How Can We Get Discouraged?

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by Corey Sawyers

Spreading the Gospel is sometimes “a tough row to hoe.” Doing good can sometimes be tough. Remaining faithful is rarely easy. It is easy to get discouraged when we face the obstacles we sometimes do. Paul was one who was not unfamiliar with difficulties in the Lord’s work. In II Corinthians 4:1, the inspired apostle writes, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.” There are two big reasons why he would not get discouraged.

The first reason we should not get discouraged is THE MINISTRY. In context he is talking about the ministry of the New Covenant. Paul was an apostle (one who is sent), and a preacher of this Good News. We, each and every Christian, are also tasked with going into our communities and sharing the Gospel of Jesus with all around us (Mt. 28:18-20). What a great work to be involved in! Whether folks accept it or not does not change the power, beauty nor greatness of this ministry!

The second reason we should not get discouraged is THE MERCY. We often think of mercy as escaping punishment from sin through Christ, and rightfully so. But have you ever though of mercy as the opportunity to share the Gospel? Paul did! He knew that he did not deserve to be a carrier of the greatest message known to man! But, realizing what a great privilege it was, how could he lose heart? How could he not constantly be filled with joy and pride knowing he was involved in the work of the Creator of the Universe?

It may be a tough work that we have undertaken in working within the Lord's Kingdom. However, brethren, do not get discouraged! We are blessed to have this ministry by the mercy of God! So, let us labor for the Master every day!

(Article Inspired by Will Hanstein’s II Corinthians Class at BVBID)

What Are You Doing Here?

The church died. The building was nice. The preacher was educated. The bank account was full. The location was great. Even with all of these pluses, the congregation dwindled down, died out, and closed the doors. What makes a good congregation dry up? As one looks at an event in the life of Elijah from I Kings 19, parallels are seen. Very important lessons are also seen when one notices three attitudes that cripple God’s people.

First, FEAR cripples God’s people (I Kings 19:3). It is almost unbelievable that the same man who challenged all of Israel, who stood up to Baal’s prophets, and who defied the King is this same guy. The queen makes a threat, and now he is afraid. Too many times, a great idea for spreading the gospel is shot down in elders’ meetings because someone is afraid of finances, failing, or what others will say. Good judgment must be used, but fear is not what should guide the work of the church.

Second, FORFEIT cripples God’s people (I Kings 19:4). Elijah sat down. He gave up. He quit trying. He lost the desire to move forward and keep working. When congregations just quit, they are doing the same. Whether it is the “grass is greener” complex, or the “I am tired” excuse, or the “It’s time for the younger ones to…” defense, the result is the same. One finds an excuse to just not do “it” anymore. It is not enough for us to just sit in the pew, put the dollar in the plate, say, “amen,” and go home. The church must keep on keeping on.

Third, FORTUNE cripples God’s people (I Kings 19:10, 14). Elijah got to thinking too much about what he had done. He begins to tell the Lord (as if the Lord did not know) what the prophet had accomplished. He lamented that conditions were not as positive as he might hope (as if they were at one time ideal). Too often, congregations that experience growth and success in the work of the Lord will become complacent. They become satisfied with what has been accomplished. They then face one hiccup or distraction, and suddenly decide that it is just too tough! The church must “man up” and keep pressing forward!

Be it fear, forfeit, fortune, or a combination, The Lord and His Kingdom do not need any more good congregations closing up their doors, nor good Christians walking away. What is needed is good congregations, good memberships, and good leadership. What is needed is for the Lord’s church to be strong and courageous, ever pressing towards the prize awaiting!

God is Great, God is Good

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We look up to those who strive for greatness. When I was growing up my favorite football player was Mike Singletary. Now, like many, I admire Peyton Manning. What these two athletes have in common are a great work ethic, excellent preparation, and dogged diligence. When you think about greatness in spiritual terms, certainly we must think about God. In elementary school, out teacher would make us hold hands and say a prayer before going to lunch. - “God is Great, God is Good.” That simple prayer is a reality - God IS great and God IS good! When you look at the book of Jonah, the word usually translated “great” is a key word. It is used 15 times in the book. As we examine these occurrences, we notice 3 significant provisions that show God is Great...

First, God is great because He provides GREAT OPPORTUNITIES! Jonah is sent to a “great city" (1:2; 3:2) of more than 120,000 inhabitants of the city (4:11). God uses the illustration of the plant He caused to “grow,” which is from the same root as “great” (4:10). It was God that enabled Nineveh to become a “great” city (4:10-11). What a great opportunity given to Jonah to preach God’s message. God has given us great opportunities as well! We live in a land where we are free, we are surrounded by many of which have never heard the truth. Are we taking advantage of the great opportunities He has provided us?

