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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

MY THIRD BOOK: "BE STILL MY SOUL"



I am pleased to invite my friends to take a look at my third book entitled "Be Still My Soul." I'm very grateful to Andy Sochor from Gospel Armory for making it possible for me to share this work with you. The substance of this book touches a deep need that I see in all of us. I have a link at the bottom of this post where you can see the pre-order special offers. To God be the glory!

The book contains the following essays:

  1. Does Jesus Care?
  2. Be Still My Soul: Embracing God’s Provision in Our Trials.
  3. Though He Slay Me.
  4. Wait for the Lord!
  5. Jehovah God, Shine Forth!
  6. Lamentations: Grief, Comfort, and Hope.
  7. Great Is Thy Faithfulness.
  8. Soaring Like Eagles to the Heights of God.
  9. Habakkuk: In God’s Providential Hands.
  10. Praying At All Times.
  11. Overcoming Evil with Good.
  12. Overcoming Discouragement and Disappointment.
  13. Called to Thankfulness.
  14. Are You an Unhappy Child of God?
  15. Do Not Be Anxious About Anything.
  16. But One Thing I Do! Pressing Onward.
  17. Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life?
  18. It Is Well With My Soul.
  19. Be Ye Steadfast and Immovable.
  20. This World Is Not My Home.
  21. The Bible Doctrine of Heaven.
  22. There Is a Habitation.
  23. Walking by Faith, Not by Sight.
  24. God Amid the Storm.

*** NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER ***

Be Still My Soul: A Collection of Essays about Finding Hope and Encouragement in the Face of Suffering and Trials by Luci Partain

Read more about the book at the link below. By pre-ordering, you will save over 25% off the regular price!

PRE-ORDER BE STILL MY SOUL


Luci

Friday, October 30, 2020

THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION!

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." 
Matthew 6:25, 33-34 


We are so blessed to live in a country where we still have a voice in the election process.   Whatever happens in this political election, we, God’s children, must remember to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ."  (Philippians 1:27)   


It is always wise to remember Who is really in control of our world when we witness the turmoil of an election year. Let us keep in mind that November 3rd will come and go and that the throne of God will not be shaken despite the election results.  God rules in the kingdoms of men, and the Bible declares that He does.   


  • Jesus, our Lord, has the ultimate authority.

"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."  (Matt. 28:18


  • He is Head over all things.

"That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come."  (Eph. 1:20-21)

"Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him."  (1 Peter 3:22)  


  • He is King of kings and Lord of lords of all the earth and heaven.

"And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth."  (Rev. 1:5)


  • God rules over all.

And no matter who is elected president, king, or dictator, God rules over all!!!  When the election is over, let us trust in the sovereignty of God.  


  • All things will work together for good to those who love God.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28)


  • If God is for us, who can be against us?  

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."  (Romans 8:31-34


  • Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."'  (Romans 8:35-39)

No matter who rules and what rulers may do, for good or ill, we are in God's protecting hands!


  • Let us not forget our godliness and our principles of kindness and courtesy.

Sadly, the children of God are tempted to forget their godliness when they enter these discussions, and sound judgment flies out the window. Regardless of the outcome of the election or who wins, brother winds up angry against brother and sister against sister and all about what?  It is like some of our useless and foolish discussions about college football.

  1. Whose soul is lost or won? 
  2. Whose faith is strengthened or weakened? 


Jesus Christ has taught us the principles of kindness and courtesy, but that knowledge is also suspended when we look like carnal-minded men and women. We must not forget that our faith must touch every compartment of our life and that politics must not be unimportant. However, it is critical for us Christians to stress that politics must never be our primary focus, but rather God, His kingdom, and principles of righteousness. God is ultimately in control. 

"He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.  The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.  At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'"  (Daniel 2:21; 4:17; 34-35)  


  • The most significant and critical election for Christians:

November 3rd is election day, and political debate is dominating much of Facebook and other social media.  Our President will either be re-elected or another might be elected instead.  Candidates will be elected to public offices all across our nation as well.  I keep hearing from every corner that this election is the most critical one in many years for our nation’s future. I have heard that same argument regarding other elections over the past decades.  But we must not forget that there is a far more significant and critical election than this one.  The apostle Peter reminds us about this critical election saying, 

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”  (2 Peter 1:10)  


This “election” that Peter is talking about is our personal salvation.  Jesus also said,

 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28


  • We are called through the Gospel.

