Grace for All

Titus 2:11-12

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

We take so much liberty with these two verses.  There is no doubt God’s grace has appeared to all men.  Our lives are gifts from God, gifts of His grace.  It started on that Christmas Day, so many years ago, in a manger.  We are coming up on that time of year, and this is a perfect place for me to chare a piece I wrote a few years ago.  This piece is just a little picture of the grace that was given on that day.

What exactly took place that made
Christmas so important?

The one who strengthens us became weak

He had all the strength of thousands of armies and was victorious in every battle.  No foe could stand against Him, no enemy could stop Him.  No problem was too big, no trial to hard, no test too overwhelming.  Nothing scared Him or made Him fear.

Jesus, who is my strength, became a baby, the weakest of all men.  No strength to help Himself with any need. Only a cry could bring Him someone to provide strength in His little life.  From ultimate strength to ultimate weakness, all for me.

My provider became the neediest of all

He says if I ask anything in His name, He will do it.  He is the creator of all things, the supplier of food, water and air.  All that I need comes from Him.  Without Him, I am nothing and I would have nothing.  All that I have come from Him.  All peace, joy, hope, faith and love comes from Him.  All good in this world comes from Him.  He is the source of life.

Jesus, our provider, became the neediest of all humans, a baby who could not feed Himself, relieve His thirst by Himself, clean Himself, change His clothes.  Completely dependent on everyone and everything. From provider to needy, all for me

He went from knowing all to no knowledge

He numbers the hair on my head.  He knows my every need. He knows my voice and He hears me when I call. He knows my heart, my thoughts, my desires, my dreams.  He knows the plans He has for me and they are good.  He knows all there is to know.

Jesus, who was­­ omniscient, became one with no knowledge. A babe in a manger. Barely learning to know His parents’. Not knowing anything around Him.  Not knowing how to talk, or understand or reason.  From all knowing to knowing nothing, all for me

He went from Creator to created

He was there at the beginning, the Word that went forth when God said “Let there be..”.  He was the Word, and all things were made by Him.  He made the stars above and names them one by one, 400 billion in our galaxy alone.  He made all the animals, birds, bugs, and things in the sea.  He made the earth, the seas, the rivers, the dry land and the mountains.  All things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made

Jesus who was the creator, was now created in Mary’s womb.  He had no control over this creation.  He could not speak His desires into existence.  He was subject to the DNA of Mary.  He could not determine His hair color, or His eye color, or His height or weight.  He was helpless in His own creation after creating all things.  From creator to created, all for me.

He went from being King of Kings to a lowly babe. 

All power, all authority, all knowledge, all wisdom was His. Undefeated for all time. All the kings of the earth are subject to Him.  H controlled their destiny, the length of their reign, the people who serve them, and every battle they fight. Creator of all things.  Knowledge of all things.

Jesus, King if all Kings, Lord of all Lords, humbled himself and became a man. Leaving all His kingly praise, power and strength to come and die for us.  He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.  He withheld His power to escape this excruciating death for all of us.  He humbled himself more than we can imagine.  From King of Kings to Lowly babe, all for me

Jesus gave His all to pay it all so we could have it all.  A divine act of humility

That’s what happened. That’s why we Celebrate Christmas.

That is His love for us.

But we take advantage of this grace by not heeding to verse 12.  I have areas in my life where I do not live soberly as Paul says we must do.  I count on God’s grace to get me through these frailties of mine instead of clinging fast to Him and letting Him help me let them go. I do not always put aside ungodly things. I do not always endeavor to life righteously.  How presumptive of me to just assume His grace will cover me when I don’t walk as He ask me to walk in this present world.  How bold will I have to be to stand before God on that day and say to Him I trusted in His grace when I walked off the path?  I should not be counting on even getting that chance if I walk in willful sin.  I need to deny ungodliness and live righteously, as Paul days, in this present world if I am planning to live with Him in eternity.

