Moments Matter

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

 

I remember meeting Lindsay for the first time.  I was a freshman at Liberty University and she was a senior in high schoolI worked at the Visitor’s Center and I gave tours to families who were considering Liberty University.  Well it just so happened that Pastor Grant and “Miss” Tammy were on my tour.  At the end of that tour, “Miss” Tammy called Lindsay Beth and said, “I met this guy and I think he’s the type of guy you could marry one day.”Lindsay’s interest peaked, “Tell me about him.”  “Well, he’s Canadian, he plays hockey….” Lindsay promptly said, “It sounds like we have nothing in common,” and she hung up.

 

But a few days later Pastor Grant showed back up to the Visitor Center.  He asked me if I could come outside to his car and meet his kids, Lindsay Beth and TaylorI obliged.  I went out to the car and Lindsay rolled down the window, she said, “hello,” and she rolled it right back up again.

 

But, Moments Matterbecause 6 months later, Lindsay would be a student at Liberty University.  She would walk up to me in a crowd of people and she asked if I remembered her (I must have had a face she couldn’t forget).  I did remember her, and those moments changed our lives forever. 

 

In Luke 8:40-56, we find people whose lives were changed in a moment because of Jesus. Moments Matter.  For Jairus and the woman who had been ill for 12 years, their lives were changed forever when they had an encounter with Jesus.

 

It’s a powerful series of events.  I want to make this personal for us today.  In the moments that matter most in this life, you can trust HIS VOICE, HIS TIMING, AND HIS WAY.

 

First, in the moments that matter most in our lives we can trust His voice.  We all have a choice to make.

Will we trust His voice?

 

Jairus had to choose to listen to Jesus instead of the messenger who brought him the news that his daughter had died.   For Jairus he had to make a choice to not listen to his own relatives and neighbors when they laughed at Jesus about his own daughter being just asleep.  Jairus had to listen to the voice that said:Don’t be afraid, just have faith.  Who are you listening to? Do you trust His voice?  In the moments that matter most in this life, you can trust His voice.

 

Secondly, in the moments that matter most in your life you can trust His timing. I’m sure the woman didn’t like being ill for 12 years. I’m sure Jairus didn’t enjoy waiting for Jesus while He talked to the woman. We struggle with timing as a culture. We don’t like to wait as a culture and we don’t really have margin in our calendars.  The result is our relationships suffer: our marriages, our families, our relationship with God.  They all suffer.  Today, maybe the best thing you could do for yourself in taking a step towards trusting God’s timing more is to look at your calendar and to take something off.  Also make sure you have on it Bible reading and prayer time.  That will be a step towards helping you to trust Him, because in the moments that matter most in your life, you can trust His timing.

 

Finally, in the moments that matter most in your life, you can trust His ways.  The woman who was private had to let everyone know publicly that she had been healed.  Jairus, who was a public figure, had to keep the news private.

His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

 

Moments Matter.  In the moments that matter most you can trust His voice, His timing, His ways. Two reasons why:

 

First, God is immutable.  That’s a fancy way to say, GOD NEVER CHANGES.  Our circumstances will be in constant flux.  There will be good times and bad times, but God is constant… He never changes!

 

Second, I can tell you that you can trust Him most based on my own personal experiences. It’snot because everything has worked out well for me, but in moments where everything was crumbling, He has proved to be trustworthy.

 

Proverbs 10:25 says, When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.”

 

Trusting my life to the One True King has been the best investment of my life.

Esther 3 – An Old Enemy

Today we pick up in Esther 3. In this chapter we learn more about Haman and his plot to kill the Jews.

 

The Position of Haman

“After all this took place…” (v.1). Esther was now queen and Mordecai had saved the King’s life. It was a time of peace. The war was over and the King gave Haman “a higher position than all the other officials.” Though he had the highest position in the Kingdom, second only to the King, Haman was an evil man. Today, we may not like all those in authority over us, but the Bible teaches that we are to pray for kings and all those who are in authority. We are to respect the position even if we don’t respect the person.

 

The Promotion of Haman

Mordecai protected the King. He stopped the assassination attempt. We are to seek the good of the place where we live (Jer. 29:7).Would you seek the good of a bad king or bad boss? Mordecaideserved the promotion, but he didn’t get it. Haman did. How do you respond when someone else gets the promotion you think you deserve? How do you handle someone else getting a new house, new car, or raise when you don’t think they deserve it? God has enough blessings to go around. Exalt yourself and you will be humbled. Humble yourself and you will be exalted.