"We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (2 Thess. 2:13-14)  


Obedient faith is our response to the Gospel call.

It is through our faithful obedience that we make our calling and election sure or confirmed

"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."  (Mk. 16:15-16)  


We are told that this year's election, like many others, is critical since it will shape our nation for years to come.  But the “election” that Peter urges us to make sure is of much greater importance than this, for it will prepare us to stand before the Supreme Judge of all mankind.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."  (2 Corinthians 5:10)  


CONCLUSION:

Political elections come and go, generating excitement for a short while, but then it dies out.  I don’t deny they bring some change and/or bolster the status quo, but they are often followed by new elections filled with new promises, which most likely will never be kept.  Unfortunately, that is the way politics is!  However, the “election” of which the apostle Peter speaks is eternal life, a promise given by our God who never lies or fails to keep His promises!  

"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began."  (Titus 1:1-2)


Remember that nothing is as critical as getting to heaven!  So we must be diligent in making sure our election, our salvation, for that definitely is the most important election in our lives.  No matter who wins the elections, God still rules over all!   Though we might not know what is in store for us, we know that God holds the future in His hands.  He will give us both comfort and courage to bear everything.  When we trust in God, there is no need to fear.  The Word of God is the answer to all of our fears, problems, obstacles, and worriesRemember how God has always blessed His people richly through His mighty deliverance and help throughout all history. 

Let us remember that our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth.  We are pilgrims, living among the nations of men (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11-12; Heb. 11:13-16).  

"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."  (1 Peter 2:11-12)

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."  (Hebrews 11:13-16)


This world is not our home.  We are just passing through.  We must not become too attached to the things of this world, for they render us fruitless.

"And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature."  (Luke 8:14)  

Yes, we must guard our hearts against the love of this world, including politics!  


"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."  (1 John 2:15-17)

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."  (Eph. 2:19)


Our focus must be to seek first the rule of God in our lives (Matt. 6:33) and proclaim His mercies (1 Peter 2:9-10).  The kingdom of God and His righteousness must be our primary focus.  So why not refocus our efforts on the saving Gospel of Christ to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20) Are you letting politics render you fruitless in the work of the Lord?  Are you fulfilling the Great Commission?  Or are you being distracted by earthly things?

Although we might be discouraged because of our elected leaders, let us never forget the One who is truly in charge.  When the election is over, whether your preferred candidate won or not, let us renew our trust in the Sovereign God.  Let us reaffirm our heavenly citizenship, and most importantly, let us refocus on our primary goalLet us resolve to give leaders their due.  Let us keep praying for godly rulers.  Let us keep living righteously and not defile ourselves, and finally, let us all resume our role as peacemakersOur God and His kingdom are unshakable, and we are on our way Home.  

"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever."  (Daniel 2:44)


Remember that righteousness exalts a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

May we keep ourselves without blame amid a perverse generation.  May we trust in God with all of our heart, mind, and soul and not fear.  May we stand firm and not be shaken.  And finally,  may we continue to trust our Lord and keep doing good, shining our light brightly and conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ no matter what happens.  


Luci


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

"THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME"

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  
Matt. 6:19-20


Our lovely song, “This World Is Not My Home,” has a very special place in my heart.  It speaks of the faith that we must have in God’s promises.  Our song expresses how this earth filled with worldly cares is not our home, for we are just pilgrims on a journey.  The Lord has commanded us not to dwell on the things of this world but to set our minds on eternal things, our eternal home, which is heaven.  Likewise, our song urges us to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth.  Let us consider God's point of view about our earthly treasures.

