“Christians may be disregarded as naive or weird… but we are not to be dismissed because we are bad, intolerant, disrespectful or rebellious.”
Sharon Durant, an excerpt from Titus Notes
It’s ok for people to think we are weird. What we believe is foolish to them (1 Cor 1:18)! If someone who is not a Christian thinks you are weird for your beliefs, this probably means you are doing something right!!!If someone who is not a Christian thinks you are weird for being humble, for showing forgiveness, for doing good even when your boss wasn’t looking, or speaking encouragingly about your friend when she wasn’t there… If people think you’re weird, you are probably doing something right!! We are supposed to be salt and light in the world. The world is tasteless and dark, so salt and light are going to seem a little out of place, a little uncomfortable!
It’s OK to be persecuted for being naive and weird…. But not OK to tear down the Gospel by your behaviour. To bring the Gospel into disrepute. Not OK to suggest by how you live that God supports gossip. Or bitching. Or unkindness. Or pride.
We are not to be bad, intolerant, disrespectful or rebellious. We are to be ready to do good. Eager to do good!
Because of the grace given to us, we can pour it out onto others. We can be trained by the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus. Everyday we can read the Bible find out more about the Lord Jesus and how he has called us to die to ourselves, but to find our new life in Him.
I have been so blessed by this year’s Titus Bible study! This month’s study is no different as we are reminded of God’s saving and training grace as the impetus for a changed behaviour in living the good life.
We will be getting together as women who want to know God and each other better; to love God and each other more!
WHERE: Corsham Baptist Church Hall
WHEN: Monday, 25 February, 2019
We have such a great time of sharing of refreshments, friendship, and studying God’s word! I hope you will join us!
I don’t know if you ever wondered why the Old Testament plot on the life of God’s chosen people Israel reads like “paradise- evil-destruction/captivity- redemption” almost on a continuous loop. There is creation, the flood, then Abraham. Joseph’s family ends up in Egypt, followed by slavery then release from captivity and entry into the Promised Land. You then have the Kings, the divide of the Kingdom, exile (Daniel’s time) then release from captivity. It’s no wonder the hope that Israel had was Jesus would be an earthly king releasing them from the Roman rule.
Yet the message of Jesus is Salvation by grace. This grace is the undeserved love of God. Grace brings salvation and teaches, enables us to say “No to ungodliness” (Titus 2:11). I am reminded of the three parables in Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each of these parables, the search for the one who is lost does not stop until they are found. And this is always followed by rejoicing. This is how much our Father God loves us. Just like a child, I am keen to say, “ I know better. . I can do my own thing”. I am keen to rebel. However, when I grasp how much God loves me, that He loves me enough to have died for me; that stops me in my tracks and I am beckoned to obedience because of His love. God’s grace speaks love which we all thirst for. If I trust His love, I am happy to stay home instead of wandering away from his arms.
However, in our fallen world which does not know unconditional love, the reality of the truth that “love” underpins that grace cannot be known. How can I possibly understand a love that I do not know, cannot see or have not experienced? The grace of God brought salvation through the cross and more. Jesus said:
I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who reveals all things and helps us to understand this unfathomable truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I can obey God, obey His commandments and love Him who first loved me. God’s gift of salvation has rebirthed us to be God’s offspring. His children. We can confidently say: “ in him we live and move and have our being…We are his offspring.”(Acts 17:28)
At the beginning of a new year we hear a lot about diets, healthy living & decluttering! Living in a retirement village I am surrounded by older people desperately trying to hold on to their health mainly through exercise! As we downsized over three years ago to an apartment with very little storage, we are experts in decluttering & have to assess constantly whether we actually need certain ‘things’. But do we declutter our minds & spirits?
I was reminded of some wise words which I still remember from a pastoral training session I attended in my 30s!! “There is no such thing as an embittered old man or lady! The bitterness starts in our youth & is exacerbated in our old age. So get sorted now!’
Those words motivated me to seek help from an older woman to repent of resentment in my life. That has helped me to recognise when I start thinking in this way when I’ve been hurt or I feel that I have been treated unfairly but also to recognise it in others.
Titus 2 v.3 says ” teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women …’
I learned a lot from a reverent older woman especially through the ups & downs of family life & am now encouraged that younger women feel that they can ask my advice from my experience of God’s faithfulness.
Do you need to declutter your minds & spirits? Do you feel, as I did, that other people have hurt you & let you down & so you’re harbouring resentment? I discovered that holding onto the resentment was doing far more harm to me than to the person who had hurt me.
The good news is we can lay all our hurts and resentment at the foot of the cross & receive the forgiveness that only Jesus can give. God gives us each other to teach and encourage one another to “declutter” our minds and spirits as we mature in Christ. Only the grace of The Lord Jesus Christ changes us.
We are encouraged in Titus 2:11-14:
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God & Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
So as you declutter your home this New Year, ask God to show you how He can help you declutter your mind and spirit!
CHRISTINE COLTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST
11For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
The following are some excerpts taken from Christine Coltman’s notes on our recent bible study on Titus 2:11-14. The entirety of these notes are on this blog under the heading of 2018-2019 Bible Study Questions and Notes. May we all be blessed and changed to more like Jesus!
PART ONE v11, 14 – GOD IS FOR US (He won us)
…The reason why this is so motivational to us as Christians is that God was free not to be gracious to us. He has never, and will never owe us anything. But God did freely chose us, and sent his Son to die for us so that we could freely choose him….
Paul knew that there will be times when you need to tell people what the good life looks like, but if you want people to actually live a good life it’s great that we don’t have to focus on the good we must do for God, but can meditate on the good God has done for us.
