725.) Titus 3

February 10, 2012

The nucleus of the Church in Crete, perhaps, was started by the “Cretans” who were at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11).  Pictured:   St. Nicholas chapel at Georgioupolis on the Greek island of Crete

Titus 3 (English Standard Version)

Be Ready for Every Good Work

 1Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
Let us not for a moment think we are better than anyone else!  Only because God has graciously worked in our lives are we any different today!  Remembering this work of God builds four things in us.

  • First, gratitude for how God changed us.
  • Second, humility as we see that it was His work that changed us.
  • Third, kindness to others in the same place.
  • Finally, faith that God can change those who are still in that place.

–David Guzik

4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

BEFORE AND AFTER

God not only wants to forgive us; he wants to regenerate us, make us new creatures.  Forgiveness is the first step.  It removes the things that alienate us from each other.  God forgives our offenses against him and forgets them.  then when we turn to God, we are not afraid or loaded with guilt.  But he wants to do more.  He wants to transform us to fit us for a future very different from our past.

Forgiveness and regeneration are like two sides of the same coin.  They cannot be separated.,  Salvation is more than a change of record.  It is a change of us.  It deals with our sin, the bent within our nature that causes us to commit our sins.  It affects who we are as well as what we do.  Paul makes this clear as he writes to his understudy Titus.  Notice his language:  “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of pleasures” (Titus 3:3).  Christians have a past of which they cannot boast, but it does not determine their future.  Paul is clear:  “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Titus 3:4-5).  The change is a washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  We now have a new life as well as a new relationship to God.  And that new life is God’s life within us.

My present, therefore, is different from my past.  It is as different as the sources from which the before and after come.  The before had its source in a”me” empty of him.  The after has its source in the very life of God that now lives within me.  Small wonder that there is a difference.

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6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

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Music:

It is no small thing to try to understand this idea:  that God loves us, and saves us, by the suffering of Christ on the cross, so that our sins can be forgiven and we can live kindly, gracious lives, according to the compassion and mercy that God has already shown us.  “Thank you” seems somehow not a strong enough response.

“Worthy Is the Lamb”  from Darlene Zschech and Hillsong.

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8The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

“It is much easier to discuss theological questions than to be kind and considerate and helpful at home, or efficient and diligent and honest at work.”

–William Barclay

OF MINOR IMPORTANCE

from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Avoid foolish controversies.

Our days are few and are far better spent in doing good than in disputing over matters that are, at best, of minor importance.  The old scholars did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our churches suffer too often from petty wars over obscure points and unimportant questions.

After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion promotes neither knowledge nor love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field.

Questions about issues on which Scripture is silent, on mysteries that belong to God alone, on prophecies of doubtful interpretation, and on mere modes of observing human ceremonials are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.

There are, however, some questions that are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my behavior adorn the doctrine of God my Savior? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord and watching as a servant should who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

10As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Final Instructions and Greetings

12When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. 15All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
St. Nicolas Chapel.   http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3136/2645611724_e006ca4440.jpg
Titus 3:5.  http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KnGy_tGQ5QE/TsY6JjfoanI/AAAAAAAAAu0/stPWo8g9ItQ/s1600/Titus+3.5.jpg
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724.) Titus 2

February 9, 2012

Present-day Crete has a population of over 600,000 people. The economy is based on agriculture — grapes and olives — and specialty cheeses, as well as tourism.

Titus 2 (English Standard Version)

Teach Sound Doctrine

 1But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

I like how the New Living Translation puts it:  promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.  Of course it is necessary and vitally important that we have correct biblical beliefs.  But the other side of that coin is that our behavior properly displays those beliefs.  Our actions are to reflect the light of Christ.  So the question:  What needs to be changed in my life, so I practice what I preach?

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2Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

The older women must teach and train the younger. Sometimes it would seem that the only gift experience gives to some is that of pouring cold water on the plans and dreams of others. It is a Christian duty ever to use experience to guide and encourage, and not to daunt and discourage.

–William Barclay

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6Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering,

Guzik says:  Pilfering.  This type of offense was so common in the ancient world that sometimes the words servant and thief were used interchangeably.  It was assumed that servants would steal from their masters in these small ways.

but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There are few passages in the New Testament which so vividly set out the moral power of the Incarnation as this does. Its whole stress is the miracle of moral change which Jesus Christ can work.

This miracle is repeatedly here expressed in the most interesting and significant way. Isaiah once exhorted his people: ‘Cease to do evil; learn to do good’ (Isaiah 1:16, 17). First, there is the negative side of goodness, the giving up of that which is evil and the liberation from that which is low; second, there is its positive side, the acquisition of the shining virtues which mark the Christian life.

First, there is the renunciation of all godlessness and worldly desires. What did Paul mean by worldly desires? Chrysostom said that worldly things are things which do not pass over with us into heaven but are dissolved together with this present world. A man is very short-sighted if he sets all his heart and expends all his labour on things which he must leave behind when he quits this world. But an even simpler interpretation of worldly desires is that they are for things we could not show to God. It is only Christ who can make not only our outward life but also our inward heart fit for God to see.

That was the negative side of the moral power of the Incarnation; now comes the positive side. Jesus Christ makes us able to live with the prudence which has everything under perfect control, and which allows no passion or desire more than its proper place; with the justice which enables us to give both to God and to men that which is their due; with the reverence which makes us live in the awareness that this world is nothing other than the temple of God.

The dynamic of this new life is the expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ. When a royal visit is expected, everything is cleansed and decorated, and made fit for the roval eye to see. The Christian is the man who is always prepared for the coming of the King of kings.

–William Barclay

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15Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

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Music:

Bobby Michaels sings a lovely arrangement of the old hymn by Francis Havergal, “Take my life, and let it be.”  Full lyrics follow.