Second, God is great because He provides GREAT POWER! God uses this great power to get Jonah back on track. He does so by using a “great wind,” a “great storm” (1:4; 1:12) and a “great fish” (1:17). God provided Jonah with what he needed to get the job done, including a little kick in the seat of the pants when it was needed. He has the power to provide us with what we need to get the job done! Only God is great enough to provide a plan of salvation, a perfect sacrifice, and all we need for life and Godliness.

Third, God is great because He provides GREAT RESULTS! His power produces great positive results. The pagan sailors on the boat were “extremely frightened” (1:10). The “extremely” comes from the same root word. They feared the Lord “greatly” (1:16). The inhabitants of Nineveh repented from the “greatest” to the least (3:5-10). A decree from the king and his nobles (same root word) instructed all to fast (3:7). His power also produces great negative results. Jonah was “greatly displeased” that the people repented (4:1). Later, he was "extremely" happy that he got what he wanted (shade). The result was not great in the sense of its goodness, but it was great in its profoundness. When God’s will is taught, there is never a middle of the road. One either rejects it, or embraces it. That was the case with Jonah and Nineveh. That was the case when Jesus taught, when the apostles taught, and when we teach and preach! Either way, God’s word always produces results.

God is great because of all these things. But, why does He do so? He does so because He is also good! Notice the description of God that Jonah gives in the second half of 4:2. Because God is so good, he provides us with great opportunities, great power, and great results. On the other side of the coin, did you notice the interesting fact of the text? For all of the times that the book of Jonah uses the word for great, it is never used in the second chapter. There, he is in the belly of the fish - without God, and in that chapter, the 3rd most significant word is not used at all! You see, with God, there is greatness - in opportunity, in power and in results, because He is good. But, without God, Greatness is not possible!

Hidden Treasure

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Officials in St. Cloud, FL, say a pickle jar full of old coins was found hidden in the walls of a recently torn down bungalow. About 2000 coins dating from 1919 to the 1930s were found, believed to be hidden by someone during the Great Depression. 

We teach our children the song This Little Christian Light of Mine, in which they sing, "Hide it under a bushel? NO!" Yet, how many of us are hiding treasure within ourselves? The Lord gives us all talents, Are we hiding those talents, or are we using them to bring glory and honor to the Lord? Are we sharing the Gospel of Jesus, or are we hiding it inside ourselves because of fear or shame?

Many during the Great Depression hid money to use later. Assuming that is how this jar of change ended up in the wall, the money did that person no good. It was good to store it up, but by leaving it hidden, it did no one any good. It is good for us to store up God's word in our hearts. But if we are keeping the Good News of the Christ and our talents hidden from the world, they do us, nor any one else, any good. How will you share the Gospel today?

A Needed Test

Wayne Burger did a most unusual thing as we began classes at Bear Valley Bible Institute on Monday. As we started our study of Acts 1, on the very first day, before he had taught us anything ... He gave us a test! 25 questions covering the entire book of Acts tested our knowledge of the inspired physician Luke's account of church history.

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Why, though, would an instructor give us a test over material he had not even yet taught us? While I do not know exactly all of Wayne's reasonings, I could easily guess: to show us how much we needed him. Those who know Wayne will know that it had nothing to do with ego - he is one of the most humble men you could ever hope to meet. However, Acts is such a foundational book, inevitably, some, even most, might assume they knew it well enough already. Perhaps we would not come into class as focused. Perhaps we would not see the importance of having 2 quarters of a book we thought we knew. And yet, Wayne has been doing this for several years now. He says the average score is about 50.

In the same way, the tests in our lives remind us of how much we need God. In I Timothy 6:17-19, the Lord reminds us that we can forget we need Him. Inspired Paul writes, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."

As students at BVBID, we might have been tempted to think we didn't need Wayne Burger to teach us 2 quarters of Acts. After looking over my graded test, I was reminded of how much I do. Similarly, sometimes we need to be reminded that we need God. Money perishes, beauty fades, and the earth will one day be destroyed. Only those who remember how much we need God and His righteousness have a solid foundation to build on. As we sing, "I need thee every hour, most Gracious Lord..."

The Storm-Shelters of Marriage

                                         Colleen Niska Photography/Facebook

                                         Colleen Niska Photography/Facebook

The photographer stated, "Pretty sure this will only happen once in my lifetime!" As Colleen Niska was taking wedding pictures of a Canadian couple near Saskatchewan, the blue sky suddenly began to swirl as a front approached. Suddenly a tornado touched down in the background (Link to story). The pictures of the couple walking and kissing, seemingly unaware of the approaching danger, are very symbolic. We enter the bonds of matrimony thinking "happily ever after." Everything is wonderful. Everything is blissful. However, the wedding is only the beginning. Difficulties will certainly arise.

