Sharon Durant, lead teacher for this year’s bible study on Titus and today’s blog post contributor
The good life: Colourful cocktails? A deserted beach? Organic food? A TV series?
This year we’re going to be studying how God’s grace helps us to live the real good life – a life full of good works, done with a thankful, rejoicing, hopeful heart, confident of God’s love and walking in his light. This is the best way to live, the ultimate good life.
Why Titus? Because in the letter to Titus, Paul brings together the two essential ingredients of the good life – grace and good works.
These two might sound like opposites. Don’t we spend ages as Christians reminding ourselves that only God’s grace can save us? That all our good works won’t add anything to Jesus’ completed sacrifice on the cross? If grace is so amazing, why do we try to live a good life?
Well, as one preacher put it, “Jesus did what we can not do, so we could do what we can do.”
I’ve been so blessed by this truth. The grace of God poured on through Jesus did what I can’t do – it paid the price for me and freed me from my sin. But the purpose of this grace was so that I could do what I can – freed up to do good works, to live the good life.
We’re not set free so we can run riot like stray dogs; we’re set free to live purposeful lives that glorify God and bless others.
So, be ready, girls! Over the course of the year, it’s going to get painfully practical. In Titus, Paul applies grace thoroughly to our lives at home, church and in the world.
There’s a lot of momentum already, building on last year’s studies in God’s grace and the (now legendary) weekend away.
Plus this year there are going to be new faces and new voices speaking, sharing from God’s Word about grace for living the good life.
I’m excited. More than I usually am! Because this year the Holy Spirit is leading us forward in living the good life; we’re not being complacent and letting God’s grace go to waste.
I’m praying. I’m praying for you and your study buddy (Don’t have one? Talk to Anne Holmes ASAP so you don’t miss out on the full impact of Titus) that God would prepare your hearts and make you teachable by his grace.
I’m praying for our team of speakers this year as they study and prepare God’s Word.
Please pray with me – for each other, for those preparing the studies and talks… but most of all, please pray that more and more women in Corsham and the surrounding areas would be drawn into God’s grace, begin to live the good life, and study God’s Word together with us.
See you on 24th September!
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21 NIV
Gracious Father, how I long for the day when I will no longer be temptable, deceivable, or capable of worshiping any other god but you. I so look forward to an eternity of giving you the adoration, affection, attention, and allegiance of which you alone are worthy. No one redeems us like you. No one loves us like you do. No one cares for us like you. No one understands us like you. There is no God but you.
In Jesus, you’ve already given us a new heart and have placed your Spirit inside us. In Jesus, you’ve already turned our heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27). In Jesus, you’ve already given us a heart to know and love you (Jeremiah 24:7). In Jesus, you’ve already written your law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
Indeed, Father, you’ve already given me a perfectly forgiven heart-yet it is far from being a fully perfected heart. The battle for my heart’s worship continues, daily and relentlessly. This conflict will persist until the day Jesus returns to finish making all things new. Thus the warning to keep myself from idols is not going away.
Father, there are some idols I run from like the plague, but others I don’t even recognize as idols. It’s easier to see the idols outside of me, but help me to discern the ‘idols of the heart’ (see Ezekiel 14:4) Help me to know when I’ve made a good thing an ultimate thing. When I don’t think you are ‘enough,’ where do I take the trust and worship you deserve-where do I go for life, deliverance, and salvation?
I praise you for the assurance that I am already one of your ‘beloved children.’ You cannot love me more than you already do, and you will never love me less. Surely the gospel, this gospel, will win the day, my heart, and the entire cosmos. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
It was really very encouraging and challenging to consider the transforming grace of God last Monday night. God is growing us and it is exciting!
One of the key points of God’s transforming grace which we discussed is that we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit for His transforming work in our lives and at the same time we are responsible to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this work. How the Holy Spirit does this is a mystery… But He progressively changes and transforms us to be more like Jesus everyday as we cooperate with Him.
Think of this illustration taken from Jerry Bridges’ book, The Discipline of Grace:
“You are seated in a jet passenger plane flying thirty-five thousand feet above the earth. Suppose (I know this can’t happen in real life) the pilot were to say ‘Folks, we’re in real trouble. One of our wings is about to break off.’ Which one of the wings would you rather lose, the left or the right one? It’s a silly question, isn’t it? No plane can fly with just one wing. Multi-engined planes are designed to fly with only one engine in emergency mode. But no plane can fly with just one wing; both are absolutely necessary.
Visualize that aircraft as though you were looking down on it from above. You see the fuselage, where you are sitting, the two wings and the tail assembly. As you look at the two wings you see the words, dependence, on the left wing, and discipline on the right wing. This airplane illustrates one of the most important principles in the Christian life. Just as the airplane must have both wings to fly, so we must exercise both discipline and dependence in becoming conformed into Christ’s likeness. (Jerry Bridges calls it the pursuit of holiness.) Just as it is impossible for an airplane to fly with just one wing, so it is impossible for us to successfully pursue holiness with only dependence or discipline. Discipline refers to training ourselves, just as Paul told Timothy to train himself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:7)
The point of the airplane illustration is that we must not try to carry out our responsibilities in our own strength and willpower. We must depend on the Holy Spirit to enable us. At the same time we must not assume that we have no responsibility simply because we are dependent. God enables us to work, but He does not do the work for us!”