Yet, so many rely on His grace to cover anything they want to do.  The church relies on grace when they embrace unbiblical practices and lifestyles.  They say grace has come to all men, but forget that God calls us out of our sinful behaviors and into righteousness.  He asks us, as He asked the women caught in adultery, to leave our sin behind. He asks us to walk toward Him and away from our past, putting those things behind that would hinder our closeness with Him.  He asks us to forget those things which we once were, and run with patience the race that is set before us.  He asks us to press toward the mark of the high calling of God, not live our lives still enslaved to sin.

His grace teaches us these things.  His grace is our instructor in righteousness.  We have an obligation to share this grace with all we see, because it has appeared to all men.  That day in a manger the world was changed forever.  That day at the cross the grace of God became available to anyone who wants it.  It is there, just waiting for one hearty to cry out and ask for Him for grace.  Never forget that His grace is for all men, but that once we have received that grace, we have work to do.  This ungodly, unrighteous life must transform to a righteous, holy lifestyle that honors the one who saved me.  We have been made new creatures on the inside, and now we have to work our own salvation with fear and trembling.  This transformation only begins at the cross.  It continues through the rest of our lives as we learn, by His grace, how to live for Him. Let us all examine ourselves and see if we are taking advantage of our sin.  May we have the heart cry of David in Psalm 139:23-24, where he says “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart.  Ty me, and know my thoughts.  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in thy way everlasting.”  Allow God to search your heart today and bring you closer to Himself.  That is where he wants you to be, right by His side, walking in the garden with Him in the cool of the day.  Do you know where your heart is today?

An Admonition to Servants

Titus 2:9-10

 

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;

10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

 

When we talk about servants, we basically talk about people who work for someone else.  In Paul’s day, there really was no word for employee.  They were called servants, whether it be for a business or a household, a restaurant or the temple. The particular word used here is doulos, which signifies one who is owned by another, not just working for them.  Ironically enough, this same word is used of those who are servants of Christ many times in the New Testament. I believe this admonition to servants should be one we all take to heart and do our best to live by.  The master spoken of here would be the employer, or the one who is in charge of giving us tasks to do.  And the direction Paul gives is truly required of all of us if we are to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.

 

In today’s society, and especially among the younger generation, these things are a lost art.  I talk to employers all the time and here the same story in every line of business.  They hire people who just decide not to show up, or they want to work hours that fit their schedule and not the employers, or they simply want to sit or stand around and not do any more than they absolutely have to.  Employers are so frustrated with the same types of people coming in day after day, wanting to fill out their unemployment card and not take a job, or take it and not show up.  They don’t even call and say they are not coming – and the employer is left hanging.  This is a sad state of affairs and needs to be corrected.  But while we wait for that to happen, those of us who ae Christians need to listen to what Paul has to say here to the servants, because we are servants of the most high God, and of Jesus Christ His Son.  We have an obligation to carry out our duties to the full!  So let’s take a closer look at the points Paul is trying to impress upon us here.

 

Be obedient.  This is simple.  Do what is asked of us.  Do that task the way we are asked to do it.  If we have a better idea or way to do it, discuss it with our employer and make sure they are ok with our method.  Don’t take shortcuts that jeopardize the integrity of the work, but do it to the best of our ability in the way that we are directed.  Be obedient to all instructions and get the work done in a timely manner.  Most tasks have some type of a schedule which we are asked to work within.  Make sure you get the job done by being obedient to the necessities of the business owner, or the manager who gives us each task.

 

Please our master (or employer).  In almost every profession, there are shortcuts we can take to get the job done quicker or more efficiently, and we are encouraged to do that.  Just make sure the end result is pleasing to the person assigning the task. Don’t go out on a limb and do the wrong thing because you might have a better way, or you don’t really know what the best way is so you fake it.  Ask for instructions when you are not sure of how to proceed.    There is nothing a boss hates more than someone who does not ask for directions and then messes up the task.  A simple question would have made things go so much better.  Our job is to please our employer, not to please ourselves.

