Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Titus The Right Time


This evening we will begin our study of the Book of Titus. We know very little about this man except from what we read by the Apostle Paul. We know that:
·        Titus was a Gentile – Galatians 2:3
·        Titus was won to the Lord by the Apostle Paul – Titus 1:4
·        Titus traveled with Paul as a disciple of his – Galatians 2:1
·        Titus being in Jerusalem must have raised the issue of circumcision among Gentile converts which was settled by Pastor James – Acts 15
·        Titus continued to represent Paul and minister for him – 2 Cor 8:23
·        Titus was a personal comfort and emotional strength and support to Paul when things were difficult in ministry – 2 Cor 7:6
·        Paul was concerned about Titus and his well-being – 2 Cor 2:13
·        Paul was so happy to find that the Church at Corinth had received Titus and that Titus was happy to be refreshed by them – 2 Cor 7:13
·        Paul defended Titus to the Church at Corinth – When I sent Titus, “Did he take advantage of you?” – 2 Corinthians 12:18
·        Titus was left by Paul on the Island of Crete to do a specific service of setting things in order and ordaining elders in every city – Tit 1:5
·        Before the Apostle Paul’s martyrdom in Rome, Titus was either sent or he went to Dalmatia and was absent from that event – 2 Tim 4:10

In all, Titus is mentioned by name 14 times in the NT and has a book preserved in the Canon written to him and bearing his name. The letter from Paul to Titus was most likely written in about the year 63/64AD from Greece. Titus was at this time in Crete, a large island in the Mediterranean between Syria and Malta, boasting itself of 100 well known cities.

Titus had his work cut out for him. Paul warned him:

Titus 1
12  Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.”
13  This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith.

Titus 1 NLT
1  This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ…

·        Slave – bondservant by choice; devoted to another in disregard of own’s own interests; servant; attendant in a servile position.
o   Understood from the writings of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy 15:12-18.
o   The Greek word, doulos, is spoken 114 times in the NT.
Matthew 20 NKJV
27  “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave (doulos)
28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

·        Apostle – Messenger; Someone sent forth with a message; An Ambassador.
o   John 13:16  “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant (doulos) is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent (apostolos)  greater than he who sent (pempo) him.
o   2 Corinthians 8:23  If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers (apostolos) of the churches, the glory of Christ.
o   Philippians 2:25  Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger (apostolos) and the one who ministered to my need.
o   There is 1 Apostle of God; 12 Apostles of the Lamb; Many Apostles of the Holy Spirit and of the Church.

Titus 1 NLT
1 ¶  This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
2  This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God — who does not lie — promised them before the world began.
3  And now at just the right time He has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

·        At just the right time …
o   God is a right time God!
o   God revealed His Word …
§  Manifested His message
§  Make known His Good News
§  Brought The Gospel to Light
o   Which we announce to everyone
§  Through preaching
§  By public crying
§  Declaring the proclamation
o   And I have been entrusted with the preaching of the Word
o   By the command of God
§  Under the mandate of Theos our Sotare

Paul, writing to Titus, lays a foundation of truth that clearly establishes:
1.   Teaching people to know the truth shows them how to live a godly life.
2.   Teaching people the truth gives them confidence they have eternal life.
3.   God’s Word is the Truth! We have no other power …

We have been entrusted by God to Proclaim the Word
·        Not issues; events; experiences; motivational platitudes; or testimonies can do what the Word can do.
·        Dr. David Shibley, a modern-day Apostle of the Holy Spirit sent to the Front-Line Shepherds in this World strongly advises us by saying: “Your testimony is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Your testimony may open a person’s heart to receive the Gospel but only the Gospel can save … always proclaim the Word of God, it is the power of God to save! (Romans 1:16)

One of the last things the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, was a strong command to:

2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Paul sent Titus to Crete at just the right time and entrusted him to preach the Word of God which would show people how to live godly lives.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Trust Issues


29  The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that He has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. (NLT)

There are so many things we just don’t know; things for which we cannot be held accountable. Moses told us that God has reserved some things to Himself … things beyond our comprehension – above our paygrade … things He has chosen to keep hidden from us for now. If you had the opportunity, what secrets would you ask God to answer for you?

