Category Archives: Timothy and Titus

Concluding with Grace

Titus 3:12-15

 

12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.

13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

14 And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

By my count, Paul uses the word grace around 90 times in his letters to the various churches in the pastoral letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  His emphasis on grace is apparent matter where you look.  He opens every letter with grace be given to the reader, and closes every letter the same way.  I would not be surprised if he said “Grace be to you” as his official greeting when he met people.  As I think about that, perhaps that would be a good way for all of us to greet people or say good-bye.  I understand that in Hawaii it is common to say “Aloha” as a greeting or as departing words.  Why not do the same thing with grace!

Today, we say “Hi’ or “Hello” or “How are you today” as empty words that we really don’t expect a truly honest response from.  Imagine if someone actually told you exactly how they are that day.  Would you take time to listen?  Would we even want them to tell us what was really going on in their lives?  If they did share with us, would we take time to listen?  Would we take time, right there in the convenience store, to pray with them or would we just leave them and say those empty words “I will pray for you,” or do we actually take the time to pray for them.  Then there is the common “Have a good day” wrapped up all in one word almost, as it is said so fast like a mantra, said with little meaning or caring.  I have said that to a young girl at the cash register that I knew.  Her response was I will try, and I responded back, “Don’t try, just do it!  Have a good day.  It’s your choice.”  Now she says “I will” when I say that.  Her perspective has changed.  There is power in our words.

Imagine if we just started saying “Grace be with you” as a greeting and a conclusion to our conversation, instead of just a dull “Hello, how are you?”  I think it would turn a few heads, don’t you?  People would think us a little odd, wouldn’t they?  After all, we don’t hear grace being talked about much in the world around us.  In the church, yes, it is talked about a lot.  But out in the street, the supermarket, the gas station, the dentist’s office, the bank, there is little talk of grace.  It seems there is more doom and gloom going around than grace.

I think the world needs to hear about grace more from the children of God.  I’m guilty, I admit it.  I don’t share His grace enough with those around me.  I talk about Covid, about work, about my day, but rarely about grace.  If I lead the conversation with grace and close with grace, people might start asking me what this grace thing is all about.  Why have I started saying that?  What is it about grace that I want to talk about?  Oh, what a door would be open then!  A door that all need to open if they want to find their home in heaven.  Then I can freely tell them about the grace of Jesus Christ.  How he came to earth to be a sacrifice for their sins.  Heaven is not earned.  It cannot be bought.  It has to be entered into through the blood of the Lamb.  By His grace alone we are saved.  We did not earn it. We certainly do not deserve it, no matter what good deeds we have done.   His grace is our admittance to eternal life in heaven.  Without His grace, we are headed for the Lake of Fire eternally.

His grace allows the fruit of the Spirit to grow within us as we mature in Christ.  Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  Who of us do not want more of these things alive in our lives?   I know I can always use more of each of these, and there are some of these I really struggle with, like temperance and longsuffering (patience).  I need to be more fruitful and the only way I get there is by His grace.  His grace gives me a door to all of the ministry gifts.  His grace allows me to sing, to worship to preach, to teach, to evangelize, to encourage and edify.  If His grave is not in these things, they are non-productive.  When I walk in grace and minister grace, His Holy Spirit will touch the hearts and lives of those I come in contact with.  After all, we are told to speak with words that minister grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29).  That verse has become one of my favorites because it challenges me to watch my words much more careful.  Minister grave wherever you go!

I’m going to try it.  Pray God gives me the boldness to carry it out.  That I might say “Grace be with you” everywhere I go and to everyone I meet.  Let’s spread a little grace around us!  It’s one of the best things we can share!

Some Things to Avoid

 

Titus 3:9-11 

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

I am hearing a lot of foolish questions lately.  Foolish to the point of what does that have to do with how we should live our lives today.  Isn’t today the important thing?  We are never promised tomorrow. Are we?  So why is there wo much emphasis these days about what is going to happen in the future?  Why is it so important to study The Revelation of John?  Why must we know every detail, every little thing that will happen in heaven?  Why do I need to know about the crowns, and the vials, and the trumpets sounding?  I see people spending so much time on this and so little time on what they should be doing right now for the Kingdom of God.  I know I mentioned this a few posts ago, but I truly believe the ones who are all caught up in future events have missed the point entirely.