 

Not answering again.  Don’t talk back to your employer.  Give him your attention and keep your mouth shut.  And don’t bemoan your employer to others.  Hold them in the highest regard.  After all, they are providing you with a paycheck for your work.  This should be enough to help you keep your mouth shut when you might have a dispute with them.  Take your disputes directly to the source, and not to other employees.  It seems we want to have people take our side when we have a beef about something, but that is not the Christian way to do it.  I learned a long time ago that if I have a problem with someone, I should go directly to them and not involve other people in that problem.  Keep your thoughts to yourself unless you are talking to the person you need to talk to for a resolution. And never talk back to your employer!

 

Not purloining.  I was not sure of the meaning of this word so I looked it up.  It basically means not to steal, or appropriate for oneself something that is not mine.  Not a pencil or a post-it note, or paper clip, or money from the till, or someone else’s tips, or food from the salad bar when working, or any other thing that belongs to the employer.  It really is another way of saying thou shalt not steal!  This is something that happens all the time in the workplace, and we as Christians should be setting the example.  Don’t take anything that is not yours!  This goes hand in hand with the next point

 

Shewing all good fidelity.  Faithfulness is the idea here.  Be faithful to that employer.  Do what is asked of you, but just as importantly, be on time and be at work.  Don’t always be showing up 5 minutes late, or taking longer breaks then your supposed to.  Get the work done that’s assigned to you and do extra if you can.  Go the extra mile whenever possible.  Give of yourself 100%.  In another place Paul says whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.  We are not just working for our employer, but we are working for the one who saved us and set us free.  We should never be slackers.

 

This brings us to the reason behind why we do these things.  Our work is a part of our witness to this world!  When we do these things, we are a positive influence on those around us and show them the right way to do these things, If we do not do these things, it gives a black-eye to our Christian testimony.  In case you haven’t noticed, Christians are held to a higher standard by others.  We are expected to do better at all things, to live cleaner lives, to walk with more integrity, and to be an example of good works.  For some reason, the world looks to Christians for an example of how things should be done right, and when we do the wrong thing, it seems to echo through the minds of those who thought we were Christian!  They wonder how e can call ourselves Christian when we complain, or don’t do the job right, or steal from our employer, or not work with fidelity.  It is imperative that we shine our light brightly in the workplace, because the employers are needing help in every area these days.  Let us make sure we are not a hindrance to them.

Sound Doctrine for Young Men

Titus 2:6-8

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

We are not exactly sure of when Titus was born, or how old he was when he traveled with Paul as an interpreter and fellow missionary.  He was a gentile, born in Greece, and Paul sent him on several journeys by himself, so Paul trusted him to carry out the peaching of the gospel and sharing the truths of – be sober minded!

This idea of being sober, or sober minded has caught my attention.  To all three groups of people, he gives this instruction – be sober.  Today, we really only think of it in one term.  To be off drugs or alcohol not having our mind affected by those things.  But it means so much more than that as used in the scripture.  This same word is often translated “of sound mind”, and is used of the state of the lunatic that ways brought before Jesus and had the demons cast out of him.  After this event, the bible says he was of sound mind, sober.

The word used here is Sophreneo.  It is from the root word Sophron, which means to be of sound mind and judgement.  It also means curbing one desires, or temperate.  So, there is a double meaning here that Paul is trying to get across to the young men especially.  It’s odd to me that we had several points to make to each of the three groups of people before, but to the young men only this one thing is mentioned.  Control yourselves is the basic message.  However, right after saying this Paul goes on to tell Titus that he should be a good example in everything he does.  Be a good example, show uncorruptness, gravity and sincerity, and use sound speech that no one can condemn.  Could this speak to the fact that young men need to see an example of how they should live rather then be told how they should live.  I think it does, and I think it points out a major problem in our society today.