 

The Pride of Haman

In verses 2-4, we read that the King commanded everyone to bow down to Haman, but that Mordecai would not. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph’s brothers, and David all bowed before others, so what was Mordecai’s problem? Like a salute in military, bowing was instinctive in this culture, but Mordecai drew the line. He had compromised, blending in with the crowd long enough. He would not bow to Haman the horrible. Civil disobedience is found in the Bible when necessary: Hebrew midwives, Daniel and his friends, and the apostles in Acts 5. This is the exception not the norm. The norm is to show respect and be at peace. Haman is absorbed with himself. His nose is so high in the air he did not even see Mordecai standing. They had to tell him!God hates pride. Pride is what made Lucifer the devil, got Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden, caused Nebuchadnezzar to lose his sanity, and caused Haman to sign his own death sentence. Do you think you are better or above everyone else? Pride can make you go too far.

 

The Prejudice of Haman

Because Mordecai would not bow, Haman decided to destroy all Jews. How could one man not bowing lead to killing an entire race? Haman is nursing an old grudge. We are not born hating people. Prejudice is learned. Haman had been taught to hate all Jews. Arrogance and anger are a bad combination. People are shot in our communities today for the same reasons. Make this story personal. Who would you kill if you could?Jesus said if you hate someone you have committed murder in your heart. We are all alike on the inside. We all bleed the same color blood. God created all people in His image. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve and therefore there is only one race, the human race. Racism is sin.

 

The King gave Haman permission to carry out his plan. He was either lazy and not wanting to do the due diligence, or he was too busy to get all the facts. He did not listen to both sides of the story! When you first hear something, you think you know the facts. You get in trouble when you do not listen to all the facts. We need to listen to multiple sources of information.Don’t jump to conclusions. Letters were sent to the officials telling them to destroy the Jewish people. How many times have you written something or repeated something that killed another person’s reputation?

 

Who do you hate? What are you doing with your grudge? Jesus offers forgiveness. Only Jesus can bring peace to the war within us. Praise God the gospel tears down walls of hostility and brings peace!

Esther 2 – Where is God?

As we continue through the book of Esther, we see that chapter 2 is a chapter about war and defeat, a girl who is orphaned, and Jews who do not return home when they could and should have. It’s about girls being taken by force into a harem, about a beauty pageant, and about an assassination plot. God’s name is never mentioned in the book of Esther so where is He in all of this?I’m glad you asked!

 

God is Greater Than Your Circumstances

Chapter 2 begins, “Some time later….” Four years have passed since King Ahasuerus banished Queen Vashti. Now there’s no queen, and he is lonely and depressed. His lost his wife, lost his war, and he is looking for a woman to meet his needs. No boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife can fill the void in your life. Only God can meet your needs! Verses 5-9 give insight into Esther’s situation. Mordecai was Esther’s guardian. Her parents had died and he adopted her. Mordecai was taken into exile, just like these girls were taken for the King. Both were taken by force, beyond their control. God gave Esther favor in the worst of circumstances. So many of life’s circumstances are beyond our control. Esther had no control over the war, her parents dying, the King’s actions, her looks, or her adoption. But, God had a plan!

 

God is Greater Than Your Compromise

“Esther had not revealed her family background or her ethnicity, as Mordecai had directed” (v. 20). These Jews had a private faith. They are just blending in with the crowd, not keeping the diet or dress of the Old Testament law. In addition, God sent his people back to Jerusalem after 70 years. They could have gone back, and should have gone back, but they didn’t. Many Christians today claim to have a private faith. Maybe no one knows you are a Christian. You don’t want to go public. The Bible is honest in showing God’s people, warts and all. Abraham and David both made big mistakes, but God redeemed them! What is on display in the Bible is the grace of God. God is greater! Grace is greater! God gives grace and favor even when we do not deserve it.

