Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When We are Faithless, He a Remains Faithful

It may take twenty years to face some truths and make the changes necessary to be healthy persons.  God is faithful to keep reminding us of the truth until we gain the strength we need to move forward.  We may have felt helpless.  We may have felt confused.  But God has always loved us, will continue to love us and give us exactly what we need when we are willing to accept his strength.

Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Always Messengers

"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not stealing, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savour in all things" (Titus 2:9-10).

Whether we are speaking of slaves, servants, employees or subordinates of all kinds, we are to behave in such a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.  We are at all times, in all places, in all situations, God's children and representatives of his message.

People may choose to lie about us, but we know their words have no bases in truth.  People may reject us, but we know God has accepted us.  Other Christians may not agree with us, but we remain faithful to what we understand is the truth.

No one ever honestly said life is easy for believers.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Those Who Have Gone Before Us

Paul ends his exhortation on older men and women teaching the younger generation with these words. "So that the Word of God is not blasphemed" (Titus 2:1-5).  This is an interesting conclusion. How could the word of God be blasphemed through unhealthy marriages?

When parent so not provide a safe environment in which children can develop, those children often grow up to turn their backs on God.  We have a greater chance of providing that environment if we glean from others who have already walked the same path.

Raising children is a serious responsibility that should never be taken lightly.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Working Women

We have a tendency to take one passage of scripture and run with it to the point of distortion.  I suspect that tendency has to do with our human nature.  The admonishing in Titus that older women teacher younger women to be home keepers, good, obedient to their own husbands is one example (Titus 2:3-5). There are those that use this passage to brow beat women into silence.

The balance of all of scripture includes the passage in Proverbs 31 that clearly pictures a woman running a business and making a good profit.

Some of us women are called into the business world, while others are called to full time home ministry.  Yes, it is best for children to be with one or the other of their parents in the developing years.  But that does not preclude a business out of the home.  Nor does it condemn the women who are forced to work to support their family.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wisdom From Failure

Years ago I heard a Christian teacher advice young single or married men and women never to ask marriage advice from a divorced person.  "Why would you ask someone who failed in a marriage how to succeed in one?" He admonished blithely.

He missed the wisdom of experienced failure.  If one were to plan to open a coffee shop on Main Street, would he or she not be wise to interview the person whose coffee shop failed as to what pitfalls caused the business to go under?  We can learn from other people's mistakes and are wise to do so.

We are both cruel and unwise to be so dismissive (Titus 2:3-4).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

White Picket Fences

When we first take our wedding vows, the world almost glitters with our excitement.  Talks of growing old together are filled with visions of rocking chairs on front poaches looking out over a white picket fence onto a street lined with trimmed trees and green grass.  But it isn't long until we begin to see the weeds in the yard, the unpainted fence and the withered branches threatening to fall on our car in the driveway at the next strong wind.

Perhaps I have overstated the vision, but you get the point.  Life has a way of knocking off our rose colored glasses in a hurry.

Married women who have been walking with the Lord for many years can be a marvelous resource for young married women.  As the older women in the church, we need to be friendly, none judgmental, and open to listen to the young women's struggles in their marriages.  As young women we need to seek out friendships with older women so we can have support as we learn what loving a husband really means (Titus 2:3-5).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grandmas in the Church

I had two grandmothers that influenced my life.  Both were Christians and loved the Lord.  My father’s mother had a sharp tongue.  Though grandpa loved everyone, Grandma spoke negatively and had a tendency to be prejudice.  My mother’s mother was the opposite.  She loved everyone, was tender hearted and made each grandchild feel like he or she were her favorite, without stirring up jealousy in anyone.  

One day I asked grandma Buell how she maintained such a loving spirit about her when others seemed sharp edged.  She said, “You can get old or grow old.  I choose to grow old.”  In other words you can let your difficult experiences, your pains in aging affect your attitude or you can choose to allow God to control your attitude.

If you have been involved in church for many years, you have most likely seen many unhealthy behaviors both in the congregation and in leaders.  We can choose to let those poor behaviors make us bitter, or choose to keep an attitude of compassion, honoring truth and offering forgiveness; keeping reverence for the things of God (Titus 2:3).

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Worthy Practice

Patience may be one of the most difficult things to practice as we get older.  Our energy level is vastly diminished as we age.  We are more aware of the aches and pains in our body and our conversations begin to be dominated by doctor’s and hospital visits.  

We love children, admire their energy, but they exhaust us.  Our experience has taught us how foolish some of our arguments were when we were young, so that we naturally become dismissive of young people’s concerns.  If we do not resist these temptations, the ministry God has extended for us in our declining years will be greatly diminished.   

Let’s determine not to allow Satan to destroy the ministry of the elder to the younger.  Let’s practice patients.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elder Men

Paul gives instructions to the elder men in the church.  They are “to be sober, reverent, sound in faith, in love, in patience:” (Titus 2:2).  To be sober does not mean not having a sense of humor, not to laugh or share humorous stories.  It means to always be aware that our words, behaviors and attitudes carry messages to, from and about God.  Humor is important to health and to the message of the love of God.

To be reverent is to remember that all we do and say is for the glory of God.  We are either conveying his love, holiness and mercy or we are conveying irreverence for God.  

To be sound in faith is to do what is right in every situation or to remain in an attitude of waiting until God shows us what to do.  

To be sound in love is to consistently do what is right while soaked in God’s love toward us and others.  

To be sound in patience is to be consistently patient with others putting our trust in God and recognizing our own unworthiness.  It is amazing how being aware of our huge need for God’s mercy and forgiveness breads patience toward others. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

False Believers

Years ago I had someone quote to me Paul’s words to Titus, “To the pure all things are pure;”   The acquaintance said that means there was nothing wrong with his foul joke because if I were pure I would not have understood his filthy jest.  The entirety of Paul’s words clearly do not support such a meaning.

“Unto the pure all things are pure; but to them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscious is defiled” (Titus 1:15).  Every topic is acceptable for discussion, jesting or defiling to the unbeliever.  Often they hold little to nothing sacred and ridicule those who do hold things sacred.  

They may say they believe in God, a superior power, but the way they live and the things they do expose them as unbelievers because they are disobedient to God’s Word (Titus 1:15-16).  Paul’s words about the pure are not an excuse for ill behavior but a warning against disobedience and false believers.

We do not earn salvation through works, but our works are a clear induction of our salvation (Titus 1:16).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Warning

Paul warns Titus of false teachers and prophets.  These are men and women who live off of believers offerings as they teach commandments of men as though they were the Word of God.  In Paul's time they taught circumcision was required for salvation.  In our cultures it will most likely be some other qualification they teach is necessary in addition to the blood of Jesus.  That is blasphemous against Christ’ sacrifice of giving his life to redeem us (Titus 1:10-14).

  False teachers tell stories to back up their credibility, but if the teaching is out of the scope of sound doctrine even their works are disqualified.  Remember false prophets and teachers will be able to perform signs and wonders (2 Thess 2:8-12; Rev 13:13-14, 19:20).  

How do we distinguish between false and truth?  We can recognize false teaching by knowing God's Word ourselves (Mt 4:4; 1 John 4:1-6).  No one is save beyond the scope of Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins.  No gift of God is earned.  If it were, it would not be a gift (Romans 4:4-5, 11:6) .

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are We Following Man Without Realizing It?

Sound doctrine comes from an accumulation of study of God’s word.  This does not mean we are all scholars in the sense of earning a degree.  But we read His word continually.  We look up verses that are quoted to us to see if they agree with what the speaker is telling us.  It means we are not passive listeners, soaking in whatever is presented in church, bible study or conversation.  We write down chapter and verse and read for ourselves.

I have been saddened many times when discussing a particular teaching with someone and they are adamant about a view point and say to me, “I don’t know enough scripture to show you, but I know this is true.

How can we base our lives and teaching on someone else's opinion and not on God’s word.  Don’t we all have a responsibility to study God’s word and rightly interpret the same 

(1 Thessalonians 4:11)?  We may not be able to quote chapter and verse, but we must be able to find it.  If not, we are not follow God, but man’s opinion of God.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is a Prayer a Doctrine?

A Bishop or Pastor is to hold fast to sound doctrine so that he may exhort and convict those who contradict (Titus 1:9).  That begs the question, “What is sound doctrine?”

Remember what Paul told Timothy about doctrine.  “All scripture is given by inspiration of /god and is profitable for doctrine…” (2 Timothy 3:16).  It is not enough to take a sentence or partial sentence out of context and use it to teach a doctrine (a principle to live by).  The entire Bible must be  taken into consideration.  Does the Bible as a whole support the teaching?  Do the verses before and afterward support the teaching?  In other words, is the doctrine being taught what the writer was addressing or using as a foundation to address another concept?

Here is a brief example.  “To my beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:  Beloved I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).  Many teach that this means all believers should be healthy and prosperous.  But Paul also prayed “My heart’s prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).  Yet he says “I magnify my ministry; if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some” (Romans 11:14).  Note not all are saved but some, yet he prays for all.

A prayer for something by Paul is not necessarily a basis for a doctrine. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Four Keys for Finding a Leader

Paul gives a list of character requirements for ministry

First he lists what the person must not be; above reproach, not arrogant, or quick tempered, not violent and not greedy for gain.  He then lists what must be; hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

Unless we are with a person 24/7, how do we know the qualities we observe truly belong to the individual?  Almost anyone can appear to be something they are not for brief periods of time.  There are four keys to knowing a person is who he or she appears to be.

