Friday, December 30, 2011

Will You do Me a Favor?

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God's people.
Verses 4-7 NLT

Verse 6 in NAS says: and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake.


Shepherd's Notes has this to say:
This letter appears to address four readers: Philemon, Apphia (probably his wife), Archippus, and "the church that meets in your home." The letter makes clear, however, that Paul directed his comments to Philemon alone. Most likely Paul included the others because they were part of Philemon's family and courtesy demanded it.

Who was Philemon?
He had been saved under Paul's ministry, probably in Ephesus (verse 19), several years earlier.He was wealthy enough to have a large house in Colosse and owned at least one slave, Onesimus. (MacArthur)
The New Testament churches met in homes (Rom. 16:5), as did this church in Colosse, which met in Philemon's home. Slavery was common in the Roman empire days.

Let me add that Onesimus stole money from Philemon and ran away, ending up in Rome. (Onesimus wasn't a Christian at that time.) Onesimus met Paul while in Rome and was converted to Christ. Paul grew to love Onesimus and wanted to keep him there with Paul, but to do the right thing, Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon.

What were some good things (descriptions) Paul wrote about his friend Philemon?
  • He was a dearly beloved co-worker of Paul's. (verse 1)
  • He shared his faith in the Lord Jesus because Paul heard about it. (verse 4)
  • He showed love for all of God's people. (verse 4)
  • He was a model believer, before the Lord, and with regard to other believers. (Falwell)
  • He had a friend (Paul) who prayed for him. He prayed that generosity would come from Philemon's faith as he understood and experienced all the good things we have in Christ.    (verse 6)
  • His love gave Paul much joy and comfort. (verse 7)
  • His kindness often refreshed the hearts of God's people. (verse 7) 
Can others describe me as having the same qualities?


How many times have I heard the question, "Will you do me a favor?" Better yet, how many times have I asked it of a friend or family member? I ask it with the good intentions of returning a favor to that person, but do I? Paul asked a favor of his friend Philemon.

Verse 20 in the New Living Translation says: Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord's sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

What favor did Paul want Philemon to do for him? I think the answer is found in verse 18: If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. (NLT)

In other words, Paul was asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus of his wrongs done Philemon (stealing money and running away). When I flipped the page of my daily devotional today, I read this appropriate verse.
Colossians 3:13 says: Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.

"If we don't release our grudges to [God] and pray sincerely for his love and forgiveness to flow through us, it will never happen," stated Marilyn Meberg.

Now that verse becomes personal when you put  I own name in front. Linda, forgive whatever grievances you may have against___________. Will you do the same?
I think I have some homework to do.


Let go of those hurt feelings and forgive.

Share my faith.

Show love for all God's people.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Heart to Heart

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlaborer.  verse 1


Sometimes it is needful to sit down and have an indepth discussion with my husband. It's not just a time of expressing what I think or how I feel about something in particular. I also listen to his point of view concerning the topic. Now that's what I call having a heart-to-heart discussion. It's not surface words nor what I think he wants to hear, but an open expression from my heart to his heart. (We don't do it often enough.) As I read through the letter,  I got the feeling that Paul was having a heart-to-heart discussion with Philemon about the subject of Onesimus. Shall we look a little closer?

Instead of identifying himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, as Paul usually does, he identifies himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
The definition of prisoner, stated in Thayer's Lexicon, means "bound, in bonds, a captive; it reads 'whom Christ, in his truth which I have preached, has put in bonds.' "

Timothy was visiting Paul in Rome, though not detained.
All true believers in Christ are brothers. (Falwell)

As you will recall, Paul lead Timothy, Philemon, and Onesimus to salvation in Christ. While Paul was on his first missionary journey in Lystra, he lead Timothy to faith in Jesus.( See 1 Timothy 1:2, 18;
1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Tim. 1:2.) Philemon's conversion took place 5 or 6 years prior through Paul's ministry in Ephesus. Onesimus, a runaway slave of Philemon's, fled Rome, where it just so happened that Paul was. By God's providence, the two met and Onesimus was converted to Christianity.(Paul spent two years ounder house arrest there.)

I see why Paul used the adjectives brother and dearly beloved to describe these guys. Can't you? These were men of faith, dear to Paul's heart. They had a bonding.
We will talk more about Philemon and Onesimus in our next couple of lessons.
Keep in mind that this letter was also to be read to the church there at Colossae.

What do we find Paul saying in this letter?
  • He sends his common greetings of grace and peace to his readers.
  • He prays for and praises Philemon. (verses 4, 7)
  • He pleas to Philemon to show love to Onesimus. Paul had deep affection and admiration for Onesimus. Actually, Paul would have liked to have kept Onesimus with him in Rome.
  • He plans to visit Philemon once Paul's case in Rome is decided. (verse 22)
  • He wants Philemon to remember him in prayer. (verse 22)
  • He sends greetings to nine specific people, which Paul names. (verses 2, 23,24)
  • He ends this letter by sending the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ toward Philemon and his household. (verse 25)


What does Paul say to me in my present time?
  • Show Christian love.
  • Forgive and don't hold grudges.
  • Be grateful for the best in others. (verse 4) 
  • Seek the welfare of others. (verse 10
  • Deal honestly with others. (verse 12)
  • Bear the burdens of others. (verse 18)
  • Believe the best of others. (verse 21)
[Rseource: MacArthur Bible Commentary]


Have a heart to heart talk with the Lord.

Allow Him to change me into what He wants me to be like.

If needed, have a heart to heart talk with others if our relationship is smudged.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Introduction to Philemon

 "Introduction to Philemon"    Dec. 28, 2011
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlaborer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers.  Verses 1-3


The Letter:
Paul's handwritten letter to Philemon is the shortest of his 13 canonical books. It only has 25 verses, as you will notice. In our Bible, it is placed last in the collection of Pauline Epistles. It was written and sent at the same time as the letter to the Colossians, around A.D. 62, while Paul was under guard in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar. (See Acts 25:12; 28:16,30) Therefore, the book of Philemon is one of the Prison Epistles, along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.

This letter was carried from Paul to Philemon by way of Tychicus when he returned to Colosse with the epistle of Colossian
(Col. 4:7-9).

This beautifu personal letter urged Philemon to forgive Onesimus, 
his runaway slave, and welcome him back to serve Christ as a believing brother.

 The City:
Colosse was a city in Phrygia, which was in the Roman province of Asia, modern Turkey. It was located about 100 miles east of Ephesus.
This was a thriving city in the fifth century when Persian king Xerxes marched through its region. Colosse was situated at the junction of the main north-south route and the east-west route. Important products were black wool and dyes, as well as chalk deposits. However, by Paul's day, the main road was rerouted through Laodicea, bypassing Colosse, thus leading to its decline. 
The main population of Colosse was Gentile, with a large Jewish settlement dating back to 223-187 B.C. So one could expect a combination of Jewish legalism and pagan mysticism there.

The Church
When did the church at Colosse begin? I was during Paul's three-year ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19). After Epaphras was saved during a visit to Ephesus, he most likely started this church in Colosse when he returned home. So Paul wasn't its founder.
The Colossians encountered the threat of heresy in the form of Gnosticism, a belief that God is good, but matter is evil, that Jesus was one of a series of emanations descending from God and being less than God, denying Jesus' humanity, too; Jewish legalism which taught circumcision was necessary for salvation, observed ceremonial rituals of the OT law, called for the worship of angels and mystical experience.

The Theme
Forgiveness is the dominating theme in this letter. Paul doesn't use the word "forgive" but provides its biblical definition.

[Resources: Liberty Bible Commentary, The MacArthur Handbook]


I wanted to write our study on Philemon a little differently. We will be looking at the three main characters instead of going verse by verse for discussion. Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus are the three people we'll look at. So I challenge you to read through these 25 verses with that perspective before our next lesson.

Do overs. I like do overs. I'm talking about the time when I was in elementary school, playing on the playground, and jumping rope with my little girlfriends. If I messed up" running in" to jump rope while two girls turned it, which stopped the whole procedure, they would let me have "do overs." I could start again, have a fresh start, try again. I can still see my head bobbing around following the rope up and down in a circle, my hands going in the same circular motion. Sometimes two of us would run in together and jump to a rhyme. We got rather good at it.
Yes, I am glad the Lord allows me "do overs." Friends,  I mess up every day, sin, and need a chance to do it over. Because of God's grace, I can do just that.