Jesus taught a gospel of today.  Read the Sermon on the Mount if you want a snapshot of what you should be like here on this earth.  The beatitudes at the beginning is a great place to start and Jesus started here for a reason.  Be poor in spirit, be meek, be merciful, be a peacemaker, hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are things we must do now – we must practice now.  Not tomorrow or the next day, but now.  These are things that can grow in each one of us and that will minister to all those around us.  Jesus starts out with these for a reason.  If we do now have these down, the rest of the Sermon goes to waste.  We will never be able to accomplish the rest.  Forgiving one another, going to our brother when we have a problem between us, going the second mile, lending more than was asked, not judging.  These things are so needed today, If we would set our minds on keeping these truths today tomorrow will take care of itself.

One other thing Jesus said, in Matthew 6:33 and 34, was that we should first seek the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is here on this earth now.  It is living with in each one of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  It is full of the fruits of the spirit and operates in the gifts of the spirit.  We need to seek that Spirit inside of us that would move us to good works and good words.  The Kingdom of Heaven is what is to come.  People are seeking that instead of the Kingdom of God.  I did a study about these two kingdoms years ago and it was astonishing to see how they are spoken of by Jesus.  If you have never studied that out, I recommend you do.  We are supposed to be seeking the Kingdom of God first, not the Kingdom of Heaven.  We have it backwards.  If we would just start seeking the Kingdom of God instead of the Kingdom of Heaven, the beatitudes would come alive in us and we could change the world.  We should avoid foolish questions about what is to come and concentrate on what is true today.

Avoiding genealogies is a different story, and I am not sure exactly what Paul meant by this.  If I had to guess, I would say this has more to do with whether you are Jew or Gentile.  Today, in our society, it would translate to who is black, Hispanic, oriental, or white.  It makes no difference – the same gospel applies to all of us.  We all need to be saved.  Our heritage has nothing to do with who we can be in Christ.  He has a plan and design for each life, and we need to be about our Father business when we come across any person of any genealogy or racial background.

Avoiding contention and striving about the law are Paul’s next admonishment to Titus.  We have to keep in mind that Titus was left in Crete to help a newly formed church mature. The main thing Paul wanted Titus to do was preach the Gospel – get people saved.  So many people want to bring the law into play when we ask them about their religious beliefs.  This doctrine or that doctrine are said to be the right ones.  The laws we have put in place, or the laws of the Bible, are used to separate us into fragments.  The church is weaker because of this.  We need to keep the main thing the main thing.  Get people saved and help them to follow Jesus.  Help them to see that her has a plan for their lives, even in the midst of their deepest tragedies.  God will bring it around for good. People need to know this, not be caught up in a bunch of doctrinal beliefs or laws that would hinder their growth. Jesus didn’t say we should just go out and get people saved.  He said we should make disciples.  This means that not only do we lead them to Christ, but we help them become disciplined in the ways of Christ.

I have an issue with verses 10 and 11 though.  I don’t think we should ever give up on anyone.  Paul says that if a man does not heed corrections after the second time, we should reject him.  I do see the point of telling someone to leave the church if they are doing things that would bring shame to the church or to Jesus.  That has happened to me and I totally agree with that pastor’s decision. But that Pastor continued to pray for me as I went to be disciplined, and now we are friends again and I am welcome in his church.  I don’t believe we should ever give up on anyone.  You never know what simple word might get into their spirit and change their lives. May we all run with patience the race that is set before us and allow God to work out His plan in us, so that we might be more effective in our ministry to others.

Maintain Good Works

Titus 3:8

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

We use to sing a song that said “We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes.” The sentiment of the song was that we needed to be busy about the Father’s business right up until the time the trumpet sounded His return.  Right up until we were caught up to meet Him in the air.  It seems to me that today people want to sit back and wait until He comes.  They want to study and study and study the word, but not do the word.  They sit with their commentaries and concordances and multiple translations to pick out key verses linking Revelation, Daniel and Ezekiel all to try and figure out exactly what is going to happen and when.  They listen to teaching by David Jeremiah and get the prophecy bible of John Hagee so they can claim to have a handle on the prophetic end of the age.  They are all wrapped up in what is to come and forget about the day at hand.  All the while, what Jesus wants is for us to work until he comes.

