Monday, April 23, 2018

A life that accords with sound doctrine

Highlight- (Titus 2:11-14) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Explain- Paul begins Titus chapter 2 exhorting Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine.” He goes on to list the kinds of behaviors that are expected of older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and bondservants. Essentially, Paul teaches a need for self control, dignity, and good judgment consistent with each person’s role and life stage.

In verse 11, Paul tells us why we should live this way. The reason is the Gospel. Through Jesus Christ, God stepped into the world and brought us salvation. He freed us from slavery to sin and lawlessness. He’s training us and purifying us, so that we will be ready for what he calls “our blessed hope,” which is his return. God found us while we were stuck in rebellion, hating him, and turned inward on ourselves. Then simply by his grace, he freed us from our sin--rebellion, hate, and self-orientation. Then, by means of his training and purifying, when Jesus comes back again, we will be ready to meet him. We will be full of love and mercy--self-controlled, upright, and godly--ready for good works.

(1) When I read scripture, I should consider how belief in the good news should affect my behavior, how I interact with other people, how I do my job.
(2) I must remember that what I believe and how I live are connected. My belief, or my testimony, is either supported or denied by my behavior.

Respond- Thank you, Lord, for saving me. I pray for your wisdom and help to live like you’ve taught us. Help me to be a person for your own possession, zealous for good works.

Monday, 4/23/2018
Today's Reading: Leviticus 27, Psalm 34, Ecclesiastes 10, Titus 2.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Talk and Walk

Highlight- (Titus 1:15-16) "To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work."

Explain- The context is the Apostle Paul's letter to Titus, a pastor in Crete. Paul has appointed Titus to minister in Crete and to appoint other pastors to serve churches in every town. Paul's instruction for ministers is that they are to be above reproach, not open to any charges. Ministers must hold themselves to a high standard, so they may be qualified to to be a good example for their congregations. The reason for this high standard is that there are ministers who come in to the churches teaching every kind of false doctrine. Paul calls them empty talkers and deceivers, and they lead their people to become just like them. Verse 16 tells us how we can know them: they profess to know God but they deny him by their works. Their teachings may sound compelling but their lives call their profession of faith into question. Can a person claim to be in Christ and care nothing for holiness?

(1) Keep a close watch on myself and my doctrine. (1 Timothy 4:16)
(2) Pray for help. In this life I am still a sinner, and even the best of us are open to all kinds of temptation. Pray for wisdom to see error in my doctrine, and sin in my life. Pray for God's grace and strength to fight sin when I see it.
(3) Be open and accountable to other trustworthy believers who know me and who want to help me pursue the will of God, our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Respond- Our Father in Heaven, you have demonstrated your love for me in that even though I was and am a sinner, Jesus Christ died for me. You have made your will for me very clear, that I would grow in holiness. I pray that you would help me be accountable, first to you, but also to other believers. I pray that you would show me when my life does not match my profession of faith. And I pray for your grace to help me walk in your ways. Thank you Lord for your mercy.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

Sunday, 4/22/2018
Today's Reading: Leviticus 26, Psalm 33, Ecclesiastes 9, Titus 1

Friday, March 16, 2018

To whom shall we go?

John 6:66-69
66 After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
    In John 6, we observe Jesus feeding the five thousand, walking on water, and teaching about the bread of life. In the course of this chapter, Jesus says some words that are just a little too much for a lot of the people following him. But Peter’s confession teaches us how to trust Jesus so that we can grow to understand what he teaches us.

    In the first section, Jesus has gathered a crowd that numbered five thousand men. Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish, into enough to feed the crowd as much as they wanted with twelve baskets left over. Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee, but the crowd follows him to the next town. Then Jesus begins to teach them that there was more to the miracle of the bread than they realized. A loaf of bread will sustain your life until the next day. True bread, the Bread of Life, will sustain your life eternally. Jesus says “I am the Bread of Life.” What he says next sounds truly strange if you’re not already following his meaning. He says, “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” After this, many who had been following him walked away.

    Here is where we pick up in verse 66. Jesus turns to his closest disciples, the twelve, and asks, “Are you going to leave too?” Peter speaks up, “Lord, how could we leave? Where else would we go? You have the words of life.” Peter’s statement should not be taken to mean that Peter and the twelve immediately and perfectly understood Jesus’ teaching. Peter’s confession does mean that he trusts Jesus. Peter knew he couldn’t find the words of eternal life elsewhere. Notice verse 69: “we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter doesn’t have complete knowledge about Jesus’ plan. He hasn’t worked out all the details, but Peter trusts Jesus.

    Faith, or belief as Peter puts it in John 6:69, is not simply accepting an idea without evidence; faith is not irrational. Based on this passage, I would offer the definition that faith is giving confidence where confidence is due, trust where trust is due. Peter originally followed Jesus on the testimony of his brother Andrew that Jesus was the messiah (John 1:41). Over the course of time Peter heard his teaching, saw his miracles, and began to see, based on observation and evidence, that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

    If Jesus is who he claims to be, then to leave because of a difficult teaching is irrational. In the Christian life, we will all come face to face with teachings in the Bible that we find difficult to understand or put into practice. Peter writes this very thing about some parts of the New Testament, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). But if we continue to observe and come to know and trust Jesus Christ, then these difficult teachings become clearer in their context. When we know Jesus and encounter difficulty, we can confidently answer with Peter, “You have the words of eternal life.”

Friday, 3/16/2018
Today’s Reading: Exodus 27, John 6, Proverbs 3, Galatians 2

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