Lairs…brutes…and gluttons. These were the people to whom Titus was sent to preach the gospel of grace.
“Even one of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’”
But…it is for people like this that the gospel has transforming power.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
No sinner is outside the scope of this redeeming grace. This message has the power to lift people out of the depths of sin and bring them to new life in Christ.
Don’t give up on ungodly…hostile…unlikeable people. They are perfect candidates for a new life in Christ.
Author and finisher. Faith starts with Jesus – the author. And finds its maturity in Him – the finisher.
The writer to the Hebrews says “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”
How is it that Jesus occupies this place of centrality?
Because…He is the only way to the Father. “…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Because…Jesus is God. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
Because…He is the only Savior. “…for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Because…He is preparing an eternal home. “I go to prepare a place for you…I will come again, and receive you unto myself…”
Fix your eyes on Jesus – the author and finisher of your faith.
Measuring wealth. You can use stocks…bank accounts…deeds to property…precious metals…works of art.
But…those are faulty instruments. They cannot measure true wealth.
Paul’s words to young Timothy describe the right way to measure wealth: “…godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Who is wealthy?
The first step is godliness. A relationship with Christ is worth more than any amount of wealth.
Then follows contentment. Paul says: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…whether living in plenty or in want.”
Observe people around you. Is there any evidence that wealth equals happiness and contentment?
When you are measuring your assets…put godliness and contentment at the top.
God’s will for your life. Clear…simple…and comprehensive.
Here it is.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Note the three words – always…continually…and all.
It is the scope that holds great challenge. God’s will for you is that rejoicing be always…praising be continually…and thanksgiving be all-inclusive.
It would be good to write these words over the door of your heart – to be a reminder in all the discourses of life.
God’s will is not unknowable…impractical…or conditional.
Here it is again.
Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. And let it be always…continually…and in all circumstances.
Fine-sounding arguments. They are fine only for unbelievers.
The Apostle Paul says of Christ that He is the One “…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
He continues: “I tell this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”
Here are some examples.
Jesus was a good man…but not divine. That’s a fine-sounding argument.
Jesus was convincing to a simple-minded society…but unworthy for the sophisticated thinking of moderns. That’s a fine-sounding argument.
Jesus was a friend to the disciples…but He is only an historical figure for people today. That’s a fine-sounding argument.
Sadly…fine-sounding arguments are being advanced in the media…the entertainment world…educational centers…and even in some pulpits.
Remember always…that in Jesus are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Don’t be deceived by fine-sounding arguments.
Yourself or others. How do you balance the two?
Your thought time…prayer focus…affections — how do the percentages look?
Jesus “…came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Jesus was others focused – totally so. The cross speaks to a life of complete surrender…for the benefit of others.
Some people have drawn a circle of concern large enough only for themselves.
Others have a global outlook – they have a circle of concern that embraces the whole world.
Yes…you are responsible for yourself – your safety…health …reputation…devotion…family. But…you must look beyond. There is a world out there that you are called to serve.
And interestingly…the more you serve others – the more fulfilled you will be.
It’s God’s way.
Stars. They are invisible until it gets dark.
The Apostle Paul speaks of a “…warped and crooked generation.” Then comes this incredible declaration: “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”
The implication is obvious – true godliness is most visible in times of spiritual darkness.
You meet the saints in Scripture as they walk through the temptations and trials of life – and marvel at the demonstration of God’s grace in their lives.
They shine like stars in the midst of spiritual darkness.
You watch Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail – and listen to their songs of praise.
It’s in the darkness of the dungeon that their witness for Christ shone like a star.
Does your faith shine in the dark places of life?
If so…it’s a reflection of the One who is the light of the world.
Credibility. That’s an essential attribute for every follower of Jesus Christ.
Interestingly…Paul begins his epistle to the Ephesians: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
His imprisonment established his credibility.
How so? Because anyone who is imprisoned for Christ has been willing to suffer great personal loss – rather than compromise convictions.
The principle is this. The world is skeptical — and unless they witness evidence of credibility…they will likely be dismissive of a testimony for Christ.
It matters how people see you. In fact…they find it very difficult to separate the message from the messenger.
Let your life be an accurate reflection of the witness you bear.
When making a decision. Will you be influenced by the flesh or by the Spirit?
Throughout the writings of the Apostle Paul…he speaks frequently of the tension between a life controlled by the flesh or a life controlled by the Spirit.
He lists the works of the flesh: “…sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition…” — and the list goes on.
Then he lists the works of the Spirit: “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Which will you choose – the flesh or the Spirit?
The decision is before you constantly. And the decision is yours – flesh or Spirit.
The preaching of the cross. What effect does it have?
It exposes shallowness. It shatters easy-believism…ulterior motives…and lukewarmness.
It reveals the depth of God’s love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
It opens the way to reconciliation with God. The blood of Jesus is the only remedy for sin.
It silences the arguments of men. The cross is thought to be foolishness…but it is the very power of God unto salvation.
It captures emotions. Who can stand before the cross and not have a heart broken by such a sacrifice?
The preaching of the cross should be the centerpiece of every pastor’s message.