Fishers of Men

I used to go fishing with my dad as a boy, but it has been many years since I last tried my hand at catching the aquatic kind! Hopefully not so long since I tried to be a fisher of men.

I enjoyed this post from last week, so I thought I would share it with you this morning.

When fishing, we cast our lines into the water. We may try different techniques and experience can help us improve our catching rate. but we have little control about which fish actually take the bait.

Likewise, in evangelism, some techniques are more effective than others, and yet it is not us who brings the person to salvation. Only the guidance and conviction of the holy spirit can bring a person to saving faith.

I hope you enjoy the post, and it gives you pause for thought. God bless

Earlier this week, my husband and I went fishing. As we were enjoying our time on the lake, and catching a few fish, I was reminded of the old song I…

Fishers of Men

Live for Eternity (PoW#17) – Andy Brown

Pearl of Wisdom #’17 We ought to spend our time here, preparing for there In our society, which is largely anti-God, anti-Christian and promotes evolution, humanism and secularism, it is hardly surprising that people think very little about eternity – life after death. If you take a Christian worldview, then you believe and understand that…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/09/24/live-for-eternity-pow17/

Just as He said He would

Happy Easter!

It was my privilege to share for a few minutes this morning at our early morning sunrise service on this Resurrection Sunday.

I share below a recording of the message which I hope you enjoy.

May you be eternally blessed this Easter weekend!

A message from Andy on Easter Sunday morningA message from Andy on Easter Sunday morning

Preaching to the Choir

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 see God at work through our words and videos, and (at points) amusing to hear of some of the mistakes we had made along the way… for instance, the time I accidentally shared a post inviting people to a psychic evening!

Alan at Devotional Treasures writes frequently inspiring posts, giving us Scripture to ponder on and encouragement and challenge to take away. Andy, at Berry Bunch Family, put outs a huge amount of video content for all the family, and has recently published his first book – Broken Dreams and Hope – which I highly recommend. Do check out both feeds if you get a chance.

We reflected that often we feel a little like we are preaching to the choir. We produce our materials and they seem to primarily reach a Christian audience, and we wondered whether we were reaching those who are yet to believe in Jesus.

This inspired me to share a few thoughts with you today on this subject.

Firstly, it is no bad thing to encourage the family of believers (not that we ever thought it was!). The church is a body, and we all have a part to play. There will be days when each one of us needs a boost or bit of encouragement, and blogging is a great opportunity to do this. There have been countless times when I have read a post or watched a video from either of the two men of God mentioned above, and God has used it to uplift and strengthen me.

It is things like this that keep us going. Being a Christian in this hostile world is no easy thing. At times, we feel like aliens on a dangerous planet, completely at odds with the views and people around us. The Christian family needs to come together to support one another, and keep on keeping on!

Secondly, being consistent and producing material regularly means that a huge library of materials is slowly built up. As I write, I think my blog now houses over 400 posts, and someone like Alan’s is probably far higher. This means that there is likely a post out there for you today. The Holy Spirit can direct people to the very thing they need, and that may be years down the road. On days when I post and get only a few views, I take comfort in knowing that the words will remain available for anyone to find in the future when they perhaps need it most.

Finally, we cannot reach everyone. There will be people who I will never meet or interact with, and so have little hope of sharing the Gospel with them. Yet, the same is true for me in that there will be people I meet that you will not. Only together can we all fulfil God’s purpose and reach all those who need to hear. Whether you see yourself as a big or small cog in the giant machine that is God’s Kingdom, know that you are an important cog. There may be many “small” parts in my computer, but if I start removing them, it won’t be long before the machine fails altogether!

I remember someone saying once that it is our job to give God glory in our little corner of the world. We all have our own corner, and our own opportunity to share our faith. We can encourage our brothers and sisters, and we can share our faith with those yet to hear. Let each of us just help everyone move one step closer to God today.

Have a great weekend!

Precious Promises (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Last week I wrote a post called – Precious Faith – which looked at the opening words of Peter’s second letter. Having reminded his readers of his slavery and apostleship, and the like precious faith they share, Peter continues.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)

Living A Godly Life

In his opening, Peter tells us that we share a faith given to us by God. Likewise here, we see another example of what God has given to us. Namely, everything!