  1. Take my life and let it be
    Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
    *Take my moments and my days,
    Let them flow in endless praise.
  2. Take my hands and let them move
    At the impulse of Thy love.
    Take my feet and let them be
    Swift and beautiful for Thee.
  3. Take my voice and let me sing,
    Always, only for my King.
    Take my lips and let them be
    Filled with messages from Thee.
  4. Take my silver and my gold,
    Not a mite would I withhold.
    Take my intellect and use
    Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
  5. Take my will and make it Thine,
    It shall be no longer mine.
    Take my heart, it is Thine own,
    It shall be Thy royal throne.
  6. Take my love, my Lord, I pour
    At Thy feet its treasure store.
    Take myself and I will be
    Ever, only, all for Thee.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
woman of Crete.  http://www.dilos.com/dilosimages/image/crete/070006.jpg
practice what you preach.  http://kirstyjoan.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/practice-what-you-preach.jpg
Titus 2 women.  http://www.truewoman.com/assets/images/Older_WM_Younger_WM%281%29.jpg
cross.  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-w8XPJZ-Mb2Y/TnEkt_qtNoI/AAAAAAAABQE/9sFmTSmKfzo/s1600/Christian_cross_with_Jesus_Christ_in_beautiful_sunrise.jpg

723.) Titus 1

February 8, 2012

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.  A high mountain range crosses from west to east, creating beautiful valleys, fertile plateaus, and interesting caves and gorges.

Titus 1 (English Standard Version)

Greeting

1Paul, a servant of God

Of all the titles Paul could use, he first chose “bondservant of God.” If Paul had a modern day business card, that would be his title on the card.

Significantly, when Paul used the term bondservant, he chose the ancient Greek word doulos. This word not only designated a low slave (one Greek scholar called it “the most abject, servile term in use among the Greeks for a slave”), it was also the word for a slave by choice.

–David Guzik

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and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3and at the proper time manifested in his word

Galatians 4:4 (New King James Version)

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.

Christianity came into the world at a time when it was uniquely possible for its message to spread rapidly.  Greek was the common language,  the language of trade, business, and literature.  There were virtually no frontiers because of the vast nature of the Roman Empire.  Travel was comparatively easy.  It was slow, but relatively safe because of the security that the Roman Empire brought to roads and sea routes.  The world was largely at peace under the pax Romana.  Due to the Jewish dispersion throughout the ancient world, the world was curiously conscious of its need for a messiah and savior.

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through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

4To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Though we read nothing about Titus in Acts, we still know something of his character and personality.

  • Titus was a true son in our common faith (Titus 1:4).
  • Titus was a genuine brother to the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 2:13).
  • Titus was a partner and a fellow worker with Paul (2 Corinthians 8:23).
  • Titus walked in the same spirit as Paul (2 Corinthians 12:18).
  • Titus walked in the same steps as Paul, in the same manner of life (2 Corinthians 12:18).
  • Therefore, Titus could be a pattern to other believers (Titus 2:7).

–David Guzik

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications for Elders

5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true.

“So notorious were the Cretans that the Greeks actually formed a verb kretizein, to cretize, which means to lie and to cheat; and they had a proverbial phrase, kreitzein pros Kreta, to cretize against a Cretan, which meant to match lies with lies, as diamond cuts diamond.”
–William Barclay

Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

ALL THINGS ARE PURE

Your heart’s condition will be expressed through your life.  It will be evident by your attitudes, your words, and your behavior.  Jesus said that you can clearly see others only when your own eyes are unobstructed (Mark 6:42).  If your vision is hindered by sin, you will not look at others properly.

If your heart is pure, you will approach life without malice.  You will not question the motives of everyone around you; you will not doubt the truth of everything others tell you; you will not look for fault in others.  Instead, you will look for the good in others, finding what is praiseworthy.  You will not be naive or gullible, but you will seek what is good rather than what is evil.  If your heart is pure, you will see others the way God sees them (Matthew 6:22).

If your heart is defiled, everything with which you are involved will seem corrupt as well.  You will assume evil motives in others because you know what you would do given the same circumstances.  You will be cynical about what you hear because your own words are deceitful.  You will be drawn to evil people and evil things.

How do you look at the words and actions of others?  Are you critical of them?  Are you judgmental?  If so, ask God to purify your heart.  Once He has, you will be free to see yourself and others as God does.

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Music:

Lincoln Brewster was born in Alaska in 1971, and his mother noticed how well he could keep a rhythm on a drum set when he was only one year old.  His musical talents as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter have been revealed in numerous recordings and concert tours.  He is also the worship arts pastor for Bayside Church, Granite Bay, California.  Here is a song that asks God to have more and more of our lives, for eternal purposes!  “Take Me Higher.”  Lyrics follow.

Take not Your Spirit from me
Lord lead me to Your peace
For my one desire is to be with You
Come cleanse my life and make me pure
Won’t you wrap me up in Your arms and

Take me higher and draw me closer
And pull me deeper than I’ve ever been

Hide not Your face from me
Lord set my spirit free
For my one desire is to be with You
Come cleanse my life and make me pure
Won’t You wrap me up in Your arms and

Take me higher . . .

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
map of Crete.   http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-maps/images/crete-prefectures.gif
business card.   http://www.business-for-artists.com/images/handing-out-card.jpg
Rome map.   http://ancienthistory.mrdonn.org/rome01.gif
Mr. Right.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TL0Vj6mIL0Q/TX7g7IrYxgI/AAAAAAAAAXU/hIbOjvuAxbM/s400/mr.%2Bright.jpg
pure.   http://www.pure-ipm.eu/sites/default/files/content/images/logo%20PURE%20%28baseline%29.jpg