How a couple has prepared for those arguments, disagreements, and problems will often determine marital success, or failure. When a storm is coming, you do not wait until it is over before you get in a shelter. Everyone knows the familiar Bible text of Ephesians 5 and the instruction there for husbands and wives. But notice all of the verbs the chapter contains for Christians before it ever gets to marriage. Before the storms of marriage arise, there are eight important "storm-shelters" to remember...

1. Remember the Storm-Shelter of GODLINESS (vs.1). Imitating God means being Godly. It means adding those traits of kindness, grace, forgiveness, love, and sacrifice that are so needed in order to have a successful marriage.

2. Remember the Storm-Shelter of LOVE (v.2).  Walking in love for one another the way Christ loved us means we must love sacrificially. It is agape love used here. We must love our spouse and want to please them more than self.

. Remember the Storm-Shelter of AVOIDING UNRIGHTEOUSNESS (vv.3-5). How many marriages have invited storms into their homes by bringing in unrighteousness to their lives? Immorality or any impurity? Pornography to "spice up" the bedroom has lead to addiction and affairs. Greed...Covetous? The love of money has ruined many a marriage. Filthiness and silly talk...coarse jesting? A thoughtless joke can cut to the heart and destroy feelings. Idolater? Allowing anything to replace the Lord as ruler of a home leads to ruin. We must avoid those things and keep them out of our marriage and home.

4. Remember the Storm-Shelter of TRUTH (vv.6-7). How many "little white lies" and gossip have brought down marriages? Do not listen to others' tales about your spouse, and do not deceive your spouse. Always be completely and totally honest with each other.

. Remember the Storm-Shelter of LIGHT (vv.8-13). Remember, when one puts on Christ, they are beginning a new life. When a couple makes the vow of marriage, he and she are beginning a new life. Walk as you ought to! Do not even flirt with evil. Do not even let the word "divorce" cross your lips, even in jest. Focus your marriage and home on goodness, righteousness, truth, and learning to please the Lord. 

6. Remember the Storm-Shelter of AWARENESS (vv.14-16). As time goes on, it is easy to let down our guard and not work as hard on our marriage as we should. Always be vigilant! Do not fall asleep on your duties! Be careful how you handle your marriage! Make the most of your time together to fortify and strengthen your relationship!

7. Remember the Storm-Shelter of the BIBLE (v.17). Do not be so foolish as to think you can make it without God's word! Study it TOGETHER. Study it DAILY. Together, you can understand what He would have you to be, individually, as a couple, and in your home.

8. Remember the Storm-Shelter of FULFILLMENT (v. 18-21). Do not seek fulfillment in drunkenness. Instead, be filled with the spirit. How? Speak to one another. Sing to one another. Make melody with each other. Give thanks together. Be subject to one another. The same activities we engage ourselves in during worship to build up the body of Christ will also build up our spouses and our marriages when we practice them together, and do so often.

You have heard it before. "Marriage is work." "Marriage is tough." To a certain extent, those statements are true. Just like a lot of things, however, an ounce of prevention in marriage is worth a pound of cure. By putting these storm-shelters in our lives and in our marriages ... by laying the proper foundations for our homes ... by committing our marriages not only to one another, but to the Lord ... the storms that will surely come CAN be weathered. They only can, though, when we seek shelter in Him!

A Law-Breaking Horse?

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                                                                               City of Eppstein

In Eppstein, Germany, there is a criminal horse on the prowl. He was caught red-hoofed speeding. Fast as he might be, he was not faster than the traffic camera that snapped a picture of the equine allegedly going 36 miles-per-hour in a 31-zone. Even more ironic was that he appears to be only walking, and is being led by a human! Actually, it was the car behind the unsuspecting animal that triggered the speed camera. The car's license plate was hidden by the horse, so the true speeder could not receive a ticket for his crime. 

In II Cor. 5:10, Paul writes, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." We may be wrongly accused of a speeding crime on this earth. We may get away with speeding, or some other crime, on this earth. But the inspired author informs us of three facts about the coming judgment.

1. All must APPEAR. The verb is passive, meaning something is being done to us. In other words, we have no bearing on whether we will or not. The decision is not up to us. Collectively, ALL of humanity MUST appear before the judgment seat of Christ. We cannot avoid it.

2. Each One Must Be RECOMPENSED. The verb is middle, meaning something we are doing to ourselves. In other words, we have no one to blame but our own selves as to how that judgment will turn out. We will not be falsely accused with someone's else's deeds. Each one of us will recompensed only for our own deeds.

