|Volume 18 Number 6 June 2016||
4, 8, 19, 27, 34, 10. Do those numbers mean anything to you? What about $1.6 billion? Perhaps that one will ring a bell. Those are the winning numbers and the dollar amount for the “Powerball” lottery that have been filling up every news channel this past week. We probably have friends who drove to Georgia in hopes of winning that prize. If only the people in our community and around the country would flock in that manner and with that enthusiasm to a place where there are guaranteed winnings – the kingdom of God!
Speaking of earthly treasures, Solomon said:
I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11).
Solomon had way more riches than what the lottery could offer, and yet, he concluded that it was all vanity. Solomon said this after considering ‘everything under the sun.’ “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
As Christians, we should understand that we have something better than earthly wealth for which to fight! We should be working every day to obtain the grand prize of heaven. “…having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (2 Corinthians 5:8-9).
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
We often say as well, “home is where the heart is.” During this past week, a lot of people’s hearts and homes were not in heaven, but on the earth. Enough about them; where is your home? Are you like Paul whose citizenship was in heaven (Philippians 3:20)? Or, are you more like Demas who had his heart and home in earthy things (2 Timothy 4:10)? “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15,).
Why do I choose to serve God and not my own lusts? Because I am in possession of a deed for a mansion in heaven, and when I put off this body, I will “lay aside [my] battle-scarred armor, and hang [my] sword upon the jasper walls of that eternal city. Then, with palms of victory and [a] crown of glory I will sweep through the gates into the grandeur of our Father’s home, across which no shadows have ever come, wherein [I] can see beautiful sentences of life, punctuated by the stars of eternal glory, enabling [me] to read [my] title clear to [my] mansion over there” (Hardeman-Bogard Debate, 1938).
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The place that Jesus prepared for us is ready for all to enter. There is no lottery, no gambling and no chance. There is only a guarantee.
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24). If you are not striving as Jesus said you should, then it may be that you will stand before God and hear those unfortunate words, “depart from me.” Where is your heart, and where is your home? Do you strive to enter into a physical mansion or a heavenly one? In order to have your citizenship in heaven, you must obey God’s will. In doing so, you will make your calling and election sure. That is something that the world can never and will never offer you!
What Do You Expect From Me?
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
The statement above (or one similar to it) has perhaps been communicated by most everyone at one time or another. An expectation was placed upon us that may have been too high to attain, and so we fell short. Then, the giver of the task was upset or disappointed, and so we respond with, “What do you expect from me?” To “expect” means to, “think or believe fully that something will come to be or happen,” “to look forward with reason or confidence.” Some synonyms are “to anticipate, require or assume.” We know that not everything we expect comes to be or happens. Not everything we expect becomes a reality. Yet, this does not mean that there should never be expectations!
The apostle Paul wrote to Titus to encourage him, to direct him and also to tell him what was expected of him. As a preacher or proclaimer of God’s Word (or as a Christian), there are expectations. Let’s consider Paul’s instruction to Titus in the second chapter of his short letter. Paul began his letter with a common greeting, introducing himself as the writer and also showing the love and personal relationship he had with Titus, “my own son in the common faith” (1:4). Paul then explained the purpose of Titus being left in Crete. It was not for a vacation or to have some alone time, it was to “set in order things that were lacking” among them, to “ordain [designate, appoint] elders in every city [church or congregation]”(v5). Paul then gave some of the qualities or qualifications of those men that should serve as elders of the Lord’s church; other qualifications are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-3. In verses 9-16, Paul touched upon some reasons why these qualities are needful. “That he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers…Whose mouths must be stopped…They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”
We, then, come to Paul’s instructions to Titus on what to preach or teach, to whom to preach and teach, what to display to others and the reason for such. Have your Bible open and read the verses given in Titus 2 as we consider each.
What and to Whom to Preach (v. 1-6, 9-10)
Sound doctrine or teaching is to be uncorrupt teaching. The same Greek word for “sound” is translated also as “whole, wholesome or healthy.” Jesus used the word in Luke 5:31. “They that are whole [the idea of healthy] need not a physician; but they that are sick.” For one to be sound, whole or healthy spiritually, there’s a need to preach or teach people where they are. People are in different stages of life. There may be situations or conditions that may make it needful for our approach to be more sensitive or for our delivery to be less or more stern. Our deliverance of the Gospel is not a “one size fits all.” Though the Gospel is certainly for all, not all receive it in the same way or can be taught in the same manner. Those in different seasons of their lives do not respond to the same teaching on any subject the same way. This may be why Paul gave Titus specific instructions for different groups of people.
Look at the reason for this, “that the word of the Lord be not blasphemed” (defamed, spoken of impiously).
What to Display to Others (v. 7-8)
Titus was told to be a blueprint or pattern for others to see and follow. Is what you preach or teach backed up by how you live? Not in many or most things, but in everything you do! When you teach or preach, make sure it’s sound or correct, honest, genuine and sincere. Make sure that it is beyond condemnation. When held up to God’s Word, one’s teaching must agree with the Word of God! Thereby, if or when someone might condemn it, he or she would be shamed, without a proper or godly defense against you! Christians are to be an example of Christ, shining in the world as a pattern of Christ in their teaching by word or deed (Colossians 3:17) to bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16).
Reason for All These Things (v. 11-14)
The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared through Christ. His teachings and example lead His followers to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this life and to watch for His sure return. Paul gave a reminder to Titus to remind others that having been redeemed, forgiven and purified by Christ’s blood, we are to be His special people, zealous for good works (1 Peter 2:9). Paul ended with, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (v. 15). The idea here is not to let anyone minimize, downgrade or depreciate what you say! There is certainly more to be gained from these passages! The Bible has all the answers if we were to ask God, “What do you expect from me?”