In our wonderful country, 25% of all children live without a father.  1 in 4.  That is a staggering statistic.  Where are the men!  They have abdicated their role and not used self-control, or been sober minded.  Another staggering truth we see is that almost 90% of men in prison grew up in fatherless homes.  90%.   85% of men who are homeless come from fatherless homes.  Why is this?  Because they do not see an example, of how to live right.   The young men will turn to those who show them love, and more often than not in the inner city it is the gangs, who lead them to drugs and violence.   There really is an easy fix to the over population of our prisons and the homeless situation – get fathers to really be fathers, and not just loose canons spreading their seed all over the country side.  They are not using sound judgement or self-control and are thinking without really thinking right – they are not sober-minded!.

Paul tells Titus he must live as an example, and these same patterns apply to all of us as well.  We must have a pattern of good works, and in our doctrine, we must not have corruptness, and we must be grave and sincere.  These 4 points are addressed to Titus, but should be evident in all of us as well.  People can see a pattern of behavior.  Either they look at you as a good person, or they look at you as someone who just doesn’t care about people and goes about doing their own thing, regardless of how it affects others. Every move we make, every word we speak and every act we carry out affects someone else.

I have talked of this before but this is a perfect place to share it once again.  In 2008, I went to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky because I had been guilty of mis-using company equipment to view pornography.  This was a statement of the pride that was so strong within me.  I broke rules that I myself had written for the company and thought I was above them. My pastor said I must go or I would never set foot in his church again.  This was not my first transgression, and I had appeared all good and noble when doing ministry in his church, but behind me there was deep sin and pride festering.  I went because I knew I needed to get help for this addiction that cost me my job and threatened my 30-year marriage.

At this place, where I thought, they were going to center on my porn addiction, it didn’t take long before I began to realize my problem was not the porn, but pride.  I define pride as paying too much attention to oneself.  It did not take long for me to see the monster that was inside of me and learn of his ways and his deeds.  Life was all about me and what I wanted to the detriment of everyone around me. I could only see how I had been affected by this revelation and could only concentrate on getting better because I wanted this for myself.  One day I was walking on the prayer trail listening to an audio sermon by a speaker I came to admire.  He was sharing a story of a missionary in India who had become infatuated with another woman.  Although he was married, he started to have fantasies about being with this woman.  One night he drove to her house and was going to visit her when the Lord suddenly impressed upon him how this liaison would affect his wife, children and all those who he was ministering to.  Right there in his car he broke down and wept when he realized how his actions would affect the people around him.  He had never thought about that.

I fell to my knees right there on the prayer trail, weeping.  It finally dawned on me how much I had hurt my wife, my kids, my employer, my church family and all those around me.  My actions had betrayed their trust and I might never get that back.  I can’t remember how long I stayed down there on the ground, but it was at least 2 minutes.  I was devastated.  As the day wore on, that sense of shame and guilt grew in me.  I knew now what my pride had done and how my actions had affected those around me.  That night, actually early the next morning, I went down to the cross that was erected at the head of the trail, knelt down before it and slowly prayed Psalm 51.  My pastor had told me I needed to memorize that psalm, and I had done so.  Tears rolled down my face as I recounted in my mind exactly what I had done.  Just like David, I need God to have mercy on me and forgive my transgressions.  I needed Him to create a clean heart within me.  I needed Him to restore His Holy Spirit and not take it from me.  My life changed that night due to the revelation\n of the day on that prayer trail.

Your life has an affect on other people.  You are not a lone soul on this earth just travelling your way through a few years of existence.  You are a vital part of society, and your life can have a profound effect on other people.  I pray you will take that into account with every step you take, every word you speak and every prayer you pray.  The people in your world are depending on you to be an example of goodness, being uncorrupt in your doctrine, sincere in your speech, and in a position that no one can say evil about you.  This is not only Paul’s admonition to Titus, but to all of us as well.  Make your life count!

Sound Doctrine for Women (Part 4)

Titus 2:3-5 

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Okay, let’s finish his up for the women today.  He really brings out some things that need attention in our society, and I find it interesting that even the first century church needed this admonition.  I always pictured those days as ones where women would be ingrained with these principles.  But Paul knew that the world was an alluring place and would drag us away from the things that we should be doing on a regular basis.  That is why he sends these doctrinal tidbits to Titus in the first place, and that is why they are so necessary still today.