In Matthew 6:19-20, the Lord declared, 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”


Our hearts reveal our thoughts and our treasures.  If our thoughts dwell on the treasures of this earth, that is where our thoughts will constantly be.  But if our hearts dwell on our eternal home, our thoughts and actions will be directed toward heavenly things, God’s promises, and doing God’s will to please Him.  In Matthew 6:21, we have a reminder.  

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


Although it is wonderful to enjoy the things that God has blessed us with here on this earth, we  Christians must acknowledge that our focus must not be on the things of this world but on the things of heaven.  If our focus is only on earthly things, we must examine our hearts and make sure that we put it in the right place.  Since God is the author of our blessings, we must purpose in our hearts to give Him the glory, remain humble, and focus only on Him and our heavenly home with Him one day.  


I.   WE MUST NOT REGARD THIS WORLD AS OUR HOME:

In 1 Peter 2:11, we are described as pilgrims and sojourners here on this earth.

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”


Our song answers why the pilgrim Christian must not look upon this world as his final home.

Hebrews 11:13 tells us that God’s faithful followers understood this truth, and faithfully lived their lives without receiving God’s promises.  They lived by faith, for they were looking for something better beyond this life.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”


  • Jesus wants us to lay up treasures in heaven. 

"And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."'  (Mk. 10:21)

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."  (1 Tim. 6:17-19)  


Jesus wants His followers not to lay up treasures on this earth but instead lay them up in heaven with the assurance that nothing will destroy them.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  22 'The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"'  (Matthew 6:19-23


We must not lay treasures on earth and make this world our final home!  The pursuits of this life must not be our priority. Why do many Christians reject this truth? They sing “This World Is Not My Home” but do not obey the principles by which it is founded.  Sadly, many “Christians” have little interest in spiritual matters because they are more interested in worldly things, not the things of the Lord.

Jesus told His disciples, 

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”  (Matthew 16:24-27)


We must not place on hold our heavenly obligations while we pursue our worldly desires. What is most important, heaven or earth? 

  1. We must not put the Lord on hold while we pursue our desires and earthly pursuits.  
  2. Our desires must be the pursuit of our Lord.  


  • Our song reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven.
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."  (Phil. 3:20-21)

And that we are "pilgrims,"  that is, "one passing through."  
"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."  (1 Pet. 2:11-12)


  • The angels beckon us to continue on our journey toward heaven’s open door to receive these treasures.  

"Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."  (Lk. 15:10)


Truly, the angels rejoice when a sinner repents!  They want us to go to heaven.  Our song reminds us to set our affections on things above, not on things of this earth.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth."  (Col. 3:1-2)


II.   OUR SAVIOR PARDONED US IN HEAVEN: 

The phrase "They’re all expecting me" of our second stanza refers to the redeemed of all ages.  They are that great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on and sing praises to God in the spiritual realm.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  (Heb. 12:1-2)

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'  13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?' 14 I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' And he said to me, 'These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'"  (Rev. 7:9-14)


However, there is a much greater blessing of heaven, our Savior, who has pardoned us and promised to be there waiting for us.   So we must be looking forward to heaven. You see, the faithful patriarchs of old looked forward to God’s promises.  They acknowledged that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. God is preparing for them and us, His faithful, a heavenly city.

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."  (Heb. 11:13-16)


  • "My Savior pardoned me, and now I onward go."

My Savior pardoned ME? What about everybody else? Although Jesus’ sacrifice is personal, it is also universal. 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). 


Jesus has brought salvation through His sacrifice to all men.  God’s Grace applies to all men and women who obey His Son’s Gospel of salvation.  God can pardon our sins when we obey Him and His commandments.

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."  (Heb. 5:8-9)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few  ( Matt. 7:13-14). 


Our Savior has promised to take us through, even though we are weak and poor and sinful, for He offers salvation, forgiveness to all men.  Otherwise, there would be no hope of heaven, for all have sinned and deserve due punishment.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  (Rom. 3:23)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Rom. 6:23)


All Christians must be working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, doing God’s will even while we’re pressing on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God.

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."  (Phil. 2:11-16)

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 3:12-14)


III.   OUR LOVED ONES WHO DIED IN THE LORD WILL BE IN HEAVEN: 

Although some of our loved ones (relatives, friends, and brethren) will not be in heaven, those who died faithfully in the Lord will indeed be in heaven.  It is one of those things, we Christians, eagerly look forward to!