Paul was asking Philemon to let Onesimus have "do overs." Onesimus had taken some money and ran away. He was a slave owned by Philemon. Forgiveness was involved in this story. Philemon couldn't fake it, but had to completely forgive Onesimus for his wrong doing.

Do I forgive others when they do me wrong?


Not only was Philemon confronted with the forgiveness issue, but he was given a chance to show Christian love.
Christ forgives me when I ask. In fact, He ask the Father to forgive me while hanging on the cross, dying. Such love! How can I do any less of others?


Be like Jesus and forgive and love others.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Remembering 2011

Summary of Titus


This is the last week of 2011. There are so many things to remember that happened to my family this year. We experienced a lot of extreme weather in my area: the coldest winter (-15 to -25 degrees) with 3 feet of snow; we had a very wet spring, with rain, rain, and more rain causing flooding; we had a very hot and dry summer (in the 100's for almost a month without rain); we had a short fall; now winter is here again. But that's the weather. If you don't like it, stay a while and it will change, as they say in Arkansas.

I experienced a lot of joy this year, too. My daughter, sil, and 4 grandchildren visited us for a week; I got to visit with my sister, which I hadn't seen in years, and her twin girls; finally meet 2 great nephews and 1 great neice; visited with another neice and 2 girls; had a weiner roast and played in the creek with my brother and his family, and son and daughter's family; got to see  uncles, aunts, and cousins on my Dad's side of the family; meet a distant cousin with whom I share a great grandfather, and who over came cancer; had a great weekend with my husband's sibblings and kids at a state park; attended a homecoming at a former church after 15 years, visiting with ole friends.

I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease after 40 years of having it. I took medicine and I'm doing okay on a diet. My husband and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary quietly at home. Yes, I have had a wonderful year. I have a beautiful family serving the Lord; a church family that loves us; blessed with friends like you. My needs are met by the Lord. How can it get any better?
Thank You Jesus for all Your blessings this past year.
How about you friend? Will you share with us as you reflect upon events in your life this year?

Titus was a Greek Gentile who was led to fatih in Christ by Paul before or duing the apostle's first missionary journey. (Gal. 2:3, Titus 1:4) He's mentioned 13 times in the NT, of which 9 are found in 2 Corinthians. This letter is classified as one of three Pastoral Epistles which Paul wrote. Probably, this letter was written after Paul wrote 1 Timothy. Paul was ministering to Macedonian churches between his first and second Roman imprisonments, from either Corinth or Nicopolis. Titus joined Paul on the isand of Crete and was left behind to continue and strengthen the work. The letter was probably delivered by Zenas and Apollos.

Charles Swindoll told us three interdependent themes found in this letter-God's redeeming grace, knowledge of truth, and righteous behavior- defining Christian maturity and character of every believer in every church.


Chapter 1 gives us character qualifications of elders, pastors, and other church leaders.
Chapter 2 exhorts the right behavior of older and younger men, older and younger women, and servants or employees. Included are some doctrinal basis for Christian behavior-grace, hope, good works.
Chapter 3 tells us some Christian behavioral standards-submission, obedience, and honesty. Also, it warns us about false teachings and divisions; geneologies, controversies and quarrels, heresy, and foolish arguements. Paul concludes with praying for God's grace to be with you all.

There are a few verses special to me:

Titus 1:2 states, In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

Titus 2:4-5 tells of older women, That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

Titus 2:11-14 says, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, rightously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purity unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Titus 3:7 reminds us, That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:15 ends the letter, All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

In his book, Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus he states:
God invites the contributions of men and women who submit to His sovereignty and remain faithful to His calling. If He wants a message declared, He employs human lips. If He wants a truth written, He inspires a human mind and empowers human hands. If He wants grace to be modeled, He calls, saves, justifies, sanctifies, and transforms people to become His examples of loving mercy. The Lord allows us to become an integral part of His victory over evil so we may share in the spoils at the end of days. Then, because He gave us the gift of this opportunity, we will shout in unison, "We won!"

Philippians 3:13b says, this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Is there anything I wish to forget about this year? Yes, some not so Christian attitudes and words from my mouth. Taking too long to forgive others and not saying "I'm sorry" sooner.
David Guzik wrote, "Instead of being unfruitful, God's people must learn to maintain good works and to meet urgent needs."

I close with a quote from the book, Shepherd's Notes: Take this new lifestyle-whatever your station in life, for or because God's grace has appeared. (Titus 3:11)

Because of God's grace to me, will I surrender to Him this new year coming up? Surrender to Jesus' service my hands to do His work, my feet to go where He leads, my mouth to speak the words He wants to say to someone, my eyes to see where He's working and join Him, my ears to hear the cries for help? Will you and I daily surrender?


Let go of this year as the past and look to a new year, the future.

Be more graceful or full of grace.

Share my hope of eternal life so another can have hope, too.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Cards

Titus 3-Part 5
Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.   Titus 3:14-15 NAS


How are y'all doing today? I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday with family as you celebrated the birth of our awesome Savior. I certainly did.
One of the things I enjoy about Christmastime is receiving cards from friends living in other cities and states. These were friends that we made in another time and place in our lives. (Mostly due to my husband pastoring so many churches.) I like catching up on what's happened to them during the year. Why do I only write once a year to them?
Don't y'all know everyone in the church at Crete was excited to hear from their friend Paul.
What united Paul and Titus as brothers and united all of the believers on Crete?  It was faith and grace, which are found in verse 15. The "you" is plural in his benedicion. Here in the South, we say "y'all."
All of Paul's bothers and sisters in Christ on this island received his personal greeting. I know that I would have, if I had received a letter from Paul.

I think I should send thank you cards to people next year as a part of my New Year's resolution. So I say thank y'all  for walking with me this year through the New Testament. You have become special friends to me.


Paul had a large circle of close friends, which included ministry partners in whom Paul invested time, energy, and affection. This passage forms a tiny crack in time that offers us a glimpse into his inner circle of ministry trainees. We see his personal and professional interaction with men who served alongside this great man of God and benefitted from his personal instruction.

Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus gives us some insights:

From these last four verses of Paul's letter, there are three priorities of ministry that every minister of the gospel  (and us ordinary folks) must keep in perspective:
  • being together: God made us to need others.
  • helping others: Life is enriched by giving aid to others.
  • doing good: God redeemed us to do good.
At the time of Paul's writing this letter, he apparently had not decided which man to send to replace Titus while visiting Paul-Artemas or Tychicus.

Artemas could have been the masculine form of the feminine name Artemis, a goddess of fertility worshiped in Ephesus. More likely, his name is a contraction of a compound Greek word meaning "gift of Artemis." Either way, his parents obviously venerated the pagan goddess, suggestiong he came to faith in Christ from a typical Greek upbringing.

Tychicus had a name that meant "fortune." After the uproar in Ephesus, Tychicus and other members of Paul's entourage evangelized Macedonia (Acts 20:1-4). Early in Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, he sent Tychicus with letter in hand to the church of Ephesus, commending him as "beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord" (Eph. 6:21), and then on to Colossae (Col 4:7). During his second imprisonment in Rome, as the apostle summoned Timothy to be with him during his last days, he explained that all of his younger colleagues were gone, including Tychicus, whom he had sent to Ephesus.

We don't know for certain which man Paul sent to replace Titus, but he trusted them both to complete the work on Crete.
Paul directed Titus to meet him in Nicopolis, where he planned to spend the winter. It was a Roman colony on the western shore of Greece, across the Ionian Sea from the southern tip of Italy. What an ideal place to rest and then continue his visit to Rome in the spring as a part of his missionary journey to Spain
(Rom. 15:24-25). However, Paul arrived in chains instead (Acts 28:16, 30-31). After his release and a visit to Crete and other trouble spots, he apparently hoped to resume his mission to the western frontier. Paul was arrested and sent to Rome again, only this time for execution.

