How often do we yearn for heaven? Christmas brings that focal point front and center as we yearn to be with our Lord on His birthday so we can sing in the heavenly choir. Just as Paul told Titus, the reason God has left you behind is to do the ministry work because there are churches without leaders and churches without mentors. Titus submitted to Paul’s direction in this regard. The churches were young and needed wisdom and a mentor of integrity. Titus was the man of the hour.
God has left each of us behind to be a mentor to someone in need. Imagine if Titus had not stepped into the role for which God prepared him? Imagine what happens if we refuse to step into the role God has prepared for us? Stop and think about this; what might have happened on Crete if Titus said I was too busy or not knowledgeable enough or too young or too old? Titus gave no excuses; he willingly submitted to the task Paul left to him even though he was alone. How often do we have excuses that we use not to do the work that God has clearly given to us, such as I cannot teach; I cannot witness. How often do we say that we are not prepared to do the work?
Paul encouraged Titus to step up and be the man of the hour. Will you take the challenge too?
Our world is consumed with protecting investments. Seminars are replete with: give me your money and I will invest it and bring you dollars untold. As Paul closes this personal letter to Timothy he leaves him with one charge and it has nothing to do with the investment of money. Instead, he charged Timothy and us in turn, to invest and protect the gospel message. We are to “protect what has been entrusted to [us].” [2Tim 1:14]
He has entrusted us with the precious gospel message. We are to protect it because it is the life-giving message of hope. Practically we protect or guard this investment by being vigilant or intentional to stand firm in the faith. We conduct ourselves as a model of purity and righteousness. We are to be a Christ-like model in speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity being conscious about how we live and what we teach. Intentionally we are to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.” [1Tim 6:11] And we are to do it until “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” who is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”[1Tim 6:15-16]
We, who are believers, are charged with being the guardians of the TRUTH. How are we at guarding the investment Christ has left us?
Our world is spinning and people are wandering and wondering. They wonder about tomorrow and the next day and the next, but we who know the God of the universe do not need to wonder. For the believer the future does lie before us but we need not fear for God holds the future and He holds us in the palm of His hand: “Look, I have inscribed yourname on my palms.” [Isa 49:16] “For I know what I haveplanned for you,’ says the Lord.” I haveplans to prosper you, not to harm you. I haveplans to give youa future filled with hope.”[ Jer 29:11]
Zechariah and Mary faced a future written in eternity past. One would become a father to John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness. One would become the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is not the author of confusion but of order. His timing is perfect and he holds the key to our future. He is the God of impossibilities. Zacharias’ future lay before him but he needed or desired confirmation. Mary’s future lay before her and she submitted willingly. When God comes with a word regarding your future how do you respond? Are you like Zacharias needing a sign or like Mary willingly submitting to whatever God has planned because you believe “The steps of a person are ordained by the Lord” [Pro 20:24]
Are you facing a season of ups and downs? Beloved, know this, you can return to the faith of the authors of the Bible and be sustained. James reminds us that if we doubt God’s goodness or His plan, we are like the sea wave, which is blown and tossed by the wind. At times like this, we all need a refresher course in the hymns written in the past. Ruth Caye Jones faced challenging times during WWII, and as she stood in her kitchen, she penned these words: “In times like this, you need a Savior.”In times like these, you need an anchor, Be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock! This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One.”
David’s anchor was the Lord and his words from Ps 34 remind us to seek God’s face. “I sought the Lord, and when I sought him, he answered and delivered me from all my fears.” This one thing we can know for certain: The Lord hears the cries of the godly. He is near to the brokenhearted; He hears, He saves, He is near. [Ps 34:17 paraphrase] Isaiah also knew, “You keep completely safe the people who maintain their faith…for they trust in you.” [Is 26:3]
The world would have us look everywhere but to the Lord. Have you tried other ways? Sit with a hymnal and sing or read the words to calm your soul.
Many echo the sentiment that they would believe if only they could see. They want facts before their faith. Yet Jesus said to Thomas: “Have youbelievedbecauseyou have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” [John 20:29] Thus, with those thoughts in mind, the Apostle John and Dr. Luke reveal God’s inspired word “so that you may know for certain” that which was spoken by the prophets is true and fulfilled just as God said. We recall from Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it.” [Rev 1:3]
God’s words are true and will be fulfilled just as He said it regardless of our belief. But so that we may believe with certainty that He who is true and faithful and His “promises are “Yes” in him;….[ 2Co 1:20] He has chosen to give us an account of His plan that we may say with Thomas: “My Lord and my God.” [Jn 20:29]
And what is it that we are to believe? “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” [John 20:31] May we all know this truth this Christmas season; Jesus Christ is our greatest gift.