3. According To What We've DONE. The verb is active, meaning something we have actively participated in and accomplished ourselves. If the deeds the individual has done are good, he or she will receive the just reward. If the deeds the individual has done are bad, he or she will receive the just reward.

The horse was falsely accused of another's crime, and then the perpetrator was not even punished. We must not make the mistake of thinking we can "who-do" the Lord at Judgment. We will not avoid the judgment, we will receive a reward, and it will be based on what we have done. Of course, that day of trial is faced is one faced with joy and longing (II Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:20), but only when we have Jesus as our lawyer, or advocate (I John 2:1-2). 

Story from: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weird-news/speeding-horse-caught-german-highway-camera-n140241 )

The Luckiest Man

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James 1 says we are to be happy in bad times. Actually it says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials," (James 1:2). How in the world is that possible? 75 years ago yesterday, Lou Gehrig stepped to the microphone in Yankee Stadium and gave his famous speech. A man who was afflicted with a fatal disease, announcing his retirement from the game he loved, said he was the "luckiest man on the face of the planet." How can we do that? How is it even possible to have joy in trials? Gehrig's speech offers 3 ways we can...

1. Don't Make It Worse. Gehrig said folks had been "reading about the bad break I got." A bad break? This is a disease that greatly affected him his previous few seasons, had caused him to retire prematurely, and would eventually take his life at only 41. A bad break? Sometimes we dwell on a problem and make it worse. Gehrig was not using worldly wisdom, and neither should we. In the grand scheme of things, what difference do "things" make? His focus was not on his problem. Instead he was able to...

2. Appreciate Little Things. Gehrig said that for 17 years he had, "never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans." Kindness and encouragement are the little things that even professional baseball players cannot buy. Yet, those "little things" are so important in our lives. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we do not have because of a particular problem, that we fail to recognize what we do. Things like love and friendship mean so much. Which is why he also was able to...

3. Focus On Others. It is so easy for us to wallow in self-pity through difficulties. It is not only not healthy, it is unproductive. It helps when we can focus on others. Those who serve others are generally the happiest people. Those who appreciate their relationships always consider themselves the most blessed. So, Gehrig talked about his teammates, manager, opponents, family, and wife. All of which he considered blessings greater than the trial he was enduring. We would do well to do the same.

In truth, James is not telling us to be happy because we have a trial. "Consider" is from the same word often translated as "leader." "Encounter" is the same word translated "fell" in the parable of the Good Samaritan when the man who "fell" among thieves (Lk. 10:30). It is the same word translated "strike" when the ship struck the reef in Acts 27:41. We no more want to go through the trial than the ship wants to hit the rock or the man wanted to be robbed and beaten. Trials, though, are real. What we must do is lead our mind to consider the trial in joy: not because of the trial, but because of the end results of endurance and faith it can have on us (James 1:2-4). When we "lead" our mind to not make the problem worse, to appreciate little things, and to focus on others, we will be able to see the trial in the proper perspective. Then we, as Christians, can certainly echo Lou Gehrig's closing line, "So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for." 

Focusing On Wives Like Brides

                                                                Photo by Lauren Benson

                                                                Photo by Lauren Benson

If a picture is normally worth a thousand words, this one is worth millions. Photographer Lauren Benson snapped the shots of her cousin, Jai Kamat, at his wedding. When the doors opened up for his wife, Julie, to walk down the aisle, Jai's expression on seeing his bride were priceless. Guys who are married, we all remember that exact moment, don't we? We remember the butterflies, the excitement, and the love we felt. Do we have those same feelings when our wife enters the room, as we did when our bride entered the room? Probably not. To some degree, that is okay. Our relationship and love should have grown. But that does not mean we should have lost that romantic feeling.

How do we maintain that feeling? When those doors opened, we were focused on one thing only: our bride. Next to the Lord, the most important entity in our life on which we should focus is our spouse. Here are suggestions from the Bible on how to be as excited about seeing your wife as you were in seeing your bride:

1. Focus on her at work. That is what Jacob did for Rachel (Gen. 29:20). When you go to your job, think of it in that way. It is not "just a job." Rather, it is the way you provide for the woman you love. So, send her an email or a text message. Give her a call at lunch to see how she is. When you are consciously thinking of her all day, then all day you will be anticipating that moment you walk in the door and see her. 

2. Focus on her positives. The longer we are married to someone, the more we know about them. The more we know about them, the easier it is to find all of their flaws. When those doors opened on your wedding day, you didn't notice any flaws. Why do so now? You certainly have your own negatives that you do not want her focusing on, right? So, when mistakes are made, forgive. Think about the best qualities, rather than the worst. When negatives happen, learn and grow from them (Prov. 10:12; 17:9).

