Monthly Archives: October 2009

Titus 3

Not doing, Yes doing

I found the following scripture an interesting Möbius loop.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone.Titus 3:5-8

Notice what I highlighted.

We were not saved because of the good things we did. But we are now ordered to be careful to do good deeds all the time.

The difference is the reason. It isn’t about us. It is about others. Even our salvation is about others. We could not do it, someone other than us, Jesus, had to do the good deed for us. Now we are free as a result of his good deed to do good deeds for others too.

Father, may I do good deeds all the time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For everyone. Jan

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Titus 2

God, Jesus, the Bible

Most Sundays, as we drive home from church we’ll ask the boys what their lesson was about in the youth service. Their answer is usually something like, “God, Jesus, the Bible.” Informative huh? Well at least the 40,000 foot view is the correct one. A bit more detail would be nice.

Sometimes though we don’t need much more detail. We just need to look in the Bible to see what is plainly written there. One question that has often been asked is why do we say that Jesus is God? One very clear answer is in the verse below.

We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. – Titus 2:12b-13

Who’s glorious revelation is Paul telling Titus to look forward to? Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

What do you know? I guess the answer is God, Jesus, and the Bible; because Jesus is God, the Bible told me so.

Father, thank you that Paul spelled it out so clearly to Titus. May I not get too bogged down in details of unimportance, and truly look forward to your glorious appearing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was your lesson about? Jan

Titus 1

Steadfast

Paul instructed Timothy to be sure that he doesn’t make a new believer a leader (1 Timothy 3:6). I think the following verse, where Paul is telling Titus how to choose leaders, gives some more insight as to why.

He must have a strong and steadfast belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with right teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. – Titus 1:9

If the believer does not have a steadfast belief, one that is fixed, unwavering, unchanging, firm, and unswerving, he can be discouraged into wrong teaching. He could even be moved off course into a rejection of his faith.

Like trees, we must have deep roots to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy. There is a reason our Lord sent his disciples out two-by-two.

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

When one wavers the other can help steady his frail friend. But pity the man who is alone – especially the inexperienced acolyte.

Father, may we be wise in whom we promote to more responsibility. Please grant us the wisdom needed and the courage to say no when it is best. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Steadfast is a firm foundation. Jan

2 Timothy 4

Dance of Joy

A few months ago we added a tiny bundle of energy to our family, a  puppy. Tanner has quickly grown into a rather large bundle of energy. From the start we wisely decided to train him to be in a dog-crate when we are not around to supervise. I say wisely because he chews on nearly everything. The bottom of crate is a plastic which makes an interesting clicking, scraping sound when Tanner’s paws move around on it.

In March of 1986 a TV series named Perfect Strangers premiered. One of the characters was a guy named Balki Bartokomous from the Mediterranean island of Mypos.

I bring him up because he was very much like Tanner, the lovable clueless friend to everyone. One other thing they share is the Dance of Joy.

Whenever something good happened in Balki’s life he would dance the Dance of Joy, a mix between the Dosado and the Hokey Pokey. Similarly, whenever Tanner hears someone approaching, he exuberantly dances the Dance of Joy in his crate. The plastic floor amplifies his padding paws and makes it sound almost like a tap-dancer’s shoes. In fact he is so happy at our appearing that his entire body is dancing.

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return. – 2 Timothy 4:8

I was struck by the phrase eagerly look forward.

Do I eagerly look forward to my Lord’s appearing?

Do I dance the Dance of Joy at the thought of it?

If I’m honest, I’ll have to admit that I’m not. The enemy of my soul has convinced me deep-down, in the core of my being, that the here-and-now is somehow better than Heaven, the Kingdom restored, the New Heaven and the New Earth. What a filthy thieving scumbag! And I’ve let him do it…

I see that I have a lot to learn from my dog.

Lord, I want to receive the prize. Not because I look for acclaim, but because I truly want to want you more than anything else. Please forgive me for not taking back that which you’ve already given me – the glorious hope of the eternal future. May I do better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let your soul dance! Jan

2 Timothy 3

Exposed

Recently I was in a local courtroom where a man who asserts that he is a Christian, that he does not lie, and that he reads his bible at least one hour every morning, was testifying.  When you first meet him you think he is a holy man; he says the right words and even performs many of the right actions. He spends a lot of time on the internet in various forums and blogs trying to teach other Christians “the truth”. He does not get away with it for long. If you spend any time with him you quickly recognize him as a fool with a depraved mind and a counterfeit faith.