Paul encouraged Titus to provide for Zenas and Apollos, who may have carried the letter to Titus on their way to Crete. Traveling in ancient days depended on the hospitality of trusted friends (no hotels then).
Zenas was a lawyer, which meant he either was an expert in Jewish law or represented clients in Roman courts. (Swindoll writes that he doubts that Zenas was trained among the Pharisees; therefore a converted Greek.)
Apollos was the orator and evangelist whom Priscilla and Aquila mentored in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28). This Jew was educated in the Alexandrian libraries and had a unique ministry. (Swindoll wonders if Paul asked Apollos to visit Crete.)

Looking at verse 14, Paul said, in effect, "Use this opportunity as a means of teaching the believers on Crete how to engage in good deeds." He wants them  to be fruitful. Isn't the same expected of us?

Can y'all believe we have finished this small  book of Titus already? Our next lesson will will be a summary, so be sure to join me.


 Write more letters and thank-you cards next year.

Aid others and do good.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gift Baskets

Titus 3-Part 4
This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.   Titus 3:8 NAS


Usually we receive a gift basket at Christmastime. What a precious gift, a basket of homemade goodies- cookies, candies, sweet breads, and jellies. Now those are labors of love in my book, good works in more than one way. Don't get me wrong, fruit baskets are nice and always eaten, but they are only surface gifts, easy and quick to fix, not an indepth giving of one's time, energy, and self like those baked goods. Which kind of "good works" are the ones I do?  Am I prepared  to "give" this Christmas?

I read in my devotional book Experienceing God Day-By-Day by the Blackabys about preparing:
"Preparing for the Presence of God" is the title. He says that if we are to receive the powerful presence of God, we must prepare ourselves. (Luke 3:4,6) John the Baptist helped prepare the people to receive the Savior by telling them to repent (Matt.3:2). The religious leaders were unprepared for Jesus' arrival. Although they knew a Messiah was coming, they made no effort to join Him, preferring instead their religious ritual.
I don't want to be unprepared and miss the opportunity to experience Jesus. Do you? We must pray, asking God to examine our hearts and reveal our need to repent of our sins. (Ps. 139:23-24)

As I am making candy and baking sweet bread, preparing several gift baskets, I need to prepare my heart for the presence of God; the way is  by repenting of my sins. Then I will be ready for the Holy Spirit to speak to me.

Now, back to our lesson.
A trustworthy statement, a faithful saying-it was common expression in the early church, which was used five times in the Pastoral Epistles. It is profitable for men-for the sake of evangelism. Men is a generality, referring to those who respond by the holy witness to the gospel. Proclaiming the truth, not arguing error, is the biblical way to evangelize. (Mac Arthur)

Here in this third chapter, Paul tells us how believers should act-gentle, meek, peaceful, submitting to authority. Also, he includes how believers are not to act-foolish, disobedient, hateful. The right belief doesn't automatically lead to godly behavior.

The only evidence the unsaved world has that we belong to God is our godly lives. We should live godly lives and be "careful to maintain good works." "Good works" doesn't necessarily mean religious works or church work. It is fine to work at church, sing in the choir, and hold an office; but it is also good to serve our unsaved neighbors, to be helpful in the cumminity, and to have a reputation for assisting those in need.(Wiersbe)

What are we saved for? It is to glorify the Lord Jesus as we maintain good works.

Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone. We must never put the cart of works before the horse of grace! (Guzik)

Do I have good works, not just at Christmastime, but throughout the year?


But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.  Titus 3:9-11 NAS

In verse 9, Paul tells us to avoid three deadly theological distractions:
  • foolish controversies, "questions" is the word used in the KJV. It is a subject of questioning or debate, matter of controversy. (Thayer's Lexicon)
  • genealogies-a record of desent or lineage. (Thayer's Lexicon) Jewish heritage resulted in an attitude of spiritual superiority for some Jews. 
  • strife, which means "quarrel" or "contention," disputes is more violent nuance, most often physical combat, and even war. (Swindoll)
Paul would have undoubtedly been a heavyweight champion among his fellow Pharisees, so he knew better than most the futility of quibbling over the minutiae of the Mosaic law. (Swindoll)

The Greek term for a factious man is hairetikos, which is transliterated "heretic," which means "to choose, prefer, or take for oneself." It has the idea of choosing to believe what one wants, in spite of what God says. The Word of God must be the final authority for what we believe. (Falwell)

A heretic is one who refuses to accept true doctrine as it is revealed in the Bible, and prefers to choose for himself what he is to believe.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, "I have learned that professed Christians who like to argue about the Bible are usually covering up some sin in their lives, are very insecure, and are usually unhappy at work or at home."

NLT version of Titus 3:10-11 says: If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.


Give a gift from the heart.

Let my good works honor my Savior, not me.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pecan Pie

Titus 3-Part 3
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 NAS


When my husband's family gets together for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, they always request my pecan pie. When I make it, I use only the best ingredients. I want fresh eggs, not old ones; a new bottle of corn syrup, not last year's; clean sugar that has no bugs in it; a storebought pie crust, because my homemade ones are tough; pecans without hulls. Now using the best ingredients doesn't guarantee a perfect pie. I always have to follow Betty Crocker's recipe for that to happen. What are the best ingredients for the Christian life? They are God's grace and mercy, love and kindness that Paul talks about here.

Paul urges Titus and all pastors to supply God's people with only the best ingredients. (verse 8)

"God saves, regenerates, renews, and justifies believers in order to guarantee their status as heirs of His kingdom-not merely citizens in the 'city of God,' but part owners with Christ (Rom. 8:17). How's that for grace? " tells Charles Swindoll.

When I was in the place described in verse 3, I was rescued by the love and kindness of God. He reached out to me long before I reached out to Him.
My salvation wasn't based upon any works of righteousness that I did. It was according to His mercy that He saved me. God is always the initiator; we receive from Him before we give anything back. Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone. We must never put the cart of works before the horse of grace!
[Resource: David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible on]

A Christian makes the unseen world visible when sound doctrine and good deeds work together, when faith prompts action, when grace received becomes grace given away. (Swindoll)

I'm glad I don't have to work for His grace, mercy, eternal life, for they are free gifts to each of us, which cost Jesus everything


Go back and read verse 3. I don't want to leave it out. It describes you and me before we were saved by grace. What were we like?
  • foolish, not sensible
  • disobedient, not subject to rulers
  • deceived and enslaved, instead of doing good deeds
  • hateful and hating, rather than peaceable, gentl, or kind.
But someone changed all of that. Someone changed us. The grace of God appeared as we continued our rebellious, selfish, pursuits.
[Resource: Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus]

If it were not for God's grace to His children, we would all be wicked, doing those deeds today. Does this humble us? It should. In fact, it help us in dealing with the unsaved, immoral, and ungodly. (MacArthur)

God's love and kindness came down to mankind in the form of a baby. We know that and celebrate it at this time of year. But do I leave Jesus a baby in the manger? (Jesus wasn't a created being, because God always has existed.) Do I forget to focus on His growing up into a man? It boggles my mind to think God was a man with skin on. He changed and wants to change me. He wants to leave the manger and live in my heart.  He was tempted as I am, yet without sin. Jesus is sitting on the right of God interceeding for me now. What a Savior to worship! He knows how I feel.


Let go of the imagery of Jesus as a baby and focus on  Him as a man dying on the cross for my sins. See the cross in the manger.

Be grateful for the love, mercy, and grace of God.

Be my best for Jesus.

Be patient and pray for others.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breath of Life

 "Breath of Life"             December 21, 2011

Today is a day of celebration for me. I'm glad that you have joined me on my walk of faith today. Come, let's stop our walking in the Word for a while and sit on a my porch while I explain. Can I get you some hot chocolate or hot spiced tea to sip while I tell you about my experience?

God has given me the gift of the breath of life three times in my lifetime. I'll explain what I mean.

The first time God gave me the breath of life , of course, was on my physical birthday, 57 years ago. I was born to a housewife and farmer. To me, God performed a miracle before my birth by keeping Dad alive in France during Word War II. You see, that's where he stepped on a mine, which dismangled his left leg. He had it amputated below the knee. It could have easily killed him that day, but God kept him alive through all that trauma. So I know that God had a plan for my life even before He created me. Obviously, if Dad had died that day, I wouldn't be here. Thank You Father God for  life.