Well, not strictly true… although I once heard a preacher say that this verse does mean just that. That God has given us everything we might want, need or desire. If we were not fallen, sinful creatures, then that might not be so bad.

Peter, however, does not mean literally everything but rather qualifies his words. God, by His power, has given us everything we need for “living a godly life.” God has indeed blessed us richly, and gives us what we need that we might live godly lives. He does not empower us to commit sin, nor to swallow up all we want in selfish greed.

It can be very difficult to be a Christian in today’s world. Some days it feels like we live on a different planet to the rest of the population. We are criticised, laughed at and persecuted, and at times it can feel almost impossible to live in a godly way.

Yet, Peter would encourage us by reminding us of what we have been given – everything! We can do it, because we have what we need. This is not to depend on ourselves to live righteously, but instead to draw on that “divine power” that the Holy Spirit brings. We live godly because we follow Christ, and want to be like Him. We have courage to stand out from the world even if it costs us something.

Verse 3 continues by saying we have received all of thins by coming to know Him – that is, the One who has called us by His marvellous glory and excellence. So, this means that we receive this as we come to know Jesus Christ. It is not received in church attendance, daily devotionals, doing good works (as profitable as those things are), but it is also about knowing Christ.

I am reminded of Paul’s words from Philippians:

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ

Philippians 3:8 (NLT)

I have been challenged lately by asking myself how Christlike I am. I often do not feel a whole lot like Him, and as I examine what it means to be like Him, I have to first truly know Him. I challenge you in the same way today; are you Christlike? How well do you know Jesus?

Precious Promises

Last time, we thought about the precious faith we share, and now Peter points to precious promises.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

2 Peter 1:4 (NLT)

Because of His glory, because of how excellent Christ is, He has bestowed upon us promises as precious as our faith.

These promises allow us to share in Christ’s nature, and that is also what allows us to become Christlike. I hasten to point out that these promises are not given to us because we are good, have earned them or are superior to anyone else; no, they are given to us simply because we know the Lord.

The corruption of the world is what I touched on earlier. We are surrounded by sinfulness, and temptation seems to appear from every direction. How can we Christians escape such wickedness and not be overwhelmed by it? By receiving these very valuable promises, by drawing on Christ and all His strength and abiding in Him (as a branch linked to a vine) we can deny human (sinful) desire and seek the Spirit’s lead.

Practically, what does this all mean?

Put simply, I believe these verses point us back to God’s Word. We find these precious promises in the Bible. We come to know Christ fully as we see Him revealed in Scripture. As we study the Word, it changes us from the inside out and, over time, we become more like the Lord we serve.

Seek out those promises today. Read the Gospels and learn about who Jesus is. As you do so, you will be eternally blessed.

The Challenging Word of God – Andy Brown (repost)

I love it when the Bible catches you off guard. And especially so when it is a passage you think you know well. That very thing happened to me this morning. I was looking over the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. I cannot say I was actually reading it, but was more just…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/04/17/the-challenging-word-of-god/

Hope Comes Looking (audio)

It was my pleasure to share in the teaching at our churches Lent meeting last week. we were considering the subject of hope, and looking at four encounters from the book of Luke-chapter 8.

I share below a recording of the message I gave, and hope it encourages you today.



This Sunday at Church: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel

On the back of my series on the Great Commission, this is a timely reminder from our brother in Christ.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://1peter.bible/1-peter-3-15

For this Sunday here’s what you can do: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel. A few months ago I wrote This Sunday at Church: Thank the …

This Sunday at Church: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel

Psalm 32 – Sermon

A few years ago I gave a sermon on Psalm 32, and was reviewing my notes from it this morning.

It is one of the penitential Psalms, or Psalms of repentance. It is a wonderful set of verses, and I share below the audio message I gave at the time.

Do have a read of the whole Psalm before listening, as it is not included in the recording.

Baptise Them

The Great Commission #4

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 (WEB)

Jesus gave three primary instructions to His eleven followers on the mountain.

  1. Make disciples of all nations
  2. Baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  3. Teach them to obey all He commanded

We now consider number two on the list, namely the instruction to baptise.