 

God is Greater Than Your Concerns

There is no doubt that Esther was concerned about the wait. She had been preparing an entire year for one night!And, for those not chosen, they would live a lonely life in a harem of women and could never go back to their family or get married. It was like a pageant and the Bachelor combined! Keep reading in the chapter and you’ll see Esther made it to the final rose ceremony and she got the final rose! Like the story of Cinderella, this poor orphan girl became the Queen! Chuck Swindoll said, “God not only moves in mysterious ways, but He also moves in mundane days.” Esther had no clue what would happen that day, but Divine Providence was at work. God is in control! He is sovereign, orchestrating affairs directly and indirectly. Human Responsibility is key as well.God orders our steps and opens doors, but we have to walk through them.  Mordecai and Esther obeyed God and took their God-given opportunities.

 

God is Greater Than Your Conflicts

Look at verses 21-23. This is a story of conflicts! There are conflicts without and within. Perhaps the people hated Esther and were for Vashti. We see that Mordecai was not rewarded immediately for his action to protect the King. Good deeds are often overlooked or unappreciated and sometimes even met with anger and hostility. Sometimes people get mad at you or try to hurt you physically or relationally. People conspire, connive, and scheme. But God has His people everywhere. Like Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, He has Mordecai and Esther in Persia. We must do what is right knowing God will reward us in His due time. Do what is right and leave the outcome to God.

 

Even though His name is not mentioned, throughout this chapter and this book we see that our God is greater and that He is a God of redemption!

Esther 1 – Beauty and the Feast

I love preaching through books of the Bible. Today we begin a study on the Old Testament book of Esther. Esther is one of only two books of the Bible named after a woman (Ruth is the other). It is also one of only two books in which God’s name is not mentioned (Song of Solomon is the other). God’s name is not mentioned, but His fingerprints are all throughout. The story of Esther is a story about:

 

Power and Pride

King Xerxes was the most powerful man on the earth in his day. His kingdom spanned from India to Ethiopia. He gives a banquet for all his nobles and officials (v. 3) and it was the party of parties! It was a time of peace, but historians say Xerxes was planning for war. He was trying to convince them to go to war against Greece so he gave them a six-month, all-expense paid, all-inclusive vacation! In verse 4 we see the banquet was about more than his power, it was also about his pride and the display of his wealth, splendor, glory, and majesty. We may read these verses and condemn his abuse of power or desire to display his glory, but is it really any different today? We live in a narcissistic society where everyone wants to display or show the world their glory. Look on social media. Social media can be a great tool for the gospel, but can cause us to be consumed with self-centeredness and self-importance if we aren’t careful. Pride is the need to be seen, heard, and to show off.

 

Possessions and Pleasure

The story of Esther is also about possessions and pleasure. Verse 6 describes the banquet venue. It sounds like a lot of celebrity homes today! There was an open bar (v. 7-8). The people were allowed to drink whatever they wanted. Think of the overindulgence, the drunkenness. In the midst of the party, “…when King Xerxes was high in spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him… to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at” (v. 10-11). Queen Vashti was a looker! The Bible says she was beautiful and lovely to look at, which means she certainly was! This is a story of wine and women. We can be just as guilty of overeating and overdrinking, or of wanting everyone to see our glory. Men can be just as guilty of having a harem on the computer or internet. Aharem of hundreds of women, called pornography. Men today can live like they are a god, viewing women solely as objects to look at.

 

Position and Providence

“But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refusedto come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger” (v. 12). No one makes good decisions while drunk and King Xerxes showed an abuse of anger, not righteous indignation. There are a lot of different thoughts as to what exactly Xerxes was asking her to do and as to why she did not come. Is Vashti a woman of character and principle, or a stubborn woman who refuses to submit to her husband? A woman’s beauty is not for all men to see, but for her husband. Queen Vashti was brave! She chose to obey God, rather than man. Because of her decision, the men fear that Vashti’s example would cause all women to ignore their husbands. These guys are control freaks. Image is everything. The sad thing is that woman are still treated like this in many religions and places in the world today. King Xerxes listens to bad advice and issued a decree that Vashti could never again enter his presence. He ruins their relationship. I want to see her. She does not let me see her. I will teach her. I will never see her again.He did not get what he wanted! What ruins relationships? Manipulation, domination, deception, addiction, anger, lack of respect. You want to talk and they don’t. So, what do you do? You don’t speak to your spouse for days. That makes no sense! Pride always hurts the one you love. Pride is selfish. Love is selfless.