My Top 3 Unknowns

1.  Where did God come from?

I know God is eternal and has always existed and I would quickly apologize to Him for this impertinent question however, my finite brain cannot comprehend what I believe to be true. God has always been … but where did He come from? I am not having a problem with faith, only with understanding.
·        I know what I believe –  I believe the word of God.
·        I know why I believe it – because God said it.
·        I just don’t understand it and I’d like to …
·        Where did God come from?

2.  Why do bad things happen to good people?

I have received miracles, experiencing divine healing and gotten clear direction from God. I know God hears and answers prayer. Yet, I have seen good, godly, faithful, praying believers die of sickness, lose love ones, experience hardships and suffer injustice. I am not complaining, angry or afraid, and I don’t want to be the judge of other men’s hearts … but I don’t understand why bad things happen to God’s precious children.
·        I will not make my why greater than my faith.
·        I will not waste my life on questions which cannot be answered.
·        I will not accept the comforting words of a man as my final answer.
·        I just don’t understand why bad things happen to good people –  and I’d like to …

3.  What is on the other side of the last thing there is?

You know, when you go to the very last inch of the universe and stand on the edge of all that is, no matter how far that takes you, what’s just beyond that? Emptiness you suggest? How much emptiness I reply? What contains that emptiness? Where are the borders and what lies beyond them? It’s seems to be a never-ending question.
·        It won’t mean anything to anyone I suppose.
·        It doesn’t change a thing.
·        I just don’t understand it and I’d like to …
·        But God is keeping that a secret from us for now.
·        Therefore, I am not accountable to anyone to know these or other answers people have about God and the things I just simply don’t understand.

Not only do I not understand these things, and many others like …

Why did God give Adam and Eve the power to choose? Why didn’t He hide the truth and the tree from them so they couldn’t sin?

I don’t know and I’m am not accountable to have an answer for those questions.

Deuteronomy 29:29  The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us …

Just like there are things I don’t know, things which belong to God of which I am not accountable, there are some things which I do know and for those things I and my children are accountable.

Here are My Top 3 Knows

1.  I know God loves me.
·        I am a Born-Again Child of Almighty God
·        I have been bought by the blood of Jesus and I am saved.
·        I am on my way to heaven and all the hell in this world can’t stop me.
·        I know God loves me!

2.  I know God has a plan for my life.
·        I am not wandering around aimlessly in this life.
·        God knows me, where I am and even the number of hairs on my head.
·        God calls me by name and leads me by His Holy Spirit.
·        He will never leave me or forsake me.
·        When I am tried, I shall come forth like gold.
·        I know God has a plan for my life.

3.  I know I can trust God with things I do not understand.
·        2 Timothy 1:12  For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
·        There are some things I don’t know but there are some things I do know and for those I am so thankful.
·        Habakkuk 3
o   17  Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls — 
o   18  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
o   19  The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like hind’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high places.
·        Job 19
o   25  For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
o   26  And after my skin is destroyed and worms consume this body, this I know, That in my body I shall see God,
o   27  Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

There are some things we don’t know and, as far as those things which God has reserved to Himself, we are not accountable. We cannot begin to appease the minds or heal the hurts of those who will not trust the Lord above what we are able to explain. Yet there is an anointing that covers the hearts and minds of men and women who will put their trust in the Lord and in His Word. Our goal is to encourage others to trust Him.

As well, there are also some things which we do know, and those things are so precious to us.

Today God is asking you to become accountable for the things which the Lord has revealed to us.
·        Know that He loves you and that He has a plan for your life.
·        Know that you can trust Him with the things you do not understand and things you cannot change or control.
·        Commit your life and your trust to Him until the day of His coming.