In some respects, I feel this is a forgotten element of the Great Commission. I have said previously that simply telling others about Jesus is not quite enough to fulfil the task at hand, and this particular instruction is relevant. Telling others about Christ and the Gospel does not equate to baptism.

We must not neglect the command of baptism in the Great Commission.

We must not neglect the command of #baptism in the Great Commission. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

For the individual, this may feel somewhat difficult to fulfil. It is clear that we ought not to run around throwing holy water on people, baptising them with a super-soaker! For the most part, we tend to leave this instruction to be fulfilled by the church, rather than us as members of it.

To be clear, baptism is a symbolic event where water is sued to indicate the new life of a believer seeking to follow Christ. It is a public declaration of an internal change. When we surrender ourselves to Jesus, He gives us a heart of flesh instead of stone, and gifts us with His Holy Spirit to dwell with us. Baptism, then, is an outward sign of that commitment.

Different church traditions do this in a variety of ways. Some will completely immerse an individual in water, using a pool or even the ocean. Others simply sprinkle water over them as a symbol of cleansing. Some church traditions baptise children or infants, while others only adults.

On that last point, it is clear that as an infant, you cannot make the promises required for a real commitment for Christ. Instead, it is the parents and godparents who make those promises on the child’s behalf, and later in life it is hoped the child will make the promises for themselves. In the Anglican tradition, a baptised infant, when they reach an age of understanding, can then go forward for “Confirmation” which is essentially adopting the baptismal promises for themselves.

Whatever your tradition, and whatever your views on infant baptism or total immersion, the command from Jesus is clear – we are to baptise.

A friend of mine came to faith in his twenties, but was never baptised. He had not been baptised as a baby, and his church had not emphasised the need for it. When he moved home and thus changed to a different fellowship, he became involved in serving at the church. One day when the pastor was teaching on the subject of baptism, he came to the decision that he must be baptised as a sign of his belief.

Did it enhance his faith in any particular way? Was he not “properly” saved until he was immersed? Was it just a good excuse for a get-together? The likely answer is no to all of these (although some may disagree) but the point is it was a definite step of obedience. Baptism is a command of Christ, and this man fulfilled it.

As he climbed down the steps into the water, it represented the death and burial of his old life of sin. As he emerged from the surface of the water, it depicted his freshness as a “new creation” in Christ. This is what baptism is all about.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Jesus instructs His followers to baptise in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To be honest, there is some debate about this point. Are these not titles, rather than names? Some will ask. Is it not sufficient to baptise in the “name” of Jesus?

There is something of a rabbit hole to avoid here. The issue is not unimportant of course, and I urge you to investigate it for yourself. We do not have time in these brief words to give the topic justice.

The critical point for me here is that we are not baptised into any old name. We are not pinning our colours to any random mast. Instead, we are dedicating ourselves to the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God of the Bible, and the One who raised Christ from the dead. You cannot easily separate the Father from the Son, nor the Spirit from Jesus. They are One God, in three Persons. To fully understand this is to comprehend God Himself, which is beyond any of us.

How we baptise is a matter for study and debate, and various church traditions have grown up over time with differing views. The point is we are to baptise.

Having gone out, as Jesus told us, and sharing the Good News about Christ, a natural step for those who believe is to be baptised. For many people, it is a key event in their lives of faith. Often it marks the beginning of something too.

Jesus was baptised by John in the River Jordan, which you can read about in Matthew 3. This was not to cleanse Jesus from sin, as He was without it, but instead marked the coming of the Spirit and the beginning of His earthly ministry.

In a similar way, perhaps you need to experience baptism for yourself, or renew the promises you or others made for you?

What will you do?

Some questions for you today:

  • Have you been baptised, and if not, does this encourage you to explore it?
  • Does your church teach about baptism and encourage it?
  • If you were baptised as a child, why not review the promises that were made on your behalf today, and commit yourself to keeping them?

Go!

The Great Commission #2

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 (WEB)

Having established His authority, the Lord Jesus begins to command His Eleven disciples. Jesus is neither vague, nor unclear. He sets out for them several things they must now go and do to fulfil this Great Commission, and we will examine each in turn in the coming days.

Every journey must begin with the very first step. For the Great Commission, the first step is to simply “Go!”

To go is an action. It is not standing still and letting the world pass you by, but it is to move, and move forwards.

The Eleven would never fulfil this mission if they had set up camp on that mountainside. Had they stayed there, discussing what Jesus had told them or all the things that had happened, then we may never have heard of them again. Had they formed a committee to decide the best course of action, taking a vote on the right direction to travel in or what was the best approach to teaching, then they would have been paralysed on the spot.

There is a place for discussion, planning and committees, don’t get me wrong, but there is also a time for action. I do not advise you to jump into something without prior thought, but neither do I suggest you sit around shooting the breeze.

Go! Says the Lord, move out and together we will change the world.

It does not matter how far you go, as long as you do go. Whether you walk a dozen steps to your neighbour’s house, travel half a mile to the local town square, or cross the globe to a far flung nation, go and take the message of Christ with you.

Using a Bible search engine, the word “Go” appears over 1400 times in the KJV version of the Scriptures, whereas the word “stop” only occurs 7 times! Clearly God wants us to get the message that we are to go, pressing on and doing the work He has called us to.

Philip was told “Go!” and he went to Samaria:

Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 The multitudes listened with one accord to the things that were spoken by Philip when they heard and saw the signs which he did. 7 For unclean spirits came out of many of those who had them. They came out, crying with a loud voice. Many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 There was great joy in that city.

Acts 8:5-8 (WEB)

Paul followed the command to go, and he went to the Gentiles, Peter did likewise, but to the Jewish people:

Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. 2 I went up by revelation, and I laid before them the Good News which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately before those who were respected, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

but to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcised, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcised— 8 for he who worked through Peter in the apostleship with the circumcised also worked through me with the Gentiles

Galatians 2:1-2, 7-8 (WEB)

Moses was told to go to Pharoah. Jonah was instructed to go to Nineveh. God told Joshua to go and conquer the land. Elijah told the widow of Zarephath to go, and bring him a cake, and she went, receiving a miracle. Likewise, Elisha told another widow to go and get empty jars that they might be filled with oil, and she, too, went.

Where is God telling you to go?

The point of my post today is not some deep theology, but rather to encourage and inspire you. I am not revealing some great doctrinal truth, but instead am directing you to action. We will never fulfil the Great Commission without it.

For you to go may mean a shift in your attitude, habits or thinking. It may not mean a change in physical location, but a definite decision to alter your mindset and do whatever Christ is calling you to.

When you go, you may need to leave certain “baggage” behind you. Gossiping friends, TV addiction, the comfort of familiarity or just plain old worries may need to be discarded so you can fully go for the Lord.

The word “go” means to move or proceed, as I think I have emphasised above. It can also mean to  start or begin, as in to fire the starting gun on the race track.

This exclamation – Go! – is a trigger for us to begin. When that starting gun fires, the runners do not amble along, enjoying the sunshine and having a chat! No, they leap forward with energy and vigour, and that is precisely how we ought to launch into the Great Commission.

I do not want you to proceed without haste; to just quit your job, up sticks and charge ahead without clear direction from God. That is not wise. I do want you to proceed with urgency, energy and excitement however, giving this all you have.

Make a firm decision today that you are going to follow Christ and all He commands with everything you have. Join me, and let’s go!

What will you do?

My questions to you today are:

  • What does it mean for you to “go?”
  • Is there anything hindering you, or holding you back from going?
  • Can  you think of anyone else from the Bible who was told to go, and what can you learn from them?

Parable Surprises – Wedding Banquet

While the phrase is weeping and gnashing of teeth are not entirely encouraging, they are important biblical concepts. this blog post offers some interesting insights into their meaning, and some more general thoughts on this particular parable which I will encourage you to read.

I do not like to share posts too often, as I do not want to weary my readership! But there are some truly amazing writers on WordPress, so do explore for yourselves and find them!

Weddings are awesome, but sometimes full of tension and surprises. To plan a wedding is one of the more complex projects I have been involved with. …

Parable Surprises – Wedding Banquet