Getting The Message Out

Below is the sermon audio & the sermon notes of Bryn MacPhail. “Look, The Lamb Of God”, based on John 1:19-34, was preached at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk on January 16, 2011.

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In ancient days, before there was facebook, email, or text messaging, there were heralds.

Traveling dignitaries sent heralds ahead of them to announce their coming and to prepare the way for their visit.

John the Baptist was such a person—appointed by God to prepare the way for the King of Israel.

My understanding is that a herald typically traveled with such an impressive caravan, and was adorned in such extravagant apparel, that when they descended upon a town they were often mistakenly thought to be the king.

John the Baptist found himself in a similar situation in that the religious leaders of the day wondered whether he might be the Messiah foretold long ago by the prophets.

It is curious that such an inquiry would be made given that there was nothing outwardly attractive about John the Baptist.

John did not dress in robes of silk, but rather, Mark’s Gospel tells us that he “was clothed with camel’s hair” (Mk. 1:6). John the Baptist, who was crudely dressed, also had an unusual diet, consisting of “locusts and wild honey” (Mk. 1:7).

What was it then? What prompted the religious leaders to seek John out and to ask him if he was ‘the Christ’? Was it John’s ability to endear himself to people?

Certainly not! Do you remember John’s sermon introduction, recorded by Luke? John the Baptist begins his sermon with the words, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Lk. 3:7).

John’s clothing was crude, his diet was strange, and his message was harsh . . . and yet, there was something about this man that caused others to wonder if he might be the promised king of the Jews.

Responding to the inquiry, John the Baptist demonstrates for our edification a number of things.

1) First, in John the Baptist, we see the marks of a faithful messenger of God.
2) Secondly, we hear from John the marks of the central message from God.
3) And thirdly, as we survey John the Baptist’s ministry approach elsewhere, we note the urgency of making the central message known.

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Live Accordingly

Below is the sermon audio & the sermon notes of Bryn MacPhail. “Live Accordingly”, based on John 1:1-14, was preached at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk on January 9, 2011.

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I wouldn’t want anyone to think that your busyness in Christian things will automatically translate into spiritual growth.

In order for us to experience spiritual transformation, we need something bigger than duty to motivate us. What we need is for our service to be motivated by a sincere love and affection for God.

This is at the heart of what Christianity is all about. Christianity is not a religious ladder that we climb, but rather it is a relationship that we engage in.

And what we observe throughout the Scriptures is that our relationship with God is supposed to be the grand priority of our life.

I don’t have to examine my own life for very long to see that I have much work to be done in this area. It may seem strange for you to hear that from someone who makes his living by delivering God’s Word. But this is precisely how I know that a person can be extremely busy doing things for Christ’s church and yet experience little spiritual growth. I’ve been there!

Busyness, motivated by duty, is not the answer. It is the orientation of our heart that sets the trajectory of our spiritual progress.

Do you remember Jesus’ answer to the question of which was the most important commandment?

Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:30).

Elsewhere, Jesus instructs us, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).

It is a common thing to read in the Scriptures about the supreme priority of God and His kingdom.

But my reality, and perhaps your reality, is this ongoing struggle to prioritize God above all else. Our tendency, I’m afraid, is to take our relationship with God for granted.

My aim this morning is not to make you feel badly. My aim is to help us reshape our priorities.

To this end, there are 3 considerations I would like us to train our mind with:

1) Consider the nature of Jesus and His status
2) Consider our status once we’ve received Jesus
3) Consider the benefits of making our relationship with Jesus our supreme priority

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