There are so many things we do not know … Those are the things we must put in God’s hands and trust Him by trusting His Word. When we trust God, we are able to access the grace of God to accomplish His will and keep His Word. That’s what the end of Deuteronomy says:

29  The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that He has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.

… so that we may perform every directive of Torah.

Now, let’s commit ourselves afresh to the one true and living God who knows all, so that we may be able to accomplish all of His Word and Will for our lives. I don’t want to live with any trust issues concerning Almighty God.

Note: Torah is the divine set of instructions contained in the first 5 books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch, handed down by Moses. The Hebrew word, torah, means teachings, instructions or law. It is understood by Jewish Rabbis to be much broader than the written law and is the substance of divine revelation to Israel including oral teachings and instructions given by God through the priests and teachers aimed at guiding a child of God to walk in His will.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Hybrid Christian Life



1.   Noun: The offspring of two plants or animals of different species or varieties.
a.   Crossbreed; mixed-breed
b.   Mixture, blend, meld, amalgam, combination, composite, compound, conglomerate
2.   Noun: A thing made by combining two different elements.
a.   A mixture
b.   A word formed from elements taken from different languages, for example “Television” (tele-from Green, vision from Latin).
c.   A car with a gasoline engine and an electric motor, each of which can propel it.
3.   Adjective:
a.   Of mixed character
b.   Composed of mixed parts
c.   Fashioned from mixed ideas or solutions

The word hybrid means mixture. To be of mixed or blended character or fashioned by two different ideas into one solution. There are hybrid cars, hybrid plants, hybrid animals, hybrid gods and even hybrid churches filled with hybrid Christians. We stray from the truth when we imagine there are many truths or when we believe truth is subjective and can be mixed to validate our choices. Nothing could be farther from “The Truth” … pun intended. With that thought in mind, we are going to conclude our study of the book of James tonight. Let’s begin by reading the last two verses.

James 5 NKJV
19  Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
20  let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Wanders from the truth – These are those who know the truth but do not follow the truth. What truth? Jesus the Truth
1.   His Will
2.   His Word
3.   His Way

Almighty Jehovah, the God of creation, is not afraid of you worshipping and serving a different god. He is more concerned about you thinking that the god of your making is Him. One person wandering from The Truth has proven to influence others to stray as well. Fashioning a false god is right up there on the top of the list of the 10 biggie sins God said don’t do.

The reason God addresses this matter is because it has always been in the nature of man to serve a god whom they understand and agree with and, who understands and agrees with them.

A god of our own making will
·        Excuse our sin while condemning those who sin against us
·        Always be on our side and against the other side.
·        Understand we meant the best
·        Bless what we are doing and tell us we are right
·        Confirm our suspicions
·        Hate our enemies
·        Agree with our conclusions
·        Champion our cause

That’s not a god … that’s a puppet.

Late in his life the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and warned him concerning the wandering nature of man in these last days.

2 Timothy 3 NKJV
1 ¶  But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5  having a form of godliness but denying its power …

As was said earlier, God is not afraid of you worshipping and serving a different god. Just so long as you understand it’s not Him.

1 Kings 18:21  And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.

At times people are slow to recognize and serve the one true and living God. Allow me to tell you a little about Jehovah God.

Jehovah God is:
·        Kind
·        Good
·        Merciful
·        Loving
·        Forgiving
·        Patient
·        Not rude
·        Not out of control
·        Not easily provoked
·        Keeps no record of wrongs
·        Joyful
·        At Peace
·        Gentle
·        Faithful
·        Almighty God and there are no others

And the Good News is that God loves your enemies as much as He loves you. And He expects you to love them too. For he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. He who turns … not he who criticizes, condemns, or points out.

Let’s not be hybrid Christians … in love with a false god. It’s a choice each one of us has to make for ourselves.