3. Focus on her only. This is a tough one, because the world bombards us with revealing images of others at every turn. Make a covenant with your eyes not to look at those depictions (Job 31:1), but go beyond that. Make yourself think of your wife. The Bible is full of passages that tell us in a variety of ways to be satisfied with our wives physically (Prov. 5:19; Song of Solomon 1:2; 4:10). Do not get caught in the trap of longing for others.

4. Focus on being hers. Remember that covenant you entered to. You are no longer yours - you belong to her. Realizing the permanence and oneness of marriage (and focusing on it daily) help us to realize an important fact. Of all the men on earth, she chose ME! She chose me to have and hold. She chose me to be with for a lifetime (Song of Solomon 2:16; 8:6; Eccl. 9:9; I Cor. 7:1-4)! That is amazing! How much more lovely will she look to me when I focus on that!

Men, these are just a few suggestions to get us started. The wise man wrote in Proverbs 30, 18-19 that one of the four things that amazes him - one of the four things he does not understand - is how a man loves a woman. When a man loves his wife as God has told us to (Eph. 5:25-31), it is truly an amazing thing. That ought not to wear off as time moves on. It ought to grow! Of his now viral picture, Kamat said, "When those doors opened and she walked out it was kind of surreal. Everyone was there, all our friends and family, and I was really happy and trying to hold back tears at the same time. It was a lot to take in at once.” Remember that feeling of love and romance? It is easier to maintain it when we focus on our wives. 

(For more information, visit: https://gma.yahoo.com/see-grooms-priceless-reaction-bride-174013725--abc-news-sex.html)

A Title or a Work?

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Have you noticed that sometimes we focus more on titles than actions? That was the case with the New Orleans Saints player Jimmy Graham. He wanted to receive the franchise tag for a wide receiver, which would have paid him roughly 12 million dollars. Instead, the Saints claimed Graham was a tight end, meaning he would make about 7 million. An arbitrator ruled against Graham. Even though he most often lines up split out, and posts stats comparable with receivers. His Twitter profile said he was a "Tight End," so, the judge ruled he was a tight end. 

Sometimes in the church, we also get to defining things simply by titles. We will talk about elders, deacons and preachers, for example, and use these terms (or some other) to define who they are. But, are we doing those works? In I Timothy 3:1, Paul defines the office of an elder as a " fine work." In verse 13 of the same chapter, he speaks of those who have "served well" as deacons. In II Timothy 4:4, he tells Timothy (among other things) to "do the work of an evangelist."

Just because I tell someone I am a farmer does not make me one if I never put a seed in the ground. Just because I tell someone I am President does not make me so if I never spend a day in the Oval Office. Likewise, it is not enough to simply hold a title of elder, deacon, nor preacher. Elders must fulfill the work of being spiritual leaders and shepherding souls in the church. Deacons must faithfully exercise the ministries assigned to them. Preachers must be teaching and preaching the truth of God's word. Just claiming to be an elder, deacon or preacher without doing the work of such, profits neither the church nor the individual any thing!

In response to the ruling against Graham, the Cleveland Browns' own Jordan Cameron, a hybrid player very similar to Graham, changed his twitter profile. It now reads "Pro Bowl pass catcher for the Browns." Not tight end. Though somewhat comical in his approach, his point is a good one for those of us who serve in the church. It is past time that we began to focus on our work more than we do our titles.

(Info about Cameron and Graham from: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/jordan-cameron-isn-t-going-to-lose-a-ton-of-money-because-of-his-twitter-handle-234535360.html)

Servant, Lord and King

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As Christians, we often will say we serve the Lord, that He is the King, and similar things. How serious are we about that? Is He really our Lord? Is He really our King? The book of James begins with only a one verse "introduction," yet what a powerful lesson it contains! He writes, "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings." There are three words that point out his relationship to God and Jesus, and what ours also should be.