PART TWO v12 – AND HIS GRACE WILL TRAIN US
…….I’m so grateful that Jesus is not the launching event for our faith who then clocks off and tells us to try our best. He is with us every step of the way, willing us on and strengthening us.
I’m also grateful that our acceptance with God is never on the basis of our performance – it is all his grace. When we say no to things that displease him, God is rooting for us through his enabling grace.
It says in tonight’s passage that he wants us to live for our best, ‘in this present age’ – that means right now. And that in itself is a challenge as we live in a fallen world, an ‘evil world’, as Paul says, where Satan often seems to reign. But as Douglas Milne says: ‘The best news of the gospel is that what it demands it gives to those who submit to it. That is the meaning of grace.’ We are never on our own as we undertake the training of grace….
…If we consider tonight’s section of Titus as verses that are (as indeed they are!) written to us right here, right now, we should take encouragement from them that God has promised to stick with us, making us the very best that we can be, through his enabling grace. The grace that saves us is the grace that trains us. Grace does not do one without the other – those he saves, he works hard in, with the aim of making us more like Jesus day by day.
PART THREE v13-14 – SO TRACK TOWARDS CHRIST’S RETURN (He is coming back for us)
…It’s massively encouraging and inspiring, particularly on the hard days when living the good life seems neither worth it nor even possible. This also means that our justification is complete and already finished. Verses 11 and 13 are in a sense the bookends of our lives – Jesus has appeared and he will return for those who love him….
….I know that I am certainly prone to holding on very lightly to his hope, and the result of this is that I replace Jesus with uncertain earthly things. This then means that I then easily fall prey to fear and anxiety. I basically try and carve out my own little heaven on earth that is more easily within my control.
The trouble with doing that is that then, when bad things hit, we fall apart. The only thing in life that cannot be taken from us is our hope in Christ, the security of the cross. When that our focus, the peace that is in us is firm and immovable because that hope is certain and true. That is what grace trains us to do – keep our focus on Jesus.
…I hope we can all be encouraged by these words as we remember what Jesus has done for us, as we live for him, wait for him to return; all not in our own strength, but through his.
God is for us and his grace will train us, so track towards Christ’s return
CATHERINE DONOVAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST
As I approached the New Year, I caught myself reminiscing about the days when I approached each New Year with a studied analysis of what I had achieved the previous year and properly assessed resolutions. It became apparent that I had somehow lost the ability to make resolutions and plans and surrendered myself to a life of free fall. Whilst my excuse was in fact that I trusted God for every day and what it embraced, the quote by Benjamin Franklin “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” came to mind.
What underpinned the earlier years of very considered yearly resolutions was an absolute trust that God had a wonderful plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11); a lot of prayer, as I attended overnight prayer times seeking God about the year ahead; and a commitment to daily prayer and studying the Bible. The words of Henri J.M. Nouwen in his book “The Return of the Prodigal Son” expounded why perhaps I was less likely to make resolutions now for fear of failure:
“The further I run away from the place where God dwells, the less I am able to hear the voice that calls me Beloved, and the less I hear that voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulations and power games of the world”.
So this year, I am resolving to guard, purpose and timetable my “me and God time”. Whilst I recognize that I am incapable of achieving this in my own strength, I am thankful for the grace of God which Titus 2:12 says “teaches me to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”. There is great comfort in knowing that God knows whatever is going on in our present lives. He knows it all.
I don’t know what your new year resolutions are or if you have any, but I encourage you to have what Franklin Covey refers to as “winning the daily private victory” by meditating and reading God’s word.
I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of this time of the year. The endless grey dreariness gets me down, and I don’t much like going out in the cold. The bright twinkly lights of Christmas feel far in the past, despite January having only just begun! However, it struck me this week, that despite my ‘poor me’ feelings, the message of Christmas is still well and truly here if I would just focus my heart on it.
As I was reading Titus 2, verse 11 stood out to me; “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people” (NLT). My first thought was Christmas! Jesus, our salvation bringer, revealed to us by piercing the darkness of a cold night in Bethlehem. The Christmas message that warms my heart as I ponder on it through December, is STILL there to be found in gloomy January!
We are reading through the New Testament in a year with our life group this year; one chapter a day. Yesterday whilst reading Matthew 2, verse 10 spoke to my heart. “When they (the Magi) saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (ESV). The Magi, who had travelled SO far and for SO long must have indeed been thrilled by the sight of the star leading them to their final destination. And yet they didn’t even know the full story that we know now… How that baby-King would one day die a cruel death on a cross, bearing the punishment of the sins of all people in order to bring them back into a right relationship with the Father God. How that baby-King would triumph over death, making the hope of eternity with him a possibility for those who would believe and trust in him. And how that baby-King will one day come again, not as a baby but as majestic Ruler of All, bringing justice and ushering in his kingdom. But WE KNOW! As Paul said to Titus, the grace of God has been REVEALED! It has been enough to make my heart rejoice all over again. And when I am tempted to (or give in to) despair and gloom, I have made it my arrow-prayer to say “Father I choose to rejoice right now that…” and fill the blank with truths like:
You have revealed Jesus to us
Jesus has brought salvation to messed-up me
I am loved by the Creator of the universe
I am redeemed
I am being sanctified (made holy)
I will one day be with you forever…
Titus is full of truths I am able to use to fight back against the gloom! I pray that you too will be able to rejoice in the amazing truth that Titus 2:11 shows us; the grace of God has been revealed! Choose to fix your eyes on Jesus, our salvation-bringer, today and every day.