 

How are you like Xerxes? Apart from God, and when we are on the throne of our own lives, we would do the same things Xerxes did. Apart from King Jesus, we are King Xerxes! Praise God for His work in us!

Easter

Three Days

What an awesome Easter weekend we had at Liberty celebrating the resurrection! I had the privilege to preach on “three days.” Throughout Scripture we see an emphasis on three days: on the third day Abraham saw where he was to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:4), Esther asked the people to fast for three days (Esth. 4:16), Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days (Jon. 1:17), and Jesus performed His first miracle on the third day (John 2:1). There are too many examples to list! In Luke 24, we see that the greatest miracle of all took place on the third day (v. 7).

 

Day 1 – Pain

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb” (Lk. 24:1). Why? They saw Jesus suffer and die. The cross was a day of pain. Maybe this Easter season you are going through a painful experience/trial/test. Jesus understands your pain! He understands physical pain, with your body or health. Emotionally, Jesus was a man of sorrows. He was despised and rejected. There is purpose in your pain! God never wastes pain, He is present in it, and He uses the process. Through it all, God works it all together for good. The worst thing that ever happened in history turned out to be the best thing that ever happened in history. What appeared to be the end, was really the beginning. Out of death came life!

 

Day 2 – Perplexity

When the women tried to tell the disciples that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, “their words seemed to them like nonsense” (v. 11). We also read that Jesus appeared to the disciples on the Emmaus road but they didn’t recognize Him. Verse 21 says, “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Have you ever hoped things would turn out a certain way and they didn’t? If Day 1 is a day of suffering, Day 2 is a day of sorrow, silence, waiting, wondering, questioning, bewilderment, chaos, and confusion. God can handle all our questions, doubts, and fears. These disciples were walking the wrong way when Jesus came to them! They turned their back on Him, walking away from Jerusalem. Some of you have been disappointed in life. You had hope, but things did not turn out the way you planned. Maybe you’ve turned your back on Jesus and walked away. Like He found these men, God will find you when you are going the wrong way! He meets you where you are!

 

Day 3 – Promise

If Day 1 is a day of pain, and Day 2 a day of perplexity, the third day is the day of promise. It is the day of resurrection! Jesus not only offers resurrection, He is the Resurrection. He not only offers life, He is life!  Jesus rose and conquered death so that everything we face could be conquered. Revelation 1:18 says, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” He took the keys of hell and death! The devil does not even have keys to his own house! Jesus unlocked death for everyone. All the promises of the Bible are worthless if Jesus did not rise from the dead. Life is full of pain and perplexities but ultimately the promises of God prevail.

 

Not only did Jesus walk and talk with the disciples, but He also stayed with them (v. 29). He walks with us in our rejection, regret, and pain of yesterday. He talks with us in our doubts, fears, and the perplexities of today. He stays with us forever! He keeps His promises!

 

Verse 33 says, “They got up at once and returned to Jerusalem.” Remember, they had been walking away. Easter is the ultimate comeback story! Jesus came back to life! Some of you need to come to God. Others need to come back to God. Easter is the third day. Don’t worry about your past; you are not going back. Don’t worry about your future; God is already there. Today is the day of salvation! Jesus paid your debt. He gave His life to you fully. The only right response is to give your life to Him fully.

Good Friday

Have you ever wondered what is so good about Good Friday? If Jesus does not die, He cannot rise from the dead. That is what is good about it! This past Friday, I preached on Titus 3:4-7, and we reflected on the cross and all that it means for us. At the cross we are:

 

Overwhelmed by His Love

Verse 4 mentions the kindness and love of God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world….” We are told in 1 John that we love only because He first loved us. In Matthew 3, God the Father says, “This is my beloved son…” God the Father loves His Son, yet He was willing to sacrifice the Son He loves on the cross because He loves us too! Romans 2:1 says, “The goodness of God leads to repentance.” “Goodness” there is the same word as “kindness” here in Titus. Love is why God did what He did. When you need to be reminded that God loves you, don’t look at your circumstances, but look at the cross.

 

Saved by His Mercy

“…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (v. 5). When we repent of our sin, and call on Jesus in faith, He saves us completely. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. We are redeemed, transferred out of bondage into freedom, no longer living for self or controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil, all because of mercy. Mercy is not the same as grace. Mercy is God NOT giving us what we do deserve. In the Bible we read that our heroes of the faith were all sinners. But, they found mercy and were saved by the blood of the lamb!