  1. The Holy Spirit’s revelation (Acts 1:2, 6:5)
  2. The interaction of the person with family members i.e. wife and children (Titus 1:6)
  3. Trials, very difficult situations (1 Corinthians 11:17-19)
  4. Time (1 Timothy 3:61 Thessalonians 1:5)

We must use all four keys.  Any keys used alone will of necessity open the wrong door, simply because we are fallible people.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cut in Half

Titus’ job was to appoint elders in each city and to “set in order the things that are lacking” (Titus 1:5).  That is quite an assignment.  Titus would need to know the people very well.  He would need wisdom and insight into complicated situations.  Paul was going to give him guidelines, but he was still responsible not only to choose which leaders qualified, but which ones were called to the positions.

Titus would need grace, mercy and peace to accomplish his assignment. 

Having to choose leaders reminds me of Solomon’s task to decipher who was the true mother of the child.  The woman who sacrificed her rights to raise the child in order to save its life was the true mother. (1 Kings 3:16-28)  Sometimes it is the person willing to step down from ministry to prevent squabbling that is the true minister.  

Our actions always speak louder than our words.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Commission Guide Book

Paul writes to Titus, “For this reason I left you in Crete to set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—“  (Titus 1:5).

Titus must have been a spiritually strong yet humble man. I say this because it takes both of these to be an effective leader and Titus was assigned, not just one church, but several in different cities. Titus was Greek by birth (Galatians 2:1-3) and had been on mission trips with Paul (Galatians 2:1-3).  He was successful in his assignment and brought messages between Paul and these churches (2 Corinthians 7:13-16).

Titus is given guidelines to follow.  We are wise to follow these instructions when choosing a pastor over a congregation.  Do not ignore warnings received from parishioners, those not in official leadership positions, but who have proven to be spiritually sound individuals.  Listen carefully, check out what is being said, then make your decision.  You may end up disagreeing with the advice, but you have been prudent if you seriously considered it.

No one is perfect.  So mistakes will be made.  Thankfully, God is greater than our mistakes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Another Look at Three Gifts

Let’s take another look at grace, mercy and peace.  Imagine someone telling you something that, if true, will turn your life upside down and make you question everything you believed to be true up to this point.  How do you reconcile this new information with the what you thought was true?  How do you sort through all the ramifications if it is true?  What do you do with the emotions that sweep over you like waves of the ocean, catching your breathe and pushing you under the water?

God gives you three gifts that will walk with you through the long road to recovery.  They are Grace, mercy and peace (Titus 1:4).

Grace to give you the strength to face the truth.  Mercy that you can extend both to yourself and to others, and peace that God is with you, even in this circumstance.

“Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give unto you.  Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid” (John 15:27)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Gifts

Grace, mercy and peace, what amazing gifts to us.

Grace, his compassionate gifts of strength, patients and endurance.

Mercy, his loving us, forgiving us and saving us from our bondage.

Peace, his gift to us when we believe and trust him.

(Titus 1:4)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Promised by God

Paul writes that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and "the acknowledgment if the truth which accords with godliness" (Titus 1:1).  To say we know the truth and not live accordingly is a denial of truth, a rejection of truth if you will. It would be better if we did not know the truth, than to know it and not live by it (2 Peter 2:21-22).

We base our lives on the truth of Jesus Christ "in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began..." (Titus 1:1-2).  We are already eternal beings because God breathed in us the breathe of life (Genesis 2:7).  We will eternally exist with God or be separated from him in judgement (John 5:28-29).

The eternal life promised is a life with and in the very presence of God that lasts forever (Revelation 7:9-17; 14:12-13; 21:1-7)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cat's Claws

"For the faith of those chosen by God" (Titus 1:1).  Today we will look at the phrase "for the faith".  Paul's letters were written to strengthen our faith.  There are times in spiritual warfare that we feel overcome with weakness.  We may fear that our faith will be destroyed.

More than once in my life, my faith has been tried to a frazzled end.  I cried out to God, "Help me!"  Quickly followed by, "I choose to believe in you.  I choose to believe."

Was God not answering my prayer?  Where did my strength come from to believe?  I can assure you, it was not from me.  I clung to God like a frightened cat buries it's claws in the sofa.  I did not have a surge of faith that I can point to.  It was a brass knuckles ride of faith, a decision of faith.

But every time God has restored to me his gift of faith and delivered me from my enemies.  Jesus did not pray that we would not have trouble.  He did pray that we would be saved from the evil one, and so we are (John 17:15).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Before You Were Born

Paul calls himself the apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of those chosen by God (Titus 1:1).  Apostle means sent one, but notice why and to whom he is sent; "for the faith of those chosen by God..."  He writes to the Ephesians "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).  Jesus said, "Come you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34).

God has known. You for a very long time, and has prepared a place for you.  So do not be afraid  (John 13:1).  He will accomplish that which concerns you (Psalm 138:8).

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou will revive me; Thou will stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Thy right hand will save me" (Psalm 138:7).