During the 15 minute hearing he was proven, with evidence, that he was lying under oath at three separate times! When caught, he countered that he didn’t have his calendar with him. Yet he was the one who instigated the court action because of dates, times, and places. He stated his lies quite authoritatively and didn’t make the calendar excuse until he was proven to be lying. Court was exactly where his calendar should have been, he knew that. Truly pathetic.

I think the following verses, and parts of the ones that I didn’t list, explain him. Paul predicted to Timothy that in the last days there would be guys like him.

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.
They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.
And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres.
– 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.

They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres. – 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

His mind is so depraved that he thinks he lost the court case because the judge was a woman. He does not connect the fact that he perjured himself and could have been sentenced for that crime as contributing to his loss. He is a fool and everyone recognized him as such, including the judge.

Lord, please have mercy on this man. He needs to truly come to know the real Jesus, not the one his warped mind has fashioned. Please do whatever it takes to save him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please stop fighting the truth. Jan

2 Timothy 2

Pure

Interesting how we measure things in different levels of purity. Depending on the thing being discussed, some level of impurity may not be at all harmful or blemishing. However, once you pass a certain threshold it becomes spoiled or impure.

For example, to be considered pure gold, the metal must be 24 karat. That means that only .1% can be some other substance. In China, pure gold is called “Chuk Kam” and can have up to 1% impurity.

There are at least 12 different purity standards for water. And air quality is measured in how many airborne allergens and pollutants it contains. For instance, HEPA filters must remove at least 99.97% of 0.3 micrometre in size airborne pollutants to receive that designation. So depending on the application, purity has many definitions.

I noticed that Paul was referring to several types of purity when he wrote to Timothy.

Pure Teaching

You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others. – 2 Timothy 2:2

He’s telling Timothy to ensure that the truth is not messed with – teach it to trustworthy people.

Pure Activity

And as Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. – 2 Timothy 2:4-5

Paul tells Timothy to focus on doing things God’s way, doing only that which he’s directed to do. He is not to cut corners or do half-hearted work.

Pure Message

Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David’s family and that he was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach – 2 Timothy 2:8

Sometimes the simplest things escape us. The purity of the message is that Jesus was born a man – like us. He died, and was resurrected. And because he was like us, and he was resurrected, we can be too. That is Paul’s good news – the good news he wants Timothy to teach.

Pure Speech

Remind everyone of these things, and command them in God’s name to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.

Avoid godless, foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness.

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. – 2 Timothy 2:14, 16, 23

It is so easy to get caught up in useless arguments. “What about people who never heard about Jesus?” Answer, “Um, good question. But you have heard about Jesus, so what are you going to do now that you know the truth?” These types of questions and arguments, unless avoided, mire us in unprofitable activity and dilute the purity of the message.

Pure Passion & Pure Hearted Companions

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. – 2 Timothy 2:22

There is a reason why Paul tied together fleeing youthful lusts, pursuing faith, love, and peace, with pure companions. It is because when we are in the company of like-minded others it is tremendously easier to do those very things described earlier.

Pure Kindness

The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth – 2 Timothy 2:24-25

Being gentle and kind to those that are in need of Jesus is a hallmark of Christian behavior. Notice that it isn’t restricted to people we get along with. Paul instructs patience and gentleness with difficult people too.

Purity on many different fronts is the marching order from Paul to Timothy and to us. It must be attainable or he wouldn’t have wasted time putting pen to parchment.

Father, these can be pretty tall orders for some of us. I know I struggle in some of these areas. Please grant me the purity I need, in the areas I need, to be an effective servant of yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pure Love. Jan

2 Timothy 1

The Manual

Years ago there was a TV show named The Greatest American Hero. The premise was that a school teacher, named Ralph Hinkley, was given a “super-power” suit by some aliens. Well, he promptly lost the manual. So, he does good, but albeit he is a tad bumbling since he doesn’t really know all that his new suit can do.

In reading about Timothy I see that he has put on his new God-suit and is doing all sorts of good. But unlike Ralph Hinkley, Timothy has the manual.

Follow the pattern of true teachings that you heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. – 2 Timothy 1:13-14

He has a “pattern”, a set of directions, that guide his actions. This pattern of instruction is so important, like the manual given to Ralph, that he is told to protect it. In fact he is told twice in the same sentence to protect it.

If it is that important, perhaps I need to do some more digging into what that particular “pattern of teaching” really looks like.

Father, please help me to learn and protect the pattern of true teachings that you allow to be revealed to me. May I not carelessly lose them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Time to put on the “magic jammies”. (A line from the show) Jan