Joshua 24  NKJV
15 ¶  “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Bible, History & Me


This morning we’re going to read a few verses from 1st Samuel, as well as from the Gospel of John. Then I’m going to share a little history before we answer the question:

What do you do when
·        Fighting won’t fix it and
·        Dying won’t change it

First – Two Stories from The Bible – (Set the stage for the account of David when he was hiding from King Saul in the caves of Engedi, and King Saul ventured in by himself…)

1 Samuel 24  NKJV
10  “Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’S anointed.’
11  “Moreover … I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it.
12  “Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you.”

David was just a young man and he was suffering such injustice at the hands of King Saul. His wife had been taken from him, his parents became homeless and he was being hunted down like a mad dog. This opportunity to avenge himself on King Saul must have seemed like a gift from God and many urged David to kill Saul, however, David knew:
·        Fighting wouldn’t fix it – he did not need to kill Saul … David knew that his victory was not in his enemy’s defeat. Rather, David’s victory was in pleasing the Lord.
·        As well, David knew that giving up and dying at the hands of King Saul was not the answer either … Dying wouldn’t change anything.
·        David realized that his victory would come from simply living his best life for the Lord. In order to please God, David had to first win the battle ongoing within himself … his battle to trust the Lord with the outcome.

We find our next Bible story in John chapter 8. This is the account of a woman who was caught in adultery and brought by her accusers to Jesus in hopes to trick Him. It really wasn’t about the woman, those who accused her didn’t care anything about her. She was the convenient victim of their wicked plans. They used her and would have even killed her, but their problem didn’t have anything to do with her. She was just the latest in a long line of convenient victims. (Tell the account leading up to verse 10.)

John 8  NKJV
10  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Everyone had their opinions about this woman. And, some of them were right. There was nothing she could do to change her past and little she could do about this moment. She could have slapped these men or cursed them, but she knew fighting back wouldn’t fix the problem. In fact, fighting back would only have made it worse in her case. Or, she could have just kept silent, accepted the circumstances as her fate and been stoned to death but, dying would not have changed anything either. Her only hope was Jesus. She needed to find mercy and receive grace to get through her moment and to get her to a better place in life. She needed to find a way to live above the insults and opinions of others and to not allow her situation of life to dictate her future. When fighting wouldn’t fix it and dying wouldn’t change it … She found her victory in Jesus!

She got up and went back home and lived her life in light of what Jesus did for her. Jesus simply said, “Go your way and sin no more …” She didn’t give up … she got up!

Next – A Little American History: There have been no additional stories added to the Bible in almost 2000 years. But we have added to our knowledge historical accounts of people experiencing life and living the principles of God. God’s word works yesterday, today and forever … History is an important picture of life. When we overlook history, we overlook life.

The American Revolutionary War ended 236 years ago. Early that year, 1783, a family from Cape May New Jersey welcomed the birth of a new baby girl, Jarena. She was raised in some of the most exciting times in America. George Washington became the first President of the United States when she was only 5 years old. And, men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams led the new nation from Independence Hall in the city of Philadelphia, where Jarena spent most of her life.

These men and this hall … Such history! This is the same hall that witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776; the same hall where the first US Supreme Court met to defend the rights of the citizens of the United States of America against governmental intrusion according to the newly ratified US Constitution; the same city where now, just yards away from Independence Square, hangs the Liberty Bell, commissioned way back in 1751 … walking these streets and visiting this square still sends chills up and down my spine today … Reckon what they did to a young Jarena who had a heart to make a difference in her day?

Jarena Lee was born a free Black American woman during some of the most exciting, yet most tumultuous times at the infancy of our great republic. She was raised by parents who were not God conscious people and therefore she was taught nothing about Him at home. As a young girl she went to live as a hired house servant. She recounts thoughts of suicide and fantasized about drowning herself on several occasions. Surrounded by so much greatness her life must have seemed so insignificant.

However, in her early twenties Jarena was invited to Church where she later came under the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit while attending the African Episcopal Methodist Church in Philadelphia. During one meeting she fell under such conviction of sin that she gave her life to Jesus and, moved by His Spirit, began testifying and exhorting others to repentance and salvation. She was evidently the right person in the right place at the right time … but not everyone accepted it.