Why is it so important to know what Heaven will be like?  Why must we know when He is going to come?  Shouldn’t our every day be lived as if it were our last?  Shouldn’t our lives reflect His love every moment of every day?  Yes, Paul told us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, but James said the faith without works is dead.  We can study and learn and quote scripture (with the address of course) all we want.  But if we are not going about doing the Father’s business, we are not doing what we are supposed to.  We are not living the word.  James told us to be doers of the word, and not hearers only.  Here, Paul tells us that we must affirm constantly that we are careful to maintain good works.  Constantly.  In the NIV, this verse says to affirm confidently.  A rarely used word, it means to be emphatic until the end, to se it all the way through.  That tells me that I must be sure I am doing good works all the way through my life.

I am not writing to condemn, but to admonish.  Isn’t it time the church start to do what the church is supposed to do?  The church was not a social experiment.  It was not designed to feed the full, but the hungry.  It was not designed to give solace to the well, but to heal the sick and broken.  It was not designed to have million-dollar budgets to operate, but to distribute the money of the rich to help the poor.  I’m not saying that we should be a socialistic nation as some are saying this would be a scriptural society. What I do believe is that the church should be socialist in a way.  The New Testament church described in the first few chapters of Acts acted as a group of people who took care of each other’s needs.  They did not give because they were promised it would be returned pressed down, shaken together and running over.  They gave to help each other by having a common pool through which to bless the members.  The apostles were charged with distributing to the necessity of the saints (Romans 12:13).  This same verse also says they were given to hospitality.  They actually had group meals and fed each other regardless of social status.

In today’s society this would be quite a church.  A mechanic who works on people’s cars in the church and does not charge.  A plumber who will help someone without fee in an emergency.  A snow remover taking care of a church member who does not have the ability or the means to get his snow removed.  Doing whatever we can to help each other.  Giving all we can to help each other and not holding back.  Look at what happened to Ananias and Saphira!  They both died because they did not give what they said they were giving.  They only gave part of what they had the ability to give.  I am guilty of that quite often.  What else can I do for God’s kingdom?  I’m not talking here about witnessing and sharing the Gospel, although that is a piece of our works. Some people are more gifted with that ability than others, and it is important that we share the word whenever we are given opportunity.  I am talking about our ministry to the needs of others.  The needs they have today, not what might come tomorrow.  Today is what counts to these people.  Right now they need a touch from God, and I believe God wants that touch to come from us.  We are His workmanship, created for good works (Ephesians 2:10).  Some translations use the word masterpiece instead of workmanship.  I love being thought of as a masterpiece, but a masterpiece that does not do what is intended to do is of no use.  It will wit collecting dust.

Jesus said that He had to be do His Fathers business (Luke 2:49).  We must do the same.  By now you are probably saying “Okay Pete.  We get the message.  Please tell us what we are supposed to do!”  I’ll be happy to.  Don’t think for a minute that I have all this down pat.  I have a long ay to go to be able to ay I am doing the Father’s business all the time.  But I always try to do my best when a situation presents itself.  And I am not going to get into a long diatribe of what each thing is, nor will I supply a comprehensive list.  But I will give you some food for thought which will lead to action, I hope.  I am just going to give a few scriptures that tell us what we should be doing.

First, Let’s look at Luke 4:18-19 (or Isaiah 61:1-2).  18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.  Jesus said this was His mission.  Is this not ours as well?  Jesus places the Holy Spirit within us when we are born again, soi the Spirit is upon us.  We don’t do these things, the Spirit within us does.  But we should be praying these things for others all the time, and proclaiming the year of the Lord.

Next, I take you to Matthew 6:14-15.  14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  We are not to bear grudges or keep anger inside us.  We are to forgive and put the matter behind us.  This is a hard work but it is a very good work.  Do you have someone you need to forgive?  I suggest you do it quickly and constantly!

Now, Matthew 7:12   12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  Jesus said it was all summed up in this verse.  Treat others like you would want to be treated.  Very simple, yet so profound.  If only we would all live like this every day.

I could actually just take the whole Sermon on the Mount.  It is full of ways we can do good work.  But I will move on to a few other places.

Ephesians 4:29 says 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  Do I speak grace at every occasion, or do I fall into the trap of being angry, or complaining, or grumbling?  Another verse that coincides is Philippians 2:16 “Doall things without grumbling or complaining.” Oh my!  How many of us follow this sage piece of advice?

