end of the world or the last days, and we could spend much time discussing if we are indeed in the last of the latter times. We certainly see many signs that Jesus warned us of, and yet every generation believed itself to be the final one. Two things are for sure; 1) we are closer to the end than we were yesterday, and 2) life is short and last days or not, each of us could find ourselves standing before the Lord a lot sooner than we ever thought possible.

Given this, it is all the more vital that you and I live holy and godly lives. My suggestion for you today, and for this entire year, is to go for godliness.

What is godliness, and how do we go for it?

What is #godliness? How can we be #holy? #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

Godliness and holiness are close cousins. To be holy is to be set apart for a specific purpose – namely, to serve God. Godliness is to be like God in character, and to think and act in accordance with His will.

This is not easy for us to achieve, and impossible in our own strength. Only through constant study of God’s Word and fellowship with Him and His Spirit can we ever hope to act in a godly manner. Our born-again heart might be new, but we wrestle with our sinful nature and conquer it through prayer and the renewing of our minds.

Going for godliness is to put God first in your life, and to prioritise Christian practices over the things of this temporary world. Watching TV  is not wrong, nor is any of your hobbies, but if they replace your fellowship with Christ, then you will never be able to live as you ought.

It is not something you can do overnight, and in fact, will take effort each and every day of 2023. You do not go it alone, as you have the continual comfort of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of believers who travel  with you.

Decide today to made 2023 the most godly year of your life to date. Put God first, and live in accordance with the Scriptures and in line with the Gospel. Pray for me as I do the same, and let us each look forward to the coming of our Lord – sooner or later.

God bless you this year!

Then Wisdom (Proverbs 2:5-8) – Andy Brown (Best of 2022)

Over the course of 2022, I have written a series of posts in the book of proverbs. This particular post had the most views, so I share it with you again today as part of my best of the year. 

In yesterday’s post – If Wisdom – we saw and understood that wisdom required certain things from us. A choice was given to us, and we could opt to follow the path of insight or to tread the way of foolishness. What are the benefits of wisdom though? We posed the question yesterday, if I…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/01/18/then-wisdom-proverbs-25-8/

Preaching to the Choir – Andy Brown (Best of 2022)

Are you preaching to the choir? Is that wasteful, or does the choir need your encouragement as well? It was a great pleasure yesterday evening to meet (on video) a couple of fellow Christian bloggers, and lovely to share some of our stories, questions and experiences of ministering through this medium. It was humbling to…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/04/09/preaching-to-the-choir/

One Thing I Ask – Andy Brown (Best of 2022)

The one thing I ask of the Lord—    the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,    delighting in the Lord’s perfections    and meditating in his Temple.Psalm 27:4 (WEB) I recall a time when I was speaking to a group of students about what heaven…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/01/29/one-thing-i-ask/