The Voice of One Calling Out

This past weekend we continued our series “Power in Preparation” at Eastbrook Church by looking at the appearance of John the Baptist near the Jordan from Matthew 3:1-12 and how this sets the stage for Jesus. John is an extraordinary character in the gospels, whose life and preaching is incredibly challenging.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”  (Matthew 3:1-2)

John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-4)

  • Repentance
  • The kingdom of heaven
  • The voice (Isaiah 40:3)
  • The prophet (2 Kings 1:8)

The Wilderness (Matthew 3:1, 5-6)

  • Old Testament backgrounds: Jeremiah 2:2-3; Hosea 2:14-15; Ezekiel 20:35-38
  • Turning from self to God
  • Stripping and judgment
  • Purification and renewal

Brood of Vipers (Matthew 3:7-10)

  • Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Fruit in keeping with repentance
  • True children of Abraham
  • The tree about to be cut down

The One to Come (Matthew 3:11-12)

  • More powerful and even greater
  • A baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the life and ministry of John the Baptist in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize John’s message in Matthew 3:2
  • Set aside some time this week to read Matthew 3:1-12 again. Then write, draw, paint, or pray aloud your own response to this series of events in Jesus’ life.
  • Read more about John’s life in the following passages:
  • Luke 1:5-25, 39-80
  • Luke 3:1-20
  • John 1:6-8, 19-34
  • John 3:22-36
  • Matthew 11:1-19
  • Matthew 14:1-12
  • Mark 6:14-29
  • Matthew 17:11-13; 21:32
  • Explore Bible maps related to the life and ministry of John the Baptist here.

The One Who is to Come: Jesus Like Isaiah

Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. (Isaiah 49:1)

Isaiah the prophet was raised up for a purpose: to speak the words of God and to glorify God before all the nations. But this passage is not about Isaiah, but about Israel. Israel was called from the womb by God as the infant Jacob, renamed Israel after wrestling with God. Israel was also a a people set apart since the calling of Abraham to be birthed into the world for the blessing of the nations. This people would strive with God and glorify God before all people. Ultimately, however, this people would falter in their calling.

Yet out of the womb of Israel would come the true Servant of the Lord, “one who is to be the ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old” (Micah 5:2). “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2, 3). This One, set aside by God from the womb of Abraham and Sarah, from the womb of Jacob and Rachel, from the womb of the Virgin Mary, will come to bring good news of God’s kingdom, manifest the power of God, and bring blessing to the nations. He is a prophet like Isaiah, but more than a prophet. He is God’s servant but faithfully, even to the end. He is a son of David, but also the One before whom very knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. He is the Word made flesh and Immanuel. He is Jesus the Messiah, and we worship Him.

Why Did Jonah Run from God?


1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Jonah receives a word from the Lord that he should preach to the people of Nineveh in the Assyrian empire that they might repent. Instead of obeying God, Jonah runs away from God. This is not the story we expected to find about one of the prophets.

We learn from 2 Kings 14:25 that Jonah was from Gath Hepher. He was called by God to go to Nineveh, which is far to the north in the Assyrian empire; a city that overlaps with present-day Mosul in Iraq. Instead, Jonah hoofs it south to the port city of Joppa to catch a boat to Tarshish on the far side of the Mediterranean world, a city which is either in present-day Spain or Sardinia.

Clearly, it is not fear of travelling that keeps Jonah from obeying God, but something else. That something else is that Jonah knows something about the mercy of God. Jonah believes, as we find out later, that if he preaches to the Ninevites about Yahweh, the God of Israel, the Ninevites will actually turn from their wickedness and encounter the mercy of Yahweh God.

Jonah is afraid of this reality and will not obey God. Why?

Perhaps it was because Jonah was in thrall to King Jeroboam II. Jeroboam was a powerful king, who provided unequaled economic prosperity and political stability during his forty-year year. He was also one of the most godless kings of the northern kingdom of Israel. According to 2 Kings 14, Jonah prophesied favorably for King Jeroboam, and so perhaps Jonah did not want to defy the king and prophesy in another kingdom.

Perhaps Jonah’s disobedience was because the Assyrian Empire was threatening the people of Israel. We do know that later, in 722 BC, the Assyrians completely overrun Israel and the capital of Samaria, leaving nothing left. Perhaps Jonah was afraid of this larger, more powerful kingdom.

Or perhaps it was that Jonah simply did not believe that God’s mercy should extend to another people group, particularly one so wicked and violent as the Assyrians. Jonah may have wanted these wicked people to get what they deserved.

Whatever the exact reason, or perhaps the combination of reasons, Jonah has a problem in his heart that God needs to address. And that is really the driving theme of the entire book of Jonah.

A Crash Course in Church Growth (Ephesians 4:1-16)


This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity,” by looking at Ephesians 4:1-16 with the message: “A Crash Course in Church Growth.” The message aims to recalibrate our understanding of what church growth is all about by focusing on the direction of growth outlined by the Apostle Paul in this chapter. Along the way, I spend some time discussing what it means to walk worthy of our calling, what is the fivefold ministry and what does it mean now, and a little bit around the topic of individual versus community spiritual growth.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

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Son of Man [Name Above All Names]

NAAN-Series-GFX_App-Wide.pngWe continued our series on the titles of Jesus, “Name Above All Names,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church by exploring Jesus as the Son of Man. While it is one of the most misunderstood and forgotten titles of Jesus, it has a special place in the way that Jesus understood Himself. In fact, “Son of Man” is the one title that Jesus used more often than any other name when He talked about Himself.

Extending into the prophetic and apocalyptic traditions of the Hebrew people, join me this week in exploring Jesus as the Son of Man.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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