A familiar old hymn.....this should be our prayer at the start of each day we receive as a gift from Him:
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
This is a scary world we are living in, if we don't have a firm foundation in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today is a day that we have devoted to prayer, and I hope that if anyone pauses here and is burdened with cares or sadness, or if you are rejoicing in blessings, please leave a comment.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)
We will pray alongside those who are struggling, and we will rejoice with those who are happy.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Monday, September 12, 2022
Paul tells Titus that the elders whom he chooses to lead the congregations in Crete must guard the flock. One way they will do this is by dealing with false teachers.
Remember verse 11?
who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of dishonest gain. (Titus 1:11, NASB)
OK, so they "must be silenced...."
Now, it may not be possible to stop them from talking! But it should be possible to stop them from spreading their errors within the church. Elders must guard the pulpit and not allow false teachers to have the opportunity to preach or teach the flock. But they must also be on guard for these teachers infiltrating small groups within the church. Paul mentions that these men are upsetting even the smallest of groups within the congregation - the families. Smaller groups give false teachers more free rein in which to spread their lies and false teachings. It's easy for them to prey on anyone they find is not well-versed in the scriptures and then draw them in.
False teaching is dangerous because it damages people. People's souls can be damaged by incorrect teaching, so to confront errors is an act of love. We must be gracious, but we must be firm, and make certain that our pastors and teachers are teaching principles that are biblically sound.
False teaching is also dangerous because it often comes from those wolves we mentioned recently; you know, the ones who are disguised in sheep's clothing! These are people who profess to know the Lord. They seem really nice and are kind. They may invite us over for a meal, and invite us to a gathering. Everyone likes to feel like they are a part of a group....but their teachings are wrong! And that can be deadly.
So, we can see that it's really important to recognize false teachers and the danger they pose. How can the elders that Titus is going to choose "refute" them?
The first thing elders need to do is refute the false teachers by teaching sound doctrine. Paul said in verse 9:
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9, NIV)
Then, later in chapter two, Paul says to "speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." He's emphasizing that, isn't he? Rather than always focusing on the false, an elder must also emphasize the truth. There's an old movie that shows a government agent being trained to spot counterfeit money. How? He is told to study genuine money. If he knows what the real stuff looks like, he should be able to quickly spot a counterfeit.
Sound doctrine means doctrines and concepts being taught that will lead the hearer to spiritual growth, and then to maturity. For instance, teaching that just sounds nice, and makes us feel happy, and never confronts our sin.....that is not sound teaching. If an elder is doing his job, he will push back against false teaching by teaching sound doctrine - that leads to the fear of God and to holy living.
Sometimes, though, there is no way around it - false teaching must be exposed and refuted. A godly elder must point out the errors so that believers can learn.
We'll study next time about the errors of the false teachers in Crete - and that may help us recognize false teachers in our world today.
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
This verse inspired me recently and I wanted to share:
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)
It's not easy to keep our eyes on the Lord, is it?
There is so much "stuff" that needs our attention. But does it really? Do we really need to look at that mobile phone as much as we do? (By all means, if you are traveling and using your phone's GPS, please do continue to consult it, and reach your destination safely!)
You know what I mean.....social media. News reports. So many things of this world clamor for our attention. We're jived up, agitated, irritated, worked up, and nerved up.
The psalmist said that if he kept his eyes on the Lord, kept Him in his thoughts, that he could not be shaken by anything the world has to offer.
Let's commit today to keep our prayer times and study times a priority and keep our eyes on the Lord!
Monday, August 15, 2022
Today, we start the final passage of chapter one, the book of Titus. This is the last admonition from Paul to Titus, as the younger minister tries to make wise choices for the leadership of the churches in Crete.
Back when we started into the book of Titus, we noted that Paul trusted Titus because of his experiences with the younger man. Titus had handled his assignments in church life quite well, and so Paul was asking him to work now with the new congregations on the island of Crete. Crete is the largest and most heavily populated of the Greek islands. They were known (in fact, they were notorious) for their way of life....
The island of Crete has been described as a kind of first-century Wild-Wild-West. (Grin) It was a semi-anarchist type of society, and the people didn't really have a whole lot of social savvy. Sophisticated? Nope. Mostly what would be called "independent spirits" nowadays. I guess it would be like a combination of a Texas cowboy telling tall tales, a prospector from the American Gold Rush who wants to strike it rich quick, and a "I'm-a-do-it-yourselfer"!!
Paul quoted a poet of Crete, Epimendes of Cnossus, in verse twelve of our passage, when he said "Cretans are always liars, pernicious beasts, idle bellies." Their behavior was so well-known in the ancient world that the verb "to cretize" meant to lie or cheat! This is the kind of world that Titus needed to work in. He had to find elders for the churches. This was going to take some discernment! There were plenty of wolves in sheep's clothing in this community!
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. (Titus 1:10-16)
You see, without discernment, we put ourselves in serious jeopardy. Remember the tale of Little Red Riding Hood? It took her a little longer than it should have, but she finally did realize the danger she was in, and escaped with her life!
Many Christians need to take to heart the lesson of Little Red Riding Hood. Discernment will keep you from enemies who want to destroy you. Many wolves prey upon God's flock, and some are masters of deception AND disguise. They can talk like Christians. They can use the Bible. They seem like nice people. But they will draw us in and eat us for dinner!
There have always been false teachers who SAY that they know God, but when we check out their deeds, they deny Him. Satan is always busily raising up false teachers to oppose the teachers of truth. It was happening in Crete, since Paul says "many" deceivers.
Because of Satan's efforts, elders must be men of the Word who will vigilantly guard the flock. They must do two things, according to Paul: they must refute the false teachers and they must also correct any believers who have been drawn in. These are not pleasant tasks, but they must be done. We'll study HOW it's done, next time.