Keepers at home.  This is hard today, but so many women are so amazing.  They work one or even two jobs out of the house and still keep the house upon coming home.  My wife is an amazing example.  She works over 60 hours a week, yet still finds the time to do things for me and others that brings us joy.  Now, I will be the first one to say that the man should help with this.  I do not believe the Bible says anywhere that the man should not be in the trenches with his wife, taking care of things around the house.  Dishes, laundry, kids, cleaning, fixing meals – all of these things should be shared activity in my opinion.  Loving your wife means that you help her with the daily tasks that come up.  While the culture in Paul’s day looked to the wife to do these things, our culture has changed and we, as men, need to step up and do our part. With both parents often working outside the home, it take both parents to keep the home!

Be good.  Such a simple word that goes so far.  Be good in all things.  This is sound doctrine, but again I think it should apply to men and women.  Paul tells the young women to be good because there are so many eyes on them to remain chaste and discreet.  Men are more naturally flamboyant, and can fly off the handle easier. But goodness comes from the heart, a heart that is full of the recognition that God has been good to us.  If He, being the creator and God of all things can be good to us, how much more should we be good to each other.  This kind of goodness speaks of word and deed.  Speak good words about others, not mummering and backbiting and complaining.  Do good things for others.  Be a blessing in all areas of life.  This is the direction we should always go – toward good.

Obedient to their own husbands.  Our world today is full of advice experts.  We see people like Dr Oz, Dr Phil, Jerry Springer and so many others who have advice for us on how to live our lives.  The most important advice we can take and follow is that of our spouse, though.  This is the person we have to live with, who we have committed our lives to.  This is the person we made a vow to love, honor and cherish as long as we both shall live.  The obedience Paul talks about is not subservient, though.  Way too many men think their wife should be more like a pet than a partner.  They should do what they are told without question.  I think the correct way to look at this is as a level playing field.  The husband has the final authority in the home, But it should be through mutual consent, not a demanding, domineering relationship.  We are told to love our wives, and loving does not include putting down or treating with little respect.  Love reaches through the messes or decisions and finds common ground.  I do think it is important that a woman obey her husband, don’t get me wrong. But the admonition for the husband to love their wives must be carried out first.  If the husband is not showing love to the wife, than the marriage will start to break down.  Women are much more likely to listen to their husbands when love is in the home, and that is how it should be.  Step up guys!

Tomorrow we are finally going to discuss the sound doctrine Paul gives to young men.  It’s fascinating to me that he breaks this down by age and gender, as if these principles don’t apply to all of us.  I think they do.  I may be 69, but many times I am young at heart.  So I take seriously what Paul says to the young men as well!  I hope you will too.

Sound Doctrine for Women (Part 3)

Titus 2:3-5 

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

As Paul continues his discussion about speaking sound doctrine, we come to a few things that really stand out about our society today, and show us that we are headed away from what Go d would prefer into a world where mans’ ways are more important than God’s ways.   Please don’t get me wrong here.  The men have some pretty weighty r3esponsibilities they are lacking in when it comes to sound doctrine.  I am not trying to put the blame on women.  I am merely saying that of all the areas of sound doctrine we have gotten away from, these next few items are probably the ones we have travelled the farthest from.  The result is devastating in our society.  So let’s look at the final entry on sound doctrine for women, specifically for young women.

Be discreet.  Oh my.  Have you seen the fashion world these days?  Have you seen the magazines and tabloids on the shelf?  Have you seen the commercials on TV?  Discreet is a word that is lost on out society today.  And it’s not just on the things we see, it’s in the words that we here said as well.  Discreet means “careful and circumspect (unwilling to take risks) in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to avoid causing offense or to gain advantage:  intentionally unobtrusive (not conspicuous or attracting attention).  Can you see where we have fallen to on this piece of doctrine.  There is no shame in young women talking about their periods, their sex lives, their disdain for others or anything else.  There seems to be no shame in putting down and making oneself feel better at the expense of others.  There is certainly no shame in showing off every curve and large areas of flesh to look sexy.  Our society puts demands on women to look attractive far more than they do with men.  It is sad to say this, but the women fall into this trap as well.  I must be the right weight, wear the right clothes, agree with the right people and walk the right path.  But the path many are walking is not sound in God’s eyes.