The second time God gave me the breath of life was my spiritual birth when I was sixteen. A classmate of mine had died in a car wreck that summer. That event opened my eyes to the fact that death can come at any age and I was not prepared. I didn't want to go to Hell, the place for which I was headed. So in my bedroom one night, I spoke to the Lord about it, giving my heart to Him. I didn't say the proper words, but He came into my soul that night through faith and has never left me since. Father, thank You for Jesus as my Savior and giving me a new life.

The third time God gave me the breath of life was ten years ago today. It was the day I had surgery, a hysterectomy. I made it through that fine, and was back in my room when it happened. I remember the nurse explaining to me how to use the pump for morphene as I needed it for pain. When I pushed it, I fell into a deep sleep and stopped breathing. (I had no out of body experience, since my faith didn't need one.) If my husband, son, and his wife had not come into my room to get my purse before they went to eat lunch, I would have died that day. My husband noticed that my lips were turning blue and I had stopped breathing. He went out into the hall and called for help. My family doctor just happened to be in the hospital making rounds and came to my rescue. (Actually, it was God's provision, I know.) After several minutes, they got me  breathing again and finally awake. When I opened my eyes the second time, I was surrounded by two doctors, one sitting on  my bed, several nurses, and my family. It was  a roomful. I thought, "Wow! What a welcoming party." Then they explained what had happened to me. Thank You God for letting me live again, extending my life these ten years!

Looking back, it has been  God's will for me to live. I am so grateful! I know that if not for the Grace of God, I wouldn't be here, friends. I thank Him and praise Him for all three times that He has given me the breath of life. Since it happened ten years ago today, I just had to share the story of my life.

In celebration of living my ten years of my "extended life," I would like to give one person a devotional book that I use daily. It is written by Henry and Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God Day By Day. Simply tell us your story of God's grace to you, when He breathed life into you.

I'm so glad you decided to join my today on my porch. You are precious friends to me. I think of all the things and people I would have missed experiencing and knowing if I had died ten years ago.  I'm so very blessed! And you are one of those blessings.

Tomorrow, we will get back to our study of Titus. Verse 4 says But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared.

But for the Grace of God, I would not be alive and headed to heaven now. How about you?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kindness as Sweet as Candy

Titus 3-Part 2
To malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. Titus 3:2 NAS
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. KJV


Just ask anyone and they would agree that Mom was the best cook around and she loved doing it. Especially at Christmasstime, she would make homemade candies. I'm not talking just a one kind of fudge, but several kinds, along with divinity, pecan logs, peanut brittle, and you name it. She covered the chest freezer top with candies. Not only did our family ooh and aah over it each year, but she would share it with friends, coworkers, neighbors, hairdresser, and people around town.  Why, the newspaper even featured her on one whole page. I think that is the kindness we're to show to our neighbors, kindness as sweet as candy, that Paul is talking about in verse 2. The self-giving kind.

Paul mentions four specific ways to showkindness to neighbors. The last two tell us how we are to be:
Gentle, with dignity and reasonableness. Gentle usually refers to our outward conduct, while meekness to inward attitude. Showing consideration for all men describes the spirit of grace. Consideration was a quality of refined leadership, a mark of strength. All men referred to "all people everywhere," regardless of race, religion, political leanings, economic status, occupation, or marital status. All.

Warren Wiersbe said, "The word gentle means 'an attitude of moderation, a sweet reasonableness.' Christians with this quality do not insist on the letter of the law, but are willing to cimpromise where no moral issue is at stake."

I want to be gentle and meek toward my neighbors, all people. In 1 Peter 3:4, Paul was talking to the wives: But let it (adorning) be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishible quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (NAS)


The first ways of showing kindness to our neighbors that Paul mentions, we are NOT to do-malign them. It comes from the Greek word blasphemeo, from which we get the English term "blaspheme." It means to curse, slander, or treat someone with contempt. Blasphemy is any manner of speech that disreagards or disrespects the status of another. Usually it's used with reference to God, but here it's to men also. Name-calling is not a Christian's prerogative and especially of a brother in the Lord.
  The second way is to be no brawler. The Greek term behind peaceable lterally means "nonfighter." This person walks away from quarrels; he or she simply decides not to fight, even if fighting could gain an advantage.
[Resources: Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus; Liberty Bible Commentary]

David Guzik said, "Speak evil of no one...peaceable...gentle, showing all humility to all men: This is a distinctively Christian kindness, coming not from simple good manners but from knowing who we are and who others are in the heart of Jesus."


Be gentle and meek, showing kindness to all people.

Watch my words.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Willingly Practice Piano?

Titus 3-Part 1
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed. Titus 3:1 NAS


When I was in the second grade, Mom paid for me to take piano lessons. I was so excited at the beginning, that I would daily practice on a paper keyboard, imagining in my head what it sounded like. Then my parents bought me a real piano. It was an old upright with several keys that would not sound. Again, I used my imagination, since it was out of tune. As time went on, it was harder for me to be motivated to practice on that old thing. I should have been grateful for what I had, but after playing on a new piano at my teacher's house, it surely was hard. With that attitude, I often skipped practices.
Then, Mom arranged for me to walk down the hill to my grandpa and step-grandma's house to practice my lessons on her piano. It was a nicer piano, which had all keys working. But that became bothersome as time went on. I didn't want to walk down to their house, practice thirty minutes, and walk back uphill  five days a week. During the summer, my sister made me go. (Mom had a job.) I wasn't very willing, needless to say. In fact, one time I hid outside until I thought 30 minutes had passed and came inside. Of course it was probably only a few minutes, so she knew I didn't go. I lied when my sister asked if I had practiced. Eventually, the truth came out. What's it profit if you don't practice willingly and not  have to be made to do it? Eventually, I quit piano lessons. Later, I regreted it. I practiced hard when I took the required music courses for my elementary degree in college. I even became good enough to fill in for our church pianist. (I wonder how good I would have been if I had only continued willingly to practice throughout my childhood.)

Paul was telling Titus, in this verse, to remind Christians to be subject to some people in authority.

The The MacArthur Bible Commentary had this to say:
In his closing remarks, Paul admonished Titus to remind believers under his care of their attitudes toward:
  • the unsaved rulers and people in general (verses 1-2),
  • their previous state as unbelievers lost in sin (verse 3),
  • of their gracious salvation through Jesus Christ (verse 4-7),
  • of their righteous testimony to the unsaved world (verse 8),
  • and their responsibility to oppose false teachers and factious members withing the church (verses 9-11).
Submission to the authority of Scripture demands submission to human authorites as part of a Christian's testimony. (Rom. 13:1) [MacArthur]

Liberty Bible Commentary says,"This is in the middle voice and means 'put oneself' with the idea of doing it willingly and not being made to do it."

The rulers and those in authority refered to the king and civil authority. KJV uses the words "principalities" and "powers", obey "magistrates." They represented the offices of government and those who occupied them. Christians were, and are, to completely, and submissively obey. Not just respect, but compliance with their laws and directives. (Swindoll)
Sometimes I find this hard, don't you?


Remember, Nero was the ruler in the Roman Empire during Paul's time.

Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus states:
Nero can be described as thoroughly pagan; morally backrupt; cruel, oppressive, murderous, unjust, homosexual, sadistic; corrupt to the core. Rather than elevate God in the minds of pagan cultures, and instead of winning respect and admiration as His covenant people, Jews provoked hatred. Christianity, then considered a sect of Judaism, risked perpetuating the same counterproductive tension. A church cannot effectively evangelize a community while treating its citizens with contempt.

Do I treat others the way I want to be treated, or treat them like they treat me?

The believer's sphere of influence for good ought to be felt in every realm. Joseph, Daniel, and Moses are good examples of this. (Falwell)

Paul called for obedience and urged believers to be prepared to do good works. (Swindoll)

Warren Wiersbe, in his book, Be Faithful, said, "Christians were often looked on with suspicion in the Roman Empire because their conduct was so different and they met in private meetings for worship (1 Peter 2 & 3). It was important that they abe good citizens without compromising the faith. Ready to every good work means cooperating in those matters that involve the whole community. Our heavenly citizenship does not absolve us from responsibilities as citizens on earth."