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."  (1 Thess. 4:13-17).  


Those beloved saints who are in heaven make heaven a place for which we earnestly groan to be clothed with our habitation.

“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee”  (2 Cor. 5:1-8). 


  • "Waiting now for me in heaven’s open door."

The phrase "waiting now for me in heaven’s open door" raises the question of whether we can view the departed saints as being in heaven or not.  I believe the souls of the righteous dead are in Paradise in the Hadean realm awaiting the second coming of Christ, a universal resurrection, and final judgment before going to heaven, the heavenly city, our habitation itself.  Nevertheless, the truth is that the saints who have died have gone to be with Christ and are in some way waiting for us if we die faithfully in the Lord also.

“I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”  (Phil. 1:23).


IV.   ETERNAL LIFE AND VICTORY WILL BE IN HEAVEN:

  • “Up in glory land, we’ll live eternally.” 

In the world to come, we shall receive eternal life.

"Who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."  (Mk. 10:30)  

 

  • "Just up in glory land we’ll live eternally; The saints on every hand are shouting victory!"

Victory belongs to Christ, for He has won the battle and obtained the victory. God has given us victory through Jesus.  Jesus defeated sin through His sinless life and arose from the dead, destroying death’s power over us. God showed victory over death through Jesus, and He gives that victory to everyone who belongs to Him.

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:57)


When Jesus, our Lord, overcame sin, He took away the power that death had. Death will be swallowed up in victory when our perishable bodies put on the imperishable! The resurrection of the dead is pictured as the ultimate destruction of death. The hope of the resurrection must motivate us to live faithfully, for it is our main foundation for godly and righteous living. It motivates our actions and is our vital foundation for Christian living. Thus we must be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for we know that our work in Him is not in vain.

"I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:  'Death is swallowed up in victory.'  55 'O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?'  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."'  (1 Cor. 15:50-58)


When Jesus returns to take us home, death will be swallowed up in victory, and all the faithful saints on every hand will be shouting victory (1 Cor. 15:50-57).  Oh, what a wonderful day that will be!!  

The heart of the Gospel “in which you stand” is the resurrection

  1. The resurrection is what keeps us standing firm, for it gives us the strength to endure, be steady, and be faithful. 
  2. Our hope of the resurrection is what keeps us immovable in our trials and suffering. 
  3. The hope of the resurrection takes away our fear of death. 
  4. God will ultimately have victory over Satan, sin, and death. He proved it through His Son when He raised Him from the dead and exalted Him. 


  • “The songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore.” 
The songs of sweetest praise that drift back from heaven's shore invite us to press onward and endure till the end.

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’  And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll  and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God     from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’  11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’  13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’  14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.’”  (Rev. 5:8-14)


Therefore, we must stand in the Gospel, always abounding, that is, overflowing in the work of the Lord without any excuses, without taking any vacation from His work or without ceasing to do what we must do as His servants. There is no room to say, “I have done my part.” We don’t stop working for the Lord because of our trials or for any other reason. Nothing must stop us from abounding in the Lord’s work, for if we do that, we belittle the Grace of God seen in Jesus’ resurrection. Remember that our work in the Lord is not in vain or a waste of time. The time that we invest in His work is not a waste, for it is essential and has meaning and value to Him! He is faithful and will reward us for doing a valuable and important work for Him in His vineyard!  Our reward will be heaven and eternal life.  


CONCLUSION: 

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru.”  


We are just passing through this life and very quickly.  James 4:14 states.

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”


We have been given just a short life to live on this earth.  Thus we must make heaven our home and foremost goal in life. Jesus died on the cross for us to give us a second chance to be forgiven of our sins and be with Him eternally in heavenHe did not have to do this, and yet He did!  Because of His cruel death, He can pardon us our sins and provide us the opportunity to be with him in heaven.   And though we are weak and sinful men, by God’s Grace, we can be strengthened through our Savior and receive God’s rich blessings in heaven as long as we remain faithful to Him, making heaven our home and not this world.   