I. James is a BOND-SERVANT

     A. In other words, he is a willing slave

          1. It is a term used by Paul in Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1 and Titus 1:1

          2. Jude uses it in 1:1, Peter in II Peter 1:1, John in Rev. 1:1

          3. Paul uses it of Jesus in Phil. 2:7

     B. The idea is that James has fully and freely given himself to God and Jesus

II. Jesus is the LORD

      A. James is no longer "in control"

      B. Jesus is the master

          1. This is an idea that would resonate with the Jews and the Greeks who might read this

          2. They knew full well what it meant to be a slave under a lord

               a. The Jews were, in essence, under the lordship of the Roman Empire

               b. Many Jews and Greeks were involved in free-will slavery 

III. Jesus is the CHRIST

     A. This means He is the Messiah

          1. Christ is not last name!

          2. He is "the anointed one"

     B. He is the KING!

Jesus is Master and King because He is the one God put in place as Lord and Messiah. You know we often will say something like, "I do not want to do _______." Or, "I don't see why we cannot ________." Or, "I think we ought to _______." Granted, there are some areas of opinion in which the Lord has given us the freedom to use judgment. However, for those things that He has told us to do, how can we say it's too hard or scary ... That it would make me uneasy or uncomfortable ... That I think my way is just as good? After all, we are the SERVANTS. Jesus is the LORD or MASTER. Jesus is the CHRIST, MESSIAH, and KING. As servants, our job is simply to submit to the will and wishes of our Master and our King. Are you submitting to His will?

Doing Good Deeds

                                                                 by Norman Rockwell

                                                                 by Norman Rockwell

As Paul is winding up the letter to Titus, he uses the last few lines to once again emphasize the main point he has been making. In 3:12-15, he writes, "When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all." The inspired apostle is reminding Titus and the church on Crete one last time of what the book is all about, or at least the last two chapters - Be involved in Christian works. He does so by providing 4 examples of how they (and in turn, also we) can be "DOERS OF GOOD DEEDS" ...

I. HELP THOSE WORKING IN THE CHURCH

     A. Titus is to be a help and support for Paul.

          1. Titus was called to be with Paul for the winter

          2. Paul probably had a job for Titus to do - II Tim. 4:13

     B. We also can help and support elders, deacons, preachers and teachers in the church.

II. SUPPORT GOD'S MISSIONARIES

     A. Artemas and Tychicus were on their way, and they were going to need help

     B. The Christians needed to make sure that they lacked nothing 

III. BEING FRUITFUL FOR OUR GOD

     A. The only way to not be "unfruitful" is to work.

     B. Be involved in the church's work ourselves - Edification, Benevolence, and Evangelism

IV. GREET THOSE WHO LOVE GOD AND HIS FOLLOWERS 

     A. It is a good deed to be involved in fellowship with the brethren

     B. It is a good deed to be showing the love of God to one another!

As Paul has hammered throughout the last two chapters of this epistle, it is simply not enough to come to services four hours a week and sit in a pew. It is not enough to have the right name we wear nor to hand a sign in front of the building. If we are proclaiming to be followers of Christ, we must walk with Him! There is too much work to be done, and the amount of time we have to do it in is, at best, uncertain. The Boys Scout slogan states, "Do A Good Turn Daily." Christians should also be doing these good deeds every day! So, just as the church in Crete was charged to do, may the church today be ENGAGED in GOOD WORKS!

God Believers

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It is one thing to claim to believe in God. It is quite another to let that transition in your life. Paul gives the last of the "Trustworthy Statements" from the letters to Timothy and Titus in chapter 3 of the letter to the young preacher at Crete. In verses 8-10, the inspired apostle writes, "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned." What kind of life does one who believes in God live? Paul makes it clear we cannot just sit in a pew! There are at least three activities mentioned here ...

I. God Believers engage in Good Deeds - v.8

     A. Those which are good

     B. Those which are profitable

II. God Believers shun Worthless Activities - v.9

     A. Foolish Controversies 

     B. Discussions about genealogies 

     C. Strife and disputes about the law

     D. Why? they are all unprofitable and worthless

3. God Believers deal with Factious Men - v.10

     A. They reject them after 2 warnings

     B. They know that such are:

          1. Perverted

          2. Sinning

          3. Self-Condemned

Paul makes it clear that while belief in God is necessary, that belief must become evident in our lives. We must not just claim belief in God. It is not enough to just sit in the pew. We must be so motivated by that faith that we live a faithful life for Him!

The Importance of Baptism

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What does being dunked in water do for us? Why is baptism necessary or important? Paul tells us in Titus 3:5-7, when he writes, "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Within these verses we see four things that baptism does for us that we cannot do without...

I. BAPTISM BRINGS ABOUT REGENERATION AND RENEWING 

II. BAPTISM BRINGS ABOUT THE POURING OUT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

III. BAPTISM BRINGS ABOUT JUSTIFICATION BY HIS GRACE

IV. BAPTISM BRINGS ABOUT THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE

What He Did For Us

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Why serve The Lord? Why be a Christian? Why give your life to Him? It starts with understanding how low and lost sin makes us. However, when you think about what God did for us through Jesus ... The Word ... God the Son ... when you think about what He did for us, we should feel the obligation, the desire and the need to follow Him. An inspired Paul writes in Titus 3:4-5, "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,". There are three important concepts to consider in these two verses about our salvation...