Then there is Romans 12:6-21.  I am not about to put this whole section of scripture into this blog, but I will give you a snapshot of the good work that can come out of following these words.  Prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, showing mercy, show love that is pure, hate evil, not slothful in business, bless them which bless you, rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with those that weep, live in peace with all, don’t take vengeance, treat everyone equally, don’t be conceited, don’t return evil for evil but overcome evil with good,

That’s a mouthful! All of these things out to be a part of our lives.  They ought to reflect who we are as children of God.  I could use a good dose of many of these things in my life how about you?  I think a majority of the time we think of good works as doing something tangible and we stop at that.  But how many of the things on this list are intangible?  It’s the attitude of the heart that is the greatest work of all.  We can give, attend, lead, socialize and do deeds all we want, but if we don’t get these things down right, we miss the mark.  Which brings us to the greatest work we can do – Love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8a.  “13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth

Do this, and you’ve done good work!

Justified by Grace

 

Titus 3:5-7 

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

To get where we are going today, we have to revisit the last verse we discussed yesterday.  This key verse is another example of Paul’s true belief that there is nothing we can do that saves us, but only by His mercy can we come to a place of true fellowship with God.  There are a lot of pretenders out there.  There are still hundreds, and probably thousands, of preachers who subvert the gospel by tying works to salvation.  They say you must tithe to be saved, you must be baptized to be saved, you must do good works to be saved, etc., etc., etc.  While all of these things are good and all should be the result of our walk with God, none of them bring us salvation.  None of them bring that regeneration into our lives that make us a new creation.  It is only by His blood, shed on the cross, combined with our faith, which was given to us by grace (Eph 2:8-9), that we are saved.  We must ask for it.  That is our only duty.  We must ask forgiveness, turn from our sin, and allow His Holy Spirit to take control.  This is not an act of our flesh, but of our inner man crying out for His love, which was so gloriously displayed on that cross.  We must choose eternal life or face eternal death. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Once we have been saved, works of righteousness should follow.  Perhaps not right away but soon thereafter.  Paul says we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-13).  I have always maintained that after the inner salvation that comes from accepting His sacrifice on the cross as a substitute for my sin, this inner salvation must work it’s way out to my flesh.  I may not stop drinking, or smoking, or being gay, or cursing, or lusting right away.  But over time the good works of righteousness will become stronger in the than these works of the flesh.  Good works should be the result of my salivation, and this salvation slowly envelopes my flesh as I begin to learn of His word and His ways, as His light is shed on my path.  And all of us who are mature in the faith must be careful not to push these young ones too quickly.  We can offend them easily, and Jesus told us that if we offend these little ones, it would be better if we had a millstone tied around our necks and we were thrown into the sea (Matthew 18:6).  Our job is to encourage them toward good works, but not judge them as they slowly grow.  In time, as they take more delight in the Lord, the desires of their heart will change (Psalm 37:4).

Each one of us knows the struggle of overcoming this flesh.  Our flesh wants to keep us in our sin and former state.  It does not want to let go of control over our lives. The desires of our heart will always go toward the flesh if we are not engaging with God on a regular basis through reading reh word, worship and prayer.  In other words, we must put Him first.  He must have a central place in our daily routine or we will be much more likely to follow after the flesh.  I know this all too well.  I want to do all that I can to avoid this trap of the flesh in the future.  I must pray, I must worship and I must be in his word to stay out of my fleshly ways.  I cannot defeat the enemy of my life if I have not allowed Jesus to defeat the enemy within.  I also need encouragement from my fellow believers.  This comes through fellowship, especially in a local church.  Hebrews 10:26 tells us we should no forsake assembling together, The reason we should not forsake this is that we need other to keep us on the right path.  There is a lot of deception in the world and in the church today and this fellowship we have will keep us on the straight and narrow way.  I pray that each of you are involved in a local body of believers.

The cross justifies us.  That word justifies means just as if I had never sinned.  Because of His sacrifice, we can stand before God and not face a guilty sentence, He is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5).  He is the one who relates to God that we are free from sin because we have believed in Him.  There is no other way that we can be justified but by His grace.  A great acronym for grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  The richness of Hs salvation of His justification, of His purification, of His regeneration only comes because he shows us grace.  He gives these things to us freely because we love His Son, His only Son.  And when we have made this decision to love the Son, we become heirs to the promises that are contained in the Bible   I am not even going to try and tell you all these promises, but there are literally thousands of them just waiting for the one who will say yes to Jesus.  These promises cover every area of our life, from mental to physical to financial to spiritual.  He has a promise just waiting for you to some and ask. They are all in His word, waiting for you to find them.  Have you found the promise you need today?  Have you gone to God and asked Him to keep His promise, and asked with all faith and belief that He will keep that promise?  We are His children. We are heirs to these precious words that were written thousands of years ago.   May each one of us live daily in this grace that is so freely given to us.