The chorus verse of this song, 

“And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”  


The chorus reminds us to lay up treasures in heaven, set our affections on things above, and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).

Satan is always trying to ensnare us with earthly pleasures and troubles.  God wants His faithful children to not lose sight of His promise and be consumed with earthly cares.  Our constant prayers and fellowship with other saints of like precious faith supply us with strength to prevent temptations.  God’s promise to us of an eternal home with Him must motivate us and give us peace.  God’s faithful saints must acknowledge that this world’s cares and troubles are only temporary.  

Indeed, this earth is not our “home,” for we are eagerly longing and waiting for a heavenly home, our habitation.   Thus we must proclaim the Gospel, the good news, to those who have not obeyed the Gospel and do not have that hope of an eternal homeIf we haven’t met the conditions that God has revealed in the Gospel,  heaven will not be our home.  In His Word, God has already stated what we must do to be justified before Him in this life and receive our eternal hope of glory.

"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge his people.' 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."'  (Heb. 10:26-31


Therefore, we must determine to serve Him faithfully here on earth, teaching and sharing His message to the lost to go to heaven, helping others, and doing His will in this life. But while we are preparing to go to heaven, we must acknowledge daily that "this world is not my home."

May each of us live every day, acknowledging that  “this world is not my home.”  May we engrave those words in our hearts, remembering God’s faithful promise to those who believe in Him and do His will.


Luci


This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through;
My treasures are laid up Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

They’re all expecting me, and that’s one thing I know;
My Savior pardoned me, and now I onward go.
I know He’ll take me through though I am weak and poor,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

I have a loving mother up in glory land;
I don’t expect to stop until I shake her hand.
She’s waiting now for me in heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Just up in glory land we’ll live eternally;
The saints on every hand are shouting victory!
Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Chorus,

O Lord, you know I have no friend like You;
If heaven’s not my home then, Lord, what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.




Saturday, September 26, 2020

LIVING RIGHTEOUSLY IN AN EVIL WORLD - TITUS 3

 

"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."   
Titus 3:1-11


The greater tragedy is not in failing to understand what God wants from us, but in failing to put into practice the wonderful life that God wants us to live. When we understand God's words we are so much closer to the Paradise of God. How tragic to be so close, to have the fruit in our hands, but not to taste it and enjoy its benefits, benefits that are ours only if we do what He wants!

The apostle Paul concludes this letter to Titus by reminding him to charge Christians to do their duty to God.  Don’t we all need to be reminded of our Christian duties, especially our reverent conduct before God, even if we already know?   Paul stresses the importance of repetition in the whole teaching process.  The purpose of this letter is to stress God’s Grace (Titus 3:1-7).  In verse 3, Paul contrasts how God views sinners, before and after they obey the Gospel and are saved, forgiven, and justified.  We can be “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (verse 7) only through God’s kindness, love, and mercy, which we do not deserve.  Paul is also instructing Titus on how to deal with false teachers.  Those who would divide God’s children with their unprofitable, worthless, and useless man-made doctrines.  Titus, as a preacher, was urged by Paul to be prepared to defeat such challenges and threats to the faith,  which is the Gospel.  Paul closes this letter to his young preacher friend stressing salvation through Christ (Titus 3:1-7) and those things that need to be affirmed constantly (Titus 3:8-15).    

"The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.  12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.  15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith."


I.   HOW CHRISTIANS MUST CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN AN EVIL WORLD:

  • Christian Duties And Reminders:
    •  Titus 3:1-2:
"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities,  to be obedient, to be ready for every good work."

Titus 3:1-2
describes how Christians must conduct themselves in an evil world. Paul reminds the brethren in Crete that they must be subject to the rulers and authorities among them. Remember how immoral the Cretans were. The leaders of that island were worse than their people. Moreover, this letter was written when Nero was emperor over the Roman Empire. It was a difficult time to yield to the authorities.  And though in our times, we also have immoral, and godless leaders, it is nothing compared to the godlessness and lawlessness, that existed on the island of Crete and within the Empire.  