I. WHY WOULD HE SAVE?

     A. HIS KINDNESS

          1. The word has the definite article

          2. Literally it is “The Kindness” as the NASB has it

          3. This indicates it was a natural attribute of God

          4. Goodness, charity, mercy

     B. HIS LOVE

          1. As our Creator, God has a natural love for us

          2. Jn. 3:16, I Jn. 3:16; 4:8-21

     C. HIS MERCY

          1. Word means kindness of concern expressed for someone in need

          2. Mercy, compassion, pity, clemency

II. WHY DID HE SAVE US?

     A. ONE NEGATIVE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

          1. Did not save us because of works done in righteousness 

          2. Our salvation was not extended because we deserved it or earned it whatsoever

          3. As a matter of fact, such was impossible

     B. ONE POSITIVE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

          1. He saved us because of His mercy

          2. It was because of His nature, not because we deserved it

III. HOW DID HE SAVE US?

     A. THROUGH THE WASHING OF REGENERATION (See II Cor. 5:17)

     B. THROUGH THE RENEWING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT (See II Thes. 2:13

How could we not want to serve a God so loving, merciful and gracious? How could we not want to do all we can for Him? How could we not want to tell others about Him?

What We Were

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It has been said that one cannot know where he or she is going, until they first know where they have been. Paul has just told Titus of the good Christians should be doing in Titus 3:1-2. But, why should we live like a Christian? Why should there be that change? Why should we sacrifice and do good? Paul helps us to see by pointing us back to where we have been. When we realize where we were, and what Jesus did for us, we should want to be like Him. We will look at Jesus did for us in the next article. For now, notice what the inspired apostle writes about where we were, "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another" (Titus 3:3). Here seven nominative, masculine descriptives describe that we were…

I. FOOLISH

     A. without understanding

     B. unteachable

II. DISOBEDIENT

     A. had no regard for the laws of God

     B. had no regard for the Government

III. DECEIVED

     A. easily duped

     B. believing lies

IV. ENSLAVED TO VARIOUS LUSTS AND PLEASURES

     A. hedonistic in every way

     B. looking only to satisfy selfish sinful desires

V. SPENDING OUT LIFE IN MALICE AND ENVY

     A. hating the prosperity and success of others

     B. Wishing others ill

6. HATEFUL

     A. loathsome

     B. despicable 

7. HATING ONE ANOTHER

     A. have a strong aversion to

     B. detesting, despising

To whatever level we were these things, we were. We were lost and needed a Savior. When we realize just how low we were, and when we realize and fully appreciate what He did for us, we will want to serve Him. We will want to be the people He has planned for us to be, rather that what we were. 

A Reminder Of A Christian Life

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What does a true Christian look like? Remember, Titus was a missionary left in a mission field. Two things were needed in order for the mission church in Crete to grow as it should. They needed proper leadership (Chapter 1) and they needed to live the proper lives that Christians should (Chapters 2-3). This was what Paul was instructing Titus to do (1:5). Paul continues his inspired correspondence on "sound doctrine" (2:1) by laying out what true Christianity in action looks like. He writes in 3:1-2, "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men." In these two verses, six infinitives show the good a Christian should be doing. A Christian is ... 

I. TO BE SUBJECT

     A. This is a voluntary yielding

     B. To Rulers, that is, government powers

     C. To Authorities, that is, anyone who has a position of power

          1. Police

          2. Your boss

          3. Acts 5:29

II. TO BE OBEDIENT

     A. Follow their rules

     B. Rom. 13:1ff

III. TO BE READY FOR EVERY GOOD DEED

     A. Note that it says every good deed

     B. The word is just "good" in general.

     C. So, be alert for any and all ministry opportunities 

IV. TO MALIGN NO ONE

     A. There is never a place to blaspheme or speak evil of another

     B. This would include the government which he has mentioned in this context

          1. Though it is popular to put down, run down, and speak evil of politicians

          2. It is, however, never okay to do so!

          3. We do not agree with sin, but we do not malign the person.

V. TO BE UNCONTENTIOUS 

     A. Crete had its own version of “road rage” - Contentions abounded

     B. Christians do not look for ways to be contrary with others.

VI. TO BE GENTLE

     A. Yielding, gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant

     B. Takes humility to do so.

Boil it all down and it winds up as this: Show consideration to ALL men. A Christian's main job is to affect the world with the Gospel of Christ and the Love of God. The goal is to change lives. We are better able to do so when people around us see us living with consideration, care, and compassion for both those in the body of Christ, and those outside the church. 