Do I willingly do things in my community as a witness for Christ, or do I have to be told to do it? Sounds like "Love your neighbor" to me.

The wisemen were seeking the newborn King of the Jews so they could worship Him. I'm sure they did it quite willingly, without being made to do it. Do I have the same attitude?


Do I have prejudices I need to let go?

Obey the laws of my land without compromising God's Word and my faith.

Willingly do it with good works.

Respect those in authority.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sheep and Shepherds

Titus 2-Part 9
These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Titus 2:15 NAS
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (KJV)


I recall one time that I went to the house of my brother-in-laws' parents house. On that particular day, they were working sheep, sheering the wool and giving them shots. It was the first time I had ever been around real live sheep. At first, my impression of sheep was how pretty, small, and sweet an animal they were. However, the longer I was around them, I learned that they could run faster than I could, were strong when they butted their head, and would go their own way if not corraled.
The Lord referred to us as sheep in His fold. I have the same qualities as those sheep did. I need a shepherd to lead me, show me my rebellion and disobedience, and keep me going God's way. He provides a shepherd for each church flock or herd, whichever is correct, for that reason.
I think of the night angels came to shepherds in the field, watching over their flock by night. It was to these lowly shepherds that the Savior was revealed. They actually got to see Him. It was one time event.

Do I pray for my shepherd as he leads our congregation of sheep?
Titus was pastoring a church in Crete. Paul told Titus to not let any one despise, disregard him.What does that mean?
Dispise means to set one's self in thought beyond (exalt one's self in thought above) a person or thing, according to Thayer's Lexicon. 
Webster's Dictionary defines despise as "to look down upon."
Young's Concordance says despise, in Greek is oligoreo, means "to care litttle for."

Philippians 2:4 in New American Standard Bible states Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Do I think myself better than others? Do I care little for someone in particular?  Do I criticize others? Am I looking out for another's best interest? Ouch! What was Jesus' way? LOVE for the sheep.


Paul explains how the pastor should convey these divine truths using three words: speak, exhort, and reprove.
1. Speak.
    Paul tells Titus to speak with all authority. God's man must be authoritative, for Jesus was (Matt. 7:29),
    but the scribes weren't.
    These three verbs identify the need for proclamaion, application, and correction by the Word of God.
    Charles Swindoll said, "Let the lessons of grace flow through casual, authentic conversation with
    individuals as you build relationships with them. These interactions shouldn't become ad hoc sermons or
    occasions for formal instruction. simply be yourself-transparent and natural."

2. Exhort.
    "To enjoin a thing by exhorting; comforting and encouraging," that is what Thayer's Lexicon says exhort

    Paul tells Titus to dedicate himself to expository preaching. Even though it requires many hours of study,
    the message isn't built upon human  wisdom. Messages are timeless principles that emerge during study so
    the it is God's message.Study well and remain open to the Holy Spirit's leading during preparation, then
    the applications will almost write themselves. (Swindoll)

3. Reprove.
    Commit yourself to gentle, yet firm confrontation of error wherever it appears. Reproof doesn't imply
    being contentious, tactless, or heavy-handed. If you're careful to preserve the dignity of a man or woman
    in error, your correction will bypass his or her defenses. If you are gentle and humble, the reproof can be
    effective. Then, follow up soon afterward with a sincere and encouraging affirmation; who know, you may
    win a friend for life. (Swindoll)

What about my circle of influence? Am I demonstrating grace? Am I living the truth through my actions (speaking, exhorting, correcting)? Do I speak the truth? Am I encouraging to others? Do I confront a wrong done by a person with gentleness and humility?


Don't look down on others; love them instead.

Graciously convey the truth.

Share God's gift of grace.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Redeeming Gift Cards

Titus 2-Part 8
Who (Christ Jesus) gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.  Titus 2:14 NAS
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. KJV


Throughout the years I have bought loved ones gift cards for part of their Christmas gift. They were redeemed at a particular store or restaurant. Only that place would acknowledge that the price had been previously paid. Then it was of no cost to the holder of the gift card.
Jesus has done the same for His believers. He has redeemed us, paying the price for our salvation to be free to us. And what a price He did pay!

In our previous lessons, we've talked about the grace of God which is given to us in a gracious gift of salvation. It is through this generous gift of grace that we are sancified, glorified, and redeemed. Today's scripture focuses on grace as redemption.

Why did Jesus humble Himself and become a man? For one thing, it was so He might die for our sins and redeem us from all iniquity. Jesus freely gave Himself for each of us. I th;ink you will agree that no greater gift has been given.
We were a slave to sin, to evil, compelled to do its bidding, but Jesus purchased us out of that slavery. We are now owned by a new master.

Liberty Bible Commentary states this:
The word redeem, lutroo in Greek, means "to set free by the payment of a ransom." The believer is now set free from sin to become zealous of good works. This is why He humbled Himself (Phil.2:5-8) and became a man so He, the God-man, might suffer and die for our sins and redeem us from all iniquity.

Jesus took my place and paid the penalty for my sin so that I would be freed from slavery to sin. What an awesome, amazing, generous, and glorious gift!
Jesus paid the price so we would be His possession. He now owns me. He is my Master. I am to go to Him for directions on how, when, and where to serve Him each day. Unfortunately, there are times that I serve my old nature, myself, yielding to the lusts of this world, the lust of my flesh. Then I come back to the feet of Jesus repenting.


Looking at the rest of this verse, it says that Jesus gave Himself so He could purify for Himself a people.
Purify means to free from the guilt of sin. My slate is clean. I couldn't do it for myself, but Jesus could and did.
Why did Jesus die for me? So I would no longer be guilty of sin and would be a part of His peculiar people who are zealous for good deeds.

KJV uses the word peculiar to describe His people. It refers to those selected by God from the other nations for his own possession. (Thayer's Lexicon)

God selected you and me to be a part of His special group, the elite, His chosen ones, His own possession, His peculiar people.
Of all the people He could have chosen to be His child, God chose me and you. We didn't do anything to deserve it. He just chose us. Now if that doesn't ring your bell, what will friend? Every once in a while it's good to be reminded. Such love!

This word peculiar is found in other Scriptures:
Deuteronomy 14:2 says For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

Exodus 19:5 says Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.

1 Peter 2:9 says But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

I, for one, am glad to be called a peculiar person, to be God's posession. Aren't you? (Of course, without knowing the definition of the word, by just looking at me, some might call me peculiar anyway.) :0)

 Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus states:
Since we are under a new master, good deeds arise from within, driven by zeal, which was a "passionate commitment" or "enthusiasm." The Puritans refer to this dramatic internal change of motivations as "the power of the new affections." Similarly, new affections displace the old, and the Christian gradually grows in his or her respect and reverence for the Lord. Transformed from within, we act on our desires to please the Father with good deeds, just like His Son. In a real sense, we outgrow our desire for sin because the grace of God has saved us, continually sanctifies us, and has predestined us for glory (Rom. 8:28-39).

How wonderful is the grace of redemption! Do I act like God's special possession? Can people tell I'm a Christian by watching me? By listening to me? Are my deeds acts of love?


Act like a redeemed, purified, peculiar person.

Ask the Master daily for instructions concerning how He wants me to serve Him..

Serve the Lord with zeal, enthusiasm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hope-An Assured Expectation

Titus 2-Part 7
Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.   Titus 2:13


As we drove six hours to get to my parents' home, I looked forward to their greeting us. I most assuredly expected Mom or Dad or both to greet us at the door, which happened most times. This particular time, they both came out onto the porch to greet the four of us. It was the last time this happened with Dad. He greeted me with a big bear hug and kiss. (You need to understand that he rarely showed affection.) It is forever embedded in my memory as-what words can I use-a greeting-of-all-greetings, love over flowing expressed, an exciting time, a welcome home. (Excuse me while I blow my nose and wipe my tears away.) Little did I know that it would be the last visit I had with Dad, for two months later he passed away.