Despite the lawlessness that surrounds us and extreme circumstances, God calls on Christians to yield to the government.  God does not want us to be zealots, like the Jews of that time, against our government.  It is so easy for many, even Christians, to get caught up in political issues and politicians.  But God calls us to reflect Christ by imitating Him, walking in righteousness. Notice that in verses 1 and 2 of this letter we are commanded to be obedient to our government, not rebel against the government. We must continue to be equipped to do good works regardless of political circumstances!

"To speak evil of no one, 'to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people“showing every courtesy to everyone.'"  (Titus 3:2)


      • "To speak evil of no one." 

Let us soak in these words!  No one is excluded in our context.  Have you ever heard the saying, “Speak evil of no one. Speak good of everyone?” It certainly is a good motto to live by.  It is not only a good motto to live by, but it is also a command for all Christians who desire to live godly and do the will of their Father in heaven.  Paul is urging Titus to remind Christians to speak no evil of anybody.  God will not tolerate His children judging others and speaking evil of them!  Why?  Because we were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving our lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another before we obeyed the Gospel.  

Christians are commanded not to speak evil of anyone. It means no malicious words. No exceptions. We are also urged to avoid quarreling, for it is not godly and righteous.  It is a reproach before God to be quarrelers, especially over nonsense. We must be cautious about arguing for the sake of argument and winning an argument. Instead of quarreling, we are commanded to be gentle and kind to all people. This world of darkness must see Christ living in us, His gentleness and kindness, instead of the spirit of fighting and evil speaking in us!   

God commands us not to speak evil of anyone, even nonbelievers.  We live in a world that is full of people that hate one another, love gossip, are contentions, and love strife. However, we must not be like them, for we are called to be different, to be set apart from this world of darkness.  We Christians must strive to never speak evil of anyone, even if they sin against us.  Period!  

Just look around you; evil speaking is everywhere. Speaking ill of someone is the norm in this world of darkness. It’s what the news thrives on, especially for ratings. It is all over social media. Many speak evil of others to let out their frustrations.  Yet, the Lord calls us to a higher standard. 

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation”  (1 Peter 2:12). 


Our "good deed" is to not speak evil of anyone but to speak well of others.  I know very well how hard it is, but we must control our words before a watching God!

Sadly, our lips reflect what is inside our hearts.  We are carnal minded when we let our flesh come out in the words of our mouthsHow often do we put ourselves to shame, and it is God whom we put to shame,  because of the words of our mouth and the things we say about others?!  We must repent!  We must stop to reflect and examine our hearts and purge out the old leaven so that we may be a new lump. Thus let us repent and remove the sin of evil-speaking as we continue to strive to walk on the path of righteousness.


      • “To be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” 

This phrase literally means showing all gentleness (courtesy) to all people. There is a double “all.” Everyone must see our kind conduct at all times. 


    •  Titus 3:3:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” 

      1. Why should we do this? 
      2. Why should we be in subjection to the authorities? 
      3. Why should we speak evil of no one, avoid quarrels, be gentle, and show all gentleness and courtesy to everyone? 


Because we were the same as they were before we obeyed the Gospel and were forgiven of our sins. We behaved in the same evil way as the unbelievers and did the same evil things that they are doing to us. 

      1. We made the same mistakes when we disobeyed God.   We were a mess also, for we were foolish and disobedient!  
      2. We were like sheep led astray before we obeyed the Gospel.  
      3. We were slaves to sin. 
      4. We behaved with malice and evil toward others. 
      5. We hated those who hated us because that’s the norm for a world without God in the picture. 

So let us not be so self-righteous, for we did the same thing! 

When we Christians forget how far we have come in Jesus, our Lord, and where we came from before we were forgiven of our sins in the waters of baptism, we are behaving worse than unbelievers, the world.  We forget that we must be set apart, be different, and refuse to behave like the world.  So if the world is kinder than we are, then we are certainly failing and falling short of what God commands.  