Some-time after her conversion Jarena heard a voice speak to her and say, “Preach the Gospel”. She considered that it might be the devil speaking to her since she saw no way in which this could ever happen. She finally petitioned her pastor who told her that he just did not know if this was even a possibility within their denomination or within scripture for that matter. Soon afterwards Jarena married Joseph Lee, Pastor of a small congregation on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

Somewhere near 1815, Jarena’s husband died leaving her with two small children. She was 32 years old at this time. It had been 8 years since she had first heard the call to preach. During those 8 years Jarena continued to petition the Reverend Richard Allen, who had now become the Bishop of his denomination, to license her and release her to the ministry.

One Sunday during the morning service Jarena was so moved by the Holy Spirit that she interrupted a visiting minister and began to exhort the congregation with power and conviction. Bishop Allen stood and made a public confession that after eight years of constant petitioning, he believed that she was truly called by God to preach the Gospel. He sanctioned her and released her to minister. Jarena’s persistence had paid off!

Over the next many years Jarena Lee became known far and wide for her powerful preaching and missionary work which she traveled great distances to accomplish. She was indeed hindered both by her color and her gender and encountered great prejudices. Nonetheless, empowered by the Holy Ghost, she preached, and the conviction of God fell on all those who heard, saints and sinners alike. She didn’t fight, she didn’t give up, she didn’t kill herself, she didn’t rebel against her husband or her denomination, she lived her best life for Christ.

There was no where she would not go and no one she would not speak to. In 1827, at 44 years-old, she traveled 2,325 miles and delivered a total of 178 sermons calling sinners to repentance and a new nation to righteousness. Jarena Lee stands tall as one of the founding mothers of Christianity in American History.

When I recount the awesome history and heritage of our great nation, I look at Jarena Lee and see life qualities, sacrifices and contributions which can only be understood in light of a living commitment to the Gospel of Christ. She didn’t fight for her country and she didn’t die for her country but she lived for her King. Jarena was 81 years old when she finally went to her heavenly reward in 1864. I’ve come to realize that at times when:
·        Dying won’t change it …
·        Victory demands a living commitment to Christ.

The title of this message is: The Bible, History & Me - We close today talking about us. How do the lessons from the Bible and those from our nation’s history speak to us and inspire us today?

David was a young man who had a great call on his life, but his circumstances seemed limited and his opportunities few. He was only a shepherd boy, the youngest of many sons and not skilled enough to lead a nation. However, David knew God and David committed his life to God’s service. David knew that when: Fighting won’t fix it; and Dying won’t change it; Victory demands a living commitment to God.

We saw the same things emerge in the life of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Her accusers brought her to Jesus and even though she was helpless, she found help. Jesus didn’t need her to fight or die, rather He needed her to live and live well. In this Jesus simply said to her: “Go your way and sin no more.” This woman’s story is still being told and still impacting lives after 2000 years. Her victory came as she lived her life in light of what Jesus had done for her. She had a living commitment.

Jarena Lee was a Black woman preacher in early American times who could not change what others thought of her, but she did decide how she would see herself and she lived accordingly. She had a living commitment.

Success in this life, true peace, unspeakable joy and life eternal awaits those who will put their faith in Jesus and live right. There is nothing a person cannot outlive, out last or out distance if they will only put their trust in God and live each day to please Him. When:
·        Fighting won’t fix it …
·        Dying won’t change it …
·        Victory demands a living commitment to Christ.

We cannot determine what we go through in life, but we can decide how we are going to go through it. I pray you have decided to follow Jesus. He knows what you are going through, and He holds your victory in His hands.

Turn your life and your problems, and the problems others have with you, over to Jesus! He will make a way where there was no way before.

Don’t let life limit you or box you in … make your living commitment to Christ Jesus today! “As for me and my house …” Joshua 24:15