Oh, the gracious gifts that God has given. So far we have discussed grace by salvation, grace through sanctification, and today we will discuss grace in glorification. As I have written before, salvation reflects on the past, sanctification considers the present, but glorification anticipates the future.

Verse 13 reminds us that we are "looking for that blessed hope."

Hope used in the Greek means "an assured expectation."
"Paul uses this term in a specific way to describe the future day when Jesus returns to rule the world and to renovate it to His liking," stated Charles Swindoll.

Webster's Dictionary defines assured as having been made sure or certain; made secure or stable; made confident, convinced.

I found some scriptures using the word hope:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Ps. 130:5)
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope. (Eccl. 9:4)
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. (Ps. 31:24)
(Love) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1Cor.13:7)

Are my expectations of Jesus' Second coming assured? In my heart, am I certain, for sure, convinced of His return? Yes, I am. How about you?

1 Corinthians 15:19 says If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
There is so much more to come, friend. This life is not all there is. It will be a glorious appearing when Jesus returns. Am I ready?


Liberty Bible Commentary states this:
"The Greek construction here is fantastic for the construction makes the blessed hope and glorious appearing to be one and the same thing. The one true hope and expectation of the believer longs for that day (2Tim.4:8).Then the same rule of construction makes the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ to be one and the same thing as well. This is a strong statement of the deity of Christ. Jesus is God, not simply like God or godly, but He is God, for indeed, 'the Word was God' (John 1:1).

There is only one Savior. The Old Testament people expected Him. He did come as Isaiah the prophet expected. It happened in God's time. Everything was planned out. Then Mary expected Him as a baby. After nine months, He came. The Pharisees expected Him to come as a king. Their expectations were not met because He came as a servant.

What are my expectations of Jesus? Am I meeting His expectation of me?
What are we expecting this Christmas?


Hold onto that blessed hope of the glorious appearing of Jesus.

Christ is my hope.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Can I Give?

Titus 2-Part 6
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.
Titus 2:11-12 NAS


What can I give to Jesus this Christmas season? I give gifts to others, but what about Him? Its answer can to me in a  song, "Little Drummer Boy."Here are some words that helped me find the answer:
I am a poor boy too; I have no gifts to bring, that's fit to give our King; Shall I play for You, on my drum? I played my drum for Him; I played my best for Him; Then He smiled at me, me and my drum. In the song, the only thing the boy had to give was playing his drum for the King. He played his best for Him. Was it acceptable? A smile told him yes.

Am I, playing my best for Him, living my best for Him, doing my best for Him? What can I give to the One who created all things, possesses all things, lacks for nothing, the King of Kings? The only thing I can give to my Savior is myself. He so graciously gave Himself to me. Isn't me what He wants? All of me. Is that what pleases Jesus? I think so, friend. Will you join me in surrendering our wills, our ways, ourselves to the New Born King?

In our previous lesson, we talked about the grace of God which is given to us as a gracious gift of salvation. Today we'll find another gracious gift-sanctification.

"Salvation is not only a change in position (set free from the slavery of sin), but it is also a change in attitude, appetite, ambition, and action. The same grace that redeems us also reforms our lives and makes us godly.
"Teaching" has the idea of "disciplining." We are disciplined by God's grace, trained to be the kind of people that glorify Him," says Warren Wiersbe in his book Be Faithful.

Using Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus as a reference, he explains:
In the spiritual life of the believer, salvation occurs in the past, a moment in time of rebirth from above
(John 3:3-8). Sanctification is a theological term which refers to the present condition of the believer: set apart for God's purpose. Both are God's doing on our behalf, not something we do for ourselves
(Rom. 8:28-29). Although, the Lord didn't leave us to carry out this supernatural task on our own. His grace not only saves, but it instructs us. It instructs us as a "little child." The term used here is paideuo, in the Greek. It places us in the role of the ignorant, like helpless tots receiving instruction from a loving parent. From Him we learn how to live, long before we're ready for book-learning.

Grace teaches us believers how to turn away from futile, destructive behavior to pursue that which is:
  • sensible (of sound mind)
  • righteous (that which is deemed good in the court of heaven)
  • godly (characterized by respect or reverence of God).
"Sober" is the word used in the KJV instead of "sensible." We can also use the words "self-control, prudence, restraint" as in Titus 2:2. This emphasizes the believer's relationship to himself, while "righteously" deals with his relationships with other people. "Godly" speaks of the Christian's relationship to the Lord, though the qualities must not be separated. (Wiersbe)

When is this to take place? In this present age believers are to live out this standard of conduct. Christians are not to live like it or for it. Christ redeemed us from this evil ag (Gal.1:4) so we must not be conformed to it (Rom 12:1-2). Neither should we walk according to its standard (Eph.2:2). We have tasted the powers of "the coming age" (Heb.6:5 NIV), and we shouldn't desire to cultivate the present age with its shallowness and godlessness. (Wiersbe)


The NIV says verse 12 this way: It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Am I saying "no" to ungodliness and worldly desirses, then saying "yes" to Jesus? Have you said yes to Jesus, making Him your Savior? I did 41 years ago. Now, the current question is, "Do I daily say yes to Jesus or am I living for me?"

Instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires.
Ungodliness in the Greek is asebeia, which refers to a lifestyle of irreverence, which inevitably breeds contempt for God. Such behavior that despises God we learn to reject.
Worldly desires refers to those things the Enemy covets-sinful by definition-or to the desperate, idolatrous kind of longing that leads to sin. World represents everything that isn't "in Christ" or of Christ.

Grace trains us to avoid desiring the things that the world desires and to avoid craving anything with worldlike motives. Grace instructs believers to enjoy wealth as a gift from God, while the world craves wealth as a means of power, self-gratification, or validation.

Yes to Jesus or yes to the world. Which am I saying yes to?


Let go of the worldly desires and ungodliness, then follow Jesus.

I give myself to you Lord Jesus. Use my life for Your purpose and Your glory.

Strive to live a self-controlled, righteous, and godly life.

Share the grace of God with others this Christmas season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Giving

Titus 2-Part 5
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. Titus 2:11 NAS


What gift do I give to each loved one? It's December and my focus is just that-gift giving. Oh the hustle and bustle of it all. We want to find "that" special gift which will make a child squeal, a spouse surprised, children happy, friends smile, and give us that warm feeling of love as the giver. It must be something on "their list" of what will make them happy to receive. I drive from store to store hunting "it" down, prepared to spend whatever is required. Time marches on. What has our society become? What have I become? It's my fault that my focus is on "gift giving" instead of on the greatest gift given to me-salvation. Have I been thankful today for the greatest gift that ever was given?

Verse 11 tells us that the grace of God has appeared.
Love is a kind of grace that appeared when Jesus came to earth in the form of a man. Paul called love the greatest of all Christian attributes in 1 Corinthians 13:13. As the motivation for God to give His gracious gift of salvation to me, so my motivation to give gifts should be love. It's because I have God's love in my heart and I love another person, that's why I give a gift.

The connecting word for begins our verse 11. It links what follows with what has gone before. What it says, in effect, is, to take on this new lifestyle-whatever your station in life, for or because God's grace has appeared. A person who sees, understands, and accepts this grace can't easily go back to his or her former lifestyle.  (Shepherd's Notes)
Warren Wiersbe, in his book Be Faithful"  said this:
The emphisis is on grace-God's lavish favor on undeserving sinners. Paul pointed out three wonderful ministries of the grace of God in verses 11-14. Grace redeems us, reforms us, and rewards us. People could not save themselves. God's grace had to bring salvation to lost mankind. This salvation was not discovered by sinners; it appeared to them via the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God in His grace sent His Son to redeem those in the bondage of sin.

Wonderful grace of Jesus!
In his book, Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, he says:
A lteral rendering of this phrase is "Appeared the grace of God, salvation to all humanity." the term appeared best translates the Greek term epiphaino, from which we derive our word "epiphany." We might view it as a "eureka!" kind of word, adding an element of delight and surprise to the idea of discovery. Humanity didn't receive grace and salvation after a diligent search, or by pleading for help, or by approaching God. "Appeared the grace of God" by His own initiative, motivated solely by His goodness, despite our unworthiness. The Creator spontaneously and voluntarily reached down to rescue humanity from our own self-imposed, sinful condition.