 

Washed by His Blood

Verse 5 also says, “…through the washing of regeneration.” Jesus’ death brought us life. Regeneration is the new birth. Christianity is not religion but a living relationship with the living God. Jesus did not die to make a bad man good or a good man better. He died to make a dead man live. We are not saved by works of righteousness that we have done, but by His mercy and grace. “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (v. 3). We are washed clean through regeneration. We are washed and redeemed with the blood of Jesus. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.

 

Filled by His Spirit

“…and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (v. 5). The Holy Spirit baptizes, indwells, fills, sanctifies, and seals us all at the point of conversion. Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit. His presence in us is evidence of salvation. On the cross, Jesus conquered the flesh with all its passions and desires so we can now walk in the Spirit. Sanctification is a progressive work of the Spirit. I am not what I should be or will be, but praise God I’m not what I used to be! Daily we need the renewing and filling of the Holy Spirit.

 

Justified by His Grace

In verse 7 we read that we are “justified by His grace.” There is amazing grace for every race! God reconciled us to Himself and to one another. Mercy is God NOT giving us what we do deserve. Grace is God giving us what we DON’T deserve. Instead of damnation, God gives us salvation. “Justified” means to make righteous or declare righteous. He took all our sin and He gave us all His righteousness. It is a legal term where God declares our account paid in full by the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It is an act of God. It is not a process like sanctification. It is finished. The result is peace with God.

 

The way to protect a home from a fire is to burn the area around the home. Flames pose no danger to an area already burned. The cross is the only safe place from the fiery judgment that will someday engulf the world because it is the one place where the judgment of God has already been. There is there now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. At Calvary, “Mercy there was great and grace was free!”

 

 

Titus 3

The book of Titus is only three chapters but these chapters tell us what we need. So far, we’ve talked about godliness in our lives (Chapter 1), grace in our church (Chapter 2), and today, we will read about good works in the world (Chapter 3). In Titus 3:12-14 we read of Artemas, Tychicus, Zenas, and Apollos. The work was not built on the apostle Paul. Together, these people helped to multiply the work.

 

We Have a Mission

In verse 12, Paul writes, “When I send Artemas to you….” Artemas is mentioned only once in the Bible. We don’t know much about him, except that he was willing to go. Every child of God is sent! We have a mission – the Great Commission. It will never be accomplished unless we are willing to GO. In verses 1-2, we are reminded that our manners must line up with our mission and message. Paul said they were to be subject to rulers and authorities. Nero was the ruler when Paul wrote this! We must respect the position even if we don’t respect the person. We discredit the Gospel when we are not good citizens.  We should all be making Hampton Roads a better place to live, work, and raise a family. We should all watch our words at home, at work, and on social media. Ask yourself, “How will this make Jesus look?”

 

We Have a Ministry

Verse 12 also mentions Tychicus. Colossians 4:7 refers to him as “a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” Like Tychicus was a faithful minister, we all have a ministry to help others because of where we have come from and what we have been through. Verses 3-7 give a picture of the Gospel. When we experienced the “kindness and the love of God” (v. 6), we were changed! Verse 3 gives a picture of what we were like without Jesus. Apart from Jesus, we are foolish, disobedient, deceived, hateful, etc. We can’t do this without Him. We must never forget where we came from. Remember what your life was like before Jesus and what God did for you! Tychicus was to Paul what Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were to Jesus. Everyone needs a friend in the ministry. He was with Paul in his first imprisonment, and carried the letter to the Ephesians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon. He would take Titus’s place at Crete so Titus could go on to meet Paul. You may not be able to sing, preach, or be a writer like Paul, but we can all be a faithful like Tychicus.

 

We Have a Mind

Verse 13 says, “Send Zenas the lawyer….” Zenas is the only good lawyer mentioned in the Bible! A mind is a terrible thing to waste!  Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and all our mind. We are to be of the same mind, one mind, have a willing mind, a ready mind. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….” “Set your mind on things above….”  We are not to be double minded but be sober minded. We are to mind our own business. Verses 9-10 warn against foolish arguments and divisive men. How many useless, unprofitable conversations do you have in a day? Don’t argue with people. A divisive person is someone who keeps causing division. Have the boldness and courage to say in love… “Enough!” Love can do what litigation cannot do. Zenas was a lawyer, not a preacher or an apostle. He had a normal job. God wants to use you and your job to advance the mission.