Spreading The Message

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Paul ends the second chapter of his letter to Titus with these words, "These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you." Having begun with an admonition to sound doctrine, he ends this great chapter telling the young missionary what he needs to be doing with that doctrine he has been given. Four imperatives, or commands, lay it all out for him. Titus is to....

I. SPEAK

     A. That is the word Paul used in 2:1

     B. Titus is to verbalize or communicate.

     C. The truths of sound doctrine that Paul had been discussing must be told.

II. EXHORT

     A. In other words, he is to encourage and beseech

     B. That is what he told him to specifically do with the young men in 2:6

III. REPROVE

     A. Titus is to convict and convince with authority.

     B. With meta means to do so "impressively, convincingly"

     C. That is what Titus was told to do in 1:13

IV. Not allowing anyone to DISREGARD him

     A. Titus should not let any one consider him insignificant.

     B. He should not allow them to ignore him.

     C. Not because of Titus's importance.

          1. Rather, because of the importance of his message.

          2. This is very similar to what he told Timothy in I Tim. 4:12

To know the truth is not enough. To practice the truth is not enough. We must be effective communicators of truth! Titus had been derelict in his responsibilities to sound doctrine. Let's not let the same thing be true of us!

What Jesus Did For Us

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Titus 2:13-14 says, "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." In this passage, Paul gives 3 aorist verbs that describe the work of Jesus....

I. JESUS GAVE

     A. He gave "HIMSELF"

          1. Means "to dedicate oneself for some purpose or cause, give up, sacrifice." (BDAG)

          2. Used also in I Tim. 2:6 ("gave") and II Tim. 4:8 ("reward")

     B. He did so "FOR US"

II. JESUS REDEEMED

     A. He redeemed "US"

          1. Means "to liberate from an oppressive situation, set free, rescue, redeem." (BDAG)

          2. Used also in I Pet. 1:18 ("redeemed")

     B. He did so "FROM EVERY LAWLESS DEED"

III. JESUS PURIFIED

     A. He purified "US"

          1. Means "to purify through ritual cleansing, make clean, declare clean."

          2. Specifically, "of moral and cultic cleansing." (BDAG)

          3. Used also in II Cor. 7:1 and Eph. 5:26 as "cleanse."

     B. He did so that we could be:

          1. A "PEOPLE" to be "HIS"

          2. A "PEOPLE" to be "ZEALOUS FOR GOOD DEEDS"

Jesus did all of this on the cross for you and I because we needed that perfect sacrifice for our sins. After all he has done for us, is it not reasonable for Him to expect us to live according to this "sound doctrine" (Titus. 2:1; Rom. 12:1)?

What Grace Teaches Us

In Titus 2:11-12, Paul instructs the young missionary preacher on a subject that still bewilders most today. The inspired apostle writes concerning grace. In the midst of two chapters of "sound doctrine," he teaches some amazing principles concerning Grace. This truly is an amazing section. The subject is Grace (Not God as some try to argue). So, as Paul writes, grace is teaching us! As we set at the foot of Grace, what is it that Grace is teaching? There are two negatives and three positives that Grace teaches us:

I. TWO NEGATIVE INSTRUCTIONS

     A. DENY UNGODLINESS

          1. The double negative in Greek emphasizes the negativity!

          2. The idea is of one going through life without regard to God and the things of God

          3. This would be someone who is living without the elements of I Tim. 1:5

     B. DENY WORLDLY DESIRES

          1. The world has a lot to offer

           2. But the Christian is instructed to “just say no” to the things of the world - I John 2:15-17

          3. Worldly desires represent wants of a non-spiritual, immoral nature 

II. THREE POSITIVE INSTRUCTIONS

     A. LIVE SENSIBLY

          1. There is that key word again!

          2. He is saying to think about the direction we are going

          3. We need to be in control of ourselves, be disciplined 

     B. LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY

          1. God has set a high standard of right and wrong

          2. The righteous person pays attention to all of God’s instructions, both large and small

          3. Nothing is neglected - Mt. 23:23

     C. LIVE GODLY

          1. Grace is commanding obedience!

               a. Many have grace wrong

               b. Grace is laying down the law and saying this is the way it is

               c. This is the way you have to live - Many do not look at it that way!

          2. Godliness is defined in I Tim. 1:5

               a. It has 3 elements: Love from a pure heart, Sincere faith, and A good conscience 

               b. It is to have a reverence and high regard for the things of God 

God's grace that was extended to us not only saves us, but also teaches us! Because of the "unmerited favor'" He has shown, we should want to do all we can to please Him - including following the lessons Grace teaches us!