Advent Series #3 No matter what year you are, know this fact: God has chosen you from eternity past to be His instrument. He chose you in eternity past and aims to not only change your pathway but also to enroll you in the “Ph.D. –Proclaiming Heaven Degree” program.” Your courses are titled:
Selected by the Father Eph 1:4-6
Saved by the Son Eph 1:7-11
Sealed by the Spirit Eph 1:12-14
You must participate in all three courses to become His workman and tell the world about His saving grace. Just as all programs begin at the beginning, so too, God has enrolled you in His program. Your teachers are the Word/Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit so you may know Him and be known by Him. Along the way, you may encounter the works of the devil to test your faith. It is then that you can be assured that the Son walks with you and talks with you just as He has done for centuries for others. He reveals that you are His chosen instrument to carry His Name to the farthest reaches of the earth with the gospel message.
The Advent season reminds us of Christ, your tutor until you walk across that stage and receive your diploma. Don’t give up! You have just begun! Which course are you enrolled in today?
The Apostle John authored five books in the NT. John, along with his brother James fished the Sea of Galilee as part of the family business. Yet, when Christ said, “follow me,” he left it all behind. He never looked back but became the disciple whom Jesus loved and was the only one not martyred for his faith.
John began his first book with the words: “in the beginning,” and his full purpose was to proclaim the truth about Christ and His life as well as challenge us to follow Him fully. John’s message was that Jesus was the Word with God, life eternal, and He is light.
As the angels rejoiced, so should we because Jesus was and is faithful and righteous, forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. He is our advocate with the Father. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
Have you met Him? Without him, Advent has no meaning. Come to him and know of him that you may have eternal life.
Advent Series 1John 3 to 5 “The Gift of Compassion”
Compassion is the trait of sharing and caring for others in their time of need. The Apostle John lived his last years in Ephesus but his heart is seen for those less fortunate, like the prisoners he ate, slept and worked with on the Isle of Patmos. He never mentions that time other than in Revelation but we can see his heart in this letter.
First, he notes that there are those who have lost loved ones to death and he mourns with them but reminds them that if they were believers and have entered eternity they will see Christ as he is. Don Wyrtzen wrote a hymn who shares this sentiment: “But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand-And finding it God’s! Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!”
Because we are here in an earthly realm John wants us to keep the gospel message alive and we do it as he and James said. “love other fellow Christians.” Then John asks a pointed question: how can you say that the love of God resides in you if you lack compassion to those in need? This is one of those pointed “ouch” questions. John wants us to know Him as He is known and reach out to others in their time of need.
It may be Christmas but the message is the same: Christ is the gift God has given to us and we are to share that gift with others.
The Apostle John has authored five books in the NT. He was a fisherman that left all to follow Jesus. He also was the one and only disciple to not have been martyred in the first century. He was given the privilege, unlike the other 11 apostles, to live a full life and was filled with wisdom and knowledge to share what he knew and knows about the Messiah so we may know Him as well.
John begins his first book “in the beginning” and here in 1John, he continues that thought. His full purpose for both is to proclaim the truth about Christ and His life as well as challenge his beloveds to follow or be committed to Him fully. His message was clear in each book: the gospel message is that Jesus was the Word with God, He was life eternal and now John proclaims that God (theh’os) is light.
John wants us to know, much like Peter wanted his readers to know, you have not seen this Christ yet you love him and believe in him. Therefore as the angels rejoiced so should we because Jesus is faithful and righteous, forgiving our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. He is our advocate with the Father. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world.
Have you met the Messiah the way, the truth, and the life? Without him, advent has no meaning. Come to him and know of him that you may have eternal life.
Advent Series: 1Peter 3 to 5 Do you have a Christmas Heart?
Are you busy untangling Christmas lights, shopping and wrapping gifts for others? There are only a few days left to prepare! Beyond that busyness are you taking time to read and meditate on the words of scripture that your heart might be prepared to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child?
We all get busy at this time of year and find that often our hearts are more “Grinch-like” than “Christ-like.” We find ourselves busy with lights, decorations, Christmas programs at church and more.
Take time each day to read selected portions of scripture that your hearts might be aligned with the Lord’s. Peter reminds us that it is our inner person of the heart that is precious in God’s sight. Practically speaking we are to be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble and that comes with sitting with Jesus some time each day. Our hearts and prayers then are prepared. Remind yourself that the eyes of the Lord areupon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. Prepare to use this time of advent to set Christ apart as Lord in your heart so you are ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess and prepare to spend your time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.
If God could look at your heart what would He see?