“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…” Titus 3:4-5a
Since the day sin entered the world, we have been searching and waiting. Our relationship with God has been broken, not only by Adam’s sin but by our own sin as well. When we look at the world around us, we see the painful evidence of our brokenness and our fallenness. We see suffering, sickness, sadness, and death. This isn't how things were supposed to be on that sixth day of creation, but that's what came when we chose to go our own way rather than trusting God.
In Titus 3:3, we see vividly what life is like without Christ. We are foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others, and hating one another. We can simply turn on the news, scroll on our newsfeed, or look in the mirror to see this.
We need a Savior. We need something more than a list of laws and good works to fix this. And that's exactly what God gave us in Jesus’ birth. Titus 3:4-5 show us the hope and reality that came on that first Christmas morning.
Let’s look at how glorious this first Noel (which means Christmas) truly was:
Our Savior entered into time and space. "But When... God our Savior appeared". God the Son took on flesh and submitted Himself to 24 hour days and the womb of His virgin mother Mary. Could you imagine the God of the universe entering a womb that He created? Let the awe of that mystery sweep over you this Christmas. Consider that the Son of God allowed His skin to be warmed by the sun he created. The stars He made would shine in the right place and the right time to serve as a sign that He would burst into creation to show us His Father's glory!
Our Savior brought goodness and loving kindness. When God the Son came into such a sin-sick world, He could have brought wrath and judgment to the wickedness He saw. He could have given us the wages of our sin, which is death. We have all fallen short of His glory and deserve the just penalty. One day He will return for this very purpose. But in His first coming, Jesus brought compassion and love for dead sinners. He brought good news and freedom to the captives. He brought grace; the kind of grace that binds up the wounds of the broken, gives sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. He brought the kind of grace that brings dead sinners to life.
Our Savior brought salvation. Some of the most amazing words ever spoken are found in Titus 3:5: "He saved us". We didn't save ourselves because we couldn't. We wouldn't have saved ourselves if we could because we love this world too much. God knew sin would do this to us, so He sent His Son, at the right time, to save us from our sins if we cast off our pride and self-righteousness.
If our Savior didn't appear on Christmas morning, salvation wouldn't have appeared either.
But He did on the first Noel.
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review. Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Don’t do dumb stuff while you’re young that you’ll regret when you’re old. That’s at the heart of In Praise Of Old Guys. Nicolas Alford and Nicholas Kennicott drive home this message with transparent, hard-hitting, and biblical wisdom page after page.
In a day in which the perils of youth are lauded as virtues, we are reminded that “a believer with gray hair has a banner signaling you to ask them for advice, counsel, and encouragement” (p. 13). Instead of calling for more contemporary worship services or more innovative ideas, Alford and Kennicott call young and aspiring pastors to “care more about growth in holiness and communion with the Lord in the quiet and unseen times of the day than we do about cultivating and maintaining a public platform and popular persona.” (p. 39)
On many of the pages, I was convicted by the folly of my own youthfulness in life and ministry. I’ve cared more about getting seminary and ministry credentials than sitting under the mentorship of a godly older man. To put it bluntly, I’ve often been shaped by the notion that true education is found in a classroom, not in the trenches of real ministry.
In Praise Of Old Guys is both practical and deeply rooted in scripture. At some moments, the tone is light and hilarious which is sure to get a few laughs along the way. At other moments, you get hit hard by the rawness of the reality of pride: “Beware of a self-exalting man, especially if he is doing it with a smirk. He’s not edgy; he’s an idiot.” (p. 24). This makes for an enjoyable read on a topic that could certainly be depressing and discouraging if handled wrongly.
As a book nerd, I loved the sections which highlighted great writers and books from the past. It’s important to read scripture, which made very clear in this book. It is also important to read good books from old dead guys. They’ve lived their lives, preached their sermons, and written their books. We don’t have to fear that they’ll tarnish their faithful ministry with sin because their story has already been written.
Ultimately, if you’re a young man, pursue an old guy with gray hair to do life with. There is so much wisdom to be found in their lives, and you’re commanded in scripture to do so. If you’re an old guy (I’m getting closer to that description with every ache, pain, and grey hair), find a young guy to mentor and disciple. It’s worth it for both of you.
I highly recommend this book. I look forward to more by Alford and Kennicott!
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you're anything like me, you love to buy good books for the people you love, but you've somehow missed someone on your list. If so, I have a few books that will make great Christmas gifts for the people you love:
If you waited this long, you better hurry! If you're buying in store, you'll be fine, but if you're an online shopper, it looks like you've only got about a day to ensure that your gifts arrive before Christmas day with one or two-day shipping!