According to His Mercy

Titus 3:1-5

3 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

I see here an area where I am seeing Christians falter on a regular basis, including myself.  We put down and demean the president and vice president, the congress and Senate with jokes and harsh words instead of paying for them on a regular basis.  We think we know better, that we can do a better job, that they are all wrong and corrupt.  We pass on jokes and cartoons and meme’s that make fun of our government and its leaders, those leaders that God has put in place, and we think nothing of it.  Maybe you don’t do this, but I find myself doing this way too often.

This verse brings to mind 2 Chronicles 7:14 to me.  We are all familiar with this verse but so few times do we follow it.  We want God to heal our land but we do not do what God has asked in order for this to happen.  The first thing we must do, before we pray, before we seek His face, before return from our wicked ways, is to humble ourselves.  I love to bake, and I know that it important when baking to add ingredients in the order they appear in the recipe.  There is a reason we mix things the right way – it makes the product come out correctly.  If I leave out an ingredient, the recipe will fail.  Imagine leaving out the sugar in sugar cookies, or the oatmeal in oatmeal raisin cookies, or the eggs in a cake.  The outcome will not be as I desire.  This verse needs to be handled the same way.  Humbling ourselves has to come first, yet we walk in our pride thinking Christians who don’t witness, or who are drunkards, or who curse on a regular basis, or who are only Sunday morning Christians are just pretty, dressed up sinners.  But we don’t realize that in putting down our government authorities and by disobeying them., we are sinning just the same as the worst sinner.

If we want our country to return to God, humility is the only thing that will lead the way.  Humbling ourselves means to fall under the obedience of scripture, not our own thoughts and our own wisdom.  Humbling ourselves means to pray for our governmental leaders even though we don’t agree with their ways.  Humbling ourselves means to not pass on those silly cartoons that circulate through email, or to not speak evil of others around us.  Humbling ourselves means to be gentle to mall, and to allow meekness to lead the way. My definition of meekness is that we always know where the power lies – it lies in God.  Not in my words or strength or ability, but in God.  I conduct myself with all the gentleness, goodness and humility I can muster and allow God to do His thing.  That is meekness. 

We should follow this because we have not always been perfect.  I certainly have not been.  I have broken every single commandment at one time or another.  I was so far away from God, and continue to drift from His side on a regular basis.  I am often ashamed at where my own pride and disobedience takes me, so I turn from my wicked ways and come back to Him.  Then I falter again. 1 John tells us that if we say we don’t sin, we are living a lie.  God has to be merciful to me on a regular basis or I will end up in the lake of fire with the devil himself.  I have been in places that would disgust you, yet God has mercy on me.   I have done things that even disgust me!  In the last month I have done these things.  I have walked down roads that certainly weren’t meant for me.  My pride takes me where I should not go, and yet God still loves me.  He waits outside the house, looking down the road, waiting for me to return to Him with humility.  When I do, His mercy drowns out my sin and restores me to my place in His Kingdom. It’s not my works that get me there, but according to His mercy.  If He has that much mercy on me, don’t you think He expects me to have that same mercy on others? I thank God for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  I thank God for my Senators and my congressmen and women.  I thank God for my governor and state officials, my county leaders and my city administration.  I ask God to bless them and fill them with His Holy Spirit so that they might use godly wisdom to lead this nation, my state, and my community.  I pray that God’s mercy will become evident to them and they will repent of any evil way and bring our country back to His side.  I know that it is not by might, and not by power, but by His Spirit that this country will return to God.  I can only affect the outcome of this country through humility and grace.  May I always display those two things in my discussion of our country and its direction.  God has the power to change the course of a nation, I do not.  God is able to do this.  Do you believe that?  I do.  May my prayers, actions and speech always reflect my trust in God, not in my distrust of man.  May I always act according to His mercy, not my own pride. And may we all come to our knees in humility knowing that we are not perfect, but a perfect God still hears our prayers and responds.  What a wonderful God He is!