To be discreet means to speak with grace and modesty.  It means to be careful what words come out of our mouth and how much of our womanhood is revealed to others through actions, appearance and words.  It means to not speak of things that are offensive in nature, but to keep those to a quiet conversation with a spouse or close friend.  It means to take heart what we say about others so that they are not offended or put off by the words that come out of our mouth.  Discreet is a lifestyle not whim.  It is a well thought out plan to be as quiet and considerate in all areas of life as possible.  The definition says not to try and gain attention, or to be inconspicuous.  I have to admit I don’t see a lot of young women who follow that pattern.  They are taught by society to try and look the best, dress the best and draw attention to themselves.  Modesty is lost on many of our young women and sexuality is exploited.  There is nothing wrong with making yourself look attractive – please don’t get me wrong here.  We all should strive to look our best on a regular basis because this too brings honor to God.  But honor is what it supposed to bring.  And being discreet is the way to accomplish that.

Be chaste.  This certainly has gone out the window, and not just for young women.  The admonishment here to young women should really be extended to us all in this day and age.  We are in terrible condition when it comes to being chaste.  Oh, maybe you’re not sure of the definition here.  Chaste means “abstaining from extramarital, or from all, sexual intercourse: not having any sexual nature: simple and restrained.”  Today, children start sexually experimenting before they hit double digits.  Young girls are having babies in their early teens.  One-night stands are rampant and hooking up” is so common it is appalling.  In 2019, a survey showed that 38.4% of high schoolers had participated in sex.  The figures are about 25% in ninth grade, rising to 60% as seniors.  The fact is that these figures are down across all demographics in the last 30 years which is a good thing.  But even thought that is true, the lack of discretion today is far worse than it was 20 years ago.  We are in a downward spiral.  Nearly 40% of all births are out of wedlock today, compared to 28% 30 years ago.  Guys and girls are just not willing to wait until marriage to have sex.  In fact, recent studies seem to show 95% if couple have sex before marriage, and that has not changed in decades.

I know – that’s a lot of numbers thrown at you, and it really does not show a pattern of degradation in our society, if we really look at it.  What is different. In my eyes, is that it is flaunted a lot more.  It is not as hush-hush as it used to be.  We are not as discreet, and chaste is a word that has pretty much left our society.  America is at the top of the list when it comes to these figures on sexual activity.  I pray we can learn to do better, especially when it comes to discretion.

Wow, I spent a lot of time on those two points, but I think it necessary.  The sexual revolution of the 70’s has brought about drastic changes in the way we view sex, and the opposite sex.  We have strayed way off course, and I for one would like to see us head back to shore in this wandering boat.  Men and women need to be more discreet, more chaste, and Godlier.  If we cannot find our way to do that, these values could be totally lost in the future.  Our culture is descending into a pit of sexual openness that could tear us apart soon. Now, LGBTQ must be accepted.  There is a growing move to lower the age of connect.  There is a movement to call pedophilia a sickness rather than a crime.  We will see these things being magnified more and more, and we will see the sexualization of our children continue until someone stands up and loudly decries “That’s far enough.”  Tio be honest, I don’t think many will listen.  Young women, if you are reading this blog, please don’t take offense.  All I ask is that you prayerfully consider these words and then do your best to be discreet and chaste ion all you do, and young men should surely dop the same.

Part 4 on the young women will wrap this up.  I never intended to go this long on these poor young ladies, but I just sit and write what God puts on my mind.  I rarely know exactly where it will lead when I start out.  I hope you are being blesses by these insights.  See you tomorrow!