 

We Have a Message

Verse 13 also mentions Apollos. We read about Apollos in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Acts 18:24 says he had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God brought the increase.  He was a water boy! Water boys don’t get a lot of recognition or spotlight on the team, but their job is very important in winning the game! He was teachable. He learned from Aquila and Pricilla. The devil will try to distract, divide, deceive, divert, and get us off message. We preach Jesus! The birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus!  We have one job this week.  Invite people to Easter at Liberty to hear that life-changing message!

 

Titus 2

In Titus 1, we read about godliness in our lives. Today, we will look Titus 2 and read about grace in our church. Remember that Paul left Titus in Crete so that he might “set in order” the church. Crete was a corrupt place and the Christians there needed to be reminded what godly living looks like. Chapter 2 begins with Paul telling Titus to “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (v. 1), and ends with Paul reminding him to “speak these things” (v. 15). We can certainly learn from this instruction.

Verses 11-12 are key to godly living. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (v. 11-12). There is no salvation apart from grace. God gave us His unmerited favor while we were His enemies. Salvation is a gift; it’s not based on works. The grace of God teaches us, enables us to deny the flesh, and empowers us to do right. Grace changes you from the inside out.

What We Live For
In verses 2-10 Paul addresses five groups of people on how to live. The first two groups are older men and older women. The older you get, the greater the temptation just to become an old, cynical, cranky grump! God’s people should grow old gracefully! Don’t lose your filter. Don’t just coast in for the landing. The older we get, the greater the temptation not to take risks or step out in faith. Moses, Joshua, and Caleb had their greatest victories in their later years. Don’t just sit and sour. Be different.

The next two groups are young women and young men. Young women are to love their husbands and children. They are to be homemakers. The home is not only the wife’s responsibility, however. I help “Miss” Tammy and she helps me. We are in this thing together! Young men need self-control. All that passion, drive, ego, pride, should be submitted under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The final group is bondservants. Today, that would be employees. As a Christian in the workplace, you may be the only Bible people read. Christians ought to be the best employees. They should have a good attitude, come early, stay late, give 110%, and go the extra mile. You work for God, not your boss!

What We Look For
Verse 13 says, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is so easy to look at other people. The grass always looks greener on the other side. You look at other people’s marriages, houses, cars, jobs, kids, and think they have it better or easier. Look to Jesus. Our hope is not in this world. Just ask a believer confined to a hospital bed or suffering from a terminal disease how it is that they have hope. If you have hope in this life only, you are most miserable. But because of God’s grace, we have the blessed hope that the perfect Son of God will one day make us perfect and whole like Him!

What We Labor For
In verse 14 we read that because of our redemption, we should be “zealous for good works.” What are you zealous about? People are zealous about sports, hunting, fishing, boating, traveling, etc. If you have experienced grace, you should be most zealous about Jesus! We give ourselves for the One who gave Himself for us. Blessed are those who die in the Lord for they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them. Will you have any good works to follow you to heaven?

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, and when He comes, He is bringing His reward with Him. But that is only for those who have experienced grace. Experiencing grace is the only way we can lead godly lives that make a difference in today’s culture.

Titus 1

Titus is a small but significant book. In just three chapters, it has much to say about how to live godly and do good works in a corrupt culture. Titus’ ministry was in Crete, which was one of the most immoral places in the Roman world. Studying this book, we learn how to live out our faith in a difficult culture.

 

The Relationship of Titus

In Titus 1:1 we learn that the book of Titus is written by the apostle Paul. Paul was a legalist, a Pharisee, and he had Christians arrested and put to death. But, this persecutor of the church met Jesus on the Damascus Road, and verse 3 says that God “entrusted” or “committed” to him the task of preaching His word. Saul the murderer became Paul the messenger!

 

Titus was a Greek believer who was won to Christ under Paul’s ministry. He organized the church at Crete and this book includes some of Paul’s last words to this faithful young pastor and co-worker.

The key word in chapter 1 is “godliness.” Faith should lead to godliness. Godliness, to be more like Jesus, is the goal for all of us. To have godly relationships it all starts with a relationship with God. Do you know God? Do you spend time in prayer and time in the word?