Advent 2018 is underway this year, and many Christians are in search of devotional tools to help them focus on Jesus this holiday season. One of my goals is to point you to good books and other great resources to benefit you and the people close to you as you pursue a deeper relationship with Christ.
Love Came Down At Christmas by Sinclair Ferguson brings the message of Christ’s love to you in a unique and special way. Rather than simply focusing on traditional Christmas themes or sections of scripture, Ferguson chose to walk readers through 1 Corinthians 13—the Bible’s famous love chapter.
He reminds us that the words of 1 Corinthians 13 can profoundly move us during the Advent season. We are shown that “when you slow them down, and read them phrase by phrase, and apply them to yourself, they transpose into a different key altogether. They cease to be rhetorically pleasing and emotionally soothing; instead they become an analysis of your spiritual life. They are deeply challenging” (p. 11).
Each day, you get a little bit of exposition, Ferguson’s warm personality and affectionate teaching style, and Christ-focused application. You also get some helpful reflection questions and poetic prayers from various saints throughout church history. The concise, truth-packed chapters are a wonderful way to start each day leading up to Christmas.
If you want a soul-searching, heart-warming devotional this Advent season, look no further than Love Came Down At Christmas. It’s still early, so you can order your copy on Kindle or paperback today!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
A Small Taste Of The Glory Of Christ
God’s presence brings joy to His people (Psalm 16:11). This devotional guide gives you a small taste of the glory of Christ found in God’s Word. Don’t be surprised if you plan to spend 15 minutes and end up enjoying an hour with God! We were created for this. Our sole purpose in life is to worship and enjoy God forever.
How To Use This Guide
The goal is not to just get through the reading for the day and check the box (wait, there is no box!). Pick a time, pick a place, and maybe pick some people to read with. Early birds, get up and have your coffee with the Lord. Night owls, ditch Netflix and enjoy time with Christ.
As you read, I recommend the following basic steps (ARMY):
Before You Get Started
Before you get started with this Advent guide, I want you to take 5 minutes to ask yourself a few questions. I know, I know, you don’t have time to stop and wait, right? But seriously stop and ask yourself these questions:
Why am I doing this? Will God love me less if I fail? Will He love me more if I do well? Is this just something I’m doing to look more spiritual?
If you decide to wake up earlier, stay up later, or give up some time during your lunch break to spend time with Christ, don’t just go through the motions. Remind yourself that the blessed saints are the ones who meditate day and night (Psalm 1). Abiding in Christ will lead to fullness of joy (John 15:1-11). The God of the universe is worth more than any gift you will receive this Christmas.
For a printable version of the guide, click here.
Jesus, The Eternal Son Of God
December 2: Jesus, the Creator (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-3)
December 3: Jesus, the Eternal Word (John 1:1-18)
December 4: Jesus, the Foreknown Savior (Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:17-21)
December 5: Jesus, the Son of God (John 1:29-34; Luke 1:35; Matthew 14:33)
Sinners In Need Of A Savior
December 6: The Fall of Man (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-19)
December 7: The Effects of Sin (Genesis 6:1-8; Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3)
December 8: The Wages of Sin (Romans 6:23; Psalm 49:7; Romans 3:23)
December 9: The Requirement of Justice (Proverbs 24:12; Job 34:10-15)
December 10: The Forgiveness That Counts (Mark 2:7; Matthew 9:1-8)
Prophecies Of The Messiah
December 11: Jesus, the Headcrusher (Genesis 3:14-15; Romans 16:20; Hebrews 2:14-18)
December 12: Jesus, the King (Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 2; John 18:33-38)
December 13: Jesus, the Forsaken (Psalm 22:1; Psalm 22:14-18; Matthew 27:45-56)
December 14: Jesus, the Risen (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-32)
December 15: Jesus, the Light of the Nations (Isaiah 49:6; Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8)
Themes Of Immanuel
December 16: Joy in Christ (Romans 15:13; Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Peter 1:8-9)
December 17: Hope in Christ (Psalm 39:7; 1 Peter 1:3-5)
December 18: Peace in Christ (Isaiah 9:6; Philippians 4:4-7; Ephesians 2:11-22)
December 19: The Sacrifice of Christ (John 15:12-13; 1 John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 8:9)
December 20: The Presence of Christ (Matthew 1:23; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Revelation 21:3)
Unto Us A Child Is Born
December 21: Mary, the Virgin Mother (Luke 1:26-38)
December 22: Mary, the Joyful Mother (Luke 1:39-56)
December 23: Joseph, the Obedient Earthly Father (Matthew 1:18-25)
December 24: John, the Forerunner (Luke 1:67-80)
December 25: Jesus, the Savior, Is Born (Luke 2:1-38)
For a printable version of this guide, click here.