    • Titus 3: 4-7:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” 


What makes us different from the world (unbelievers) as faithful followers of Christ is that we understand that the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared to us, bringing us salvation (Titus 2:11). The goodness and loving kindness of God has appeared to us. A concept cannot appear, but a person can. Hence, “He saved us.”  At the appearing of Jesus, God saved us. Paul in verse 3 of our text is reminding us of where we came from and what we were.  But God in His goodness and loving-kindness intervened on our behalf when He appeared. 

The Greek word for “loving-kindness” is a compound word - philanthropia. The English word  “philanthropy” derives from this. The first part of the compound word is phileo, which is love. The second part of the compound word is anthropia, which is humans. But when the goodness and love for us (humankind) appeared, God saved us, but not because we had already lived a sinless life. We were sinners! There is nothing that we can offer God but our own sinfulness, a history of lawlessnessIs there anything that we can contribute to God? Nothing, but our sin-stained lives!  

God did not save us because of our goodness or what we did.  We were enemies to God who deserve God’s wrath, punishment, and judgment because of our rebellion and lawlessness.   God was not compelled to act on our behalf because of our goodness but because of His Grace and Mercy and His love for all men appeared through Jesus.  Indeed, there is nothing that we sinners could have offered to a holy and righteous God, for we were too evil and undeserving for God to send His Son to die for us!  

God saved us because of His love and mercy.  He chose to be merciful rather than pouring His wrath on us.  We received His mercy “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word for “regeneration” is also a compound work- palingenesia, meaning new birth, re-creation, new beginning. We receive God’s mercy by the washing of a new birth. 

Therefore,

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4)

"In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses."  (Colossians 2:11-13)


In John 3:5, Jesus gave Nicodemus the answer to the new birth.  

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."  


In baptism, we put our trust in God when we ask Him to take our sins away. God’s mercy is applied to us in baptism.  We continue to receive God’s mercy through the renewal of the Holy Spirit. This concept is key to the book of TitusThus we must live in a distinct way by the renewal of the Holy Spirit as God’s purified possession for good works.  The renewal of the Holy Spirit is not waiting for Him to whisper words in our ears. The renewal of the Holy Spirit changes our hearts to righteousness when we hear the words revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, the revealed words, can change, transform, and renew our hearts when we obey them.  The revealed words by the Holy Spirit can change our hearts of stone like it did the Cretans.  The Holy Spirit cannot work in us when we have stone hearts that refuse to obey His revealed words found in the Scriptures.  

Further, the Holy Spirit blesses us when it is abundantly poured out on us. Just as Peter tied together baptism for the forgiveness of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, so the apostle Paul does the same. The blessings of the Holy Spirit include the restoration of the kingdom of God, the restoration of God’s blessings on His people, and the restoration of God’s covenant with His people. Jesus’ sacrifice made all these blessings possible.  

Thus, we are justified, for we have been declared righteous and pronounced innocent. And though we were miserable and evil wretches like the rest, God saved us because of His goodness and lovingkindness.  

      1. He saved us not because of our own righteousness but because of His mercy, goodness, and love. 
      2. We receive His mercy when He washes away our sins.  
      3. In the new birth, we are baptized in water, putting our trust in God and asking Him to forgive our sins.  
      4. We allow the Holy Spirit to change and renew our stony hearts through obeying His revealed Word.  
      5. Through Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we receive God’s abundant blessings.  

Undoubtedly, Ezekiel was prophesying of a time when God would give new life to people.  

      1. A time where God would wash them clean and give them a new heart and a new spirit. 
      2. This new birth would be the transformation into a pure and clean heart that would make it possible for them to enter the kingdom of God. 
      3. This complete transformation (new birth, new creation) would bring life to them from the dead.  
      4. A cleansing of the heart would occur so that they might be holy and follow God.  
      5. Their stony hearts no longer stony but of flesh easily pricked by the admonition of God because they hunger and thirst after His righteousness.  

This is beautiful beyond words!!  

Thus, God declares us innocent of our sins and heirs of eternal life by the washing and renewing of our hearts and lives.