 

The Leadership of Titus

According to verse 5, Titus had two main tasks. He was to “set in order the things that are lacking” and to “appoint elders.” Set is a medical term, like setting a broken bone. A church is not a building, it’s people. As long as there are people there will be problems, because we are all broken on the inside. We all need to be set straight! The Christians in Crete were not living like Christians, but they were living like Cretans. Praise God that Jesus is the Great Physician and He sets in order His people, His body, when we are broken. He brings healing!

 

Verses 6-9 give the qualifications for the elders Titus was to appoint. The terms elder, bishop, and pastor all refer to the same office. You may not be a bishop or elder, but you are a leader. Leadership is defined as influence. People look at your life. Your lifestyle provides a window into your character. Take some time to read these verses and examine your own life. Are you living as an example in today’s culture?

 

The Membership of Titus

Paul warns Titus, “…there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped…” (v. 10-11).  “Idle talkers” – Cretans were known for lying.  Satan is the father of all lies. Do you lie to your parents? Spouse? Boss? Teacher? Self? Do you lie when it would be easier to tell the truth? Half-truths are whole lies. “Deceivers” – False teachers may sound good but they are up to no good. They add to the Bible, subtract from who Jesus is, multiply the steps to salvation, and divide your loyalty. We must guard the fellowship and the unity of the church.

 

In verse 15, Paul says, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” He is talking about dietary laws and food. Godliness is not a matter of clean and unclean food, but a matter of a clean mind, heart, and clean conscience. Sound doctrine (v.9) leads to sound faith (v.13).  What you believe will determine how you behave. Verse 16 says, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Many profess to know God but their lifestyle denies Him. Why is a godly lifestyle important? Because the excuse many use for not becoming a Christian is Christians! Are you growing in godliness? Are you growing in good works? Good works will not save you, but every person who is saved will do good works.

 

Generosity – Supernatural Givers

stopThis week we end our Generosity series. I keep hearing testimonies of how God has used this study to help so many! Hopefully you too have grown and have seen all the blessings that come from a generous life. Money is not our provider. The God who made heaven and earth is our provider and above Him there is no other! When we live to leave a legacy of generosity, we see the Lord work in supernatural ways! Today, we will look at six principles on the path to the supernatural found in 1 Kings 17.

 

The Greater the Problem

In this chapter we read about a widow and the prophet Elijah. God used a drying brook, a depleted barrel, and a dying boy to prove He is the one true God. Some of you are going through a personal drought physically, financially, or relationally. God is your source! Other things or people are not. In verse 12, we read that the widow only had a “handful” of flour and a “little” oil. She was fully prepared to die from her lack! Her situation looked hopeless, however, as you keep reading you will see that when you get to the end of yourself, your resources, and your rope, you will find God is there. 

 

The Greater the Priority

In the midst of the widow’s lack, “…Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.” As we have seen through this study, God is first. He cannot be second. The widow did what Elijah asked. She gave God the first and then He multiplied it! It may be that there is a miracle in your house now. God will use something that you already have if you will be faithful to put Him first.

 

The Greater the Provision

“So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah” (v. 15-16). Wow! God blessed the widow’s obedience and she had more than she needed. Not everyone is going to believe, obey, and trust the Lord, but you can be one who will. Determine today, “If no one else does, I will.” Stop looking at the oil in the jar and start looking at the oil of the Holy Spirit in you. Stop looking at the flour and start looking at the Lord of the Harvest.

 

The Greater the Prayer

Trusting God is not a moment of faith but a life of faith. If you trust God it does not mean you will never have any problems again. The widow’s son ends up dying. In verses 20-21, we read Elijah’s desperate prayer. God allowed this situation to grow her faith. When you step out on faith, the enemy is going to try to discourage you. God will allow your faith to be tested to disciple you and to defeat the devil. Stop doubting and start believing. God can do things man cannot explain!

 

The Greater the Power

Verse 22 says, “Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.” This is the first time in Scripture where we read of a person being raised from the dead. They experienced resurrection power first-hand!

 

The Greater the Proof

“Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth” (v. 24). All the widow went through led her to the place she could say, “Now I know.” We want you to be able to say the same thing. The Lord is personal. His provision and power through generosity is personal. We want you to experience that. Whatever it is, take your next step of obedience. There is no telling what the Lord will do!

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