His grace appeared as a gift to you and me. Do we accept it or reject it?


What has the grace of God  brought us? Salvation to all men. It is God's supremely gracious gift to fallen mankind, Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus' blood, body, and very life was sacrificed as death on a cross took it so I wouldn't have to pay for my penalty of sin. His resurrecting power gives us hope for our resurrection when the trumpet is sounded.

What is this gracious gift like?
  • It is a free gift (to us). Ephesians 2:8-9 says For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it it the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
  • It is an undeserved gift. Romans 3:23-24 says For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  • It is a gift with a purpose. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testifed in due time. 
  • It is an eternal gift that never stops giving. John 3:16 says For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Kenneth Wuest points out that the Greeks used charis (grace) to refer to a favor that one does for another person, expecting no return. But, these favors were always done for friends. Christ gave grace a far richer meaning because the favor He did at Calvary was done not for friends but for those who hated him. Paul reminds the Romans that while we were still His enemies, He provided a way of reconciliation to God through his death (Rom. 5:10). (Shepherd's Notes)

Am I giving Jesus a gift this Christmas? Will I give myself as a willing gift, a gracious gift, my life, at the foot of the cross? Will I give His gift of love to others? Will I show grace to those who aren't gracious to me?


Receive God's grace and give God's grace.

Give the gift of love this season.

Share God's gift of salvation to those without it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Younger Men/ Servants

Titus 2-Part 4
Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.  Titus 2:6-8 NAS


My husband is an excellent driver, especially on snow. However, in our first month of marriage, before years of experience of driving on snow, we had an accident.
After visiting a cousin, he decided to take the back roads home. Being the adventurous man that he is, steep hills and snow were challenging to him. Well, we made it down one hill safely and up another one, but it was the last hill that got us. Sliding down a steep hill in a foot of snow in a car wasn't my idea of a fun time, then or now, although it was to him. He did all the right things when driving on snow-pumped the brakes, turned the steering wheel the direction of the back end when sliding. It didn't help, though. When we made it down to the bottom, we slid right toward a mailbox. Yes, we hit it. Wham! Nothing helped prevent the accident, not even correctly applying the brakes. So my new hubby did the right thing, got out of the car, trapesed through snow and bitter cold wind, to talk to the owner of the mailbox. He offered to fix it, but since he was honest and told them what had happened, and being an "accident," the man was understanding and fixed the mailbox himself. We laugh about it, some 39 years later. (No accidents since, which were his fault.) Why did I say all of that? There is a skill to applying brakes to cars as well in life. Here's what Paul said about it.

 We are continuing the list of charactistics that Paul told Titus groups in the church should have. We have seen the qualities the older men, older women, and younger women as Christian are to  live. (Check out 2 previous lessons.) Now we will look at the qualities the younger men should possess, with the input of several authors.
"Young men were males, twelve and older," says The MacArthur Bible Commentary.

1. Be sensible-self-controlled is the same word rendered for sensible. Because young men tend toward
    being impetuous and rash, unrestrained in their conduct, impulsive, and volatile, Paul said, in effect, "Titus,
    help younger men learn how to apply the brakes to life. Younger men are encouraged to be sober minded
    (KJV), self-controlled-bridled tongue, controlled temper, curbed ambition, purged of greed, master of
    sexual urges and impulses. (Swindoll)
    Sober-minded (KJV) is the same word used in verse 2 and 5, sophroneo, translated "temperate" and
    "discreet," and has the idea of "curbing one's desires and impulses," or "self-controlled." (Falwell)

2. Set an example by doing good deeds-be a model of good works. Pattern, used in KJV, in Greek is
    typos, means model or type. It is common for young men to have a hero and pastors should be the best
    human models for them to pattern themselves after.
    MacArthur says,"All three terms-integrity, reverence, and incorruptibility-qualify the appropriate
    commitment to doctrine."

3. Show integrity in their teaching-communicating the true gospel message. KJV uses the phrase "in
    doctrine showing uncorruptness."
    The word gravity is used in KJV; here it means "dignity" and a man of God must have such and then he
    will win the respect of older men and women as well. (Falwell)

4. Demonstrate seriousness-characterized by dignity and what will inspire respect from hearers.

5. Demonstrate soundness of speech-healthy, well-thought-out presentations of the Christian gospel.
    Sound speech that cannot be condemned-pastors must exhibit the wisdom to speak only that which is
    well-though-out and not that which is rash or reprehensible. He should say nothing that will bring blame to
    his ministry (1Tim. 5:14). (Fawell)

Why did Paul write these? So that those who opposed the Cretian believers would be ashamed because they had nothing bad to say about them. Not even the enemy could condemn them.

MacArthur said, "The purpose of godly living is to silence the opponents of Christianity and the gospel, and make the power of Christ believable."

[References: Shepherd's Notes, Liberty Bible Commentary, Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus]

Do I control myself, set an example of good deeds, live with integrity and dignity, watch my words, all of which are to glorify my Lord Jesus?


Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. (Titu 2:9-10 NAS)

Paul gives character qualities which servants, slaves, should have. Keep in mind, practices in the Roman Empire during this time period maintained the use of indentured servants. This practice was not changed for quite some time. Slaves had few civil rights and often had little more dignity or care than domestic animals. The practice of slavery was not condemned nor condoned in the New Testament, but it teaches that freedom from sin is more important than freedom from slavery. The relationship between a slave and master is equivalent to employee and boss in our time. Let's keep in mind that these principles apply to us as employees.

Warren Wiersbe, in his book Be Faithful, tells us there are three common sins that Christian slaves must avoid:
  • disobedience-obey masters and seek to please them, going the extra mile. It's possible to obey, but not from the heart (Eph. 6:6). It's possible to do a job grudgingly. Some unsaved masters would not be thoughtful and would overwork their slaves. However, we are to seek to please those for whom we work, whether they are believers or unbelievers, fair or unfair, kind or cruel. We are to respect and obey our employers without conditions. (An exception, to me, would be if it meant disobeying the Word of God, as the case of Daniel and the three Hebrews.)
  • talking back (answering again)-He often argued with the master, since the slave probably knew more about the job than the master did. Slaves would "gripe" about his master to others on the job. This was a poor testimony for Christian slaves.
  • stealing-Slaves could easily pilfer little items and sell them, then report them as being broken or lost. 
Wiersbe comments that employees, Christian workers, must obey orders and not talk back, nor steal from their employers.

Why did Paul say all of this? It is to honor the Word of God, to not blaspheme His doctrine, make God's message attractive, keeping its teachings valid.

John MacArthur said, "Paul emphasizes that the supreme purpose of a virtuous life is to make attractive the teaching that God saves sinners."

Paul wrote Titus to pursue the cause of Christ on the island of Crete by establishing and fortifying churches, whose conduct might win converts without a word.

Swindoll tells about Saint Francis of Assisi and his student going into a village to preach. While there, the two gave a crippled old man water and a few coins, played ball with children, visited with a lonely widow, prayed with a sinful young man, and thanked a merchant for his faithful work through the years. Upon leaving the village, the student asked, "When do we preach?" The old friar answered, "Every step we took, every word we spoke, every action we did has been a sermon."

Shouldn't it be the same with us? Our actions are a sermon. Are we preaching good words or bad ones?
Colossian 3:23 says, And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.


Live with integrity and dignity, with self control, making sure my words and actions honor the Lord Jesus.

Obey my employer and don't argue with them, nor steal from them.

Be a faithful servant.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Older Women/Younger Women

408.  " Older Women/Younger Women"               
Dec. 8, 2011
Titus 2-Part 3
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  Titus 2:3-5  NAS


It's been 15 years since my last little birdie flew out of our nest. When our two were home, we were busy with school and church activities. I worked outside of the home and ran myself ragged staying involved in their activites. I know why you have children when you're young-so you have energy to keep up with them. Now that those are days gone by, I can relax in the evenings. However, it sure gets quiet in our nest.
I still have something to offer, so I haven't backed  out of everything. I work two days a week at our business and babysit my granddaughter three days. I direct childrens' church and our mission emphasis.

