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Welcome to the family – a look at the book of Titus

John 3:1-7

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

When a person gets saved, they are born again, they experience the new birth some people call it regeneration, but essentially a literal change takes place. We are in all actuality, literally, children of God…This is our true identity. He is our Father…and we are his own.

John. 1:12

To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

1 John. 3:2

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears  we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

Being born again literally means you are a child of God.
Adoption means that you are legally a child of God.

You know, actually, in Biblical times, the word ‘adoption’ was used differently than we use it today. Because when we talk about adoption today, we’re talking about taking a child that is not our own flesh and blood, and legally making them our own… but that’s not the Biblical meaning of adoption.

Romans and the Greeks had a ceremony they went through with their own children – it was a coming of age ceremony, a rite of passage and that ceremony was called adoption,

Adoption is the Greek word “υἱοθεσία” which literally means “the placing or the setting of a son.”

It seems as long as a child was under the legal age of inheritance, they were not really considered to be a full-fledged member of the family. They did not enjoy all the rights and privileges of family membership. But when they became an adult, and the legal age of inheritance, they went through a ceremony called the “toga virilis”.

They would take the toga off of the back of the adult, place it on the back of the child, and pronounce them to be a full-fledged member of the family, with all the rights and privileges.

So when Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again, he means that we become a child of God both literally and legally. And the best part is… there’s no paper work, no waiting and no work to be done. When you got saved, in the mind of God, this toga virilis had already taken place…it’s as though God immediately put your name in His family tree.

Romans 8:16-17 says

We are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Grace picks you up out of the grave, out of the pit and erases your past and then grace hands you new letters of adoption and says, “You’re mine, you’re loved and you’re free – welcome to the family.”

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Who are you – a look at the book of Titus

Another thing about grace….Grace is where you discover who you were born to be

Titus 2:13-14

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession…

What is our blessed hope? It’s the return of Jesus Christ.

You know it’s real hard to believe that a man like Robin Williams who has brought so much joy and laugher to the world, ended up being a man without hope. His publicist said that he had battled addiction for decades and recently was suffering from “severe depression.”

Hope is not what a lot of people have in life. And that sounds like a harsh and cruel thing to say but the Bible says that Jesus is our blessed hope – and let me just say, if someone doesn’t have Jesus… they are a person without hope.

Someone once said, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.” And this is the way it is for people who do not believe or trust in Jesus. Since they have no hope for a brighter tomorrow, they have very little power for today.

So let me make this perfectly clear; You and I were born to be people of hope. We were born to be recipients of grace. Sure, life can get you down, life can be hard and filled with trials, but we have hope of a better life after this life and it’s all because of God’s grace in Jesus!

And if that’s hard to hear, or hard to process I believe it’s because we were handed a lie.

It’s no wonder that you can’t make life work for you, it’s no wonder that you’re struggling, depressed, addicted, confused, it’s no wonder that you have feelings of inadequacy, and depression – it’s because you’ve been told, lied to and convinced that you can do it.

You can do it, if you just work hard enough.

It’s not true.

“Well, it’s not true for some people, but I am not your average person, I can do it.”

No, you can’t

Listen, grace is not just some nice thing you might need or could use – grace is mandatory for living, because grace is the key to hope and how can any of us love, live or function without HOPE?

James 1:15 says “…sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

You and I were born into sin, born into death and the lie is that we can save ourselves.

And that’s absurd, dead people can’t save themselves.

The good news of the Bible is that Jesus finds us – grace finds us – and when it does – it helps us shed the lies and our past and it helps us step forward and rediscover who we really are….

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Let it go – a look at the book of Titus

Another thing about grace….Grace is where you abandon your past

Titus 2:11-12

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

God desires to trade your past for His presence. Haven’t you always wanted to know what to do with your sorted past? The Bible says, let go of it and take hold of Grace.

You see, God’s grace doesn’t just save us. God’s grace does many things for us in life and one of them is that grace allows us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. Grace shows us how to live.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

It is only through abandonment that we find Grace. It’s in weakness that we receive God’s strength for daily living. It’s only when we go down into the pit that we can go up and receive His grace. It’s only when we humble ourselves before Him and admit how sinful we truly are, it’s when we bow before him and begin to wash his feet with our hair, when we let go of pride and self-control that we truly receive His grace.

The story goes that two monks were on a pilgrimage and one day, they came to a deep river. And at the edge of the river, they saw a young woman alone and weeping because she was afraid to cross the river without help. And so she begged the two monks to help her. Now, the younger of the two monks turned his back. (You see, the members of their order were forbidden to associate with women)

But the older monk simply picked her up without a word and carried her across the river. He put her down on the far side and then…continued his journey. The younger monk came after him, scolding him and berating him for breaking his vows. And so they went on together in silence for a long while.

Finally, at the end of the day the older monk turned to the younger one and said, “I only carried the woman across the river. But you have been carrying her all day long.”

Letting go of the past can be difficult. Because it mans you have to let go of people, ideas, expectations, desires; letting go of bad habits, false beliefs, unhealthy relationships… the list goes on.

But every day we live, every moment presents an opportunity to create ourselves anew, to shrug off the baggage of the past, to throw off ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives….

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Love Letters from God

As a pastor and a Father I am always looking for books I can read my sons for story time. Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist is a wonderful book filled with some of the more memorable bible stories for your son or daughter to hear. My son loves to get mail addressed to him, so this book was a “sure thing” for me as accompanying each story is a folded flap “love letter” that can be personally addressed to your child at the top.

Of course, I should note that this isn’t a Bible or a Bible reader, it is a “story book” so all of the excerpts are retold in a narrative format.  Each Biblical story centers around how God loves your child and how your child is special to God. But more importantly I think it teaches us as readers the Bible is always God’s love letter to us.

The pictures from Sophie Allsopp (Dear God & A Flower in the Snow) are beautiful watercolors with mixed medium and really help create a picturesque landscape of the stories being told.

This is a wonderful book to share with your children, it would also make a great gift from a grandparent or Sunday School teacher.

Thank you to Zondervan for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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The First Christmas Ever

As a father and a pastor I am always looking for good books to read to my son. With the holidays coming up, I wanted to check out The First Christmas Ever by Dennis Jones. My son has the “Read with me Bible” and we both really love his illustrations.

Well, turns out this new Christmas book is just the pages lifted directly from the Read With Me Bible. So if you have the Bible already.. you already have this paperback.

Nothing new has been added.

Also as a paperback this is a very thin book, it’s more like one of those cheap schoolastic leaflet books your kids get in school.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story with wonderful illustrations depicting the first Christmas with the Christ child. I think I was just expecting more than this.

Thank you to Zondervan for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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