    • Titus 3:8:

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” 


This saying is trustworthy. This is how we will obtain mercy.  We can have a new life in Jesus. We must insist on these things. We must devote ourselves to God’s righteous ways and good works. God insists that we be born anew and begin a new life.


    • Titus 3:9-11:
"But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."


Christians must not get tangled in worldly things. We must not tolerate those who cause divisions. They must be avoided after two warnings.  We must be spiritual-minded, not worldlyHow can we become embroiled in senseless, useless disputes, when we have received the mercy, goodness, and love of God?  Winning arguments is foolish and must not be our goal.  We must focus on the Word of God, nothing else. Our focus must be on the renewing and transformation of our hearts and lives.  Thus we must focus on devoting ourselves to good works and being faithful servants of Christ, not Cretans.


CONCLUSION:

The apostle Paul urged Titus in this letter to remind the brethren about their Christian responsibilities.  Remind them, Christians:

  1. To obey those in authority.
  2. To be considerate toward all.
  3. To slander no one.
  4. To be peaceable and considerate.
  5. To show humility toward all men.  
Why all these reminders?  

  1. Because they as well as us, Christians, were at one time also very foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasure.  
  2. We lived in malice and envy, hated and hating one another.  
  3. Mostly, they, as well as us, were to be reminded of God’s love, kindness, and mercy.  
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  (Romans 12:17-18)

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."  (Hebrews 12:14)


We must strive for peace with all people.  We cannot shine our Light for the Lord if we don’t live in peace and show peace to others.   

Titus was urged by Paul to remind the Christians in Crete to remember God’s love (Titus 3:4-7).  Jesus came to earth from heaven to seek and save the lost! 

For God so love that He gave His one and...”  (John 3:16)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."  (John 3:36)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)


What do all these verses mean? They remind us of the promise of eternal life that we have by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s gift to mankind of eternal life is the greatest act of unselfishness there is.  It’s the greatest sacrifice ever made in order to give us God’s greatest gift. No human person has sacrificed more nor offered more than what God has done for us and offered to us.  It’s the greatest promise ever given but that promise isn’t always received. Sadly, not everyone believes in this gift or will accept this gift on God’s terms.   

Jesus saved us not because of our own righteousness but because of His mercy, goodness, and love.  We receive His mercy when He washed away our sins, the new birth, and put our trust in God, asking Him to forgive our sins and by allowing the Holy Spirit to change and renew our stone hearts through His revealed Word.  Through Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we can receive God’s abundant blessings. We are pronounced innocent from our sins and declared heirs of eternal life by the washing and renewing our hearts and lives.

When we remember and are grateful for God’s love and what He has done to redeem us through His beloved Son, it will be easier, and not a burden to obey Him on a daily basis and be quick to do what is right in our lives.  His love must motivate us to work righteousness!  We can have a new life in Jesus. We must insist on these things. We must devote ourselves to God’s righteous ways and good works. God insists that we have a new birth and a new life.

The church in Crete, and us also, was urged to avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels (Titus 3: 9-11).  Christians are urged not to get tangled in worldly things, pursuits. We are also commanded not to tolerate those who cause divisions. They must be avoided after two warnings.  We must be spiritual-minded, not worldly, for we must seek the heavenly things of God.  Christians must not get embroiled in senseless, useless disputes since we have received the mercy, goodness, and love of God.  Winning arguments is foolish and must not be our goal.  It is the work of the devil.  But instead, we must focus on the Word of God, nothing else. Our focus must be the renewing and transformation of our hearts and lives daily.  Thus we must focus on devoting ourselves to good works and being faithful servants of Christ, not Cretans.

May we be reminded of our Christian duties, especially our reverent conduct before God.  May we always focus on devoting ourselves to good works and being faithful servants of Christ.   May we never get tangled in worldly things or pursuits.  May we always be spiritually minded, not worldly, for we must seek the heavenly things of God.  May our focus be on the renewing and transforming of our hearts and lives daily. May we Christians never forget how far we have come in Jesus, our Lord, and where we came from before we were forgiven of our sins in the waters of baptism.  May we never forget that through Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we can receive God’s abundant blessings. 


Luci