I came across this verse that applies to us women: Jeremiah 9:20 NLT says Listen, you women, to the words of the Lord; open your ears to what He has to say.

It is my prayer that as we read today's lesson, we will open our ears to what God has to say to us individually. I am.

Paul is addressing the older and younger women in today's passages. Please stay with me as I walk through so good teaching.

In 1 Timothy 5:9, Paul referred to "older" widows as those who were at least 60 years old. Now that we got that established, I have 2 1/2 years before I am technically classed as an older woman. Guess that keeps me middle-aged a little longer. :)

Shepherd's Notes has this to say:
As children grow up and leave home, the older woman's focus may become less defined as her familial responsibilities become less demanding. This may contribute to feelings of uselessness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and self-pity. Paul suggested in this passage that older women should possess personal godliness, be worthy of respect, and play an essential role in the lives of the young women in the church. The concept of spiritual mentoring is evident in this passage (verse 3).

Charles Swindoll says, "Nevertheless, we can safely interpret "older women' in the relative sense, saying that women of any age should teach women who are younger than themselves."

Paul tells Titus to encourage the older women to:
1. Be reverent-dignified and worthy of respect, as the older men are to be. Their behavior, way of life, if
    you will, should be appropriate to those who serve in God's temple. Their inner character  is to be holy.
    Every believer's body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and everything done should be fitting the temple of
    God. (Falwell)
    The idea of reverence suggests that a person, by her conduct, demonstrates that she belongs to God and
    that her life has been reserved for His worship. (Swindoll)

2. Not being slanderers-not malicious gossips, which is translated from diabolos, the same term used in the
    Septuagint to describe Satan as "the accuser" or "the adversary" (1 Chron. 21:1). The talebearer always
    has a story to share about someone, and her information never elevates the subject's reputation in the
    minds of others. (Swindoll) Slanderer was a term used 30 times in the NT to describe Satan, the arch-
    slanderer. (MacArthur)

3. Not addicted to much wine-translated douloo in the Greek, which means "to make a slave of." The
    Greek tense speaks here of a confirmed drunkard. (Falwell)

4. Teach what is good-advising the young women by teaching good things. Since younger women seldom
    ask for advice, they learn by example. Young girls often grow up rebelling and resising the way their
    mothers do things. Then, years later, they instinctively nurture their families and care for their homes
    exactly as they observed their mothers function. (Swindoll)
[Resource: Shepherd's Notes, Be Faithful by Wiersbe, Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Liberty Bible Commentary, The MacArthur Bible Commentary]

To sum it up, as an older woman, I am to be reverent, respectful of those in authority over me, not a gossiper, not a drinker of alcohol, and teach what is good.


It was the older women's duty, not Titus' duty, to encourage the younger women. They are the best teachers because of their years of experience. Here's the desired qualities for Christian young women, several presuppose a life involving marriage and family:
  • Be pure, sober, holy-reserved for God's holy purposes. Their behavior should demonstrate that they, like the sacred implements of worship in the temple, belong to the Lord. Self-controlled is included.
  • To love their husbands and children-a virtue that is unconditional, based on God's will, not on a husband's worthiness. You do things together as a family.
  • Be sensible-by good-teaching behavior, they would bring to sensibility the younger women.
  • Workers at home-the term is the noun "homemakers," as the crown jewel of women described in Proverbs 31:10-31. This woman is a powerful, industrious, resourceful partner, fully engaged in cultivating her family's well-being and in the building of a family legacy. (Swindoll) God-ordained women are to work at home, but not as a maid or slave. There is no higher calling. Every man knows the transforming power in the home of a lovely, godly wife. Her power is felt in a much greater institute than a bank or political office when she influences the home and children for God. (Falwell)
  • Be kind, good-a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Peter 3:4)
  • Subject to their own husband-subject their will to the leadership of their husband. In Ephesians 5, the husband's loving leadership is devoted to serving his wife, which inspires her to show respect to him  in return.
Why does Paul describe the character of the women? I think it is because he desires them to be godly and have a godly influence.
Not only are these Paul's words, but they are God-breathed Words to us. Am I pure in my thoughts and my actions loving? I should have these characteristics before I try teaching younger women to have them.


What do I need to change, Lord,  so my life lines up with Your Word?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Older Men

Titus 2-Part 2
Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.
Titus 2:2 NAS


I recall as a teenager, an incident that occurred in a church business meeting. It was discussed whether to install air conditioning in our building or not. After the pros and cons were voiced, a gentleman stood up and said, "We have it in our homes, don't we? Why shouldn't we have it in God's house?" Of course, after that comment, it was passed and we installed air conditioning in our church buildings. Burtice wasn't an outspoken as an elderly man, but when he did speak, it was worth listening to.

In chapter 2 of Titus, we read of Paul's descripition of the character that five groups of people in the church should have. They are older men and women, younger women and men, and bondslaves. Today, we will see what words he uses to describe how the character of older men should be.
Usually with age comes wisdom and stronger faith, but it isn't alwasy the case. The passage of time and the experience of life invite each person to gain wisdom, but many refuse the offer and become critical, cynical, cranky, negative, and even lazy. Age can frequently benefit others. Moses' most productive forty years began at age eighty. Caleb requested a mountain for his inheritance at the ripe old age of eigthty-five. Most of the patriarchs and heroes of the OT accomplished the most good during their latter years.
Paul called himself "aged" in Philemon 9 when he was over sixty.(MacArthur)

[Notice that I'm using the New American Standard version of the Bible in verse 2, which has different words from the King James version. I am looking up the meanings of those words used in KJV in the Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon and including them.] 

In his book, Swindoll's New Testament Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, he tells us the following about this passage:
Paul expected older men to cultivate in themselves six qualities that he hoped would define the church at large. (Are they found in us as believers?)
1. temperate, which means to avoid extravagance and over-indulgence in any area. A temperate person
    keeps things in balance and within limits. In the literal sense, the term refers to freedom from intoxication,
    but Paul meant it in a broader sense of being free from the excess of good things, such as work, 
    medications, food, sex, and being free from addiction to destructive things, like illegal drugs or
    [The word sober is used in the KJV, which means temperate; abstaining from wine, either entirely or at
    least from its immoderate use.]

2. dignified, which comes from a term that usually refers to people or things that are majestic. I can mean to
    avoid becoming frivolous, trivial, tedious, or superficial. Also, a dignified person is worthy of respect.
    [The word grave, used in KJV, means reverend; to be venerated for character, honorable.]

3. sensible, which is means moderate, prudent, modest, restrained, disciiplined. It's the only term the apostle
    applies to both genders and every age.
    [The wrod temperate, used in KJV, means of sound mind, sane, in ones senses; curbing ones desires and
    impulses, self-controlled.]

4. sound in faith, is literally hygienic in faith. This wholesome belief in Christ is a lifestyle that begins with
    trusting Him as Savior and then extends, progressively, to every aspect of life.
    [The word sound means to be well, to be in good health; of one who keeps these graces (Christian
    opinions) sound and strong.]

5. (sound in) love refers to agape, the other-focused, exercise-of-the-will kind of love best exemplified by
    the Lord.
6. (sound in ) perseverance uses a profoundly significant Greek term that embodies the essence of spiritual

Do I have these qualities? Which ones do I need to work on in my life?
I recall some older men in my home church that had these qualities. They were quite valuable to our church.


I looked in the book Be Faithful by Warren Wiersbe and here are some comments I read on this verse:

*Old men with time on their hands could linger too long over the cup.

*There is dignity to old age that produces respect, and this respect gives an older saint authority. When they stood to speak, the whole church listened and took heed.

*Seriousness of life and purpose are important in the Christian life, and especially to older saints who cannot afford to waste time, for their time is short.

*Sound in faith, in love, in patience all go together. A knowledge of Bible doctrine is no substitute for the other necessary virtues, such as love for the brethren and patience in the trials of life. In fact, a right faith in God's Word should encourage a believer in love and endurance.


Allow the Holy Spirit to work on my self-control (words and deeds).

Act dignified and laugh too.

Be strong in faith, love, and patience.

Be sensible.