From our verse today, the Psalmist sees God so intimately involved in the building and the watching! The builders can’t put their tools away and go watch the telly. The watchmen can’t go home and go to sleep and expect God to watch over the city! They must carry out their responsibilities in total dependence on God that the psalmist speaks of HIS building and HIS watching.
Good food for thought! We will resume our study series, Living Out God’s Grace, in January.
Praying for you reader, as we enter the Christmas season! This blog will continue to focus on God’s amazing grace at Christmas!
Love, Kathy xo
Tomorrow night is our time to get together with a cuppa, cake and a Bible to study God’s Transforming Grace as we live out the Gospel in our daily lives.
WHEN: Monday, 27 November, 2017
WHERE: Corsham Baptist Church Hall
TIME: 7:30 PM
Be prepared to laugh, be encouraged, and challenged by the ONE “who began the good work within you, and WILL continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.”
See you there!
Today, the USA is celebrating its national holiday, Thanksgiving. This tradition is full of food, American football and Thanksgiving Day Parades that can be watched on the telly ALL. DAY. It gives Americans a long weekend off work and school. It is really lovely. There is the sentiment of being thankful for friends, family, and freedom.
I too, am thankful for friends, family, and freedom. But who are we thankful to?
In this year’s bible study, we are considering God’s grace –Christ’s redeeming love in action in our undeserving lives. So I just want to pause and reflect to give thanks as a Christian, who just happens to be an American living in Britain, for God’s saving and sustaining grace. Will you pray with me?
“Thank you God, my heavenly Father, for your AMAZING Gospel which is the Good News of Christ. Thank you for stooping down to this sinner with your love and care by giving me Jesus every day of my life; through the many channels You choose to use- my friends, family, church family, and so much more. Thank You too, for the trials and challenges you have brought to me. I know You are teaching me to live in the deep assurance and knowledge of where my hope, confidence, reliance, and strength lie. May I be an echo of the grace of God in Christ to those around me.” Amen
This thoughtful quote is from one of my favourite authors, Sinclair Ferguson. To grow in grace is to allow Jesus’ redeeming love to act in our undeserving lives to change us to be more and more like Christ. The pattern of Jesus’ life was one of sacrifice, being misunderstood, and many adversities….he was unjustly accused. And, He ultimately died for it- in God’s great plan of salvation for us. All the while Jesus lived on this earth He showed us how to serve and love God and others. He was filled with God’s purpose and joy within Him. We too, should expect adversity, trials, testing, persecution, and injustice toward us at some point in our lives. When Jesus suffered, we suffered. When He died, we died. But also, when He was raised, we will be raised too! We will be with Him in glory! The glory of WHO HE IS in all his majesty. And we will be like Him. The grace of God’s gospel is what grows us to be more and more like Jesus.
These last few months have proven to be stretching for me. In trying to serve God, the enemy has thrown relational toxic stuff at me. Yes, it hurts. It’s painful. But you know, God has it all in hand through His purposes. I am preaching the Gospel to myself everyday. He is transforming me into His likeness. I can trust Him because I am in Christ. I am able to pray for these dear ones. That’s Christ in me. And I realize that I do most of my growing in grace when circumstances or relationships are challenging. When things are wonderful, I face the temptation of self-righteousness and self-reliance. This is a dangerous place to be as a follower of Christ.
So be encouraged. If you are facing adversity in some form or another, God’s grace that saved you is the same grace that is sustaining you! More than that, He is growing you to be more and more like Jesus!
I have been praying for us this week that we will celebrate God’s amazing grace every day—- His grace that saved us when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, but more-than-amazing grace that sustains us. It keeps and preserves us and grows us!
As I have been preparing and studying for the coming study for this month, LIVING OUT GOD’S Grace: Transforming Grace, I came across a short quote from one of my heroes of the faith, Joni Eareckson Tada. She talks about what it looks like to live out God’s glory in our lives as the Holy Spirit transforms us into Christ’s image, one day at time. I found it very helpful and hope that you do as well:
“Glory, I’ve learned, is what God is all about. His essential
being. Whenever you talk about His character or attributes – like
holiness, love, compassion, justice, truth, or mercy – that’s God’s
So how is it that you and I can glorify God? It happens every
time we reveal His attributes in the course of our daily lives.
Every time you share the good news of Christ with another. Every time
you reflect patience in the middle of an upsetting or perplexing
problem. Every time you smile from the heart or offer an encouraging
word. Whenever those around you see God’s character displayed in your
attitudes and responses, you are displaying His glory.
God’s glory isn’t reserved for a temple of stone or some
heavenly vista. It can shine out clearly while you’re changing a flat on
the freeway … or counseling an angry co-worker … or lying in a
hospital bed … or balancing two crying babies in the church nursery.”
As we ponder this transforming grace this month, let us pray for one another that we will understand and allow the Holy Spirit to do that transforming work in us; to glorify God.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV
Until next week,
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV